Pac-10 and Notre Dame Headline College Football's Most Overrated in 2009
Are you sick of the hype? Are you tired of fanboys making ridiculous claims about their teams?
It's time to put some in their place.
Let us go on a journey into college football 2009. Peek into the crystal ball. See the people, places, and things where the hype exceeds production.
This here is a list of some of the most overrated stuff I have read in papers, online sports publications, magazines, message boards, editorials, sports talk radio, and the podcasts from the "so-called" experts.
So sit back, relax, have a good chuckle, agree, disagree, and remember - this is half-serious, half-not.
Okay. Mostly serious. Just read it.
Most Overrated Conference: The Pac-10
Someone explain to me again how this conference is different than the Big East in 1990s.
In the Big East in the 1990s, occasionally, some school not named Miami would win the league.
Seven straight Pac-10 titles. Wow. And you all know who I am talking about.
Now, look, the Pac-10 is fun to watch! I know USC will lose some road game on a Thursday night to a team they shouldn't.
That prevents them from playing for the title, but if there is any "sure thing" in college football, it's knowing that USC will be playing in the BCS.
Is there actually any need to play out the regular season? But for whatever reason this year everyone is hearing not only about USC - but about both Oregon Schools, and Arizona? Really?
Oregon is led by a small QB who runs really well, but didn't complete 60% of his passes last season. The Ducks gave up 270 yards a game in the air last season—and that was with Patrick Chung and Darius Byrd in the secondary, who are now in the NFL.
Oregon State has a nice story with the Rodgers brothers. Anyone who is not a fan of a Pac-10 team name, please name someone else on the roster. Anyone. Bueller? Bueller?
Who's the coach of OSU?
Did anyone see what happened when OSU took on a team in a bowl game that had a defense? I'll let you look it up. And they talk about this team as competitive!
Snap quiz: If I use the letters "OSU" without a big Pac-10 jpeg above the article - who am I talking about?
Look, Pac-10 football is fun to watch. There's scoring, and offense (except during the Apple Cup), and everyone loves points.
But the reality is that the league just isn't very competitive—there is no drama. The only reason I tune into the wonderful quality of Fox Sports on a late Saturday night is because I need some background noise to drink to.
The simple truth is that anyone not named USC is playing for the Holiday Bowl.
Yes, they have nice bowl records against other teams from other conferences, but why should I tune in to the league?
Pac-10ers claim an "east coast bias". I claim that they have a product that lacks any conflict.
The Pac-10 is like that abortion of a movie "Righteous Kill". With Pacino and De Nero, you think that this has all the ingredients for an awesome movie. There are good actors, some violence, and typical De Nero/Pacino dialogue (we all remember "Heat").
Then about a third of the way though the movie, we know that: 1) A cop is killing people, 2) There are only two cops in the entire movie, and 3) All evidence points towards one of the cops, which means we all know the other did it.
The Pac-10 has all the things that tantalize us: Personalities, offense, some big names, but every time we watch, we always know the ending.
But I have some good news. Like Miami during the 90s in the Big East, it looks like USC might be headed for some time in the NCAA doghouse.
Who wants to be Syracuse?
(Wait, I phrased that wrong. Who wants to be the Syracuse of 1993-2000? Syracuse doesn't want to be Syracuse these days).
Most Overrated BCS Team: Notre Dame
Lets face it - at this point it should be a perennial award.
However, the writers at Athlon, Phil Steele, Street & Smith, and whichever publication you favor always try to rank the Irish in the top-25 to start the season.
Why? Because Notre Dame sells.
They do—he Irish are always up there in fan support, sales, tickets, and there is a reason they remain independent with their own TV contract.
I do not begrudge Notre Dame for their popularity. I just like to bring their fans back down to reality.
The last two years Notre Dame has been "awful" and "average" because of two factors: Youth and Ty Willingham.
As most of the starters on the ND roster are now juniors and seniors, the first excuse is not applicable this season. The second will always be applicable.
