The Great Debate: SEC  

Posted by Frazier

I see you trying your lawyer-ly best on this one, but it's not going to save you this time, big man. Of course the SEC is overrated if you choose to use the most absurd hyperbole imaginable. EVERYONE is overrated if you rate them higher than anyone can reasonably attain.

It's like saying the 1927 Yankees are "overrated" if you are arguing against the premise "The 1927 Yankees are the finest collection of human beings ever assembled."

Now, if you were to argue that they are "overrated" based on the argument that "The 1927 Yankees are the greatest baseball team ever assembled" well, that's a different story. (Which we're not about to get in to here, since we're all about college football).

So if the argument is "The SEC is a no-holds-barred death match every single week, where losing teams are burned at the stake, and winning only comes second to physically surviving the game" well, you're probably right. I mean, at the end of the day the SEC is just a very, very good football conference. Not some gladiator style fight in the Roman Coliseum.

On the other hand, if we're arguing that the SEC is, far and away, and by a wide margin, the best college football conference in America, well, it's hard to say they're overrated. Impossible, actually. They finished the season with possibly the 2 best teams in the country, and SIX top 25 teams (2 more than the next closest conference).

You want to talk depth? Over the past 15 seasons, 4 different SEC teams (Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, LSU) have won a national title, and another one (Auburn) has gone undefeated TWICE and been shut out of the title game. Now THAT is some depth.

The Great Debate: The SEC  

Posted by Walter

Frazier, I literally cannot believe your entire argument consists of "The SEC is the best conference in the nation, therefore it's not possible for it to be overrated." In taking that position you are ignoring the entire essence of the argument. There is no debate that the SEC is far and away the best conference in the land, but let's take a step back and view it through the proper lens.

First and foremost we have every SEC coach, player, and yahoo fan whining that without a playoff they can never challenge for a national title because it's too hard to go undefeated through the SEC (yeah Tommy Tubberville, I'm talking about you!). Please! You listen to these morons long enough and you'd think these SEC teams were playing in the AFC. Since I'm using Auburn as the example here, why don't we take a look at the "herculean task" that was their conference schedule last season:

  • @ Mississippi State - A team that finished 3-9 overall and hasn't won more than 3 games in over 5 seasons. Where I come from, we call that a gimme.
  • LSU - A difficult game no doubt. LSU counts as elite competition.
  • @ South Carolina - A solid team on the rise, but they have a combined 21-15 record over the past 3 seasons. By way of comparison, the University of Minnesota out of the Big-10 was a very comparable 20-17 over that same span.
  • Arkansas - Another very solid team. Certainly not elite, and probably not as good as they showed during the regular season. Remember, this was a one-dimensional Arkansas team that had their game handed to them by Wisconsin, a similar type team from a supposedly weaker conference.
  • Florida - Obviously elite competition.
  • @ Mississippi - Here we go again. Another terrible team, that hasn't won more than 4 games since Eli Manning left town. Like their cross state rivals, this one is a gimme.
  • Georgia - Another solid team, but were they really that great in 2006. Yes they beat a solid Virginia Tech team in their bowl game, but this is the same team that had to come from behind at home to beat a terrible Colorado team 14-13, lost to Tennessee at home by 18 points, lost to Vanderbilt at home, and beat the aforementioned gimme Mississippi State at home by only 3 points. In a word, the Bulldogs stunk.
  • And finally, they beat a mediocre at best Alabama team that hasn't been relevant since the early 1990's.
OK so by my count that gives Auburn 2 games against elite competition (Florida and LSU), 2 gimmes (Mississippi and Mississippi St.), 1 game against good competition (Arkansas), and 3 games against mediocre/inconsistent competition (South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama).

Is the schedule difficult? Yes, of course. But is it the bare knuckled death match week in and week out that SECers would have us believe. No freaking way!

Look we all killed the Big 10 for being soft last year, but by way of exercise, why don't we compare Auburn's SEC schedule to Michigan's Big 10 schedule. For Michigan in 2006 I count 2 games against elite competition (Wisconsin and Ohio State), 1 game against good competition (Penn. State - and quiet down all you SEC yahoos, the Nittany Lions dismantled your precious Tennessee Volunteers in their bowl game), 1 game against mediocre/inconsistent competition (Iowa), and 4 gimmes (Minnesota, Northwestern, Indiana, Michigan State). BUT....and it's a big BUT.....I would be remiss not to mention that since the Big 10 isn't quite as revered as the mortal combat tournament that is the SEC, Michigan simply cannot get away with a joke of a non-conference schedule (something we let all SEC teams off the hook for). Thus the Wolverines travelled to Notre Dame, giving them at least one more game against good competition.

