Cavalcade of Whimsy
Dec. 2, Part 2
Dec. 2, Part 1
The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
The ten things I'm grouchy about this week …
10. The poor, poor, innocent players.
With all the coaching drama going on the concern has once again surfaced about how the players are the ones who get hosed in the process. They came to a school to play for a coach, and now he's moving on to bigger and better things, or gets canned. I've always been a believer that players should be able to change schools whenever they want to without penalty, but to say that they're somehow victims when a coach leaves, at this point, is ridiculous. With the recruiting world taking things to another level exposure-wise, and with the Internet, and with all the tools and resources that players, parents, and coaches have available, they all know exactly what they're getting into when they sign on. There's an even shot that the coach who recruited them won't be there five years later, and the players have to know that going in no matter where they choose to play.
9. Recovered fumbles after the whistle.
This happened in the Connecticut – Notre Dame game a few weeks ago and again in the Nevada – Boise State game. A play starts to wind down and everyone slows down, but the ball is fumbled. The whistle blows, most of the players stop, and the defense recovers. The play goes up to the replay booth and it's determined that the runner fumbled, defensive ball, whistle ignored. Interestingly enough, in both cases, neither announcing team made a big deal of this on replay, but the ball is supposed to be dead after the whistle. Boise State was able to overcome the error.
8. "They're doing the smart thing and will kick it on third down, in case of a bad snap."
In today's day and age of the NFL Red Zone channel, and doing what I do for a living watching games all the time, especially the endings, I'll spitball it and say that I've seen bits and pieces of, to be generously low, at least 5,000 football games over the last ten years. Of course I watched football all the time before that, so I'm going to guess that I've seen all or parts of at least 15,000 games in my lifetime (which is so sad in so many ways that I want to curl up with another pie and a can of Redi-Whip, but I digress). I can honestly never remember ever seeing a case when a team tried a crucial field goal attempt on third down, botched the snap, and then used the extra fourth down to kick the field goal. I know it's the smart move to keep the extra down in the back pocket just in case, and I'm sure I'm missing a few obvious instances, but I heard the announcers say the typical "kick it on third down" line at least three times this weekend and I came up with nothing.
7. C.J. Spiller
The Clemson running back has been one of my favorite players to watch, and I'm so happy he finally stayed healthy to show what he could do for a full season, but he's not an All-American as a running back. At least he's not on the first-team offense, but some are going to try to shoehorn him into a spot just because it seems like he should be on the elite post-season teams.
As a kickoff returner, maybe. He averaged 35.83 yards per return, second in the nation, and scored four times, but he finished the year behind Indiana's Ray Fisher by a yard-and-a-half per return, and Stanford's Chris Owusu was more productive and more consistent averaging 32.53 yards per try on 34 returns. Spiller only had 18 returns. He's not even in the discussion as purely a running back, and no, it doesn't matter that he threw a touchdown pass. Again, I'm a big fan of his, and he's going to make gobs and gobs of money at the next level, but this year he was a great all-around playmaker. There's just not a spot for him on the all-star teams other than as a return man.
6. B.C.S. as initials for anything other than the Bowl Championship Series.
We got it, you don't like the B.C.S. You're not witty by calling it the Bull Crap System, and you're not being funny by saying you call it the B.S. System. And, of course, there's the ever popular "I don't use the C," line. Just call it the B.C.S. and then go on to remark about how you don't like it if you have to.
5. Allen Iverson
The Tiger Woods story held America hostage throughout the Thanksgiving weekend, and rightly so; he's Tiger Woods. But there was no reason for the minute-by-minute updates on the bottom-of-the-screen crawl about the retirement status of Allen Iverson. For one, it's the NBA and it's not May, so it doesn't matter. Two, it's not 1999. First Iverson was retired, then he might join the Knicks, then he was really, really retired, and then there was going to be an intervention led by John Thompson to talk him out of retiring, because America can't be deprived the joy and thrill of watching Iverson sit on the bench for 44 minutes a game. A former superstar option quarterback, maybe he can find a spot on the Browns.
4. UCLA not being a lock for a bowl game at 6-6
UCLA isn't very good at playing football. It's offensive MVP was Chane Moline, who ran for 138 yards and five touchdowns, there was only one win over a bowl bound team (Tennessee), and it went 0-6 against Pac 10 teams with a pulse. But it still has six legitimate wins over FBS teams an it's probably going to be left out of the bowl mix unless Notre Dame decides to stay home. Why? Because there's a slew of seven-win teams that get a bid ahead of the Bruins because of an extra victory coming against an FCS team. Southern Miss is 7-5 with one of the wins coming over Alcorn State. 7-5 SMU beats Stephen F. Austin, Northern Illinois beat Western Illinois, Air Force beat Nicholls State (but to be fair, the Falcons are in because of a Mountain West bowl tie-in), and Fresno State beat UC Davis. UCLA is getting punished for playing, and beating, San Diego State, Tennessee, and Kansas State.
3. The eye black
Reggie Bush paid tribute to his hometown by putting 619, the San Diego area code, on the stickers under his eye. Jimmy Clausen had addidas on his, the apparel supplier to Notre Dame. And then there's Tim Tebow, who puts Bible chapters and verses on his eye black. If Tebow can use his equipment to sell God, then shouldn't players be able to use that part of their body to endorse a product for themselves? Let's say Toby Gerhart put the Gatorade logo on his eye black and he wasn't paid for it until he signed on as part of a marketing deal once he turned pro. If the NCAA wants to put the kibosh on that, then doesn't it have to keep Tebow from promoting his brand?