I believe it took about 20 years before Gerry Faust was finally off the hook.
Yes, Notre Dame had a big Hawaii Bowl win last season - it's amazing what the Irish can do at a bowl that they deserve to go to, as opposed to meeting BCS and Gator Bowl "exceptions".
But one still has to ask: is Notre Dame really top-25 material?
Boston College and USC fans are still wondering if the "decisive schematic advantage" has put up any points on the board.
One has to figure that Notre Dame is tired of being mocked for the long losing streaks against both schools (although a few might be vacated against USC. Are ND fans still talking about the "Bush Push?").
And what happened last season against both was just further insult to injury.
Is a top-25 team really shut out against Boston College the previous year?
Is a top-25 team really unable to get a first down against USC until the Trojans put in the backups in the 3rd quarter?
Is a top-25 team really losing home games to a Greg Robinson-led Syracuse team?
Of course, as I'm sure you've heard, the Irish have a new offensive line coach. I would venture to say that a coach was probably not enough.
I would recommend that Charlie Weis head up to Alaska and get a few Kodiak Bears on scholarship if he wants to protect Jimmy Clausen.
But let's give credit where credit is due - the Irish O-Line dropped the sacks allowed from a record 58 to a much more normal 22 last season.
Also, Jimmy Clausen needs to protect himself from Jimmy Clausen.
He averaged an INT every 26 attempts. That's not good. His completion percentage for his career is under 60%—also not good.
Last season, Notre Dame won a game against one team with a winning record (Navy), and one .500 team (Hawaii).
A win against North Carolina, Boston College, Pittsburgh, or Michigan State - just one of those might have kept ND off my list here. Defeating one quality BCS opponent would give the Irish something to build on.
But instead, we have to listen to Irish fan gloat at pre-season rankings—telling everyone how receivers Golden Tate and Michael Floyd will each get 1,000 yards, and how Clausen will be a Heisman Finalist.
With typical ND hype and the projected schedule this year - ND fans will be right.
But take heart, Irish haters everywhere:
Yes, Notre Dame will once again go to a bowl they do not deserve (but will get because money rules all), but it could be YOUR team that puts them in their place.
Well, maybe the second team that puts Notre Dame in its place—the Irish still have USC on the schedule.
Most Overrated Non-BCS Team: Boise State
Boise State sure had some impressive numbers last year. They really snuck up on people after many "experts" expected a drop-off from their previous heights.
Everyone in the country loves the 2007 Fiesta Bowl (except for Sooner Fans).
Still, people contend that Boise State had to replace quite a few starters last season, and many expected Fresno State to be the team to beat in the WAC.
I say: "Not so fast my friends!"
Yes, BSU had a great season. QB Kellen Moore was challenging a more household name in Sam Bradford for passing efficiency ratings, and the Broncos defense was one of the best in the nation.
Not bad for a team that was predicted to drop!
In fact, Boise State should have probably played in a BCS Bowl! They were shafted due to the BCS Rules....
Or were they?
Was BSU a BCS contender? Or a Hawaii dressed in Wolf's clothing?
Don't buy the hype.
Boise State's excellent "defense" only had to play two top-20 offenses all of last season: Oregon, and Nevada. Yes, the Broncos won both games and the (including the Oregon game on the road), but what happened when BSU was faced with a competent offense?
The Broncos looked like, well...a WAC defense.
And neither Nevada nor Oregon had a defense worth writing home about, so the Broncos won those shootouts.
Heck, nobody said that BSU had a bad offense!
They have always been one of the top offensive teams in the country, and Chris Petersen has continued that tradition.
A bowl game that excited me the most last year was the Poinsettia Bowl.
Why? Because what we had were two very competitive "don't call us mid-majors" with a tradition of strengths - Boise State's offense and TCU's defense.
It was a great game, but guess who won?
For the first time all year, Boise State was held under 24 points.
TCU's ground game ran all over the "vaunted" Bronco defense" that had not faced a real running game all year (both Oregon and Nevada enjoy slinging the ball).
