Category Archives: College Football

Cutting the cord with college football

One of my earliest memories of college football was falling asleep watching the LSU-Tulane game on Thanksgiving night 1983. The game was moved from the Saturday before Thanksgiving to the holiday itself in order for the game to be televised by TBS.

The game kicked off at 1930 (7:30 pm) in New Orleans, and of course, my bed time wasn’t nearly as late when I was seven as it is today. I woke up the next morning to find out LSU won 20-7, but it was not enough to save the job of Bayou Bengals coach Jerry Stovall, who was fired eight days after the game in the Superdome.

Almost 35 years later, I am done with college football.

No mas.

I have decided college football is not worth wasting my time and energy on. I have beat myself up enough over the performance of 18- to 22-year old boys and the overgrown, overpaid boys who coach them.

Urban Meyer is going to keep his job at Ohio State despite covering up for Zach Smith, a monster who consistently abused his then-wife, including when she was pregnant. D.J. Durkin has yet to be fired at Maryland despite a player dying of heatstroke on his watch.

I thought about going to the LSU-Georgia game in Baton Rouge on my birthday, October 13. Not anymore. I don’t want to drive all that way to deal with 102,000 crazy fans in Tiger Stadium, plus tens of thousands more who will do nothing but loiter around campus and drink themselves into a stupor. Besides, I can find a lot better ways to burn the money that would go into gas, hotels, food and tickets.

Do I have good memories of watching college football, both on TV and in person? Sure. But after careful consideration, I can think of many better and more productive ways to spend my Saturdays instead of being glued to a television set from 1100 to 2300.

Kansas college football is a big reason why I can’t stand it.

I am sick of hearing about the greatness of Bill Snyder. He’s done a lot of it against cupcake non-conference schedules. Kansas State proved it isn’t an elite program when it choked so brutally in the 1998 Big 12 championship game against Texas A&M, then let Drew Brees and Purdue tear it apart in the Alamo Bowl. There was that massive choke job against Baylor in 2012 when anyone in Kansas, save a few Jayhawk fans, were touting Collin

Snyder has turned arguably the worst major college program into a winner. However, Kansas State is going to relapse into pitifulness once Snyder dies (we all know he can’t retire again). K-State will be where Kansas is now.

Speaking of the Jayhawks, David Beatty is a nice guy, but not a head football coach. No way. He reminds me of Curley Hallman, who was so brutally pathetic at LSU from 1991-94. At least Beatty is not a grade-A turd like Hallman. However, let’s face it–Kansas is only in the Big 12 because of its basketball program.

The other college football in Kansas–four Division II schools and eight junior colleges–doesn’t interest me. I watched season three of Last Chance U from Independence Community College and I was totally repulsed. To say coach Jason Brown has a foul mouth would be a gross understatement.

Right now, I don’t want to hear about college football. I certainly don’t want to read about it, so I’ve made sure my mobile devices do not get any information on the sport, and I will no longer read The Advocate, the newspaper I once wrote for, nor any other paper’s college football reporting. I have to be careful on the Kansas City Star page not to click college football.

Somehow, I think my Saturdays will become more fulfilling without being a slave to the boob tube watching a bunch of 18- to 22-year old boys full of testosterone collide with one another.

Saban a Buckeye? Don’t laugh

Urban Meyer should not coach the Ohio State Buckeyes football team again, if there is any justice and morality in this world. He knew one of his golden boys, Zach Smith, was a woman abuser and covered it up. Meyer must not be allowed to roam the sidelines at Ohio Stadium, or any other college football field, again. He’s certainly not going to go poor in retirement.

Obviously, if the Ohio State job comes open, there will be a free-for-all as to who will be Meyer’s replacement. If I am OSU president Michael Drake, there is one name I put at the top of my list.

His name is Nicholas Lou Saban.

Yes, I did not stutter.

THAT Nick Saban, the one who has built Alabama so grandiose it has eclipsed that of Bear Bryant in the minds of many Crimson Tide fans and college football experts. That’s another debate for another post.

If Saban’s Crimson Tide wins the national championship this season, it will be six in 10 seasons, matching the total Bryant won in 19 seasons (1961-79), although two of Bryant’s (’73 and ’78) were split, and the ’73 title, along with ’64, saw Alabama lose its bowl game after being crowned national champion when a selector (or selectors) did not take another poll following the bowl games. Saban’s five so far are undisputed, including two in the College Football Playoff era.

Saban is the highest paid coach in college football, making at least $11 million per season, but he isn’t lacking for money. His kids are grown, and he and Terry now have grandchildren they can spoil. Saban, who turns 67 this Halloween, has surprised many by staying so long in Tuscaloosa after being so nomadic during the first 34 years of his coaching career, never staying more than five seasons in any place.

This will be Saban’s 12th season in Tuscaloosa. Why would he want to leave now?

In my opinion, the Ohio State position is the only one Saban should ever consider leaving Alabama for. Some thought he was considering Texas when it forced Mack Brown into retirement a few years ago, but it turns out those were only pipe dreams by the Longhorn faithful, many of whom have deeper pockets than anyone could dream of having.

As much of a monolith Alabama has become under Saban, and was under Bryant, Ohio State matches the Crimson Tide in many areas, and in some, the Buckeyes are superior.

First, there are many more people in Ohio than Alabama. The population of the Buckeye state according to a 2016 estimate was 11.67 million, compared to 4.88 million for Alabama.

Ohio is a gold mine for high school football players. The vast majority of the greatest Buckeyes prepped in their home state before making their way to Columbus to play for Woody Hayes, Jim Tressel, Meyer and some of the less successful coaches (Earle Bruce, John Cooper). The dream of most Ohio boys who play football is to don the scarlet and gray and come out of the tunnel at “The Horseshoe”. There may be pockets of Michigan fans near Toledo, and some who are loyal to the smaller schools in the state (Cincinnati, Toledo, Miami, et al), but Ohio State is THE school in the Buckeye State.

Alabama doesn’t have that luxury. It has to contend with another SEC power, Auburn, on the other side of the state. And Mobile is so close to Florida State, Florida and LSU that it routinely gets picked clean and the Crimson Tide can’t get all of the top talent there.

Second, academics.