Maybe Gerhart just likes Gatorade a lot and wanted to put the logo on there. Or what if a player put on some message that wasn't so socially acceptable? If Tebow can preach on his uniform, then what's to stop some player from making a statement of his choosing on his? Some player is going to try this, and the NCAA will have to either ban all signage or it'll be seen as hypocritical by punishing those who don't put on words they agree with.
2. Contract extensions for coaches
In this economy and knowing what we all know now about how the coaching situations work, an athletic director should be canned any time he signs a coach to a long-term extension. It doesn't make any sense whatsoever from a logical standpoint or a financial one. Yes, the idea that a long-term contract promotes the idea of stability and is a help when it comes to recruiting, but there are always out clauses and buyout options. A coach can be signed until 2098 and it means nothing if the Cleveland Browns come calling or if the coach doesn't take his team to a bowl for three years and gets whacked.
If a coach demands a long-term extension, then say no. What's he going to do, walk? He's not going to just up and leave his high-paying coaching job on principle, and he's going to leave anyway if another job opens up that he'd rather have, so why create the possibility of getting anchored by bad paper if you want to get rid of the guy?
Illinois doesn't really want to get rid of Ron Zook, but firing him isn't even an option after signing him to an extension this offseason that pays him more than $1.5 million a year until 2014. Colorado is keeping Dan Hawkins mainly because it can't afford to eat the $3 million-plus it'll have to pay him through 2013.
If a coach is doing his job, then he gets paid and paid well. If he wants stability and a school doesn't give it to him, then let him pout and dare him to leave. He won't.
1. Nike Pro Combat
Oregon pulling a Madonna and going through constant wardrobe changes is one thing; the football program is basically owned by Phil Knight and Nike, and the gimmick has worked. But uniforms are a sacred tradition in college football and they shouldn't be altered just to promote a shoe companies' design.
Going throwback is fine. It's always sort of a nice diversion and most of the old school uniforms are better anyway. But in some of the biggest games of the year, for Ohio State, Florida, Texas, LSU, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, TCU, Missouri, and Florida State to go with the Nike Pro Combat uniforms, made in the finest of sweatshops, is wrong. Go ahead and change the technology to make the uniforms lighter and better, but student groups, like a few at the University of Florida, are right to worry about whether or not their school is being used to promote products created by exploited workers. And fans are right to want their traditions kept intact.
Random Acts of Nutty … Provocative musings and tidbits to make every woman want you and every man want to be you (or vice versa) a.k.a. things I didn't feel like writing bigger blurbs for.
- The amazing Nevada running game finished the regular season averaging, 7.59 yards per carry, rushing for 4,347 yards and 48 touchdowns, but it came into the Boise State game averaging 7.8 yards per pop. Anything over five yards per carry is considered fantastic, especially in college football with sacks taking yards off the rushing total, and Nevada averaged 5.5 yards per run in the loss to the Broncos. Nevada ran for 242 yards on 44 carries, but they have to rock in the bowl game to have a chance at the NCAA record of 7.6 yards per carry. What team came up with that? 1945 Army, and it had two Heisman winners in Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard.
- Kentucky's Rich Brooks deserves to be in the discussion of national coach of the year. His team was ravaged by injuries, he pieced together an offense around a No. 3 quarterback, and Kentucky still survived in the SEC East and is in the mix for a nice bowl game.
- Penn State DT Jared Odrick was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and the Defensive Lineman of the Year by the coaches. The media named him second-team All-Big Ten.
- The most underappreciated player in the country, including by his own sports information department, is Boston College LB Luke Kuechly, who made 16 tackles in the win over Maryland a week after making 19 stops in the loss to North Carolina. He's second in the nation in tackles with 142 and is having a better season than ACC Defensive Player of the Year Mark Herzlich had last year. Herzlich, who missed this season recovering from cancer, made 110 tackles, but he came up with six interceptions.
- John Saunders back in the studio showcasing the highlight of Alabama's Roy Upchurch scoring against Auburn. "McElroy throw a four-yard touchdown pass to Rick Upchuck, er, Upchurch."
C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: The ACC Championship … Underrated: The mediocre teams in the SEC
2) Overrated: Florida State QB E.J. Manuel trying to throw vs. Florida … Underrated: Paula Dean trying to make a catch vs. ham
3) Overrated: USC winning by 21 instead of 14 ... Underrated: Playing a full sixty minutes against an archrival
4) Overrated: Brady Quinn: "Notre Dame would be stupid to fire Charlie Weis." ... Underrated: Having ten minutes left in your pro football career
5) Overrated: Heb. 12 -1 2 ... Underrated: Verne Lundquist to Tracy Wolfson: "Mazel Tov, Tracy."
And thank you, Kyle Williams, for the and-one portion of the program …
The three lines this week that appear to be a tad
off. Woo-hoo! 2-0-1. Happy Thanksgiving, America! I press on. … 1)
Oregon State +10 over Oregon, 2) California -6.5 over Washington, 3) Florida -5.5 over Alabama
Week 12 Results: 1)
Florida -23 over Florida State, 2) Arizona -3 over
Arizona State, 3) Auburn +13.5 over Alabama … Record So Far: 14-22-3.
My Heisman ballot this week would be (if the college football season ended right now) … 1) Colt McCoy, Texas, 2) Toby Gerhart, Stanford, 3) Case Keenum, QB Houston
Sorry this column sucked, it wasn't my fault … BYU QB Max Hall didn't like it. In fact, he hated it. He hated everything about it. He hated the program, he hated my fans, he hated everything.
Dec. 2. Part 1