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Cavalcade - Why Isn't The SEC Better?
Boise State QB Kellen Moore
Boise State QB Kellen Moore
Posted Sep 6, 2011

The Boise State debate - again, the SEC midsection, and more, in the latest Cavalcade of Whimsy

Cavalcade of Whimsy

Sept. 6, 2011

Past Cavalcades
- 2008 Season | 2009 Season | 2010 Season 

- Part 2. Rain, and other things to be grouchy about 
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160 days since Stanley McClover's claims against Auburn, Ohio State, Michigan State, and LSU with no repercussions.

Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault … Steve Spurrier thought it was better in practices.

Oooooh, but now Georgia has to prepare for two quarterbacks … Ball Coach, you’re a legend and you’re an unquestioned coaching genius, but you know that whole Connor Shaw-is-better-than-Stephen Garcia thing? Stop … doing … that.

"Watch the bladder, kid. Santa's got to pee." … America, did Boise State take away your Christmas? Did it kick your dog, make fun of your kid’s lisp, or leave the toilet seat up?

You were sort of ready to accept TCU into your BCS Championship arms over each of the last two seasons, and yet you still refuse to give in to the possibility that Boise State might play a lousy schedule and might really be that good. Now it beat a jacked, up, desperate SEC on its home floor, and still you won’t give it up.

No, college football world, we are NOT going to do this again.

There are NFL media types who refuse to ever utter the words Brett and Favre, and there are baseball media members who’ll never, ever, ever engage in the Pete Rose Hall of Fame discussion. Some college football writers will punch you dead in the face if you try to get them to talk about why there isn’t a playoff. My taboo topic is whether or not Boise State is worthy of playing for the national championship, because it’s exactly like the political standoff we’re currently facing. Either you’re on one side or the other, and an effort to find some sort of middle ground doesn’t play to the argument for either case.

I refuse to go through this for another three months, but I have to.

Of course Boise State’s schedule sucks. Of course it would struggle at times in the SEC or the Big 12. It doesn’t matter. I don’t think that it’s fair to play one or two big games a year, but Boise State has proven time after time after time that it can be ruthless efficient and effective against anyone. Rose Bowl Oregon of 2009 got destroyed by the Broncos. ACC Champion Virginia Tech couldn’t hold on last year. Georgia, even with all its athletes and attitude, was embarrassed in front of the home crowd.

You don’t have to like Boise State, and you don’t have to be happy about another top five season, but don’t make up reasons to want it out of the picture. If it works out and the Broncos end up in New Orleans, embrace it. It’ll be okay.

On this week’s episode of Sage Nuggets with Mike Bellotti … “Utah State is probably happy Auburn didn’t score.”

Really, does it matter who plays the SEC Champion? … You can’t be a fan of playoffs and be against Boise State. If the argument against the Broncos is that they could beat anyone in a one game shot, but couldn’t survive the grind of a BCS conference season, then what were the 2010 Green Bay Packers? They couldn’t get the job done during the regular season; they couldn’t even win their own division. The Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat weren’t the best teams in their respective conferences after the regular season. The Connecticut basketball team finished ninth … NINTH … in the Big East.

The difference with Boise State is that is actually does get the job done during the long haul. The Broncos finished last year with the 46th toughest schedule. Wisconsin, who beat NOBODY other than Ohio State, had the 53rd toughest slate. Ohio State was 57th on the list, and Oregon, who also played a fat load of jack-squat other than the one home game against Stanford, was 59th.

“She should be decent-looking, but we'll trade looks for a certain kind of morally casual attitude.” … Kellen Moore is listed at 6-0 and 191 pounds, and while I’ve never met him, the word is that the NFL Combine will likely measure him at around 5-10; a killer for his pro prospects. However, in today’s NFL, the mystical six-foot barrier doesn’t really matter so much if the guy can put a ball through the eye of a needle.

Everyone wants a huge statue of a bomber like Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger, but the last two Super Bowl winning quarterbacks weren’t all that big. Aaron Rodgers is pushing it to be 6-2, and while Drew Brees measured at 6-0 even, I’m easily taller than him and I’m 6-2. The one thing Brees and Rodgers have, and the number one trait all scouts are looking for right now, is deadly, pinpoint accuracy. Either you have it or you don’t, and it can’t be taught. Moore has it. I’m not saying he’s a first round draft pick, but he might be a dream of a developmental backup quarterback.

The Trent Richardson 2.8 yards per carry wasn't exactly a plus, either … Your 2011 college football season comes down to one simple question: Can Alabama find a quarterback who doesn’t like to give the ball away to the other team?