The Big Ten is considered the far superior conference academically among the Power Five. Northwestern is one of the most prestigious private schools in the United States. Michigan is considered a “Public Ivy”. Wisconsin has a strong academic reputation. So do Ohio State, Maryland, Rutgers and Penn State, although there’s still damage control going on in State College in the wake of Jerry Sandusky.

The SEC’s strongest academic schools are Vanderbilt and Florida. Alabama has seen an explosion in enrollment in recent years and is now the second most selective school of the 14 members of the conference, only behind Vandy, but the Mississippi schools really can’t raise their academic profiles as much as they’d like, given how poor the state is and how bad the education system is there.

Money is not an issue. Ohio State’s football budget is on par, if not more, than Alabama’s. The revenues produced by the Big Ten’s TV rights deals are equal, if not more than those in the SEC. The Big Ten Network is in more homes than the SEC Network, where many cable operators outside the SEC geographical footprint have refused to carry another ESPN owned network due to the high fees ESPN charges cable companies to carry it.

Actually, I think Saban has it easier in the SEC West than he would in the Big Ten East. I just don’t see Gus Malzahn sustaining the level of success at Auburn he enjoyed last year and in 2013, when it almost won the national championship. LSU has struggled badly against Alabama, and unfortunately for me, that doesn’t look like it will change any time soon. Arkansas and Mississippi State don’t have the resources to consistently win big. Ole Miss is going to have to rebuild after probation, and

The only potential challenger to Alabama’s iron grip on the SEC West (where the Tide and Auburn should not be, but that’s another blog post) is Texas A&M under Jimbo Fisher. However, Fisher has to deal with Texas in his own backyard, and TCU isn’t going anywhere as long as Gary Patterson is in charge. And what if Houston were to go to a Power Five conference?

In the Big Ten East, Michigan has been nothing but a big winner for the most part since Bo Schembechler’s day. Michigan State has been mostly good to very good under Mark Dantonio. Penn State appears to be on the straight and narrow again under James Franklin. Then again, the bottom of the Big Ten East–Indiana, Maryland, Rutgers–is pretty bad. Most of the West, Wisconsin excepted, can’t get its act together.

Again, I don’t think Saban is leaving Tuscaloosa.

The reason: the lady Nick Saban has been married to for almost 47 years.

Terry Saban is one of the most beloved women in the state’s history, right up there with Bryant’s wife, Mary Harmon; Lurleen Wallace, George’s wife who served briefly as governor when her husband could not run in the mid 1960s; Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, and of course, Helen Keller.

It is well known Terry Saban loves Tuscaloosa. She loves being the city’s queen bee. She loves living in close-knit college towns, and even though Tuscaloosa isn’t exactly Manhattan (the one in Kansas), Starkville or Stillwater, it still is a far cry from Columbus, which is now Ohio’s largest city and also has the state government. In that regard, Columbus is Baton Rouge (or Lincoln) on steroids. I don’t think Terry would enjoy Columbus as much, and that’s the biggest reason why Nick wouldn’t go to Ohio State.

On the other hand, Nick and Terry still have plenty of family in their native West Virginia, and Columbus is a lot closer to them than Tuscaloosa.

That said, Michael Drake should do all he can to try and lure Saban to Columbus. Drake should force Nick Saban to look him in the eye and say thanks but no thanks. It can’t hurt and would show Ohio State is committed to doing whatever it takes to keep Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State at bay.

First, Dr. Drake had better get it right and send Urban Meyer packing. That”s the biggest hurdle. If Meyer is allowed to return, then it shows Drake and Ohio State are in the football business for two reasons, money and titles, and not for truly educating young men, which would be a damn shame.

Of course, if Saban wants a REAL challenge, he could go to Ohio…back to his alma mater, Kent State.

Urban blight

Urban Meyer, a lying piece of fecal matter, is on “administrative leave” from The Ohio State University. In other words, he’s being paid to lay low at home until the folks in Columbus can clear his name enough so he can return to the sidelines in time for the Buckeyes’ opener Sept. 1 at home vs. Oregon State.

I have plenty of strong opinions about Urban. I’ll save those for later.

Ohio State is ranked third in the worthless preseason coaches poll behind Alabama and Clemson. Might as well cement the Crimson Tide and Tigers from South Carolina in those spots. I don’t see either losing this year. Alabama gets Auburn in Tuscaloosa and there’s no way it is losing to LSU.

Speaking of LSU, the Bayou Bengals are too high at #24. Should not be in the poll. Not until Ed Orgeron settles on a quarterback, and that quarterback proves himself. If LSU defeats Miami in Arlington a month from today, then fine, the Bayou Bengals should be ranked. But not until then.

An online sports book has placed odds on the possibility of several big name coaches leading Ohio State into its opener.

Greg Schiano, the Buckeyes’ defensive coordinator, is +400, meaning if you bet $1 and Schiano is named as Meyer’s permanent successor, you win $400.

Meyer is overwhelmingly favored to have his job back before Sept. 1. He is -300 on the book, meaning you’d have to bet $300 to win $1 plus the original $300 wagered.

There are three coaches on the list who are +20,000: Nick Saban, James Franklin and Jim Harbaugh. I think Saban coaching in Columbus is not far-fetched, just not in 2018. I’ll tell you why in a post I will be composing very soon.

I had a great night of sleep. I went to bed at 2230 (10:30 pm) and only got up once, at 2:45. When I fell back asleep, I didn’t wake up again until 0808. The new mask for my CPAP must really work.

I spent most of the day in Kansas, since I had a 1500 appointment with Andrea for my second back wax treatment. I did not eat at Joe’s Kansas City this time. In fact, I didn’t eat anything after I had a leftover Chick-Fil-A sandwich for breakfast until I got back to the hotel after 1600.

The wax went very well. Some pain, but I knew it was coming and I did not scream once. I winced a few times, but that was it. I have to go back a couple of weeks before my birthday for the third treatment. I know nobody sees it, but I feel better.

The NFL exhibition season starts tonight. Bears vs. Ravens in the Hall of Fame game. I’m sure the Ravens were selected because of Ray Lewis going into the Hall, and the Bears because of Brian Urlacher.

