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Lane Kiffin refuses to stay out of the news

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I really thought (and hoped) that my last coaching update would be the last time I had to talk about Lane Kiffin for a few months.  At least until next season.  Heck, at least until the draft.

It lasted 24 days.   Not even a full month. 

Of course, what I’m referring to is the news that Lane Kiffin got a 13 year-old kid to verbally commit to USC.   That’s right – a kid who hasn’t even committed to high school or taking the SAT or driving a car has verbally committed to play football for the Trojans.

As if I needed another reason to think Kiffin is a creepy attention monger, now he’s pulling yet another media stunt by courting a child.  Not even a high school kid.  A child whose main concern should still be trying to figure out which deodorant works best for him.

Ronnie “Sunshine” Bass…no, wait – this report says it’s David Sills – is a middle school football phenom from Delaware who has been personally groomed by the same personal trainer/USC pipeliner that trained Matt Leinart and Matt Barkley, according to ESPN.com.

Sills’s father was surprised at the amount of criticism that he, Kiffin and the trainer (Steve Clarkson) have received, even though he acknowledged that he thought it was weird.

“Even when I sit back and reflect on it, it’s shocking, weird, bizarre, you name it,” said Sills’ father to ESPN.com.

Did you realize this only in retrospect, or did you realize that before you did it and say, “I’m willing to let my son be in a weird situation if it means getting paid someday.”

He went on to say, “The rules are the rules and as long as you abide by the rules then you abide by the rules….”

Has he not watched ESPN in the last year?  He really doesn’t want to get into a rules discussion when Kiffin is involved.  That’s a very iffy area.

“If people don’t like this they don’t need to get mad about it and bash the dad and bash the coach and bash the kid…”

Nobody is bashing the kid, and I think it’s pathetic when people hide behind the kid when people aren’t bashing the kids, but the adults who are using them.

“They should call up the NCAA and tell them that they don’t like the rules.”

Again, nice deflection, but there is no shortage of people telling the NCAA they don’t like their rules.  Even the US Justice Department is getting in on the act as it ramps up for an investigation into the BCS

But, this isn’t about the rules.  This is about people who are, as Michael Wilbon put it on Pardon The Interruption yesterday, out pimping their kids.  People aren’t really concerned about the letter of the law at the moment.

To be fair, Tony Kornheiser also pointed out on PTI that this is hardly new.  Jim Caldwell, who appears to know a thing or two about winning, got a 13 year-old Chris Leak to commit to Wake Forest when he was coaching there.  That’s just to be fair.  Still doesn’t make it any less creepy.

“For the people that don’t like kids getting recruited early, if it was their kid, what would they do?” Sills’s father asked ESPN.com.  “Would they hold them back?”

No.  And there is no delusion here that recruiting starts when kids are seniors in high school.  Scouting starts absurdly early.  It’s how we knew about LeBron James and O.J. Mayo when they were also just kids, just to name two of myriads of kids.  But there is a far cry between scouting and recruiting with intent to come to a verbal committment.  Meeting with a kid and making a verbal committment isn’t even close to the same thing as just keeping an eye on a kid who shows real promise.

This is merely the latest in a constantly growing portfolio of shady activity by Kiffin.  It’s the reason I questions USC’s hiring in the first place, and it’s the reason I continue to be completely unsurprised by stories like this.  I think it’s time for grown ups to start acting like grown ups and treating kids like the kids they are rather than as things to be used for their gain.

Written by Austin Swafford

February 6, 2010 at 9:48 am

Posted in Commentary

Season wrap-up…final facts, figures and frustrations

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I probably should have written this last Friday, Saturday or even Sunday.  I hope you will forgive the tardiness of this article as I have been letting the disappointment of the lost championship drain away.  It seems 2009 was just the season destined to see the University of Texas as the #2.  They lost the College World Series finals, the volleyball national championship and the BCS National Championship.  Second place in three sports speaks of a school’s great talent and diversity, but it really would have been nice to see them bring home at least one of those titles.

But I digress.

