Category Archives: College Football
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
LSU and Alabama play football tonight in Tuscaloosa.
It’s being called a rivalry. It’s being over hyped as it is each and every stinking year.
That is the wrong approach, especially for LSU.
Alabama would not make a big deal out of it if (a) Nick Saban hadn’t previously coached LSU and (b) LSU has generally been the last team the Crimson Tide has needed to beat to assure themselves of a spot in the SEC championship game.
Believe me, Alabama fans care much more about beating Auburn. Bear Bryant famously said he’d rather beat the “Cow College” (owing to Auburn’s status as Alabama’s primary agricultural university) once than Notre Dame ten times. Just substitute LSU, Mississippi State, Texas A&M or just about anyone else for Notre Dame and it’s still accurate.
LSU fans need to stop slitting their throats over the Alabama game.
I admit I did it last year. I went nuts on Twitter and Facebook when LSU lost 10-0 to the Tide in Baton Rouge.
I was wrong to have done so.
I’m not going to do anything this year.
Look, it’s going to take Jupiter aligning with Mars (sorry, Fifth Dimension) for LSU to win. The Bayou Bengals need Bert Jones to step into a time machine and go back to his senior season of 1972 to have a chance to score against Alabama’s defense. Since that’s not possible, I don’t see my alma mater scoring much, if at all.
LSU fans like to consider Alabama its biggest rival.
It’s only a rivalry if both teams hate each other equally. Not the case for Alabama, which will hate Auburn much more until the end of time. And for many Tide fans, Tennessee is a bigger rival than LSU.
LSU-Ole Miss? The last time both teams were in serious national championship contention at the same time was 1959, the year Billy Cannon returned a Rebel punt 89 yards for a touchdown with 10 minutes left, then helped stop Ole Miss quarterback Doug Elmore at the LSU 1 in the waning moments to preserve a 7-3 win.
Ole Miss’ rivalry with Mississippi State (the Egg Bowl) has far more significance for the Rebels than it once did, largely because the Bulldogs are now the alpha team in the Magnolia State. Without much talent in the state to go around, Ole Miss and State have to battle tooth and nail for every prospect, and that’s not even mentioning Alabama, which is only 95 miles from Starkville, plus LSU and Arkansas, whose states border Mississippi.
Arkansas? The Razorbacks baited the line. LSU refused to bite.
Florida? Never. The Gators already have Florida State and Georgia. And I’m certain there is plenty of hatred in Gainesville for Miami, even if the teams haven’t played much in the last 30 years.
LSU, your rival is Texas A&M. Sure, Aggie fans hate the Longhorns more than they could ever hate the Bayou Bengals,
I don’t know how much I’m watching tonight. I’ve braced myself for the worst. I hope I’m wrong. If I’m right, the world will still be spinning on its axis tomorrow morning.
Sorry for going Howard Hughes yet again. I’ve got to stop that. It’s a terrible habit.
Tomorrow is the latest renewal of one of major college football’s least important rivalries.
That’s right, it’s Kansas State vs. Kansas, live from Lawrence.
This is the 30th anniversary of the Toilet Bowl, when 0-8 K-State and 1-7 KU played to a 17-17 tie in Manhattan. The game was part of an 0-29-1 stretch for the Wildcats which dated back to their 1986 win vs. the Jayhawks, which resulted in rioting in Manhattan’s Aggieville entertainment/alcoholism district for the second time in three years.
As long as the Wildcats play a halfway decent game, they should win by at least 25 points. The Jayhawks haven’t scored in three weeks, and last week, they gained 21 yards against TCU, and all of those came when the Horned Frogs were deep into their third and fourth string. The 21 yards is an all-time low by a Big 12 team since the conference formed in 1996. For a conference known for high-powered offense, that’s beyond pitiful. KU should just have asked Shawnee Mission East, the best high school team in Kansas, to take its place in Fort Worth. I’m sure the Lancers would have done better than 21 yards.
Then again, K-State hasn’t won in a long time, either. The Wildcats have lost their last three and are 3-4. If they lose to KU, then (a) they aren’t going to a bowl game and (b) 78-year old Bill Snyder should retire. Not at the end of the season, but before the bus leaves to return to Manhattan. Problem is, Snyder has NO LIFE outside football and he probably would go insane without the game. Why else did he come back in 2009 after sitting out for three years?
