Worst Year in NCAA Football History? Is Any Team Good Enough To Deserve No.1?
Bob Levey/Getty Images
What in The Hell is Going On in College Football?
Is this the worst college football season in years? The worst of all time?
Exhibit No. 1:
Consider the example of the Texas Longhorns:
A capacity Texas crowd looked on in disbelief, and later in disgust, as the lowly UCLA Bruins—a team that had not beaten a ranked opponent on the road in nine years—abused the vaunted Longhorns.
Forcing four first-half turnovers and hammering the No. 2 defense in the nation for 264 yards, the Bruins unmasked the Longhorns for the pretenders that they are.
The nauseating, matchstick men who brought you the UCLA debacle were not about to stop there. No, they were just getting warmed up! After another ugly loss to Oklahoma at Fair Park in Dallas, the Horns bought a little redemption. Yes, that's right, they won a ballgame. They strolled into Lincoln, Nebraska—a hell hole for visiting football teams—and took 'em to the woodshed. Of course, the Huskers helped them out. They played a horrible football game, but more about that later.
One week after getting back on the horse that threw 'em, the Horns were again rudely knocked off their steed in full view of millions on TV. Only the rupture between FSN and Dish Network prevented the whole Orangeblood Nation from witnessing the blood-letting. This time, it was the Rompin' Stompin' Iowa State Cyclones!
Holy smoke! Iowa State? Hmm, let's see, Iowa State has won—what, three ballgames in the past 18 seasons? Their last victory was over who? Oh yeah, the Korn-Kings of Big-Sorghum Junior College. Beat 'em 2-0!
Predictably, Mack Brown was madder than a hornet. At his press conferences he railed against his assistants and players. Said he couldn't "trust" his players. Can't trust his assistants either. He really got riled up and stated talking like he might make staff changes. Yeah, yeah, yeah. What a load!
Mack will ditch offensive coordinator Greg Davis (a cancerous tumor on the posterior of college football) if, and only if, the men behind the curtain at UT tell him to cut him loose or pack his own very expensive bags.
As surprising as the Horns reversal of fortune has been, their story is not unique. Not by a long shot. Over the past few years, the big dogs of NCAA football have run aground with surprising frequency.
Why are the best teams, the finest coaches, the greatest athletes, choking—in the most repugnant fashion—not just occasionally, but often, and almost predictably.
So...the question once again. This time with gusto! "What in the hell is going on in college football."
Is this simply a BAD year for college football, or is there another answer? Let's find out.
Gamecocks Roll over Tide: Unmask Alabama and Saban as Pretenders!
Passion and pride! Sorta says it all, huh?
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
What in the Hell is Going on in College Football? Theories Abound!
Theory No. 1:
Perhaps we have entered an era of unprecedented parity in NCAA football? Those crappy little no 'count teams that occasionally jump up and beat the Biggie-Bigg teams might have become a whole lot better than they ever were in the past. Maybe there is no such thing as a sure bet anymore. Maybe the Georgia State Panthers are a tougher football team that we thought. Maybe they will hand Alabama a big, fat, whoopin' come November.
Theory No. 2
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the NCAA is awash is bad football teams this year. There is no question that there are coaching crises underway at several major programs. One thing is certain: we have witnessed an astonishing number of wretched football games: stupid penalties, unsportsmanlike conduct, missed tackles, blown FGs, absurd game plans and, above all, lackluster performance by our elite athletes.
What in the hell is this all about?
Well, let's look at the great Crimson Tide of Alabama.
A few observers knew the truth early: Alabama, entering the season, was a reasonably good, but not a great football team. The fact is, had Colt McCoy not sustained an injury during the first quarter of play in the BCS National Championship Game, it is likely that Texas would have won the contest by 2-3 touchdowns. 'Bama was not a particularly good football team. They still are a mediocre football team. This despite all the love shown them by hordes of obsequious media types.
Alabama. The vaunted Crimson Tide. The Bear Bryant legacy, now poised for greatness anew under the leadership of the peerless Nick Saban—the newest media darling.
Alabama cruised into their meeting with Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks confident of easy victory. Visions of shutouts and 60-point leads danced like sugarplums in their increasingly large craniums. Then, reality set in. South Carolina didn't get the message. They didn't know they were supposed to get their butts kicked. "Who failed to deliver that message?" cried Nick Saban. "Hey", he said, "don't these hayseeds know that they can't beat ALABAMA?
