Monthly Archives: July 2007

The soft bigotry of low expectations

It was quite the high bar set for the Zooker last year:

Since Zook arrived in Champaign in 2005, the Illini have, as Zook promised they would, improved just a little each year. A two-win season with a lot of blowouts gave way to a two-win season with a lot of narrow losses.

This year, he’s going for two wins and a tie. Illini fever – catch it!


The Zooker, counting last year’s win total.

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Filed under The Adventures of Zook

Throwing down the gauntlet

I’d say this is pretty unambiguous:

“Our presidents have no interest whatsoever in a plus-one model — none,” (Pac-10 commissioner Tom) Hansen says. “It’s a little annoying that my colleagues continue to float this idea as though it has merit. If they continue to push it, and try to push us into a corner … ”

Will the Pac-10 walk away from the BCS?

“Yes, no question.”

Again, before anyone jumps my case and accuses me of being gleeful about this, the point isn’t that playoffs suck per se.  It’s that it’s apparent that we’re still at a point where, as much as some people would like us to think otherwise, a playoff is anything but a slam dunk to structure.

Unless you happen to think that a title game without the Pac-10 or Big Ten winners being part of the playoff process is still an improvement over the current BCS, of course.   In which case, Bernie would love to hear from you.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs

Two sobering thoughts from today…

straight from the horse’s mouth:

Q: Your offensive line is very young. How are you going to get them ready?

A: Stacy Searels [Georgia’s new offensive line coach] has a lot of new ideas. He is a great teacher and great technician. We only had six scholarship linemen after last season ended but we were able to bring in five kids at mid-year. If we started tomorrow we would have a true freshman, Trinton Sturdivant, at left tackle. [Emphasis added.] Coach Bobo and I know that we can’t do everything at once because we’re so young. We’re going to have to be careful with this bunch until they get their feet wet.”

Q: You lost all of your starting linebackers. What is the status of that position?

A: Brandon Miller is the whole key to our defense. [Emphasis added.] We moved him from the [outside] linebacker to the [middle] linebacker. And when you do that there is an adjustment. But he is very talented and very capable and has the ability to be a dominant player. If he can play at full speed he will be a big plus for us.

In a way, I know I shouldn’t be surprised, especially in Sturdivant’s case, because there really isn’t anyone else ready to play the position. But it’s still kind of a jolt to see it so baldly stated by the head coach.

Anyone have any idea the last time Georgia started a true freshman at left offensive tackle?  And how many sacks the line gave up that year?


Filed under Georgia Football

Saban’s tough love

Let’s see, Tripp Chandler gets arrested for underage drinking and is given the standard 1.2 game suspension, while over in Tuscaloosa, three players are arrested after a fight in front of a bar (no drinking involved, obviously) and are charged with, among other things, criminal mischief, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct and for their transgressions will be suspended for a total of… wait for it… zero games. That’s it. Nada. Zippo.

But don’t think they won’t pay a price.

Saban has established a Peer Intervention Group made up of 15 players who help deal with disciplinary issues. Both center Antoine Caldwell and cornerback Simeon Castille serve on the panel...

“The peer group might say you have to go to 6 o’clock (a.m.) study group. You don’t want to have to explain to your teammates why you can’t get up and get to class,” he said.

No way, Jose! As long as the team doesn’t suffer. Or the coach.

Neither the players nor Saban would discuss what action was taken against the three arrested.

No doubt over concerns that the punishment might be viewed as being too harsh by outsiders who don’t understand how tough peer review can be…


Filed under Crime and Punishment, Nick Saban Rules

Urban Meyer and the “plus one”

It’s all a matter of perspective, ain’t it:

Q. Last year it worked out for Florida and Ohio State to play for the national championship. There’s been discussion about a plus one format where one would play four, two play three, winner of those two games play each other. What’s your opinion about that?

COACH MEYER: Opinions are strong. At Bowling Green I stood in front of a team that was 8 3, 9 3 and had to tell them they weren’t going to go to a Bowl game when they deserved to go to a Bowl game. They were good enough to play in a Bowl game. I think they were better than some teams that played. So did other coaches. That’s one of the tragedies of the system.

I think the Bowls should open up and take the most qualified teams to go play. Then I go to Utah, we had a team that on any given day, with Alex Smith at quarterback and the way we play defense, could we survive an SEC, Big 12? I don’t know that. That’s all relative. But I don’t know if we could survive that, be in that situation.

Utah, 12 0. If there’s a plus one, you go play that game, you go play for a national championship. Who knows. You have a good day and that’s a life changer for a university and a group of players.

You get to Florida, play in a game removed from the other Bowl games. I thought the atmosphere was terrific. If you had to play one more game after that, I’m just glad I’m not faced with a guy that has to make that decision. It’s an imperfect system. I think it’s the best what we have.