BSU did an admirable job last season, they proved the naysayers wrong and showed us all that they are the undisputed kings of the WAC.
I just think they would have finished in fourth place in the Mountain West.
This year, if Boise State beats Oregon on the Blue Turf, the schedule is so favorable that we will once again hear "undefeated" and "BCS" with the Broncos—even though Ian Johnson and his cheerleader wife are gone.
Will BSU redeem the reputation of the WAC?
Maybe...if they get a Big East or ACC opponent, and as long as that the opponent's offense and defense don't stink.
Pretty much ,as long as it's Duke.
Most Overrated Homefield Advantage: The Big House
I have been to Michigan Stadium. I have sat in a place that has more fans at a single game than the largest city of the state I grew up in.
But numbers aren't everything.
Unless Ohio State is in town, a place like Mountaineer Stadium that holds 50% capacity of the Big House is louder.
It's not that Michigan fans don't try. They just like to interrupt their conversations during the game.
I mean, occasionally Michigan fans will shake their keys, and everyone "Hails to the Victors".
But in my experience, there was more noise walking up and down Frat Row leading into the game than at the actual game itself.
This "home field advantage" has manifested itself over the past few years as well:
2005: three of five losses were at home
2007: three of four losses were at home
2008: five of nine losses were at home
Since 2005, every Big Ten team except Indiana (and surprisingly, Penn State) has won at Michigan Stadium, and that includes the year that Big Blue went undefeated at home.
I know much of this has to do with the unbalanced Big Ten schedule, but ask yourself this Michigan Man:
Do you cringe at the names of "Appalachian State," "Oregon," "Northwestern," "Minnesota," "Toledo," and "Utah?"
Do you think Ohio State or an SEC team would lose to those boys at home?
Ann Arbor is a beautiful town, and Michigan Stadium is a wonderful place.
It's just not scary—not anymore.
Most Overrated Coach: Kirk Ferentz
To be fair, he has some great hair—where does he get it cut?
I don't know how he keeps getting extensions—it's not the hair.
He was a "can't miss" guy a few years ago, the hand-picked successor to the legendary Hayden Fry. He started out rocky, but from 2002-2004 the man had "genius" written all over him.
Since then, the Hawkeyes have floundered; mediocre is probably a better word.
Last year was a dubbed a "resurgence."
Yeah, right—you mean Coach Ferentz figured out how to hand the ball off to Shonn Greene? That is some solid coaching there.
Iowa improved in a year where the rest of the Big Ten was down. Even if Michigan, Wisconsin, and Michigan State were down, the Big Ten still had Penn State and Ohio State.
However, the Hawkeyes did not play OSU (any of them), and beat Penn State at home in a game during a tornado warning.
Ferentz is solid, not spectacular, but he has yet to build on the momentum that had him discussed as a future NFL "sure thing" a few years ago.
His teams rarely make in-game adjustments. Ferentz has won just enough over the past few years to keep his job, but with Greene gone, he needs to find a new strategy.
The defense will be less stout after losing some key seniors in the middle.
Ferentz will need to decide what horse he wants to ride this year on offense: The Trent Dilfer-esque play of Ricky Stanzi? or Jewel Hampton?
Those names should excite you Hawkeye fans. It looks like Iowa is headed back to the predictable:
Play-calling and the 6-7 win season you have always wanted.
Most Overrated Coordinator: Norm Chow
When you don't have some Heisman winners behind one heck of an offensive line, this job is kind of tough, huh?
Look, we all know about Mr. Chow's success at USC. He was the brains behind the offense at Southern California that propelled the Trojans back into the national spotlight to stay.
Just like Charlie Weis propelled the Patriots offense into the elite of the NFL.
Or maybe, an explanation is that both coaches had some special players at their respective level.
I know Normie, I know. You get enough piling on, on a daily basis, but I cannot help but wondering:
Who is the "real Norm Chow"?
