Cavalcade of Whimsy
Sept. 4, 2012, Part 3
Week 1 Cavalcade
- Part 1 - Make My Day
- Part 2 - Pinkett, Penn State & More
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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 this week…
10. Reggie Bush really did win the 2005 Heisman
Because of the big year expected from quarterback Matt Barkley, the past USC Heisman winners are being highlighted on a regular basis now. Officially the school has six winners – Mike Garrett in 1965, O.J. Simpson in 1968, Charles White in 1979, Marcus Allen in 1981, Carson Palmer in 2002, and Matt Leinart in 2004 – but it's okay to point out that Reggie Bush also won the award. You can say he got the honor taken away, and you could say he got it stripped, but it's a fact that he got the most votes and won in 2005. He was a Heisman winner, but he wasn't a Heisman keeper.
9. Believing football is a character builder
I'm going to get into the concussion issue in a few weeks, but I'm currently in a brouhaha with a slew of parents who are choosing to ignore the warnings and the science behind the effects football has on young brains. They reason that the sport makes their sons into better people with better character, and therefore they'll turn out to be better people. Of course football has many positives on several levels, but so do other activities that don't involve kids smashing their brains on the inside of their skulls.
You want your kid to learn a real life lesson? You want to teach your son – or daughter – what it's like to get kicked in the gut and have to fight through adversity? Make your kid take calculus.
8. Ron Zook's voice
I've always liked Ron Zook. As a head coach, he was always entertaining, slightly goofy, and highly energetic to talk to. He had his moments like all coaches do, but he was a different breed of cat compared to most of the coaches in this business. While he didn't get the job done as a head coach, I've always said he had the right make-up and the right personality to be a whale of an assistant, complete with the assistant coach's voice that's set to perma-gravel from yelling and talking all the time. While that's par for the course for a coach, not being able to speak without a rasp doesn't work so well as an announcer. He'll be a good commentator once he gets the chords back, but sounded like he spent the day gargling with broken glass before calling the UCLA-Rice game.
7. Call Me Maybe
I lived through Hammer. I once held an intervention trying to convince my college roommate to just say no to a Vanilla Ice concert. I kicked a friend out of my car for putting in a cassette of something called Milli Vanilli. I would gladly live through all of those musical nightmares again three times over if I could just go one day without catching a moronic video parody of Call Me Maybe. The song and various spin-offs destroyed my entire summer and it just … won't … go … away.
6. Brandon Jenkins
Someday top players will realize that football is a dangerous sport. There's no escaping suffering a serious injury; it's a question of when it happens and how bad it's going to be. Selfishly, I'd love it if all players stayed in college until their eligibility is up, but at the same time I hate it when top prospects aren't getting the right advice about their future at the next level. If you're good, it doesn't matter where you're drafted. If you're a great prospect and you're projected to go in the top 50, like Florida State All-America defensive end had he left early for the NFL in April, you go. Now.
College football is a game for almost everyone, but it's a stone-cold, multi-million dollar business to roughly 100 players every year who need to get smarter. Jenkins came back for one more year to be a part of a special team and to try to up his draft potential, and while that's fine, if the goal and dream is to become a pro football player, then go become a pro football player and don't take the chance that your stock will drop by suffering a season-ending foot injury.
5. The new helmet rule
I'm a 100%, err on the side of caution believer in player safety at all times no matter what, but the new rule that a player has to sit out for one play after losing his lid seems like a solution in search of a problem. If a player gets bonked in the brain and he suffers a concussion, that's a different animal, but just because he lost his helmet that doesn't mean he got hurt. Pick up the helmet and put it back on the head. Problem solved.
4. Assuming Taylor Martinez is going to do that on a regular basis.
Let's just settle down a wee bit before anointing T-Magic as the next Aaron Rodgers. It was well documented how the Nebraska quarterback spent his summer working on his mechanics, and he was absolutely brilliant throwing for 354 yards and five touchdowns against Southern Miss in the opener, but he did this before. As a freshman he completed 23-of-35 passes for 323 yards and five scores against Oklahoma State, but after that he hit the 200-yard mark just twice with both games coming last season. While he motion and footwork were far, far better, and he really did appear to improve, Southern Miss had to replace seven defensive starters and certainly wasn't prepared for a passing game. Now teams will be looking for Martinez to try out his arm a bit more; let's see him do it against a porous UCLA defense this week before thinking this might be the new norm.
There's a problem with Brady Hoke complaining that his team "didn't play Michigan football" against Alabama; it actually did.
