Given where Texas Tech finds itself in the college football world right now, if you haven’t read this New York Times Magazine article about Mike Leach by Moneyball’s Michael Lewis, you should take the time to do so now. It’s a classic.
Anyway, with TT and Leach currently riding high, the Times went back to Lewis for a follow up, basically along the lines of “did you see this coming?”. Lewis isn’t sure about that, but he is sure that Leach could succeed anywhere, including a big time D-1 program, or even the NFL.
The picture he paints of Leach is both quirky and fascinating. But what I really wonder after reading both pieces is whether a place like Tennessee is ready for a coach like Leach. In the end I’m guessing not, but you never know these days.
Let’s see… Tommy Tuberville sits three starters against Tennessee-Martin, defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks, defensive end Antonio Coleman and noseguard Tez Doolittle, presumably so they would be rested and better healed for the game this Saturday. So riddle me this: would Tuberville have done something like that in 2004, when his team was in the MNC hunt and had to protect its undefeated record?
My guess is no. Sure, he may have yanked those guys out of action as soon as there was a comfortable margin, but sit them from the get go? Doubtful. There was too much at stake to take that kind of chance, regardless of the opponent.
But in the context of a 2008 season that’s gone south, where there are two meaningful games left on the regular season slate, the calculus becomes quite different. Auburn has bigger fish to fry than Tennessee-Martin. Given that Auburn’s bowl opportunities don’t seem very attractive at present, Tuberville’s elected to treat the Georgia and Alabama meetings as – dare I say it? – a sort of in season playoff for Auburn.
Which leads to my real question here. Would it be unreasonable to expect coaches to engage in the same sort of calculations if we entered into an era of extended playoffs? Wouldn’t it be prudent in some cases for coaches to preserve their resources in the regular season so that they could maximize their contributions in the postseason? And if it is, is that the sort of balancing act we college football fans want to see?
UPDATE: Maybe this is the flip side of the coin.
Here’s a columnist advising the next Tennessee head coach that on the recruiting front he’ll need to do a better job of closing his own state borders.
This is all random stuff I’m throwing out here. The only common thread is that it all caught my eye for some reason.
- One strange thing about Auburn. The Tigers are 5-5, but have only trailed at the half once this season, against Ole Miss (a game they lost). You’d have to say these guys have had some issues finishing.
- One reason for that first half success is that their defense comes out ready to play. Auburn has only yielded 13 points in the first quarter all season (and seven of that came off of a fumbled punt in the end zone recovered by the opponent).
- For what it’s worth, Sagarin currently ranks Auburn at #73 in the country, one slot behind Arizona State.
- If you’re looking for a preview, you could do a lot worse than to read this Q & A between two of the wittiest guys in the college football blogosphere over at Hey Jenny Slater. Good stuff.
- Speaking of doing a lot worse, here’s the CFN preview of the game.
- What is the deal with Tray Blackmon?
- And David Hale’s got something up that, while not directly about Saturday’s game, is an amazing read: a timeline of the season (so far, anyway) for the offensive line. All I can say is that Stacey Searels earns every penny that he makes – and then some.