Power Rankings (Week 13)  

Posted by Walter

Not exactly the dynasty that Tressel has been trying to build,
but it looks like Dodge beat him to it.

#1 Ohio State

Walter: With nothing new to say about the team and Troy Smith having all but locked up the Heisman, I think it is prudent to turn to another member of this team that has performed brilliantly this season without much fanfare. Going into the year the Buckeyes had to replace 9 defensive starters that included several first round draft picks. Three months later it is clear that they haven't missed a beat. And while everyone will talk about James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman (who have been great by the way), the real rock of the defense has been senior defensive tackle Quinn Pitcock. Pitcock was known primarily for his runn stopping capabilities coming into the season and looked like a late first round pick. In 2006 he has reinvented himself combining his stoutness against the run with his new burst of quickness to post near double digit sacks. Pitcock has been a steadying presence all year for the Buckeyes and has solified his spot in the middle of the first round. He isn't as flashy as many of the other Buckeyes but I will guarantee that if you ask any of them they will agree that he is the most important member of that defense.

Frazier - They are undoubtedly the top ranked team out there, and a prohibitive favorite to take the glass football home with them. We're all awaiting their opponent in the BCS Championship game. One word of caution, for two years in a row Oklahoma made the title game by beating a Big 12 conference that didn't have a lot of non-conference wins, and like Ohio St. they beat a Texas team that may not have been as good as people thought. I'm not saying that the Buckeyes are a paper tiger like those Sooners teams were, I'm just saying it's not impossible that they are, either.

#2 USC

Walter: Well any chance of me making an argument for Michigan here was wiped out when the Trojans absolutely stormed the Irish last Saturday. True the Irish stink, but USC has been a totally different team since losing to Oregon State and they are just starting to click on all cylinders offensively. Dwayne Jarrett finally looks healthy (and hungry!), and while John David Booty has flashes of brilliance, he will need to play more consistent the rest of the way. I am still somewhat wary of the Trojans running game and pass defense (I mean did you see how the mediocre Rhema McKnight repeatedly torched top USC cover man Terrel Thomas) but they have the best pass offense in the nation (well, on the main land at least). If they get through a tough UCLA team this weekend, they will give Ohio State all they can handle.......assuming Booty flashes more brilliance than ineptitude.

Frazier - My feelings about the Trojans haven't changed one bit. They are a total sleeping giant. Occassionally they get restless and decide to kick some ass before drifting off into dreamland again. Booty is probably the biggest culprit on the team. He totally out-classed Quinn for periods of that game, and then made some of the most befuddling, stupid decisions possible. Sometimes he literally looked like he got confused which team he played for, or threw up prayers on first downs. On the other hand, their defensive speed is impressive, and Jarrett is an unbelievable talent who is playing up to his potential right now. On the right day, they can give the Buckeyes all they can handle.

#3 Michigan

Walter: Well after the beat down USC laid on the Irish that win has lost a lot of its luster huh? Hey what can you do? Michigan surprised everyone this season and should finish the year at #2. They will return most of their skill guys next season and should battle USC to open the year at #1. Plus in 2007 they get Ohio State and Notre Dame at home. Of course, all this assumes USC beats UCLA on Saturday, because if they lose Big Blue definitely deserves a shot over a one loss Florida team.

Frazier - So is Michigan's most impressive win of the year now the one over Wisconsin? It's impossible to say. I am very excited to see this team play a good squad from another conference. It will definitely clear up some lingering questions. Still, they have had an excellent year, and Lloyd Carr deserves a lot of credit for turning things around there this year.

The reports of Carr's demise were greatly exaggerated.

#4 Florida

Walter: The Gators at #4? It's a war of attrition, they still stink. Preview of this Saturday's SEC title game.......Arkansas 59, Florida 10 (but Tebow gets a TD run late in the game).

Frazier - Yeah, not loving the Gators. But what can you do? They are a one-loss SEC team, and have been holding serve. I have a feeling that they are in for a long day against the Hogs, unless they are betrayed by continued shaky play by their quarterbacks (not including McFadden, obviously). In the land of the two-loss teams, the one-loss team shall be king, I guess.

#5 LSU

Walter: If Jamarcus Russell comes back next season (which is looking less and less like a possibility considering the struggles of Brady Quinn and the fact the Russell would almost be guaranteed a top 10 pick-hey you heard it here first) LSU would be in the mix with Michigan and USC to be a preseason #1. As things stand now, their huge win over Arkansas has positioned them for a well deserved at large BCS birth. Les Miles has done a really nice job this season, notching 10 wins against a murderous schedule. If this team was in any other conference they'd be playing for the national title.

Frazier - There is a reason that LSU kept creeping into our power rankings with more losses than other programs, they are an excellent team playing a brutal schedule. Really nice win last weekend, and a potential Rose Bowl in their future. The Tigers are an ultimate "under the radar" squad, but could potentially end the season ranked as high as #2, which is an incredible feat. This is a team that no one wants to play right now.

#6 Boise State

Walter: Nevada has had a nice season, and BYU is as hot as anyone in the country right now, but as far as the WAC and MWC go this year there is Boise and there's everyone else. Boise is head and shoulders the best team in those two conferences this year and they proved it with a dominating performance at Nevada. Now I'm not saying they deserve to go to the BCS title game over USC or Michigan (or even-gulp-Florida), but wouldn't you just be a little intrigued to see what they could do on a neutral field against Ohio State? Maybe a little? No? Yeah me neither.

Frazier - I am incredibly excited to see the Broncos on a neutral (well, it won't be neutral, because whoever they play will bring a national bandwagon, but close enough) field against elite competition. If they could pull a Utah and stormed their opponent, that would be great. Hopefully they will get a more legit challenge than that Utes team did when Walt Harris bailed on Pitt and his team didn't even get off the bus. (Possibly one of the most embarrassing bowl preformances of all-time).

Remember when Palko was the only player
from his team to show up against Utah?
Thanks to his offensive line, he doesn't.

#7 Arkansas

Walter: Wow is Darren McFadden terrifying. Running, throwing, returning kicks, he is just great at whatever he does. Now I know he's been playing running back for, well probably his whole life, but don't you get the feeling he could have been an absolute star at any position his first Pee Wee coach had put him at. It's the same feeling you get when watching Ladainian Tomlinson. Like whatever you ask McFadden to do, he's going to do it better than you've ever seen it done before. With him, Felix Jones, Marcus Monk, Mitch Mustain, hell, basically the entire team coming back for 2007, maybe the Razorbacks should be in the mix for preseason #1.

Frazier - Time to come clean. Darren McFadden is one of my favorite players to watch in years! I couldn't possibly be more excited about him. I've seen highlights and portions of some other games, but last weekend was my first chance to really hunker down and watch him work. Holy moses! He is absolutely relentless. He almost willed his team to victory against LSU, and shredded one of the best defenses in the country. Two weeks ago he saved the day with a huge kickoff return for a touchdown. Last week, just when things were looking their bleakest, he broke a huge 80-yard touchdown run that momentarily breathed life into his team. Houston Nutt deserves plenty of blame for not putting the ball in his hands on a HUGE fourth down play late in the game. McFadden had as many passing yards as his quarterback, and infinitely fewer mistakes. Ok, I could keep gushing, and will just have to let it go. If he doesn't finish second in the Heisman voting, than the thing is rigged. The man can do literally anything asked of him.

"Just let me know what you need me to do, coach."
He might not be Superman, but he's close.

#8 Wisconsin

Walter: Well on cue here is another team looking forward to 2007. While Michigan will, and should, be the odds on favorite to win the 2007 Big 10 title, let's not forget that they will have to travel to Madison next season and beat the Badgers at Camp Randall. The Badgers always do well in their bowl games, and with John Stocco back healthy they are going to look to make a major statement for 2007.

Frazier - Another team we know literally nothing about, except that they won't beat themselves. It will be very interesting to see how they do against a non-conference foe. Consistency has gotten them this far, and their first year head coach deserves a tremendous amount of credit for guiding his troops so well. This team has played up to its' potential all season, pretty much every game, and that's a sure sign of a competent coach.

#9 Louisville

Walter: I originally had them higher but Frazier correctly pointed out that I was falling once again into the trap of forgetting just how terrible Pittsburgh and Dave Wannstedt are. With South Florida laying the smack on the Mountaineers this past weekend, the Cardinals lone big win looks far less impressive. That said, Miami did win and is bowl bound so it kind of evens itself out right? A little? No? Yeah, I guess not.

Frazier - Do you understand the Big East? Yeah, me neither. Who knows who's best, or second-best, or third-best, or if anyone deserves to be called "best" when everyone is going around shitting the bed. Wow, this conference went from "potential figure in the BCS title hunt" to "totally and completely irrelevant" in the course of a few weeks. Still, all but a handful of schools would switch coaches in a heartbeat, and probably only LSU, Ohio St. and Notre Dame wouldn't swap quarterbacks on a moments notice (and everyone other than OSU would definitely have to give it some thought).