I can see Snyder going the way of Jim Pittman, the TCU coach who dropped dead one Saturday afternoon in 1971 on the sideline in Waco after suffering a massive heart attack. Pittman led Tulane to the 1970 Liberty Bowl and a No. 17 ranking in the final Associated Press poll, although he never beat LSU, no sin considering the Bayou Bengals were a powerhouse under Charles McClendon. Of course, Pittman was handicapped by the myopic decision Tulane made to leave the Southeastern Conference prior to Pittman’s first season with the Green Wave.
FYI–TCU defeated Baylor 34-27 despite the shocking death of their coach.
College football media loves to harp on Nick Saban for being a robot who does nothing but football. But I can’t see Saban coaching into his late 70s. He has stated consistently he wants to spend quality time with Terry, his children and grandchildren without the pressure of football. Snyder has never said that. In fact, Bill wants his eldest child, Sean, to be his successor, something a lot of people in Manhattan don’t like, because Sean has never been a coordinator, let alone a head coach.
Snyder has owned the Jayhawks since coming to K-State in 1989. After losing to KU in 1989 and 1990, Snyder is 21-2 vs. the team from Lawrence, and has won all eight meetings since returning to the sideline in 2009. The Jayhawks have won only four times since 1991: 1992, when KU went 7-5 and won the Aloha Bowl under Glen Mason; 2004, when Snyder’s former assistant, Mark Mangino, led the Jayhawks to a 31-28 overtime decision in Lawrence; and 2007 and 2008, when K-State was being led into the abyss by Ron Prince, who may be the worst coach to patrol the Wildcat sideline, at least since 1967, when Vince Gibson was hired.
Gibson, Ellis Rainsberger, Jim Dickey and Stan Parrish, the four coaches prior to Snyder at K-State, would have done far better than 17-20 in three seasons had they had Prince’s talent. Conversely, Prince would have lost every game by at least 20 points had he had the talent level Dickey and Parrish were forced to work with.
The only good thing I can say about Prince is at least he tried to upgrade K-State’s usually pathetic non-conference schedule, playing a home-and-home with Louisville and going to Auburn. Snyder tried to buy his way out of the return trip by Auburn to Manhattan when he was re-hired, but Auburn jacked up the buyout so high K-State couldn’t afford it. Remember, Snyder is the same man who bought his way out of a game with TULANE when he was hired in 1989. The Wildcats played at Vanderbilt this year, will host the Commodores in the near future, and also play Mississippi State home-and-home. It’s an improvement.
Kansas’ program is about as bad as K-State was when Snyder was hired. Snyder has bitched about that comparison, saying he took over much worse in Manhattan. He claimed KU had periods of success, while the Wildcats had none, prior to his arrival. Yes, the Jayhawks won the Big Eight in 1968 with John Riggins and Bobby Douglass, but after that, KU did next to nothing until the fluke of 2007, when fat fuck Mangino got a break with a horrible schedule.
Right now, Kansas is easily the worst team in a power five conference (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC). It’s not close, although Illinois is trying its best to get there, and Oregon State seems hellbent on reclaiming that status, a status it took from K-State when Snyder started winning and somehow relinquished in the Dennis Erickson/Mike Riley years.
David Beaty is a good man, but he is in over his head trying to lead the Jayhawks. He’s like Sisyphus. No matter how hard he tries to roll the boulder up the (Campanille) Hill, it inevitably is going to come back at him faster. Give Beaty credit for taking a job probably very few others wanted, but he’s going to end up like Charlie Weis, Turner Gill, Terry Allen and Bob Valesente–all of whom were fired with miserable records.
Mike Gottfried was on his way to a similar fate, but he got a lifeline when he was hired by Pitt in 1986.
Don Fambrough had TWO bites of the apple, and while he had a modicum of success with David Jaynes in 1973, he flamed out and was fired in ’74. He came back in ’79, but had one decent year (1981) before relapsing in ’82, when he was fired again, this time for good.