However, why do Lewis and Urlacher matter more than the others? Why not the Packers because of Jerry Kramer? Or the Vikings because of Randy Moss? Or the Redskins because of Bobby Beathard? Oh well. It’s football so I’m sure it will draw an audience. However, most of the guys you see in the final three quarters will not be playing come Sept. 6 when the Falcons and Eagles kick off the regular season in Philadelphia.

The Red Sox and Yankees begin a four-game series starting tonight in Boston. No other baseball matters. At least according to ESPN and Fox.

One of my infrequent posts

Your undisciplined blogger here. I’ve got to do better. I’m making this statement for at least the 481st time on Foots Prints. I failed to follow through the first 480 times.

Sports is kind of in a lull right now. The World Cup ended two weeks ago with France defeating Croatia; the Open Championship ended eight days ago with a command performance by Francisco Molinari, who didn’t crack under the pressure of playing with Eldrick Woods in the final round; and one league of Major League Baseball is about as suspenseful as watching paint dry. Four of the five playoff teams in the American League are known: Red Sox, Yankees, Indians and Astros. The fifth spot will either come down to the Mariners or Athletics. Everyone else? Forget it.

Fortunately, the National League still holds drama. The Brewers somehow are only three games back (in the loss column) of the Cubs despite going 1-7 in Miami and Pittsburgh the week before the All-Star break, and Milwaukee has a comfortable lead as the first wild card. The Marlins, Mets and Padres are all done, and while the Reds are playing better under Jim Riggelman, the early hole they dug under Bryan Price is too much.

I don’t know if the Brewers can hold on to a playoff spot. They got some help in acquiring Joakim Soria and Mike Moustakas, but the injury bug has hit Miller Park hard. Milwaukee would have trouble in a one-game playoff against either Arizona, Atlanta or Philadelphia, and then if the Brewers won, they would have to play the Cubs in the division series.

John Tavares signed with the Maple Leafs. The ex-Islander will make Toronto a dangerous team offensively, but Mike Babcock knows there’s no way teams can win 6-4 in the NHL every night in this era. It isn’t the 1980s, when Edmonton was able to rush the puck up the ice consistently with Gretzky, Kurri, Messier, Coffey and Glenn Anderson and score seven or eight on many nights. Also, Toronto doesn’t have a goaltender anywhere near the caliber of Grant Fuhr to take on 40-45 shots consistently.

If Babcock doesn’t find some help on the blue line, and quick, Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen will die from taking on too many shots, and Toronto will never climb above Boston and Tampa Bay in the Atlantic.

The Bucks? Well, letting Jabari Parker walk wasn’t the problem. DRAFTING Jabari Parker was. If the Bucks were smart, they would have taken Joel Embiid number two overall instead of Parker, and even if Embiid would have been slow to heal from the injuries which plagued him at Kansas, it still would have been much better than Parker. Until the Bucks find help for the Greak Freak, they won’t be making it past the second round of the playoffs any time soon, even if the East is wide open after Boston, Philadelphia and Toronto.

I’ve written off the Arizona Cardinals. I don’t care what their record is. Actually, the worse, the better. They need a lot of help. Josh Rosen isn’t going to be the magic panacea to get them back to the Super Bowl. The offensive line sucks, and it has sucked since the Cardinals were in St. Louis. The running game has been non-existent since Ottis Anderson was in his heyday. I am not confident Steve Wilks is the answer.

I’ve also written off my alma mater’s football team. I just can’t see any better than 7-5. I hope I’m wrong. I’m looking at Miami, Auburn, Georgia Alabama and Texas A&M as games where LSU will be at a decided disadvantage. If the Mississippi State game were in Starkville and not Baton Rouge, I would have to favor State, but it’s a toss-up in Death Valley. The Florida game would be a toss-up in Baton Rouge, but in Gainesville, the Gators have to be favored. LSU is at a decided advantage in Baton Rouge vs. Ole Miss, but the Rebels will treat it as a bowl game since they are on probation. LSU has held the upper hand against Arkansas under Orgeron, but the Razorbacks will be dangerous in November after they learn Chad Morris’ system, especially in Fayetteville.

Forget the football played with a prolate spheroid and on a gridiron.

Football season is still 11 days away. The REAL football season, that is.

The Premier League kicks off August 10 when Leicester City visits Old Trafford to play Manchester United. It’s the second consecutive year Leicester has had to go on the road and play the Friday night game to open the season; last year, the Foxes lost 3-2 to Arsenal at Emirates Stadium. The rest of the league plays either that Saturday or Sunday.

The smart money is on Manchester City to repeat as Premier League champions. Why not? Pep Guardiola has built a machine at the Etihad Stadium, and it is still a step ahead of United and Liverpool, the other two teams which figure to be at the top of the table with City. Chelsea and Arsenal have new managers and the distraction of the Europa League, which forces teams to play on Thursdays before turning around to play league matches on Saturday or Sunday, and that will hurt. Tottenham has a golden opportunity this year with Arsenal and Chelsea a bit down and the excitement of moving into the new White Hart Lane, but will Spurs take it?

I don’t think Leicester will be anywhere near the danger of the drop zone, but I can’t see another Claudio Rainieri-Jamie Vardy miracle, either. Mid-table would be fine with me, maybe seventh and a spot in the Europa League.

Bournemouth probably has no business in the top flight, given it plays in a stadium which seats less than 12,000 has nowhere near the resources of the Big Six of the Premier League, and not as much as Leicester, Fulham and a few others. However, Eddie Howe is a fine manager, and that’s the reason the Cherries are still in the top flight and the likes of Sunderland, Stoke, Swansea, West Brom and Hull aren’t. In fact, Sunderland has cratered into League One, the third division, just two years after competing in the Premier League. OUCH.

Meanwhile, the pressure in Italy’s Serie A is on Juventus, where Cristiano Ronaldo has taken his talents after a long and storied run at Real Madrid. The Turin side is always expected to be at or near the top of Serie A, but this year, the pressure has to be crushing.

The same can be said for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga. It has been Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and 16 weak sisters in most recent years in Germany, but last year, Dortmund was not only looking up at Bayern, but also Schalke and Hoffenheim. Christian Pulisic, the 19-year old American phenom, has a lot of weight on his shoulders at Dortmund, but it’s a position every MLS player would kill to be in.

I have an appointment in Prairie Village Thursday afternoon to get another treatment on my back. Now I know what to expect.

