Dissecting Notre Dame hatred, OU's chances, Miami's relevance, more
You may find this hard to believe (actually, you probably won't), but the team about which I receive the most e-mails is not Florida, Texas or USC. It's Notre Dame. And unlike with most schools, I receive nearly as many Irish-related queries from
Thus, in advance of Saturday's Notre Dame-Michigan duel -- a game 80 percent of the country will complain receives too much attention, but 75 percent will still watch -- I found this e-mail from
Marc has a point. The Yankees haven't won the World Series in a while, but at least they contend. Duke doesn't go to the Final Four every year, but the Blue Devils are usually in the mix. The Irish, however, haven't won a national championship in 21 years and have only finished in the top 10 (No. 9, in 2005) once in the past 15 years. And yet, national resentment toward Notre Dame remains as strong as ever.
Why is that? Probably because...
There are a couple of interesting historical footnotes to add to this discussion. For one, most fans don't realize that in the 1920s, Notre Dame actively sought membership in the Big Ten, but the league's schools -- most vocally Michigan -- voted against it. And in light of the hubbub about the Irish's preferential bowl treatment, it's incredible to think that for more than four decades (1925-68), the school did not allow the team to play in bowl games, period.
But that's all moot today. If the Irish win Saturday, and if they string together more victories after that, they're going to rise up the polls, and as they do, fans around the country will inevitably grow more and more incensed.
Here's what I wonder. What would happen if Notre Dame does fulfill Dr. Lou's prophecy and reach the BCS Championship Game? More importantly, what would happen if the Irish won? Would respect finally replace all that resentment and skepticism?
I doubt it, and here's why. While no self-respecting Big 12 or SEC fan would ever admit it, there's one universal theme behind all that hatred: envy.
There are games when a quarterback or other star player gets hurt, and suddenly the momentum changes completely. Oklahoma-BYU was not one of them. Obviously, the Sooners' offense would have stood a much better chance in the second half if it hadn't lost the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, but it's not like the unit was trucking along with Bradford in the lineup. BYU's defense was dominating the line of scrimmage early, and continued to do so throughout the second half.
Would the game have turned out differently had Bradford not gotten hurt? Quite possibly. But how different might the game have been for BYU had the Cougars not been without star running back
Whatever the case, I would like to clarify that I don't suddenly think Oklahoma is "bad."
So I wouldn't count out Oklahoma in the Big 12. As for the national title ... that would likely require the Sooners winning all their remaining games. That's not going to happen.
It depends on your definition of "relevant." Did the Hurricanes and Seminoles prove they're ready to contend for national titles again? I wouldn't go that far. Miami's pass-rush was non-existent. FSU's secondary and running games were suspect. But considering the type of squads these two trotted out the past three or four years, it felt like watching two entirely different teams -- two
First and foremost, I was impressed with the quarterbacks -- and it's been a long time since I've said that about either team. Miami's
The other thing that we can't overlook: Both teams' offensive lines have improved immensely. Miami running backs
Considering the size of that thing, I wouldn't be surprised. But as long as Colt or his family paid for his own fishing expenses, he should be in the clear.
I was amazed by how quickly the discussion over Thursday night's melee shifted from Blount's punishment to Hout's lack of punishment. That first e-mail from James arrived shortly after the game ended, and similar ones streamed in for several days. On Monday, when I gave
To answer the question, no, Hout's taunting would never have become an issue had Blount simply walked away. But you know what else? Had the whole thing taken place on a Saturday at 4:30 in the afternoon on Versus, Blount would currently be serving a three-game suspension, not sitting the entire season. It's unfair, but it's reality. Blount made the mistake of going berserk at the worst possible moment -- on national television, on the season's opening night, during a slow news-cycle when SportsCenter could replay the meltdown over and over. Oregon found itself under a national microscope for the worst possible reason, forcing
And for that same reason,
No, I do not still think Rutgers will win the Big East. Cincinnati is now the hands-down team to beat. I learned two lessons from this prognostication humiliation: never doubt
Ah yes, the Week 1 hot seat.
With the obvious exception of Oregon (and possibly Illinois), no one delivered a more discouraging opening-week performance than Colorado. Hawkins pledged this would be the year the Buffs turned the corner, but they seem plagued by the same things as last year -- shoddy quarterbacking, lack of playmakers and an offensive line that got physically dominated.
As bad as it looked, however, I'm not giving up on Colorado just yet. For one thing, Colorado State may turn out to be pretty darn good.
As for Groh ... don't pretend you didn't see this day coming. He's only been underachieving there now for NINE YEARS. However, he also seems to have nine lives, which is why I'm afraid I'll put my foot in my mouth if I make any definitive declarations here. In 2007, the Cavs opened with a 23-3 loss to Wyoming, then rolled off seven straight wins and went to the Gator Bowl. Last year they started 1-3, then got to 5-3 before tanking the rest of the way.
But who am I kidding? The Cavs just lost to William and Mary. If we're starting a pool, I'll take Nov. 9.
I came away very impressed with Navy as well, particularly quarterback
Navy is no slouch. The Midshipmen have been to six straight bowls and beat two BCS-conference bowl teams last year (Rutgers and Wake Forest). However, this was the first time during their current run that we saw the Middies hang toe-to-toe with a nationally elite team. (Their games against Notre Dame's 2005 and '06 BCS teams were not competitive.) It will be interesting to see if they can knock off Pitt or the Irish.
For the record, I wasn't thrilled with the
Let me just reiterate what I wrote on Twitter during the Miami-FSU game: If any of you suddenly feel tempted to download a Kenny Chesney song while watching a college football game, please, send me the 99 cents instead.