Mark Sanchez is No Dummy

January 15, 2009


I can promise right now that this will not turn into an NFL draft blog but I thought this was interesting. Mark Sanchez will be leaving Southern Cal for the NFL after his junior year. And why the hell not? No Tebow, no Bradford and no McCoy to contend with in early rounds. Only Matt Stafford will be in competition with Sanchez as the first quarterback to be selected and the reality is that with the cannon of an arm he has, Stafford was going to be ahead anyway. So Sanchez goes from being at best the fourth or fifth QB taken in this draft to probably the second. Smart move. Especially since there seems to be no way, outside of an undefeated season, for Southern Cal to be in the national title picture next year. With power teams coming back in the SEC and Big 12, the PAC 10 will be viewed as too soft (rightly or wrongly).

Anyway, like I said, there won’t be too much more on the NFL draft here but I thought it worth mentioning.

Easy on the Accolades

January 15, 2009

Over the past week or so the mainstream media has fallen in love with the idea that it’s cool to stay in college again now that Colt McCoy, Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow have all announced their intention to forgo the NFL draft for at least one more season. There have been dozens of articles circulating lauding these guys, Tebow and Bradford in particular (for obvious reasons), for their decision and suggesting, or at the very least wondering if it will start a new trend of guys sticking around. That coupled with Myron Rolle’s decision to fulfill his Rhodes Scholarship and spend a year at Oxford has set the sports media world on fire.

Well I hate to break it to you all but it’s not a trend. Tebow is not going because he has been advised that he wouldn’t be a particularly high draft pick this season. Colt McCoy, same thing. And Bradford was only a sophomore and he really wants to win a national title. Each of these guys had a committee put together to research draft possibilities and contact representatives from NFL teams. So it’s not that innocent and simple a decision and just wanting to stay in school. They all want to stay AT school, but that’s a big difference.

What’s getting a little bit lost in the shuffle is the fact that there are plenty of underclassmen declaring themselves eligible for the draft, including Texas Tech sophomore Michael Crabtree, the now likely top pick (it is the Lions after all). See if you recognize any of these names: Glen Coffee (Alabama), Josh Freeman (Kansas St.), Shonn Greene (Iowa), P.J. Hill (Wisconsin), Ricky Jean-Francois (LSU), LeSean McCoy (Pitt), Knowshon Moreno (Georgia), Matthew Stafford (Georgia), Andre Smith (Alabama), Beanie Wells (Ohio State). Yeah, all of them or at least most of them were premier names in college football this season. And there are at least 31 more underclassmen in this draft. So I wouldn’t say that the trend is swinging toward staying in school. With a lot of non-qualifiers spending an extra year in prep school or guys getting redshirted, there are more sophomores coming out than ever, too.

It is safe to say that any kind words written on behalf of Myron Rolle are probably not enough to describe how great a move he’s making. We always hear the term student-athlete but Rolle was probably more heavy on the front end of that, despite his great talents on the field. He graduated early from high school and finished early at Florida State as well. He’s clearly brilliant and now we know his decision making abilities are just as strong. His story should be the focus of the staying in school articles, not the three quarterbacks.

But don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to see those three guys come back. It’s good for the game and obviously good for their respective schools. It’s amazing to have a returning Heisman winner come back to school for the second year in a row and it’s possible that either Bradford or Tebow could win the coveted second trophy. But even that sub-plot aside, I’m glad to see at least some guys stick around. I just wish the mainstream media would quit salivating over guys for doing the right thing. I know it happens rarely these days but let’s not anoint kids as saints because they’re the exception not the rule. The exception is to be a normal, reasonable person. To laud these guys for being good kids is overdoing it a little bit. It’s fine to recognize the good guys but just being a good guy should not be seen a extra special. Though I guess these days, sadly, it is the extreme exception.

Carolina Flop

January 1, 2009


I know I haven’t spent as much time in the latter months of this year as I did earlier on focusing on South Carolina football. So let me go ahead and finish off the season with a quick post. They suck. The end.

