Cavalcade of Whimsy
Sept. 18, 2012, Part 1
- Week 1 - Make My Day | Week 2 - The War On
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- Week 3, Part 2 - The Real
Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault … do I feel at times that I gave up out there? Yeah. Absolutely. It sucks I can’t do anything about it.
“Are you quitting on me? Well, are you? Then quit, you slimy f***ing walrus-looking piece of s**t! Get the f*** off of my obstacle! Get the f*** down off of my obstacle! NOW! MOVE IT! Or I'm going to rip your balls off, so you cannot contaminate the rest of the world! I will motivate you, Private Pyle, IF IT SHORT-D***S EVERY CANNIBAL ON THE CONGO!” ... Yeah, yeah, yeah, everyone gets all squishy about teams that give it the old college try for a full sixty minutes and keep playing hard until the final gun sounds – except when it comes to Tampa Bay against the Giants – but really, who cares if Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson is right and his team quit against Alabama? It tried its best for the first half and well into the third, but when the score was 38-0 and with national title hopes long gone, in a game with absolutely no hope whatsoever of being remotely interesting against a team that’s at least three touchdowns better right now than anyone but LSU, then live to fight another day. A loss is a loss; the score shouldn’t matter. And for those who despise the idea of the Hogs not going full-tilt in a hopeless cause, if you took off before the game is over, and if you clicked the channel to something more interesting, then you quit on the game, too.
And it all started because a Verne Lundquist-described “lady friend” took a ride on a hog ... John L. Smith had an awful game against ULM, forgetting to hand the ball off enough with a big lead in the second half, but if you’re going to fire on him and if you’re going to say Arkansas is a mess, then don’t do it based on what happened against the defending national champion. Again, Alabama is going to do that to a lot of teams, but now it’s up to the coaching staff to get the team up for Rutgers and to make up for it. Getting obliterated by the Tide is one thing, but losing at home to the Scarlet Knights for a 1-3 start before going to Texas A&M and Auburn will get Skip Holtz and Mark Hudspeth on speed dial.
“You shook Sinatra’s hand. You should know better.” ... It continues to be the coolest aspect of my career that the man who called 1992 Duke-Kentucky politely requested that I call him Verne instead of Mr. Lundquist.
“Achilles? He can't be controlled. He's as likely to fight us as the Trojans.” ... The atomic wedgie applied by Stanford still hadn’t been removed, yet there was already a general assumption that USC was still in the national title chase. People, we did this over and over and over again during the Pete Carroll era. Forget about the hype. Forget about the talent. Forget about the preseason polls, the expectations and the desperate desire to see the USC Trojans play up to their talent level on a regular basis and not choke away games they’re supposed to win by two touchdowns. 2008 USC lost to an okay Oregon State. The 2007 team lost to a bad Stanford team and at Oregon. The 2006 squad gagged away the national title shot against UCLA, and the 2003 team blew it against Cal.
USC, get to 12-1 with an impressive win over Oregon on the way to a dominant run to the Pac-12 championship – with the emphasis on the word dominant – and then it’ll be time to talk. But it’s still mid-September and there’s a long, long way to go to get to that point. No, you shouldn’t get the benefit of the doubt.
“Trust me guys, duck” ... Speaking of knowing exactly what’s going to happen because we’ve all seen it before, please, America, don’t fall for the Oregon mirage.
Blowing up Arkansas State, Fresno State and Tennessee Tech isn’t any big deal, and the high-powered flash and dash will light up the stat sheet like a pinball machine throughout the Pac-12 season, but even if the Ducks get through the regular season unscathed and even if they’re totally and completely deserving of playing for the national championship, there’s no reason to spend the time, effort and energy to send them to Miami to play the Alabama/LSU winner for the BCS championship.
To bring up the 2010 argument again, THIS … OFFENSE … DOESN’T … WORK … AGAINST … ELITE … VETERAN … DEFENSES.
The gimmick has been great at turning Oregon a national powerhouse, but there’s a rock-hard ceiling that the team will never get through unless it plays an offensive-minded team for the national title and avoids an experienced defense team like LSU in 2011, Auburn in the 2011 BCS championship, Boise State in the 2009 opener and Ohio State in the 2010 Rose Bowl. The Ducks can get to Wally World with this offense, but sorry folks, park’s closed. The moose out front is telling you.
“Oh stewardess! I speak jive” ... The official statement from the Big East offices after the news of Notre Dame going to the ACC. ““The University of the Notre Dame has informed us that it is joining the Atlantic Coast Conference in all sports other than football. Notre Dame has been a valued member of the BIG EAST Conference and we wish them success in the future. However, Notre Dame’s departure does not change our plans. We have prestigious institutions that are excited to be a part of the BIG EAST. We remain committed to making the BIG EAST stronger than it has ever been.”
To translate, for those who don’t speak BIG EAST: “Good riddance you freeloading overrated bloated pile of hooey. You could’ve been the anchor and biggest star with the rest of our conference working around you, but at the end of the day you didn’t really do anything for us, so now feel more than free to go off to a league that got its brains beaten in by us head-to-head this weekend. Oh yes, it’s full steam ahead and our plans do not change. We’ve been combing Conference USA all day.”