Phillip Sims is a phenomenal talent with all the tools, and he’ll eventually be special, but he’s just a true freshman and he’s going to need time. He completed 7-of-14 passes for 73 yards against Kent State, but he also threw two picks. A.J. McCarron, or AJ McCarron, or however the initials are being used this year, has the passing touch and the arm to stretch the field, but he also struggled in his first game throwing two picks while completing 14-of-23 passes for 226 yards and a touchdown.

If Greg McElroy was still the starting quarterback the season would be over, Alabama could take the trophy now and have a grand old time down at the Wal-Mart, and we could all go on with our lives. And there’s a good chance we can do that anyway.

No one is going to score on this defense.

Alabama’s quarterback situation might be a concern, but Penn State’s is a disaster. Rob Bolden flat-out can’t play, and Matt McGloin just isn’t good enough. The Nittany Lions aren’t going to do anything offensively this weekend.

Arkansas couldn’t pass protect against Missouri State, and Tyler Wilson might get killed when the Hogs go to Bama on September 24th. Florida’s decided schematic advantage hasn’t kicked in yet, Mississippi State isn’t going to run the ball on the Tide D, and LSU still hasn’t proven it can throw a forward pass. Even so, Alabama will probably lose one game along the way to someone other than LSU, win the SEC West, win the SEC title, and win the BCS Championship because of defense, defense, and defense.

“Whoa. Guidance computer? Wh-What if they need to do another burn? Gene, they won't even know which way they're pointed.” … Ahhhhh, there we go. All is right with the world again. Welcome back, Gene Chizik. I don’t know what happened last year, but we missed you.

“Any lawyer worth that kind of an offer doesn’t need to open the envelope." ... 

Why isn’t the SEC better?

Who finished on top of the 2011 conference recruiting rankings? The SEC. 2010? The SEC. Who ranked on top from 2002 to 2009? Who’s going to be on top in 2012? Yup.

The SEC has all the talent in the world, all the resources, all the TV exposure, all the coaches, all the fan support, all the booster support, and all the booster support, yet the conference is just okay, not superior, when it comes to non-conference play. With this much talent year after year after year, shouldn’t the league be untouchable from top to bottom? Or at least top to Kentucky?

Of course the conference is the best in college football, but don’t get so hung up on the idea of winning five straight national titles. Just because the conference has one or three dominant teams every year, that doesn’t mean the entire league is the be-all-end-all like it should be. It’s just like saying the Pac 10 used to be great when USC was crushing and killing everything in its path, and it’s just like thinking the Big Ten might be down because Ohio State is rebuilding. As crazy as this might sound, again, considering the talent level, the SEC might actually be underachieving.

Auburn rallied to beat Utah State, but it got flat-out whipped on the lines. Ole Miss was embarrassing at home against BYU, and Georgia was picked apart by the same Boise State that no one wants to give any credit to.

Since 2002 the league is 86-70 in non-conference games on the road, in a bowl, or at a neutral site. That’s not taking into account non-conference home losses, and there are a ton of road games against Memphis in the win column. Also, remember, when Georgia goes to Georgia Tech, that’s sort of like a home game. Florida plays Florida State every year, South Carolina plays Clemson, and Kentucky plays Louisville, which means that several SEC schools aren’t too keen on challenging themselves outside of conference play with a second tough BCS-league road test.

86-70 might seem solid, and it is, but to keep hammering the point, considering the SEC has been on top of every ranking of recruiting classes for a decade, shouldn’t it be a whole bunch better than +16?

What if the four teams in the NFC South had the top four overall draft picks, along with an extra first round selection, for over ten drafts in a row? Wouldn’t the division destroy every other division? The SEC should be killing everyone else no matter where the game is played.

“What am I supposed to do? You won't answer my calls. You change your number. I'm not going to be ignored!” … Alright, Oklahoma, we see you. We all know you’re a big powerful college football powerhouse. You don’t have to explain to the world why you deserve to be courted and loved in the conference realignment discussions. However, remember, when it comes to expansion, there’s the academic side of things to consider, too.

While the U.S. News & World Report rankings are hardly the be-all-end-all, and there’s a lot more that goes into whether or not a school is strong, but they are a decent indicator of just how well the schools are viewed on a national scale. Oklahoma ranked a mediocre 111th in the last rankings, and if the Pac-12 is taking OU, it’ll probably have to bring 132nd Oklahoma State along for the ride. Because getting OU already means all the Oklahoma TV markets, the tag-along is more like an anchor.