#10 Oklahoma

Walter: I'm gonna say something and it's going to sound kind of weird. Thank goodness those stupid Pac-10 refs screwed up the end of the Oregon game. If Oklahoma was sitting here as a one loss team, we'd have to hear the endless parade of Big 12 apologists complaining when they didn't get a shot in the BCS title game. Let's be clear on something, Bob Stoops has turned in one of the all time great coaching performances this year, but the Sooners are nowhere near the level of Ohio State, Michigan and USC. The Big 12 was terrible this year, and they lost their only meaningful game to Texas (which doesn't look so great right now). Bob, I love you, but your team just ain't that good....and I am sure glad I don't have to hear how badly you got screwed.

Frazier - I have to agree with the big man here. Oklahoma slipped into a pair of title games by destroying a weak Big 12 conference, and then got shown the door on the national stage. I predicted at the beginning of the year that Oklahoma would return to this level, because Stoops went from an overrated to an underrated coach in the course of a few seasons. On the other hand, I never would have anticipated the Sooners reaching these heights without the best running back in the country (well, one of the best, call it the "McFadden Factor"). The loss of Peterson should have been devestating, but it's looking like this team is in excellent shape for life after AP. All that said, and I'm still not entirely sold on them, mostly because the Big 12 is a joke.

#323 BYU

Walter: WOW. A last second TD pass to keep a 9 game win streak alive! Good times. I think new BYU head man Bronco Mendenhal must be channeling the spirit of Lavell Edwards (although he is still alive). BYU is the best show you haven't seen yet. John Beck is a great QB and Johnny Harline should run away with 1st team All America honors for a TE (he's the spitting image of former BYU and NFL great Todd Christensen by the way). Like Hawaii, if this team was in the SEC or Big 12 you'd already know that they cracked the top 25 last week. You'd also know that they are a 50 yard FG and a triple overtime game away from being undefeated. Once again, I'm not saying they could beat Ohio State, Michigan or USC, but it sure would be fun to see.

Frazier - I will never understand how the Mormons can attract such great football players. It's honestly kind of weird. That being said, they have done it again. They have been one of the hottest teams in the country for weeks, but are only now getting any recognition. Beck has been stellar this year, and his team has found ways to win (mostly by scoring and scoring and scoring some more). Not sure what their bowl future looks like, but it'd be fun to see them square off against a legit school from a BCS conference. Of course they'll probably end up in San Antonio or some other random destination playing against an obscure opponent for the feminine hygeine products bowl or some shit. Which would really rob the country of watching an entertaining team play a meaningful game.

You just know there will be tons of
Joe-mentum at BYU's bowl gam.

And the coaching carousel goes round and round....  

Posted by Walter

Coaching is not an easy job, especially at schools that demand near perfection from their football program. Unsurprisingly, there is substantial turnover in the coaching profession. That said, in the past month we have seen more major coaching changes that during any time I can remember. Not counting Michigan State, North Carolina and Iowa State (who have already fired and hired head football coaches), there are four major Division 1 programs without leading men:

1) University of Miami
2) University of Alabama
3) Arizona State University
4) North Carolina State University

Now believe me, outside of perhaps Mike Shula I am not shedding a tear for any of the fired coaches. Larry Coker, Dirk Koetter and Chuck Chuck all deserved to go. Shula had a magical season last year, but even still he probably deserved to go as well. (Frazier moment: Shula probably should have been given another chance after carrying the team through NCAA sanctions. The Tide owed him after he stepped up in a very bad situation.) The real fun is examining some of the candidates that will be bantered about for these openings. For your convenience we have divided them into three handy categories:

I) Up and Comers - Either head coaches at smaller schools, or coordinators at bigger schools who appear ready for the big time.

(a) Steve Kragthorpe - Head Coach, Tulsa

Walter: I've been driving the Steve Kragthorpe bandwagon since the preseason. He is a fantastic coach and has done an otherwordly job bringing Tulsa from the depths of college football to a yearly bowl contender. One thing Kragthorpe has going for him over most of the other named candidates is that he runs a pro-style (aka non gimmick) offense that is likely to attract top talent. He probably isn't ready for a job like Miami but he would be a gutsy and inspired choice for either of the other three.

Prediction: Kragthorpe becomes the head coach at Arizona State.

Frazier: Kragthorpe is getting tons of love recently, and deservedly so. He is an excellent coach, and the time is now for him to step up to a bigger program. I agree with the big man that a step into the bright lights of a nationally recognized situation might be a little too much to ask, but he would certainly improve any of the schools on this list, and plenty more to boot. His future is definitely bright.

Prediction: He's moving on, to a second tier school, which is still a huge step up from Tulsa.

(b) Lane Kiffin - Offensive Coordinator, USC

Walter: Kiffin is a very interesting candidate. He has several things going for him, none any more important than his tutelage at the hands of Norm Chow. Kiffing is a young, dynamic, creative offensive mind, but it is still unclear whether he has the adminsitrative and leadership skills to be a head coach. Kiffin would be an incredibly gutsy choice. A traditionally offensive team like Arizona State will certainly be tempted to hire Kiffin, but remember, even Drik Koetter had head coaching experience before being hired at ASU.

Prediction: Kiffin gets serious consideration to replace Kragthorpe at Tulsa, but stays at USC.

Frazier: The Eric Mangini of the college ranks. He has the pedigree, he has the success, but he also has the baby face. A slew of smaller schools would love to have him on board. He has all the creativity in the world, and learned from a master. He also has the USC shine on him, which doesn't hurt. But it's unclear if any major school would be willing to give him the keys to the car, when it seems like yesterday he lost the training wheels.

Prediction: Kiffin decides to stick around USC for a couple of more years, have a couple of cracks at winning some more titles, and then takes his improved resume to a nationally prominent program.

(c) Chris Peterson - Head Coach, Boise State

Walter: Another interesting name, and one that should, frankly, probably be ahead of Kiffin given his year of head coaching experience. Peterson inherited an incredibly talented team from Dan Hawkins, but he did what Hawkins, Koetter, and John L. Smith before him could not do: get the Broncos to the BCS. Given that those three men all got major head coaching jobs it seems almost a foregone conclusion that Peterson will follow suit. That said, neither Koetter nor Smith had huge success at Arizona State and Michigan State respectively (though Smith did well at Louisville) and the verdict is still out on Hawkins. The four AD's looking to hire this winter may be slightly more gun shy for Boise State coaches that in previous seasons.

Prediction: Not his time, he has to wait at least another year.

Frazier: I love the way he adapted his approach to best compliment the skills of his players. He went into SoCal and grabbed Johnson who has turned out to be a total revelation. I love that his team has stayed focused, and avoided a let-down game which would have ruined their season. However, he's pretty new to Boise, and I think he may actually like it there. The job offers will eventually come, but he his one year at the helm might not be enough to garner serious interest. Hawkins season at Colorado will not help his chances this year, but I don't think he's even looking right now.

Prediction: No action on this front, it's too soon, and Idaho is lovely this time of year.

(d) Randy Edsel - Head Coach, UConn

Walter: Not two seasons ago Edsel was one of the top up and coming coaches in the NCAA ranks. His feat of taking UConn from a middling 1AA team to bowl contender in under 5 seasons is nothing short of amazing. That said, Edsel's coaching future has lost some of its luster over the past few seasons as he was unable to build upon UConn's initial success. In my opinion Edsel is a tremendous coach, but because of the lack of football talent in the Northeast, he is going to have to make a lateral head coaching move before he gets a shot at the big time. Replacing someone like Kragthorpe at Tulsa would make a lot of sense for him.

Prediction: Edsel does just that, he replaces Kragthorpe at Tulsa.

Frazier: Edsel is great at building programs. He pulled a miracle at UConn, and has gotten a lot of love for that effort. He also has seen what some other Big East coaches have been able to pull off, and he knows it could have been him. He needs to tap that southern recruiting pipeline if he wants to get much better in Storrs. Of course, it won't help that UConn is a basketball school first. But, so was Louisville. I think recent seasons have slowed his momentum, and he won't get as much interest at major programs. I also think he has seen that Big East schools have a chance to get in the title picture if they win out. Moving away from a BCS conference just doesn't make sense. A place like North Carolina would have been good for him (especially since he knows how to recruit at a basketball school). He won't go anywhere that isn't a BCS school.

Prediction: Nothing really fits the profile right now. He's a good coach, and can really build a program, but he probably takes a couple of cracks at the Big East title before moving his show down the road.

(e) Norm Chow - Offensive Coordinator, Tennessee Titans

Walter: How this man is not already a head coach is so far beyond me I cannot even fathom comprehension. Chow is undoubetdly one of the finest offensive minds the game has seen in the last 20 seasons. His offenses have performed no matter where he has gone (BYU, NC State, USC, Tennessee-NFL) and no matter who was under center. The biggest coup a top program would get from hiring Chow would be that he would ultimately attract the top high school quarterbacking talent. Given his track record with top picks like Phil Rivers, Carson Palmer, and Matt Leinart, what high school passer dreaming of the NFL wouldn't want to play for him?

Prediction: Norm Chose becomes the head coach at NC State. It just makes too much sense and is long overdue.

