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2006 Season | Preseason
Part Two |
If this column
sucks, it’s not my fault … I’m assuming LSU will run the ball to get into the middle of
the field for a game-winning field goal attempt. Since there’s not
enough time to throw into the end zone, I’ll just move my safeties up
and …aw crap.
Let me be the one to name it: The “Hail Miles” …
I don’t care that the 22-yard Matt Flynn to
Demetrius Byrd touchdown pass that lifted LSU to a win over
Auburn worked. It was a horrible play call,
and either head coach Les Miles still doesn’t seem to understand what
actually happened and why it was so dumb, or he knows he dodged a
No, it wasn’t a great call. No, it wasn’t gutsy. It was an all-timer of
a brain-cramp that just so happened to work because of the brilliant
execution by the players. It was the type of call that Miles, who
obviously had no clue about the clock situation, will make in the future
that will get his team beat. Even after the fact, Miles still didn’t get
it. From his press conference …
“I would have made the exact same call if I had the chance again.
In the specifics that we have a quarterback who understands that we need
to conserve the time on the clock. I felt really comfortable that the
call was given enough time to place if it was incomplete. If he brings
the ball down and runs, then I have a timeout in my pocket I am ready to
use. If we get to the next down, I like Colt David.”
Uh, and what if the ball got batted away or picked off or juggled and
the dropped? There would’ve been no time left if there had been anything
other than a completion, or at best, one second left if everything
worked out right, and considering LSU would’ve won, not tied,
won, by kicking a field goal, it was a totally unnecessary gamble. If
the field goal would have sent it into overtime, then the play call is
at least justifiable. As it happened, it was the equivalent of being
down one in basketball with time running out and passing up a seven-foot
shot for a 45-footer.
With that said, every national title team needs one of these kinds of
moments. As good as LSU might be, to win a championship, it needs a few
big breaks that teams like Oklahoma and USC didn’t get.
Was that a duck or is there another AFLAC ad? … In 1988, LSU beat
Auburn 7-6 in the famous Earthquake Game, dubbed so because the Tiger
crowd erupted so loudly after a late Tommy Hodson touchdown pass that a
tremor was measured on a seismograph in the geology department. 19 years
later it happened again late in another Auburn-LSU classic, but it
wasn’t Flynn to Byrd. It was just Todd Blackledge after weeks of eating
fried fries and fries smothered in deep fried gravy for his ongoing
If the marketing people had any stones and
foresight, they’d just call it The Defibrillator… One thing
the Blackledge bit does show is just how much garbage people put into
their bodies every time they go out to eat. There’s an uproar over
Hardee’s 920-calorie, 60-fat gram Country Breakfast Burrito, but the
huge numbers put on the board don’t even scratch the surface compared to
what gets served at most restaurants. If you want to eat big fatty
burritos, knock yourself out. The melted polar ice caps or Superbug
filled Pakistani nukes will probably get to you before the cholesterol
Or he could just be like Sammy Sosa and pretend he can't speak
English … Clad in T-shirts saying:
“T.O. Tradition. Order.” Nebraska fans are all giddy over Tom Osborne
stepping in as the interim athletic director in charge of trying to make
Nebraska Nebraska again. Of course, with Osborne comes an implied
aura of respect and legendary status as a tie to when several Husker
teams were among the best in college football history. But along with
all the good comes a rehash of the darker side of the Osborne era.
There were the fiascos involving Christian Peter, Lawrence Phillips, and
Osborne’s shockingly disastrous inability to properly handle the
low-character element brought in to win a national title. The other
major issue is steroids and the role they played in all the success.
Osborne was at the forefront of steroid testing in the 1980s, but at the
same time, the rumors were deafening that Nebraska was a chemical
factory that made the BALCO boys look like they were dispensing Pez.
Yeah, everyone was doing them at the time, but Osborne and his training staff went out of
their way to denounce the practice despite all the rumblings that
everything wasn't exactly kosher.
