North Carolina needs more than all-world D to win ACC; more Mailbag
Imagine your girlfriend dumping you, then going on to marry the one person you hate most in the world. I suspect that's what this past winter felt like for North Carolina fans, who endured their storied basketball team missing the NCAA tournament while archrival Duke rose up and won the whole thing.
Relief may be on its way soon enough, Tar Heels fans, though from an unfamiliar place: your football team.
While way-early draft projections don't always prove accurate (see
There's one big difference this time, though: Davis hasn't had nearly as much success on the offensive side of the ball. Quarterback
While UNC has improved from 3-9 the year before Davis arrived to 8-5 the past two years, Tar Heels fans would be justified in expecting Davis -- with his $2 million-plus salary -- to produce an ACC title contender in this, his fourth season. There are certain years when it feels like a team has a unique window of opportunity to do something special, and with the makings of an all-world defense, this might be it for UNC. But I'm having a hard time fully jumping on the Heels' bandwagon when they've shown such little sign of producing any offensive explosion. I suppose they could follow the Virginia Tech blueprint; the Hokies' won the league in 2007 and '08 with highly suspect offenses. But league offenses have improved quite a bit since then, including in Blacksburg, and UNC will face games where it's got to move the ball, too. Get on that, guys.
It speaks to just how little expansion has to do with actual on-field results. The Big 12 has placed teams in five of the past seven BCS championship games and just produced five of the top six picks in last month's NFL draft. But for all its teams' on-field success, behind the scenes, the conference is a bit like a dysfunctional family.
The old-guard Big 8 schools like Nebraska resent Texas for coming in and stealing their thunder. Cash cows Texas and Oklahoma resent the fact that Iowa State, Kansas State, et. al., contribute such little value to the league's television contracts (which, at about $80 million per year, garner less than half that of the SEC's new package). And the smaller schools resent the fact that Texas and Oklahoma get larger slices of the pie in the conference's uneven revenue distribution model. (Unlike in the Big Ten, where all revenue is shared equally, the Big 12 teams that appear on TV more often get bigger payouts.)
The primary reason you're hearing Nebraska and Missouri come up so frequently in Big Ten speculation is because they'd both stand to make significantly more money than they do in the Big 12. But the biggest reason they'd actually consider leaving is because the Big Ten is simply more stable.
You are a smart man, Eric. While Tebow was unquestionably the face of Florida football the past four years, one could argue the team's true MVP was defensive coordinator
On the other hand, I have no idea what to expect from the defense. That uncertainty starts first and foremost with new defensive coordinator
Personnel-wise, though, Florida's in much better shape than it was in '07. That defense had to rely almost entirely on freshmen and sophomores; this defense still has a bunch of proven veterans (safeties
I swear I wasn't fishing for compliments with last week's season intro about the Mailbag being an Internet dinosaur, but it did elicit a whole lot of e-mails like this one -- so thank you, everyone. Don't worry, no Big Ten-style overhaul is in the works. The Mailbag has done fine all these years without Rutgers or Syracuse.
Oh, I'm pretty sure that ship sailed a while ago -- like when the NCAA started allowing 6-6 teams. Or counting wins over I-AA teams. Or giving Detroit a bowl game. But yes, allowing 5-7 teams would be a new low for an industry that already spends an inordinate amount of money
But the reality is, we live in a free-market society. If the KFC Double Down Bowl in Olathe, Kan., proves it can support itself financially, lands itself two conference partners and a TV deal, and doesn't particularly mind if one of its participants is 5-7 -- the NCAA doesn't seem inclined to stop it. The more, the merrier. In announcing the move to 35 games, the NCAA used as justification the $237 million in revenue last year's games distributed to schools. It left out the fact that nearly 65 percent of that figure comes from the five BCS games. Most of the lower-tier bowls are only able to survive financially because of the
Honestly -- I think Guenther's decision rates as one of the worst ideas in recent college football history, somewhere between that ESPN/
Guenther handed his coach a life raft by throwing money at new coordinators. Yes, it was no coincidence that Illinois' offensive implosion last season, despite the presence of a four-year starting quarterback (
There is no favorite. Put a gun to my head and I'll say Cincinnati because the Bearcats are the two-time defending champs, still have a lot of familiar faces (most notably quarterback
In a year when nearly every other team in the league is breaking in a new quarterback or a new head coach,
Edsall's team has won eight or more games each of the past three seasons and shared a regular-season title with West Virginia in 2007. (The Mountaineers got the automatic berth.) With Fraser, running back
If it's OK with you, Nick, I intend to keep doing all three. But I haven't gone completely to the dark side. I still refuse to use "foursquare," that new "location networking" app (translation: stalker tool) all the kids are using these days.
If I did, though, I'm fairly confident I'd be the mayor of my couch.