Frazier: It is an outrage that this man hasn't been a head coach anywhere. I am completely dumbfounded by this fact. I hate to say this, but if Norm Chow were white he would have been a head coach a long time ago. He is simply too good to ignore. Maybe athletic directors have a hard time picturing an Asian-American man as a hard nosed football coach. He certainly doesn't resemble Rockne or Bryant, but he is a damned good coach. I am usually loathe to play the race card, but the facts are pretty hard to ignore. He is probably the most successful coordinator, offensive or defensive, in the history of college football. Of the 30 best passing seasons in history, 11 are by players he coached. And keep in mind, most of these seasons were coaching in Utah at a Mormon school. Hardly the easiest place to recruit, even if BYU was a national power at the time. He's coached three Heisman winners, won three national titles and has barely sniffed a head coaching position anywhere. If not now, when?

Prediction: How can you guess? I mean, he should have had a job ages ago, so what's so different this time? If it isn't NC State, it won't be anywhere. Who wouldn't hire this guy?

(f) Bo Pelini - Defensive Coordinator, LSU

Walter: Another guy who really deserves a chance to lead a major program. Pelini has long been an unbelievable defensive coordinator, first at Nebraska (leading the blackshirts), then for a year at Oklahoma, and now at LSU. Pelini is a great defensive mind but is has never really been able to gain momentum as a major college head coach. He may be at a career crossroads where he has to decide whether he wants to be a career defensive coordinator, perhaps going to the NFL at some point, or make a push to be a head coach which might mean taking a step back and accepting a job at a middle of the road Division 1 program.

Prediction: None of the jobs seem to fit for Pelini, he stays at D Coordinator at LSU.

Frazier: AD's hate re-treads. And sadly, that's what people will see when someone mentions Pelini. People will say if they didn't want him at Nebraska, it won't work anywhere for him. Now, those people are dead wrong, but I'm not sure that's what really matters here. I'm not sure how much he wants to be a head coach, that certainly isn't clear.

Prediction: He should get a shot. Will he? Probably not.

II) Head Coaches Already at Big Programs but Ready for the Big Time

(a) Bobby Petrino - Head Coach, Louisville

Walter: I still think Bobby Petrino ends up coaching the Oakland Raiders in the very near future. His vertical west coast scheme (I know it seems like an oxymoron but it really is the only way to describe it) fits perfectly with what Al Davis wants. Nonetheless, he is a top name and any program would be lucky to get him. He is a brilliant offensive mind and has proven that he has what it takes to lead a major Division 1 program. All that said, he probably has more talent and a better recruiting base at Louisville than he would at any of the vacant head coach positions other than Miami (and the Louisville facilities are head and shoulders above those in Coral Gables). It would take a godfather type offer to get him.

Prediction: Petrino stays in Louisville one more season before replacing Art Shell in Oakland.

Frazier: Petrino has been rumored to be moving for a long time now. Yet he keeps sticking it out at Louisville. I'm not really sure what is different this time. It's rumored Alabama may take a run at him, but he'd have to be crazy to want to deal with their insane boosters and overhyped expectations every year. He is one of the hottest coaches in all of football, and so his phone will definitely be ringing. But, he seems to like it where he is.

Prediction: Only Miami makes sense for him, especially since what they really need is an offensive improvement. However, if might be an NFL team that tempts him away. I think Brohm whispers in his ear that he's declaring for the draft, and Petrino decides that his stock ain't getting any higher.

(b) Greg Schiano - Head Coach, Rutgers

Walter: Probably the odds on favorite to be the next Miami coach, and he would be an outstanding choice. More of an emotional leader than an x and o's guy, Schiano has worked wonders in Piscataway the past three seasons. His connections to Miami make him an obvious target for them, but Schiano himself has said he wants to stay in his home state of New Jersey. Though it may sound crazy, there is a ton of football talent in New Jersey and Schiano, like Petrino, may have a better recruiting base at his current position than he would at any other school other than Miami. Say what he might, Schiano just seems like he destined for greater things.

Prediction: Schiano seems like a sincere guy to me, and I'm not even certain he is Miami's top choice (keep reading). He stays in Piscataway like he wants.

Frazier: The guy wants to stay home, and that's admirable. He loves New Jersey (for whatever reason) and that's super. He's also one of the hottest coaching prospects in the country, and people are definitely interested. I'm sorry, but this is what happens to smaller schools, they get poached, and Schiano is not going to retire from the Scarlet Knights twenty years from now. Sorry, folks.

Prediction: A major school is going to show up with a suitcase full of money, and will make an offer he can't refuse.

(c) Ralph Friedgen - Head Coach, Maryland

Walter: 4 seasons ago Friedgen was the toast of college football. After several subpar seasons he became and afterthought before gaining attention this season with a surpise run in the ACC. The bottom line is that Friedgen is, and always has been, a fantastic offensive coach with strong administrative skills. He has more head coaching experience than any other candidate on this list, and is somewhat of a safer choice for programs like Miami or Alabama than some of the younger, more dynami, up and comers. He would be an inspired choice for a team like Alabama whose offense always seems several steps behind the defense.

Prediction: As a huge Alabama fan he looks like a perfect fit to me. He has the pedigree, coaching experience, and offensive creativity the Tide have been sorely lacking. Perhaps its just wishful thinking, but my guess is the 'Bama job is his if he wants it.

Frazier: The Fridge has fallen on some harder times of late. He may be realizing that it's hard to build a perennial power in College Park. So now that his team has gotten some national attention, it might be time to leave. But, if he didn't leave a couple of years ago, then why would he now? Either he's leaving now, or he ain't.

Prediction: He ain't. The man is a mountain, and those things are hard to move.

(d) Gary Patterson - Head Coach, TCU

Walter: Becaue he coaches at TCU, Patterson is going to fly somewhat under the radar. He shouldn't. Patterson is a consummate disciplinarian, and has shown the ability to attract top high school talent to a middle of the road program (see Tomlinson, Ladainian). Patterson would be a great choice for a team like Miami that needs a healthy does of disipline, but for the same reason he probably won't be chosen. Also working against Patterson is his somewhat "gimmicky" offense. I don't think any of the major programs are going to jump at the opportunity to bring him in, although they could all do a lot worse.

Prediction: Patterson continues to fly under the radar and stays at TCU.

Frazier: Not sure why he's on this list. He's a good coach, and has been for awhile. But he hasn't gotten any better over the last year. You know who else is a good coach? Pete Carroll. He ain't going anywhere either.

Prediction: Do you have to ask?

(e) Tom O'Brien - Head Coach, Boston College

Walter: O'Brien is a very similar candidate to Patterson. An old military man, O'Brien is a true disciplinarian who demands a lot from his players both athletically and academically. While he has done wonders with little top talent at BC, O'Brien is the classic case of a great coach who is the perfect situation. A school like BC, one that is happy with finishes in the 20-25 range and demands high graduation rates, is perfect for O'Brien because he is best at those two things. O'Brien has gotten the reputation, and deservedly so, recently as not being able to win the big games. I don't think he would do too well at a program where he was expected to win close to 10 games per season.

Prediction: No reason for him to leave a perfect situation. O'Brien stays in Chestnut Hill.

Frazier: O'Brien is great at BC. He coaches well, but he's particularly well suited for his current situation. He would not be great in a situation where the expectations were crazy every year. He is disciplined, coaches at a school where character and academics really do matter, and the alumni are thrilled with a 9-win season. Also, it's Boston, where the Eagles are like the fifth most important team around. He isn't flashy, and the only programs that would be a step up for him like flashy.

Prediction: He's happy where he is, and no one is seriously trying to lure him away anyways.

(f) Terry Bowden - Analyst, ABC

Walter: Bowden is one of the alltime underrated college coaches. He got great results at Auburn that were overshadowed somewhat by his, shall we say, shaky recruiting practices. Still, if results are what you want, Bowden is a prime candidate. Two things going against him though: (1) his name, and (2) the fact that he has been out of coaching for about 10 years. With the recent struggles of Jeff, Tommy, and yes, even Bobby Bowden, Terry's last name is no longer the boon it once was. If he gets back into coaching and does well, speculation will run rampant that he will be named the successor to his father at FSU.

Prediction: It would take more guts to hire him than any of the programs have. You'll be seeing his handsome face on ABC once again next season.

Frazier: I really do love Terry. He was an excellent coach at Auburn, and the only reason he left was because their boosters are insane (the same people who tried to run an end-around on Tubberville, to get to Petrino). He is absolutely underrated, and his remarkable undefeated Auburn team has all but been forgotten (the NCAA sanctions definitely worked on this one).
I still remember the grainy footage of part of one game that slipped past the NCAA censors, but a lot of people certainly don't. Terry has been rumored to do about a million different things, including succeed his father. Of course, that probably wouldn't happen unless Terry got back into coaching first. Of course his name will come up, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything.

Prediction: Terry's not leaving, and it doesn't have anything to do with guts. He has been offered plenty of jobs over the past eight years, but why would he leave his current one? He makes $5 million a year to sit in a studio and yammer for a couple hours on Saturdays between watching football, he calls a little radio (while enjoying a great game every week) and hosts a radio show. Oh, and he plays tons of golf, hangs out, and spends time with his family. He also works less than six months out of the year. He has proven that he doesn't have the fire to coach, and he sure is enjoying his life right now. It's kinda hard to blame him for not wanting to come back.