I just wanted to wrap up the season with a few things.  Some house cleaning items, if you will, along with some thoughts on the national championship game.  First off, if you haven’t seen them, these are the final rankings:

AP USA Today
#1 Alabama (60) #1 Alabama (58)
#2 Texas #2 Texas
#3 Florida #3 Florida
#4 Boise State #4 Boise State
#5 Ohio State #5 Ohio State
#6 TCU #6 TCU
#7 Iowa #7 Iowa
#8 Cincinnati #8 Penn State
#9 Penn State #9 Cincinnati
#10 Virginia Tech #10 Virginia Tech
#11 Oregon #11 Oregon
#12 BYU #12 BYU
#13 Georgia Tech #13 Georgia Tech
#14 Nebraska #14 Nebraska
#15 Pittsburgh #15 Pittsburgh
#16 Wisconsin #16 Wisconsin
#17 LSU #17 LSU
#18 Utah #18 Utah
#19 Miami (FL) #19 Miami (FL)
#20 Mississippi #20 USC
#21 Texas Tech #21 Mississippi
#22 USC #22 West Virginia
#23 Central Michigan #23 Texas Tech
#24 Clemson #24 Central Michigan
#25 West Virginia #25 Oklahoma State



No major differences between the two major human polls.  #1-#7 is the same.  Though I’m trying to figure out why they put TCU ahead of Iowa when Iowa actually won their BCS bowl.  Nebraska seems kind of low considering how they dismantled a ranked opponent.  I’d say the same for BYU.  And how on earth does the Coaches poll still have Oklahoma State ranked?  Did they see how they played against Mississippi?  It was pathetic.

Biggest Winner: Aside from the obvious answer of Alabama for winning the national championship and being a unanimous No. 1, I’d have to call it a toss-up between Boise State and Ohio State.  Boise State manged to finish with its second top-5 finish in school history and continue to build momentum for non-BCS conferences by making this the fourth time in the last six years that a non-BCS team has finished in the top-5.  And Ohio State made one of the bigger poll jumps, moving three spots to put an exclamation mark on a great bowl season for the Big 10 with a top-5 finish.

Biggest Loser: Navy.  They totally dominated a solid Missouri team and still didn’t break the top 25.  They were hosed after an impressive season with plenty of impressive wins.  I can’t believe the voters overlooked Navy, especially when they managed to put Central Michigan in the top 25.  The Pac-10 is a very close second for biggest loser and is worth mentioning.  Oregon State, Stanford and Arizona fell out of the rankings in both polls after two of those three were absolutely throttled in their bowl games.

Here’s how the bowl season played out by conference:

Conference Schools Record Percentage
Independents Navy 1-0 1.000
MWC AF, BYU, TCU, Utah, Wyom 4-1 .800
Big East Cincy, Pitt, Rut, UConn, USF, WVU 4-2 .667
SEC Ala, Ark, Aub, Flor, Geor, Ky, LSU, Miss, SCar, Tenn 6-4 .600
Big 10 Iowa, MichSt, Minn, Nwstern, OSU, PSU, Wis 4-3 .571
Big 12 ISU, Mizzou, Neb, OU, OklaSt, Texas, TxA&M, TTech 4-4 .500
WAC Boise St, FresSt, Idaho, Nev 2-2 .500
Sun Belt MidTen, Troy 1-1 .500
ACC BC, Clem, FSU, GT, Miami, UNC, VT 3-4 .429
C-USA ECU, Hou, Marsh, SMU, SoMiss, UCF 2-4 .333
Pac-10 Ariz, Cal, Ore, OreSt, Stan, UCLA, USC 2-5 .286
MAC BGreen, CMich, NIU, Ohio, Tem 1-4 .200



Biggest Winner: Mountain West Conference.  Even though lots of conferences put on great performances, the MWC was the buzz of the bowl season.  Its only blemish was TCU’s close loss to Boise State…a very respectable loss to have on the record.  Meanwhile, Air Force, BYU, Utah and Wyoming all came up with huge bowl wins that left pundits asking if the MWC should be in the mix of conferences that receive an automatic bid.  I want to be on the record as saying that I’d have no problem with the MWC taking the ACC’s automatic bid, as the ACC fell to 2-10 in BCS bowls (second-worst is the Big 12, still way ahead at 7-10) and posted its third losing bowl season in a row.  They haven’t had a winning bowl season since 2005.  Time to stop treating that mess like a major conference.