My dear friend Peggy celebrated a birthday yesterday. I know how old she is, but I won’t tell you. Sorry.

Watching The Price is Right now. WHY DO CONTESTANTS LOOK AT THE CROWD? They don’t know a damn thing. If I’m going to lose, I want to do it my way. I’m sure the contestant coordinators don’t pick the highest IQs, so what help can they be? Also, looking at the crowd wastes time!

Jersey girl booted by Bama

Last week, Harley Barber, a 19-year old from New Jersey, was expelled by the University of Alabama for two posts on an Instagram account in which she repeatedly used the N-word to disparage black people.

It watched the videos. They were deplorable. Sadly, she was acting like many white sorority girls do at Alabama, Ole Miss, Georgia, Florida and other schools in the Deep South. She just was stupid enough to put her rants on social media, thinking she would not get caught. How naive. Once you put something on the Internet, it’st there to stay, no matter how many times you “scrub” it and think you’ve taken care of the cancer.

Here’s a bigger question: how does a young lady from Marlton, New Jersey end up at a university 947 miles from home without a good reason (read: athletic scholarship)?

Certainly there are plenty of good colleges in the Garden State. If she can’t get into Princeton (face it, most people can’t), there’s Rutgers, a pretty good university, the football and men’s basketball teams notwithstanding. Marlton isn’t too far from Philadelphia, which has Villanova, LaSalle, Drexel, Temple and St. Joseph’s (I’m not including Penn, because like Princeton, it’s an Ivy League school, and most of us, myself included, can’t sniff the Ivy League).

I can only think of one reason Ms. Barber wanted to attend school in Tuscaloosa.

Here’s a hint: they play on fall Saturdays in Bryant-Denny Stadium and other venues around the Southeastern Conference. They also are a permanent fixture in the College Football Playoff.

Alabama now has more students from outside the Yellowhammer State than from the 67 counties of the state (I’m guessing very few of those are from Lee County, where Auburn is located). Why? Alabama has the nation’s most dominant college football program.

Robert Witt, the University of Alabama president who hired Nick Saban in 2007, said Saban was a “bargain” and the “best thing I’ve ever done as a university administrator”.

I can’t disagree with Dr. Witt, because Alabama’s enrollment has zoomed past many of its SEC brethren, LSU included. It is now is the second most selective university in the SEC, trailing only Vanderbilt. Many who live in Tuscaloosa and the western part of the state might do better trying to attend Mississippi State or Southern Miss than the “Capstone”. At least there’s Auburn for those elsewhere in the state, along with South Alabama, Jacksonville State, UAB and two historically black colleges, Alabama A&M and Alabama State.

I had dreams of leaving Louisiana when I was growing up. I was seriously thinking about attending Kansas State, which is only a few more miles from New Orleans than Ms. Barber’s hometown is from Tuscaloosa.

However, Herb Vincent, then LSU’s sports information director who is now an associate commissioner with the SEC, convinced me LSU was the right place for a young lad who grew up in New Orleans. Ironically, Herb grew up in Little Rock and was a Razorback fan until he went to LSU and changed his allegiance.

I’m glad I stayed close to home. Lord knows I wasn’t ready to be 1,000 miles away from home in a foreign land, even if my grandfather was an hour and 40 minutes down the road.

If Ms. Barber went to Alabama because she loved the Crimson Tide’s football team, then she was in Tuscaloosa for the wrong reason. She probably could have found what she was looking for at Rutgers and saved her family a lot of money. Heck, if she wanted a school with a powerhouse football team, Penn State is only four hours to the west.

It would have been the same for me had I attended K-State. It wasn’t for Bill Snyder’s football team in my case, but it was to escape Louisiana and stick it to those who bullied me through high school. Those would have been terrible reasons to leave my home state. I certainly found what I was looking for at LSU, and Herb’s connections helped me in so many ways.

I’ve come to accept Alabama is going to be college football’s King Kong until Saban retires, and who’s to say the Tide won’t continue to motor along after he departs? However, I would not want to be the immediate successor to Saban, because the comparisons will be brutal.

Ray Perkins can attest. He went 32-15-1 in four seasons after Bear Bryant retired and died in short order, but it wasn’t good enough for the Alabama boosters, and Perkins bolted for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, by far the worst NFL franchise at the time, in 1987.

Ms. Barber has apologized for her actions. Hopefully she can get her life back together. New Brunswick, home of Rutgers’ main campus, is a pretty good place to pick up her education when she decides it’s time. Just keep your thoughts to yourself, ma’am.

Musings from your favorite hypocrite

I said I would post every day in 2018, and here I go three days without anything. What a hypocrite I am.

I am still in shock about the Saints. How can that happen? All Marcus Williams had to do was let Stefon Diggs catch the pass, wrap him up, then wait for help. As  long as Diggs did not get out of bounds, the clock would have expired before the Vikings could have snapped the ball for a field goal. This is not college or high school, where the clock stops to move the chains.

Bill Franques told me this was the most unbelievable loss he’s seen in all of his years of following the Saints, which is all but the team’s first two seasons. I thought about it, and he may be right.

Face it–in the first 16 seasons of the Saints’ existence (1967-1982), there really weren’t that many games which were important enough to be that heartbreaking. Losing to the Buccaneers after they lost 26 straight in 1977 was utterly embarrassing, but in the grand scheme of the NFL, who cares? Tampa Bay was going to win sooner or later, and one team would have to be the first victim. It just happened the Bucs took so long to win a game.

The only games from 1967-1982 which I could see qualifying as heartbreaking were three to Atlanta in 1978 and ’79, and losing to Oakland on Monday Night Football in 1979 after holding a 35-14 lead in the third quarter.

The 1983 season had two such games, both of which kept the Saints out of the playoffs at a time they had yet to even have a winning season. The first was against the Jets the Monday before Thanksgiving, when New Orleans squandered a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost on a 76-yard punt return by Kirk Springs with four minutes to go. The second was the season finale vs. the Rams, where Los Angeles did not score an offensive touchdown, but used two pick-sixes and a punt return TD to win 26-24, with Mike Lansford nailing the game-winning field goal in the final seconds.

Losing at Chicago in the 2006 NFC championship? The Saints weren’t expected to be there after going 3-13 during the Katrina season. It was a fine accomplishment.