By comparison, Texas A&M ranked a solid 63rd – a huge selling point to the SEC. Everyone wants Texas for a variety of reasons, and being ranked 45th doesn’t hurt, but no one really wants 159th ranked Texas Tech as a piggy back. Not only is the Lubbock TV market not a plus, but the athletic side doesn’t really help the cause. However, Utah was 129th and the Pac-12 didn’t seem to care.

“Six bucks and my right nut says we're not landing in Chicago.” … This week’s Alex Neutz tracker: The Buffalo sophomore grabbed ten balls for 108 yards against Pitt.

But at least there’s no Chris Berman … ESPN3 is terrific. There’s no need for GamePlan anymore, and if you have an extra old laptop, it’s like having an extra TV. However, ESPN has to get out of its own way on a lot of its other key products. ESPNU’s College Football Live during the games is close to being strong, but it needs to whip it around the horn much, much, much faster. Utah State was up 21-7 over Auburn, and all of a sudden it became 21-14; the Tiger touchdown wasn’t shown or even acknowledged. Learn from the NFL RedZone, the Gold Standard in game coverage. Get rid of any and all commentary and analysis, and be willing to cut to the action as its happening.

“Yeah, we gotta word for that kinda odd in English, it's called, suspicious.” … I’m not ready to join the college football conspiracy crowd, but it’s extremely interesting that 1) Ohio State got to play all the offending players in the 2011 Sugar Bowl, 2) and the suspensions later handed down were only five games, just before the mega-matchup with Nebraska, and 3) several of the Miami suspensions, including starters Sean Spence, Travis Benjamin, Marcus Forston, Adewale Ojorno, and depending on the coach’s mood, Jacory Harris, were only suspended for the opener. Game Two is against … Ohio State.

On the next episode of Sage Nuggets with Mike Bellotti … Just after Utah State scored to go up 21-7: “Auburn is in for more of a game than it would probably like.”

“Oh, yeah. Yeah, they're great. I can smell a little better now, that really comes in handy on the subway every day. Not to mention, the hearing, of course, you know? So, let's figure this one out - I can hear crickets chirp a little louder than you can, and you can see? Yeahhh.. that sounds fair. That's a fair trade-off. Thanks, God!” … Nice touch by new Terrapin head coach Randy Edsall to allow the Maryland School for the Color Blind to design the new uniforms. At least Maryland didn’t pull a Georgia and try to look like a 1980s new age band, Metallic Tomato.

On a very special episode of Sage Nuggets with Mike Bellotti … Utah State is up 38-35 with just over a minute to play and Auburn is on the doorstep: “You can’t let them score.”

Ten random thoughts about the Big Ten from Big Ten media days that are over a month late for a slew of silly reasons that you and your kin don’t care about

- In the movie about the Ohio State story, Adam Sandler plays the role of Luke Fickell, who’s a 180-degree personality change from Jim Tressel. Ohio State football will be a lot more interesting on the field and especially in press conferences.

- If The Sporting News’ Steve Greenberg, Jeff Garlin, Paul Sorvino, and Mike Golic could combine forces to have a son, he would grow up to look exactly like Brady Hoke.

- In case you didn’t notice the 1997 Michigan national championship ring on Hoke’s finger, he’s more than happy to bang it on the table when he wants to make a point.

- Hoke wouldn’t call Ohio State, Ohio State. He kept calling it Ohio, because “it’s easier and faster when you don’t have to say state.” He’s going to be fun.

- According to Denard Robinson, he was never going anywhere and he wasn’t even thinking about transferring. Yes, his shoelaces were untied, and yes, he looks like he could be snapped in two. There’s no way this guy can take a pounding.

- On the flip side, Minnesota QB Marqueis Gray is HUGE. He might want to play quarterback, and if he can be 100% healthy after having problems against USC, he might turn into something special under Jerry Kill. However, if he wants to go to the next level, there’s a spot for him as a receiver on size alone.

- Jerry Kill looks like a gopher. Not someone who belongs as the Minnesota head coach, he actually looks like a gopher. After years of slick coaches who look and talk like used car salesmen, Kill, a straight shooter and a whale of a coach, is exactly what the program needs.

- While he wouldn’t come out and explicitly say it, Indiana’s new head coach Kevin Wilson thinks the players he inherited are awful. One loss to Ball State later, he’s absolutely right.

- I’ve been doing this long enough to roll my eyes at the bluster and blather of self-important blowhard college football head coaches, but Bo Pelini scares the crap out of me. No human being should be that intense at 8:03 in the morning.

- Not one coach or player could name all the teams in their division.

- Part 2. Rain, and other things to be grouchy about