Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Urban Meyer Is Back

Last January I put together a short "obituary" for Urban Meyer when he retired from college football to stabilize his health and spend time with his family. For some reason I never posted it. I guess I thought Urban Meyer would be returning to the coaching ranks at some point. Here is what I had written and saved in a Word file last January:

"Urban Meyer’s retirement from college football on January 2, 201 is a loss of one of the best coaches in the game but a good decision for Urban Meyer’s health and family. It became apparent after Meyer’s leave of absence in December 2009 that the stress of being a head coach at a big time program had taken its toll. College football is life, but not worth dying over. Meyer won two national championships in his six seasons, compiling a 65-15 record in Gainesville. The Pontiff was 36-13 in SEC games. Meyer was 5-1 in bowl games at Florida and 7-1 in bowl games throughout his 10 seasons as a head coach. The numbers say it all: great college football coach. Urban Meyer will remain involved in college football by working as an analyst at ESPN."

It is ludicrous that Urban Meyer blamed his departure on health and family, when he will once again be a head coach. He will be stressed out and spending long hours away from his family trying to bring back one of college football's premier programs. There is as much pressure to win in Columbus as there was in Gainesville. If Meyer's health really went into decline at Florida, it will surely do so again with Ohio State. Either he was lying to the Gators fanbase or he has a deathwish. Did Meyer leave Florida because he saw the program was headed for a downswing? Did Meyer return to college football because the Buckeyes are bound to rise back to the top? Did he lie about health and family to prevent his coaching record to be blemished with subpar seasons at Florida?

I think Ohio State will rebuild under Urban Meyer and contend for the Big Ten Championship again in a couple years. He may be a good coach, but his resignation from Florida smelled of bullshit. If things do go sour at Ohio State, will he duck and run again under the disguise of personal issues? I question his integrity and loyalty.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

On The Hot Seat: Week 12

1. Paul Wulff—Washington State upset Arizona State on November 12th and lost to Utah in overtime on November 19th. The Cougars are slowly improving, but that does not take away from the fact that Washington State will have its fifth consecutive losing season, and fourth under Wulff. Wulff is 4-31 in Pac-12 games. He needs to go.

2. Neil Callaway—UAB got a huge 34-31 upset over No. 22 Southern Mississippi on November 17th. With a 3-8 record, Callaway will have his fifth consecutive losing season. Callaway is 18-41, or .305, in Birmingham with one game left to play.

3. Ron Zook—After starting out 6-0 this season, the Illini had a meltdown and lost their next five games. The Illini play a 2-9 Minnesota squad in their finale Saturday. If it is their sixth straight loss, Zook will probably be canned.

4. Steve Fairchild—Colorado State started the season 3-1, then dropped six consecutive games to fall to 3-7. Fairchild is 7-22 in Mountain West games during his tenure. If the Rams cannot beat Air Force or Wyoming, they will finish the season with their third consecutive 3-9 season.

5. David Bailiff—Bailiff is 23-37 with one game left to play in his fifth year. The Owls will have their third straight losing season and fourth losing season in Bailiff’s five seasons.

6. Dennis Erickson—A few weeks ago, the Sun Devils were looking good with a 6-2 record and a Top 25 ranking. The following three weeks, Arizona State dropped to 6-5, losing to UCLA, Washington State, and in-state rival Arizona inside Sun Devil Stadium. The Sun Devils are having a meltdown.

7. Mike Riley—Just when you thought the Beavers bottomed out last season, things get even worse in 2011. The Beavers are 3-8. The last time Oregon State was that bad was 1997 when they finished the season 3-8. Oregon State has the Civil War left to play against the Ducks, which will likely put them at 3-9.

8. Turner Gill—Kansas is 2-9 this season, with a 1-15 record in Big 12 games. All but two of the Jayhawks losses were by double-digits. Gill needs to start making some progress in Lawrence before the administration and fans lose their patience.

9. Rob Ianello—Rob Ianello is 1-10 in 2011 and 2-21 overall in almost two seasons. Is Akron happy with one win per season? Will Ianello be back for a third season?

10. Larry Porter—Larry Porter is 3-20 in two years at Memphis. The former Tigers running back is struggling, having beaten only one Conference USA opponent in two years. Two seasons may be too early to cast judgment, but the past two seasons have been dismal.

