So, anything going on this week we should discuss? I can't recall a more news-heavy week in 10 years on this beat.
I'll get into Bowden specifically in a second, but in general, football coaches tend to be wired a little differently than the rest of us. Coaching isn't just their vocation; it's their life. They don't work 9-5. They rarely take vacations. They don't worry about hitting a certain age and cashing in on their 401Ks. Fired coaches often put on the sunny spin that now they'll get to spend more time with their families, but by the start of the next season, they're itching to get back on a field. The only reason more 70-year-old coaches aren't roaming the sidelines is because few ever reach that level of job security.
Only Bowden can say what exactly kept bringing him back every year, but much of it probably falls along the lines of what I wrote above. If you're an 80-year-old football coach who's spent every autumn of your adult life on a sideline somewhere, I'd imagine it's almost impossible to envision doing anything else. This is particularly true for Bowden, who, as disturbing as this is to even broach, has openly admitted he worries for his own mortality. He watched his idol,
We all wish Bowden could have gone out on a better note, but I don't know when the right time would have been. Ten years ago, Bowden had no reason to retire. He had the cushiest gig in the country. His program was trucking along, yet he no longer had to do much of the heavy lifting. He was healthy, energetic and had no reason to believe things would change anytime soon. When the first cracks started to show during the
I understand the comparison between Notre Dame and Alabama/Oklahoma/Texas/USC. They share similarly rich histories and national recognition. However, that's where the commonalities end. Notre Dame operates differently than all other former and current powerhouses, and while the school's commitment to maintaining its unique status is certainly admirable, it puts it at a significant disadvantage to those other schools. The sport has changed drastically over the past 20 years, but Notre Dame hasn't changed with it. That's where its "cycle" breaks.
Twenty years ago, the Irish were not alone among major independents, but by 1993, Florida State, Miami and Penn State had all joined conferences. Is it a coincidence that 1993 was also the last time Notre Dame came close to a national title? As I wrote Monday, today's blue-chip football prospects grow up watching certain conferences. Kids in Georgia and Louisiana dream of playing in the SEC. Kids in Texas dream of playing in the Big 12. Besides the South Side of Chicago and certain Midwestern Catholic conclaves, not a lot of kids today grow up specifically watching Notre Dame. So not only does the school have to recruit nationally, it has to sell prospects on why playing for Notre Dame is better than playing in a certain conference. Weis was able to sell
Fifteen years ago, Notre Dame's NBC deal truly was unique. It solidified the Irish as a true national program. But guess what? Today, pretty much every Florida/LSU/Ohio State/USC game is on national television, too. Heck, all but one Northwestern game this season was available in my New York City living room if I so desired. Chuck that one-time advantage out the window, too.
And then there are the academic restrictions. My friend
Has Notre Dame flubbed its last three coaching hires? Absolutely. Notre Dame should
In his article, Walters cites Alabama's long spat of mediocrity before hiring its home-run coach,
You mean what happens if the Huskers finally earn vengeance for the sins of
Whatever the case, Nebraska would automatically go to the Fiesta Bowl as the Big 12 champ. Because neither TCU nor Cincinnati has an anchor bowl, the only game that would have to replace a team is the Sugar, which will take the Florida-Alabama loser. The Orange Bowl then has first pick of at-large teams, and I assume it would take Texas, leaving Penn State or Iowa for the Fiesta and TCU or Cincy for the Sugar. This is the one remaining scenario where Boise State gets left out.
Good question. It seems to me Pizza Hut and Domino's have gotten a little complacent. They think they can just roll out a new bread bowl or calzone-type thing every couple of years and assume the fans will still flock to them. Papa John's takes a Boise State-type approach. Nobody can figure out exactly how it got where it is (is it the dipping sauce? the whole wheat crust?) but somehow it's right up there duking it out with the big boys. It doesn't have blue turf, but it does have its own little bowl game in Birmingham featuring a team from the mighty SEC. As for Little Caesars, it's kind of like Temple. Prior to this year's breakout season, few people even remembered the Owls still had a football team, and quite frankly, prior to the Detroit bowl naming, I couldn't have told you Little Caesars was still in business.
You've got me. Vegas lists the Ducks as 10-point favorites, which seems awfully high for two rivals separated by a game in the standings. Normally I don't question the folks who set those lines, seeing as they're right about these things far more often than I, but we happen to be coming off a weekend loaded with rivalry upsets, including several (Georgia-Georgia Tech, N.C. State-North Carolina, Mississippi State-Ole Miss) involving far more disparate teams than the Civil War participants. Obviously, Oregon benefits from a huge advantage playing at Autzen, but football-wise, I feel the two teams are fairly similar.
Both boast extremely dangerous tailbacks. Oregon State's
Last year Oregon dashed the Beavers' Rose Bowl hopes in this game. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if
I don't think the two are mutually exclusive. As I wrote
If every season for the next three or four years plays out in the exact same fashion, you'd be right to say, "Whoa, parity is dead." But like Dave said, just the mere presence of TCU, Boise State and Cincinnati in the top six shows how drastically the landscape has changed in recent years. Remember, we're only two years removed from Appalachian State-Michigan, Stanford-USC (when it was still considered a humongous upset) and a two-loss national champ. Time will tell whether that particularly turbulent season was a blip on the radar, but my guess is top-heavy seasons like this one will continue to be the rarity.
First of all, I'd just like to say I spent a delightful Thanksgiving in suburban St. Louis this past week visiting my girlfriend's family. You can't beat toasted ravioli and turkey within a 48-hour span. My hats off to the chefs at Café Napoli, and, of course, my lovely hosts in Creve Coeur.
There's a very simple, albeit stupid explanation for why Alexander got snubbed: He wasn't a semifinalist, which made it almost impossible for him to become a finalist. I don't vote on that particular award, but I do on a couple others like it. I'm probably going to get in trouble for saying this, but the voting procedures are pretty archaic.
In an effort both to get their names out as much as possible, and to "honor" as many different players as possible, most of these awards first put out a preseason "Watch" list. The Biletnikoff (run by the Tallahassee Quarterback Club) puts its out in August. There were 37 names on it. Alexander's was not one of them. Strike one. The first cut came back on Oct. 26, when Alexander had not yet gone on his hot streak. Voters were asked to select 10 semifinalists; he was not one of them. Finally, voters picked three finalists on Nov. 22. Theoretically, voters were free to list Alexander as a write-in candidate, and I know that several did, but apparently not enough.
Snubs like this happen every year in the Butkus/Lombardi/O'Brien, etc. awards and could easily be avoided if, like the Heisman, their handlers simply waited until the end of the season to start eliminating contenders.
"Whether you consider him genuine or fake, Tebow, at the end of the day, is a Heisman Trophy-, SEC- and BCS-title winning quarterback who goes to class, goes to church and circumcises people less fortunate than him. More people should be so intolerable."
While I certainly understand why non-Florida fans are "tired" of Tebow hype, the fact that so many people are actively hoping for the kid to fail is a really sad commentary on society. Fortunately, there's no shortage of money-driven/steroid-abusing/wife-cheating superstars they can root for in the pros who don't have the audacity to quote bible scripture or high-five their fans.