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Frank Costanza's Festivus Airing of the Grievances
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2006 Season | Preseason
Part Two |
Week 1 |
If this column sucks, it’s not my
fault … Oklahoma State head
coach Mike Gundy thinks my column is garbage. It makes him want to puke.
“Well, I didn’t know you wanted to get involved with the discussion, Mr.
Helper.” … Watch the Gundy all-timer of a press conference meltdown
regarding an article in The Oklahoman about QB Bobby Reid, then try to
find the classic Sam Kinison blowup on Thornton Mellon in Back to
School. Tell me the Gundy and Kinison don’t sound exactly
alike in voice, tone, and inflection.
Me thinks a $165 million gift changes things up a wee bit … Lost in
Gundy’s rant was an interesting thought about the line between the
media's role in covering college players and, in his words, attacking an
amateur athlete. Yeah, these kids are on scholarship, but they’re also
pawns in a billion-dollar industry. Their actions and play affect
millions upon millions of dollars for the school, not to mention the
budgets of the athletic departments. Sorry, but criticism comes with the
gig at the D-I level, and that pressure is often part of the reason why
players choose to go to the schools they do. The media should be able to
attack, critique, and overanalyze the on-field play of anyone at any
time, and if a player doesn’t like it, he can go play at the lower
levels where the stakes aren’t as high. However, it can’t ever be a
personal attack or mean-spirited, and at the collegiate level, the line
has to be drawn when it comes to questioning toughness or an injury.
These guys still have to go to class, and they don't always have the
world-class trainers the pros do to speed up the healing process. It's
not right to demand that they play through a serious injury like the
NFLers do. As far as "attacking," if the overall pie-in-the-sky goal of
collegiate athletics is to create better people for the real world, then
saying a quarterback sucks is a soft wet kiss behind the ear compared to
what he’s going to face when his college days are over.
In an attempt to surpass the record number of frighteningly angry
e-mails received, recently set by the “passionate” college wrestling
crowd … As of right now, with the caveat that I'll likely change my
tune as the season goes on and as teams start to jell, today, Tuesday,
September 25th, 2007, marks day one of the rest of my life. From this
day forward, I will try to be brave enough, and strong enough, to stop
blindly kissing the SEC's butt.
For years, everyone’s been afraid to poke the bear with a stick (as
opposed to the legend of The Bear poking Nick Saban), knowing that
anything short of continuous genuflecting at the altar of the almighty
SEC will bring nothing but great vengeance and furious anger from the
most passionate fans in college football.
Yes, with Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, and Mississippi State not being that
bad, from top to bottom, the SEC is the best conference going right now
(please note what I just wrote when your bile starts to build), but it’s
time to start taking a really hard look at the league this year, and
it's time to stop assuming it’s the dominant force everyone thinks it
You’re 100%, rock-solid, bet-the-house certain that LSU is one of the
two best teams in the country right now. It's been driven into your head
so much, it's now become an unquestioned fact. The defense has been so
dominant, ranking first in the nation in almost all categories, and
seventh in pass defense, that no one can do anything against it, right?
Yeah, and last year's Ohio State offense couldn't be shut down. Take a
look at the offenses LSU has faced so far: Mississippi State (102nd in
the nation), Virginia Tech (107th), Middle Tennessee (108th), and South
Carolina (79th). It won't get much harder once the meat of the season
kicks in. Right now, half the SEC offenses are ranked 74th or lower,
none are in the top ten, and only Florida, Kentucky, and Arkansas are in
the top 25. I'm not saying LSU isn't fantastic, or that the D stinks.
I'm merely saying that there might be more to the story.
You’re 100%, rock-solid, sell-the-house certain that Florida has simply
reloaded, and it automatically belongs among the national title
contenders, right? (Actually, I do believe this, but more on that
later.) Western Kentucky is barely D-I, Troy is dead last in America in
run defense, Tennessee has a great brand name, but isn’t Tennessee
right now, and Ole Miss is 107th in the nation in defense. You're
basing everything on one dominant performance against an average Vols
There's no question about it, LSU and Florida are good, but I want to
see more. Unfortunately, I won’t, because now the SECers basically play
each other, and everyone likes to pump up SEC teams based on what they
do in conference play. You have
to remember that just because one or two teams are top-shelf dominant,
that doesn’t mean the entire conference is great. Did you rank the Pac
10 as one of the best conferences over the last few years because of USC?
No, so why are you doing it now?
Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Vanderbilt aren’t awful like the true
bottom feeders in other leagues, but they’re at a lower level compared
to the rest of the league (even after MSU's win over Auburn). South
Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia
are all at a similar level of average, with a few differences here and
Arkansas can't throw more than three feet down the field with any sort
of accuracy (but to be fair, it's missing top WR Marcus Monk), Auburn is
woefully short on playmakers and on the offensive line, Alabama can't
find any sort of a pass rush no matter what the situation, Georgia is as
flaky as they come thanks to a reloading young team, Kentucky can't stop
the run, South Carolina's offense is more painful to watch than an
Oprah/The View double-feature, and Tennessee has apparently decided to
not play defense this year. I'm not saying the programs stink, and I'm
not saying these teams won't be really good at the end of the year, or
dominant next year. I'm talking about right now, and if you're watching
the entire college landscape, then you can't objectively look at the
mid-level SEC teams and say they're anything remotely special.
And then there are the big non-conference games to compare and contrast.
In the big ones, Tennessee lost
to Cal, Auburn lost to South Florida, and barely beat Kansas State, LSU
dominated a Virginia Tech team that’s still playing like the weight of
an entire region is on its shoulders, and Kentucky beat a Louisville
team that couldn’t stop you and ten girl scouts from putting up 500
yards and 43 points. That’s it.
The best non-conference wins for the other nine teams: Alabama (Western
Carolina 52-6), Arkansas (Troy 46-26), Florida (Troy 59-31), Georgia
(Oklahoma State 35-14 … this was good, even with the Cowboys’ loss at
Troy), Ole Miss (Memphis 23-21), Mississippi State (Tulane 38-17), South
Carolina (UL Lafayette 28-14), Tennessee (Southern Miss 39-19),
Vanderbilt (Richmond 41-17). Oooh, a bunch of real BCS killers in that
Basically, I'm asking the world to actually watch the SEC games like it
would games from any other league. I will now curl up into a corner with
a warm glass of milk, a copy of I'm OK, You're OK, and rest up
for the onslaught that's about to come my way.
Allegedly, The Caretaker Plan also includes dumping me for writing this
sucky column … What’s the toughest place to coach in America?
Alabama? Sure, the pressure is ridiculous, but it’s like that everywhere
in the SEC. Notre Dame? Sort of, but outside of a few academic issues,
Charlie Weis has every advantage in the book. No, the toughest place to
be a head football coach right now is at UCLA.
It’s a major media market without pro football (keep your Reggie Bush
comments to yourself), so until the Lakers get rolling, all the focus is
on USC and UCLA. Of course, the unattainable success of the Trojans
under Pete Carroll jacks the expectation levels to unfair proportions,
made only worse by a very rich, very powerful, very demanding alumni
base that can only take so much abuse from their University of Spoiled
Children friends and co-workers. And then there’s the overall UCLA
expectation level, with all the success in various sports, the
resurgence of the basketball program, and the all-timer success under
John Wooden. (Unfortunately, there’s no Sam Gilbert for the football
program.) This is a place that always demands winners. Karl Dorrell is
in a tough spot, and if he gets canned, the job search will make the
latest search for an Alabama head coach seem like an audition for
America’s Next Top Model.
On the plus side, these are the two ads currently running that don’t
have Peyton Manning in them … I’m calling you out, Taco Bell. I know
the subliminal image you’re trying to fire out in the opening shot of
the ad for your new cholesterol speedball, also known as the Cheesy
Beefy Melt. You know exactly what that looks like. I know what that
looks like. Any normal 15-year-old boy with an internet connection knows
what that looks like. There’s a reason why the hot chick, and not one of
the other people in the ad, is holding the burrito in that way from the
first frame. I’m sorry, but the ad is gross enough as is without me
having to feel all pervy for noticing your trick.
Making things worse is the ad that always seems to come on right after
with the Viva Viagra guys (possibly the same ones who shared their
feelings in the annoying Dockers ads from several years ago) who can’t
keep the ball on the tee thanks to stress, bad food, and having to
schtup the same person for 31 years.
If the timing is really right, they pop
the pill, feel the need to sing
about their cheese and biscuits, and then go on to presumably please
their women. Thank goodness there isn't a shot of them walking to their
cars for what has to be an interesting ride home.
“I gave you your chance to be a cop,
and you blew it!” … In its current batch of ads with the mock press
conferences featuring former NFL coaches, the Coors Light people had one
shot to stick the landing on the Dennis Green “crown their ass” classic,
and they missed. Go ahead and do a rewrite and reshoot. The campaign has
been building to this, and there has to be more of a payoff.