I’ll put the loss at U.S. Bank Stadium up there with the egg the Saints laid in their first playoff game–also vs. the Vikings–in 1987, and the loss at Seattle to the 7-9 Seahawks in 2010 following the Super Bowl XLIV victory.

I finished watching Last Chance U over the weekend. I am re-watching episodes now, and it continues to reinforce my view that (a) East Mississippi’s coach, Buddy Stephens, is a complete douchebag, and (b) most of the players couldn’t give a crap about going to class.

In the episode I just watched again, Stephens physically assaults the alternate official along the EMCC sideline. The official punches back, which is a no-no, but Stephens instigated it.

No coach, no matter how angry he or she is with the officiating, has the right to physically assault the men and women making the calls. Why the hell do you think it is so hard to find officials these days?

Also in the episode, EMCC’s radio announcers were blasting the officials for throwing two EMCC players out of the game vs. Itawamba for throwing punches. It’s OKAY to throw a punch? This isn’t boxing.

The three FBS coaches in Mississippi–Matt Luke (Ole Miss), Joe Moorehead (Mississippi State) and Todd Monken (Southern Miss)–need to ban EMCC players on their rosters until Stephens cleans up his act and the kids show effort in going to class and making their grades. A message needs to be sent that winning at all costs is not acceptable. If other schools from outside Mississippi want to take these players in, fine. But the coaches in Mississippi need to show some backbone.

It’s getting late, and I didn’t get enough sleep last night. Time to sign off.

Saban vs. Osborne vs. Snyder: NO CONTEST!

For those who have been buried under a rock today, Alabama is the champion of major college football AGAIN.

The Crimson Tide won its fifth title in nine seasons last night, rallying from a 13-point deficit to defeat Southeastern Conference rival Georgia 26-23 in overtime.

Nick Saban has coached at Alabama 11 seasons, which happens to be the exact same length as his combined tenures at Toledo (one season), Michigan State (five) and LSU (five). He has won 127 games at Alabama and 218 overall as a head coach. Saban has now coached six national championship teams, tying him with Bear Bryant for most by any coach. The first was at LSU in 2003.

The 66-year old Saban has an excellent chance to winning more games in 25 seasons as a head coach than Tom Osborne did at Nebraska from 1973-97. Saban needs 33 to surpass “Dr. Tom”, and barring something calamitous, Saban will make it with room to spare. Saban will get to 300 barring something unforeseen, and I would bet on him passing Bryant’s mark of 323, which was the major college record until broken by the disgraced Joe Paterno and later Bobby Bowden.

I am well aware Osborne is revered in the Heartland, but I cannot accept he belongs on college football coaching’s Mount Rushmore ahead of the man in charge in Tuscaloosa.

Sorry,  Husker nation, but Saban runs circles around Osborne in most every way you cut it.

Alabama rarely gets to play weaklings in the SEC like Nebraska did in the Big Eight, and Saban will usually challenge the Tide with a very difficult non-conference game at a neutral site, whereas Osborne loaded up on lesser teams, especially later in his career. Nebraska could pencil in Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State as sure-fire victories nearly every year before the first day of practice. Osborne never lost to KU or K-State, and very rarely bowed to the Cyclones. Missouri was terrible during most of Osborne’s last 14 years in Lincoln. Colorado had a very dark period in the late ’70s and early ’80s before Bill McCartney arrived. Oklahoma State sank to the bottom after it was hit hard by NCAA probation after the departure of Barry Sanders in 1989. Even Oklahoma fell off its perch following Barry Switzer’s resignation.

The SEC is not 14 powerhouses, but the Crimson Tide has to play three of the stronger programs in the conference every year: Auburn, LSU and Texas A&M. And the Tide will have to play a hard game to win the SEC championship, save for 2011 and ’17, when they won the national title without playing in the SEC championship game.

Saban has learned to do more with less. Coaches cannot work with student-athletes more than 20 hours a week during the season, a restriction which wasn’t in place until Osborne’s last years in Lincoln. Osborne was notorious for three-hour, full pads practices during the season and during bowl preparation, and I have to believe that was a big reason the Cornhuskers often bombed in bowl games. Saban knows when to back off and save his players’ bodies. His practices are fast-paced, but much shorter, and there is nowhere near the hitting Osborne had.

Saban has to deal with strict scholarship limits. When Osborne succeeded Bob Devaney, the NCAA was in its second year of scholarship limits, but it was 105. It was reduced to 95 in the 1980s and 85 in the ’90s. Saban has always had to deal with the 85 limit, except his one year at Toledo in 1990.

Osborne could get any player he wanted in Nebraska, even though Nebraska’s population is so small he had to go out of state. Not only that, but there are no major programs in North and South Dakota, and the two Kansas schools were usually so pitiful that the top players there wanted to escape, either to Lincoln or Norman.

Saban on the other hand has to deal with Auburn within the Yellowhammer State. Whenever he goes recruiting in the south, he’s battling Florida, Georgia, LSU, Texas A&M, Florida State, Miami and others for the big names.

Osborne rarely had turnover on his coaching staff. Saban, meanwhile, has constant turnover, mostly because his assistant coaches are in high demand. Last night, he beat Kirby Smart, who was the Crimson Tide’s defensive coordinator for nine seasons before returning to Georgia, his alma mater. Jeremy Pruitt, Smart’s successor at Alabama, will be coaching Tennessee next season. Jimbo Fisher, Saban’s offensive coordinator at LSU, moved from Florida State to Texas A&M. Will Muschamp, who coached with Saban at LSU and the Miami Dolphins, is at South Carolina after four seasons at Florida. Jim McElwain, the offensive coordinator on Saban’s first two national championship teams at Alabama, coached the Gators for nearly three seasons before being canned last October.

Osborne never wanted to change his offense or defense, until he finally realized the old 5-2 defense he ran was no match for the speed of Florida State and Miami in bowl games. It wasn’t until the Huskers went to the 4-3 that Osborne won a national championship.

Saban, meanwhile, adapts nicely to his personnel. He ran the 4-3 at Michigan State and LSU, but is running mostly a 3-4 at Alabama, although the Tide presents multiple looks which give offensive coordinators nightmares. Offensively, Saban would prefer to play smashmouth, but if he has a gifted quarterback, he won’t be afraid to open it up, like he did with Rohan Davey at LSU and A.J. McCarron at Alabama.

