Thursday night brings the return of an old tradition that has spent the past couple seasons on the backburner: a must-see Big East game.
Fans of all conferences will presumably tune in Thursday night to watch No. 8 Cincinnati (5-0) visit fellow undefeated South Florida (5-0) in a game with potential BCS implications. Come Friday morning, the inevitable deluge of e-mails will flood my inbox deriding both teams as frauds and demanding the Big East's immediate ousting from the BCS.
Seems like a good time to check in on everyone's favorite conference whipping boy.
The Big East will always have an inherent "image" problem due to its size. The Big 12 can afford to carry four deadweight teams (Iowa State, Kansas State, Colorado and Texas A&M) without the league's overall standing suffering. Once you throw out non-factors Syracuse and Louisville, just six teams remain to carry the Big East.
I agree the league has acquitted itself well in nonconference play this season. Unlike some other conferences, its teams went on the road and played BCS-conference foes -- and did fairly well. Cincinnati won at Oregon State. USF won at Florida State. Connecticut won at Baylor when
Moving forward, though, Big East perception won't hurt Cincinnati and/or USF as much as their own lack of tradition. West Virginia had no problem inserting itself into the national title race under
Personally, I'm still skeptical myself, which is why I'm surprised the Bearcats have risen so high so fast. A lot of people watched their Labor Day demolition of Rutgers and jumped on the bandwagon, and I don't blame them.
But it's hard to forget how Pike and the Bearcats laid an egg in last year's 20-7 Orange Bowl loss to a four-loss Virginia Tech team, and even harder to forget all the meltdowns USF has suffered the past few years after rising in the polls. Fairly or unfairly, these teams have less margin for error because they don't have nearly the same built-in mileage as an Oklahoma or Texas. It will be interesting to see how the public reacts to Thursday night's game. A big night for Pike and Gilyard against a thus-far dominant USF defense should boost Cincy's credibility further, just as the Bulls would raise eyebrows if they manage to shut those two down.
Incidentally, an interesting Big East-related nugget fell into my inbox last week. Many fans and media seem to believe the Mountain West has a chance to "take away" the Big East's automatic BCS berth following the current four-year evaluation period (2008-11). However, an e-mail from a BCS official explaining its selection procedures happened to mention that the review process will "determine if a seventh conference achieves automatic qualification."
So love it or hate it, people, the Big East is here to stay. Enjoy the game Thursday.
No, he is not. A "real" head coach gets to assemble his own coaching staff, which Fisher has not. Bowden hired all of FSU's assistants and, with the exception of offensive line coach
That's what makes this situation so sad and, for many without a vested interest in the program, so difficult to understand. If you're a general fan of college football but don't follow the Seminoles that closely, you might find it puzzling, if not downright disturbing, that anyone would try to force out a living legend. But Florida State fans are frustrated not just by the losing, but also the fact that Bowden's continued involvement is preventing the program from moving forward. The school has anointed its next coach (Fisher), but he's powerless to affect any real change. Meanwhile, FSU's recruits are signing on specifically to play for Fisher, yet don't know when that will happen.
Some may point out Penn State went through much the same thing with
That's why the only remaining solution at this point is to hand the reins over to Fisher, as he's been guaranteed, which is why the school is working on a revised contract for next season which will reportedly give all tangible head-coaching duties to Fisher (who will presumably clean house). Bowden will apparently still be welcome to return, but we can only hope for his own dignity's sake that he'll do the right thing for the program and officially pass the torch.
I've been getting that question a lot this week and the answer is no, I cannot see it happening. We went through this before in 2006 with Ohio State and Michigan, when the voters put the kibosh on their potential rematch by moving Florida ahead of the Wolverines in the final polls. Obviously, it's a good thing they did. Given their opportunity, the Gators showed that the Buckeyes weren't the end-all, be-all team many of us made them out to be.
The voters would presumably do the same thing if faced with the aforementioned SEC scenario. Even if the Gators and Tide entered that game as the only undefeated teams in the country, even if they staged a triple-overtime thriller, who are the voters to
However, there is one scenario where things could get messy. What if Alabama loses the game, and what if the team right behind the Crimson Tide is current No. 4 Virginia Tech -- whom the Tide previously beat? And what if the Hokies are the only other one-loss team out there? Would they still get the nod, or would Alabama stay above them? Every year presents a new headache-inducing BCS riddle. That one sounds about perfect.
I know. It's getting out of hand. I heard the president was also recently named to the Outland Trophy Watch list, is a Biletnikoff semifinalist and was last week's Davey O'Brien quarterback of the week.
Well first of all, now that we know Forcier suffered a concussion, it turned out to be a blessing Rodriguez took him out. I can only assume
But I would definitely be concerned about Forcier's confidence, for several reasons. For one, it seems that since his torrid start to the season, the freshman has hit a wall, which isn't altogether surprising. It just serves as a reminder that he is in fact a freshman, all those last-minute touchdown drives notwithstanding. It also sounds like his shoulder injury has played a part in that, though Rodriguez continues to downplay it. Whatever the case, it would be easy for Forcier to be down on himself right now after getting pulled from a game against Iowa in which he struggled badly (8-of-19 for 94 yards and an interception).
I don't have a problem with Rodriguez playing Robinson. It would be a waste of a very talented player if he didn't. But it's one thing to use the speedster in situational plays or packages (as he did in Michigan's first five games). It's another to hand over the offense to Robinson with the game on the line when he's thus far demonstrated little ability to be a passing threat. By all indications, Forcier remains Michigan's guy, but Rodriguez best be sure both are comfortable with their potential roles. Michigan doesn't want a back-and-forth shuffle all season. It never works.
You should be nervous. This one has TRAP GAME written all over it.
But here's why I, a nonpartisan observer, don't think it will happen. Regardless of whom Florida has faced so far, we know how good this defense is because these are the same exact players from last season. And while I have the highest respect for
And here's another suspicion I have about this game: I think you'll see Urban Meyer use the opportunity to open up his offense. The Gators have been admittedly conservative to date, spending most of the LSU game running it up the gut. Arkansas' defense is suspect, however, and Meyer will probably feel more confident running the option plays, reverses and, yes, downfield passes we've grown accustomed to seeing in the past. In fact, if that doesn't happen, it will be time to get truly concerned about Florida's offense.
I will be there, and I always love to take in the sights and sounds of the State Fair. But as tempting as all that sounds, I'd like to come back to New York with my colon intact.
It's a fair parallel between Monson and Few at Gonzaga and Hawkins and
Let's face it, jumping from one job to the next is part of the sport. Urban Meyer suffered no such comeuppance for jumping from Utah to Florida. Obviously, his skills translated just fine to the next level. Hawkins' have not. And I don't think it's a coincidence that Meyer, at the time, was universally regarded as a home-run hire by Florida whereas Colorado's choice of Hawkins raised doubts from the get-go.
Meyer was groomed by coaches like
That doesn't mean Hawkins can't coach. I just think he's better suited to a small-school environment. And that may help explain why Petersen has remained at Boise (despite interest from UCLA, among others) and Few at Gonzaga. They know where they're most comfortable.
We can only dream. In the meantime ... maybe start watching