One Con Eats Coaches Alive, While Notre Dame Can’t Swallow

New Mexico St  Auburn FootballTommy Tuberville “resigning” at Auburn was a foregone conclusion, ever since a previous regime tried to stage a coup d’etat with Bobby Petrino several years back (the president and AD lost their jobs when it got out), Tuberville’s job status has been in limbo no matter how well he does or not (of course, it does not help in the football-mad SEC that Auburn perenially underachieved after 2003, particularly on the offensive end — and Tubs went through enough offensive coordinators to prove it.)  No one resigns and still gets a $6 million buyout, though. It likely went like this:

“We want to go in a new direction.”

“I don’t really want or need to be here right now.”

Mutual parting, as far as I can read into newspaper copy. And really, a paper is actually saying Petrino is a candidate to replace Tubs?

Sly Croom is another matter. Believing he actually resigned isn’t that far-fetched. Mississippi State is far better off than it was five years ago as a program, but now everyone thinks they’ve got a shot with parity approaching in college football — and Houston Nutt doing bang-up things with Ed Orgeron’s recruits in Oxford didn’t help matters. (A 45-0 shellacking in the Egg Bowl by Ole Miss will adjust a lot of perspectives.) It’s never ceased to amuse me how coaches can have epic FAILs on the side of hte ball they coached or coordinated — in Croom’s case, his offense never approached mediocre, but this is not entirely his fault (still not excusing retaining Woody McCorvey as OC, though.)

State’s problem even after its slide back is that it’s still fucking Starkville.  I have a friend who’s an alum there — and he related how little there was to do sometimes; bored out of his gourd. (I chalk part of this up to his being a California native; that’s some serious culture shock for surfer boys.) In a more realistic slant, Nutt is in Oxford with a much nicer campus and battling for recruits in a state with low population, which doesn’t make for great prospects as far as “protecting the home turf” in recruiting goes. One can take your most talented players and stash ’em on defense to build that up, but when it comes to drawing top skill guys….well.

weisofaceIt’s likely the reported $10 million buyout attached that keeps Charlie Weis employed in South Bend, as AD Jack Swarbrick has promised him one more year, in a mess he inherited.  Essentially, Notre Dame could get someone better if it could afford the buyout, but no one thinks there is any particular advantage to going to Notre Dame now that most other football factory D-IA schools can’t offer. Even the NBC contract doesn’t look so hot in the wake of ESPN shelling out for anything and everything college football.

South Bend is eventaully going to figure out that the money train for operating its football team independent of conference is going to bring in less money down the line than joining either the Big East or Big Televen. (Smart money says Big Televen somewhere along the road, which would also get the Irish hoops squads, which are usually in the good end, out of the insanely crowded Big East.)

But the arrogance involved in inking Weis after a near-win against USC (you can tell it’s not going to work out if a loss, no matter how close, spurs on a silly and financially reckless contract extension) is palpable.  So, now ND must sit and wait it out until Weis’ buyout is manageable. A fitting end, really, because although Ty Willingham sucks, he still deserved to finish out his contract.

As for Dabo Swinney going from overly enthusiastic interim coach to head guy at Clemson, there’s an easy way to look at it: who better are you going to be able to pick up right now? Will Muschamp is staying at Texas; Mike Leach has better choices than Clemson. Besides, take that 4-2, pro-rate it for a full season, knock off a loss, and you’re at 9-3, which, depending on whom you lose to, could be good enough to get to the ACC championship. Baby steps, Tigers, baby steps. You may not have Cullen Harper, but the chance of keeping C.J. Spiller for a senior season (which he said keeping Swinney would do) still gives you a good shake in a mediocre conference.

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Rushing The Field: Poll Anarchy

Well, seven weeks in and we’ve got the same damned problem we had last year with college football (or non-problem, for without these issues, the sport isn’t as half as fun to discuss or opine on.)  The field has leveled out so greatly that you have three of the top five getting knocked off on a Saturday.

Oklahoma and Texas were essentially trading blows for about three quarters, with Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy upping the ante on who would be favored in the Heisman race. Texas turned it in the 4th quarter: prodding Bradford into picks and getting big play from McCoy (who was 28-35 passing, good accuracy) along with a huge 60-yard run from Chris Ogbonnaya, and the Horns took the win 45-35. However, any analysis of this game without a lament about the sorry Big 12 officials in charge is incomplete. I understand the reasons for stringent rules about roughing the passer or personal foul calls; you want to keep people from getting hurt. McCoy flopped twice on ruhses out of bounds that got called for 15-yard flags, he and Bradford both were given the gift of flags on roughing penalties that shouldn’t have been called, an OU interception that should have been in the first half wasn’t, and the OU punter put on an acting job that Cristiano Ronaldo would have been ashamed of.