III) Huge Names Who Will be Discussed but Ain't Going Anywhere

(a) Steve Spurrier

Walter: Spurrier is my favorite coach of the past 20 years, and one of the greatest of all time. If he jumped ship from South Carolina and went to Miami or Alabama (he would never go to the other two) he would win a championship there within 5 seasons. But therein lies the reason he won't go. Spurrier has a huge ego. He knows how great he is. He won at Duke (an amazing feat). He brought Florida from an afterthought to a perrennial national title contender. He is a legend at those schools. Try as he might at either Miami or Alabama, they're not going to build statues and name stadiums after him at either. Staying in Columbia and bringing a national title to Columbia (something he honestly believes he can do) would be much more of a crowning achievment for his career than anything he could do at 'Bama or Miami.

Prediction: Spurrier stays at South Carolina and makes an improbable run to the 2007 SEC title game.

Frazier: Spurrier didn't want to leave the Redskins, he wanted to win a Super Bowl. He just decided that leaving was better than being forced out. Look, if he wanted to take a job like Miami or Alabama he would have. There are few coaches nationally that he couldn't basically force out, and he knows as well as the next man that he could have hung around and been offered the best available coaching position that came free for the next several years. No, he chose South Carolina because it suited him. He likes the region of the country, likes sticking it to his old employers, and likes a challenge. He's working on his legacy, not just trying to rack up titles. He knows that if he wins at Columbia that he will have proven to everyone that he's one of the best coaches ever. And that's all he's focused on right now. He left Florida for a new challenge, he sure as shit isn't going to leave for somewhere that wasn't one.

Prediction: He couldn't be happier, well, unless he'd beaten the Gators again. But he has zero interest in leaving. He doesn't need the money, and nowhere else can offer him the challenge that he's looking for.

(b) Rich Rodriguez

Walter: Rodriguez's situation reminds me somewhat of Schiano's. He is a hometown guy who has his dream job as head coach of his state's university. Furthermore, he has two of the 10 best players in America (Steve Slaton and Pat White) on his team for the next two seasons. Rodriguez isn't stupid, he knows that by taking any of the open vacancies he is forfeiting a very legitimate chance to win a national title in 2007 and/or 2008. That said, he would be an inspired choice for Alabama or Miami as he would lend either program instant credibility and would immediately vault either program to the top of the 2007 sleeper list. Still, Rodriguez strikes me as a man who is happy in Morgantown and who is willing to play his hand out for the next two seasons, potentially win a champiosnhip, and then reevaluate his situation then.

Prediction: Rodriguez leads WVU to the 2008 title and then takes over for Bobby Bowden at FSU.

Frazier: There is a big difference between Rodriguez and Schiano. While Schiano likes New Jersey, and is trying to build something at Rutgers, Rodriguez IS West Virginia, and is at a school that has a much better pedigree. You really can recruit at this school, and he can dip into areas like Jersey, but also Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Also, Rodriguez has spent as much of his life in West Virginia as possible, and is basically a legend in his home state. Furthermore, the Mountaineers are the most important thing in the entire state, which is something the Scarlet Knights could never be. Rodriguez is absolutely, positively, not going anywhere.

Prediction: He's definitely staying put for now. While he may eye some other jobs in the future, I wouldn't be entirely surprised if they ended up burying him at the 50 yard line down in Morgantown.

(c) Barry Alvarez

Walter: The only reason he is on this list is because Miami has shown interest in him. Alvarez recently retired from coaching and is not the AD at Wisconsin. Believe me, he isn't about to unretire for Arizona State, NC State or even Alabama. Alvarez did a wonderful job in Madison and still is. He is on this list because he is a hot name but I would be shocked if the Miami rumor had any legs at all.

Prediction: Retirement is too sweet for Barry. He keeps his weekly tee time in Madison.

Frazier: Miami is downright crazy. If Barry wanted to coach, he would be coaching. He loves his Badgers, and would never have left them if he wasn't serious about retiring. Money certainly isn't a problem, since he's the AD of a Big Ten school and has a cushy Fox job. Furthermore, Miami couldn't offer him anything he didn't already have. He was his own friggin AD for awhile, I mean, it's not possible to have any more control over a program. He rebuilt that program, and would love to win a title there, and he still can, but he doesn't even have to put in all the long hours to do it.

Prediction: I agree that he isn't going anywhere, under any circumstances, but I'd guess his tee time is more likely daily than weekly.

(d) Tommy Tubberville

Walter: Hmmmmm, wouldn't it be ironic. For years the Auburn brass tried to oust Tubberville from his position, only to be unsuccessful in each attempt. Well, given the success the Riverboat Gambler has had the past few seasons their failed attempts turned out to be a huge blessing. While Tubberville has played the part of the good soldier it has to kill him coaching for a program that he knows tried to fire him on two separate occasions, then wouldn't pony up the money to keep an integral part of his staff from fleeing to Austin (defensive coordinator Gene Chizik). Now I'm not suggesting that Tubberville will leave Auburn for spite, but it really would be an ultimate "fuck you" to the administration to jump ship now, especially if he went to arch rival Alabama. Well, that ain't gonna happen (Alabama hiring a former Auburn coach would be like Michigan hiring coaches from Ohio State.......wait never mind), but let's not forget that Tubberville spent eight fulls seasons at Miami before becoming a head coach.

Prediction: Tubberville sticks it to Auburn by jumping ship to Miami and bringing the program back to prominence. Tubberville finally wins the title that has eluded him his entire career (an 11-0 Miami team would never be left out of the title game) and goes on to be one of the most successfull coaches in college for the next 20 seasons.

Frazier: Sometimes I think the big man is delusional. I agree that Tubberville hasn't always had the best time at Auburn, and they do have insane boosters (see the Bowden point above) and things aren't great there, but he's not leaving, is he? Well, he has been whining that the SEC is too tough, and since he knows he isn't getting a playoff, it would probably be easier running the table at Miami. And they have the money and prestige to lure him. And he doesn't have any real allegiance to Auburn, and he does have some serious Miami history. Hmmmmm, maybe it really IS possible...

Prediction: Possible, but not going to happen. He has unfinished business at Auburn, and knows he really can win there. He probably will, too.

Student Body Right... Student Body Wrong....  

Posted by Frazier

Hmmmm, not excactly a successful week for your pal Frazier. Most of my difficulties came from the fact that there were several non-Saturday games which I did not adequately compensate for, and several teams I can just never pick correctly (Texas A&M and Wake Forest, most notably). So I'm hardly pleased with my performance. Although I did really enjoy a great weekend of games, and few things make me happier than watching the Irish get completely dominated in front of a national audience.

I was right about:

Miami somehow winning that game. Thanks Costanza pick!

I was wrong about:

Well, that game. I had said before that BC would find a way to blow this game (weeks ago) but I really felt that Miami had totally quit on their coach, and I just can't back a team that quits. But Coker was able to rally his troops one last time, and BC continued to choke just when things look brightest for them. They apparantly have been taking notes from the Red Sox for years.

I was right about:

Texas not being very good, and having not been impressive.

I was wrong about:

The Aggies. I hate to admit this, but they have been playing very hard for Franchione. While they managed to choke away games to Oklahoma and Nebraska, they have been playing close to the vest all year, and all it took was a couple of breaks to turn the tide and give them a huge win over a big rival. I have to say, I loved the way they gutted that one out. Oh, and Mark Dodge is officially one of my favorite players. The Army veteran was all over the field, making huge stops, intercepting passes, and providing real leadership for his defense. Every team needs a couple of players like that, the ones that simply command respect from their teammates and opponents.

A&M's defense leader made this huge fourth down stop.

I was right about:

Dick being the key for Arkansas would win. If the Hogs had a quarterback with a pulse on Friday they would have won that game. As it was, McFadden had about the same number of yards as Dick (off two passes) without the crippling mistakes. They probably would have been better off running their "Wildcat" formation the entire game. McFadden was absolutely unbelievable, he did had a superhuman effort, and literally did everything he could to drag his team to victory. He's second on the Heisman ballot, and he should probably be closer to Smith than he will be.

I was wrong about:

Dick being calm and not screwing up that game. Credit to LSU, who had a brutal schedule and has been excellent this year, but Arkansas had every chance to win this game. Nutt is going to have to figure out the quartback situation before next year. And if he doesn't, he needs to hand the keys to the offense to McFadden and dig up some single wing tapes.

I was right about:

The Florida-Florida St. game being close and totally unwatchable. Ugh. I just hope and pray that Arkansas mauls the Gators so that no one has to listen to any SEC whining.

I was wrong about:

The difference between Tommy Bowden and Steve Spurrier. Wow. Clemson really had no excuses in this one. They should have been able to use superior talent to take this one, but Spurrier put together a good game plan (duh) and the Gamecocks came to play. This is what I get for putting my faith in Tommy boy. Fucking Clemson, they continue to find ways to screw me. Did I mention I hate those guys?

I was right about:

Boise St. I love my Broncos. Enough said.