Waiting list: Robb Akey, Frank Spaziani, Rick Neuheisel

Fired: Joe Paterno

We will revisit On The Hot Seat after Week 14.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

On The Hot Seat: Week 10

1. Paul Wulff—Washington State is on a five-game losing streak. Out of those five losses, only one game was close. The Cougars fall to 3-6 on the season and will not go to the postseason for the eighth straight year unless they can win all of their last three games: Arizona State, Utah, and Washington at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. Wulff is 8-38 in his career at Wazzou.

2. Neil Callaway—Ever since Callaway’s hiring almost five years ago, rumors have chimed that the University of Alabama Board of Trustees wanted to keep the Birmingham campus’s football program inferior to the Tuscaloosa campus’s football program, and that is why Callaway was hired over more sought after coaches for the opening in Birmingham. Is the administration still trying to hold UAB down by not letting them get rid of a coach with a 16-45 record? The Blazers were outscored in their last two games 115-27.

3. Mike Riley—Oregon State is 7-14 over their last 21 games. Mike Riley’s squad has plummeted to Pac-12 doormat status along with Washington State and Colorado. Riley is contracted to coach the Beavers through the 2019 season. Oregon State should not have made such a lengthy contract extension.

4. Frank Spaziani—The Eagles finally beat a FBS team when they took down a bad Maryland team on Halloween weekend, but on the following Thursday, Florida State went to Chestnut Hill and blasted the Eagles 38-7. Boston College’s streak of 12 consecutive bowls came to an end as the Eagles fell to 2-7 on the season.

5. Steve Fairchild—Colorado State has been just plain bad this season. On its current four-game losing streak, it has lost to teams like San Jose State, UTEP, and UNLV. The Rams have four games left, with three games at home, but it is unlikely the 3-5 Rams will see the postseason with San Diego State, TCU, Air Force, and Wyoming on deck. Fairchild will likely have his third consecutive losing season.

6. Robb Akey— The Vandals beat San Jose State 32-29 November 5th, getting their first win over a FBS team this season. Since the Vandals are 2-7 with three games left, Akey will have his fourth losing season in his five years in Moscow. Robb Akey is 19-40 in his fifth season.

7. David Bailiff—The Owl defense allowed Houston to put up 73 points on them in Bayou Bucket Classic on October 27th. Rice is 3-6 overall and 2-4 in conference games. Bailiff is 22-36 in his fifth year. Bailiff will have his fourth losing season in five years unless he can win out against Northwestern, Tulane, and SMU.

8. Rick Neuheisel—After a brawl with Arizona on October 20th and the resulting suspensions of six players, Neuheisel got his team refocused and picked up quality wins over California and No. 20 Arizona State the last two Saturdays. With games against Utah, Colorado, and USC left, Neuheisel should be able to go 7-5 or even 8-4 f he can beat the Bruins’ cross-town rival. Neuheisel’s chair is cooling off a little.

9. Turner Gill—Gill does not seem to be making much progress in Lawrence.  Kansas is 5-16 during his 1 ¾ year tenure. The Jayhawks are just 1-13 against Big 12 opponents since Gill took over at Kansas. Kansas is in last place in the Big 12 with a 0-6 record. Games against Baylor, Texas A&M, and Missouri remain. Will Kansas get another win this season?

10. Rob Ianello—Rob Ianello and the Zips went 1-11 in 2010 and are currently 1-8 in 2011. If J.D. Brookhart got fired for going 3-9 in 2009, Ianello’s stool has to be getting very hot. Akron is a tough place to coach, but two wins in two seasons doesn’t cut it.

Waiting list: Danny Hope

Resigned: Houston Nutt

We will revisit On The Hot Seat after Week 12.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Missouri Officially Joins The SEC

After weeks of hearing there were legalities holding up Missouri's move to the SEC, probably having to o with an exit fee from the Big 12, the move was made official Sunday. Missouri will begin playing in the SEC during the 2012 season.