As long as we don’t change that whole Bowl I think the Bowl experience is too good for the student athlete to change. But I think continual discussion is necessary, and I think we got the best of what’s working. But I think every year that needs to be evaluated.

Pretty good way to not answer your question, wasn’t it (smiling)?

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs

Wagging the dog.

The Big Ten Conference is considering expansion. Why? Because it will help the value of the Big Ten Network.

The creation of the Big Ten Network means conference officials likely will discuss expansion again, Commissioner Jim Delany said Wednesday.

“I think we need to look at it in the next year,” he said during a wide-ranging interview with Register reporters.

Adding a 12th team likely will be revisited because of the network, which is scheduled to launch Aug. 30, Delany said. An additional big-name university in a large television market means more exposure for the network and its sponsors.

“It changes to some extent how you think about it,” Delany said of expansion. “The broader (the network) is distributed, the more value (expansion) has.

Gee, maybe ESPN can buy a few universities and they can meet in the middle.

The network evidently changes Delany’s perspective on what schools might be suitable for admission to the Big Ten:

“Wherever,” Delany said when asked about specifics. “With the network — there’s a different element. It changes the dynamics.”

Get that? It’s not about academics, facilities or tradition at this point. It’s about “value”.

These guys are shameless.

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Filed under Big Ten Football, It's Just Bidness

CBS changes SEC kickoff times

In a move that I am guessing is for the benefit of West Coast viewers, CBS announced that it’s pushing back the start times for its SEC broadcasts by 90 minutes.

CBS changed the kickoff times for its weekly televised SEC games. They will begin at 5 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. That’s 90 minutes later than previously scheduled. CBS announced the changes on Wednesday. CBS’ first game of the season is Tennessee at Florida on Sept. 15.


Filed under SEC Football

It’s not easy being green.

Charlie Weis loses his malpractice case – and blames the outcome on his job.

I am proud to be the Head Football Coach at Notre Dame and this was certainly used against me in the trial.

Boo frickin’ hoo.

Meanwhile, read this slice and dice job on ol’ Charlie here. How would you like to be his wife and find out that hubby has confided in Tom Brady about risky surgery before telling you?

When Charlie Weis decided he had to have gastric bypass surgery in 2002, he first shared the decision with his then-quarterback, Tom Brady.

Only in the final stages before surgery did he divulge his plans to his wife, Maura.

Football first, family second.

Nice. Makes you wonder what kind of advice he gave Jimmy Clausen before the elbow surgery…

(h/t The Wizard of Odds)

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Filed under Charlie Weis Is A Big Fat...

We stayed in by the telly, although the room was smelly …

The SEC continues to eyeball the grand experiment known as the Big Ten Network. But don’t fret, SEC fans – they’re doing it for you.

“It’s a question of how best we can maximize for our fans the distribution of our games and other programming,” Slive said Wednesday at the SEC football media days. “There are different ways to do that, and one of those is our own network.”

The cynic in me suspects that the conference is hoping to maximize something entirely different, but, heck, what do I know?

If SEC TV does become a reality, Mergz at Saurian Sagacity gives me reason to think that we won’t be seeing too many Thursday night games there.

Unlike the ACC, of course:

Of the major conferences, the ACC seems more than willing to encourage its members to play non-Saturday contests. Of course, when you look at the average attendance of ACC schools, perhaps the “major conference” moniker is overstated. The aforementioned Clemson is the highest ACC school in average attendance, and the list looks as follows (with national ranking, and non-ACC school most closely comparable in attendance) –

Clemson – 14th (Wisconsin)
FSU – 17th (Notre Dame)
Virginia Tech – 23rd (UCLA)
Virginia -29th (Washington)
NC State – 32nd (Kentucky)
Georgia Tech – 40th (Texas Tech)
Maryland – 41st (Kansas St)
North Carolina – 42nd (Kansas St)
Miami – 51st (UTEP)
Boston College – 59th (Connecticut)
Wake Forest – 70th (Memphis)
Duke – 92nd (Toledo)

With NC State pulling less than Kentucky does, and Miami having poorer attendance than UTEP, perhaps the non-Saturday games make sense for the ACC.

Ooh, I bet that felt good to type.


Filed under It's Just Bidness, SEC Football

Coaches’ corner

  • Do you know me? Nine college football coaches made at least $2,000,000.00 last season. More than half of them have national championships on their résumés. All the others have to their credit conference titles in BCS leagues — which means BCS bowl berths — to go with multiple double-digit win seasons and years with one or no losses at their current school. Except for one.
  • You knew the job was dangerous when you took it. Nick Saban’s not happy about that target on his back.
  • “I guess everybody likes a soap opera.” I wouldn’t wish Houston Nutt’s offseason on anybody, but when Tom Lemming’s got your back… oof.
  • WTF was I thinking?   You know UCLA’s Karl Dorrell’s got to be asking himself that today.  Often.  Of course, so will the media, since today is Pac-10 Media Day.  Timing is everything in life.

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Filed under College Football