Shonn Greene and Iowa completely crushed Carolina down in Tampa at the Outback Bowl. Greene had 121 yards rushing and three touchdowns and Iowa jumped out to a 31-0 lead before Carolina scored toward the end for a 31-10 final. Not only could the Gamecocks not stop the Iowa ground game (or any other part of Iowa’s offense), quarterback Stephen Garcia was horrid. Garcia was 9-18 for 79 yards and three awful interceptions. He also lost a fumble in the first half and was eventually benched in favor of Chris Smelley. Garcia is of course from Tampa and his ‘homecoming’ certainly didn’t live up to whatever expectations Carolina might have had.

This is I suppose a fitting end for such a weird year for the Gamecocks. They had a few nice wins (at Ole Miss, Arkansas and they crushed Tennessee) but over the last three games they were outscored 118-30 in losses to Iowa today, Clemson and Florida. Not the worst losses in the world but they were by such resounding margins that it’s going to be tough this offseason to point to anything good that happened late in ’08.

The loss today leaves Carolina at 7-6. Last year they went 6-6 (after starting 6-1). It’s pretty safe to say that the Steve Spurrier era just isn’t working out here in Columbia. Even though he probably has the all-time honeymoon period, questions aren’t going to be far off here in town about whether or not it’s time to move on and change direction. Four years haven’t amounted to much so far. Mostly high expectations and missed opportunities.

Poinsettia Bowl Preview

December 23, 2008

Tonight at 8 (in the east) Boise State and Texas Christian will square off in what is clearly the best non-BCS bowl game this year. Boise comes in with a 12-0 record having been skipped over by Utah and Ohio State for a BCS game. TCU is 10-2 with losses only coming against Utah and Oklahoma, certainly two worthy opponents.

Amazingly, these two teams are each ranked at least 11th in the polls but are playing this game on December 23. But their worthiness for better bowls aside, this should be a great game. Boise will be out to prove that they did in fact deserve to play in the BCS and gets a chance to showcase its skills away from the blue field up in Idaho. That is the best thing for Boise because no one can say that they weren’t willing to play a quality opponent on a neutral field. TCU barely lost to Utah and will be out to prove that they are a program on the rise and deserve to be mentioned with the Utahs and Boises of the world.

I would love to speak with conviction about one team or the other’s chances but really I don’t know who is going to win. I’m speculatively picking Boise in Trey’s bowl pick ’em but I have no solid reasoning for that. I just hope that people will tune in, as I will, to see two teams who don’t get on tv very often. It’s a great chance for Boise and TCU to be on national, prime time tv and put on a good show. And with the game being in San Diego, there is little chance of bad weather having an effect on the outcome of the game.

The Not-so-Curious Case at Auburn

December 16, 2008

chizikWhat the hell is going on at Auburn, you ask? They fire Tommy Tuberville, a pretty damn good coach who had an off-year this year, despite going undefeated just four years ago and holding an amazing record while on the Plains. To replace him, Auburn hires Gene Chizik, the coach at Iowa State. Chizik was the defensive coordinator at Auburn when they went undefeated in 2004 and then was co-defensive coordinator at Texas when they went undefeated and won the national title in 2005, so the guy has some big game, big time experience. But then he was the head coach at Iowa State for two years and went 5-19. That’s not very good, and he was in the North so he was barely playing Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech or Oklahoma State. So what are they thinking?

I’m not even going to get into Charles Barkley’s beef with the university for not hiring Turner Gill, the young, black head coach at Buffalo. There’s probably a case to be made that a black man with a white wife was not exactly what Auburn wanted, however sad that may be in this day and age. And since the program is all but run by boosters and alumni, it’s probably not a stretch to think that played a part. But what is interesting to me is the financial side of it. Instead of going for a really big name coach, like luring Steve Spurrier from South Carolina or something along those lines, Auburn went for a relative no-name. This was not Will Muschamp or even, for that matter, Turner Gill.