So what's the verdict? Well if you ask me, Michigan's schedule is NOT appreciably worse than Auburn's. We all agree that the Big 10 sucks and it isn't nearly as good as the SEC, right? Well then how can this be? I am not sure, but it be. I think we all need to just accept the fact that the SEC, while the best conference in the land, isn't quite the week-in-week-out fight to the death that SEC yahoos claim it is.

So basically, shut the hell up Tommy Tubberville!

The Great Debate: SEC  

Posted by Frazier

Ok, I'm finally back on this beast.

Apparantly the big man felt bad for my suddenly busy work schedule, because not only did he lob me a soft one, but he actually provided the fodder I needed to make my case. Let's review:

The claim: The SEC is the best conference, and it isn't close.

The facts: Well, Florida are the national champs, and it was not remotely close. At end of the season the second best team in the country was either LSU or USC. Furthermore, Florida may have obliterated the Buckeyes, but had a tough time in the own conference. So the SEC has the best teams, undeniably. And those teams had a tough year with lots of close wins.

Let's look at the other conferences:

Pac-10: USC might be a beast, but the #2 Cal Bears got STOMPED by Tennessee, a middle of the road SEC team. No one else was better than mediocre.

Big Ten: Um, the top two teams got absolutely wood-shedded. Overrated much?

Big East: Please. Louisville was nice, but that isn't a top conference.

Big 12: When your champ gets beat by Boise St. well, you can't be #1, or even close to it (no offense to Boise, who was a great team, but a powerhouse program like Oklahoma should handle you). Also, Texas struggled mightily against an under-achieving Iowa team. Not even in the conversation.

ACC: Yeah, the top team was Wake Forest. I don't think we need to be discussing them here.

So which was the best conference? Well, it was the SEC. Was it close? No. No it was not.

Not even remotely.

The verdict: The SEC was the best conference, by a country mile.

Overrated: No. How can you be overrated when everyone says it's the best conference, and it isn't close, and the facts prove those two things? No matter how much hyperbole people may want to use, the basic facts are undeniable. The SEC is the champ. Hands-down.

Farewell to a Coach....  

Posted by Frazier

Unfortunately all the recent concerns about Terry Hoeppner's health were well-founded. Terry lost his battle with brain cancer early this morning. We've been following this story pretty closely at the 323, not just because it's a college football story, but because Frazier had a close family friend fight, and eventually lose, the same battle that Terry was fighting. It's a horrible, terrifying disease. As a football coach, Hep seemed to finally have Indiana pointed in the right direction, and it's a tragedy that he and his players will never have the opportunity to fulfill that dream.

But Terry Hoeppner was more than a football coach. He was a husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, friend, and mentor. He will be missed by everyone who knew and loved him.

He will be missed.

Quick Hitch  

Posted by Walter

While I wait patiently for Frazier to respond to my argument that the SEC is overrated (perhaps his silence is a function of the strength of my argument.....or perhaps he's just really busy), I cam across this story from Sports Illustrated all but proclaiming the WAC as the best non-BCS conference school. Now, giving respect to non-BCS conference programs is a major point of interest for me. As our loyal readers may have been able to discern from some of the games I chose for Frazier and I to pick during the season, I am a firm believer that there is great football played outside the BCS Conferences. Given my affinity for "mid-major football", I admit that it is a bit ironic that I am the one calling out an article that raises awareness of these great teams, however singling out the WAC as the end-all-be-all of non BCS football is as foolish as it is irresponsible.

I concede that with the success of Boise State and Hawaii last season the WAC is somewhat of a sexy pick as the best non-BCS conference. But I am not here to debate the merits of that argument. Heck any conference that sports a Pat Hill led Fresno State team and a Chris Ault led Nevada team in addition to the aforementioned Boise State and Hawaii contingencies (Chris Peterson and June Jones respectively) has its fair share of good teams. But the quality of the league notwithstanding, annointing the WAC without so much as a nod to some of the other non-BCS leagues is just not fair or accurate.