Biggest Loser: Pac-10.  And it’s not even close.  Oh, how the mighty have fallen.  This time last year, the conversation was about the colossus that is the Pac-10 as they closed out an undefeated bowl season.  That seems a distant memory as the Pac-10 posted a 2-5 record, including humiliating losses by Oregon State and Arizona.  The conference’s only victories were USC (topping Boston College in a virtual home game at San Francisco) and UCLA (which beat Temple…not impressive).

Speaking of unimpressive, did anyone say anything about the picks Jon and I made for bowl games?  My record was completely pathetic.  Jon’s was only mildly pathetic.

On BCS Bowls:

Austin: 2-2

Jon: 1-3

Final for bowl season:

Jon: 10-14

Austin: 9-15

Final season total:

Jon: 220-76

Austin: 213-83

I think it’s clear who the big winner and the big loser is on this one.  Congratulations to Mr. Castano on a great season.  I very much look forward to next season and going out on a limb less with those Vanderbilt picks.

Lastly, I just have some thoughts on the national championship that I want to share.

1.  Those were two of the best defenses that I’ve seen square off in college football in recent memory.  I thought Alabama and Texas both deserve huge credit for what they did defensively.  And, since nobody is really talking about them in the wake of Alabama’s performance, I want to say that Sergio Kindle and Lamarr Houston were awesome and deserve just as much credit as anyone on Alabama that’s getting all the love right now.  The two Texas defensive linemen combined for 18 tackles (14 solo) and three sacks.  There’s no way those two didn’t improve their draft stock with how they played.

2.  Mark Ingram is an absolute beast.  Not that you didn’t already know that, I just want to give credit where it’s due.  After watching Greg McElroy this year and watching what happened when Ingram went out with cramps in the third quarter (Texas held Alabama to 3 yards of offense), I think it’s very easy to say this team wouldn’t be much without Ingram.  Even though I still think Toby Gerhart deserved the Heisman.

3.  The NCAA needs to take a serious look at how games are being officiated, especially in the SEC.  Alabama came into the championship having gone 34 quarters without having a holding call on their offensive line.  That is literally impossible.  I subscribe to the saying that there is a holding call on every play, it’s just a matter of whether you want to call it.  I think that’s true, and that means that SEC officials chose not to call the Tide for holding for eight and a half games.  That’s insane.  And if they played every game like they did against Texas, the idea that it’s just disciplined ball is a myth, because they held all over the place.  I’m not making excuses for the Longhorns…that’s just a fact.

It’s also a fact that there was a false start on Alabama’s first touchdown that the refs didn’t call.  Go back and watch it, and keep an eye on Terrence Cody.  He rocks before the play starts and they missed it.  The officiating in that game was suspect, as it seems to have been all season in Alabama games.  Again, not making excuses for the Longhorns.  These are just facts.

4.  The Texas coaching staff absolutely did not earn their pay in that game.  I know it’s never easy when your two-time Heisman-nominated QB goes down, but the coaching staff flat-out froze in that game.  They showed no faith in Garret Gilbert, running predictable running play after predictable running play, making it easy for Alabama to bunch the line of scrimmage and forcing Gilbert to throw on a third and 12 and a third and 15 in the first half.  Before D.J. Monroe broke a 28-yard run on an end around, Texas ran eight running plays, mostly up the middle, for a total of only 22 yards.  They gave Gilbert no chance in the first half.  But, what’s more, when you saw him on the sidelines he was all by himself.  Nobody coaching him up, encouraging him or even making him feel like he was so much as a part of the team.  They treated him like a pitcher working on a no-hitter in the 8th.

And that was just the most egregious of the mistakes by the coaching staff.  The shovel pass at the end of the first half was a bad call.  They rugby punted with Justin Tucker when they should have been punting it straight and they punted it straight with John Gold when they should have been rugby punting.  Their whole strategy was backwards.  I spent the entire night wondering what Texas could possibly be paying these guys huge sums of money for.  That performance was an embarrassment.

5.  Even with all the losses on defense and offense, Texas will be right back next year with Gilbert.  His 37.5 completion percentage, four interceptions and a fumble, and 73 QB rating is hardly exemplary.  But he showed resilience getting his team back into the game in a hopeless situation.  He fought and showed flashes of brilliance even as his wide receivers let him down repeatedly with numerous dropped passes, including ones on third downs and one in the end zone, all of which could have completely changed the complexion of the game.  Gilbert showed some guts that night, and I think Texas fans will be very happy with what he produces these next three years.