The Southeastern Conference now enters the Kansas City and St. Louis television markets and expands to fourteen teams. Missouri will play in the SEC's East Division despite being one of the conference's westernmost schools. The nearest SEC East school to Columbia is Kentucky located 463 miles away by car. Missouri will sacrifice its rivalry with Kansas, the oldest rivalry west of the Mississippi River. It is unlikely the two schools will be able to play each other in football every season like they have done since 1891. The only year the two teams did not meet during that period was in 1918 due to the flu pandemic. The Border War is the second-most-played rivalry in FBS college football. Too bad it will be put on the backburner. Interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas said in a statement Sunday, "The decision by the University of Missouri to leave the Big 12 Conference is disappointing. I personally believe this decision is a mistake and that Missouri is a better fit in the Big 12." Missouri will have trouble competing in football if it does not upgrade its facilities and recruiting. The fanbase needs to step up as well. Missouri only sold its stadium out once last season despite a 10-2 regular season. It seems people in Missouri are more excited about the St. Louis Cardinals than the Mizzou Tigers. Missouri is a better academic school than most of the current SEC schools. They seem to just not fit in well with the SEC, but hey, money rules college athletics. I agree with Chuck Neinas that Missouri was a better fit in the Big 12.

I think the SEC has expanded too far. Travel costs will now rise when traveling out to Columbia and College Station. With two seven-team divisions and an eight game conference schedule, It will take a full eight year cycle to play every school in the conference in football in a home-and-home series. Even if the SEC moves to a nine game conference schedule, which I think will happen sooner than later, it will still take a full six year cycle to play every school in the conference home and away. Scheduling will have too big of an impact on who goes to the SEC title game. Also worth noting, there are now three teams with Tigers as their mascot in the Southeastern Conference.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Helmet Stickers: Week 10

ACC—NC State beat in-state rival North Carolina for the fifth straight time. The last time NC State beat North Carolina five straight times was 1988-1992.  The Wolfpack defense held the Tarheels to just 3 yards rushing and posted four sacks. North Carolina’s featured back Giovani Bernard back was held to 47 yards on 18 carries. The Wolfpack defense also knocked North Carolina starting quarterback Bryn Renner out of the game. The 13-0 game was the first time NC State has shutout North Carolina since 1960 and North Carolina State’s first shutout of an ACC opponent in a decade.

Big 10—Northwestern upset No. 10 Nebraska 28-25 on Saturday. The Wildcats were 17-point underdogs in Lincoln. Dan Persa left the game early due to a shoulder injury, leaving Kain Colter to play quarterback. Colter rushed for two touchdowns and threw a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Kain Colter connected with Jeremy Ebert on an 81-yard touchdown pass, the second longest passing play in Northwestern history. The Wildcat defense held Nebraska to a season-low 122 yards rushing. Northwestern got its first win over a top-10 team since beating No. 8 Iowa on the road on November 7, 2009.

Big 12—No. 3 Oklahoma State got by No. 14 Kansas State in Boone Pickens Stadium by a score of 52-45. Brandon Weeden threw for 502 yards in the game, a school passing record. Kansas State had three opportunities to tie the game from the Cowpokes’ 5-yard line in the final 12 seconds of the game, but came up short. Wide receivers Justin Blackmon and Tracy Moore had 205 yards and 146 yards receiving, respectively. Cowboys kicker Quinn Sharp was 3 for 3 on field goal, 5 for 5 on extra points, and averaged 51 yards per punt. Oklahoma State is now 9-0 and off to its best start since 1945 when it went undefeated. Oklahoma keeps its national title hopes alive.

Big East—Louisville went into Morgantown and beat the Mountaineers 38 to 35, ending a four-game losing streak in the series. The Mountaineers outgained the Cardinals 533 to 351 yards, but still lost the game. Louisville cornerback Adrian Bushnell blocked a West Virginia field goal attempt on the first play of the fourth quarter, and cornerback Andrew Johnson returned the ball 82 yards for a Cardinals touchdown. Freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater made his sixth start and had his best performance of the season, completing 21 of 27 passes for 246 yards. Louisville is on a three-game winning streak. The Big 12 may have chosen West Virginia over Louisville in conference expansion, but the Cardinals got the last laugh.