The truth, as usual, is simple: Alabama played poorly. They had no fire in their bellies. They woke up with huge egos, convinced that they would prevail decisively whether they worked at winning or not. Well, as my dear friend from Atlanta says, "Old son...that dog don't hunt."
Alabama was pushed around like the tuba player in the marching band! The Gamecocks came to play, and they whipped 'Bama fair and square. 'Bama played like they were from the East Fudgely College of Podiatry rather than the University of Alabama.
The Gamecocks slapped 'Bama silly on the strength of "Passion & Pride!"
Good on the Gamecocks. Maybe Theory No. 1 offers the best explanation of the decline of the mighty.
Ohio State: Mother of All Chokers? A Tradition of Choking Continues!
An Ohio State Specialty: Fumbling the Football!
David Maxwell/Getty Images
THEORY NO. 2 FINDS BIG SUPPORT IN THE BIG 10
Here's a trivia question for ya! What team of all time has received greater accolades for accomplishing absolutely nothing than Ohio State? Answer: None!
Bleacher Report writer Joe College recently put forward, with force and simplicity, the very thoughts about Ohio State:
"It also appears that AP voters are infatuated with the Buckeyes' win-loss record and place them on a pedestal that is higher than they deserve. Ohio State is ranked No. 2 in the all-time AP poll appearances, having been in the weekly Top 25 703 times.
Ohio State has high ratings and Big Ten titles, but they pale when compared to other teams with national championship rings.
Nebraska has four AP national championships in the last 40 years and they have one of the poorest recruiting bases in the country. Miami has five. Alabama has four. Oklahoma has four. Florida has three. Even Brigham Young has one title.
All of these teams have equaled or surpassed the title accomplishments of Ohio State."
(Joe's article is a great one. I hope you will read it.)
Ohio State is a really sick joke—it's in bad taste in my part of the country to even utter the name Ohio State. They are like a giant, hairy booger on the shirt collar of college football that all the pundits have mistaken for caviar. Still, in years past, they have been much better pretenders than this year.
Of course Ohio State fans will squeal like stuck pigs, but so what. Facts are facts: Ohio State is a rotten football team. Pompous, no-talent, do-nothings who gobble their heads off in an attempt to intimidate the rest of the Big Ten. Year after year they manage to get their fans and national media stirred up with claims of greatness, only to lay an enormous goose egg in the middle of the field.
Like geese, they and their media toadies wake up in a new world every day.
The only bowl game Ohio State might be worth of would be the "BOWEL BOWL," sponsored by Metamucil.
Okay, now that I have trashed the Buckeyes, let's remember that I did say they have been much better pretenders in the past than they are presently. How come? Next slide!
Texas and Ohio State are a lot alike. Not completely alike, mind you. Texas has enjoyed the benefit of superior athletes who have won a lot of ballgames in spite of the awful coaching that prevails on the 40 Acres.
Yet Another Fraud Exposed: Mizzou Implodes...Again and Again.
The Sign Says it All!
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
UNDEFEATED MIZZOU ROCKETS TO TOP 5 BCS SLOT! THEN IMPLODES.
Welcome to Lincoln. Nebraska! Theory No. 2 Looks More Likely Than Ever.
The horrific play of college football's top-ranked programs continues.
Meet the Missouri Tigers. The storied program persistently lurks about at the fringes of BCS respectability, winning just often enough to sustain belief—terribly misplaced trust, to be sure—in their viability as a BCS power in the Big 12 Conference.
How often has Mizzou jetted forward in early-season going on the strength of some hot, new skill player, only to careen off into the ditch of NCAA losers?
Mizzou is one of the ultimate pretenders. Their ability to interest the media—year after year—and curry their favor, is stupefying. They aren't even close to being a legitimate conference champion, let alone a team that deserves a shot at the BCS National Championship Game.
We all recognize that anything can happen in a college football game. As I write this piece, I am watching the Mizzouri-Nebraska game. What have I seen?
At the end of the first quarter, I see a highly ranked BCS squad getting their brains beat out by a Nebraska team that fell to the Texas Longhorns! Not only that, but they are down by 24 points at the end of the first quarter of play. Nebraska is murdering the Tigers.