Written by Austin Swafford

January 12, 2010 at 9:00 am

Orange Bowl paves way for historic BCS season

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Iowa’s dominating win over Georgia Tech in the FedEx Orange Bowl last night paves way for an interesting historic note that I’m stunned nobody is talking about.  But, before I get into that, big kudos to the Big 10 for breaking their stigma as BCS chokers in a big way.  Ohio State and Iowa both put up dominant defensive performances en route to breaking the Big 10’s six-game BCS losing streak and locked up the conference’s first bowl-season winning record since 2002.  That was a great game last night.  Much better than I expected and, for my money, the best BCS game so far this season.

But one thing that nobody is talking about is that this season is well positioned to be the first time ever that every underdog in BCS games have won.  No. 8 Ohio State started it by knocking off No. 7 Oregon.  That same night, No. 5 Florida crushed No. 3 Cincinnati.  Then, No. 6 Boise State topped No. 4 TCU.  Last night, No. 10 Iowa took down No. 9 Georgia Tech.  No. 2 Texas has a chance to complete the sweep and make history tomorrow night in the BCS National Championship against No. 1 Alabama.

Previously, the best performances by underdogs were the ’07-’08 and ’08-’09 seasons when the underdogs won three of the five BCS bowls.  Underdogs have never before come this close to sweeping the BCS.  In two previous seasons (’00-’01 and ’04-’05) the favorites swept the BCS.

I wonder why this little historical note seems to have escaped everyone’s attention.  Is it perhaps because people are caring less and less about these matchups as they buck for a tournament?

Could it be that people forgot that some of these teams were underdogs?  It’s pretty easy to forget that Florida fell from No. 1 to No. 5 after losing to Alabama and that, despite expectations, they weren’t technically the favorite in the game.  And with the huge layoff the Big 10 has before BCS season, it can be easy to forget where Iowa and Ohio State were ranked, let alone that they were even playing in BCS bowls.

It might be that the teams are more evenly matched than perhaps any previous season.  This is only the second time that every team in a BCS bowl has been in the top 10.  In fact, in five previous seasons, there has been one team outside the top 15 in the BCS, three of which have been teams outside the top 20.  This is also the first time that every matchup has been between two teams that are separated by no more than 2 spots in the polls.  One could say that this is the best demonstration of how the BCS should work that we have ever seen.

So, maybe it is the fact that nobody was facing a “real” upset.  After all, how much of an upset can you call it when No. 8 tops No. 7?  Nevertheless, Texas does have a chance to make history tomorrow night, and nobody seems to be noticing.

Written by Austin Swafford

January 6, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Fiesta Bowl leaves “what-ifs” in the air

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I really wish I could write more about this, but I only have a short time to write out a post. But I do have to take a minute to say that the Fiesta Bowl, while exciting as advertised and lower scoring than expected, still leaves so many what-ifs out there for me.

Boise State played much better than most expected, especially on the defensive side of the ball.  Even though they needed multiple TCU turnovers and a trick play on a fake punt just to win by seven, the Broncos pretty well dominated this game.  TCU was held well below their season averages in all offensive categories and Boise State is now one of two teams that will finish the season undefeated (along with whomever wins the national championship).

That’s a great finish for Boise State, but as badly as both teams played last night, I really can’t help but wonder what would have happened if Boise State had played Cincinnati and TCU had played Florida.  If we’d gotten the matchups that I dreamed about, would both teams have lost?  I’m not taking anything away from Boise State’s defensive performance, but TCU was flat-out miserable on offense last night.  Would BSU have stood up like that against Cincy?

It was the most exciting BCS Bowl we’ve had so far this year, but it still left me quite unsatisfied.  I wanted two undefeated teams from non-BCS conferences to have the chance to prove themselves against BCS opponents.  Now, after watching both of them play so poorly last night, I just wonder if the non-BCS conferences would have taken a massive step backwards had they played the teams they deserved to play.

