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If this column
sucks, it’s not my fault …
a stomach virus forced me to leave the column a few times to hit the
bathroom. Sorry it was broadcast on national TV and analyzed in front of
millions of people.
It’s not a plus when the 79-year-old head coach runs faster off the
field than his team does on it ... It would be the greatest way to
retire in the history of retirements if Joe Paterno, when he decides to
hang them up, chose to run off the field and out of the stadium midway
through the second quarter of a big game.
“I’ve spent way too much of my life doing this. I’m
tired. I'm going to the mall to
get a slice and catch a flick.”
It didn’t really matter since Anthony Morelli would’ve been more than
happy to come up with a redo … With all the talk about replay, why
wasn’t anyone complaining about not reviewing whether or not Ohio State
DB Malcolm Jenkins actually got into the end zone on his pick six
against Penn State? I couldn’t have been the only one who thought he
might have spiked the ball before crossing the line. At the very least,
it was worth a closer look.
On this week’s episode of Great Moments in Sports Gambling History …
There’s a reason I don’t gamble on anything other than
salad lunch. Penn State fans weren’t the only ones looking to break
something tasteful after Morelli threw his second interception for a
touchdown in the final few moments in the loss to the Buckeyes. How many
of you out there chucked your remote at the TV when Joe Garcia picked
off a late pass for a cover-the-spread touchdown in Nevada’s win over
Northwestern? That was why you watched the Wolf Pack and Wildcats on a
Friday night, right?
I promise, as long as I’m writing it, this column will never lose to
Michigan State again … Could Desmond Howard and Lou Holtz have
been more excited about a Michigan State loss/Notre Dame win? In the
post-game analysis, they acted like six-year-olds on Christmas morning
with a tree full of presents to open and with five bowls of chocolate
frosted sugar bombs in their bellies. There's no truth to the rumor that
Greg Norman gave the halftime speech in the Spartan locker room.
And I promise not to jump ship to the NFL. At least for a few years
... I’d like to officially announce that I’m making a push for the
soon-to-be-open University of Miami head coaching job. My
qualifications? Well, like Bobby Brady, I can finger paint, but I’ll
leave the actual coaching to my assistants. Bernie Kosar and Steve Walsh
will be my co-offensive coordinators. Bennie Blades will coach the
defensive backs, Michael Irvin will coach the receivers, and Warren Sapp
and Ray Lewis will realize that NFL life just isn’t for them and will be
my co-defensive coordinators. Lamar Thomas will be in charge of teaching
the Hurricane players how to properly show how bravado is done
Miami-style. I don’t care if there are 37 penalties a game; I’m
restoring the order. Actually, I'm blowing up the order. My players will
rip their helmets off after big plays, dance on the benches, celebrate
like mad after touchdowns, and get back to being the Miami that
dominated for so long after years of the button-down, corporate version.
The team attire to road games will be army fatigues, like the ones worn
at the dinner with Penn State before the 1987 Fiesta Bowl, and I’ll
demand wacky jersey numbers like the old days when Kosar wore number 20
and Irvin wore 47. I’ll have no problem getting in the talent thanks to
recruiting coordinator Luther Campbell and his armada of booty babes
armed with hypnotic butts with cheeks that operate as their own independent prisoners of inertia. I
will win at Miami. Oh yes, I will win.
Temple, here’s your assignment to get the attention away from your
football team … You'd think some school would’ve come up with a
bigger bass drum just to cheese off Purdue and ruin the whole World’s
Largest Bass Drum schtick.
And death is not an option … Paul McGuire or the new clock rule.
You can get rid of one, and the other stays as part of your college
football world for the next 25 years. You’ll go back and forth on this
for the rest of the day.
And Michael Brown was brought in to serve everyone a complementary
hot dog … Wouldn’t it have been nice if the people who were stuck in
the Superdome during the Katrina disaster got the tickets for the Saints
game against Atlanta?
And I’ll be hoping the good people at the Downtown Athletic Club send me
another T-Shirt in a tube …
My Heisman ballot
for this week would be: 1. Adrian Peterson, RB Oklahoma, 2. Troy Smith,
QB Ohio State, 3. Mike Hart, RB Michigan, 4. Steve Slaton, RB West
Virginia, 5. Calvin Johnson, WR Georgia Tech.