Osborne is one of two college football coaches who is revered like the Almighty Himself in this part of the United States.

Time to compare Saban to the other one.

Bill Snyder, who has coached at Kansas State since 1989, save for a three-year retirement between 2006-08, is already in the Hall of Fame, since there is a rule an active coach can be inducted once he turns 75. Saban will most certainly be inducted five years after he retires or turns 75, whichever comes first.

Nobody will deny Snyder has performed near-miracles at K-State, given how putrid the Wildcats were prior to his arrival. K-State was the only major college program to lose 500 games when Snyder arrived. Since then, Wake Forest has assumed the mantle of the lowest winning percentage among Power Five schools (surprising given how bad Kansas has often been), but the worry is

However, I cannot, will not, must not rate Snyder ahead of Saban. No way.

Saban and Snyder are diametrically opposed as far as scheduling philosophies.

Saban would rather the Tide play all Power Five non-conference opponents, but realizes he does not call the shots in scheduling, and thus has to take on teams from outside the Power Five in order for Alabama to keep its athletic department in the black. Saban is not afraid to take on the big games away from Tuscaloosa, such as facing Florida State in 2017 at Atlanta, or USC in 2016 at Arlington.

Snyder, on the other hand, loves cupcakes so much he could get sponsorship deals from Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines. His scheduling formula is a source of constant ridicule outside of Kansas, as it should be. He attempted to buy his way out of a home game with Auburn after the Wildcats played at Jordan-Hare under Ron Prince, but Jay Jacobs made the buyout financially prohibitive. Snyder tried the same with Miami and couldn’t get out of it. Yes, K-State is starting to schedule SEC schools, but it’s Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Missouri. I’m not saying it has to be Alabama and Georgia, but LSU and Texas A&M would be a major upgrade.

Saban recruits mostly high school players, young men he can mold and shape over four or five years. Snyder wants the “mature” player, and that’s why K-State almost always signs more junior college players than any other Power Five program. It may be a quick fix, but Saban’s methods have been far more effective.

Outside of recruiting, Snyder’s are so unorthodox that they would never work in Tuscaloosa. Saban is not known as a media-friendly coach in the mold of Mack Brown, Pete Carroll or Steve Spurrier, but Snyder is far worse with the press than Saban. Snyder was the first college football coach to completely shut the media out of practice, tightly limit access to players (there is only a very small window each week to contact players at K-State), and not allow the media to talk to assistant coaches at all. Saban has done that, too, but Snyder was the first and took it to an extreme in a time when there was more open access.

Saban and Snyder are very similar in that they put in very long hours at the office. That’s one regard where Spurrier had it right: work smart, not long.

K-State is dreading the day Snyder retires or dies. It knows it will be an also-ran in the Big 12 once that happens.

Would Snyder have won big at Iowa had he been Hayden Fry’s successor instead of leaving for Manhattan? I doubt it. You can’t argue with the results at K-State, but Snyder’s program is not for everyone.

Saban, meanwhile, won big at two SEC schools, and if he had stayed longer at Michigan State and not been hamstrung with severe penalties early in his tenure at East Lansing, the Spartans would have been elite under his watch. Toledo went 9-2 in Saban’s only season there, so that’s another notch in his belt.

Osborne and Snyder did it at one place. It’s impressive yes, but for Saban to do it wherever he’s been makes him one of the greats.

UCF still claims its title

The University of Central Florida is doing its best to erase any bit of sympathy it might deserve (in my opinion, it deserves NONE) from going 13-0 and not being selected for the College Football Playoff.

After coach Scott Frost, who is taking over his alma mater, Nebraska, and athletic director Danny White (yes, the same Danny White who played for the Cowboys) claimed the CFP consciously and deliberately kept the Knights out of the top four to keep the power schools in the playoff (read: Alabama), now UCF says it will fly a national championship flag over Spectrum Stadium.

ENOUGH.

UCF has nobody to blame but itself for not putting together a strong enough non-conference schedule in order to gain more respect from the CFP committee and those who vote in the Associated Press and coaches polls.

The Knights have FOUR non-conference dates to play with, unlike the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12, which have nine conference games and only three conference games. If UCF wanted to gain respect, it would only schedule Power 5 conference opponents (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC), and would make every effort to play at least one of those Power 5 schools in the Sunshine State (Florida, Florida State or Miami).

If UCF has to play three or all four of its non-conference opponents away from Orlando, that’s the breaks. Why would Alabama, for instance, give up a home game in its 102,000-seat stadium in Tuscaloosa to play in UCF’s 45,000-seat stadium? Even if UCF moved the game to Camping World Stadium, where the Citrus and Camping World bowls are played, it would still fall 30,000 seats short of what Bryant-Denny holds. Why in the world would the Crimson Tide want to give up millions in ticket revenue, not to mention what would be taken out of the economy of Tuscaloosa, just in the name of fairness?

If it were up to Nick Saban, the Group of Five schools would not have the chance to play the Alabamas of the world. Saban would rather the Power Five schools play only other Power Five schools, and I see his point. Saban cannot schedule this way at Alabama because the athletic department claims it needs seven home games to pay the bills. The Tide could still schedule someone lesser, say Kansas or Oregon State, instead of Mercer, Charleston Southern, Chattanooga or Florida A&M, and not to have to return the trip.

When Bobby Bowden was hired at Florida State in 1976, the Seminoles were not anywhere near the power they were in the 1990s and recently under Jimbo Fisher. To get the Seminoles publicity, he took on any all comers, and played most of them away from Tallahassee.

For instance, the Seminoles played LSU five consecutive seasons from 1979-83. All five games were in Baton Rouge, where Tiger Stadium seated 30,000 more than Doak Campbell in Tallahassee. Florida State won four of the five, losing only in 1982. Florida State also made trips to Ohio State and Nebraska without the Buckeyes and Cornhuskers coming to the Florida panhandle.

The only major teams which played in Tallahassee consistently were Florida and Miami, simply because there were long-standing deals in place for home-and-home series.

When the Seminoles began to win and win big, Doak Campbell was expanded to the point where it was financially feasible for the powerhouses Florida State always played on the road to come to Tallahassee, and those teams did make their way south.

