Cavalcade of Whimsy
Nov. 29, 2011, Part 2
- Part 1. The Beginning Of
The Urban Era
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The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
The ten reasons why I’m grouchy after Thanksgiving (beyond the beef tenderloin being mediocre) …
10. Houston vs. Tulsa attendance
Tulsa’s football stadium officially holds 30,000 fans, but more could be squeezed in if needed. In one of the biggest games in Conference USA history, the showdown against Houston, 29,015 people came.
This isn’t to dog the program in any way. Tulsa is a small school and it was Thanksgiving weekend, but attendance glaringly shows the difference between the big BCS league football programs and Conference USA teams and how huge the gap is between the two. It also goes to show how unfair it is that Oklahoma, with 85,000 fans showing up for Iowa State, will have the money to pay players the extra stipends the NCAA is about to allow, and it can have the best of the best facilities, while Tulsa on a normal day might get around 20,000 or so to show up.
This is an issue for athletic departments that have to fund the non-revenue sports, the coaches’ salaries, and everything else the football team has to pay for, and now has to find more money and more revenue to make sure decent players want to come to the school.
9. Missouri vs. Kansas
For all the weeping and gnashing of teeth over the idea of some of the big rivalries ending – at least for the time being – Missouri and Kansas fans seemed okay with the hiatus with a mere 47,059 bothering to show up in Kansas City for what might be the final game between the two for a long, long time.
Forget about the egg on the face of the Sports Illustrated article that tried to sell the idea that this matchup matters no matter what, the lack of fan support proves that rivalries don’t necessarily mean much when the teams stink. Teams always try hard in the final game of the regular season no matter who they’re playing, but unless something is on the line, fans are smarter than to care just because the schools have been playing since the 1800s.
Outside of referring to the song by the late, great Cab Calloway, no football announcer is to ever, and I mean ever, use the word trickeration again.
It’s a dumb word used by dumber people who can’t find the proper way to adequately describe a highlight of a key play. Trickery - the practice of crafty underhanded ingenuity; to deceive or cheat – is a word. Trickeration is a gimmicky sound bite that instantly blows any and all credibility from any football analysis to follow.
7. Florida State vs. Florida
I want to know who watched the replay of that on ESPNU on Sunday night. Even if you’re a Florida State fan who reveled in the rivalry win, no right thinking rational person could possibly sit through a game with 95 yards of total Seminole offense, a Florida running game that was depressing and sad, and an interception-fest sponsored by John Brantley and Jacoby Brissett. Both teams combined to convert 4-of-30 third down chances, and the MVP was Florida State punter Shawn Powell, who kept the Gators pinned deep all game long. It was a horrible game that set the once-proud rivalry back several decades, and yet someone out there had to have watched it a second time by choice. At least that’s better than anyone who instead got into the MSNBC Sunday night Sex Slaves/Human Trafficking marathon.
6. Tim Tebow
Enough. Tim Tebow is an awful NFL quarterback. I know it; you know it; Tebow knows it; God knows it; and NFL people with a brain know it. Now all this silliness has to stop because it’s unfair to the real professional football players who are the ones making things happen on the current winning streak. Denver isn’t winning games because of Tebow, and it sure isn’t winning because of any sort of divine inspiration or anything magical coming from No. 15. Denver is winning because 1) Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil have spent the better part of November sitting on quarterbacks’ heads, and 2) the offensive line is doing a phenomenal job. Miller is the real star of the show, not Tebow, and while this might be a cute novelty for the moment, John Elway realizes that his team needs a quarterback.
5. Coaching contract extensions
What is Miami doing giving Al Golden – who has won nothing of significance and did an awful job in his first year with the Hurricanes – a contract extension through 2020? When will athletic directors get it through their thick, dumb heads; you never, ever, ever give a head coach a contract extension unless it’s the only way to keep him from taking another job. And even then you only give it to a coach with a killer résumé.
So Golden was whiny that the football program is about to be blown back to the pre-Howard Schnellenberger days when they were giving away tickets at Burger King? So the trial balloon rumor was floating out there that UCLA might come calling? Fine. Bye.
Coach after coach is getting canned all across the country and school after school is eating a ton of bad paper. It’s madness. If your program is any good, you’ll find another coach who can succeed.
4. Applebee’s handmade mashed potatoes
Handmade? There’s an alternative? Even flaked mashed potatoes have to be stirred by hand. Even the frozen kind I forced on my family for Thanksgiving have to be worked by hand. Mashed potatoes are mashed potatoes, and they’re still never, under any circumstances, as good as fries, and they’re ten miles behind tots in the pecking order. In fact, I don’t even really want hands working my Applebee’s mashed potatoes. I’ve worked in chain restaurant kitchens; the less human contact with my food, the better. By the way, without eating anything else those “handmade” mashed potatoes come with, one entire serving is 660 calories, 36 grams of fat, and 72 grams of carbs.
