Cavalcade of Whimsy
Dec. 9, Part 2
Dec. 9, 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. ACC Championship and the Big 12 Championship being played at the same time.
For those of you who missed it, which is just about everyone, Georgia Tech beat Clemson 39-34 in a thrilling ACC Championship. There was a gut-check late drive by the Yellow Jackets, a breathtaking touchdown catch from Demaryius Thomas, and a brilliant, Heisman-worthy day from C.J. Spiller, who kept Clemson alive by running 20 times for 233 yards and four touchdowns despite playing banged up. You probably didn't see any of this because, as you should've been, you were riveted to the unfolding drama of the Big 12 Championship. ACC, get your championship off of ESPN and back on ABC, even if it's in the afternoon. You're a BCS conference. Act like it.
9. Texas doesn't deserve to play for the national championship.
There's no real argument for TCU, Cincinnati, or Boise State to be playing for the national title instead of Texas or Alabama. There are ways to work the stats, the schedules, and the computer models to show why and how the Longhorns don't belong in the BCS Championship, but really, would you be that jacked up about Cincinnati vs. Alabama? Well, maybe, but it's not like Texas is just some program that had a nice year. It's 13-0, it's the Big 12 champion, it has won 31 of its last 33 games, and it really does have a chance to win it all (more on that next week). There are five deserving teams for two spots. Someone had to be left out, and while it sucks and it's not fair that the Horned Frogs, Bearcats, and Broncos aren't in, Texas isn't the dud of a national title team you might think it is after the Big 12 Championship.
8. Bowl practice time.
Why are the bowls such a big deal to coaches? They help keep their jobs, for one thing, they're fun, they're the carrot at the end of the stick, and mostly, they allow the coaching staff to get in 15 good practices to prepare and sharpen up for next year as well as for the extra game. The college teams don't get nearly the prep time the pros do and don't get nearly the practice time you probably think they do. That's why extra rep, every drill, and every practice the non-seniors get is a big deal in the evaluation and developmental process. Every team should get the same practice time. Non-bowl teams, the ones who need the most help to improve, should get winter practice time, too. Bowl teams get an unfair advantage going into the following season.
7. Tiger morality.
Tiger might be a big dope in how he handled his side item samplers, and he might be disgraced and embarrassed, but it's not like he's doing anything different than most pro athletes do. That doesn't make cheating on the wife okay, you don't have to eat the big yummy ice cream sundae just because it's in front of you and there is the disrespectful jerkweed part of the equation, but until you're a world-famous billionaire who gets hit on by next-level hot women on an hourly basis, you have no clue what life is like for these guys and no, you can't relate in any possible way. It's really easy for the normal to get all high and mighty when it comes to morals, but try having that thrown at you from all sides, and at the most basic of primal levels, not want to go where the rainbow ends.
Talk about flying under the radar, if you're USC and you're going to lose to Arizona at home to cap off an 8-4 regular season, you do it on the same day that Alabama blows away Florida, Cincinnati comes back to beat Pitt in a thriller, and Texas needs a split-second to beat Nebraska. Losing to Washington is unforgiveable, not improving on offense as the season went on is an indictment, and going to the Emerald Bowl is an embarrassment for a program that thinks the Rose Bowl beneath it, but everyone needs to take a deep breath; it's not like USC will disband the program. 8-4 isn't all that bad. The Trojans will turn out to be fine, however, they had better rip apart Boston College or this will be a long, long offseason.
5. "Ndamukong Suh is the best player in the country, but …"
Listen to the talking heads and read the comments on the Heisman and you'll hear the same thing over and over again. "Ndamukong Suh was the best player in the country this year, but I voted for (insert lesser player here)." I get that this isn't supposed to be about who the No. 1 pick in the draft will be and it isn't about talent, but Suh was the best combination of being the most talented, the most outstanding, the most valuable, and the most amazing player in America. Mark Ingram is deserving, and he's going to win it, but he's a great running back. That's it. Suh is having an all-timer of a season for a defensive tackle and, arguably, he had the greatest game anyone has ever played at the position when the stakes were the highest. If you think Suh was the top player, then why didn't you vote for him?
4. Confusing the Rose Bowl with the BCS Championship
Mack Brown called it the "Grandfather of them all." Many Texas types were talking about going to the Rose Bowl, and while technically they're right, the BCS Championship will be played in the stadium called the Rose Bowl while Ohio State and Oregon will be playing in the Rose Bowl. I've had to explain this four times now to fans and on the radio in the last 24 hours, meaning, mostly, that the brand name of the BCS Championship hasn't exactly taken hold in America's lexicon.
3. Nebraska's offense
102nd in the nation in total offense, 101st in passing offense, 141 rushing yards per game … the Nebraska offense didn't work. Had the Huskers been merely below average offensively, they'd be 12-1 and off to the Fiesta Bowl, and they would've made the Texas Tech game far different. The answer is so simple and so ridiculously obvious that Bo Pelini needs to use the next month before the Holiday Bowl to do it: run the option.
