1a. And after bagging on Ohio State, I think it deserves mentioning that the "they sucked against Florida" argument against the Bucks playing in the title game is ludicrous. Unless the Fiesta Bowl against Miami been erased from the collective memory, Ohio State has typically played very well in bowl games under Jim Tressel. He's one of the better big-game coaches in the country. Ohio State has an excellent defense and a match-up against Missouri or West Virginia's spread offenses would be a football nerd's delight. Ohio State did lay an egg against Florida last year for a variety of reasons, but that doesn't change the fact that Bucks have been better-than-average in bowl games this decade and have enough speed to play with the big boys.
2. You would think that I would enjoy a Gregg Easterbrook screed that starts with a dig at Ohio State's abysmal academic record for its football players and then continues with shots of comely women in various barely there outfits, but then Gregg has to go and screw it up by opining on Les Miles:
When You Hire a Coach Who's Only in It for Himself, You Get a Coach Who's Only in It for Himself: Lloyd Carr retired at Michigan, and early last week, Les Miles of LSU refused to say whether he would return to LSU or
seek the Michigan job. A few days later, LSU lost to Arkansas, surrendering its
pole position for the BCS title game. True, Miles can't control that Carr
stepped down in November or that columnists are linking him to the job. But he
didn't deny interest in the job, either, nor did he emphatically embrace LSU,
which sure seemed to indicate he already was thinking ahead about the Michigan
post, which he has long been believed to be seeking.
This brings up a point Tuesday Morning Quarterback perennially makes about coaches campaigning for other jobs when their current seasons are not complete, or halfheartedly pretending they are not campaigning. My point: When you hire a coach who's only in it for himself, you get a coach who's only in it for himself. Dennis
Franchione, Mike Price, Bill Parcells (when the mid-'90s Patriots were close to
the Super Bowl), Chuck Fairbanks, Herm "I Honor My Contract When I'm In The
Mood" Edwards and Little Nicky Saban are all examples of coaches who either
officially quit on their teams with a season still in progress or halfheartedly
denied doing so. All of them, after arriving at their new gigs, had bad years.
If a player openly angled to leave for another team, late in a season that was
still in progress, we'd be outraged. Why is it OK for coaches to do this,
shafting their entire team, not just causing a one-man problem like when a
player drops his loyalty? Michigan, should you hire Miles, bear in mind you're
getting the sort of person who sure seemed to place his own career goals ahead
of a national championship run last week.
First of all, what exactly is Les Miles supposed to say? He's obviously interested in returning to his alma mater, but he doesn't want to screw his existing team at the end of the season. He can either: (a) take the Nick Saban approach of denying any interest in the new job (and thus lie and earn the enmity of all of the Easterbrooks of the world when he takes the Michigan job in December); or (b) say nice things about Michigan and LSU while refusing to answer questions about his future, which is exactly what Miles has done. How in the world does Easterbrook suggest that Miles handle the questions?
Second, Easterbrook is getting up on his high horse regarding Miles being "only in it for himself," while ignoring the fact that Miles is interested in the Michigan job for non-monetary reasons. If he wanted to cash in and keep getting cracks at the national title, then he would take an extension at LSU and continue to profit from that school's incredible recruiting base. Instead, he apparently wants to coach at an institution about which he feels strong affection. Shouldn't the guy who wrote The Progress Paradox, a book about how we all make more money and have more cool possessions, but are still less happy, approve of that sort of thinking?
What Miles is doing is no different that what Bear Bryant did when he left Texas A&M, right down to the fact that the Aggies fell out of title contention with an upset loss to Rice when rumors of Bryant returning to his alma mater began to swirl. How did Alabama's hiring of an "only in it for himself" guy like the Bear work out? If you prefer a more recent example, Urban Meyer took the Florida job at the end of Utah's 2004 regular season after he had been rumored for a variety of positions in the weeks leading up to his departure. How has that hire worked out for Florida?
3. And speaking of my LesCrush, I'm still waiting to hear all the people who ripped on Miles for going for the win against Auburn instead of settling for a field goal acknowledge that there is risk in playing for a field goal. Exhibit QQ: the Kentucky-Tennessee game. Kentucky picked off a pass on Tennessee's possession starting the second overtime. At this stage, the Cats are completely in the driver's seat. Kentucky has an outstanding quarterback and a passing game that has run roughshod over the Tennessee defense ever since halftime. Tennessee will obviously be playing aggressively on defense to push the Cats back as far as possible. So what does Rich Brooks do? Three runs to set up a field goal attempt that the Vols block. Is there any criticism of Brooks the way there was of Miles? No. Why? Because the conventional wisdom overrates certain unlikely risks (turning the ball over or a simple one-read pass play taking eight seconds) and underrates certain far more likely risks (a missed or blocked field goal).
4. Steve Beuerlein, Georgia is coached by Mark Richt. Mark. Not Mike. Mark. Seems like something an SEC announcer should know.
5. I wish I had something interesting to say about the Georgia-Georgia Tech game, but I don't. Mark Richt showed why it's important to have two quality running backs, as his hot hand turned out to be Thomas Brown and not the freshman who had been setting the world on fire. Georgia Tech shot themselves in the foot on numerous occasions, which indicates that Reggie Ball isn't the only Jacket who lost his cool when he sees silver britches. Ultimately, Georgia Tech was done in by their dreadful passing game, a fitting coda to the Chan Gailey era. Gailey came in with the reputation as a sharp offensive mind who worked very well with quarterbacks, but his teams were almost uniformly good on defense and spotty on offense.
6. I thoroughly enjoyed the Missouri-Kansas game. The neutral site environment added a great deal to the atmosphere, as there was a roaring crowd reaction to just about every play. College football could use more neutral site games like that. Here are some impractical ideas that will never come true, but are fun to bounce around:
Michigan-Notre Dame rotating between Chicago and Detroit
West Virginia-Penn State in Pittsburgh
Maryland-Penn State in Philadelphia
South Florida-Florida in Orlando
Louisville-Ohio State in Cincinnati
LSU-Texas in Houston
Auburn-Virginia Tech in Charlotte
Of course, part of what makes most of these games unrealistic is the fact that pollsters are so slavish in their reliance on record that there is little or no benefit to playing difficult out-of-conference games if the sole focus of a program is on winning the national title.