As I mentioned a moment ago, anything is possible. Mizzou might yet rally. But it certainly appears that the Tigers are dead meat. Not only are they losing the game, they are losing in spectacular fashion. Seldom have I witness one team so thoroughly trounce another. Even if they should make a spectacular comeback, that would only lend strength to Theory No. 2.
So much for Mizzou, the Pretender Kings!
The Florida Mystique: What a Load!
Tim Tebow - The Ultimate "Squall-Gut"
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Florida: The Ultimate Media Sugar Babies
Moving ahead with the hit parade of losers, we come next to Florida.
Florida earned the BCS National Championship in 2006 and 2008. Congratulations. Those were reasonably good football teams. But how many times has Florida been declared the best team in the nation, absent the slightest offer of proof by prominent sportswriters that they are as good as billed?
The only power sufficiently strong enough to break the hypnotic trance Florida somehow creates in brains of big-shot media types in recent times is the name "Nick Saban." Maybe it was Tim Tebow's "squalling fit" on the field following the Gator's loss to 'Bama last year that soured the media on Florida. It was unseemly. Whatever the reason, it was at that point that the media dropped—if only temporarily—Florida like a bad habit.
The grotesque lovefest between Florida and the national sports media was again in full bloom by late summer. Despite being rubbed out by LSU and Alabama, there are plenty of folks who foolishly assert that Florida is "really" the best team in the country. Wow. How do they come to that conclusion?
Look, I won't toss Florida in the the "terrible" class. They have a lot of talent. Their coaching is pretty good. But...the Gators are among the ultimate fakers of this football season. They aren't even close to being a great football team. Boise would beat them senseless. So would TCU. Hell, lots of teams would whip Florida. They know it. I know it. You know it, in your heart.
So, summing up: Florida is not very good. They are not playing with any kind of passion. They are pretenders.
Theory No. 2 finds further support in the play of the Florida Gators.
Michigan State: Not Getting It Done!
Big Jerel Worthy - A Big Hoss!
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Holy Cow: A Three-Way Tie in the Big 10?
At this hour, Iowa is beating the undefeated Michigan State Spartans by 30 points. Ouch! It's only halftime!
Don't ask me how this tiebreaker works. I am told that if Iowa continues on its present course and beats Michigan State, the Big 10 might wind up with a three-way tie at the end of the season. In the end, "overall schedule results" may hold sway over "conference schedule results" in deciding the conference winner. The BCS formula that apparently comes into play that makes no sense to me. All I know is that undefeated Michigan State is blowing a great season, a chance to prove to the world that they are a great football team. Sadly, they are stinking the stadium up with mediocrity.
Yes...choking. Anyone know how to do the Heimlich?
All of this is revealing. We have identified yet another big fraud on the season at just past the halfway mark.
Theory No. 2 is looking like the best answer to the odd doings in NCAA football. Better, in fact, by the minute.
What's Happened to the Irish? The Saddest Story in Football
Tulsa vs. Notre Dame, 10-30-2010
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
The Fighting Irish: A Great Football Tradition Runs Aground
I won't have a lot to say about Notre Dame. I just can't bring myself to think about Notre Dame for any extended period of time. I am a die-hard Irish fan and a lifelong Catholic. From the time I was a kid (yeah, that was back in the early, early, 60s) two teams represented the ultimate in college football to me: the Texas Longhorns and the Fighting Irish.
Everyone has stood by, scratching their heads, wondering why the Irish have fallen so far and have stayed on the bottom for so long.
I nourish hope for the Irish. I don't think the current coach is the man for the job. I want Bob Stoops, but I recognize that it will likely never happen.
I note, as I write the text for this slide, that Tulsa is leading the Irish late. Holy cow! Although I know that I should not be surprised, but I am. Heck, I like Tulsa. Always have. I live nearby and will attend Tulsa's games in the future. But I can't help being surprised that they are beating Notre Dame.
For guys from my generation, saying that Tulsa is beating Notre Dame is like saying that the Nation of Yemen has attacked and overthrown the United States. It just doesn't seem possible.
Once again, we have stumbled across a team with a deep, rich, football tradition—an ultra elite football program—that just isn't any good. Why? Theory No. 2, I'm afraid, applies.