I was wrong about:

Switching my pick in the Wake game. Ugh. I have been either overrating or underrating them all season. Basically, Wake played disciplined, capitalized on mistakes, and went for the kill when they had the chance. Which is exactly what you'd expect Grobe's team to do. He is on the short list for coach of the year.

I was right about:

USC beating up on the Irish. I am just pissed because I initially had this game as the blowout that it was, but at the last minute I decided to hedge my bets. Otherwise I pretty much nailed this one. The Irish are total shit (and it's no longer a secret) and USC managed to stay focused for most of the game (although a total lapse in the second quarter almost allowed the Irish to get back in contention). This year the Irish failed to convert those fourth downs which kept them in it last time around, and that set the tone for the huge lead that USC built.

You know what? Fuck you Notre Dame!

Quick Hitch...  

Posted by Frazier

Just a quick note. My esteemed co-blogger mentioned Major Applewhite in a comment regarding Colt "Mr. Overrated" McCoy. Well, the big man nailed it. Applewhite was one of the most underrated players you will ever see. His teammates loved him, and played hard for him, and he always found ways to make a play. Unfortunately, Mack Brown promised the world to Chris Simms to induce him to come to Texas, and insisted on playing his golden boy even when anyone with half a brain knew that Applewhite was the real leader of that team. Simms continually choked in big games, and was given opportunity after opportunity, Applewhite didn't have all the tools, but always found a way to win. As a Nebraska fan I was always relieved when Simms got the call over Applewhite. The Major was a hell of a football player, and has been an excellent college coach. He'll be leading a major program someday, while Simms will be holding a clipboard waiting for his chance to play in a blowout for some second rate NFL organization.

Student Body Right.......Student Body Wrong  

Posted by Walter

I was wrong about Boston College. I honestly believed that they would finally be able to win one of these "program shifting" games. I was wrong. Despite a giant fork sticking out of his back, Larry Coker was able to rally his troops for a hard fought victory. I don't want to make an excuses for the Eagles (who truly played terribly) but the Hurricanes did play their best game in a long time on Thursday night. One thing that did become apparent on Turkey night was the arrival of Miami sophomore DE Calais Campbell as the next great NFL prospect from the U. He and Baraka Atkins were just superhuman.

"And when he had opened the seventh seal, there
was silence in heaven about the space of half
an hour".......all we need are the four horseman
and I'll know the Apocalypse is nigh.

I was right about Texas.....they stink. On this note, has there ever been a more overrated quarterback in the history of college football than Colt McCoy? Consider the following:
  • Colt's season statistics - 2262 yards, 68.7 completion %, 27:7 ratio
Very impressive........or are they?
  • Colt's statistics versus Ohio State, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Texas A&M (the four top teams he has played) - 642 yards, 61.5 completion %, 5:4 raio
Colt's pedestrian numbers versus top teams exposes him as the fraud that he is. This guy isn't fit to hold Major Applewhite's jock.

I was wrong about Wake Forest. It's time to give them their due. I admit that most of my picking against them was homerism, but part of me still felt that there was no way they could find themselves in the ACC title game. Well after watching them systematically dismantle Maryland, it is clear that they are the best team in the ACC and they will prove it by beating Georgia Tech in the conference title game. One final note on the Deacons, Senior WR Willie Idlett is one of best playes with the worst numbers you'll ever see. I've seen him play several times this season and he just feels like one of these 7th round draft picks who have productive NFL careers. Let's call him Troy Brown lite.

Trust me, the Willie Idlette can play.

I was right about LSU and Jamarcus Russell. Once again Russell was the difference between victory and defeat for the Tigers (well him and a 90 yard kickoff return). Russsell passed for 210 yards and 2 TD (against 0 INT) against one of the top defensive units in the entire nation. While LSU was unable to hold the Arkansas running game in check, both McFadden and Felix Jones topped 100 yards, Russell made the plays he needed to win the game. After seeing some troubling things from Brady Quinn on Sat. night (more on this later), I am becoming more and more confident that Russell might be the first QB taken if he comes out this season.

I was wrong about Pittsburgh. Earlier this season I touted both them and South Florida as possible tough games for any of the Big East top 3 teams. Well I could not have been more wrong about Pitt. While South Florida justified my statement about them with a shocking win over West Virginia Saturday (which was led by the best linebacking corpse in the nation), Pittsburgh stabbed me in the back once again by getting pasted by Louisville at home.

If I might quote my esteemed co-blogger:
"Wanny is trash!"

I was right about South Carolina. Spurrier has been knocking on the door all season and finally broke through with an impressive win at Clemson. The Gamecocks got 4 rushing TD's, and plenty of passing yards in finally getting a win over a ranked team. South Carolina will be a very interesting team in 2007. Although the SEC appears to be loaded once again (what else is new?), South Carolina boasts one of the best returning squads on paper. If Sidney Rice returns (which is likely given the dearth of WR in the 2006 draft class), Steve Spurrier could open next season returning his top two passers (Blake Mitchell and Syvelle Newton), top three rushers (Corey Boyd, Mike Davis, Newton), top four pass catchers (Rice, Ken McKinley, Boyd, Freddie Brown), four of their top five DB's (Emmanuelle Cook, Chri Hamtpn, Captain Munnerlyn and Stoney Woodson), the entire linebacking corpse (Marvin Sapp, Jasper Brinkley, Rodney Paulk), and the entire defensive line (Casper Brinkley, Eric Norwood, Jordin Lindsey, Nathan Pepper). Something tells me South Carolina will be dangerous in '07.

In case you couldn't guess, Casper
Jasper Brinkley are twin brother
.....and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the two
men who managed to grow up Thomson
GA with those names grew up to be
absolutely terrifying!

I was wrong about Georgia. Perhaps it was too early to leave them for dead. They have played so much better lately it begs the question of whether they underachieved during the first two thirds of the season. I viewed Georgia as a very young and raw team going into the season, and perhaps one that was very overrated. I even went so far to annoint them the favorite to be a preseason 2007 #1 prior to this season. For a while that statement looked insane.....now perhaps not so much.

I was right about Florida and Florida State. Florida sucks. Florida State sucks worse. Frankly, I don't think it's even possible to sum that game up any better.

I was wrong about Notre Dame. WOW, was I wrong. I stand by my assessment that the Pac-10 is somewhat overrated. But, in making that argument I totally ignored two things: (1) that USC is by far the class of the Pac-10, and (2) that the only reason Notre Dame has looked any good this season is because they have played an absolute joke of a schedule. USC was so much better than Notre Dame on Saturday night that it wasn't even funny. In a game that I was hoping would live up to the expectations placed on it prior to the season, USC totally outclassed the Irish in every phase of the game. If I were a Trojan fan, however, I would still be somewhat concerned with the intermittently excellent and inept play of John David Booty. It is clear he has the ability to be a top QB, but for some reason he continues to go through stretches of complete ineptness. This will not fly against Ohio State. Along these lines I made the following observations about some of the individual players in this game:
  • Dwayne Jarrett - Absolutely the best NFL prospect in all of college football. Calvin Johnson may have the numbers and the tools, but it is Jarrett who is the best football player. It's not the Jarrett shredded a terrible Irish secondary, but it's the manner that he did it in. Jarrett is one of these players that makes everything look so easy on the football field. Though he won't post the fastest 40 time at the combine, Jarrett gets into and out of his patterns quicker than anyone in the college game. He has long strides akin to those of Randy Moss, and is just as fluid a runner (though not as fast). As far as catching the ball goes, nobody looks more natural than Jarrett. He has long arms, but more importantly, he has powerful hands. He snatches the ball out of the air, and never appears to be fighting the football. Though many will try to compare him to former Trojan great Keyshawn Johnson, Jarrett's potential far exceeds the former #1 pick's.
  • Rhema McKnight - Absolutely the worst NFL prospect of any of the four WR playing in this game. Given that he was playing with three other likely high NFL prospects this normally wouldn't be such a disparaging remark. However, McKnight looked awful on Saturday. He dropped at least three passes (2 on fourth down), and was involved in several miscommunications with Brady Quinn where it was apparent McKnight ran the wrong pattern. McKnight did make some plays down the field, but he did not look like much of an NFL prospect.
  • Jeff Samardzjia - I love Samardzjia as an NFL prospect and he did nothing to sway my feelings against USC. Like Jarrett, Samardzjia looks so fluid running patterns and catching the ball. It looks as if he was put on this earth to do just that. Samardzjia does not run as well as Jarrett (though he is also 6'5'' his strides are shoter and choppier) nor does he snatch the ball on crossing routes as well. Where Samardzjia separats himself from the pack, though, is the way he attacks the ball when it is in the air, especially on fade routes in the endzone and deep down the sidelines. The "Shark" as he is known, could be deadly in the new NFL as his physical style puts opposing cornerbacks in a no win situation: play the ball and most likely lose out to the more aggressive Samardzjia, or make contact early and get called for a penalty.
  • Brady Quinn - Let's be clear on one thing, I basically assumed all season that Quinn would be the first overall pick in the draft. To be honest, I haven't really spent a lot of time evaluating him since this seemed like a foregon conclusion. After watching him play for, really, the first time this season, I am no longer so sure he is a can't miss NFL prospect. First the good. Quinn appears to be a real tough kid and an outstanding leader. He has an attitude about him and the supreme competitiveness you look for in a franchise QB. His intangibles are, at least for me, unquestioned after the USC game. What I saw in the game Saturday night that troubled me was purely mechanical. Basically it boiled down to two things. First, Quinn doesn't get the type of zip on his short to mid range passes that I had previously assumed he did. He is known to have an NFL arm, and he shows it off on the deep post and corner routes. However, the ability to throw the ball far and the ability to throw the ball hard are different skills. For example, Tom Brady can't heave the ball 70 yards like some NFL QB's, but he gets the ball to a WR running a 15 yard dig as quickly as anyone. Quinn doesn't get the type of velocity on these passes that he is going to need to play in the NFL. The ability to muscle throws into tight spots is paramount, given the fact that so many NFL teams play zone defenses. Second, Quinn's mechanics are below average. He has outstanding footwork but he doesn't throw the ball the way you would expect a 6'4'' 230 pound man to throw it. His motion is somewhat sidearm. Quinn's stature and throwing motion remind me a lot of David Carr. That's not a compliment by the way. Purely by way of comparison, while watching Quinn I switched to the Maryland-Wake game to compare the mechanics of Quinn to Maryland QB Sam Hollenbach. Hollenbach is also a 6'4'' QB but he, unlike Quinn, stands tall in the pocket and holds the ball high before delivering it. When Quinn throws the ball he lets his elbow drop which, at least, causes the ball to lose velocity. At worst it causes the throw to sail high. Quinn may be 6'4'' but, like Carr, he plays very short. There is no doubt that Quinn will be a high first round pick, but if I were the Oakland Raiders or the Cleveland Browns I would think long and hard about drafting someone else.