Bud Moore had one big moment with Nolan Cromwell when KU ended Oklahoma’s 37-game unbeaten streak (28-game winning streak; there was a tie vs. USC early in 1973) in 1975 (at Norman, no less), but no way he was going to consistently get the better of the Sooners, Nebraska or even Missouri and Oklahoma State. By 1978, the Jayhawks were 1-10, and Moore was done, too.
Pepper Rodgers, the coach of the Riggins-Douglass team of ’68, saw KU go 1-9 without Douglass in ’69, then bailed for UCLA two years later.
Glen Mason led the Jayhawks to 10-2 in ’95 (with losses of 41-7 to K-State and 41-3 to Nebraska). He originally took the Georgia job after the ’95 season, but changed his mind, stayed one more year in Lawrence, then finally left for Minnesota.
Mark Mangino? Well fat fuck fucked himself good.
I don’t care who wins. I am not a fan of Snyder’s, given his penchant for scheduling cupcakes and loading up on JUCO players seeking a quick fix. I have hated KU since they employed Mangino, whose manners are one step below feral pigs.
Since there can be no tie, I hope KU wins a sloppy game. I don’t want to see K-State anywhere near a bowl. Of course, a KU wins means both goalposts at Memorial Stadium are coming down. That would be FIVE STRAIGHT YEARS at least one goalpost has gone down.
That’s right, even though KU went 0-12 in 2015, the goalpost at the south end of the stadium still was torn down that year. It occurred a few hours after the Royals won Game 5 of the World Series in New York, giving Kansas City its first championship since 1985. The same did not occur at Mizzou, simply because there are more Cardinal fans than Royal fans on that campus (Columbia is halfway between Kansas City and St. Louis).
Then again, K-State fans have torn down the goalposts in Lawrence before, so the goalposts may not be safe even if the Jayhawks lose.
If you don’t live in Kansas and watch tomorrow, shame on you. There’s a hell of a lot better things you can be doing with a Saturday afternoon. I live in Kansas and I know I won’t be watching. Then again, I just might, just for the masochistic value.
LSU is off this week, preparing for its so-called rivalry game with Alabama. To me, it’s not a rivalry. I’ll explain why in an upcoming post.
LSU football is a mess.
Ed Orgeron’s first full season in his “dream job” is not going as he, nor the hundreds of thousand LSU faithful, had hoped.
The Bayou Bengals are 3-2, and that is unacceptable.
LSU’s schedule has been quite meek.
BYU, whom LSU beat 27-0 in the first game, is a dumpster fire. The Cougars had trouble beating lower level Portland State in its first game and has been routed every time out since, by LSU, Utah, Wisconsin and Utah State in that order.
Chattanooga is a lower level team LSU beat 45-10 in game two.
Mississippi State stomped LSU 37-7 in Starkville in week three. The Bulldogs have proven they were a paper tiger by getting waxed 31-3 by Georgia and 49-10 by Auburn their last two games.
LSU had all kind of trouble with Syracuse before winning 35-26. The same Syracuse which lost at home to Middle Tennessee. I’m sorry, but an ACC team cannot, must not lose at home to one from Conference USA.
Then came Troy last Saturday.
Troy, a Sun Belt team. Troy, a school whose home city in southeast Alabama is only a few thousand people larger than the capacity of LSU’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center, which seats 13,000.
Troy, a team which has beaten Missouri and Oklahoma State in the past, but both of those games were at home on a weeknight, where the Trojans were getting rare national exposure against a power conference team.
This was a Saturday night in Baton Rouge. Tiger Stadium. Death Valley. The stadium LSU brags about being the toughest venue for a visiting team to play in all of college football.
Troy came into Tiger Stadium last Saturday and acted like it owned the place.
The final score, 24-21, was misleading. LSU needed two late touchdowns to make the score look good. The Trojans led 17-0 and 24-7.
That’s an ass-kicking. A serious ass-kicking.
Hiring Ed Orgeron may or may not be a mistake. I’m hoping against hope he will pull LSU out of its morass.
LSU’s biggest problem isn’t Orgeron.
It’s the man who hired Orgeron.
That means YOU, Joe Alleva.
LSU’s athletic director should not be occupying that position in the first place.
He royally screwed up during the investigation of Duke’s lacrosse team, throwing coach Mike Pressler under the bus by firing him, then refusing to hire him back when all the allegations of rape against players were found to be patently false.
