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Sept. 22 |
Sept. 29 | Oct.
UNLV fan here. It’s
looking like another typical UNLV Rebel season – buy into the hype of
all the transfers from big-time schools, get excited, and 4 weeks into
the season, here we are at 1-3 just like every year. Rocky Hinds has
been…um…worse than Jason Thomas, if that is even possible. And after
two consecutive blowout losses to solid, but not great WAC teams in
Hawaii and Nevada, I came to a conclusion – UNLV has got to be the
biggest “enigma” program in college football. Has any program
consistently done less with more? Great town, nice campus, nice
facilities, hottest co-eds on the face of the earth, fertile recruiting
base, no pro-sports team competition, the legacy of Tark (i.e. win in
Vegas and you own the town), and what should be a home field advantage
similar to Hawaii (can anyone say Sapphire @ 4am?). It just doesn’t
make sense how UNLV does so poorly, so consistently. So, what are the
top “enigma’ programs?
A: Part of the problem when you’re relying on JUCO players and transfers
to step in and star right away is that you don’t get any consistency.
Give your Rebels time: Hinds is a talent and there’s a decent amount of
overall skill and athleticism that might need the rest of this year to
get seasoned for 2007. UNLV needs to generate a culture of winning
football, and that’s easier said than done for more than just a year.
Five schools that I think should be better considering their positives
1. Illinois – It’s a basketball school, but there’s a great history,
even if you have to go back a long way, of good football teams and
better stars like Red Grange and Dick Butkus. Recruiting-wise, there’s
St. Louis and Chicago to draw on.
2. Kentucky – I know, I know, it’s all about basketball in Lexington,
but it’s all about hoops in Louisville, too. If the Cardinals can put
together a juggernaut, then why can’t Wildcats?
3. UCLA – Having that team rock and roll on the other side of town
doesn’t help. The Bruins get the athletes and they always have offensive
playmakers, but you’d think at some point the program, by sheer luck of
the draw, would have a fantastic defense. The campus and location are
nicer than USC’s, and the weather is always perfect.
4. Alabama – Coaching issues and probation were problems in recent
years, but this is freakin’ Alabama. With its history, fan base,
recruiting base, and facilities, the brand name alone should be good for
at least nine wins. Auburn might be a powerhouse program, but Alabama
has the better history and shouldn't take a backseat to anyone.
5. Syracuse – Western New York isn’t exactly Miami or L.A. in
mid-November, but the weather is perfect in the Carrier Dome. It wasn’t
all that long ago when this was a BCS caliber program that cranked out
pro talent by the boatload. Greg Robinson appears to be turning it
around, but it’s taking a while.
After the loss to Texas Tech last week, there is a lot of concern
towards the rest of the Texas A&M season, especially with the problems
attached to the pass offense and defense. A lot of my fellow Aggies are
shouting for Coach Fran to get fired, and I have even heard a rumor that
if Fran doesn't do very well this season (at least 8 wins and a bowl
victory) that we already have a coach lined up to replace him. If this
were to happen, and there will be a lot of talk if we lose any of the
next four games, who would be most likely to replace him? ~Eric, -
A: How about R.C. Slocum? Texas A&M would be a plum job, but it’s not
quite the elite gig that Aggie fans might think it is; who wants to beat
his head against the Texas-Oklahoma wall every single year? As I said at
the time when Coach Fran got hired, it’s not like the Longhorns and
Sooners are suddenly going to stink. Fran was a big-time, big-name,
splashy hire, and I’m guessing it’ll take a big name to make Aggie fans
happy even though guys like Tulsa’s Steve Kragthorpe and Akron’s J.D.
Brookhart might be great choices. Want to win now? Find a way to get
Paul Johnson away from Navy, suck it up, and run the option. I guarantee
you A&M would become a ten-win program every year with Johnson or Wake
Forest’s Jim Grobe. With that said, A&M is pretty good this year and
Fran should be back next season.
Everyone knows about Brady Quinn, Troy Smith, Adrian Peterson, and
now, Garrett Wolfe. The Heisman is all about popularity and hype, but if
everything was equal, who are five guys outside of the obvious who
deserve Heisman hype? I have a guy in mind and I’m wondering if you’ll
pick him. Thanks! - DB
A: The five should be Heisman candidates that aren’t:
1. Rutgers RB Ray Rice, Soph. – 2nd in the nation in rushing
and tied with Wolfe and Clemson’s James Davis with 11 rushing
2. Oregon RB Jonathan Stewart, Soph. – Among the top rushers with at
least 30 carries, only Wolfe is averaging more yards per carry (9.88)
than Stewart and his 7.88 per try. Despite struggling through an ankle
problem, he ran for 144 yards against Oklahoma and 142 against Arizona
3. Missouri QB Chase Daniel, Soph. – His team is unbeaten going into the
showdown with Texas Tech, and he’s throwing well with 13 touchdown
passes and only four interceptions to go along with 130 rushing yards
and three scores. Now he needs a win over a team with a pulse.
4. Ian Johnson, RB Boise State, Soph. – Seven yards per carry, fifth in
the nation in rushing, and the main man on a possible BCS team.
5. Colt Brennan, QB Hawaii, Jr. – Brennan’s not Troy Smith, but watch
his first five games and you’ll think he could be the nation’s best
quarterback. It’s not just the system; he’s that good as the top player
in the top 20 in passing in yards per attempt and yards per completion.