Specifically, I have a problem with the ommission of two leagues (which happen to be two of my favorite conferences to watch):

1) The Mountain West

Perhaps Mr. McCartney felt that his article was only big enough for one Western U.S. athletic conference, perhaps he just forgot. Regardless, the MWC, NOT the WAC, is the best non-BCS conference in the land. What's that you say? The MWC roster of teams can't possible stack up against the Boise and Hawaii led WAC? Bullshit. In fact, not only does the MWC have better top tier teams, but it's a much deeper conference. Consider the following:

  • Top tier teams - Brigham Young, Utah, and TCU are ALL in the class of Boise and Hawaii. In fact, given that Utah was THE non-BCS team to finally break through into a major bowl game, and that BYU and TCU are the only ones of the bunch to have ever even played in a national title game, one could make the argument that the MWC elite leaves the WAC elite in the dust. Moreover, as good as Boise and Hawaii were last season, I will contend that this year's TCU team is the best non-BCS conference team in the past 10 years. Both Boise and Hawaii have fumbled big time when they've played major conference opponents during the regular season, my money is on TCU staying with and possibly beating Texas when thay play this year.
  • League depth - The WAC has solid second tier teams like Fresno and Nevada, and and up and coming team in San Jose State. But outside of that the league is pretty pathetic. Idaho, New Mexico State, Louisiana Tech and Utah State were a combined 12-37 last year, and it's not exactly like any of those schools have a rich football tradition to rest on. The rest of the MWC, however, stacks up very favorably. While teams like Wyoming, Air Force and Colorado State struggled last season, all three of those schools have enjoyed major periods of success in the last decade. Even MWC bottom dwellers like San Diego State and UNLV have produced big time NFL talent in recent years (guys like Eric Wright, Adam Seward, Will Demps, the Gbaja-Biamila boys, Laroi Glover, Kyle Turley and of course Marshall Faulk all come to mind), while their WAC counterparts have far less to speak of (Chris Cooley from Utah State is the only notable alum).
The bottom line is that Mr. McCartney has gotten all swept up in the Boise/Hawaii love fest, and has irresponsibly annointed the WAC the "best of the rest" without due dilligence. The MWC clearly needs some love.

2) The Mid American Conference

OK well I went a little overboard in my defense of the MWC so I'll keep this short. The fact that Mr. McCartney did not so much as mention the MAC in his article is embarrassing. While I am not sure the MAC even employs defensive coaches, you simply cannot argue with the quality of offensive players that have come out of MAC programs in recent years. Neither the WAC nor the MWC can compete with the list of former MAC players currently in the NFL. Most notably the MAC has: Ben Roethlisberger, Dwight Smith, Jason Taylor, Joe Staley, LJ Shelton, Michael Turner, and Chester Taylor). For those of you scoring at home those players have combined for: 2 Super Bowls, 2 first round picks, and 7 pro bowl appearances.

The MAC does not have the quality at the top or the depth to contend for best overall non-BCS team, but they clearly have the best lineage to the NFl and that counts for something!

Quick Hitch....  

Posted by Frazier

Sorry, my response to the big man's position on the SEC will probably have to wait until next week. Unfortunately I actually have to work a little these days, and it's totally throwing a monkey wrench into all my screwing around activities.

I just wanted to mention this news article about Terry Hoeppner, the coach at Indiana. We've stated before that we hoped this situation could be resolved with Hep healthy and coaching from the sidelines. Unfortunately, it looks like his health will once again prevent him from leading the Hoosiers this year.

We can all just hope that this latest news does not signify problems with Hep's recovery, or a recurrence on his brain cancer. It's a shame he won't be leading his team next year, but let's hope he's out there ready for 2008. The 323 is in your corner, coach.

Don't quit.

The Great Debate: The SEC  

Posted by Walter

Now that we've come to some sort of "conclusion" regarding Pete Carroll, it's time now to turn to another great debate. This time the question is whether the SEC, as a conference, is overrated.

I say yes, and not only that the SEC overrated, but outside of the Big 10 it is the MOST overrated conference in the country. Let's be clear on one thing, though. The SEC is clearly the best and most competitive conference in the nation. It's just that listening to national pundits and, more obnoxiously, SEC fans talk about the conference, you'd think you were dealing with some sort of Mortal Kombat for football. The SEC is a great conference, but it's not nearly the week-in, week-out death match that SECers would have us believe.