The Swamp is an entirely different beast of a stadium, particularly for a new starting QB like Jarrett Lee in his first road game as LSU “supplied the butt” for Florida to whip, in Mike Patrick’s parlance.  Florida got out to a 20-0 lead at one point; LSU closed it to 6 points, but the Gators’ defense finally stepped up, turning the multitude of running backs of LSU into an ineffective rotation, and forcing them to try to win on Lee’s arm — never a good prospect for a redshirt freshman.  Urban Meyer’s squad wound up putting half a hundred on ’em in the first complete game where Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin were not the sole playmakers in the Gator spread.

T. Boone Pickens’ money is apparently going to good use; it’s enough to buy a defense when there apparently was none.  A 28-23 upset of Missouri at Columbia gives Oklahoma State some of the respect they’ve been seeking, as no other team made Chase Daniel look out of sync as often as the Cowboys did (Mizzou fans may be tempted to blame the fact that Daniel was wearing #25 in honor of a fallen teammate rather than his usual #10 jersey), forcing him into crucial picks late.  Zac Robinson was a revelation for those of us who haven’t taken the time to watch him, pulling touchdown passes out of his ass. One in particular impressed me in the second half: he rolled out left and had NOTHING at the time downfield, he’d just avoided a sack, and to avoid another one, he hurled it to a spot in the end zone where he had two receivers against one cornerback — leap, catch, touchdown.

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Rushing The Field: Another SEC Barnburner

Seriously, if we’re gonna go through this every week with SEC teams in the night game on ESPN, it’s gonna be a real long, nail-biting season.  LSU pulled out the victory in the Tiger Bowl against Auburn thanks to a late touchdown pass from Jarrett Lee, who was subbing after Andrew Hatch got concussed, to Brandon LaFell to end a game largely characterized by the hard hits on both sides along with fits and starts on offense that have to infuriate Auburn fans. I mean, just watching the passing on Tony Franklin’s offense look spectacular one minute and awful the next has to drive the Auburn faithful nuts rights now.  So much more of the game was about the heavy hitters on defense, and the eight guys LSU rotated in and out on the D-line came through and pounded Chris Todd in the end to secure the win.  Les Miles would also like to remind you about the size of his play-calling balls.

When UGA’s Rennie Curran took Rudy Carpenter’s helmet with him on a sack in the first half of Georgia’s visit to Tempe to face Arizona State, I knew this game was going to be in favor of the Dawgs, and ugly in the second half. Matthew Stafford now has a new target in A.J. Green, who caught for more than 150 yards last night and a score on top of two more touchodwns from the reliable Knowshon Moreno.  Carpenter now has a fifth off-brand orifice thanks to an offensive line that can’t protect him; at least two of them were provided by USC’s Rey Maualuga.

The Tennessee Volunteers just flat out gave up when Florida came to town. The final score does say that the Vols got on the scoreboard, but really, when you’re down 27-0 in the third quarter, do any points after that count?  It wasn’t exactly a spectacular game for Tim Tebow, and that offense still looks a little too dependent upon him and Percy Harvin, but the Vols defense had very few counters and the Vols on offense — well, this is a team with two studs at RB in Arian Foster and Monterio Hardesty whom they can’t open holes for and get the ball to. Jonathan Crompton is still being asked to do way too much.  In joining Steve Spurrier as the second Florida coach to beat Tennessee and Phil Fulmer four times in a row, Urban Meyer would be perfectly within his rights to snark, “You can’t spell Outback without UT.”

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Rushing The Field: That Was Supposed To Be Competitive, Right?

Honest question: is 35-3 a bad enough beating for Ohio State that we can no longer consider them candidates for the BCS championship game? After watching USC’s offensive pick apart the secondary and the Trojans’ front seven on defense get after Todd Boeckman early and often, it seems that Jim Tressel’s ethic and mentality in Columbus may need just as much of a change as Lloyd Carr’s did in Michigan. That wound up with Carr leaving and Rich Rodriguez replacing him, but I am not suggesting such a drastic step.  What it may require is Tressel stretching out his recruiting area — because he can get every athlete in the Midwest and many in the Atlantic part of Big 10 territory that he likes, but he isn’t attracting players that can be difference makers in out-of-conference games.  I don’t think Beanie Wells would have made a lick of difference, either, and you know what? I don’t like the Buckeyes much when they have to play Penn State are their spread offense later this year, either.

