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There are so many things for which to be thankful this holiday weekend. Family. Friends. The sight of Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer back at the coffee shop on last week's
And best of all, most of us can be thankful (at least this season) we're not fans of one of the following teams.
This isn't as rare an occurrence as you think. If you look back over the course of this decade, there's only one BCS-conference program -- Texas -- that hasn't suffered at least one season of five or more losses. At the start of the decade, USC, LSU and Penn State were complete non-factors. So was Alabama until
The Irish and Seminoles likely face more rough sledding ahead as they go through coaching transitions, and Michigan is already in the midst of its own turbulent transition period. But the real interesting cases are Oklahoma and Georgia, two programs that, previously under their current coaches, had little trouble reloading from year to year.
Excluding their debut seasons,
While injuries were a viable excuse for Oklahoma's early struggles, they don't justify a three-point output against Nebraska on Nov. 7, or explain last week's debacle at Texas Tech. For the first time, Stoops has some real deficiencies on his roster, most notably the offensive line, which is admittedly inexperienced but hasn't improved. The good news is, quarterback
I'm not as sure about Georgia. The Dawgs may well have talent, but they're terribly undisciplined. Remarkably, they rank 119th nationally in turnover margin and 116th in penalties per game. Chalk that up to plain old bad coaching. Richt will undoubtedly be fielding new coordinators next season, and unlike Oklahoma, he'll be breaking in a new quarterback as well (presumably redshirt freshman
Richt is also dealing with much the same problem as recently deposed SEC coaches
None of them seem particularly plausible, but if I had to rank their likelihood:
Believe me, I'd love to see it too. Generally speaking, the SEC and Pac-10 have been the two most entertaining conferences this decade (some years more than others), and there's an undisputed disdain between both sides. The problem is geography. No bowl east of Texas is going to partner with the Pac-10, whose fan bases don't generally travel in droves even within their region, much less across the country. And there's no logical reason for the SEC to go play a bowl in California when there are any number available closer to home.
What's truly amazing is that the two leagues have yet to meet in a BCS game. In fact, the last SEC-Pac-10 bowl matchup of any kind, according to my own personal research, was Washington's 34-7 victory over Florida in the 1989 Freedom Bowl. It looks like we're just going to have to keep settling for the sporadic regular-season matchups -- which, in the 2000s, the Pac-10 won 11-9.
Oh wait -- my original statement is incorrect. If Florida wins the SEC, it has a victory over Sun Belt champion Troy.
I'm kind of torn on this one. I think Kelly is easily one of the five to 10 best coaches in the country (I thought that even before this season) and will be a tremendous boon to whatever program eventually plucks him from Cincinnati. But you're exactly right -- Notre Dame would be replacing one offensive guru with another. Obviously, the major difference is that Kelly has distinguished himself as a head coach, whereas Weis was an unproven former coordinator -- but the fact remains, offense has not been Notre Dame's crux. The school needs a coach who is a) a great motivator, b) a great recruiter and c) able to produce an elite defense in spite of the restrictions I previously discussed.
In terms of A and B, Kelly is a no-brainer. As for C, though, you couldn't ask for a better candidate than Patterson. TCU doesn't have the luxury of plucking four- and five-star recruits, yet the Frogs consistently field a fast, athletic defense thanks to Patterson's creative penchant for identifying offensive playmakers who he can turn into defensive standouts. Case in point:
It just comes down to what Notre Dame wants most in a coach. Keep in mind, for all the assumptions being made about Kelly, not a single Notre Dame official has actually indicated interest in him, or anyone else. As of now, the link is entirely media-driven, a product of both Kelly's coaching prowess and his East Coast Irish-Catholic heritage. I highly doubt Notre Dame would really base its coaching hire on religion, but I believe the school will place great emphasis on the coach's personality and salesmanship, due to the extremely public role of the job. In that department, the charismatic, politically trained Kelly may have the edge over not only Patterson, but nearly every other coach in America.
Indeed, it's been a good year all around for the members of the Crush sorority.
Of course, our favorite LSU belle probably wasn't in such a good mood last Saturday. She's once of the nicest people I've ever spoken to, but I wouldn't blame her if she had a few choice words for
I've been getting a lot of these e-mails lately, presumably from Panthers and Nittany Lions fans clamoring to reignite the schools' discontinued rivalry, but it's not going to happen. For one thing, the Orange Bowl (which will host the ACC champ) and the Sugar Bowl (which will take the Florida-Alabama loser) are off the table, so it would have to be the Fiesta. And the folks there don't exactly have fond memories of Pitt's last trip there in 2004.
Of more relevance is the fact that while a Penn State-Pitt game would assure a 99 percent Nielsen share in the state of Pennsylvania, it would bore the rest of the country to tears. (Though it appears they'd have at least one eager viewer in Alaska.)
Kudos to you, Rick. You managed to stumble upon the very dilemma currently facing the EagleBank Bowl in Washington D.C., which has a preexisting agreement to take the Black Knights should they become eligible. But the game also has a contingency arrangement to take a Conference USA team should Army lose. So yes, some C-USA team (in my latest projections, Marshall) will have to sit around and wait an extra week to find out whether or not it's going bowling.
For the most part, I think it's wonderful that Army-Navy organizers moved the game back a week. It's one of the sport's greatest traditions, but in recent years it got largely overshadowed on Championship Saturday by all the other games with BCS implications. This year, more fans will presumably get to watch, especially since it leads in to that night's Heisman ceremony.
Indeed, there should be no bigger Oklahoma fans this weekend than the good people of Boise. Crazy, right? But I suppose it's a win-win for Sooners fans. Either they beat their archrival, or they finally get revenge for the Statue of Liberty.
Uh oh. I have a feeling it's going to be close.
Weis: 35-26. Winning percentage: .574.
Mandel: 68-52. Winning percentage: .567.
Charlie's got me by a nose. I'll be the first to admit, I've had a rough year in the prognostication department. But I do have one big advantage going for me down the stretch: I'll still be around for bowl season.