Just how good is the SEC vis-a-vis the rest of the nation? - Well we all know that Florida and LSU both took care of business in their BCS bowls, but what about the rest? Alabama lost to a very mediocre Oklahoma State team. Arkansas (supposedly the conference's #3 team) lost to an untested Wisconsin team (who, by the way, was coming out of the wildly overrated Big 10). And Tennessee was beaten soundly by yet another weak Big 10 team in Penn State. Yes I know that teams like Auburn (over Nebraska), Georgia (over Va Tech) and Kentucky (over Clemson) had nice victories, but are any of those victories enough to offset the losses. Its impossible to ignore what Florida and LSU did, but isn't it possible that their big wins have brought on the hype just a bit too much?

The Great Debate: Pete Carroll Verdict  

Posted by Walter

OK so the bantering is over and now it's time for a verdict. Is Pete Carroll the best coach in college football? Well if I might borrow a quote from Reverand Lovejoy of the Simpsons "Short answer no with an if, long answer yes with a but."

First the short answer. Pete Carroll is a great coach and there is no doubting this. Yet he is not the best coach in college football IF the measure is a coach's entire body of work. Carroll has had six magical seasons in the land of Troy, but he has not sustained his success for long enough to be mentioned in the same breath as guys like Bobby Bowden, Joe Paterno, Steve Spurrier and even Jim Tressell. Not only has Carroll not yet exhibited that type of staying power, but his spotty coaching history in the NFL casts doubt on his inclusion in such a list.

Now the long answer. As previously stated Pete Carroll is not the best coach in college football, BUT there may be no coach in a better situation to cement himself on that lofty pedestal in the immediate future, and right now, no one is doing it better than Pete. He's at the top of the class right here, right now. Carroll has proved in his first six seasons that he has the coaching and recruiting ability to dominate the college game. No one has had more success over the past six seasons. Pete Carroll has a better resume over his six seasons as a college football coach than anyone else during that span. USC is a perfect situation for him and there is absolutely no reason to expect Carroll or the Trojans to drop off at all in the foreseeable future. They are positioned to win another national title in 2007, and have the recruits to make title runs for the next 4 years. If Carroll pockets a couple of more national championships there will be no doubt that he's the best coach in college football at present, and the debate will be just how well he stacks up against some of the all time legends.

The Great Debate: Pete Carroll Cont'd  

Posted by Frazier

Sorry it took a minute to get back on this one. There's been a lot on my plate, not the least of which was some pretty interesting arguments from the big man. Not to say that he's right, but at least he's crafty:

  • I can dispatch of the first three points in rapid fire. First, let's shelve the Palmer discussion. It's a chicken-or-egg situation. Palmer did give a huge boost to USC (although by the time the year was over, Carroll had already locked up some big recruits). So either Carroll was able to take a struggling athlete to the next level, for which he deserves the boost, or he was handed an elite prospect, which means he probably doesn't deserve the boost. It's unknowable.
  • Second, Carroll can't control how good his conference is. All he can do is schedule the best teams possible. And he does. So he deserves credit for it.
  • Third, USC ran up those offensive numbers every time they played a team from the Big 12 or SEC or any other major conference. So there is no way to prove that they wouldn't. Maybe it's unlikely, but it's not like anyone, in any conference, at any time, was stopping them. Just ask Oklahoma. Or Auburn. Or Virginia Tech. Or Texas. Four teams renowned for having top defenses.
Now for a brief discussion of the alternatives you mentioned:
  • Stoops: We can all acknowledge that he's one of the top coaches in the country. That's not what we're debating. However, he has had two massively favored teams fall apart at the end of a season. Also, you mention the Big 12 dominance, but aside from Texas, there haven't been very many good Big 12 teams recently. Nebraska, Colorado and K-State have fallen on hard times. Oklahoma St. and A&M are always flawed, and teams like Kansas, Mizzou or Texas Tech have been good, but hardly elite. Finally, Carroll and Stoops met once, and Stoops was the one with the massively hyped team, and they got completely and utterly woodshedded.
  • Spurrier: Time was, he was the obvious answer here. On the other hand, time was that Paterno or Bobby Bowden was the obvious answer. Spurrier HAS done great things. If he really does turn South Carolina around, he may regain his title. However, he has a single championship a number of years back, and he hasn't completely proven that he's still got it.
  • Meyer: Let's give him some time. Florida had a great season, and Urban showed he could win at Utah as well. However, he's had one great year, and one mediocre year at Florida. Urban is pretty much the opposite of Spurrier for our purposes here. He may be a great coach, and one day he may earn the title of best coach in the country, but let's not get ahead of ourselves here.
  • Tressel: This is probably the best argument of this bunch, at least vis-a-vis Carroll. Stoops may be better than Tressel, but Carroll is clearly ahead of Stoops. Tressel has a title, and has a phenomenal record, almost as good as Pete's, in a few short years. But on every measure Tressel comes up a little short. Pete is clearly the better recruiter, that can't be argued. Whether it's easier to recruit LA than Columbus can be debated, but no one does it as well as Pete, and no one makes top recruits want to compete against other top recruits as well as Pete. Getting kids with huge egos and delusions of grandeur to prove it on the practice field is something that shouldn't be overlooked. Pete has more wins, a better winning percentage, and more national titles than Tressel. Furthermore, while Pete may not have had his best day against Mack Brown and Texas, Big Jim absolutely got his ass handed to him by Urban Meyer and Florida. Until Pete gets similarly dominated on as big a stage, you've got to give him the title.
  • No one has done it better than Pete Carroll for as long as he has been coaching college football.
My final point:
  • Say what you will about Pete Carroll, but he has the biggest balls of any coach in the country. He is willing to lay it on the line, and make his team prove to be the better team. He doesn't make excuses when he loses, and he expects his team to win in any circumstance, in any stadium, against any opponent. He never coaches scared, and his players love him for it, and so do I.

The Great Debate: Pete Carroll Cont'd  

Posted by Walter

Before I swing back, I want to address the excellent point made by our faithful reader/commenter. While the focus has been mostly on Carroll's level or respoonsibility for USC's success I do think that issue is closely tied to his overall status as a coach. While we really can't get into x's and o's here (that's more for coordinators anyways) I do think you raise a good point about Jim Tressell. Tressell, as well as others, have put up monster numbers and definitely do belong in the debate of best college football coach on the planet. While I have mostly taken the arguing stance of stating why Carroll isn't so great, perhaps it is time to put forth some names that could challenge or possibly overtake Carroll for the top spot (see below).

As always thanks for the comments.

OK now my counterattack:

  • I am not claiming Carroll had nothing to do with Palmer's development. Making such a statement would be disingenuous. However, it is equally disingenuous to argue that Palmer's season didn't have a substantial, and positive, effect on Carroll's tenure at USC. Palmer was regarded as the top player coming out of high school, possibly ever. He had the talent to succeed. Carroll did NOT recruit Palmer, he inherited Palmer. And it was Palmer's season that vaulted USC to the heights it has reached under Carroll (regardless of how much Pete had to do with his turnaround).
  • The Pac-10 is not an elite conference. If Pete just stays in the Pac-10 and goes undefeated he's in the championship game, no doubt. However, as we learned from the 2006 Big 10 and Michigan, if your conference is mediocre and you lose a game, it doesn't matter how impressive you've been, the BCS is going to take a one-loss team from the SEC (or Big 12 for that matter) every day of the week. Had Michigan gone to Arkansas the first game of the season and whooped on the Razorbacks you can probably bet they would have gotten the call over Florida. So while it is comendable that Carroll does bring his team to play other BCS foes, it's not pure altruism. He knows he needs to do that in order to have a chance for a margin of error playing in the mediocre Pac-10.
  • Your offer of proof of USC's domination of the Pac-10 only corroborates my claim that the conference stinks. USC has been an offensive machine mostly because they have talented players, but also because nobody plays defense in the Pac-10. You think USC would have run up any of those numbers in the SEC or Big 12? No way.
As for who is better than Carroll, how about these guys:
  • Urban Meyer - He is actually very similar to Carroll in that he walked into a tremendous situation and won a title almost immediately. However, unlike Carroll, Meyer was a tremendous success at two other schools (Bowling Green and Utah) that do NOT have great recruiting bases. You think Carroll could take Utah to a BCS game? Not a chance.
  • Jim Tressell - I think Clarett's Syndrome made the best argument for Jimmy in his comment, especially in regards to Tressell's 4 national titles at Youngstown State. That cannot be discounted.
  • Steve Spurrier - Lest we forget, the Ol' Ball Coach did exactly what Carroll is doing at USC at Florida when he took over. Florida was a sleeping giant until Spurrier woke it up. He won a national title with the Gators and is well on his way to turning around a moribund South Carolina program.
  • Bob Stoops - Yes Carroll laid the wood on Stoops when they met, but you absolutely cannot ignore the job Stoops has done in Norman since he took over. Stoops has a national title with Oklahoma, as well as one as a coordinator at Florida. His teams generally overachieve, and Oklahoma is always a frontrunner in the super competitive Big 12.
Are all of these guys better than Carroll? Probably not. But there is enough here to go around!