The LSU Board of Supervisors and then-chancellor Sean O’Keefe fucked up big time by hiring Alleva, who has hired two bad men’s basketball coaches (Trent Johnson and Johnny Jones), a mediocre women’s basketball coach (Nikki Caldwell-Fargas) and now a football coach (Orgeron) who appears to be well over his head in the SEC.
Alleva had a chance to land a big fish when he fired Les Miles four games into 2016. He had a two month head start on anyone else. When the only person he really coveted for the job, Houston coach Tom Herman, chose Texas over LSU, Alleva waved the white flag.
Nanoseconds after Herman announced he was heading to Austin, Alleva stripped the “interim” off of Orgeron’s title.
Orgeron took a hometown discount ($3.5 million per year) to be LSU’s head coach in order to pay his coordinators, Dave Aranda (defense) and Matt Canada (offense), at least $1.5 million per year each. They are by far the highest paid pair of coordinators in the country.
Alleva still owes Miles a hefty buyout, which will not be completely paid off until 2023.
Many LSU fans and media who cover the team were not enamored with Orgeron’s hire. After the losses to Mississippi State and Troy, they were furious, calling for Alleva to fire the Larose native who was a teammate of former Saints quarterback Bobby Hebert’s on South Lafourche High School’s 1977 Louisiana Class AAAA (highest class) state championship team.
You want to fire Orgeron now? Better have $12 million.
That is not a typo.
TWELVE MILLION DOLLLARS to buy out a man who was 10-25 overall and 3-21 in the SEC in three seasons as Ole Miss’ head coach. TWELVE MILLION to buy out a man who will not leave LSU unless he is forced to.
Nice job, Joe Alleva.
Want to point the finger at Orgeron? Fine. But a bigger one has to be pointed at Alleva.
Two of the three Southeastern Conference football teams nicknamed Tigers are finding out the cheap hire is often the wrong hire.
Missouri is a dumpster fire. Barry Odom is in over his head. He might have been a fine coordinator under Gary Pinkel, but as the man in charge, he is trying to navigate the Missouri River in a canoe.
The Tigers looked absolutely pitiful yesterday in a 35-3 loss at home to Purdue. Yes, the Boilermakers have been in the Big Ten since the conference was formed, but when was the last time Purdue was mentioned consistently among college football’s elite? Hmmm….I want to say it was when Jack Mollenkopf was coaching, and last I checked, he retired after the 1969 season, seven years before I was born.
The Boilermakers won the Rose Bowl after the 1966 season, when Bob Griese was a senior. Since then, Purdue has made it to Pasadena ONCE (which is still one more time than Minnesota and the same number of times as Indiana and Northwestern in the last 51 seasons), and that was with Drew Brees.
Purdue plummeted like a rock once Brees departed. The school from West Lafayette has been in the lower division of the Big Ten every year since 2000, and the Boilermakers were absolutely dreadful under Darrell Hazell, who was 9-33 in three and a half seasons before he was fired at the mid-point of the 2016 campaign.
Jeff Brohm, a former standout quarterback at Louisville under Howard Schnellenberger and then a very successful head coach at Western Kentucky, has got Purdue going in the right direction. The Boilermakers gave Louisville a major scare in the season opener, and have now destroyed Ohio (more on the Bobcats later) and Missouri. Purdue isn’t going to be a factor in the Big Ten race this year, but it should be a consistent bowl team under Brohm.
Missouri is going in the opposite direction as Purdue. The Tigers have been a hot mess since racial tension on campus two years ago, which led to Pinkel’s resignation. Odom’s defenses have been nothing short of awful. Rockhurst High in Kansas City has a better defense than Mizzou.
Odom has got to be on the hot seat. If athletic director Jim Sterk is not seriously vetting candidates, then shame on him. The longer Odom lingers at his alma mater, the better the chance Mizzou relapses into pitifulness, which was the state of the program for much of the 1980s and 1990s.