3. Roll Tide/War Eagle
The documentary on the Alabama/Auburn rivalry was phenomenal. It’s required watching for any sports fan, and especially for anyone who doesn’t quite grasp just how nasty/silly/heated the rivalry is. The film makes you love college football while at the same time making you feel a little creepy for being a fan. However, it didn’t go far enough with the recent Auburn scandals. It’s not like everyone said, “no way was there anything wrong going on.” Instead, Charles Barkley came up with, “Bama accusing Auburn of cheating is like Snooki telling Halle Berry she’s ugly." That’s not the point. I’m not expert on body language, but it would be interesting to have Cam Newton’s twitches and shiftiness analyzed when he talked about the controversy.
2. The Big East
Who’s in this conference next year? I do this for a living. I’ve covered the expansion and realignment story as closely and as extensively as anyone, and I honestly have no clue whatsoever who’s actually playing in this league in 2012. Worse yet, does anyone else care?
Pitt and Syracuse are being held back from the ACC for a few years, but are fighting against it, and the Big East is trying to hang on to West Virginia like a jilted girlfriend desperately trying to hang on to the relationship for a few more moments. Meanwhile, UCF still hasn’t been formally announced as a new member, while SMU and Houston are supposedly in even though they’re desperately hoping beyond all reasonable hope for an 11th hour call from the Big 12.
Air Force and Navy were invited to join, but they’re not quite done deals, and Boise State appears to be hanging in some sort of a strange limbo. And then there’s BYU, who’ll someday be a part of the Big 12, knows it, and put the kibosh on any more talks with the Big East.
Meanwhile, even though the conference title race has been fun, no one wants to see the champion in a BCS game with the ACC and the Orange Bowl both grouchy over being stuck at the kids table with whatever Big East team is forced on them.
1. One game mattering for a head coach
It was the big angle for several games over the last few weeks. “Coach (insert Zook, Neuheisel, Sherman, Erickson, or a slew of others, here) needs to win this game to possibly save his job.”
It’s a simple rule; if a coach’s job security is shaky enough to allow one game to matter either way, it’s over.
Coaches get canned. That’s part of the profession and it’s part of the deal every coach knows when he chooses to get into the game. Athletic directors need to do a better job of understanding of quickly assessing when an era is over, and they need to cut ties faster if they know they’re going to have to make a move.
Obviously the right hire is better than the fast hire, but Arizona did a great job of getting Rich Rodriguez early in the process – yes, he did build the foundation for Brady Hoke’s success this year – and now it has a leg up on Arizona State in the recruiting season. Ohio State had to act now to secure Urban Meyer so he can hit the recruiting ground running, and New Mexico did what it could to pull up out of the nosedive by getting the ultra-solid Bob Davie.
On the flip side, UCLA, Arizona State, and Illinois are all going to be scrambling to find the right guy in a hurry. Time is of the essence with every day in the recruiting game precious, and one lost year could set a program back by several seasons and doom a coaching tenure from the start.
UCLA is playing for the Pac-12 title, but that obviously didn’t matter for Rick Neuheisel’s tenure. Illinois knew weeks ago it was going to make a move on Ron Zook, and Dennis Erickson’s fate was sealed after losses to UCLA and Washington State. Kansas was all but done with Turner Gill in early October.
No, firing a guy, especially one everyone likes, isn’t fun, but again, if you choose to be a football coach, you know what’s going to happen.
C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: Losing to Michigan … Underrated: Not having any gold pants to give away
2) Overrated: The SEC championship … Underrated: Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State
3) Overrated: The Doak Walker final three ... Underrated: David Wilson
4) Overrated: The final week of the WAC season ... Underrated: The final week of the Sun Belt season
5) Overrated: Black Friday ... Underrated: Steely Dan
“If it were me, I'd bet everything. But that's me. I'm an aggressive gambler. Mr. Vegas. Come on. Go for it. Go for it. Yes, yes, there we go. I'm in.”
1) Southern Miss +13.5 over Houston (but not straight up)
2) LSU -13 over Georgia
3) Northern Illinois -3.5 over Ohio
- Record So Far: 17-6 SU, 15-8 ATS
If the college football season ended right now, this would be my Heisman ballot cast for the Most Outstanding College Football Player in the United States for 2011 … 1) RB Montee Ball, Wisconsin, 2) QB Robert Griffin, Baylor, 3) QB Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State
Sorry this column sucked, it wasn’t my fault … Nick Saban asked the voters to “be fair.” They were. They voted it sucked.
- Part 1. The Beginning Of
The Urban Era