No offense in sports was as consistently great for a longer period of time than the Nebraska running game, and there's no reason to not go back to what worked. It's not like the changes in the Husker offense have made the place a factory for NFL passing talent, and it's unfortunate that such a great defensive season went to waste. Nebraska, go stop Georgia Tech A-Back coach Jeff Monken from taking the Georgia Southern job and make him the offensive coordinator. Go get Navy offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper and get the offense working again with the ground game. The fans would love it, Nebraska would have its identity back, and the transformation back to glory would be completed.
2. Notre Dame not going to a bowl game.
Notre Dame went about the bowl opportunity the wrong way. The program chose to refuse a bowl invite because of "unique circumstances," and was given a free pass because of all the current turmoil surrounding the coaching issue. But why? If anyone around the Irish was thinking, they'd realize this was a unique circumstance in a different way. Yes, the Hawaii Bowl did make a difference for the first part of this season as the offense showed it could produce, and this year, a bowl could be used as a glorified scrimmage for 2010. With Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate going off to the NFL, why not let young prospects get a full game of preparation and experience under their belts before diving into 2010? With eight starters expected to return on defense, why not give everyone another game of work? Bench the offensive tackles who won't be around next year, put Taylor Dever and Matt Romine on the outside and get them some game experience. You always accept the bowl bid. Always.
1. The myth of Tim Tebow
Screaming at the defense didn't turn things around in the SEC Championship. Yelling "Let's go!!!" and wildly waving the arms didn't make Florida block and tackle better. Tebow didn't have a miserable game against Alabama; the coaching staff did. It was a poorly called game, the adjustments didn't work, and Alabama looked far better prepared. But Florida wasn't properly energized, and some Gators actually said that Alabama played with more fire. Who's fault is that?
Of course it's the coaching staff's fault for not pushing the right buttons, but if Tebow really is worthy of being a Heisman finalist, which he's not, then all that screaming, yelling, posturing, and extra garbage that surrounds his game should've made the difference. It didn't, and that game should've kept him out of New York. It didn't.
That Tebow is a Heisman finalist over C.J. Spiller and Case Keenum is an embarrassment and it should lead to a weeding out process of the voters. For those who couldn't wait to submit their ballot and did so before the final weekend of the regular season, they should be called out for their impatience. And those who made Tebow one of the top three after last weekend should be purged for their idiocy.
Tebow is one of the greatest players in college football history, but this year he was just another guy and this Florida season, considering the returning talent and the goals set, is now a complete and utter failure. Let this be a lesson to those NFL types who think personality and motivational skills mean more than talent and ability.
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.
- As bad as USC has been, in the Rose Bowl the Trojans would likely be a seven point favorite and would've covered it with ease.
- No real point here, I just found it mildly interesting. For the second year in a row, six players (BGSU's Freddie Barnes, Houston's James Cleveland, Missouri's Danario Alexander, KU's Kerry Meier, Hawaii's Greg Salas and UT's Jordan Shipley) went over the 100-catch mark. However, seven rushers went over 1,500 yards last year with Shonn Greene going over 1,800 and Donald Brown finishing with over 2,000. This year, five players are over 1,500 yards going into the bowls.
- Why did Florida lose to Alabama? Louis Murphy was off catching four passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns for Oakland in the win over Pittsburgh, while Percy Harvin caught six passes for 79 yards and a score in the loss to Arizona and will likely end up being the Rookie of the Year. The Gators beat Bama without Harvin last year, but Murphy was a big factor. As good as Riley Cooper has been at times, he's not a replacement for either one of last year's two star targets.
C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: Les Miles clock management … Underrated: Mack Brown clock management
2) Overrated: Matt Barkley … Underrated: Chris Rix
3) Overrated: Ari Fleischer ... Underrated: Using the Mission Accomplished declaration for the BCS
4) Overrated: Gatorade dropping Tiger Woods as a spokesman because of nooky ... Underrated: Gatorade keeping Michael Jordan as a spokesman despite the nooky
5) Overrated: Georgia Tech vs. Iowa ... Underrated: TCU vs. Boise State
If you're going to go down, down fa-laming … Next week will come my picks for every bowl game. And yes, I will come back after yet another awful regular season. I'm setting the stage for a big fourth quarter comeback. … Week 13 Results: 1) Oregon State +10 over Oregon (W, Oregon 37-33), 2) California -6.5 over Washington (L, Washington 42-10), 3) Florida -5.5 over Alabama (L, Bama 32-13) … Record So Far: 15-24-3.
My Heisman ballot cast for the Most Outstanding College Football Player in the United States for 2009 … 1) Ndamukong Suh, DT Nebraska, 2) Toby Gerhart, RB Stanford, 3) Mark Ingram, RB Alabama
Sorry this column sucked, it wasn't my fault … I wasn't living with a grad student in Malibu; I was living with my wife in my house. You could bet that if I were writing the column with a grad student here in South Bend, it would be national news.
Dec. 9. Part 1