Michigan played Michigan football because Michigan football, even at its best over the last several decades, isn't as good as Alabama football is right now. Of course Michigan has had a ton of talent on some phenomenal teams, but for the most part, Michigan football has made a living off of being consistently way above-average – and that's not meant to be a knock. That has been good enough to get to Rose Bowls and use the right breaks to be a part of a national championship in 1997 – despite not having to play Nebraska that year or anyone from the SEC – but Saturday night showed what Michigan football is. Right now, it's not good enough on the lines, it doesn't have the skill players in place, and it didn't have any ideas even though everyone and their sister knew Denard Robinson was going to be shut down cold by a Nick Saban defense that spent an entire summer focusing on keeping him under wraps. This year, Hoke's Michigan football could still be good enough to end up winning the Big Ten title, and it's going to get a lot better in a hurry with the job Hoke is doing recruiting, but after Saturday night …
2. Just put Alabama in the BCS championship already
There are several landmines to deal with and a date at LSU is looming large, but Alabama looked and played like it's 100% locked in. Even with all the personnel changes and the loss of running back Trent Richardson, the Tide was played with even more confidence and was even more effective than anyone could have envisioned. Again, Michigan is a good team that just got its doors blown off, and while it's just one game, it doesn't seem like the Tide is going to start slouching any time soon. Even if Bama loses at LSU, and even if it gets tripped up on the right day by someone else in conference play, come January 7th are you going to think that anyone other than another SEC champion could beat Nick Saban and his coaching staff with more than six weeks to prepare? Judging by what happened in Week One, it's going to be tough talking about what might have happened if the future playoff system was in place.
1. Football culture
With all the Penn State drama and all the hand-wringing about what went wrong, the key culprit, beyond Jerry Sandusky, was the notion of a football culture that went so far out of whack that the program and university needed to be hit and hit hard. Based on the warnings by the Freeh report and discussed throughout the summer, the idea came up time and again that what happened at Penn State could've happened at just about any other football-mad school. After all, football fans are football fans are football fans, and as crazed as they are in Happy Valley, they're just as nuts in Tuscaloosa, Columbus, Austin, Norman, Los Angeles, and anywhere else where a college football program is a really, really big deal.
But that's not fair.
Having a football culture doesn't have to be a negative.
Of course a football culture is a problem when the school overlooks nefarious actions by a sports program in order to keep the cash cow in place, but more often than not, having a football culture is a good thing.
Would anyone ever know the University of Oklahoma existed without its football program? Is it a bad thing to have a local, rural economy get a boost from a swarm of fans coming into town seven times a year? Isn't it a perk to have a school buzzing about a hot football team and its big game that weekend?
Having a great football culture brings in attention, money, and a bigger and better pool of students who want to be a part of the fun as well as the education. Being a football school doesn't mean the academics are irrelevant – Stanford has had a solid football culture of the last few seasons.
Penn State's problems were Penn State's. As big as college football might be, all things considered when it comes to money, power and attention, the overall culture really isn't that bad.
Random Acts of Nutty … Provocative musings and tidbits to make every woman want you and every man want to be you (or vice versa) a.k.a. things I didn't feel like writing bigger blurbs for.
- Stats are usually a bit skewed after week one, so some teams and players are ranked high based on one big play or a little bit of a quirk, but North Carolina's punt return game was something special. The Tar Heels returned nine punts in the 62-0 win over Elon, and everything worked with Giovani Bernard returning two for 100 yards and a score, Roy Smith returning six for 127 yards, and Erik Highsmith returning one for 33 yards. In all, the Tar Heels averaged 28.89 yards per try.
- The biggest loser of Week One? Conference USA. Houston is already making its changes after a miserable showing in a blowout loss to Texas State. Marshall, Rice, SMU and Southern Miss are all supposed to be in a bowl hunt and they were all blown away. Memphis was miserable, UAB lost to Troy and UTEP didn't get any offense in the loss to Oklahoma.
- With this win over Penn State, there's no reason Ohio can't go 12-0. The Bobcats miss everyone of note in the MAC including Northern Illinois, Western Michigan and Toledo. Not only is the toughest remaining road game either at Marshall in few weeks or at Ball State late, but there's an honest chance that there won't be one game this season against a bowl bound team.
C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: Tyrann Mathieu still at LSU … Underrated: Zach Mettenberger getting popped in the mouth against North Texas
2) Overrated: The non-pass interference call late in South Carolina's win over Vanderbilt … Underrated: South Carolina needing a missed pass interference call late in its win over Vanderbilt.
3) Overrated: Jeff Driskel ... Underrated: Jacoby Brissett
4) Overrated: Jeff Tedford on the hot seat ... Underrated: Nevada
5) Overrated: The Big East looking to add a 14th member ... Underrated: That member more likely to be BYU than Notre Dame
"Oh, see, I made Louis a bet here. See, Louis bet me that we couldn't both get rich and put y'all in the poor house at the same time. He didn't think we could do it. I won."
1) UCF +18 over Ohio State
2) Rice +10 over Kansas
3) Wisconsin -7.5 over Oregon State
4) Nevada -1 over South Florida
If the college football season ended right now, the three best players in college football this season are … 1 1) RB Le'Veon Bell, Michigan State, 2) QB Geno Smith, West Virginia, 3) QB Taylor Martinez, Nebraska
Sorry this column sucked, it wasn't my fault … Lane Kiffin wouldn't let me do a pre-column walk-through at the Coliseum.
Week 1 Cavalcade
- Part 1 - Make My Day
- Part 2 - Pinkett, Penn State & More