Varsity Tailgate: On Week 4 and the end of GameDay as we know it
ESPN’s College GameDay as we know it is probably over.
The official College GameDay account tweeted out a photo last week of a fan holding a sign that featured a picture of Auburn coach Gus Malzahn and the caption: “If this crap keeps up, I’m going to fake a heart attack and go join the Big Ten”—a reference to Urban Meyer’s departure from Florida. The @CollegeGameDay tweet also identified the picture as “the Most RT’d (and Appropriate) @pizzahut GameDay Sign of the Day from Tuscaloosa.”
Meyer’s wife complained.
Meyer’s daughters complained.
And ESPN eventually removed the tweet.
All of this occurred the same week the show got in trouble for writing “no chill” with a picture of a sign calling Ole Miss girls “easier” than their out-of-conference schedule.
Reasonable people can argue about jokes and what is and isn’t appropriate. What can’t be argued is that ESPN is as brand-conscious as companies come and will be policing the signs for UCLA-Arizona this week like never before. In fact, a statement the network said it will be more “diligent” going forward.
Any signs even remotely near the edge of good taste—which, newsflash, is where much of good comedy resides—will be snatched and destroyed, this week especially. Fans in Tucson won’t be able to get away with anything even nearing a PG rating. With that in mind, here are a few UCLA-Arizona signs that are least likely to offend. Give them a try, Wildcats fans!
I RESPECT BOTH TEAMS
BOTH TEAMS TRY HARD
I LIKE FOOTBALL (UNLESS YOU ARE OFFENDED BY THE VIOLENCE AND/OR THE ATTENTION IT GETS IN OUR CULTURE, IN WHICH CASE I APOLOGIZE)
UCLA GIRLS CAN’T BE CHARACTERIZED WITH ONE TERM BECAUSE THEY ARE ALL UNIQUE, SPECIAL AND HAVE UNLIMITED POTENTIAL
WHO ARE SCOREBOARDS TO JUDGE TEAMS? #DOWNWITHSCOREBOARDS
THIS SIGN IS NOT OFFENSIVE (I HOPE!)
THIS IS SERIOUS! (BUT NOT MORE SERIOUS THAN OTHER MORE IMPORTANT THINGS)
I AM OFFENDED BY THIS SIGN ---->
Game of the Week
No. 9 UCLA at No. 16 Arizona, 8 p.m. ET on ABC
Josh Rosen had his first bit of adversity at UCLA last week, as BYU chose to intercept three of The Rosen One’s passes. The Bruins still prevailed, 24-23. Now he’ll face his first true road test in Tucson against a Wildcats team motivated by an Avengers-themed hype video.
We’ll see how an 18-year-old true freshman handles being cast as Ultron.
Another Game of the Week
No. 18 Utah at No. 13 Oregon, 8:30 p.m. ET on FOX
Here’s the key to the game for the Utes: Don’t drop the ball before you’re about to take a 13-0 lead, causing a huge swing in momentum on the way to a 51-27 loss.
Cupcake of the Week
Poor Warhawks. They already have a 51-14 loss to Georgia this year, and now they have to face Alabama the week after the Crimson Tide lost to Ole Miss. Nick Saban will demand that his players show no mercy. The entire Louisiana Monroe roster may be doing this by halftime.
Rivalry Game of the Week
Tennessee at Florida, 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS
The Vols have lost this rivalry game 10 times in a row. Apparently the word “rivalry” has as much meaning in college football now as “elite" does in NFL quarterback circles.
Mascot Fact of the Week
Tennessee has two mascots: a costumed dog named Smokey and a live mascot, Smokey X, a Bluetick Coonhound. Bluetick Coonhounds have an average lifespan of 11-12 years. So, yeah, Tennessee, you might want to beat Florida soon.
Heisman Candidate in the Crosshairs
Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
After dominating performances against Mississippi State and Auburn to open the season, LSU running back Leonard Fournette is now the clear Heisman frontrunner. But Chubb can make up some ground this week against Southern. The 500 yards and half-dozen defenders disintegrating on impact should be enough to get people to stop talking about this:
Tailgate Tip of the Week
Want to sneak booze into a game, but still give the impression that you care more about football than getting drunk? Then you need Secret Binoculars Flask! For just $16.95, you fool security into thinking you simply want to get an up-close look at the action on the field. Just don’t let anyone near you in the stands borrow your binoculars. All they’ll see is the sad state of your life.
Quote of the Week
“I’m happy [Kliff Kingsbury] got to vent and hopefully he feels a lot better. As a coach who has been in it for 10 years, I know better than to worry about somebody that’s been around for a couple and they’re .500.” — Arkansas head Bret Bielema, responding to Kliff Kingsbury’s comments
Good wisdom from Bielema. Next, let’s ask him if fellow SEC coaches should worry about somebody who’s been around the conference for three years and has an 11-17 record.
Stat of the Week
Question of the Week
Unfortunately for the Irish, Pope Francis isn’t going to South Bend. His trip to the U.S. features quick stops in Washington D.C., New York and Philadelphia. If Maryland, Rutgers and Temple all make the Playoff this year, people will never doubt the existence of God again.
My bold prediction is that some people will continue to doubt the existence of God.
Greatest Conference Ever of the Week
Ohio State and Michigan State are the top two teams in all the land. And it’s likely to stay that way for some time. Because they are both very good teams? Yes. And also because their conference is horrid and there’s no chance either team loses before they meet on Nov. 21? Well, yeah, if you have to put it that way. Kind of ruins the B1G’s honor of “Greatest Conference Ever of the Week,” though.
Worst Conference Ever of the Week
The Southland is 0-12 on the season out-of-conference. But it could be worse. Really. McNeese State’s game against LSU on Sept. 6 was canceled due to weather. Mother Nature is a merciful lady. Love her.
Coach on the Hot Seat
Steve Sarkisian, USC
After his booze and painkiller-fueled incident last month, Sarkisian needed to distract everyone with some winning football. So it didn’t help that the Trojans got upset at home last week by unranked Stanford. This week they’re on the road against an explosive Arizona State team (10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN) and Notre Dame, Utah, Arizona, Oregon and UCLA still await. It looks pretty bleak. Sark and his assistants could use beer in their locker room now more than ever.
Player Name of the Week
Chris Blewitt, K, Pitt
Pitt lost last week at Iowa on a last-second, 57-yard field goal by Marshall Koehn. “What an unbelievable kick by Marshall,” said Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz. “Just tremendous composure.” Indeed. But it still doesn’t rival the composure of a man named Blewitt deciding to take up field goal kicking.
Stone Cold Lock of the Week
Cardale Jones will play well against Western Michigan. This will do nothing to end the Ohio State quarterback controversy because no one will be impressed by a good performance against Western Michigan. Let’s get pumped for this storyline making it all the way to October!