Back in the 1980s and early 90s, steroids were part of the deal. You
couldn’t swing a Lyle Alzado without hitting a juiced up offensive line.
Now, in today’s day and age when we’re supposed to care about steroids,
and when we’re supposed to care about cleaning things up, Osborne’s
return marks a chance to potentially do something big.
We all say we don’t want steroids around
and want to see games decided on ability, and not a pill or syringe, but
in reality, that only applies to certain sports. Football seems to get a
free pass. We know human beings aren’t supposed to be 6-4, 255 pounds
and run a 4.45 40. We know that linemen have gone from using steroids to
become hulking 280 pound sides of beef, to now growing into 300+ pound
athletes who can run and hit equally well. But if part of the sports
world could somehow gloss over the running joke that was the Barry Bonds
home run chase, then the entire sports world doesn’t appear to want
anything to touch its beloved football.
And that’s where Osborne can make a difference.
He’s in charge of making the Husker fans happy by building a superpower
again, and he could very well do that. But with his stature and
Washington contacts, he has a chance to make a real change by stepping
up the overall drug testing policies for his program, and by challenging
the rest of the Big 12 and the rest of college football to follow suit.
Introducing legislation is one thing, but putting it in action and
making it actually work is another.
You can also tell he’s on something if he taps his foot twice when
asked a question … Speaking of performance enhancers, whenever you
hear announcers glow about a player who sets program records in the
weight room, or in some sort of a strength and conditioning test, a
mental red flag had better instantly go up.
But I’ll still take my chances with Joe Montana under center …
Notre Dame wore its cool green jerseys against USC to honor the 30th
anniversary of the 1977 championship team and also to inspire a possible
upset. Everyone was hoping the Irish would play like that ’77 team, and
it did. Of course, the 1977 team is full of guys in their 50s.
Not worrying about the current interest fiasco is … Boston
College. It’s just renting that spot at number two.
He might go on to win several Super Bowls, but good luck topping
Bridget Moynahan and Gisele Bundchen …
Remember back in the early 1990s when everyone tried to make Harold
Miner into the next Michael Jordan, mainly because he could jump out of
the gym, had the same look, height and build as the Chicago superstar?
The media even dubbed him “Baby Jordan.” At around the same time,
Florida State QB Casey Weldon was being called by some as the next Joe
Montana, mainly because he looked like the NFL legend. Pro Football
Weekly’s 1992 Draft Preview even said Weldon had “Joe Montana-like
qualities.” Let’s not do the same thing with Boston College QB Matt
I’m a huge fan of his, and I truly believe he’ll be a starter in the NFL
for the next ten years. But now he’s being talked about as the possible
top pick in the 2008 Draft, and while he’s fantastic, I can’t help but
think that somewhere in the subconscious minds of many scouts is Ryan’s
physical similarities to Tom Brady. They’re both tall, strong leaders
who wear No. 12 and play in the Boston area. You think I’m crazy? Watch
how many times Brady’s name comes up in the analysis of Ryan between now
Yeah, but you too could throw 20 TD passes if all you had to do was
chuck it up into the air for Randy Moss … It’s such a shame that
Charlie Weis left New England a few years ago depriving us of a chance
to see if Tom Brady could ever reach his potential. It’s too bad his
career has gone into the tank without his former tutor.
Off the topic … If I’m the Oakland Raiders, I find some sort of
way to get go after Randy Moss and a portion of his salary back from the
time spent with the Silver and Black. Lost in all the Patriot love was
how it’s now obvious that Moss was completely dogging it over the last
We’re No. 1! We’re No. 1! We’re No. 1! … Baylor assistant
football coach Eric Schnupp was charged with disorderly conduct and
reckless exposure for whizzing on a bar at a place called Scruffy
Murphy’s in Waco. On the plus side, it’s one of the first times all year
a Bear hit its intended target.
