Upset Alert: The 2010 McGintey Very Dangerous People Nominees
The McGintey Very Dangerous People Award is a statuette of a bronze slingshot (like David and Goliath) given to the underdog college football team which on paper does not have a snowball's prayer, but does its best to make the game miserable for the favorite.
The award is named for Jimmy McGintey, the head coach of the fictional professional football team the Washington Sentinels in the motion picture The Replacements.
Coach McGintey, portrayed by Gene Hackman, guides his team of replacements during a fictional professional football players' strike, which was real in 1987.
The replacements faced the end as the Dallas team crossed the picket line to keep the Sentinels from earning a playoff spot.
Coach McGintey summed it up by declaring that since his replacements had no tomorrow, they were "very dangerous people."
You, of course, know the replacements won the game.
In this slideshow is a list of five early season games during which the underdogs are, in my opinion, dangerous.
I cite as sources a) my memory, b) Yahoo.com for the preseason rankings, using that one poll to keep it consistent, and c) way too many stories on the Internet to name to give me ideas for the text.
I'll do this again in week four after the field has had an opportunity to work past the myths of the preseason rankings.
Sept. 4: Elon at No. 93 Duke
Elon's Phoenix, a decent FCS team, will travel an hour east to invade the Blue Devils of Duke for both teams' 2010 opener.
Duke is in the bottom fourth of the 120 FBS teams. The perennial basketball juggernaut just can't seem to match Coach K's results on the gridiron.
The Devils were 5-7 in 2009, with ACC wins over Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina State, while giving Virginia Tech a scare.
Unfortunately, one of Duke's seven losses was to FCS powerhouse Richmond, the winner of the 2009 Very Dangerous People Award.
So, entering the stage is Elon, smelling FBS blood, looking to atone for last year's drubbing by Wake Forest. The Phoenix fans travel well. You can bet the football team and their faithful will make their presence known.
Sept. 4: No. 20 Connecticut at No. 41 Michigan
I can't think of any coach in my long college football memory, going back to the mid-1960s, who is as embroiled in controversy than the ex-West Virginia native son Rich Rodriguez.
Maybe Barry Switzer in his final days at Oklahoma lost some respect, but you have to go way back to 1989 to dig that up. So, forget about Barry—he won the Super Bowl in 1995. Rich Rod takes the cake.
That's why I think The Rodster has set up Connecticut, inviting the Huskies to the charming, placid Ann Arbor for an ambush. If Rich is going to check out, he says, he's going down fighting.
The last time Rich Rod met Randy Edsall, he was in his final days at West Virginia and dropped 62 points on Edsall in UConn country. Granted, Rich had Pat White and Steve Slaton then, but his coaching brain has muscle memory. He'll know how to beat the Huskies down.
Now, if he just does it.
Sept. 10: No. 32 West Virginia at No. 79 Marshall
West Virginia has a 5-0 modern-era record against their in-state little brother Marshall, having won in Morgantown in 1997, 2006, 2008, and 2009, and coming back strong in the second half to take The Herd down in Huntington.
The Mountaineers return to the Tri-State area exactly one month from today. The future looks rather rosy for WVU, as nine starters return on an already abusive defense. In addition, four starting o-linemen are up front anchoring an offense with a lot of experience.
However, Marshall could win this one this year.
Call me crazy, but The Herd have been inching closer to West Virginia over the past four seasons. New head coach John 'Doc' Holliday has taken over a squad with a 7-6 record but this time is instilling discipline on the field, in the community, and in the classroom.
Coach Doc can draw on his past as an assistant at WVU and catch his old team not looking. It's going to be a long evening for the Mountaineers.
Sept. 11: No. 4 Oregon at No. 49 Tennessee
Refer back to West Virginia vs. Marshall in the previous slide and you have the best description of why the big underdog (Tennessee) will play the rude host to the overwhelming favorite (Oregon).
Both teams are coming off meaningless openers, so they should be fresh. Oregon brings speed, but Tennessee understands that topic very well in the SEC and has some of its own at the wideout spot.
The Ducks face controversy again as they lost a good quarterback to the legal system, but the entire offensive line is returning.
The Volunteers have the aforementioned receivers, and that's about it.
So, what's going to make this squad of nascent orange-jerseyed, wide-eyed southern boys give Oregon its what it's worth?
Fans: 102,000 of them, wearing even more orange as the band plays "Rocky Top" ad nauseum.
The spirit of Tennessee is overwhelming, and all those fans! I've been at Ohio Stadium and sat among its 104,000. It's like a 747 is at midfield cranking up engine number 2.
There's a chance that the Volunteers in the stands will pull the team into the fourth quarter. From there, it's up to new coach Derek Dooley.
Sept. 11: No. 45 South Florida at No. 6 Florida
The University of South Florida as a school has not been playing football that long, initially fielding a team in 1995. Gee, they haven't been a college that long—first opening the doors of learning to students in 1956.
The only coach who has been on the sidelines with the Bulls is the divisive Jim Leavitt. However, upon accusations that he struck a player in the lockers during a game, Leavitt was fired.
Skip Holtz, the head man at East Carolina, brings his two C-USA championships and defensive acumen to Tampa. Holtz is betting that the athletes keep coming and that he as the head coach has the demeanor to take South Florida to 5-0 and beyond.
In another part of the state, the University of Florida's Gator football team looks to be going with Urban Meyer in a different direction.
Losing a plethora of starters to graduation, entangled in an NCAA investigation, and dealing with Meyer's uncharacteristically odd behavior as he circles the wagons against the 'scumbags' and 'Internet people,' it may take a while for Florida to shake off the mental roadblocks and just play ball.
South Florida hopes the Gator issues keep on keeping on through mid-September.