Why would they go for a lower-end name in a conference that has recently seen coaches like Nick Saban, Bobby Petrino, Urban Meyer and Steve Spurrier join (or re-join) their ranks? Well it’s probably for the same reason that Tennessee hired Lane Kiffin. Instead of replacing Phil Fulmer’s outrageously expensive contract with another, Kiffin signed on for several million dollars less. Still a nice chunk of change if you’re Kiffin, but a massive money saving endeavor for Tennessee. Just about the same situation at Auburn. Tuberville made quite a lot of money and Chizik will not make nearly the same amount. All of a sudden, Auburn has a few million dollars extra on its hands (though they are buying out Tuberville’s contract). Look what happened at Clemson, high-priced Tommy Bowden is replaced by low-cost Dabo Swinney.

Perhaps this is really a sign of changes in college football, at least during this economic downturn. Public colleges and universities are taking huge hits and massive budget cuts. If they can save several million dollars and hire a younger, less-accomplished coach, so be it. For several years now, the SEC in particular have hired huge name coaches at ridiculous cost. Maybe the cycle is such that now schools are willing to give younger coaches a chance to establish themselves at the major programs as they used to. Steve Spurrier didn’t arrive at Florida as the Steve Spurrier we know today, he created that as a young coach at a big time program. The same can be said for Fulmer, regardless of the Volunteer nation’s opinions of him now. In 1992 he was just a former player and assistant coach. Lloyd Carr was like that at Michigan and the same can be said for many other coaches.

And really, it helps the schools if their young coaches fall flat on their faces because the financial investment and expectations won’t be quite as bloated as they might be if a really big name coach came in. We’ll see what happens at Auburn but honestly, it makes sense to me. Keep expectations low and build from there. 5-7 isn’t the worst record in the world and if you watched Auburn at all, you know they really couldn’t have been much worse.

Sam Bradford, Heisman Trophy Winner

December 13, 2008


It’s one of the few accomplishments that will stick with you for literally the rest of your life. Sam Bradford, Heisman Trophy winner in 2008. And he definitely deserved it. And perhaps more importantly, I called it.

What really surprised me was that Tim Tebow wasn’t second, Colt McCoy was. That makes me think even more that they should’ve had Graham Harrell there in New York with those guys. I thought it would be a run away with Bradford and Tebow going neck-in-neck and leaving everyone else far behind. I didn’t like Harrell not being there (he had to have been fourth, right?) but now it really irks me.

But the important thing is that the Heisman was awarded and Bradford benefitted from Tebow winning last year. Firstly, Tebow opened the door for a sophomore to win the award. It had never been done before last year and now it’s happened twice in a row. How often does that happen in sports? Like when Kwame Brown went first overall in the NBA draft straight out of high school and then LeBron and Dwight Howard came just two and three years later. So that helped. Plus, the whole Archie Griffin thing meant that Tebow’s chances of winning, regardless of the season he had, were diminished.

So thank Tim Tebow, Sam, he helped you out a lot. But to be fair, Bradford was just plain awesome this season. We’ll see if they’re good enough to beat Florida in a month but either way, it’s pretty tough to argue with the season Bradford had in Norman this year.

Heisman Finalists

December 11, 2008


The three Heisman Trophy finalists have been announced and I guess it’s safe to say there’s no surprise. Well, maybe one. I thought that Graham Harrell of Texas Tech would at least get the courtesy invite. You know, the guy we all know isn’t going to win but gets invited because he had an amazing year. But instead, Harrell was left out and the three finalists who will go to New York are: Tim Tebow (Florida), Colt McCoy (Texas) and Sam Bradford (Oklahoma).

This really is an interesting list. In my opinion, Bradford is the favorite but only with the help of Tebow, in two ways. Tebow won the Heisman last year as a sophomore, which was the first time that had ever happened. Bradford is a sophomore this year but without the precedent from just last year, he likely wouldn’t be the favorite. The other reason he’s the favorite, at least in my opinion, is that the chances of someone, even of Tebow’s stature and national prominence, winning the award two years in a row is extremely unlikely. It’s only been done once before with Archie Griffin of Ohio State in the mid-70s. Tebow is unarguably a better college player than Griffin ever was but for some reason that back-to-back scenario has been more or less off limits for the past thirty years. All that is to say that even though Tebow is probably worthy of strong consideration, he probably won’t win it simply because he did last year.