Could UCF play its way into a Power Five conference? If Virginia Tech ever defects to the SEC, then UCF might be a candidate to move into the ACC. But if the Knights want that respect, it has to be earned.

The title game is Monday night in Atlanta between Alabama and Georgia. Sorry, UCF. You are undefeated but not a champion.

SEC vs. SEC, take two

The worst nightmare of many college football fans has come true.

Not to mention a nightmare for the Nielsen folks.

Next Monday’s College Football Playoff championship game is an all-Southeastern Conference matchup between Alabama and Georgia.

The howls were long and loud after Alabama received the #4 spot in the CFP semifinals, ahead of Big Ten champion Ohio State, even though the Crimson Tide not only did not win the SEC championship, they did not even play for the championship.

Auburn defeated Alabama 26-14 in the regular season finale to give the Tigers the SEC West division championship and the spot opposite East division champion Georgia in the SEC championship game. The Bulldogs avenged a 40-17 loss to the Tigers with a 28-7 victory in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, moving Georgia up to No.3  in the final CFP rankings.

Yesterday, Georgia defeated Oklahoma 54-48 in two overtimes in the Rose Bowl, then Alabama suffocated defending national champion Clemson 24-6 in the Sugar Bowl to set up the second all-SEC championship game in seven seasons.

The last time this happened, Alabama happened to be in the same position it was this time.

In 2011, the Crimson Tide’s only loss in the regular season came to LSU, 9-6 in overtime at Tuscaloosa. That allowed the Bayou Bengals to win the West division, and they went on to stomp Georgia 42-10 in the SEC title game.

Even though the Tide didn’t even win their division, they still made the championship game of what was then the Bowl Championship Series by the slimmest of margins over Big 12 champion Oklahoma State. The Cowboys’ lone loss was a 44-41 overtime setback at Iowa State two weeks after Alabama lost to LSU.

While I cannot stand Nick Saban and Alabama, I can see much more justification for the Tide getting into this year’s CFP than I could in 2011 when Alabama was selected to play for the BCS championship.

First, there was precedent for Alabama this season.

Last year, Ohio State lost to Penn State, its only loss of the regular season, keeping the Buckeyes out of the Big Ten championship game, since the Nittany Lions won the East division on the head-to-head tiebreaker. Penn State won the Big Ten championship over Wisconsin, but had to settle for #5 in the final CFP poll and a berth in the Rose Bowl.

Ohio State, meanwhile, finished #3–ahead of Pac-12 champion Washington–and got to play Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl. The Tigers mauled the Buckeyes 31-0, then bested Alabama 35-31 in the title game.

Second, even with the loss to Iowa State, Oklahoma State had just as strong a case as Alabama to go to the title game.

The Cowboys defeated three other teams which ended up winning 10 games–Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma. Oklahoma State played a nine-game conference schedule, while Alabama played only eight. The Tide’s non-conference schedule for the most part was laughable–Kent State, North Texas and Georgia Southern. Yes, Alabama played Penn State in State College, but that was not a great Nittany Lions team, and the weight of the Jerry Sandusky scandal was about to come down and smash Penn State for the foreseeable future.

In 2011, LSU got screwed. Its reward for going 13-0 against what was determined to be the nation’s toughest schedule by the NCAA? A rematch with a team it beat on that team’s home field. Alabama won 21-0.

This time, Georgia and Alabama did not play in the regular season, which is not right. Alabama should be in the East division with Auburn, while Missouri and Vanderbilt should be in the West, but that’s another argument for another day.

Today, thousands upon thousands of people have taken to every social media platform available to decry the situation. Most of the comments read:

“The CFP committee is biased towards the SEC”

“ESPN wanted this matchup because it owns the SEC Network”

“Alabama always gets what it wants”

“Everyone kisses Nick Saban’s ass”

“Alabama doesn’t deserve to go ahead of Ohio State, which won the Big Ten”

“Central Florida (UCF) is the national champion because it is undefeated”

The last one makes me laugh. UCF played a pathetic schedule. It plays in a pathetic conference, the American Athletic Conference. Why should it get special consideration? If UCF wants that respect, it needs to play all of its non-conference games on the road against Power 5 conference schools. Then they can talk smack.

The television ratings for the Alabama-LSU game in January 2012 were the lowest for a championship game since the BCS’ first championship game in January 1999. I’m guessing 98% of television sets in Alabama and Georgia will be tuned in to the game this Monday, but the numbers will decrease rapidly the father away you get from Alabama and Georgia. Do you think someone in San Francisco is going to rush home from work to watch the game, which kicks off at 5:15 Pacific? Highly unlikely.

Many hotels in Atlanta are probably unhappy the Bulldogs are playing for the title. It’s only 72 miles from Georgia’s campus in Athens to Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Hotels in Atlanta are expensive to begin with, and I’m sure the rates are through the roof leading up to the game. Alabama fans probably won’t stay long in Atlanta, either, considering it’s a little over three hours from Tuscaloosa to downtown Atlanta.

Ticket brokers? That’s another story. A report today said someone paid over $104,000 for ten tickets to the game. That’s two new Impalas plus plenty left over.

It is what it is. At least we will not hear about it anymore by this time next week.

Wake up, Foots!

My God, I have gone way, way, WAY too long without posting. I am sorry. I am also very lazy.

There were some problems just before Thanksgiving, problems I do not wish to divulge, problems I do not wish to bore you, the good reader, with.

As for Thanksgiving itself, I didn’t eat upstairs with my parents, my paternal grandfather and his female companion. I did eat some turkey and fried cauliflower later, but no dressing, no mac and cheese, no sweet potatoes, and certainly no cranberry, which I have never eaten. Turkey sandwiches were just fine with me, thank you.

Kansas held its EIGHT high school football state championship games at SEVEN sites. Utterly ridiculous. I have ranted and raved about this for over a decade.

By comparison, Louisiana’s high school championships begin today. All nine games (too many) will be played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

I’ll talk about that in another post.

It’s very cold this morning in Kansas City. THANK GOD. Last weekend, it was close to 70 degrees. Unacceptable in this part of the country in December. I hated it when it was 70 degrees in Louisiana in winter. I REALLY hate it in Kansas and Missouri.

The Chiefs suspended cornerback Marcus Peters for this Sunday’s game with the Raiders at Arrowhead.

