Anticipation mounting for changing of the guard; plus more Mailbag
It's finally August. College football teams around the country will be hitting the practice fields as early as today. If you're like me, you're brimming with anticipation for the 2010 season.
Unlike this guy...
Among the 1,927 reasons I prefer college to the NFL is the ever-changing wave of new stars and breakout players. While I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the careers of Tebow and McCoy, their departures are the very reason I find myself
Last week in New York, several other writers and I enjoyed the opportunity to have dinner with four Pac-10 quarterbacks (USC's
Meanwhile, the aura of those quarterbacks and their title-contending teams last season overshadowed an abundance of big-time running backs that burst onto the scene. Obviously,
And finally, you've got a whole host of intriguing new coaches, many of whom could have an immediate impact this season. For all that's been said and written about
Change is really the overriding theme in the sport right now, and it makes for a whole lot more preseason mystery than there was this time a year ago when it was all about Tebow/McCoy/Bradford.
I knew the Nutt column would elicit some strong reactions, but I had no idea they would split so diametrically between the states of Mississippi and Arkansas. I literally received hundreds of e-mails just like these two. It's no surprise Ole Miss fans so vociferously defended their coach (though I have no doubt the same exact people would have crucified
But the point of the column was not to rile up those two fan bases. Let me address a less partisan e-mail.
I don't dispute that the column was harsh, but it wasn't without reason.
My hope with the Nutt-Masoli piece was that readers might take a moment to rethink what truly constitutes "dirty" in this day and age. It's been an eventful off-season for scandal-related headlines, and as I wrote in the lead, I've noticed fans throwing around the d-word with reckless abandon, demonizing coaches and programs based mostly on blanket assumptions and innuendo. Listening to some of the revisionist history out there about
Admittedly, Nutt has broken no rules, and if that's your sole criteria for judging a coach's ethics, then you're obviously going to disagree with the column. But as I wrote, Nutt has demonstrated a repeated pattern over the past several years of shameless win-at-any-cost tactics. Taking on Masoli just happens to be his most brazenly transparent. No one's buying the cover that this has anything to do with "helping" a wayward kid. As Nutt himself told the
Sadly, this has become the standard operating mentality for a lot of coaches, and I happen to find it more troublesome than many of the things others might consider "dirty," but unfortunately, a lot of fans now tacitly accept it.
Case in point.
First off, the name's not changing, so get used to it. Maybe one day they'll do a KFC thing -- just abbreviate it to "BT" and hope people forget what it stands for.
I was surprised to hear
And yes, the BCS issue is a concern, but it's not entirely an apples-to-apples scenario with what the Pac-10's been experiencing. For one, the Big Ten still won't be playing a full round-robin as the Pac-10 has been doing, so it's still possible a team might catch a favorable break in its schedule one year and ride it to 10 wins and an at-large berth. But more importantly, the entire competitive landscape will be changing with the two conferences both adding more teams and a title game. My guess is the general threshold for finishing in the Top 14 and entertaining at-large candidacy is going to drop from 10-2 to 9-3 once four of the six major conferences have 12 teams.
Excellent question. I suppose the notion that Southern Californians are too busy surfing to attend a football game while Iowans are looking for any excuse to get off the farm is one of those outdated clichés that became engrained back when the sport was still largely regional. I do think there's truth to the differing levels of loyalty regarding teams like USC and Miami that play in major cities (where the stadiums are only full when the teams are good) versus college-town teams like Alabama or Nebraska (where the stadiums are full no matter what), but that has more to do with the fact that most major cities are more focused on pro sports than college sports.
But some stereotypes do hold true. You need only walk onto any SEC campus the night before a game to see how life comes to a standstill for college football. Meanwhile, the first time I covered an Oregon game, I remember being so puzzled at the near-total absence of Ducks gear in the bars the night before the game. Mind you, the next morning, the tailgate lots were jam-packed and the stadium was roaring, but even by Saturday night, it was back to life as usual. It's not that West Coasters aren't passionate about their teams; they just manage to maintain more perspective than their peers in some other parts of the country. I'll leave you to decide whether that's admirable or embarrassing.
Something tells me I'm not going to win that argument.
It's the age-old debate, isn't it? At the risk of opening a giant can of worms, here's where I stand on the athlete-compensation issue.
As long as college sports remains part of the larger university, I don't believe athletes should be paid any sort of straight-up salary or stipend. As you said, they are already being rewarded quite handsomely for their work, much more so than other college students who participate in their own respective extracurricular activities. The small handful that will go on to the NFL will be rewarded financially when their careers are over, while the rest, if they put in the work, will themselves be set up for the future with something very valuable: a diploma.
I do have a problem, however, with the fact athletes don't see a dime when their own personal likeness gets licensed in order to sell jerseys and other merchandise. Terrelle Pryor absolutely deserves a cut of all those No. 2 jerseys that will be flying off the shelves in Columbus this fall. And as much as I Iove EA Sports' college football games, the
I don't think it's out of the question. The Big East booted Temple several years ago not just because the Owls weren't competitive, but because the overall atmosphere surrounding that program (embarrassingly small crowds, equally embarrassing academic performances) wasn't befitting of a BCS conference. If
In the meantime, let's focus on a more pressing question: Will Temple wind up in Pasadena? Follow me here. As you may know, there's a rule in place this year that states that if the Big Ten or Pac-10 champion reaches the national title game, the Rose Bowl must select a non-AQ team if one is eligible. Obviously, we're all assuming Boise State, TCU or another Mountain West team will get that call, but why not the Owls? They won nine games last year. They've got a stud running back in
That thud you just heard was from a Tournament of Roses Committee member who just read this and had a stroke.
Much like Joe's question earlier about the West Coast/Midwest stereotypes, you've astutely identified another outdated football cliché. The idea of a "system quarterback" dates back at least to the
Today, however, so many teams throw the ball heavily that you could well argue a run-heavy offense is now the anomaly. Case in point: Wisconsin. Is
Personally, I'd prefer we just lose the whole "system" thing altogether.
On that we can agree -- especially the last part.