Quick Picks...  

Posted by Frazier

Not even sure I should give myself credit for last week's pick. Sure, I got it right in regards to the spread, but I couldn't have been more wrong about how the game was played. Still, I did recognize a ridiculous spread, so a win is a win. Since we have several non-Saturday games to pick this week, I don't have huge expectations. So we'll see how it turns out.

Miami +3 vs. BC

It's a Thursday game, meaning my instincts are totally off. This is the definition of a Costanza pick. This line seems way too low, Miami has totally quit on its' coach, and they are coming off a loss to a miserable Virginia squad (I am allowed to bash my alma mater). BC has everything to play for, and for some insane reason Miami is still getting tons of credit at home. Whatever, with my track record the big man would kill me if I picked his beloved Eagles in this one. Let's say the Hurricanes discover a magic fish that grants them three wishes, and they use all three winning this game, 20-17.

Texas -13.5 vs. Texas A&M

Why start backing the Aggies now? I have been saying for weeks they are going to get blown out in one of these games, so they are overdue. Of course, I've been wrong about them all season (except Franchione's ability to choke in big games). I think Texas is out to prove something this week. Unfortunately for them, stomping A&M doesn't actually prove anything since the Big 12 is shit. Oh well, Longhorns roll, 37-20.

Arkansas -1.5 vs. LSU

I've been talking up the Hogs for weeks now, so it makes sense that I like them in this game. LSU hasn't put it together against a big opponent, and I just don't trust them in Fayetteville. No one is playing better than McFadden these days, and he is going to use the national spotlight to shine. As long as Dick doesn't screw this up, the Hogs will take it. I think Dick stays calm, and the Hogs win, 23-17.

Florida -7 AT Florida St.

I initially had this pick the other way. Because, honestly, who is Florida beating soundly? I mean, they have a close scrape virtually every week and are entirely uninspiring. Then I remembered the 'Noles getting rolled by Wake at home, and realized that as weak as Florida has seemed, Florida St. has been infinitely worse. Sometimes, it just doesn't matter that it's a rivalry game. Sometimes, one team is just worse, plain and simple. So the Gators win, and I watch about five minutes of this snoozer, 27-17.

Clemson +2.5 vs. South Carolina

Another mysterious line. I love Spurrier, don't get me wrong, but Clemson has loads of talent, and when they are playing right they can be simply dominant. Also, they are at home. I have memories of them simply taking it to Georgia Tech in Death Valley, and I can just picture them doing it again. The spread essentially makes this one a pick 'em, and even though it kills me to take Tommy Bowden over Spurrier, I really don't have much of a choice. Tommy couldn't take yours'n and beat his'n in this one, but all he has to do is take his'n and beat yours'n, and since he's got the talent, he will. The Tigers win, 24-17.

Boise St. -2.5 AT Nevada

I almost feel like giving a pep talk to the Broncos this week. This is an enormous game for them. I am honestly a little nervous for my boys. But then I remember Ian Johnson is prominently involved. He is going to be huge in this one, and the Broncos are going to be ok. I hope. They win, 35-24.

Maryland vs. Wake Forest (pick 'em)

A second game where I totally changed my mind. And another one featuring ACC teams, mostly because they are generally terrible and I can't trust them. Every time a team starts looking good, they totally shit the bed. As both of these teams did last week. The reason I am picking Maryland is because Wake suffered losses to its' running corps, and I just don't know if they'll have anyone to lug the ball. Without that balance, Wake is cooked. Also, while they have had a great year, I just don't trust them to finish. That can be the hardest part for a team trying to break through. The Terps completely shot themselves in the foot last week, but had been playing very well before that. I think they regain a step, and take this one, 28-24.

USC -6 vs. Notre Dame

Literally, anything could happen in this one. For me, it's pretty simple. I think Notre Dame is secretly lousy. My suspicion is that this game will be like the Fiesta Bowl last year, and they will be totally overwhelmed. They played completely out of their minds last year, converted a miraculous number of third and fourth downs, and still lost that game (although it was damned close). I just feel it will take a similar effort to win this year, and they just don't have it in them. USC is ready to go after a tough challenge last week, and Carroll is undefeated in November. Notre Dame has to remember what it's like to play a legit team. Of course, the Trojans could simply choose not to show up (which they sometimes do) and get way behind early. I have a feeling they manage to focus for long periods of time, and they get the huge win, 38-27.

Last week: 1-0
Season: 42-23-1

Weekend Picks  

Posted by Walter

Boston College -3 over @ Miami

Folks, these are teams going in opposite directions. As I pointed out earlier, BC has a great coach and a ton of young talent to build around. They are poised for a major BCS run in 2007. Miami, on the other hand, has, for all intents and purposes, a lame duck coach, and unsettled positions all over the offense and defense. The Hurricanes are playing for a .500 season and a bowl berth, but they know that this means nothing to the Coral Gables faithful. BC is playing for a chance to make the ACC title game and a major BCS bowl (if Wake loses, more on this in a moment). It's thanksgiving night, almost exactly 22 years to the date of Doug Flutie's famous hail mary pass to beat Miami in the Orange Bowl. BC has more to play for, and they haven't quit on their coach. The Eagles take it in a closer game that it should be. Call it BC 24-17.

Yes you all may recognize this picture, but how
many of you know that the pass was caught by
Gerard Phelan or that the play was called 55
Flood Tip?

Texas A&M +13.5 @ Texas

I'll admit it, I just don't like this Texas team. Last year's team was so likeable with Vince Young running, Mike Huff hitting, and Mack Brown putting rap music on his IPod. I remember watching A&M hang with the Horns last season for three quarters behind a gutty performance from Stephen McGee (filling in for the injured Reggie McNeal). McGee is one of my favorite players in the nation and he always seems to play his best when the spotlight shines its brightest. The Texas defense was totally exposed by Kansas State and A&M has more talent in McGee and Jorvorski Lane. I think Texas will still win the game, but I don't want to root for them so I will take A&M 35-34.

LSU +1.5 over @ Arkansas

Arkansas has been great this season, but they have been totally one dimensional. The Razorbacks have made some big plays in the passing game to Marcus Monk and Co., but they rely 100% on the running game to move the chains. LSU has shown perhaps the best run defense in the nation with massive D Tackles and speedy linebackers. The LSU run defense agains the Arkansas run offense is really one of the best matchups of the season. Arkansas is the younger of the two teams, and I believe Jamarcus Russell will make the plays he needs to late in the game. LSU will get more from it's passing game than Arkansas will get from it's running game. They take it 16-14.

Florida -7 over @ Florida State

Florida sucks. Florida State sucks more. It's as simple as that.

South Carolina +2.5 over @ Clemson

This line would have been a gimme (for Clemson) a mere 4 weeks ago. At that point Clemson was rolling along towards a BCS bowl bid. Since then, Clemson has lost several games and looked terrible doing so. South Carolina, on the other hand, has lost several games but has looked good doing so. I have been banking on Steve Spurrier winning one of these games for his team the past few weeks and I am not ever jumping off his bandwagon. Clemson is vulnerable and South Carolina and Blake Mitchell are getting better each week. The South Carolina defense, led by twins Jasper and Casper Brinkley, is an underrated unit that has also improved a ton over the course of the season. I expect a ton of passing yards from Mitchell, and a rather easy Gamecock win. Call it South Carolina 27-17.