I think Colt McCoy has had a really good season but I think he ends up third. Maybe if the Big 12 South tiebreakers were different and it was Texas that destroyed Missouri in the Big 12 title game and McCoy going on to the national championship game, he’d have a much better chance. But since that didn’t happen, he’s resigned to third place.

Army’s Weekend Attire

December 8, 2008


I forgot to bring this up over the weekend but the Army-Navy game featured some interesting uniform choices. I don’t want to spend too much time on Navy though here are a few views of their new look. There were elements of the Marine Corps uniforms (the real ones) incorporated into the traditional Navy look making for a kind of hybrid uniform.

On the Army side, a completely different outfit was trotted out for the annual rivalry. This is what Army used to look like. This is what they wore on Saturday. The corps of Cadets was decked out in what almost looked like actual Army gear.

The game was a complete blowout as Navy destroyed Army 34-0. We’ll see if either team continues to wear these new unis going forward or not. I was happy to see that they kept the different company patches, something each branch has done for a while now. I honestly didn’t mind the new looks (or the fact that Nike was the driving force behind their development and implementation). I wouldn’t really be that interested in seeing it too often in the future, but for a one-time thing, it was pretty cool.

How the Mighty Have (Finally) Fallen

December 7, 2008

richmondAppalachian State’s three-year grip on 1-AA football has finally ended as the Richmond Spiders knocked off the three-time defending national champions 33-13 in the snow out in Boone yesterday. Armanti Edwards, App’s amazing quarterback, threw five interceptions as part of seven total turnovers for the Mountaineers.

Richmond is no slouch of a program having made the playoffs many times in the past few years. I went to a quarterfinal round game up in Richmond against Furman in 2005 and they made the semifinals last year as well. The Spiders will travel to play Northern Iowa in one semifinal after the Panthers knocked off New Hampshire last night, 36-34.

The other semifinal will feature two other 1-AA powers in James Madison (the alma mater of my brother) and Montana (who I watched defeat Furman in the national title game seven years ago). JMU beat Villanova yesterday and is the top overall seed having beaten App St. during the regular season and suffering only one loss all year (at Duke). Montana, who lost to JMU in the 2004 national title game, is a powerful program and beat upstart Weber State on Saturday.

I know I’m biased because of attending a school that is a traditional power in 1-AA football but the FCS level is just great. There are legitimately great teams with star players and most importantly, a playoff.

Just consider some of the recent 1-AA stars to make it big in the NFL: Tony Romo (Eastern Illinois), Brian Westbrook (Villanova), Joe Flacco (Delaware), Terrell Owens (Chattanooga), Steve McNair (Alcorn State), Randy Moss and Chad Pennington (though Marshall is now 1-A) and the list goes on.

For family reasons (not just my brother but my grandmother and cousin went there and my dad for grad school), I’ll be pulling for JMU to win it all again this year (even though they derailed probably the best Furman team ever in 2004). But mostly I’m just glad that it can all be settled on the field.

This Really Looked Good

December 6, 2008


Color Commentary

December 5, 2008


This weekend is the annual Southern Cal-UCLA football game out in Los Angeles. The game alternates between the Rose Bowl and the LA Coliseum, two of America’s most famous sports stadia. The two schools have a classic rivalry, are both great academic institutions and carry traditions back through the decades. So why does re-instituting one more tradition get people so riled up?

This week, Pete Carroll announced that USC would be wearing their home, red uniforms while UCLA, the actual home team, will be wearing their home blues. What’s the big deal? Well the NCAA actually has a rule stating that away teams must wear white. So in order to have a color-on-color game, Southern Cal will have to forfeit one timeout in each half.

Now, this is not a match-up that many people expect to be particularly close so I don’t think the extra timeouts will be that big of a deal for USC. But the fact that they’ll be penalized at all seems like a joke. Prior to the 1982 season, every match-up between USC and UCLA had both teams wearing their home uniforms. Carroll is trying to bring back some of the old school rites that made this game such an interesting one over the years.