The Great Debate: Pete Carroll Cont'd  

Posted by Frazier

As always, the big man comes out swinging. He's got a point, just not enough:

  • Pete Carroll put USC back on the map. It's that simple. LA might be a great place to play, but it takes a special guy to take the top quarterback or running back in the country year after year and make them WANT to compete against eachother. That's how Petey does it, he makes guys who have never had to compete for a snap in their lives relish the challenge. THAT is a coaching miracle, especially in a day where guys go to college already dreaming about NFL millions.
  • It's bold to say that Carroll had nothing to do with Palmer breaking through. The guy was a classic underachiever, and looked like he was going to waste his talent. Then Carroll shows up and finally gets the kid to play, and he becomes a star. It was a coincidence? That seems unlikely, it seems far more likely that under a good coach, a talented star finally managed to reach his potential.
  • Since USC is in a BCS conference, basically all they have to do is not lose and they can play for the title every year. I mean, it'd take a rare season with three unbeatens to change that. So the fact that Carroll takes on the big boys on the road just speaks to his having tremendous balls.
  • The PAC-10 certainly isn't peaking, but part of that is due to USC dominance. Some PAC-10 records he has set (in six season, this can't be understated): 5 consecutive PAC-10 titles, 33 consecutive home wins, 34 game win streak, 27 game conference win streak, 23 consecutive conference home wins. Other records: NCAA record 63 consecutive games scoring 20 points (staggering) he has a 80% win percentage over the top-25, league record 85.7% winning percentage in conference play. The aforementioned NCAA record of 33 consecutive weeks being #1 by the AP. Also, the first team in history with 3 Heisman winners in 4 years.
  • He's also a great bowl coach, 4-2 with one loss his first season against a very good Utah team, and the other the last second loss to Texas. The wins were over a pair of #3's a #4 and a #1. Wow.
  • Who is his competition? The Rose Bowl against Mack Brown wasn't his shining moment (although one more yard and history is completely re-written on this one) but Mack isn't a superior coach. The best argument is probably for Bob Stoops. Except they met once, with a team most considered to be Stoops absolute best. A juggernaut by any definition. USC won 55-19, and you know as well as I do that the score could have been 100-10 if USC had felt like it. He's dominated Beamer and Tuberville in their own backyards, stole Stoops lunch money, blown out Kirk Ferentz, decimated Charlie Weiss and Lloyd Carr. I mean, who does he have to beat? Who's left? Does he actually have to switch sidelines and coach another team in order to convince you? Hell, his USC team could probably have taken Saban's Dolphins, would that have been enough?

The Great Debate: Pete Carroll Cont'd  

Posted by Walter

Some good points by Frazier, BUT.....