Enter the Non-Pretenders: Boise State and TCU!
The Sign Says it All!
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Alright, we have seen what the pretenders look like. There are many, many more. It would take 50 slides to cover them all.
Enter now the real football teams: Boise State and Texas Christian University.
What can we say about Boise and TCU?
Boise is the best team in the land. They went undefeated last year. Ditto this year. They beat a very good Oregon team last year. They beat TCU while they were at it.
Boise has beaten recent opponents by an average of 50-plus points—50! Talk about style points! Moreover, their QB cooled out on the sidelines in many of these victories during the second half.
Boise whipped a solid Virginia Tech team in Week 1 of the season. I remember very clearly that the Virginia Tech game was to be the one contest that "legitimize" the Boise squad.
Oh yeah...the media dashed about, tongues lolling out, proclaiming Virginia Tech's superiority. I remember their stupid banter: "Uhh...huh...well Herbie—ha, ha, ha—if, and I say 'IF', Boise should prevail against Virginia Tech, ahhh, ha-ha-ha, well...then I suppose we will be forced to sit up and take notice!" "Ahh...well, yes, Brent, that's true. Boise is a great football team, of course they have never been faced with such formidable offensive and defensive challenges like those that will be presented by a determined Va. Tech team—ha, ha, ha!"
Well, Boise kicked their heads in. They took care of business on the field. They always do. They are men among boys—an honest-to-goodness football team!
TCU is in exactly the same boat as Boise. A first-class football team with more guts than a slaughterhouse, they renew my faith in college football! I love the Horned Frogs. Check the stats and find out how many touchdowns TCU has given up this year in conference play. Check out their margin of victory—like Boise, this number provides proof positive that the Frogs are one tough football team.
But it simply doesn't matter how well Boise or TCU play. They will never get their due. They aren't gonna generate big bucks, so the powers that be will simply say, "To hell with them."
The fix, my friends, is in. Boise ought to be No. 1 in the BCS polls. TCU ought to be No. 2. That's the fact of the matter. But it ain't gonna happen. So long as the "men behind the curtain" are agreed that it should not happen.
Weird, huh. The Biggie-Biggs of college football stink. They stink bad. Yet, the real football players and coaches are thrown under the bus.
What's Really Going on in College Football? Does Anyone Deserve to be No. 1?
Joe Paterno: Greatest Coach of All Time?
Chris Gardner/Getty Images
What's Going On in College Football?
I believe that two things explain the poor play we have witnessed this year and, in recent years, among college football's elite teams:
First, I believe that football players at the biggest, most successful programs have developed a sense of entitlement.
Our young athletes simply get too much praise and attention. They are heavily recruited—this sometimes inflates egos to enormous proportions. Much too much is made over a flock of high school boys who may or may not have what it takes to earn and hold a roster spot at a major college football program.
This sense of entitlement manifests in a lack of commitment, poor work ethic and the old "I don't really give a hoot" attitude. After all, they reason, "No matter what happens here, I'll be in the NFL soon making millions. I can do whatever I want."
Sadly, they do exactly what they want. As a result, we see our best athletes in jail and/or playing bad football.
Secondly, the same disease has infected college head coaches and assistant coaches across the nation.
Consider an assistant like Greg Davis at Texas. Everyone in the football universe has pointed out repeatedly that his play-calling is terrible. Bubble screens are called to excess. He constantly throws short of the first-down mark on third-down situations. I could go on for an hour, pointing out his innumerable shortcomings. He is perhaps the worst OC in the nation. Still, he enjoys the friendship of coach Mack Brown, so he refuses to change. He imagines that he cannot and will not be replaced. Heck, he's probably right.
Enormous coaching salaries contribute to the growth of their sorry attitudes.
To answer the final question, "YES" there are teams who deserve the #1 ranking.
Boise, TCU and Oregon—these are good football teams. They play like their heads are on fire. Can anyone doubt that these teams are championship-quality football teams?
The current situation relating to scholarships, the rise in popularity in football across the nation and other factors have indeed resulted in a higher degree of parity that every before witnessed in NCAA football.
I have doubtless made some folks mad. I can't help it. In my defense, I can only say that I hammered my favorite team first. I would hope that every football fan would support the truly deserving teams even to the disadvantage of their favorites. Right is right.