Even with all the press the Mountain West Conference has generated this year by dominating the bowl season, you have to wonder if we wouldn’t be having a “wow, they really were overrated all along” discussion had Boise State and TCU been paired against the likes of Cincy, Florida, Iowa or Georgia Tech.  The only “what-if” that got answered last night was whether the undefeated team coming out of the Fiesta Bowl deserved a shot at a share of the national championship.  The answer is a certain and resounding “NO!”

Written by Austin Swafford

January 5, 2010 at 5:32 pm

First Salvo of Bowl Games – Jon and I Fall Flat

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Bowl games are so hard to predict.  It amazes me when I see those ESPN bowl pick challenges where people are perfect because they have to pick against all odds, facts and logic on some of those games.  That said, Jon and I fell flat on our picks of the first three games.  On the young bowl season, Jon is 0-3 and I am 1-2.

Bowl season opened with Fresno State taking on Wyoming in the New Mexico Bowl.  Did you know that New Mexico is a mecca of food and culture?  Well, it is, and I now know that because of watching the three hour infomercial with bits of college football played in between announcements.  In all seriousness, though, this  game really was a thriller.

The Bulldogs (whose coach, Pat Hill, looks appropriately bulldoggish himself) appeared to have the game wrapped up with a 28-17 lead in the fourth quarter.  Unfortunately for them, they started playing like they had the game locked up and allowed the Cowboys to rally back and force overtime.

The Cowboys continued to hold Fresno State back in overtime with a goal line stand.  Showing why they’re still in the WAC and not a more prestigious conference, the Bulldogs took four shots from the one yard line and could not force it in.  By the way, Pat Hill, in overtime you take any points you can get and then leave it up to your defense to hold.  Because they would have.  If Fresno State had just gone for the field goal (assuming they get it) they would have won.  Because Wyoming countered their bad coaching with even worse coaching.  They went ultraconservative in their overtime possession, going for three consecutive running plays in a row before throwing their walk-on kicker out there for a 40-yard field goal.  This might stun you, but he missed.

Would have been game over and a victory for Fresno State if they’d gone for the field goal.  But, they didn’t.  So, Wyoming gets the ball back, and on third and 10, gets some help from a really dumb pass interference by Fresno State.  One running play and a holding call later, Fresno State had Wyoming right where they wanted them at 2nd and goal from the 18.  But did they hold?  Nooooooo.  Five yard pass.  Third and goal from the 13.  You guessed it.  Pass complete for the lead.  Not much to say for Fresno State’s answer.  Rush, no gain.  Pass complete for five yards.  Pass incomplete.  Then, on fourth and five with the game on the line, Fresno State QB Bryce Harris held the ball and held the ball and held the ball before finally trying to run, kind of, having it stripped and ending the game.  Congratulations to Wyoming, but seriously, that was a very bad showing by Fresno State in their second straight bowl loss.

The action continued Saturday night with Rutgers taking on Central Florida in what was basically a home game for UCF at the St. Petersburg Bowl Presented by Beef O’Brady’s.  Worst bowl name ever, by the way.  Rutgers had a 28-17 halftime lead and they jumped out to a 38-17 lead in the third quarter.  Unlike Fresno State, however, Rutgers did not play like a team that already had it won.  Their defense and offense were both relentless.  And a little classless, I might add.

With under two and a half minutes to play, UCF scored a TD to close the lead to 38-24.  Still close to insurmountable with that amount of time.  But, they’re fighters, so they go for the onside kick.  It takes a flukey bounce and goes right into the hands of Rutgers’s Damaso Munoz, who finds himself behind every defender.  It’s clear green all the way to the end zone, and he punctuates his TD return with a flip into the end zone from the one yard line.

Seriously, you Reggie Bush wannabe?  You are crushing your opponent in their home state.  The commentators called that letting your emotions get the best of you.  I don’t buy that.  Quan Cosby dove into the end zone when he had the game winning TD against Ohio State last year.  The winning play of the game…then I understand letting your emotions get the best of you.  Rutgers had ample time to let the feeling of victory sink in.  And, of course, these things build on themselves, so when Scott Vallone sacked Rob Calabrese on UCF’s following possession, he jumped up and started spinning his like he’d just lassoed him a sack.  Or something.  Let it be always said of the boys from New Jersey that they are classy in victory.