  • The fact that Carroll has had such an easy time bringing in recruits from all over the country further cements my point. Not only does USC have an amazing recruiting base in Southern California, but it has just about the most desirable locatin and facilities of any school in the country. How hard could it possibly be to sell 18 year old kids on coming to USC and enjoying beautiful weather and beautiful women 365 days a year. That OJ Mayo decided to come to USC over other schools was for this reason, not Pete Carroll.
  • The fact that USC went 37-35 before Carroll is irrelevant. The crux of my argument is that USC is such a friendly situation for a coach that any competent coach should be able succeed. I am not claiming that Carroll is incompetent, I am just claiming that his success has been inflated by the situation. Now a 37-35 record at USC, THAT is incompetence.
  • I will concede that Carroll takes his team on the road every year to face a BCS foe, and this is impressive. However, let's not ignore the real reason he does this: his conference stinks!!! Yes USC has looked great in early season victories over Auburn, Arkansas and Virginia Tech recently, but the reason Carroll schedules those games (and the likes of Notre Dame and Fresno State for that matter) is because the Pac-10 ain't what it used to be. For the past 6 years the college football world has been owned by the SEC and the Big 12. The Pac-10, while better than it's given credit for, just hasn't been one of the elite conferences. California is pretty good, but they always show their true colors against the SEC (e.g. getting whooped on by Tennessee) or the Big 12 (e.g. Texas Tech dropping about 50 on them in the bowl game). Oregon is a superfraud every year, UCLA can't ever get their act together, and the Arizona schools are perrenial underachievers. If Carroll doesn't schedule those out of conference games, he runs the risk of one loss ending his BCS championship aspirations. To be fair Carroll is willing to go on the road every year, but the overall mediocrity of the Pac-10 during his tenure has made things a lot easier on him.
  • Who the hell was Lane Kiffin before Carroll took over? Who the hell was Pete Carroll before he hooked up with Kiffin and Chow? As Pats fans we know exactly who he was: a laid back, defensive minded, stick up his ass on offense coach. His Trojan teams have been anything but that. While Kiffin certainly helped his own career by joining USC, the point I was making is that Kiffin and Chow are both in the NFL now. This means they have coaching talent! You think maybe it's possible that Carroll benefited from that? This isn't a chicken or the egg argument. It doesn't matter whether Kiffin and Chow were great before they met Carroll or whether they learned under him. The bottom line is that Carroll has had two of the top offensive minds in the college game calling plays for him the past 6 years (not to mention Steve Sarkisian who falls into that category).
  • Carson Palmer may have been a disappointment before Pete Carroll, but there is no way you can argue that Carroll would be enjoying this level of success had Palmer not turned in his magical season as a senior. Carroll didn't have anything to do with that. He inherited the greatest QB in the history of USC, and that is was vaulted him to his super coach status.
  • When players make bonehead plays (i.e. Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart throwing an INT in the endzone, etc.) it reflects poorly on the coach. If a coach isn't supposed to prevent boneheaded plays, then what the hell is he supposed to do. Undiscipline is the hallmark of a poorly coached team. Mack Brown had Vince Young to make plays for him. Pete Carroll had Reggie Bush. Mack Brown won the game because his players made fewer boneheaded plays. It may not have been a coaching clinic, but Mack Brown outcoached Petey in that one.

The Great Debate: Pete Carroll Cont'd  

Posted by Frazier

Some quick responses to my esteemed colleague:

  • USC does have a money recruiting base, but you still have to tap the potential. Carroll is considered one of the best recruiters in the country, and he isn't doing it from his own back yard. Their 2007 recruiting class consists of 10 of the top 20 players from the top 100 recruits. These players are from DC, LA, MI, AZ, GA, and CA. He has as many guys from Florida and Louisiana as he does from California. That is stunning. He made USC such a hot-bed that OJ Mayo decided he could best grow his reputation for the NBA by spending his lone college season at USC, and Tim Floyd uses Carroll for his basketball recruiting. Carroll is building top programs in TWO sports!
  • In response to the Cincy Kid, recruiting is a HUGE part of being a college football coach. That's one of the biggest differences in the NFL, everyone's got the same "money" so you have to pick your guys and make them want to play for you. Can't be understated.
  • In the five years previous to Carroll's tenure, USC went 37-35, compared to 65-12 in his six seasons at the helm.
  • As stated here previously, Carroll takes him team to at least one challenging road contest against a major BCS foe every single year, and he wins.
  • Who the hell was Lane Kiffin (other than Monte's son) before Carroll took over USC? After Chow left, the Trojans won with completely unproven guys running the offense.
  • While UCLA may have dropped, Cal is as good as its' ever been, so it's not like California is going unrecruited by others.
  • Carroll didn't recruit Palmer, but he did salvage his career. Carson was one of the great disappointments of all-time until he started winning under Pete.
  • Finally, did Pete Carroll force Reggie Bush to make the most bone-headed play in history on a forced lateral when they would have put that game away? And what did Mack Brown do other than say, "he, Vince, win this one for us"? That was an astonishing singular effort, but not exactly a Mack Brown coaching clinic.