Ohio State almost never beats itself, it always has very good special
teams, and they are rock-solid performers in the clutch (close games,
bowl games, rivalry games). That all points to coaching. How many
teams could lose 9 starters on defense and be a top 5 team? Again, it
goes back to coaching. Your thoughts why many prefer Carroll, Weis,
Stoops, etc over Tressel, other than style points? - DK
A: Two separate ideas here. First, it’s easy to have great special teams
when you have next-level athletes. If you’re a superpower, just pay a
little bit of attention to them, and they’ll rock. Second, and I said
this in a past article, most don’t understand that places like Ohio
State and USC and Texas replace former NFL-caliber with future
NFL-caliber starters. Yeah, what the Buckeyes have done on defense is
impressive, but it’s not like they had to pull kids out of a math class
to suit up.
As far as Tressel being given the credit as a coach, I think the problem
is the way OSU wins. It’s not fair, but the perception seems to be that
a program with as much talent as this one should be obliterating
everyone in its path by 40, like USC and Texas did last year. Of course,
that’s not really the style of how this team runs under Tressel. Weis
has the street cred because of the Super Bowl bling, and Carroll has
become a god after taking a sleeping giant and going on one of the most
dominant runs in college football history. This isn’t a knock on Tressel
(it’s actually praise), but he basically has tweaked what John Cooper
was able to do and win a national title and consistently beat Michigan.
With that said, there are a ton of coaches out there that would rock if
they got the chance head up the Ohio State machine.
What in is going on in the Pac-10? Is it mediocre coaching? They
certainly get the better players. Other than USC, Cal and Oregon, no one
is winning against the better teams. - Jack Fuller
A: And what else have you noticed? Name the conference that really
rocked this year against the better teams? The SEC did, but most of the
big non-conference games were in SEC houses. Ohio State and Michigan
were fantastic in non-conference play, but that’s Ohio State and
Michigan. The Big 12 basically tanked going winless against the good
teams in non-conference play. The ACC didn’t exactly extend itself and
lost the one big showcase game when Miami got whacked at Louisville. So
yeah, the Pac 10 might not have been stellar, but it was fine at home
and lost tough road games like Washington State at Auburn, Cal at
Tennessee, and Arizona at LSU. I’d argue that the Pac 10’s as good as
it’s been in years with the resurgence at Washington and with UCLA,
Washington State, and Arizona State, Oregon game aside, all solid.
What's going on at Fresno State? Why the struggle? – AM
A: The first theory is that the program is geared on a BCS or bust
attitude. When it loses, all dreams deflate and the team goes into the
tank. While head coach Pat Hill says all the right things about wanting
to win the conference, but the reality is that WAC championships carry
no weight whatsoever on a national scale and this program has dreams of
being bigger on a national scale. The second theory is that the teams
just haven’t been that fantastic. Oh sure, it pushed USC to the wall
last year and gave Oregon all it could handle this season, but what’s
the biggest win in the Hill era? There was the 2001 win over a Colorado
team that ended up winning the Big 12 title, but that’s sort of it.
Technically, a win over the1997 Air Force team that finished 10-3 was
the second best victory under. The national-headline wins over Oregon
State and Wisconsin in 2001 came against teams that failed to go to
bowls. The supposedly splashy wins in 2004 against Washington and
Kansas State turned out to mean jack squat since those two turned out to
stink. The bowl win over Virginia, who collapsed as much as FSU won it,
was great, but you get the point. The Fresno State hype might just be
that. This year’s team is in a bit of a transitional phase and is
obviously playing like a deflated bunch after losing to Oregon and
Can you enlighten me concerning the insanity of the coaches' poll?
For reference, I should note that I'm a Yellow Jacket. – Casey
A: As I’ve railed before, there’s no way anyone could’ve watched Georgia
play all five of its games this year and have it currently ranked higher
than LSU, Oregon, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Clemson, California,
or Georgia Tech.. Obviously, the big beef is where your Yellow Jackets
are ranked (20th), compared to Virginia Tech (18th),
after last week’s dominant Georgia Tech win in Blacksburg. Hopefully
everyone understands by not what a major joke the poll is and thanks
their college football stars that the BCS uses computer formulas in the
Pete, do you think the miami hurricanes will be able to get their
on straight and turn their downward spiral around. With the next 4 games
against houston, NC, FIU, and duke before the meat of their acc
schedule. Do you think the coaches and players have what it takes to
right the ship and make it to the acc championship. Thanks –scott
A: We’ll see, but the main thing the team has going for it, as you
alluded to, is the schedule. Virginia Tech has to come to the Orange
Bowl, while the toughest road test is at Georgia Tech. Don’t tell me
that this team, struggling as it might be, can’t beat North Carolina,
FIU, at Duke, at Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, at Maryland, at Virginia
and Boston College. It’s almost like the team has to wake up and realize
the season can still be a success. Winning the ACC title and going to a
BCS game is nothing to sneeze at, and those are still within reach for a
team this talented. Health and consistency are the biggest problems, but
if it can come up with just one breakthrough performance, the Canes
might finally play as expected the rest of the way. However, a loss at
Georgia Tech could send things into an ugly spiral.