Is the real Norm Chow the 2008 stats of the UCLA offense that, surprisingly, resembles late 1990 and early 2000s USC?
Or is it that special time when Carson Palmer, Reggie Bush, and Matt Leinart were in the backfield?
We all know about the conflicts in Tennessee. And we have to wonder just what it is Rick Neuheisel bought or promised you to get you back into the college game.
Because, lets face it:
Neuheisel is associated with cheating like baseball players are with steroids—something happened, we know it.
Still, Mr. Chow, you have a year or two here to redeem yourself.
UCLA certainly looked anemic this past season. Sure, sure: new coaches, new personnel, new everything, everyone getting used to each other, injuries and quarterback controversies...
I get it, I really do - but I have a few questions:
Wow, shut out against BYU? I mean, the Cougs are a solid team, but no points? They gave up 35 and 42 points to UNLV and Colorado State, respectively.
I'm just saying.
28 points against Wazzu at home? Just 28 points? WSU was giving up factorials of high numbers to everyone else on the schedule, yet they managed to play a gutsy game against the Bruins? The Cougar defense was just "on' that day?
Look, Norm I bet you are being paid the same amount as many mid-major head coaches, if not more.
I always questioned just how "good" of a coordinator you were, considering anyone who steps into Pete Carroll's Camelot will look good with that talent...
Show me something this year. Until you do, you're just as much a "genius" as your "decisive schematic advantages" lead us to believe.
Most Overrated Quarterback: Matt Grothe
I'm sorry, Matt.
Look, buddy, I love your scrappiness. I love the "never-say-die" attitude. I think you have heart. I think you genuinely give it 100% each down you are out there.
I just think you need to spend more time in the film room.
Remember how much promise you showed as a Freshman? Escaping from hopeless situations, making magical plays with his feet and his arm while leading a scrappy Bulls team to the national stage?
And it's been all downhill from there.
In 2007 and 2008, South Florida started fast—REALLY fast, getting up to #2 in the polls in 2007, and taking down a good Kansas team in 2008 in a thrilling game.
But South Florida floundered down both stretches, losing some ugly home games: in '07 to Cincinnati, and in '08 to Louisville and Rutgers.
Grothe's completion percentage is still higher his freshman year than the following two years. He has thrown a consistent 14 INTs in all three seasons—those should be going down instead of remaining constant.
While he shines in some big games, in those "gimme" games Grothe has been less than stellar:
He threw two costly picks against L'Ville, three nagainst Rutgers, and four against Cincinnati during the 2007 season.
Grothe puts up great numbers, or just absolutely abysmal numbers.
Like I said, I really like the guy, and he's one of my favorite players in college football.
But if you want to lead your team to a BCS game, you have to be consistent - and Matt Grothe is not.
Most Overrated Runningback: Ryan Williams
I have not heard so much preseason hype surrounding a running back since Lorenzo Booker at Florida State.
Remember Booker? He held a big press conference in California to announce where he was going to school.
He red-shirted, and all the hype was how this guy was going to be fantastic: the first Seminole Heisman winner since Chris Weinke, top RB recruit in the nation
Most Overrated SEC Team: Ole Miss
I believe this deserves it's own category.
Understand that if I had put down "Alabama" it would not have mattered what I said exactly—I would have received more death threats.
"More" is included because of the next slide. But you can get to that in your own time.
Other than my fear of being a victim of an "accidental discharge", like one LSU fan was last season, I actually believe 'Bama will be strong if they can find an offense.
In defense I trust—I do not trust Ole Miss.
Here is what I do like:
1) Houston Nutt - The man has always proven he can coach. As far as I am concerned, Arkansas, you did this to yourself. You took the side of whiny players and their parents rather than the coach, and this is what you get.
2) Jevan Snead - Heck, he wasn't going to play with Colt McCoy at Texas. The man made a right decision, and I think he may have the best "all around" tools of QBs in College Football this season.
3) The Schedule is very favorable at home
What I do not like:
1) Schedule someone outside the SEC. I know you tried TCU, but if you do start to run the schedule, you will lose computer points.