Last week, Peters threw a penalty flag into the stands at MetLife Stadium last Sunday during Kansas City’s loss to the Jets. Thinking he was ejected, he went back to the locker room, only to return without his socks.

Andy Reid, who would rather go through a root canal without anesthesia than punish a player, finally got tough with Peters, a known malcontent.

My question: what took until Wednesday, Andy? It should have been done before the Chiefs’ plane departed Newark Liberty International Airport after the game. Bill Belichick would not put up with this shit. After Rob Gronkowski speared Bills safety Tre’Davius White following an interception Sunday, Gronk was done for the day. The NFL suspended him for one game, and I’m certain had it not, Belichick would have punished Gronk in his own way.

The college coaching carousel is in full spin mode.

Arkansas, which waited eight seconds after losing its season finale to Missouri on Black Friday to fire Bret Bielema, hired SMU coach Chad Morris. Morris is 14-22 with the Mustangs, but let’s face it, SMU has been a wasteland since the NCAA gave the program the death penalty in 1987, shutting down the Mustang football team for the ’87 and ’88 seasons. SMU has done next to nothing since, and for Morris to win 14 games in three years has to be considered a success. The Razorbacks are definitely betting on the come, given Morris tutored DeShaun Watson at Clemson for two seasons before leaving for the richy-rich school in the University Park section of Dallas.

Jimbo Fisher traded Tallahassee for College Station. I don’t know of many coaches who would want to challenge Nick Saban every year, but Fisher has the ego. Texas A&M made it easy, giving Fisher a FULLY GUARANTEED 10-year, $75 million contract.

To replace Fisher, Florida State hired Willie Taggart, who went 7-5 in his first season at Oregon. Previously, Taggart coached at Western Kentucky and South Alabama. Florida State is in danger of becoming a distant third in its own state behind Miami and Florida, but the Seminoles also may become an afterthought in the ACC Atlantic, where Dabo Swinney has built a superpower at Clemson.

And it looks like Tennessee will have a coach today or tomorrow. It’s likely going to be Jeremy Pruitt, currently defensive coordinator at Alabama. Then again, being defensive coordinator at Alabama doesn’t carry much cachet, since everyone knows it’s Nick Saban’s defense.

The last time I posted, Butch Jones was still Tennessee’s football coach. He would not be three days later, fired after the Volunteers lost 50-17 at Missouri. It got no better for Tennessee under interim coach Brady Hoke, who lost to LSU and Vanderbilt, both in Knoxville.

The day after the loss to the Commodores, the Volunteers appeared to have found their man in former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano, now the defensive coordinator at Ohio State under Urban Meyer.

My first thought? BAD HIRE. Schiano is an uptight prick. He alienated people across the NFL in his second game with the Bucs when he ordered his defense to attack Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who was kneeling down to run out the clock, which is standard operating procedure in football since the Miracle of the Meadowlands, the 1978 play which saw the Giants’ Joe Pisarcik botch an attempted handoff to Larry Csonka and fumble. Philadelphia Eagles safety Herm Edwards scooped up the fumble and scored in the game’s dying seconds, lifting his team to a 19-17 victory, and eventually, the Eagles’ first playoff berth since winning the 1960 NFL championship.

Schiano was even worse in his second year with the Bucs, covering up several cases of MRSA, a deadly infection which is resistant to antibiotics. Thousands of people have died from the infection. Kicker Lawrence Tynes contracted the infection, but instead of placing him on injured reserve, the Bucs screwed him royally by placing him on the non-football injury list, which meant he would not be paid, he would not have access to the Bucs’ doctors, he would lose his health insurance, and lose a year of service time for pension benefits.

What a piece of crap. What did Tennessee see in this guy?

People who defended Schiano said he won at Rutgers, which is usually pitiful. But I say he was ONE GAME over .500 (68-67) with the Scarlet Knights, and Rutgers did not win consistently until Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech all left the Big East for the ACC.

Well, Volunteer fans let their displeasure know via social media. But it wasn’t over what happened with the Bucs, or his mediocre record at Rutgers. Rather, it was the fact he had allegedly covered up sexual abuse by Jerry Sandusky. Schiano had been an assistant at Penn State under Joe Paterno before leaving for Piscataway. I don’t know the full details, but the reaction in Knoxville was swift and overwhelmingly negative. Even state legislatures and U.S. Representatives took to Twitter to denounce Schiano.

Six hours after it first broke Schiano was heading to Knoxville, the offer was rescinded.

Athletic director John Currie went on the hunt for a new coach. Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy? Nope. Duke’s David Cutcliffe, who was offensive coordinator at Tennessee when Peyton Manning played there? No thanks. North Carolina State’s Dave Doeren? Nope.

Currie thought he had his man on the last day of November, flying to Los Angeles to meet with Washington State coach Mike Leach. Leach, who previously coached at Texas Tech, is as goofy as they come. Would he have fit in the SEC, which is as buttoned up as it comes in college football: I don’t know.

However, the next day, Currie was asked to return to Knoxville by Tennessee chancellor Beverly Davenport. The reason: Currie was given his pink slip. Fired after less than nine months in charge.

Philip Fulmer, who coached Tennessee to the 1998 national championship, was named as Currie’s successor. After rumors first leaked that Fulmer reached out to former LSU and Oklahoma State coach Les Miles about the position, Pruitt emerged as the front-runner, ahead of fellow SEC defensive coordinators Kevin Steele (Auburn) and Mel Tucker (Georgia).

That seems to be the new trend in the SEC: hire somebody who coached under Saban. Pruitt will become the third coach in the SEC East who was once a Saban assistant, joining Kirby Smart at Georgia and Will Muschamp at South Carolina. Muschamp was a teammate of Smart’s at Georgia and also coached Florida for four seasons before ending up in Gainesville.

Of course, Saban assistants aren’t always successful. Jim McElwain, the Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator on their national championship teams of 2009 and ’11, bombed in three seasons at Florida. He was replaced by Dan Mullen, the winningest football coach in Mississippi State history. The Bulldogs were ranked #1 for several weeks in 2014, thanks to the exploits of Dak Prescott, now the Dallas Cowboys’ starting QB.

I’ve got to do better at posting. Much better. I will reflect on this in the time between posts, which hopefully will be very short.