They may not be able to get by Wisconsin, who grind out wins. For every play that Fresno State made against the Badgers in the San Joaquin Valley, the Badgers had answers and their defense was able to keep Tom Brandstater in check.

The dirty little secret about USC? They have the easiest path to the MNC game because the Pac-10, usually good for 2nd in conference strength behind the SEC these days, is in a down cycle. USC was one of only two Pac-10 teams that won an out-of-conference game convincingly, and I would rather not count Oregon State-Hawai’i as any sort of meaningful OOC game. Oregon lost another QB and snuck by Purdue in OT, to be fair.

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That There Is The Result Of Some SEC Wind Speed

Orson Swindle was at the Georgia Dome when Mother Nature decided that having a Crimson Tide in Atlanta was not enough and thus decided to create another form of disaster of her own during the SEC tournament. It is all chronicled in a series of posts over at the Sporting Blog — and Orson left us a video at EDSBS of one particular instance at the Georgia World Congress Center.

I’m so totally surfing the indoor waterfall.

Above The Rim: That’s Just Sick

(Thanks to the FanHouse for the tip to the video.)

That Rajon Rondo dunk was likely the eye-dropping play as the Celtics sealed up a playoff spot with a win over the Pistons — a likely playoff match-up that we’ll all be dying to see. KG had 31 points, Rondo had 16, and center Kendrick Perkins had 10 points and a bigger 20 boards. Rasheed had 23 and Rip 15 for the Pistons.

Who does 50 points and 10 assists? LeBron James does — and was two rebounds away from another triple-double in the Cavs’ victory over the hapless Knicks. New York area hoops lovers can only dream of James signing with a Brooklyn-bound Nets team when watching him — and a Cleveland fan rushed towards the bench to give effusive praise.

16 in a row for the Rockets after taking it out on Indiana with Tracy McGrady’s 25 points. 15 straight points scored by Houston in the second quarter helped lead to the blowout. Is this team better without Yao? Maybe. It’s too soon to tell — and upcoming games against the Western Conference powers will give us a better idea.

The Denver Nuggets are the little, adorable girl with the curls. When they’re good, they’re angelic — and the firepower they showed against a Suns team on the decline was a nice display. 30 points and 13 boards for Melo, Iverson leads with 31, and J.R. Smith kept hitting shots off the bench for 20. This while Shaq gave a great effort on the boards with 18 rebounds, and Amare Stoudemire led the Suns with 22 points.

Jason Richardson wasn’t exactly happy to leave Golden State via trade in the draft — and he finally got a measure of revenge, scoring 42 points as the Bobcats took one from the Warriors, who are now only one game ahead of Denver for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot.

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How Fired Is Your Coach? – College Football Edition.

This is just what it sounds like, folks. We look at some of the coaches who were on the hot seat at their respective schools when the season began (or after the first couple of weeks) and see where they stand right now. If I’m missing anyone, drop a note in comments and/or assess them yourself.

Bill Callahan, Nebraska – He was already under the gun, now having all of his recruits from the past few years in house and looking to clean up in a Big 12 North with no particular favorite outside of Lincoln to get waxed by either OU or Texas in the championship game. Now, with his main backer in AD Steve Pederson fired, his team at a severely underperforming 4-5, and interim AD Tom Osborne’s verbal slip-up in an interview, Callahan knows it.

Verdict: Already cleaning out his office in preparation.

Karl Dorrell, UCLA – Beset by bad game-planning on offense against teams he should beat easily (Utah, Notre Dame) and injuries at QB that would stymie the best of coaches, Dorrell finds himself in a mess created half by his own incompetence as a motivator and half by fate, and being haunted by the message-board die-hards who cry for his scalp every week. Their cries are now getting to boosters (although I hope they’re all smart enough to ignore one particular comment on BruinsNation calling for Rick Neuheisel. Ick.)

Verdict: Likely safe for one more year because the injuries aren’t things he can control, despite the rabble-rousing. If he loses his last three, that will change.

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