But there’s still no excuse for only running Jorvorskie Lane twice …
A pot of fancy jam goes out to Miami for once again proving that there’s
a difference between playing fast and being fast. All off-season, all we
had to hear about was how fast Florida was compared to Ohio State, when
in reality, the Gators executed better, had a superior gameplan, and
flew around with more energy. Does anyone out there ever think Miami
can’t run? Of course not, so then why did the Canes look so slow in the
51-13 loss to Oklahoma? OU played better than Miami, and Miami made
Texas A&M look like it was running in mud by playing faster on the lines
and executing better. All teams in the top 25 can run fast 40 times,
last year's Ohio State team could run with anyone, but that doesn't
always matter. Remember this the next time someone spouts about a team
being better because of its wheels.
“The last thing he said to me, Doc, he said, Sometime, when the crew
is up against it, the breaks are beating the
boys, tell them to get out there and give it all they got and win just
one for the Zipper. I don't know where I'll be then, Doc, he said, but I
won't smell too good, that's for sure.” …
This won’t be the worst season in Notre Dame history. There were a few
clunkers in the mid-1960s, bottoming out with a 2-8 campaign in 1960
(with one of the wins coming against a bad USC team). However, this will
be the worst start by a long, long shot. Just look at the schedule.
Georgia Tech and Penn State each took turns shaking the Irish. Then
Michigan slapped them, was told it was wanted on the phone, slapped them
again as the camera pans down the aisle of the airplane, where Michigan
State has on boxing gloves, Purdue has a baseball bat, UCLA has a whip,
Boston College has a tire iron, and USC has a noose.
James Earl Jones went to Michigan. He was in Field of
Dreams with Kevin Costner, who was in JFK with Kevin Bacon …
What happened to the pompous pinheads who voted for Appalachian
State in the AP poll a few weeks ago? Wofford beat Appalachian State,
who beat Michigan, who beat Penn State. Since NC State beat Wofford,
doesn’t that technically mean UCF, who beat the Wolfpack, has to be
ranked higher than Michigan and Penn State? If you really want to do
this right you AP voters, then it goes UCF, NC State, Wofford,
Appalachian State, Michigan, Penn State, in that order. Instead, Penn
State is 21st. Michigan, with 21 votes, is 31st, and UCF, with four
votes, is 35th.
definition of tough … Good luck to New
Mexico State in its fund-raising efforts to come up with
$200,000 in the fight against breast cancer. In what should be
an interesting scene against Arkansas Pine-Bluff, there will be
a pink out, with all the fans and coaches wearing pink. The
issue was brought to the forefront by head coach Hal Mumme’s
wife, June, who’s a breast cancer survivor.
The Non-Sexual Man Crush Of The Week Award
goes to … Michigan RB Mike Hart. No
one since Vince Young has carried a team on his back like Hart has. The
defense certainly did a great job against Penn State, but that was an
all-timer of a gut-check performance by one player. The whole world knew
Hart was going to get the ball, and he still produced with 44 carries
for 153 yards and a touchdown, taking the heat off freshman QB Ryan
Mallett, and all but turning around the entire program.
The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of
Everyone has mailed it in and made it a three-team race for New
Orleans between USC, LSU and Oklahoma. While it's almost a lock that at
least one of those teams will be playing for the national title, it’s
important to not go to sleep on the other unbeatens out there. Remember,
just because you didn’t put a team in your preseason top five, or top
two, that doesn’t mean it deserves to be out of the national title
discussion. Here are ten interesting storylines for some of the other
undefeated teams that you should be paying attention to.
10. South Florida is getting the love, but Cincinnati and Connecticut
are suddenly in the picture.
Now that Louisville has politely bowed out of the national title
race, and already has a setback in the hopes for a Big East title, all
eyes turn to the West Virginia vs. South Florida showdown this week to
see who’ll join Rutgers as the favorite to win the title. Flying way,
way under the radar is Connecticut, who’s coming off a dominant
performance over Pitt. The defense has forced 13 turnovers so far, while
the offense is doing just enough to get by against lousy teams. The
Huskes won’t win the Big East, and came within an awful call of losing
to Temple, but with Louisville, South Florida and Rutgers coming to
Storrs in a three game span, they’ll play a role in who will. Cincinnati
is a different story and a legitimate contender. New head man Brian
Kelly has done wonders, helped by a D that leads the nation with 19
takeaways, while the offense is averaging 45 points per game. Unlike
UConn, the Bearcats have a big-time win, stomping Oregon State 34-3.