Boise State -2.5 over @ Nevada

Boise State can smell the BCS. Nevada is a very good team with an outstanding coach in college football hall of famer Chris Ault, but Boise is going to be way too jacked up for this game to be stopped. Boise is a veteran team that has come close before. They won't take anything for granted and will show up in Reno ready to play. Even without Ian Johnson the Broncos are going to have way too much firepower on offense for Nevada to handle. Jeff Rowe is a capable QB, but he needs to have the game of his life for the Wolfpack to have a chance. Give me Boise 35-24.

@ Maryland over Wake Forest

If Wake loses, BC wins the ACC Coastal division and plays Georgia Tech for the right to play in a BCS bowl. Ain't no way I am picking Wake here. Give me Maryland 24-20.

How about just a little more good karma for BC?
Go Maryland!

Notre Dame +6 over @ USC

The other defacto semifinal game in the annual BCS "playoff." It is a strange game to pick for several reasons. First, we don't really know how good Notre Dame is. Yes they beat up on the likes of Army, Navy and Air Force, but they got punked at home by Michigan and needed miraculous comebacks to beat both Michigan State and UCLA. My gut is that with all that NFL talent on the roster the Irish are pretty darn good, but we haven't seen it on the field just yet. Second, we don't really know how good USC is. They have won the games they have needed to in the Pac-10 but they haven't exactly done it convincingly. Some posit that it is because the Pac-10 is an underrated conferene because its middle of the road teams are better than other conferences. While it is true that Arizona, Washington State and Oregon State may be better than their counterparts in other BCS conferences, I would actually contend that the Pac-10 is a weaker conference than we may think. Just look at some of these results when Pac-10 teams have played opponents from other BCS conferences (or top 25 teams):
  • LSU 45 Arizona 3
  • Tennessee 35 California 18
  • Oregon 35 Oklahoma 34 (we know that this should have been an Oregon loss)
  • Boise State 42 Oregon State 14
  • Notre Dame 20 UCLA 17
  • Oklahoma 37 Washington 20
  • Auburn 40 Washington State 14
In general the Pac-10 has not fared well at all against top teams from outside their own conference. That said, USC is the best of the bunch.

OK so there is a lot we don't know about this game. What do we know? Well, I know that there are going to be a lot of passing yards and a lot of points. You could make an argument that there has never been 4 better WR on the field in a single game in the history of college football than we will see on Sat. (Jarrett, Smith, Samardzia, and McKnight). While the Irish passing game may be more polished, the USC secondary is better. Still, expect close to 400 yards and 4 TD from each team's passing game. The achilles heel of Notre Dame all season has been their pass protection. Though Pete Carroll will look to exploit this, the Trojans have not rushed the passer well this season. This will be the difference in the game. You can't give a QB the caliber of Quinn and an offensive mind the caliber of Weis all day to throw the ball. Notre Dame wins an absolute shootout 43-40. Quinn's huge day won't win him the Heisman, but it will win him the #1 overall pick in the draft......a much more valuable prize.

Power Rankings  

Posted by Walter

#1 Ohio State

Walter: Well there really isn't anymore debate on this one. Ohio State's offense proved just how dominant they can be in dropping 40+ on the vaunted Michigan defense last Saturday. The most impressive thing, though: Ohio State scored 5 touchdowns, each by a different player. As I opined earlier this week, the way you win in college football is to shut down your opponent's best players. Well, when your opponent has the depth and talent at all the skill positions that the Buckeye's do it is impossible to do that.

Frazier - They should probably be both one AND two. Or the next team should be ranked third or something, because they are head and shoulders above everyone else right now. They thoroughly outplayed the Wolverines, and were a couple of self-inflicted turnovers from breaking the game wide open. The best football team in the land, bar-none.

#2 Michigan

Walter: Whether Michigan would beat Ohio State in a rematch is immaterial. Given the system we have they are the most deserving team for the final spot in the BCS championship game (for more on this see the Quick Hitch debate). As for their game against Ohio State, Michigan lost for one reason: Chad Henne just isn't as good as Troy Smith. Smith made plays when his team needed him too, while Henne kept audibling and confusing everyone. One more note: Mike Hart is a lot better than people think. He and Smith were the two best players on the field Saturday, and frankly it wasn't close.

Frazier - Michigan lost because its' vaunted defense gave up 42 points, allowed multiple big plays, and failed to make enough big plays of their own. Henne didn't help, but if you'd told me that the Wolverines would score 39 points AT Ohio St. I would have bet my life savings on them winning the game. Michigan hangs around here because of the one-loss teams there's is least devestating, but this does not change my position regarding the title game. Furthermore, there are plenty of huge games to go before anyone has to make that decision.

#3 USC

Walter: If USC runs the gamut of California, Notre Dame, and UCLA unscathed they will have earned the right to play in the title game and I won't be too upset about it. While I maintain that Michigan is he more deserving team, USC has really been impressive this season. If healthy (which they presumably would be with 40 days to rest before a showdown in Glendale), the Trojans are the only team in the nation that can match OSU's offensive firepower. The Buckeyes have Troy Smith, Tedd Ginn, Anthony Gonzalez, and Antonio Pittman. The Trojans have John David Booty, Dwayne Jarrett, Steve Smith, and a whose who of Parade All Americans in their backfield. If they do make the title game, USC will have done so, however, becuase of their defense. This unit has made huge strides this season since being embarrassed by Vince Young in the Rose Bowl. With nearly a month and a half to prepare for the Buckeyes I bet that Pete Carroll could come up with something to make it a game!

Frazier - A completely confusing team. Like many of Carroll's squads in SoCal, they have enormous talent, and yet disappear for whole stretches of games. They routinely took quarters or whole halves off against opponents last year, and they haven't really kicked the habit. After doing nothing for an entire half against Cal they decided to focus for a minute, reeled off a couple of quick touchdowns on incredibly impressive drives, and then sort of zoned out again until they discovered the game was over. Honestly, if they are able to maintain a consistent effort on both sides of the ball for the rest of the year, they are going to be a very, very, very dangerous bunch.

#4 Arkansas

Walter: Arkansas has been somewhat of a revelation this year. They arrived on the scene a season earlier than expected and should be nearly unstoppable next year. Lost in the shuffle has been the amazing job done by Razorback offensive coordinator Gus Mahlzan. Many assumed that Mahlzan was brought in simply as leverage to get super recruit Mitch Mustain. While that may be true, it turns out that Mahlzan is a fantastic offensive mind. Mahlzan has proven to be one of the most creative coaches in the nation in finding ways to get the ball to his playmakers Darren McFadden, Felix Jones, and Marcus Monk. He has used everything from Wing T motion to single wing formations (with McFadden at QB) and it has all worked. If Arkansas beats LSU this Saturday and then takes care of business against Florida in the SEC title game, they, not USC, may find themselves in Glendale playing Ohio State.

Frazier - Even with their vaunted running attack slowed down, they found a way to win. I love how they have kept defenses guessing, and are finding ways to have McFadden make a difference. He is a physical freak! As long as Dick (or whoever is at quarterback) doesn't go all Teel on them, they have an excellent chance to run off a pair of very impressive victories.

#5 Florida

Walter: Ugh, if the football gods are paying any attention this week they will let the Gators lost to the Seminoles and end this charade that may end up with Florida in the national title game. Trust me, if they end up in Glendale over Michigan we could be looking at Miami-Nebraska all over again! And that's all I really have to say about that.

Frazier - I hate that the big man invoked my beloved 'Huskers to denigrate the Gators, but he has a point. That title game was so disgusting that while I made arrangements to watch the game at my girlfriends house on a trip to California (even though her parents didn't understand football and thought I was nuts) I also made a back-up plan for around halftime if things started going disastrously. Needless to say, the back-up was invoked and I ended up having a blast at some random party. If that Gators end up in the title game I will once again have to develop an emergency escape plan in case of a blowout. Oh, and blowing out Western Carolina is not going to get me to change my mind, not even a little.

#6 Notre Dame

Walter: Notre Dame needs a win, and a huge one at that, against USC to have any chance at making the title game. And even if they get it I still have a hard time forgetting that they got blown out by Michigan in South Bend. Still, even though Notre Dame hasn't played anyone with a pulse since Michigan, I have a sneaking feeling that they are going to give USC all they can handle and possibly win the game. As great as Brady Quinn has been at Notre Dame he still lacks a signature win. The defense is still nothing special, but with Quinn, McKnight and Samardzjia the Irish should be able to hang with anyone.

Frazier - While I still believe that Notre Dame is terrible, I also believe that USC doesn't always exactly "show up". My only solace is the fact that there is no way in hell Notre Dame is jumping in front of Michigan in the title picture. As much as I don't want a rematch, I don't want a replay of the Buckeyes running all over the Irish in the desert. What can you say about this team? They won the Commander-in-Chiefs trophy handily, and managed to not suffer any significant injuries. If Boise St. had switched uniforms with this crowd at the beginning of the year, would you expect the record to be any different given this schedule? Probably not. Who the fuck are these guys?

#7 Boise State

Walter: They have an absolutely huge game this weekend at Nevada, one that will, in all reality, make or break this program. First under Dirk Koetter, then under Dan Hawkins, and now under Chris Peterson, Boise State has long been on the cusp of national relevance. Boise was supposed to be the first non BCS conference team to make a major bowl, but that title now belongs to Utah. With a win over Nevada, Boise St. all but guarantees themselves an at large bid to the big show. Then all they have to do is prove they belong with a win (like Utah). With Ian Johnson (assuming he's healthy) and Jared Zabransky in the backfield, this team can compete with anyone.