As someone who thinks way too much and way too often about uniform choices, I applaud the decision. Who cares about the timeouts. They know they’ll have less going into the game so they can safe-guard against having to use them and game-plan accordingly. But uniform traditions are, I think, really important to sports. Look at how stupid the Detroit Lions or Chicago Bears look when they have ventured away from their traditional looks. There are certain teams and schools who have storied pasts that really matter and the longer they stick with their famous uniform designs the better.

A good example of this is when Ohio State slightly altered their uniforms a few years ago. The entire state of Ohio was up in arms over a slight variance in the sleeves of the new uniforms. That’s how people should think when it comes to weird or alternate uniforms.

So, I’ll happily tune in to see the blue-red game on Saturday. And if Southern Cal ends up losing because they don’t have an extra timeout to bring on a kicker at the end of the game, I won’t feel sorry for them. They’ll have still made the right decision in my book.

More BCS Headaches?

December 3, 2008


This is certainly not a definitive source on the BCS. There are plenty of other people out there complaining, and rightfully so. In fact, we’re going to have a big article on the matter in our upcoming newsletters. But allow me, for a moment, a chance to point out just one more problem with this terrible system.

There is still a chance that Texas could finished ranked no. 1 in the Associated Press poll at the end of the year. Here’s how it would work. Texas is currently ranked higher than Oklahoma in the AP poll, largely based on the fact that they beat OU by ten when they played in Dallas in October. So…

Oklahoma beats Missouri in the Big 12 title game, which is what most people are expecting anyway. That won’t give any kind of a bump to OU in the polls. Florida beats Alabama in the SEC title game, opening up the no. 1 BCS spot, likely pushing Oklahoma there. Florida would jump Texas and reach no. 2 while Texas would stay at 3 and ‘Bama drop to 4. The BCS title game would feature Florida and Oklahoma. Meanwhile, Texas would likely play in the Fiesta Bowl against either Ohio State or Utah.

So Texas wins the Fiesta Bowl and Oklahoma beats Florida for the BCS title. The final BCS standings would have OU no. 1 and Texas no. 2. But because they’re already ahead in the AP poll, Oklahoma would have to do something major to push them ahead of Texas. Of course, the AP voters could change their minds and name OU their top team. But if they don’t, we could be facing our second shared national championship in five years (remember, LSU and USC?).

The BCS was created after Nebraska and Michigan shared the 1997 title. Michigan won the Rose Bowl over Ryan Leaf and Washington State while Nebraska won the Orange Bowl over Peyton Manning and Tennessee. The BCS was supposed to keep that from happening (as it also had in 1990 with Georgia Tech/Colorado and many times prior to that).

It would be a complete disaster if Texas were to win the AP national title but also completely reasonable. They beat Oklahoma on a neutral field by ten points. What more can you ask of them? Sure, they lost to Texas Tech and TTU lost by 40+ to Oklahoma. But if it turns out this way, and it could very well happen, the chorus against the BCS is only going to grow louder. It was one thing to have the low-key Southern California or the relatively small Auburn crowds voicing their displeasure. It will be a whole new thing if it’s Texas.

The Procrastinator – Pre-Thanksgiving Edition

November 26, 2008


We’ve got another edition of The Procrastinator newsletter available today. We hope you’ll find it interesting and engaging and please feel free to give any comments or ideas. Coming soon we’ll have a major breakdown of the BCS v. playoff scenarios as well as other political, social, travel and satirical articles.

You can find the .pdf here: The Procrastinator Newsletter – 11/26

Have a great Thanksgiving.


This is Far From Over

November 24, 2008

ouSome talking heads are claiming that Oklahoma’s ass-whipping of Texas Tech on Saturday night is enough to eventually push them into the second position in the BCS. But in the words of Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life, “Now wait just a minute.”