C-USA—The Golden Hurricane defeated Central Florida 24-17 in Orlando. The Knights lost at home for the first time this season. The Golden Hurricane rushed for 251 yards on a UCF defense that was only allowing 87 yards on the ground per game. Tulsa quarterback G.J. Kinne completed 15 of 28 passes for 203 yards and a touchdown. Kinne also led Tulsa’s rushing attack with 92 yards. Tulsa did not have a single penalty in the game. Tulsa remains undefeated in C-USA play at 5-0.

MAC—Northern Illinois edged Toledo 63-60 in the Glass Bowl Tuesday night. Northern Illinois’s first two touchdowns were on kickoff returns of 100 and 95 yards by freshman wide receiver Tommylee Lewis.  Huskies quarterback Chandler Harnish threw six touchdown passes in the game. Northern Illinois’s offense was balanced with 265 yards passing and 267 yards rushing. Losing, 60-56 with 4:16 remaining, the Huskies put together a 66 yard touchdown drive and retook the lead with 19 seconds left in the game. The game had 123 total points, the most scored in a game since 2007 when North Texas and Navy combined for 136 points. The game was the second-highest scoring game in the history of the MAC.

MWC—Air Force retained the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy after beating Army 24-14 in Falcon Stadium Saturday afternoon. Air Force beat Navy in overtime in October. Air Force went into the half losing 14-0 to Army. The Falcons regrouped and scored 24 unanswered points in the second half on two touchdowns, one followed with a 2-point conversion, and three field goals. Air Force forced Army to turn the ball over five times and stopped the Black Knights from converting on fourth down three times, including a fourth-and-goal on Air Force’s 1-yard line.

Pac-12—UCLA beat No. 19 Arizona State 29-28 in Pasadena and took control of the Pac-12 South after Arizona State missed a 46-yard field goal on the final play of the game. After blowing a 9-point lead early in the third quarter, the Bruins were able to retake the lead with 49 seconds in the game on a Derrick Coleman 1-yard touchdown run. During the drive, the Bruins converted on third-and-29 with a 33-yard pass to senior wide receiver Nelson Rosario. Rosario had 151 yards off of five catches. Coleman has 119 yards on seventeen carries. The win was Rick Neuheisel’s biggest conference victory in his four years as the UCLA head coach.

SEC—No. 1 LSU defeated No. 2 Alabama 9-6 in overtime in a game billed as The Game of the Century. The defenses of both teams controlled the flow of the game. Neither team scored a touchdown. All points were from field goals. Alabama squandered its opportunities, missing four field goals in the game, including a 52-yarder in overtime, and allowing LSU to get a goal-line interception to prevent a touchdown. The game was 6-6 after regulation, and LSU kicker Drew Alleman only needed to connect on a 25-yard field goal to win the game after Alabama went scoreless in its overtime possession. Alleman was 3 for 3 on field goals, and LSU punter Brad Wing had a 73-yard punt in the game. LSU moves to 9-0 and is the frontrunner for the national championship game, where strangely enough, it could possibly face Alabama again.

Sun Belt—Louisiana-Lafayette got by rival Louisiana-Monroe 36-35 at Cajun Field Saturday. The Warhawks led 35-24 with 3:08 left. The Ragin’ Cajuns scored two touchdowns, separated by a successful onside kick, in the final two minutes to get a 1-point victory: a 16-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Darryl Surgent and a 3-yard run from running back Alonzo Harris. Two-point conversions on both touchdowns were unsuccessful. Quarterback Blaine Gautier had 355 yards passing and four touchdowns. The Ragin’ Cajuns were 50% on third down conversions. UL-Lafayette goes to 8-2 on the season. The last time the program had 8 wins in a season was 1993.

WAC—Utah State was losing to Hawaii 28-7 in Honolulu at halftime. The Aggies rallied in the second half, outscoring the Warriors 28-3, to get a huge 4-point road win on the islands. The Aggies took the lead for the first time in the game on a Robert Turbin 1-yard touchdown run with just 14 seconds left in the game. Running back Robert Turbin averaged 6.4 yards per carry and has scored at least one rushing touchdown in each of his last thirteen games. Utah State only made 15 first downs compared to Hawaii’s 28. The Aggies were 2 for 2 on fourth downs, while the Utah State defense stopped the Warriors on all 3 of their fourth down conversion attempts.