Frazier - Note that my esteemed co-blogger failed to mention John L. Smith's work up in Boise. Oh yeah, he won there too. Anyways, my boys from the beginning of the year are on the verge, and are playing probably the biggest game in school history against Nevada this week. I love how they have morphed was a crazy passing attack to a potent running game with the advent of Johnson (Zabransky can make plenty of plays with his feet, too). This team's consistency has put them in this position, and they have to hope that their talent will bring them to the promised land of the BCS.

#8 Wisconsin

Walter: Ladies and gentleman, may I present to you the chic team for 2007. As huge a season as Wisconsin has had this year, they are going to be even better next year. PJ Hill has been a revelation, and in the past two games Tyler Donovan has proved that he is more than capable of taking over for John Stocco (who seems like he has been in college forever!). The defense was young but effective this season, especially in the secondary where they have 3 players coming back. This is truly one of the underrated programs in the nation (remember their bowl domination of Auburn last season?), but they won't ever take the next step until they play for a national title. The Badgers look to have the talent and certainly the coaching (assuming they can keep Bret Beilema) to take the next step in 2007 or 2008.

Frazier - I have to quickly concur regarding Stocco. Wow, he's been around forever. Are you sure he didn't suit up with Brent Moss in that 1993 Rose Bowl? Anyways, once again I have to praise consistency, since they haven't actually beaten anybody. Still, they set a record for wins at a school with a strong history, and they won the games they were supposed to. The future is certainly bright. I, for one, can't wait to learn a little bit more about them when they suit up in a bowl game.

#9 LSU

Walter: Well the laws of attrition cause the Tigers to rise a spot even though they struggled to beat an SEC cellar dweller this past weekend. LSU has been somewhat of an enigma under Les Miles. They always have top tier talent but they never really perform up to it. Offensively this team has been one sided all season, with Jamarcus Russell carrying both the passing and running games. We all know I love Russell's ability and if he chooses to return to Baton Rouge next season (word is he is planning on coming out early, but if you ask me he'd be wise to stay) they are going to be my early pick for the SEC title over a Florida team that will be completely overrated heading into next season. Still a win over Arkansas on Saturday and then a bowl win would do wonders for the confidence of this team, and would probably vault them into the final poll top 5.

Frazier - We may have an addiction problem with the Bayou Bengals. Honestly, we keep moving them into the rankings, even when we're not totally sold. The fact that they get credit this week after surviving Ole Miss is not unlike Boise St. getting a boost after a close scrape against San Jose St. It's all about the attrition, baybee! LSU has plenty of talent, their losses were to good schools in difficult environments, and they have some pretty nice wins. Basically, they are less flawed than the schools that follow them. One more loss, however, and I'm going cold turkey on these guys.

#10 Louisville

Walter: OK let me explain how we ended up with the Cardinals here: First I had WVU because of their impressive second half over Pitt. Then Frazier pointed out that we really couldn't put WVU over Louisville because of the head to head. I didn't want Louisville so I tried Oklahoma who is one terrible call away from being a one loss team and easily in the top 10. But then Frazier once again correctly pointed out that we couldn't put Oklahoma in over a 2 loss Texas team that beat them. So then it came down to Louisville and Texas. They both played at Kansas State, one team won handily, the other lost. And there you have it folks, Louisville.

Frazier - The big man pretty much stole my thunder with his explanation here. His comparison between Texas and Louisville was very apt, and probably more objective than my "I just can't stand Texas, they're total shit" argument. So thanks for that one, buddy. I am willing to say that they just had a bad half against Rutgers, and really are a better team than they showed that night. Still, the 323 came extremely close to just debuting our first "Power 9" so we didn't have to deal with them.


This is a new feature and one we should have been doing all season. In this spot we recognize a team that is not in the power 10 but has really played well. This week we choose Hawaii.

Walter: Hawaii has really been impressive this season and June Jones deserves a ton of credit. The program was in absolute shambles when he took over, but his high octaned run and shoot offense has infused the island with so much excitement. QB Colt Brennan and WR Davone Bess are arguably the two top NFL prospects in the history of the school, and they have produced as such. What is most impressive is that Hawaii has put up prolific numbers against top competition this year. Though they lost to Alabama and Boise State, they still put up a ton of offense. With Oregon State and Purdue coming to Hawaii in the next two weeks, look for the Warriors to make a major statement with some aerial fireworks against these two BCS teams.

Frazier - I am thrilled about this new feature to the 323, and am excited that our first team to be so honored are the boys from the islands. Jones has really done something with this team, and I just lament the fact that they chose to stay home and play some weak sister opponent in the Hawaii bowl. But I guess we'll just have to enjoy the next couple of weeks when schools from BCS conferences say aloha to the run and shoot, and find out what a passing game is really all about. It's also nice to see that Brennan has bounced back from some poor choices he made at Colorado. Now he has his sights set on multiple passing records. Like his coach, Colt has managed to find redemption on the island.

Quick Hitch...  

Posted by Frazier

How the fuck do we know that Michigan and Ohio St. are the best two teams? Explain this to me. They are undoubtedly the best teams in the Big 10, and the midwest with Michigan's win over Notre Dame. If Ohio St. beat Michigan again and won the title, they would have the weakest resume of any national champion I can remember. Because really, who the fuck is Michigan? They stormed a shitty Notre Dame team and a Wisconsin team which has played a single ranked team ALL SEASON, and lost that game.

Ohio St. would have beat TWO ranked teams. One of them would be a Texas team breaking in a new quarterback. The other would be a pair of victories over a Michigan team that had only proved that they weren't as good as the Buckeyes.

Fuck it, you're smarter than this. Tell me you watched that game and didn't think that Ohio St. was absolutely, positively, the superior team. Shit, the Wolverines are lucky they didn't get run the fuck out of that stadium. With a center who could snap the ball, the Buckeyes beat them comfortably.

It's a NATIONAL championship. We can watch, and speculate, and do all that bullshit, but the only thing we can KNOW are the results. Well, the results are in. Ohio State is better than Michigan. They are. They beat Michigan 7 times out of 10, but if they lost a rematch they would be the lesser team? Really? If this game wasn't definitive, what's to say the next one would be. Also, both these teams have been prepping for this game for over a month, so the lay-off for the bowl game wouldn't make much of a difference.

If Sparty hangs on against Notre Dame, and UCLA doesn't blow it, then the Irish have 3 losses and NO ONE is saying boo about Michigan.

And you know what? I am sick of this "good loss" or "bad loss" bullshit. Losing is fucking losing. It's that simple. I don't think anyone thinks that Oregon St. is really a better team than USC, so really USC fucked up. It's that simple. However, extenuating circumstances explain some losses. Like Arkansas against USC, that was an impossible game for them, I can understand that loss. Michigan simply got beat. No other way to describe it. Frankly, while it was only 3 points to be country's best team, this would be called a "bad loss" for me, because they definitely got beat, and if anything were lucky it was that close. Oklahoma losing to Oregon? That's not a bad loss. Remember Fresno St.'s "good loss" to USC last year? Yeah, then they shit the bed and couldn't stop losing the entire next season. Fuck it, Illinois was as close to beating Ohio St. as Michigan was, so do we count that as a win for them as well? No. They lost. So you know what, don't lose. And if you do lose your final game against your most bitter rivals for a shot at the national championship? Fuck you, go home.

If Ohio St. beat Michigan again (and they would) their title would be tainted. If they beat USC or Arkansas or Florida, it would not be, because they would have DEFINITIVELY beaten the best teams in the country. Say Ohio St. wins handily. Say Notre Dame loses to USC and then loses a bowl game to Florida or someone. Say Wisconsin loses their bowl game too, maybe to Auburn and maybe it's not close. Well, then Ohio St. will have won a championship based on their dominance of a team without a truly impressive win all season. And what if Texas loses a couple more? Than would Ohio St. have won a title without beating any legit team all season? Is this what we want.

A rematch provides the potential for a national title leaving me wanting more. A different opponent does not. If another opponent beat Ohio St. they'd be undisputed champs. If Michigan did, especially if it were close, they'd just be tied for the year, hardly compelling. If Ohio St. beats another top program, than they are definitely champs as well. Since they already beat the two second ranked teams in a row, that's impressive.

We have been wrong about juggernauts before. An Oklahoma team that everyone thought was world caliber being destroyed by USC, a Miami team that people were talking about beating NFL teams losing to Ohio St. Those are examples of the past five years. Alabama beating another Miami juggernaut is a classic. I want Ohio St. to play the best teams in the country. I want them to prove to me how good they are. They already beat Michigan, and they have nothing to prove to me on that measure.

The best two teams played already. But those were the best two teams based off our perceptions, our feelings about them, our intuition. But games are decided on the field. That one was decided. So let's try something else. Maybe Ohio St. beats whoever they play, and if so, they're the champs. But let's make the effort to fucking find out.

The Team

How's the look?