2) Outside of Greg Hardy, I see a lot of holes on defense.
3) Did I mention that I do not like the defense at Ole Miss?
In a way, it's refreshing to see an SEC team with an offense I want to watch. Dexter McCluster is exciting. Jevan Snead is polished, and I like that big line protecting everyone.
However, I think Ole Miss is too soft on the defensive side. Too many holes, too many question marks, and too many returning but ineffective starters.
The Rebels gave up a lot of points to some questionable offensive teams last year.
They improved a lot down the stretch, but I believe that everyone is going off the deep end for the Rebels based upon their win at Florida (a very good win) and the win against Texas Tech (a good win, but they too, cannot stop anyone or win away from home).
Ole Miss is a top-25 team. But if you think they are top-10 or the favorites for the SEC West, you've been hanging out in the Grove too long.
Most Overrated Heisman Contender: Terrelle Pryor
That's right, I said it: come and get me, Ohio State fans.
Treat me like I'm Ryan Hamby—remember, the Ohio State player who dropped a pass in the Texas Game?
Sure you do, I bet some of you sent him the death threats and hate mail that was reported.
So bring it on, Buckeyes. Here you are: Terelle Pryor is overrated.
Buckeye fanboy, goes as nuts for Pryor as Texas fanboy went nuts for Vince Young.
What do they have in common?
They are both good players who need to play until their junior year before they can be considered a Heisman Trophy finalist.
Not this year, Buckeyes. It may happen next year; if he shows improvement, I will be behind you.
Here's what I'm saying:
It's one thing to be the quarterback on a winning team on the national stage, it's another thing when your career high pass attempts is 25.
He can run, as evidenced by his 600 rushing yards last season; when his arm was looking queasy, his feet did the talking.
I just have one question:
Could someone explain to me how he's different from former WVU quarterback Pat White?
I'm anxious to hear it.
After Pat White's freshman season, everyone talked about how WVU had a nice cornerstone to the program and someone to look forward to for a long time.
He never sniffed the Heisman.
And I am telling you, Pryor won't sniff it either. Not this year.
I am sure that OSU fan can point out that while the starting wideouts for Ohio State are gone, that they have an inexperienced but very talented (insert 5-star prospect's name here).
I'm sure that is correct.
Ohio State lost a lot of the defensive starters, and their biggest weapon—Beanie Wells.
Pryor will have to go from a "nice secondary or tertiary weapon" to the main weapon, and I foresee some growing pains as teams will key in on him.
Oh sure, Wells was injured—I've heard all the arguments before. And here is my counter argument:
Where was the challenge last season?! Where were the teeth of the Ohio State schedule?
Ohio State winning the Big Ten last year (while not playing Iowa) was akin to Gary Kasparov beating Hellen Keller at chess.
And when they faced the premiere games (PSU, USC, and Texas), the games were not so easy.
And that was with one of the better defenses in the nation, both talent and stats.
I believe the Big Ten this year will be much stronger, and that Ohio State to be back with the pack more than they were last year.
So just stop.
Stop with Pryor winning the Heisman this year, stop thinking that he's a favorite.
If he goes to New York City, I will publicly recant this article.
As I alluded to before:
Pat White as a Freshman: 57% Completion Rate, 7.3 yards per attempt, 8TDs, 5INTs, 858 yards passing, 952 yards rushing.
Terrelle Pryor: 60% competion rate, 7.9 yards/attempt, 12TDs, 4INTs, 1311 yards passing, 631 rushing yards.
Both did not "start" at the beginning of the season, and, though there discrepancy in the styles of their respective offense, the production is very similar.
Terrelle Pryor will have a tough year adjusting as the "star" of the team. Next year, we might be able to talk Heisman.
Lets see if OSU can win the Big Ten without that experienced defense, let alone survive that September 12th date against USC.
And remember, Pat White has done a few things that OSU has struggled to do:
Win BCS Games.