I fear the Tigers will slip to the point where they were under Woody Widenhofer (1985-88) and Bob Stull (1989-93), which was fighting like hell to stay out of the Big Eight cellar. Mizzou teams of that era routinely were destroyed by Colorado, Nebraska and Oklahoma, were dominated by Oklahoma State (prior to 1989, when the Cowboys were severely sanctioned by the NCAA), and had trouble with Iowa State and Kansas. Kansas State was the one punching bag the Tigers routinely beat, but that all changed under Bill Snyder, who turned the tide completely in favor of the Wildcats in the series by 1991. \
After consistently going to bowl games under Dan Devine (1958-70), and then making semi-regular appearnaces under Al Onofrio (1971-76) and Warren Powers (1977-84), Mizzou went 13 seasons (1984-96) with no bowl games. NONE. Larry Smith, the former Tulane, Arizona and USC coach, took the Tigers to minor bowl games, but Mizzou was back at rock bottom in 1999 and 2000.
It took Pinkel a couple of years to turn Mizzou around, but once he did, the Tigers became bowl fixture. In 2007, the Tigers ascended to number one after beating Kansas in the regular season finale, but they fell to Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game.
Mizzou is not going to a bowl game this year unless something turns around right now. I can’t see the Tigers winning an SEC game, not with Kentucky and Vanderbilt much improved, and with Florida, Georgia and Tennessee all well above Mizzou. Not happening.
Now on to my alma mater.
There was a team wearing LSU’s uniforms last night in Starkville. The names on the players’ jerseys were the ones which were listed on the roster released by the school.
Yes, the Bayou Bengals were there in body. In spirit? No way.
I expected LSU to have a very difficult time with Mississippi State. I went in feeling the Bulldogs had a great chance to win. The Bayou Bengals went in having won eight consecutive games in Starkville, and I figured the Bulldogs were overdue.
State had a huge advantage at quarterback, where Nick Fitzgerald was an All-SEC selection last year. LSU’s Danny Etling is competent and nothing more. Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen is an acclaimed offensive mind, having helped Florida win the 2006 and 2008 national cahmpionshp and molding Tim Tebow into a Heisman Trophy winner. LSU offensive coordinator Matt Canada has been as popular as his boss, Ed Orgeron, since his hiring earlier this year, but I was skeptical. Still am skeptical.
The game which unfolded bore out every point I listed above.
Not only did State win, it embarrassed LSU. Bulldogs 37, Bayou Bengals 7.
How bad was it? State’s largest margin of victory EVER over LSU.
The Bayou Bengals and Bulldogs have been playing each other since 1896, and continuously since 1944. Counting last night’s game, LSU has played Mississippi State–once known as Mississippi A&M–111 times, more than any other opponent.
Last night was State’s 35th win in the series, compared to 73 for LSU, with three ties.
The Bayou Bengals had two touchdowns called back by penalty, although they got one of those back two plays later. In the second half, two defensive players, Donnie Alexander and Neal Farrell, were ejecting for hits to the head of Fitzgerald.
LSU was penalized nine times for 112 yards. It is on pace to commit 120 penalties for over 1,000 yards.
If Orgeron is as committed to discipline, he will suspend Alexander and Farrell for the entire game vs. Syracuse this week, not just for the first half as mandated under NCAA rules.
Regardless of what happens, Orgeron was a very disappointing hire for a team which has one of the largest budgets of any university.
LSU does not want for cash. It doesn’t have as many deep-pocketed donors as some schools, but it is the flagship university, the only one in a Power Five confernece, and there are big fans from every corner of the state. LSU consistently is deep in the black and pays its coaches handsomely.
Orgeron’s hire falls squarely on the shoulders of athletic director Joe Alleva, whom I believe should never have been hired in the first place.
The way Alleva severely mishandled the Duke lacrosse case when he was the Blue Devils’ athletic director should have precluded him from getting any other job as an athletic director, much less at a power school like LSU. I don’t know what LSU saw in him, unless Mike Kryzewzski convinced the administration Alleva was the second coming and was the only person worth hiring.
Alleva hired LSU women’s basketball coach Nikki Caldwell-Fargas, who I do not like. If Alleva were smart, he would have gone to Waco and had a blank contract for Kim Mulkey, who has been at Baylor for nearly two decades now. Alleva would have asked Mulkey to fill in a dollar amount. LSU could certainly afford it.
LSU women’s basketball was a dominant program in the middle of the last decade, reaching the Final Four five consecutive years (2004-08), although it did not win a single game.