“Colonel Jessup, did you order the Code Red?”
I know, I know, you’re as excited about revisiting the
Oklahoma-Oregon debacle as you are for the next Growing Pains
reunion movie, but there’s still some unfinished business that’s being
swept under the rug.
Gordon Riese, the embattled replay official who missed the call on the
onside kick, and has taken a voluntary leave of absence for the rest of
the year, is a veteran referee. He was on the crew in the famous 1982
Stanford-Cal band game, and he was a stalwart of Pac 10 officiating for
28 years. It’s not like the guy was picked out of the Autzen Stadium
stands to review the game-changing onside kick, yet the Pac 10 felt the
need to suspend him for one game after all the controversy ensued. Talk
about being thrown under the bus.
What did the Pac 10 hope to accomplish? If he’s such a strong, veteran
official, you either say it was a bad call and move on, or you fire him
for incompetence. The whole world knows it was a missed call, no one’s
disputing that, so why the need to punish him if it really was an honest
mistake? A one-game spanking makes it seem like he did something wrong
instead of insinuating that he simply made a human error. It opens up
the perception that there was more to the gaffe than meets the eye, or
else it was just a way to try to appease all the angry fans.
To understand officials is to know that they’re a different breed of
cat. By nature, they’re the most honest people you’ll ever meet, despite
what you might believe. You might think they stink at times, and you
might get mad at them, but for an official to get to the level where an
anything to do with a game like Oklahoma vs. Oregon, he had to have
earned his stripes with credentials that should more than speak for
So was Riese lying when he initially said that he didn’t get all the
right angles to review? Sorry, but I find it hard to believe that he
just made that up. Did his assistant mess up? Was there an overall
problem with the technology in the heat of the moment? Like the Oklahoma
fans, I still want to know more, because it is important when it comes
to the integrity of officiating in the Pac 10.
Now the problem is perception, and it showed during Saturday nights USC win over Arizona. There
were two big plays on catches by Trojan WR Steve Smith that had to be
reviewed. One obviously should’ve been overturned, and it was, and a
second, on an apparent touchdown catch, shouldn’t have been reversed
since there wasn’t conclusive evidence to change the call, but it was
One of the officials who worked the Oklahoma-Oregon game (not Riese, but
referee Dave Cutaia) was involved in the Trojan-Wildcat battle, and Tim
Brant in the announcing booth irresponsibly questioned whether or not
the officials were going to hose over another Stoops. Did the officials go too far the other way since Mike
Stoops, Bob Stoops' brother, was coaching on the other sidelines? That
anyone's even thinking about that shows there's a problem.
Heaven forbid if the calls went USC's way, and that was for
a Pac 10 game. That’s why the league must use neutral conference
officials for non-conference Pac 10 home games from now on, since there can’t
be the slightest bit of a thought in anyone’s mind at any time that the
officials are biased in any way. Fans can think how they want
to think, but once coaches, players, and administrations think things
might not be kosher, then there’s a problem. Currently, there's a
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” … E-mails
to me from angry Oklahoma fans last week on the overall topic of the
Oregon game and the officiating: 1,313. E-mails from Oregon fans last
week on the overall topic of the Oklahoma game and the officiating: 2.
It’s always the worst thing in the world when something bad happens to
you. History tells me the e-mail numbers would be reversed if the game
was played in Norman and the Ducks got screwed.
Because I didn’t get enough “Your an Idiot” e-mails
last week … To all the
Oklahoma fans who still can’t get over the botched calls against the
Ducks: now you know exactly how most of the college football world felt
when your Sooners, after getting blasted 35-7 in the 2003 Big 12 title
game by Kansas State, got to play in the national championship game that
year instead of USC. Trust me; I had to hear about it for months, and I
didn't hear one word from OU fans suggesting that their team might not
be deserving of playing for the title.