Louisville and West Virginia have to travel to Nippert Stadium.
9. Don’t forget, Florida did this last year
Is Florida a question mark after only beating Ole Miss by six?
Absolutely not. We all made this mistake last year when the Gators won
game after game after game by tight margins, most notably with a close
call against Vanderbilt. How’d the season turn out? Looking ahead, even
if Florida loses at LSU on October 6th, if it can win out, including a
rematch with the Tigers in the SEC title game, it’s last year all over
8. Michigan State is Wisconsin’s biggest obstacle until the Ohio State
If Juice Williams can be even remotely accurate, Illinois will give
Wisconsin problems in Champaign, but it's still Illinois. While Penn
State’s defense is certainly nasty, the mediocre matchup makes it a good
matchup for the Badgers. The big problem for UW is this week’s game
against Michigan State, who exposed an overrated 9-0 Wisconsin team in
2004 in a 49-14 win. Wisconsin’s offensive line is lousy on key passing
plays, and MSU is the best in the nation at getting into the backfield.
If Wisconsin wins this game easily, then it’ll be time to suggest that
the team is for real.
7. Arizona State is going to screw someone up
There’s not enough of a pass rush from the Sun Devil defensive front
to win the title in a pass happy Pac 10, but this is a tough, physical
team that’s getting good play from all the key parts in Dennis Erikson’s
first season. In a four-game stretch, ASU plays Cal, at Oregon, at UCLA,
and USC, with two weeks off before dealing with the Trojans. If the
first four games were any indication, this team is good enough to win
two of those big for games and end up at least third.
6. Kansas is playing as well as anyone outside of Los Angeles, Baton
Rouge or Norman.
It’s not time to put KU in the BCS just yet after home games against
Central Michigan, SE Louisiana, Toledo and FIU, but while top-name
unbeatens like Wisconsin, Texas and several others have had a few
letdowns against lousy teams, Mark Mangino’s club is crushing and
killing everything in its path. KU won its first four games 214 to 23,
is first in the nation in scoring defense, third in scoring offense,
third in tackles for loss, fourth in total offense, and second in
kickoff returns. A trip to Kansas State in two weeks should finally
start to show if the team is for real.
5. The collapse might not come, part one … Clemson
We’re all familiar with Clemson’s work under head coach Tommy Bowden. If
the team is rocking in the first half of the year, it hits the skids in
the back half. If it rocks out of the gate, like last year, it goes into
the tank in the second half. However, last year’s team lost one rough
game at Virginia Tech 24-7, and lost to bowl winners Boston College,
Maryland, South Carolina and Kentucky (of course, this one was in the
Music City Bowl) by a total of 13 points. This year’s defense is
healthier, QB Cullen Harper has become magnificent, and the running
tandem of James Davis and C.J. Spiller appear to be just getting warmed
up. Considering Virginia Tech and Boston College have to come to Death
Valley, if the Tigers get by Georgia Tech this week, 11-0 is very
possible before going to South Carolina. However …
4. Boston College has the makeup to be something special (but the
schedule will ruin the dream).
The special teams are shaky and there’s not enough of a pass rush.
Other than that, this could be a special Eagle team as the year goes on.
Matt Ryan might just be the best NFL quarterback currently playing in
the collegiate ranks, the rushing tandem of Andre Callender and L.V.
Whitworth are experienced and just now starting to rumble under the new
coaching staff, and the lines have been brick walls. The defense is
finding ways to get it done without future NFL DT B.J. Raji (academics)
and LB Brian Toal (hurt). The problem? Five road games in the final
seven, including dates at Virginia Tech, Maryland and Clemson. The home
games are against Florida State and Miami.
3. The collapse might not come, part two … Oregon
We’re all familiar with Oregon’s work under head coach Mike Bellotti.
Outside of a tremendous 2005 season, in recent years, the Ducks haven’t
been able to put together a full season, with almost every year marred
by a prolonged losing stretch. It might not happen this year. Everyone
seems to have assumed that Michigan stunk it up in the 39-7 home loss to
Oregon, when in fact, Dennis Dixon and the boys might just be that good.
The offense has been unstoppable, averaging 300 rushing yards and 48.5
points per game, with Dixon
playing as well as any quarterback in America.
The defense has been shaky, but the offense, at least so far, has been
able to overcome the problems by hitting the home run. Why is it time to
buy into Oregon? Cal, USC and Arizona State all have to come to Autzen.