I’ll admit I didn’t catch much of the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on Sunday night.  I forgot there was a bowl game that night.  So, I’ll just say briefly that Southern Miss had a 14-0 lead and looked like they were ready to run away with it, but let Middle Tennessee work their way back in and the Blue Raiders ended up winning handily.  They had a 16-point lead with just over a minute to play before Southern Miss scored a touchdown in the last half minute.  Their inability to convert the two-pointer iced the game for MTU, which earned its first bowl victory in…well, let’s just say quite some time.

The bowl games continue tonight with…let’s be honest…the first matchup of the season that really interests me.  No. 14 BYU plays No. 18 Oregon State at 7:00 PM CST in the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas.  I’ll have to record it, as I’ll be at the Texas-Michigan State basketball game tonight.  Hook ’em, Horns!

Written by Austin Swafford

December 22, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Catching Up is Hard to do – Musings on recent college football news

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It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted, and I apologize for that.  I wanted to take some time to write a few thoughts on some of the events in college football since I last posted.

BCS blows it again

No, I’m not gong to complain about who’s playing in the national championship.  Yeah, a playoff would be neat, but I don’t think you can make a case for Cincinnati, TCU or Boise State over Texas and Alabama.  I think it’ll be a great game and I’m totally looking forward to that one.

And maybe only to that one.

It’s not a shock, given the projections we’ve seen for weeks, but I think the matchups this year are horrible.  I can’t complain too much about Oregon and Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.  We knew that one was coming, and I think it’ll be an okay game.  One team’s great offense against another’s great defense, and another almost inevitable loss for the Big 10 in a BCS Bowl.  Why they keep giving them two BCS Bowls a year escapes me.

The Sugar Bowl is the one that I think has me most furious.  Cincinnati and Florida.  I desperately wanted to see TCU play the second place team from the SEC.  I think TCU has earned the right to play in a game like that and prove themselves against talent like that.  To say nothing of the fact that I think it would just be a great game.  TCU and Florida are really good on both sides of the ball.  I think it’d be a great matchup.  Instead we have Florida against a team that’s all offense and just lost its head coach.  This one’s a stinker.

The Fiest Bowl.  Oh, what were they thinking?  They could have taken Iowa, freeing up TCU to play in the Sugar Bowl like I wanted them to, but instead they took TCU and Boise State.  Now we have a BCS Bowl between two teams who are not from major conferences.  Don’t get me wrong, I think it’ll be a good game.  This is the one I’m most looking forward to, aside from the championship  I just think both of them earned the right to prove themselves against major conference opponents, and I wish they could.  But, now you have a scenario where it becomes easy to dismiss the winner because they “only” beat TCU or “only” beat Boise State.  Plus, if I had my wish, I’d have Boise State playing either Cincinnati or Georgia Tech.  Two teams that play a whole lot of offense and not a lot of defense could be a nice selling point to a bowl people otherwise wouldn’t really watch.

And then the Orange Bowl.  The one that just keeps putting up the worst matchups of all.  Last year it was Virginia Tech and Cincinnati in truly one of the worst bowl game displays I’ve ever seen.  That game was pathetic.  Now they pit Iowa, who nosedived at the end of the season, against Georgia Tech, which found ways to eek out wins all season.  Nice manipulation by the BCS, though, pitting the ACC against the Big 10.  The Big 10 has lost six straight BCS Bowls over the last three years, and the ACC won its BCS bowl last year to break an eight game BCS losing streak.  It’s the bowl where one of these loses has to win, and I think it’ll be Iowa, finally breaking the Big 10’s losing record, because…well, look at Georgia Tech’s schedule and that loss to a not very good Georgia team.  You take the ACC teams out of the ACC and they’re just not very good.

Southwest Region wins Ingram the Heisman Trophy

We all know by now that Alabama running back Mark Ingram won the Heisman Trophy this year, making him the first Alabama player ever to win college football’s most prestigious individual award.  As a Texas Longhorns fan, I initially wanted to be hurt on Colt McCoy’s behalf for the region that should have won him tons of votes giving the most votes to Ndomokong Suh.  Despite Suh’s amazing performance this year, we all knew he wasn’t going to win, so the Southwest Region (primarily Big 12 company) decided to make a statement by voting for Suh…well, just because, I guess.  I initially thought that McCoy would have done much better with more votes from that region, but it turns out that it would have made little difference.  The one who really suffered was Toby Gerhart, the Stanford running back who finished just 28 points behind Mark Ingram.  He had his lowest finish in the Southwest (4th) and second-lowest vote total of any region (just behind the 176 he got in the South.  He finished second, but Tim Tebow stole some points there).  So, but for the Southwest Region, Gerhart probably takes home the trophy.

