Good Friday, college football fans, and welcome to another edition of the Friday Tailgate.
Last week we talked about the defending champs, the BCS busters, and life after Tebow.
This week we will tackle five other “talkers” heading into the season. I have thought for a week about what is big during this part of the year, since the season is still three months away.
This week we will take a look at bowl sponsorship, Corso headgear, and BCS conference sleepers, along with hot seat coaches and recruiting hype.
The grill is fired up again, so let's get those dogs sizzling on this week's installment of the “gate".
Which coaches are on the hot seat?
There are a number of college head coaches whose rear ends are burning even before a snap is taken in September. No longer do coaches have the ability to build a program over a span of three to four years. Fans and athletic directors expect results now!
We start things off in the Big Ten, where nearly half the coaches enter the season on the hot seat. Perhaps the highest profile out of the bunch is Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez.
When he was hired after the 2007 season, Michigan fans realized it would take some time to go from a pro form style over to the spread option. The fans, however, are getting restless after a second straight bowl-less season in 2009. If Rich Rod doesn't get them to a bowl, he is finito in Ann Arbor, and many experts are saying there is no way Michigan will go bowling.
Joining Rodriguez is Illini coach Ron Zook. Fans in Champaign have all but forgot about the Rose Bowl season three years ago. The knock on Zook is that he is a great recruiter, but can't coach or control his team. If he doesn't coach his team to a winner in '10, he will be looking for work again.
Others in the Big Ten conference hot seat include Bill Lynch and Tim Brewster. Brewster's teams have greatly improved since their 1-11 season of '07, but have not lived up to what the fans and the university expect. Lynch took over the same year after the untimely death of Terry Hoeppner. He led them to their first bowl appearance in quite some time. Since then the Hoosiers have won just as many games in two seasons as they did in 2007 alone.
Over in the Big 12 conference, Dan Hawkins continues to have his rear ablaze. Hawkins has not lead the Buffs to a bowl game during his tenure, and has been scrutinized for playing his son at quarterback over a more talented Tyler Hansen. One thing is for sure, it's win or else, and with the tough out of conference schedule (Colorado St, Hawaii, Georgia, and Cal) it looks like a vacancy will be opening up in Boulder come 2011.
Here's another one that may not be as mainstream—Bob Toledo at Tulane. Toledo has won just nine games in three seasons for the Green Wave. Last year they won just one conference game and failed to move the ball on offense. Rumors in the off season were that they would implement a spread offense and join the 21st century. Any way you look at it, Toledo needs more W's if he wants to stay in the Division 1 ranks.
To finish this topic up, I will also go with Steve Fairchild at Colorado State, Stan Parrish at Ball State, Ron English at Eastern Michigan, and Paul Wulff at Washington State. Out of all of these guys, I think that Wulff at Wazzu is in the most trouble, sporting a career 3-22 record with the Cougars.
Who are the BCS conference sleepers?
No conference goes according to script and this year will be no different. There are simply too many talented players that opt to go to other schools rather than riding a bench for a top-notch school.
Here is an educated guess on who these teams may be.
In the ACC, look no farther than Chapel Hill. Butch Davis' squad looks nasty on defense and should have a solid ground game. The question is if T.J. Yates can settle down and stop making mistakes. I look for this squad to play well in 2010, even though they have a brutal schedule. They did beat both Miami and VaTech last year, who are the popular pick to win the division.
In the Big East it may be anyone's guess, but I will go with Syracuse to head back to a bowl. They may not come close to winning the conference, but they are more than capable of winning six games. They have a solid back in Delone Carter and head coach Doug Marrone is now calling the plays on offense. This should be an explosive offense capable of putting up points and as long as the D can show up, six to seven wins is very possible.
In the Big 10, I look no farther than Indiana and hot seat coach Bill Lynch. They return a solid offense, led by QB Ben Chappell, and have addressed their issues on defense in the off-season. They play four very winnable out of conference games, and could win up to four league games. If you are laughing and asking what I am smoking by this point, just remember they lost three games by a combined seven points, including a controversial Michigan game, and an embarrassing comeback loss to Nwestern.
The Big 12 should be interesting in both divisions, but I will take Baylor to make some noise. QB Robert Griffin returns from an injury and returns to a team that played tough last year, despite his absence. Art Briles has said in the off-season that he finally has “Big 12 South” players, and in a year where both Texas and Oklahoma may not be as dominant, this could be the year to test that theory. I think they could end up with eight wins when it is all said and done, barring any injuries.
The SEC really doesn't have room for surprises. Many of the teams in the conference are capable of winning six to seven games. But since I have to, I will go with South Carolina to challenge for the East Division crown. With Tebow gone, and uncertainty in Knoxville and Athens, this is the year for Gamecock fans.
