I expect we’ll find out that Munson is pleasantly surprised by the answer to the question in the post header.
Evidently Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald opened up his talk at Big Ten Media Days by affirming that he voted for Tebow.
Now that’s funny.
Oklahoma State linebacker Andre Sexton thinks Georgia has something to learn about Big XII football – and his team’s defense – this year.
“People were bashing our defense and saying we’re not any good,” he said. “It’s not that we’re not any good. We’re just playing against the top talent week in and week out. If an SEC team played in our conference for a year, they’d see. They’d totally respect it. It’s something that’s hard to understand unless you’re in the middle of it.”
Obviously, we don’t know about this year, but the stats tell a somewhat different story about last season.
Starting with the 2010 season and running through the 2013 season, the first time the Rose Bowl loses one of its conference champions and a team from one of the non-automatic qualifying leagues earns a BCS bid, the Rose Bowl must take that team.
The first question that springs to mind is why?
“Under certain circumstances, they can play their way into the Rose Bowl, which hasn’t been true in the past,” Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said Monday at Big Ten media day. “That’s additional access. Standards have been, I think, lightened to access the BCS.”
Pardon my French, but that’s utter bullshit, which, considering the source, shouldn’t exactly be a surprise. Sure, there’s more access to the Rose Bowl for the mid-majors, but not the BCS overall, as the eligibility rules aren’t being changed.
Maybe there’s a little more money at stake, since the Rose is the best paying of all the bowls, but in the vast scheme of things, I don’t think it would result in a significant additional distribution to the non-BCS conferences.
So what we’re left with as possible explanations for the change are either a fairly empty gesture for public consumption… or giving the prisoner enough rope to hang himself. The Rose Bowl is always the best drawing postseason college football game; even having a 9-3 Illinois squad participate two seasons ago didn’t change that. But what happens if a TCU gets in and the ratings tank (not because TCU isn’t worthy, but simply because there isn’t sufficient national interest)?
There’s a lot more to this than meets the eye – the absence of any media speculation that this was in the works, the lack of any comment from a representative of the Rose Bowl and the time frame involved (it starts after Fox is out of the picture and runs through the end of the ESPN contract for the BCS) suggest all sorts of agendas in play. It’ll make for an interesting story to watch leading up to 2014.
UPDATE: Matt Hinton aka Doc Saturday (who’s not suffering from an early onset of Alzheimer’s as I seem to be here lately), points out in the comments that Tony Barnhart reported on this change a couple of months ago… and that I blogged about Barnhart’s post.
I mention this not only to correct the omission, but also because in rereading my earlier post, I realize that I don’t find Barnhart’s assertion that the move would help the defense of the BCS convincing, because the overall access to the BCS by the mid-majors isn’t affected.
On the other hand, there may very well be something to this being a way to force the Rose Bowl out of a bad match up like the one created with the invitation to Illinois two years ago.
All of which still leaves us with the question as to who’s driving this train exactly.
UPDATE #2: The Los Angeles Times has more, including quotes from the Rose Bowl’s chief officer. It sounds like the other bowls weren’t happy about the Rose being able to dodge inviting non-BCS conference schools.
… Other bowls have been forced to take non-BCS teams before — Hawaii played in the 2008 Sugar Bowl against Georgia — which was a sore point at the last round of television negotiations. They wanted to bring the Rose Bowl in line.
Pasadena agreed to put out a welcome mat for the smaller stars in the NCAA constellation. Kind of.
“The only other option was don’t have a national championship game,” Dorger said. “And we didn’t like that option.”
An item from Chris Low’s 20-point inspection post regarding SEC Media Days:
Georgia fifth-year senior quarterback Joe Cox looks, sounds and acts like a guy determined to take advantage of his one and only shot to lead the Bulldogs’ offense. There’s a leadership quality about him that’s unmistakable.
You have to give Urban Meyer credit. Since becoming a head coach he’s run the same offensive scheme at three different schools, one that’s never yielded a running back who’s gained a thousand yards in a season, yet he’s still able to make a credible sales pitch to newly minted commit Mack Brown that next year will be different.
… He said the biggest thing that clinched Florida for him was sitting down for a film session with Meyer and Addazio. “They were breaking down the film and showing me how they were going to use me next year. They’re going to use more pro-style and I-formation style and find different ways to get me the ball. When you play for them they put the ball in their playmakers’ hands.”
Whose film did they use to show Brown the pro-style stuff?
Moving on from Hoover -
While Lane Kiffin was the big winner last week at SEC Media Days, it’s pretty obvious that the coach who came off the worst was Steve Spurrier.
Junior was the bigger story going in to Friday, but the OBC managed to upstage him by revealing himself to be at the center of Tebowgate. Instead of reaffirming his reputation as the sharp guy with the smart barb, Spurrier made himself into the head coach who appeared to be uninterested in detail, ready to blame subordinates for something that was clearly his fault and a lightning rod for aspersions being cast against the entire coaching fraternity.
And then there was the amount of time Spurrier spent apologizing/groveling (the losing sleep comment was particularly pathetic) to Tebow and the Florida fans and the praise he sent Urban Meyer’s way. I mean, does anybody think that the typical Gamecock fan wants to hear his head coach say something like this?