As a side note, there are some strange point discrepancies I’m having a hard time figuring out.  When I looked at the by-region list, I had Ingram finishing with 1,295 points (nine behind his actual finish) and McCoy finishing with 1,134 points (11 behind his actual finish).  The count for Suh was dead on.  I’d attribute this to additional points gained from votes from former Heisman winners, but I calculated Gerhart to have 1,287 from the regional voting, which puts him 11 higher than he actually finished.  I don’t think you can lose votes from the former Heisman winners, so I’m gonna have to do some digging and figure out what happened there.

Brian Kelly makes a selfish, but completely understandable, decision

There has been no shortage of news coverage detailing Cincinnati head coach Brian Kelly’s move to Notre Dame.  There has also been no shortage of news coverage the ire of Kelly’s former players over his decision to leave them high and dry going into the biggest game that Cincy has ever played.  And I can’t blame them.  Kelly did leave them high and dry, and it stinks.  I was impressed when I saw him on Pardon The Interruption and Mike and Mike in the Morning at just how much class he showed in addressing his former players.  I think he has handled this with as much grace and diplomacy as you can in a situation like this.  Nevertheless, he did screw the guys that got him the Notre Dame job.

That said, I totally understand why he did it.  I think in this situation, all you can do is jump ship and try to handle things diplomatically in the press.  This is an important recruiting period, and it’s hard to tell Notre Dame, “Put recruiting on hold for a month while I go play in a bowl game for a school I already said I’d leave.”

Even if it wasn’t an important recruiting period, I understand the move.  Cincy is probably going to get annihilated in their bowl game.  I just saw an ESPN poll asking who will win the Sugar Bowl, and 76 percent of the country says it’ll be Florida.  West Virginia was the only state that had the Bearcats winning.  Even their home state of Ohio had Florida winning (by a narrow margin, but still).  If they hire him and he coaches his team to a blowout, think of the blowback from fans, the media and boosters.  In Chicken Little fashion, they will start screaming that they are doomed already.  Or, if he waits until after the bowl game to talk to them and he gets crushed, maybe they’re not so interested anymore.  At the very least, people would not be having their current reaction that it was such an astute hire.

I want to be on record as saying that I do think this is an astute hire.  Notre Dame has been looking in all the wrong places, looking at coaches who had extremely limited experience in the capacity of head coach.  That’s important at a place like Notre Dame.  I’m with Lou Holtz in saying that you have to demonstrate the ability to win repeatedly as a head coach to thrive at Notre Dame, and Kelly has done that.  At all three of his head coaching stops, he has led his teams to unprecedented success.  I think the Irish finally got it right.

Written by Austin Swafford

December 18, 2009 at 1:22 pm

Week 15 Picks: The “There’s a Bowl For That” Edition

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I love this time of year.  That time when, with a chill in the air, families gather round the warm glow of a television to watch bowl games that nobody has ever heard of.  This time of the football season is the time that people look at the schedule and say, “That is a real bowl game? That team is in a bowl game? That bowl game has that sponsor?”  And, as with an iPhone app, the NCAA gladly responds, “Yes, there’s a bowl for that.”

Our picks for the first round of bowl games is as follows:

Teams
Bowl
Austin Jon
Fresno St. vs. Wyoming New Mexico Bowl Fresno St. Fresno St.
Central Florida vs. Rutgers Beef O’Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl Rutgers Central Florida
Southern Miss vs. Middle Tennessee R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl Southern Miss Southern Miss
#14 BYU vs. #18 Oregon St. Maaco Las Vegas Bowl Oregon St. BYU
#18 Utah vs. California San Diego Country Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl Utah California
Nevada vs. SMU Sheraton Hawaii Bowl Nevada Nevada


Written by Austin Swafford

December 17, 2009 at 2:23 am

Posted in Commentary