In the next two weeks, three games are going to determine who ends up playing where. The first is the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State game in Stillwater. While OU has not lost to OSU since 2002, each of the games in Stillwater in recent years have been exceedingly tough games. In 2006, OU edged the Cowboys 27-21 and in 2004 Oklahoma eked out a 38-35 victory. The 2002 game was won by OSU 38-28. Obviously most of those teams are completely gone and won’t affect this coming weekend’s match-up but it is interesting to see how OU struggles to win in Stillwater. This year’s Cowboys are much better than any of those previous three teams and should challenge the Sooners to their limits.

If Oklahoma wins that game, it will likely reach the Big 12 Championship. The tie-breaker between Texas Tech, Texas and Oklahoma, all of whom have beaten each other and would tie atop the Big 12 South (assuming OU wins in Stillwater) is BCS ranking. With a win over another highly ranked team, OU would likely jump ahead of Texas in the BCS standings and go on to the Big 12 title game.

If however, Oklahoma State were to pull the upset, Texas Tech would reach the title game because there would just be a two-way tie at the top and they would have the head-to-head advantage over Texas.

The second game that will determine the national championship game is that Big 12 title game. Whoever reaches that game from the South will face North champion Missouri, certainly no pushover. It is entirely conceivable that Mizzou could beat either Texas Tech or Oklahoma. Regardless of who makes it from the South, a win over Missouri would make a huge difference in the BCS standings.

The third game that matters is of course the SEC title game. Provided Alabama wins the Iron Bowl and Florida can stave off Florida State, a very difficult game in Tallahassee no less, The SEC title game should provide a forum for debate about national title implications as well. If Alabama beats Florida, they obviously reach the title game. But if Florida were to win (and not lose to FSU first) the whole scenario gets interesting. Would Florida jump ahead of the Big 12 winner? If Missouri and Florida win their conference title games, is there any chance that the Big 12 team that did not make the title game could play for the BCS title? Would Southern Cal make a move up the standings, despite not playing any more games?

My prediction is as follows: Oklahoma will be Oklahoma State in Stillwater and reach the Big 12 title game. In that game they will defeat Missouri. Florida will beat Florida State, but just barely, and then beat Alabama soundly in the SEC title game. With ‘Bama’s loss, Oklahoma will move up to no. 1 in the BCS while Florida will bypass Texas and reach no. 2.

That will leave the BCS bowls as follows (and it is assuming that Oregon State beats Oregon in the Civil War):
Rose Bowl – Penn State (Big 12 winner) v. Oregon State (PAC 10 winner)
Orange Bowl – ACC winner (don’t even get me started) v. Cincinnati (Big East winner)
Sugar Bowl – Alabama (at-large) v. Texas (at-large)
Fiesta Bowl – Southern Cal (at-large) v. Utah (at-large)
BCS Title Game – Florida (SEC winner) v. Oklahoma (Big 12 winner)

Georgia Tech is Going to be Really Good Again Soon

November 21, 2008

gtThis has been kind of an up-and-down season for Georgia Tech football. The team is obviously good but there have been a handful of stumbles along the way. Nothing surprising considering they have a new coach who has installed a total throwback offense despite the existing personnel. Instead of breaking in his system over time, Paul Johnson just dove right in and has actually had some really nice results.

Perhaps the best result was last night’s destruction of Miami, 41-23 in Atlanta. The Yellow Jackets rushed for 472 yards. Let me repeat that, Georgia Tech RUSHED for 472 yards. That is a video game number where you’re trying to get your running back to win the MVP. But with Johnson’s triple-option offense, the ball carrier is changed on almost every play and the yards just start adding up.

What’s most amazing about this kind of an offensive explosion is that Johnson has not recruited a single player on the current roster. These kids are just adapting to a system they’ve probably never played in before and probably their dads never even played in. The scary thing about the future is that once Johnson is able to recruit the kind of players that actually fit into his system, Georgia Tech is going to be really good again. Just look at Johnson’s track record: multiple national titles at Georgia Southern in I-AA using the same offense and then great success at Navy, where you really can’t recruit at all, with the triple-option.

Not since Joe Hamilton was running around has Georgia Tech been really good on a national level and really not since 1990, when they shared the national title with Colorado, has Tech really been top-notch great. We’ll see what happens over the next few years but with an offense that is impossible to stop, things are looking up in Atlanta.