… I pull for Florida when they’re not playing us. If we don’t win the SEC, I hope Florida does it. Urban has been the best coach in the country the last three years. Simple as that. We all know that. I admire everything that they do. They do it the right way. Their players play clean. They do it the right way. I give ‘em credit for everything that they’ve accomplished. I admire what they’ve done.
Compare that to this tepid assessment he gives his own program.
Q. How tough is it to move up in the SEC East, given Florida, Georgia, Tennessee? Given South Carolina’s history of lack of championships, are you confident you can win a championship, an SEC championship?
COACH SPURRIER: I think Steve Fink, our sports information guy, said we’re picked fourth in the Eastern Division for the seventh year in a row. That’s where we are, we’re fourth until we prove we can do better.
Again, we haven’t turned it around big time yet. We’re trying to get there. So we’re encouraged by a lot of things that have happened since the Bowl game. Since the Bowl game, a lot of encouraging events have happened. We’re looking forward to see how it plays out this season.
Q. You were actually picked third in the East.
COACH SPURRIER: We were? Somebody told me fourth. Where is Steve Fink (smiling)? Oh, prior to this year. My bad.
Seven years prior to this year we were picked fourth. Now we’re third. Okay, thanks for correcting me. I didn’t know that.
Not a good week, in other words. I imagine that Spurrier looks at Gene Chizik’s relative anonymity as a safe haven right now.
But it’s the hint that there’s a lack of interest that’s going to plague him going forward. Most of the assessments of the program for this season read like reruns. Then you read the articles like this one by Ron Morris, which is supposed to sound like your typical “new direction” puff piece, but wind up reinforcing your impressions of the same, tired stuff.
“We just couldn’t put a team together,” Spurrier said. “It just hasn’t happened. The coaching staff, the whole thing. I haven’t done a great job. I don’t know about a lousy job. Twenty-eight wins are still tied for the most (at USC in four seasons), but it’s not anything super. We’re just a little above mediocre right now.”
While Spurrier’s 28 wins rank seventh-best among USC’s all-time coaches, his 22 losses are within five of his total over 12 seasons at Florida. Those numbers are part of the reason Spurrier has come to recognize that winning at USC is much more of a challenge than he faced at either of his previous two college coaching stops.
Spurrier used to poke fun at coaches who claimed they needed five years to rebuild a program. That was before he coached at USC, where it is not a matter of rebuilding, it is about construction.
“We haven’t put the team together that is capable of contending for a championship,” he said. “That’s just the way it is. It’s always disappointing when you lose, but that’s just the way it is.”
Does that sound like the kind of talk you expect to hear from a guy whose heart is really into it? It doesn’t sound like a calling for Spurrier any more; it sounds like a job. Having your ego fight drudgery isn’t fun. And you have to wonder if the day is coming when he simply wakes up and says, “ah, screw it.”
I don’t feel particularly sorry for him or the folks who hired him. But I do wonder how cringe worthy a moment it’ll be at the presser announcing his retirement when somebody asks him, “Coach, can anyone win in Columbia?”
New Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin visited Tebow when he was Southern Cal’s national recruiter, but he knew early on his chances were slim.
“He had a Florida Gators mailbox right there as you pulled into his farm,” Kiffin said. “I should have known we weren’t getting him at that point.”
But for those who’ve seen Pete Carroll press conferences, Kiffin talks in much the same choppy manner that his old boss does. It’s as if he’s so excited that he’s trying to get as many points out as quickly as he can. Carroll gives off that same vibe.
But it’s still the same old contents in a new package.
“Do I love every single thing that I’ve done for my seven months? No, I haven’t loved having to do it,” Kiffin said. “But it needed to be done to get to where we wanted to be.”
What a trooper!
He’s sticking with that it’s-all-part-of-the-plan shtick. Except when he isn’t, of course.
As David Ching points out, it’s still the same old Laner.
… The first-year Tennessee head coach insists that the commotion he has created since his hiring in November was worth it since it pushed his new Volunteers program into the national spotlight. That it’s OK to publicly blast fellow SEC coaches, criticize a recruit’s grandmother when the recruit signs with another school, gain attention for a spate of minor recruiting violations – “we probably weren’t as educated as some other schools on the rules,” Kiffin explained Friday, “we” being the collection of mercenaries and ex-NFL assistants who now comprise his 10-man staff – simply because it generates media attention.
Oh, and that whole “he’s got your backs, kids” thing Junior’s got the troops buying into? Well, maybe there’s a little backtracking to do in the face of the Mighty Gators.
… I have great respect for Florida, what they’ve done there. I would think Florida is not worried one bit about us. We’re 5 7, they’re the powerful Gators. We’re just trying to play in the same conference as them.
That’s certainly a, um, different song than the one he was singing at the start.
When Tennessee linebacker Rico McCoy heard Lane Kiffin say he wanted to sing “Rocky Top” after beating Florida this fall, he was a little intrigued.
But after offseason workouts began and spring practice started with a bang, McCoy has a simple message for his new coach: Say whatever you want.
“I was like, ‘Oooh, coach is talking trash,’ ” McCoy said. “But after we started the workouts, I’m like, ‘Hell yeah, coach.’ I know we’re going to be in the best shape, and we’re going to have the best coaching. Say whatever you want. We’re going to play ball. I feel like we ought to be able to beat anybody.”
You may want to check on that again, Rico. Your coach wants to be liked now.