The key will be the play of Stephen Garcia. They need him to step up in a big way. Other than that, they also need to get the running game going; theirs ranked near the bottom last season. But defense wins championships and one could be won in Columbia in 2010.
The Pac 10 will be highly competitive from top to bottom again. Arizona will step up after just falling short of a title last year. Nick Foles returns to an offense that at times was explosive, and other times dormant. The question will be how the defense gels after losing 7 starters from a year ago. If they can beat Iowa in a September match-up, look for that momentum to take them to the top of the conference in 2010.
How big of a deal is recruiting anyway?
I always see the reports on who did what in the recruiting and how many stars each player is worth. Last time I checked, report cards and stars don't add up to winning football.
Every year it is the same teams, Florida, USC, 'Bama, and so on that end up earning the top classes. That statement right there should answer my question, but not so fast my friend.
Just because you recruit well doesn't mean you win.
Many of the players that get recruited either red-shirt or play sparingly as freshman, with a few exceptions. So that spring recruiting report really doesn't mean anything to the fall season. Plus the best and most highly-sought players aren't always the best players.
Some of the players can grow frustrated due to lack of playing time, and others may fail to absorb the academic side of things.
So is recruiting such a big thing?
Yes and no. It does determine the make-up of your time, there is no question about it. But there are simply too many factors that are not determined at the time these high school kids are picking between hats.
Recruiting is simply overrated. There I said it, you can lynch me now.
The Hyroxicut Apple One Orange Bowl
The economy is and has been in the dumps for years now, no one can dispute this. But the fact that one of the BCS bowls is looking for a sponsor is a brain scratcher.
Fed Ex recently cut ties with the Orange Bowl after 21 years, probably due to dismal numbers and matchups that many really don't care about.
ESPN could be considered a bad guy in all of this, as they are now the home of the BCS. They basically wanted more money for the naming rights to the big game, since there would be more exposure.
I remember back in the day, pre-BCS, when that was the game that determined the National Champs almost every year. It is sad to see what has happened to this amazing bowl game.
Unfortunately, they still don't have a sponsor and are still looking for one.
Currently there are several options including Hershey's, which looks to be the front runner. I can see it now, the Reese's Pieces Orange Bowl! E.T. would definitely have a chub right now.
In this era, the need for every bowl to be sponsored seems as ridiculous as the number of bowl games there are in total. It seems the sponsors are growing more and more outrageous each year. You have the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Fran now, the Erectile Dysfunction Bowl in El Paso, and now the BCS Candy Bowl.
It just seems to me like it is getting worse. I still remember when they were just the Orange Bowl, Peach Bowl, and Hall of Fame Bowls.
I liked it better back then...
Lee Corso Getting Head
You either love him or hate him.
Lee Corso has been an analyst on College Gameday ever since I can remember. He is famous for putting on a mascot head of whatever team he thinks will win the game at which the crew is commentating.
I can almost always predict which ones he will wear every year.
You can almost say for certain he will do a tomahawk chop at FSU, throw a Gator head on in Gainesville, put on the elephant mug in 'Bama, and throw on the Buckeye thingy in Columbus. It has just become too predictable.
I know I, like many others, am sick of seeing the crew go to the same locations year after year, when there are games just as big, if not bigger, than the ones they are at.
To add to it, Corso always seems to go with the home team, unless they are up against a title favorite. Frankly, I couldn't care less who he picks.
So my plea to ESPN, the evil sports network, is to please choose some different venues in 2010. Go to Boise, go to Houston, check out Pitt. Quit going to the same damn college towns every year. There are other places that are just as good.
But I am sure that they would say, “Forget about it sweetheart!”
What we learned today
As always I will end the piece with a tribute to Sportsnation with what we learned today, and that is as follows:
The hot seat coaches are mainly in the Big Ten with a few others earning honorable mention.
South Carolina, Indiana, Baylor, Arizona, North Carolina, and Syracuse could be sleepers in 2010.
Recruiting is overrated for the most part.
Bowl sponsorship has grown to be as ridiculous as the number of bowl games.
Lee Corso and Gameday need to branch out, and Corso can stick his mascot heads where the sun don't shine.
As always, these are just my thoughts for the week, and I know I may be wrong.
So who do think will get fired by season's end? Who are your surprise teams? Do you think recruiting is over-hyped? What about the candy bowl? Does it make you want to chomp a peanut butter cup?
Coming up on next week's tailgate we'll talk Heisman dark horses, Notre Dame's cupcake schedule, and the best college coaches that don't get a lot of name recognition.