Of course, there were four million other reasons helped ease the
transition … Alright all you self-righteous media types, it’s time
to apologize for the way you overreacted to Nick Saban’s bailing on the
Miami Dolphins. Give him credit for realizing that NFL coaching is about
the luck of the draw. If you don’t have the players, there’s absolutely
nothing you can do. In college, you simply go out and recruit the
position you need to strengthen. Free agency only goes so far in the
NFL, if you have to go with the lousy cards you’re dealt, you’re screwed
no matter who you are.
It’s also time to admit that maybe, possibly, it wasn’t that Steve
Spurrier couldn’t coach in the NFL, it’s that he was stuck with an awful
team to play with. Granted, he had a big hand in the team stinking, but
it’s not like he’s funnin’ ‘n’ gunnin’ at South Carolina. The man can
coach. Last time I checked, Joe Gibbs is a pretty decent coach, and he
hasn’t exactly set the NFL world on fire after his return.
And if it’s in the studio, there’s technically no reason to play that
opening song about coming to the city … ESPN’s College GameDay
continues to be the gold standard of all football pregame shows, college
or pro, and is a solid second behind the brilliant TNT and Charles
Barkley’s NBA studio coverage. With that said, the idea of going to the
site of the big game is a bit played out. I joke about the Blackledge
food bit, but the GameDay shows should have a little bit of that style
and get more of the flavor of the campus and the environment. As it’s
put together now, the actual site the show is at doesn’t matter. It’s
just a different set of fans yelling woooooo.
Scoring defense … It’s time to tweak the way the stats are
compiled. Ohio State gave up 17 points to Michigan State, with all 17
being added to the scoring defense totals. The Buckeyes still lead the
nation in scoring defense, allowing just 7.88 points per game, but it’s
actually 6.125 considering the two Spartan touchdowns came from the D.
The 24-17 win over MSU wasn’t a proper indicator to the rest of the
nation of just how strong this OSU defense is.
Don’t fall for the trap the pollsters do. Ohio State lost all its
defensive stars last year, but got back offensive players everyone had
heard of like Troy Smith, Ted Ginn and Anthony Gonzalez. The Buckeyes
were voted No. 1 without much of a fight. Flip it this year. Now the
defense is as loaded as last year’s offense was, while the offense is
filling in the gaps. Just because defense isn’t always sexy, that’s no
reason to assume the team isn’t great.
“Then, after a period of being "there for you", we slowly remove the
two words "for you", and we're just (Makes a "ta-da!" gesture)
"there"”.… I told you that West Virginia was going to slip and slide
its way into the national title game, and last week was step one of the
wheels going in motion. I’m telling you, it’s all setting up perfectly.
After starting out ninth, the Mountaineers moved up to seventh after
South Florida, South Carolina and Kentucky lost. Boston College is
going to lose at least once, Arizona State, Oregon and the rest of the
Pac 10 are going to start picking each other off, Ohio State still has
to deal with at Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois, and at Michigan,
Oklahoma is looking like a team begging to get tagged, and LSU could
have problems with a trip to Alabama or in the SEC title game. As we all
know, it’s about when, not if, you lose.
“You have to ask me nicely. You see, Danny, I can deal with the
bullets and the bombs and the blood. I can
deal with the heat and the stress and the fear. I don't want money and
I don't want medals” .…
I want is to be able to finish the line from A Few Good Men
when describing the Oregon all-white uniforms worn last week. Oregon
football is like a mid-range hot chick. Along with unnecessarily
changing its clothes far too often, it’s fast, loud and exciting, but
you know it’s not going to last and will end up breaking your heart out
of the blue.
And not one shot of Judd in the bunch … The press release just
came across. CBS will televise Kentucky’s next two games against
Mississippi State and Vanderbilt as the SEC showcases of the day after
ruling that 3,391 cuts to the Wildcat Dance Team weren’t enough.
“Mattingly, I thought I told you to shave those sideburns!”