And it will look better in a few years against all those ACC teams ... All of a sudden, the Notre Dame schedule doesn’t look all that bad.
I spent all offseason saying Brian Kelly would deserve Coach of the Year recognition if his team finished 9-3 with the brutal looking schedule it had to deal with, and I said the Irish would deserve to be a rock-solid lock for an at-large BCS slot at 10-2 and deserving of national title consideration at 11-1. With a win over a good Purdue team after coming back from Ireland jet-lagged, and with a dominant performance against Michigan State, the Big Ten’s best team, now the possibilities are wide open.
Any team good enough to dream about getting an at-large BCS slot should be able to beat this Michigan team at home, and it should wipe the floor with Miami in Chicago and against a decent BYU team.
Despite the game against Virginia Tech, Pitt isn’t all that good, and Boston College and Wake Forest shouldn’t be a problem. That leaves Stanford, at Oklahoma and at USC, along with a Michigan game this weekend that isn’t going to be a layup.
With the Irish pass rush shining over the first three games, will Oklahoma and its shaky offensive line be in trouble? What if USC’s front five is as lousy and weak as it was against the Cardinal defensive front? And what if Everett Golson keeps progressing and improves over the next few weeks and the offense can open things up a bit more by late October and beyond?
Get by the Wolverines first, and then the narrative of the 2012 college football season will quickly shift to South Bend.
Not to be confused with William, who came up with five tackles and a tackle for loss ... It’s Golson, not Everett Golston.
It’s not like being without Mad Men or Heisenberg, but ... The Big Ten might be having its problems, but Dish Network dropping the BTN is a low blow. That might be about as significant to the world’s issues as Indiana losing a shootout to Ball State, and the Western Michigan-Minnesota game looked like it was being televised on Mars, but considering Dish is the only place to watch the Pac-12 Network, die-hard college football fans are missing out on getting to see everything.
“This is huge for me. This is the biggest
thing I've ever gotten close to.
Please. All you gotta do is bring him
the briefcase and, you know...
Whatever happens after that
is up to you.”
... Don’t assume that the newly agreed on $50 million exit fee to leave the ACC will matter much if Florida State wants to bolt to Big 12 or if Virginia Tech wants to leave for the SEC. That might sound like a huge amount of money for a university to pay, and it’s not exactly pocket change, but the dough that’s going to be pouring in five years from now will be astronomical. Conferences aren’t going to be able to hold on to teams that want to take off.
Fish, barrel, meet gun ... Al Pacino to play the role of Joe Paterno? Let’s go …
Some early excerpts from the Penn State/Paterno movie.
- When the assistants wanted to be more involved in the gameplan: “Who put this thing together? Me, that's who! Who do I trust? Me!”
- A confused Paterno when Franco Harris said he’d fight for the coach’s reputation: “For me? As what? A tough guy? I don't need tough guys. I need more lawyers. Joey, since we have no conflicts no debts I accept your tribute. I wish you well.”
- Paterno telling his coaches how to recruit: "You sharpen the human appetite to the point where it can split atoms with its desire; you build egos the size of cathedrals; fiber-optically connect the world to every eager impulse; grease even the dullest dreams with these dollar-green, gold-plated fantasies, until every human becomes an aspiring emperor, becomes his own God... and where can you go from there?"
- Paterno talking about the problems getting Sandusky out of the program: “Panama won't take him. Not for a million, not for ten million.”
- Paterno’s reaction to what Mike McQueary saw: “WHY CAN'T YOU GIVE ME A STRAIGHT ANSWER ANYMORE? WAS IT A BOY?”
- Paterno on what the Alabama defensive front to the Nittany Lion O line on classic the goal line stand in the 1979 Sugar Bowl: “M.O.? Is that they're good... Once it escalated into a murder one beef for all of 'em after they killed the first two guards, they didn't hesitate. Pop guard number three because... what difference does it make? Why leave a living witness? Drop of a hat these guys will rock and roll.”
- Paterno questioned about his iconic clothing choices: “No, I usually sit around my hotel room dressed like this at 5:30 in the morning, sleepy look on my face.
- Paterno when the scandal first broke: "What is this? The FBI? Jesus, now we're talkin', maybe we can get this thing moving. First off, get the lights back on and the air conditioning."
- Paterno preparing for Miami before the epic 1987 Fiesta Bowl looking at tapes of Vinny Testaverde: “If anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it is that you can kill anyone.”
- Paterno’s impassioned plea to keep his job: “Why was I so feared, and you so loved? What was it? I was no less honorable. I wanted to do good. What betrayed me? My mind? My heart? Why do I condemn myself so? I swear, on the lives of my children: Give me a chance to redeem myself, and I will sin, no more.”
And I’m pushing for the 2015 national championship – or at least one of the playoff games - to be played in my basement, but the kids were sick all week and the entire place needs a blowtorch and a gallon of Lysol … It’s Week Three of my shameless and impossible quest to be on the committee that helps pick the playoff teams in two years. Why do I deserve a spot? I was able to write two whole game previews despite suffering from a blind spot caused by staring directly into Deion Sanders’ teeth.
- Week 3, Part 2 - The Real