The Great Debate: Pete Carroll  

Posted by Walter

While it is absolutely a waste of time to try and argue against Carroll's numbers, great numbers does not necessarily guarantee that he is the best coach. More than anything else, Carroll has been nothing more than the beneficiary of a tremendously fortuitous situation at USC. Consider the following:

  • USC has arguably the best recruiting base in the entire country in the Southern California region. Moreover, given that UCLA hs been nothing more than mediocre since Cade McNown left town, Carroll and the Trojans basically get to pick whoever they want in the recruiting game.
  • It isn't like Carroll has built USC himself. Lest we forget that during this amazing run he has had two of the absolute best offensive coordinators in college football calling plays for him in Norm Chow and Lane Kiffin. Oh yeah, both of them are the NFL now.
  • Finally, it would be wrong for us to forget about the guy who was primarily responsible for this great USC run: Carson Palmer. Palmer's senior season at USC was arguably the greatest in school history for a QB, and basically put the Trojans back on the national scene, but more importantly the California recruiting scene. Though Palmer didn't win a national title, he was the one who got things going. Pete Carroll inherited Palmer when he came to USC, so it would be hard to give him credit for that.
Bottom line, Pete Carroll walked into a situation where even a competent coach could and should get outstanding results. The fact that the Trojans have been great under him is a credit to the program and not necessarily him. Carroll has one national title to him name, and one split national title. It's not like he has won 4 or 5 titles at USC. In fact, if he's the best coach in the country, how did he get so badly outcoached by Mack Brown in the title game loss to Texas?

The Great Debate: Pete Carroll  

Posted by Frazier

Welcome to The Great Debate. Basically, it's Walter and I arguing about matters related to college football. It's pretty much what we do all day anyways, but now it's a regular feature. Also, it currently has a fairly lame name, so if you can think of anything better (preferrably a witty college football reference) let us know. Without further ado, a bold statement:

Pete Carroll is the best college football coach on the planet right now.

This doesn't mean that Carroll is better than Joe Paterno or Bobby Bowden, but right now, he sure as hell is. It doesn't mean he's the best of all-time, but if you had to build a program today, you'd hire big Pete. It's that simple. In fact, it's a surprisingly easy argument. Since he started coaching 6 years ago, he's won a staggering 84.4% of his games, and that was after a 2-5 start. He's got the best active winning percentage of anyone doing this for at least 5 years. He has NEVER lost in November (20-0). He has a pair of national championships (in six years, compared to a pair for Bowden over 40) and was an incredible Vince Young preformance away from a third.

He has lost a single game by more than a touchdown (11 points).

He has lost 12 games by a total of 51 points (a 4.3 point average).

USC was #1 according to the AP for a record 33 consecutive weeks.

Frankly, it's Pete Carroll and everybody else.

Quick Hitch....  

Posted by Frazier

Just wanted to put up a quick hitch on this story about Terry Hoeppner at Indiana. Terry has bravely been fighting back from brain cancer for the last couple of years, and has managed a very respectable 9-14 record over two years at one of the more difficult major schools to coach at. Terry is a good ball coach, and a great leader. He has clearly been inspirational not just to his team, but to thousands of cancer survivors across the nation.

Here's hoping that Terry is able to take the field with his team in the fall. It's definitely a difficult, and sensitive situation, and we hope that everyone keeps the best interests of the team in mind. We know they want to take the field for their coach, but if that isn't going to be possible, they need the opportunity to learn from a new teacher, and try to reach their potential on the gridiron.

Clearly, the best-case scenario is that it's Terry leading the charge.

Quick Hitch  

Posted by Frazier

Just wanted to take a moment to do a little post-draft follow up. We blasted the Saints for taking Meachem with their first pick this year. Now it turns out that the pick may be even worse than advertised. First, there are reports that Meachem has really struggled to keep his weight down, and his motivation has been seriously questioned. That's never good, just ask Mike Williams.

Second, there is this story on now. Apparently Meachem is having some knee problems, which the Saints knew about before the draft. Also, he already missed some time in mini-camp with an ankle issue. Yeah, injury-prone wide receivers who have weight and motivation issues are just a lethal combination.

Ok, enough about the NFL. It just felt good to have our major draft concerns confirmed.

The Team

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