,,, It’s taken half the year, but I finally found the player worthy
of being the Heisman front-runner. If I gave you a player who led the
nation in passing efficiency for a top five caliber team in a premier
conference, was seventh in total offense, threw 17 touchdown passes,
1,711 yards, three interceptions, ran for 578 yards and ten touchdowns,
with at least one in every game, and carried the ball 125 of the team’s
267 attempts, you’d probably make him a Heisman leader, right? Florida’s
Tim Tebow is carrying Florida right now, and more than Michigan’s Mike
Hart, is the nation’s most valuable player, along with being one of the
most outstanding. Oregon’s Dennis Dixon has thrown for 1,728 yards and
16 touchdown passes with three interceptions, and has rushed for 416
yards and seven scores, but he hasn’t had to do what Tebow has.
The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
There’s never any guarantee that a team will be amazing when its star
returns for a senior season rather than go off to make his riches in the
pros. Andre Woodson might be making himself a fortune by leading
Kentucky to a huge year, while Brian Brohm, as good as he has been,
hasn’t been able to carry Louisville. Even so, the college football
landscape would be far different if the players had to stay a full four
years before going pro. Every year around this time, I like to go back
and look at what the season would be like if everyone had come back. You
can “what if?” something like this to death, but I’ll keep it in the
land of the likely.
10. Wake Forest goes from good to possibly special
As is, the run defense has been amazing, and it would’ve been a
brick wall had tackling machine Jon Abbate not foolishly left early to
became a Houston Texan. Would he have been the difference in the
season-opening losses to Boston College and Nebraska? Maybe not against
the Eagles, but he likely would’ve been the difference against the
Huskers when just one extra big defensive play was needed late.
9. Notre Dame wouldn’t be dead last in rushing.
Darius Walker stunned Charlie Weis and Notre Dame when he said he was
leaving after his junior year. After not getting draft, he’s barely
hanging in the league as a Houston Texan. Had he been back, Notre Dame
would still likely be 1-7 to start, but the offense would be far better,
and it wouldn’t be 119th in the nation on the ground
averaging 34 yards per game. Walker’s presence would’ve eased the
transition for Jimmy Clausen.
8. Arkansas would be in the thick of the SEC race
The Hogs lost to Alabama because it couldn’t get enough pressure on QB
John Parker Wilson and didn’t get enough production from the secondary.
The same goes for the late loss to Kentucky and against Auburn, when the
Wildcats were able to come up with a key final drive to pull off the
win. Star DE Jamaal Anderson and CB Chris Houston would’ve been the
difference in at least two of those three losses, if not all three. The
Hogs would probably have been 6-1 or 5-2 at worst instead of 4-3.
7. USC would still be unbeaten
Patrick Turner was decent against Stanford, and tight end Fred Davis
was tremendous, as John David Booty threw for 364 yards and two
touchdowns in the loss. The Trojans needed one big playmaker to change
things around and put the game away, and that likely would’ve been
Dwayne Jarrett. Stanford wouldn’t have had an answer.
6. Oklahoma would get an even bigger start from Sam Bradford
Would Oklahoma have beaten Colorado if Adrian Peterson was still
running the ball in Sooner uniform? The Sooners were held to just 118
rushing yards and two touchdowns from Allen Patrick, but that’s Allen
Patrick. If Peterson can carve up Chicago like that, then he likely
would’ve found some room to move against the Buffs.
5. California would’ve been unbeaten
Marshawn Lynch would’ve joined forces with Justin Forsett to take
over all the offensive workload from Kevin Riley in the Oregon State
game, while the Bear ground game wouldn’t have been held to 67 yards by
4. LSU doesn’t lose to Kentucky
Do you really think Les Miles would’ve run the ball four times in
overtime if JaMarcus Russell was still under center? Matt Flynn only
completed 17 of 35 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown against the
3. Ohio State would be number two, and no one would think boo about
The defense would’ve still been the defense, ranking number one in
the nation in the top categories. Now picture the Ohio State offense,
which is right now averaging a respectable 415 yards per game, with Ted
Ginn, Anthony Gonzalez, and Antonio Pittman to go along with Chris Wells
and Brian Robiskie? OSU would still be unbeaten, and the results
would’ve been truly frightening.