Now, the Bayou Bengals are at best a middling program in the SEC. They have been passed and lapped by Mississippi State and South Carolina, have fallen well behind Kentucky, and are still way behind Tennessee, even though the Lady Volunteers are not the superpower they were under the late, great Pat Summitt. LSU also lags behind the SEC newcomers, Texas A&M and Missouri.
Had Mulkey been hired, I’m certain at least one national championship banner would be hanging from the rafters of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center right now.
As for Pistol Pete’s old program, it is as low as the Marianna Trench right now.
Alleva is on his third men’s basketball coach, Will Wade, who came from VCU, where he succeeded Shaka Smart after he left for Texas. The 35-year old has brought youthful energy to the Bayou Bengals, but will that energy translate into victories? It won’t in 2017-18, but if it doesn’t in 2018-19 and beyond, then it will be another bust, right up there with Wade’s predecessors, Johnny Jones (2012-17) and Trent Johnson (2008-11).
LSU has won ONE NCAA tournament game with Alleva as athletic director. In 2015-16, the Bayou Bengals had Ben Simmons, regarded as the greatest basketball player to step on campus since Shaquille O’Neal. Simmons could not get LSU to the NCAA tournament, then skipped school and became the #1 overall pick of the 76ers in the 2016 NBA draft. Last year, LSU tied Missouri for dead last in the SEC. This year, LSU will likely occupy the cellar by itself, since Missouri has brought in a stellar recruiting class under Cuonzo Martin, who took over for Kim Anderson, who like Odom and Orgeron, was grossly in over his head.
Alleva cannot take credit for baseball coach Paul Maineri, because he was hired by Skip Bertman, Alleva’s predecessor who built LSU baseball into college baseball’s Death Star, winning five championships from 1991-2000 and 870 games in 18 seasons (1984-2001). Maineri led LSU to the 2009 national championship and the College World Series championship series earlier this year.
Orgeron was hired as LSU’s defensive line coach in 2015, and was elevated to interim head coach after four games in 2016 when Les Miles, hired by Bertman to replace Nick Saban in early 2005, was fired. Ironically, Orgeron’s first game in charge at LSU a 42-7 victory over Missouri in Baton Rouge.
Oregeron is not currently in dire straits like Odom (or Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M, Bret Bielema at Arkansas or Butch Jones at Tennessee), but if Orgeron goes 7-5 this season, the grumbling will be heard long and hard in the bayou.
Yes, Orgeron is Louisiana through and through, growing up in Larose, playing for a state championship team at South Lafourche High in 1977 and then playing in college briefly for LSU and more extensively at Northwestern State in Natchitoches. Orgeron was the most popular hire LSU has made in recent memory, much more so than Nick Saban was when he came from Michigan State and Miles when he came from Oklahoma State.
Alleva was ready to hire Tom Herman when Texas moved quickly to fire Charlie Strong. The Longhorns are the one program which can pay a higher wage than LSU, and paid it to swipe Herman from Houston. With Herman out of the picture, Alleva simply waved the white flag and took the “interim” off of Orgeron’s title.
Nobody doubts Orgeron is a great defensive line coach and recruiter. He coached Warren Sapp at Miami. He coached some great players at USC, including two-time All-American Shaun Cody. And he was recruiting very well at
As a head coach, Orgeron just doesn’t cut it. He was brutally bad at Ole Miss, going 10-25 over three seasons, including a pathetic 3-21 mark in the SEC. The Rebels bottomed out under Orgeron after winning 10 games in 2003 under David Cutcliffe. Ole Miss bounced back under Hugh Freeze, but that was because Freeze broke more than a few NCAA rules to build his teams.
Alleva should have hired Brohm or someone proven as a head coach. If Orgeron didn’t like it, he was free to find another job. I’m sure Pete Carroll would have offered Orgeron a position with the Seahawks had Orgeron not been able to find a college job.
There is no excuse for Alleva’s laziness. NONE. LSU should never have hired Alleva in the first place, but the Bayou Bengals have got to get someone new in the athletic director’s chair, or LSU may rot from within.
The Saints are down 20-3 to the Patriots at the end of the first quarter. It’s not a good weekend to be a football fan in Louisiana.