2. Ohio State might just be the real deal
Completely tossed aside after that game, it’s easy to forget
that Ohio State has won 23 of its last 24 games. Helped by the play of
emerging superstar WR Brian Robiskie, the offense has been explosive and
efficient. The O line is giving new QB Todd Boeckman 19 days to throw,
while the defensive line is playing like it’s trying to make up for the
Glendale debacle on every play. The defense is currently ranked second
in America, but it hasn't exactly faced a juggernaut of offenses yet, If
you really believe the Big Ten stinks, then road trips to Purdue, Penn
State and Michigan shouldn’t be that big a deal. Wisconsin has to come
1. Rutgers’ schedule
Welcome to the single biggest X factor in the 2007 season. Rutgers
hasn’t exactly set the world on fire by playing Buffalo, Navy and
Norfolk State, and while the schedule gets tougher, any team that can
even say the words national championship has to take this slate and run
with it. Maryland and Cincinnati are home games over the next two weeks
before going to Syracuse, and then comes the make-or-break two-week
stretch hosting South Florida and West Virginia. Nasty games, of course,
but again, a champion takes advantage of the home breaks. At Connecticut
could be a beartrap if there’s a lack of focus, but that’s followed up
by a trip to Army, Pitt, and finishing up at Louisville, who now looks
very, very beatable.
Nuggets for the upcoming week, now made with white meat, at
participating restaurants …
- That Georgia overtime win over Alabama might be bigger than you
think in terms of what could’ve been for Nick Saban’s first season.
There’s a home date with LSU on November 3rd, but with the way the rest
of the SEC is currently playing, every other game on the slate is
winnable: Florida State, Houston, at Ole Miss, Tennessee, at Mississippi
State, UL Monroe, at Auburn. It’s not a stretch to say that a win over
the Dawgs might have meant the LSU showdown would’ve been for an
unbeaten regular season.
- Akron had better be getting paid. The opener against Army was
technically a neutral site game, and now the Zips only have four true
home games, with only three of the first 11 in the Rubber Bowl.
- Syracuse averaged 24.8 yards per completion in its win over
Louisville. That wasn’t just a fluke five-completion day, Andrew
Robinson hit 17 of 26 passes. Middle Tennessee’s Joe Craddock averaged
20.7 yards per completion on the Cards. Ten yards per completion is
- Big name coordinates are occasionally way overrated. How's that
Florida State offense under Jimbo Fisher? Gary Crowton left Oregon for
LSU, and now the Ducks are blowing up, averaging 537 yards and 48.5
points per game. Bob Toledo left New Mexico to take the head coaching
job at Tulane and now the Lobos are on fire averaging 450 yards and 34
points per game.
C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated
aspects of the world
Oklahoma vs. Oregon,
2006 ... Underrated: Temple vs. Connecticut, 2007
2) Overrated: My hair, after getting it cut so I don’t look like an
oogie on TV … Underrated: Mike Gundy’s hair/visor combo
3) Overrated: Young, running quarterbacks ... Underrated: Old,
standstill veteran quarterbacks
Being suspended from
Florida State for a bar fight ... Underrated: Being
suspended by Tulane for allegedly knifing five people on Bourbon Street
Stepping down from
the Texas Tech defensive coordinator’s job for “personal reasons”
Losing after the
offense cranked out 646 passing yards
My Heisman ballot this week would be … Before
going on, I vote based on a combination of three things: Most valuable
player, most outstanding player, and the signature player of the season.
It’s not fair, but while Darren McFadden and Brian Brohm might be the
two most talented players in college football, without them, their teams
would have the same records they currently have. Hence the value part of
the equation. I will change my mind weekly and then sort it all out at
the end. 1) Glenn Dorsey, DT LSU, 2) Matt Ryan, QB Boston College, 3)
Sam Bradford, QB Oklahoma, 4)
Pat White, QB West Virginia, 5)
Colt Brennan, QB Hawaii.
“You know I'm born to lose, and gambling's for fools/But that's the way
I like it baby, I don't wanna live forever” … The three lines this
week that appear to be a tad off. (1-2 for a third week in a row, 3-6
overall, so as always, enjoy these just for pure amusement.) … 1) Penn
State -3 over Illinois, 2) Toledo +1 over Western Michigan, 3) Alabama
+2 over Florida State
Sorry this column sucked, but it wasn’t my fault … I wanted to leave
to go write other columns, but I was limited to ones that weren’t on
future Notre Dame schedules.