2. Florida would be number one from the start, but would’ve still
lost to LSU
The Gator pass defense is giving up 257 yards per game, got picked
apart by Kentucky’s Andre Woodson, and hasn’t been anything special ever
since stuffing Western Kentucky in week one. DE Jarvis Moss would’ve
certainly helped an already solid pass rush, Brandon Siler would’ve been
a boost for the run defense, and Reggie Nelson and Ryan Smith would’ve
certainly been a big plus for the secondary. There’s no way Auburn QB
Brandon Cox would’ve been as efficient as the Tiger win, and it would’ve
have been pounded on for 247 yards and against LSU. However, remember,
LSU would’ve had JaMarcus Russell.
1. We’d have an all-timer of a Heisman race
Along with Mike Hart, Andre Woodson, Graham Harrell and Colt
Brennan, throw Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, Marshawn Lynch, and
JaMarcus Russell into the Heisman mix. Erik Ainge would be stronger with
Robert Meachem back, John David Booty would’ve been a candidate with
Dwayne Jarrett to throw to, and Arizona State’s Rudy Carpenter would’ve
become more of a sleeper with Zach Miller to throw to. Arkansas would’ve
certainly been better, meaning Darren McFadden would be still in the
The current juniors who’ll be analyzed in next year’s column. The
ten top juniors who are all but certain to be gone are … 1) Darren
McFadden, RB Arkansas, 2) Calais Campbell, DE Miami, 3) DeSean Jackson,
WR California, 4) Tyson Jackson, DE LSU, 5) Kenny Phillips, S Miami, 6)
Derrick Harvey, DE Florida, 7) Rey Maualuga, LB USC, 8) Malcolm Jenkins,
CB Ohio State, 9) Steve Slaton, RB West Virginia, 10) James Laurinaitis,
LB Ohio State
Nuggets for the upcoming week, now made with white meat, at
participating restaurants …
- Hawaii is averaging 464 passing yards per game. New Mexico State is
averaging 317 passing yards a game. Enjoy.
- The award for the best remaining game that you’re not remotely
interested in comes December 1st when Florida Atlantic goes
to Troy to
likely decide the Sun Belt title.
- In case you’re snoozing, Wake Forest has won five straight and has a
great chance to make some big noise over the final five games helped by
home games against North Carolina and NC State. No, the Demon Deacons
aren’t going to win a second straight ACC title, but they’re for real.
- The SMU defense has been a special kind of bad over the last three
games, giving up 308 yards and five scores to UTEP, 209 yards and three
scores to Southern Miss, and 361 yards and four touchdowns to Matt Forte
and Tulane. Tulsa and the nation’s third ranked offense are up next, but
the game to watch out for is in three weeks at Houston on November 4th.
SMU doesn’t have the linebacker speed to keep up with Anthony Alridge.
C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five
Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
... Underrated: Johnny Drama
2) Overrated: Ellen … Underrated: Mutts & Moms
3) Overrated: The SEC East race ... Underrated: The SEC West race
4) Overrated: Cheryl ... Underrated: Larry
South Florida at two
South Florida at ten
My Heisman ballot this week would be … I vote
based on a combination of three things: Most valuable player, most
outstanding player, and the signature player of the season. I might
wildly change my mind weekly, but I’ll sort it all out at the end. 1)
Tim Tebow, QB Florida, 2) Matt Ryan, QB Boston College, 3) Mike Hart, RB
Michigan, 4) Dennis Dixon, QB Oregon, 5) Michael Crabtree, WR Texas Tech
“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. (Will there ever be a rainbow? Yes! 2-1 last week for the first time all year.
7-15 overall.) … 1) Michigan State -3 over Iowa. 2) Ohio State -3.5 over
Penn State, 3) Toledo -3.5 over Northern Illinois
Sorry this column sucked, but it wasn’t my fault … like the USC
charter flight on the way to Notre Dame, I couldn’t figure out how to
land the thing.