Figured I'd take a break from Buckeye talk today and give you some my thoughts about topics around college football outside my enclosed bubble of Ohio State...
- What a disaster occurring in Ann Arbor right now. As a professed Buckeye, I find myself a bit conflicted in regards to the "State Up North."
On one hand, this is my Darth Vader in life, the team I've hated ever since I was old enough to talk, and the team that destroyed National Championship hopes and dreams for me in '95 and '96. The pain and anguish that they are experiencing has me smitten with giddy delight.
On the other hand, winning six out of the last seven in "THE Rivalry" and watching national powerhouses Appalachian State and Toledo beat the Wolverweenies (on their home field, mind you) has almost watered down the rivalry for me.
But maybe the most frustrating part is why the Wolverines are an absolutely irrelevant 2-6 this season. I don't want excuses from Michigan fan about the people transferring or a new offensive system.
I could be completely wrong, because it has been less than a year, but I think Rich Rodriguez was a terrible hire for that university. Do you think Michigan would be 2-6 with Lloyd Carr at the helm still? No way.
Rich Rodriguez, in his "coaching wisdom," has decided to put square pegs in round holes with his personnel, and he has deserved everything he's gotten for it. Good coaches see their team's strengths and weaknesses and play to talent, not the scheme.
If you are Rich Rodriguez and you want to bring the spread option to Michigan, fine. It's your team, and you take it the direction you choose. But you recruit to the style and make the switch when you can make the commitment to that scheme.
Rodriguez ran people out of the program and has done an absolute disservice to the returning players of the Carr regime by having them try to run an offense they weren't recruited to.
One more indictment, and probably the most telling one, is the de-commitments coming from their current recruiting class. Kevin Newsome, Bryce McNeal, and William Campbell—three of the cornerstones to his first full recruiting class—have already evacuated, which tells me that the recruits don't buy Rodriguez's vision for the program.
Look back at Jim Tressel's first couple of recruiting campaigns...despite the Buckeyes' struggles in 2000 and 2001, Tressel was able to keep the 2000 recruiting class by Cooper relatively intact and build with following classes because the recruits bought his vision.
The same thing happened with Urban Meyer, Bob Stoops, and Pete Carroll. You never saw the rash of de-commitments you are seeing in Ann Arbor.
Bet Michigan fan is wishing Mr. Yachtman (Bill Martin) would have been a bit more proactive in the Les Miles courtship, eh? What an abomination.
Much as I hate them, the school up north should NEVER be 2-6...if I was Michigan fan, I'd have Rodriguez flown back to Morgantown on my own dime immediately.
- Speaking of disappointing, you almost can't say that word without Charlie Weis coming to the forefront of your mind. Watching Michigan and Notre Dame play this year was the epic battle of sinking ship vs. treading water.
My favorite line of the 2008 college football season is, "Notre Dame is on the rise." To answer that, I will quote one of my favorite television characters of all time, Dr. Cox of Scrubs: "WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG...WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG...WRONG...WRONG."
Notre Dame isn't on the rise. Notre Dame has the benefit of playing a softer schedule than your biggest roll of Charmin. Notre Dame has wins over San Diego St., Michigan, Purdue, Stanford, and Washington.
Combined record of those opponents, drum roll please...9-30! And none of the five victories they have are against a team with a winning record! WOO-HOO, Notre Dame is back!
Notre Dame has dropped two games thus far, and wouldn't ya know, if it wasn't to the only teams on their schedule that have a winning record in Michigan State and North Carolina.
Get back to me Notre Dame fan when you fire Weis, beat USC, and all of your top five recruiting classes start living up to their hype.
But hey Notre Dame fan, don't fear. I'm sure that next underachieving top five recruiting class will be the one to bring Notre Dame back to glory.
I will give Charlie Weis one thing...he can recruit. Unfortunately for Notre Dame, he can't coach any of the talent he has there.
But he is the next best thing to a good coach: He's a white, Catholic, Notre Dame alum, so that will buy him AT LEAST five years of mediocrity, unlike another "off-colored" coach who wasn't granted that same courtesy and who will remain nameless...
- Touching on conference strength, I think it's a bit humorous how ESPN, "Your trusted worldwide leader in sports," has this HUGE debate going on about who is the "strongest conference." The epic battle this year pits the Big 12 vs. the perennial favorite SEC.
Even funnier is the thought that ESPN is trying to sell you and I, the college footballaholics, the idea that this is really even a debate, because it's not even close in my mind.
The Big 12 is far and away, THIS SEASON, the best college football conference in America. Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State are all legitimate Top 25 teams, with four teams in the Big 12 SOUTH ranked in the Top 10.
Watch their games, and they've been amongst the most entertaining of the season. Oklahoma-Texas, Oklahoma State-Texas, and Missouri-Oklahoma State were all competitive, exciting, compelling must-watches for college football fans this season.
Future matchups like Oklahoma-Oklahoma State, Texas-Texas Tech, Kansas-Missouri, and Oklahoma-Texas Tech are going to be compelling matchups as well.
Maybe the best indicator that the Big 12 is the best conference in America is the quarterback play, which is second to none. Graham Harrell, Colt McCoy, Sam Bradford, Todd Reesing, Chase Daniel, and Zac Robinson—if you listed the top 10 quarterbacks in the country right now, all of them would probably be on the list.
The SEC, on the other hand, I would agree with the majority is the best conference on most years. But has there ever been a year that a conference has been as overrated?
Bring on the poster board hate, SEC fan...because you can fill up all the stadiums you want and chant "SEC...SEC..." until all of the rest of us inferior college football fans' ears start bleeding from your sheer ignorance. It's not going to change the fact that you have three really good teams, one good team, four really REALLY average teams, and four flat-out god-awful teams.
"You're wrong Zuke..." I can hear the echoes from the South as I write this paragraph. Really, SEC fan? Tell me ANYTHING GOOD about Tennessee, Mississippi State, Auburn, and Arkansas. Convince me all four of these teams aren't horrific this year, SEC fan.
Oh, I'm sorry. I forgot Auburn v. Mississippi State's heart-stopping 3-2 baseball game. My bad—that was the worst football game I've witnessed in the past decade! That moment in football was brought to you by the SEC, the best conference in their own minds since 1992!
I'll give credit to Alabama, Georgia, and Florida for being very good football teams. I'll even give LSU some love for being decent this year.
But the SEC, whether they want to admit it or not, is a top-heavy conference this year, ESPECIALLY with Auburn and Tennessee just being dreadful, and Arkansas and Mississippi State being a different dimension of bad this year.
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