Oklahoma was on the right side of two of the biggest calls over the last
ten years getting into the 2004 Sugar Bowl over USC and the 2005 Orange
Bowl when Auburn was left out of the dance. In the world of college
football karma, the Sooners are still way ahead of the game.
“Counselor! Come out, come out, wherever you are!" ... Let me
make myself very, very clear here. The vast majority of Oklahoma fans
who e-mailed me last week were just frustrated and really, really mad,
as they had a right to be. They weren’t out of line and they weren’t
saying anything that any other fan base wouldn’t have. We’ve all been there.
If you haven’t had a sporting event rip your guts out and chopped into a
fine powder to later be used as a power boost for someone’s Jamba Juice,
you’re not a true sports fan.
But to the 103 e-mailers that I put in my Max Cady folder, like the one
who wanted “to beat the living crap out of the officials,” and the one
who suggested that Riese had better not set foot in Oklahoma or he’d
“know what payback is really like,” or the one who was so upset that his
“year is ruined,” or the one who’ll “never, ever get over this or
forgive what happened,” I suggest you go to
www.curingkidscancer.org for some semblance of perspective on what a
tragedy really is. Kid dying from leukemia vs. bad calls in a game
played by 18-22-year-old kids who’d rather play video games, chase
girls, and play more video games than acknowledge your existence. No
need for replay on that one.
Remember, this is all just a game that six billion people worldwide
don't care two hoots about. It's all supposed to be fun. And it is.
The C.O.W. airing of the grievances
followed by the feats of strength
After all the bitterness and all
the anger from the Oklahoma-Oregon game, from Michigan State fans after
the brutal loss to Notre Dame, and from college football fans in general
after a somewhat dry start to the season (at least compared to last
year), here are ten good, goofy, interesting things going on so
far that you might have missed, and in some cases, should be watching
out for over the next few months. Consider this your big, fat, college
10. Gary Danielson
He stepped up his game in a big way as the color analyst next to the
equally strong Verne Lundquist on the big SEC game of the week on CBS.
Yes, he did describe a wraparound handoff in the Alabama – Arkansas game
as an “Emima draw, because you come from behind.”
You completely wiped the Bears off your radar screen after the opening
day 35-18 loss at Tennessee, and that’s a huge mistake. It’s a shame
Jeff Tedford’s team didn’t play a warm up game before facing the Vols,
because it appears to have taken a little time for the ultra-fast,
ultra-talented team to get going. Not only did it blow away a decent
Minnesota team, and hold the vaunted Gopher running game to just over
100 yards, but it obliterated Arizona State 49-21. The team really is
8. Giving credit where credit is due, part one …
Yeah, Oklahoma got screwed, blah, blah, blah, but lost in the poor
officiating in the Oregon game two weeks ago was the performance by the
Ducks. No one seemed to notice that the Oregon offense cranked out over
500 yards of total offense with two touchdowns in the final 1:12 to come
up with the win. Give credit to the Duck special teams from coming
through the block on the final field goal after they could’ve caved
after the momentum swung to the OU side of the field following the long
7. Giving credit where credit is due, part two …
It took two teams for Michigan State to collapse. Lost in all the
craziness of the final five minutes was a gutsy, possibly
season-defining play by Jeff Samardzija. With under ten minutes to play
on fourth and five on the MSU 43, the Chicago Cub took a short Brady
Quinn pass 43 yards for a touchdown to pull within ten to spark the epic
comeback. Quinn is getting
the Heisman talk, but Samardzija and Rhema McKnight deserve just as much
6. Les Miles and LSU
Many LSU fans were worried the program was about to go into the tank
after Nick Saban left for the Miami Dolphins and Les Miles took over.
Remembering that Miles had to keep his team focused through the
Hurricane Katrina disaster last year, his 15-3 start is impressive. The
losses came by three to Tennessee last year, to Georgia in the SEC title
game, and by four in a nasty loss to Auburn this season. Remember, Saban
only had one season with fewer than three losses.
5. Northern Illinois RB Garrett Wolfe
He’s not going to come within 14 miles of the Heisman, but he’s
going to finish the year as the nation’s top rusher by a huge margin.
Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson is second in the country averaging 160.75
yards per game. That’s a whopping 46.25 yards behind Wolfe, who’s not
only the only one in America averaging over 200 yards per game, he’s
also one of two backs among the nation’s top 100 averaging more than
eight yards per carry (Felix Jones of Arkansas is the other, but he only
has 31 carries so far). Granted, he ripped up Ohio, Buffalo and Indiana
State, but he also tore off 171 yards rushing and 114 receiving against
4. The new Big 12 quarterbacks
Much of the talk around the Big 12 this off-season was about how so
many teams had to replace star quarterbacks. Brad Smith, Reggie McNeal,
Cody Hodges, Joel Klatt, and of course, Vince Young, were all gone.
After the off-season, Oklahoma needed to replace Rhett Bomar. There
might not be a VY in the bunch, but Oklahoma State’s Bobby Reid is
progressing into a potential superstar, Nebraska’s Zac Taylor is
completing over 70% of his passes, Oklahoma’s Paul Thompson is getting
better and better, Missouri’s Chase Daniel has been effective, and Texas
A&M’s Stephen McGee has been terrific with six touchdown passes and no
interceptions to go with 219 rushing yards. Five of the nation’s 13 most
efficient passers are in the Big 12, and that doesn’t include Daniel,
Texas Tech's Graham Harrell, or Iowa State’s Bret Meyer.
3. Boise State vs. Utah
It’s not an overstatement to say the September 30th battle
between the Broncos and Utes might be the most hard-fought
non-conference game this season. Why? It might be an elimination game
for one of the “little guys” in the race for a BCS slot. Utah still has
to face TCU and BYU, but both of those games are at home. Wins in those
two games, and an 11-1 record, would likely be enough to overcome the
opening day UCLA loss to get into a big money game. Barring a total
disaster, only a home game with Fresno State and a season-ender at
Nevada could possibly keep the Broncos out.
2. Air Force and time of possession
Everyone wants to complain about the new clock rules, but they help
teams that are great at controlling the ball and the tempo. Alabama
leads the nation averaging 35:41 of possession, and Air Force is number
two averaging 35:28 per game. Appearing to be a dying program at the end
of last year, Air Force battled Tennessee to the wire in a 31-30 loss,
and then beat Wyoming in Laramie to show that it might be a sleeper in
the Mountain West race. Most interesting about the win over the Cowboys
was the time of possession holding on to the ball for a whopping 40:25.
Air Force ran 77 plays to Wyoming's 42.
1. Rutgers, Wake Forest, Washington, Kent State, and San Jose State
Of course, the bubble will quickly burst for some of these formerly
downtrodden programs, but it’s been a great first month so far. Rutgers
is in the top 25 for the first time since 1976, Wake Forest is 4-0, and
will be 5-0 after playing Liberty, going into the big game against
Clemson, Washington stunned UCLA to start out 3-1 going into the date at
Arizona, Kent State, after going 0-10 vs. D-I teams last year, is 2-0 in
MAC play with road wins over Miami and Bowling Green, and San Jose
State, thanks to a ball-hawking defense, is 2-1 with only a close loss
C.O.W. shameless gimmick item …
The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects
of the world
Brent Musburger allegedly giving away USC’s hand signs in the 28-10 win
over Nebraska ... Underrated:
Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada
2) Overrated: Snoop Dogg at USC …
Underrated: Muddy Waters at Michigan State
3) Overrated: Ohio State … Underrated: “Ohio” according to Andre
4) Overrated: Rudy Carpenter ... Underrated: Sam Keller
5) Overrated: Deal or No Deal girl No. 3 ... Underrated: Deal
or No Deal girl No. 18
Sheer hubris run amok … The three lines this week that appear to
be a tad off: I went 2-1 proving I’m only a partial idiot. I’m 4-5 so far going 3-0 by picking against Temple. 1)
over Kansas State, 2) Wisconsin -10.5 over Indiana, 3) (never mess with a
streak) Vanderbilt -34 over Temple.
Sorry this column sucked, but it wasn’t my fault … I had the
column well in hand, but Alabama PK Leigh Tiffin pushed several items