Memo to Rose Bowl: Get over it
On Rose Bowl's whines, Hokies' decline and Lloyd Carr's line to ABC
Posted: Tuesday November 25, 2003 1:37PM; Updated: Tuesday November 25, 2003 1:40PM
It's a short week, so there's no time to waste. Let's get right into some random thoughts ...
Barring USC's slipping to No. 3, the Rose Bowl is looking at its third consecutive year without a Big Ten-Pac-10 matchup, and you can already hear the bitching and moaning in Pasadena.
As someone who grew up in Big Ten country, I, too, have cringed the past couple of years, watching this great tradition die, but you know what? I've moved on, and so too should the Rose Bowl. In fact, if I were them, I'd be falling all over myself for a chance to host a potential matchup of No. 3 LSU and No. 4 Michigan.
I've been known to toot my own horn regarding my prognostication wonders this season (7-1 again last week, 72-32 on the season, but who's counting?), so I probably should fess up to being dead wrong about something: proclaiming Virginia Tech a national championship contender.
With their loss to Boston College last week, the Hokies fell to 11-10 in the Big East since Michael Vick left Blacksburg. Clearly, Tech's transformation into a consistent national power has failed to materialize, and it won't get any more likely when it joins the ACC next season.
Congratulations to Michigan on setting another NCAA attendance record Saturday. And to think, all it took was a three-hour traffic backup, filling up half the press box with boosters and creating the world's biggest fire hazard with fans standing in the aisles. A proud moment, indeed.
While I can't condone what Lloyd Carr said to ABC's Todd Harris at halftime Saturday -- that was a really dumb question.
If bread really is what makes you fat, as Dr. Atkins and the South Beach Diet guy espouse, how are the French not the ones with the obesity problem?
Apparently the Columbus Dispatch didn't get the memo that Washington State lost Saturday. As of Monday, the paper's Web site featured a countdown to the Capital One Bowl.
I didn't realize so many Columbus residents were that eager to watch Purdue.
Did anyone else hear Lee Corso's recommended strategy to Southern Miss late in last Thursday's TCU game? Is the man certifiably insane? With the Eagles driving in the final minutes, he urged them to pass up a field-goal attempt that would have increased their lead from three to six, even if it meant giving the ball back to the Horned Frogs. He said he did the same thing once in an Indiana game.
Guess now we know why he went 41-68-2.
I just looked at the All-ACC team that came out Monday. Nope, wouldn't beat Oklahoma.
What makes you assume that LSU would stand even a ghost of a chance in head-to-head competition with USC? Surely you know that SC is probably the only team with even a remote chance against the Mack truck called the University of Oklahoma! LSU's defense did not look very good against Ole Miss and they were VERY lucky to escape with a win. Wouldn't you rather see the stronger team play a nearly unbeatable Oklahoma?
Again, not to beat a dead horse from Sunday's column, but I'm literally baffled by this near-universal assumption out there that USC is the stronger team. "Oklahoma and USC are now one victory apiece from meeting ... in a controversy-free, debate-void Sugar Bowl," the Miami Herald proclaimed Monday. "A Neat and Tidy Top Two," read the headline in The New York Times.
Are you kidding me? What is so neat and tidy and controversy-free about two teams winning the same number of games by nearly the same exact margins (USC: 23.4, LSU: 23.8) against what by the end of the season will be ranked as nearly the same exact schedule strength?
At least we know the famed East Coast bias doesn't apply to the Trojans.
As for your assessment of the potential Oklahoma matchup, I've got to ask: Did CBS show a different LSU-Ole Miss game in California? LSU's defense didn't look good? I'm guessing Eli Manning doesn't share that opinion. If I had to guess which defense would cause more problems for Jason White, of course I'm going to take the Tigers, which have held three elite quarterbacks -- Manning, Georgia's David Greene and Louisiana Tech's Luke McCown -- to 43.6 percent passing and 223.7 yards per game, over the Trojans and their 101st-ranked pass defense. On the flip side, of course, USC has a far more potent offense than LSU, and while I'm guessing the Tigers would have a lot of trouble moving the ball against the Sooners, the Trojans would at least have the potential to break big plays.
Fact is, the two teams -- if LSU beats Arkansas and Georgia -- will be as even as it gets on paper, and it will be up to a clunky computer formula to break the deadlock. Give the BCS credit for one thing, though: If this scenario had happened 15 years ago, Oklahoma would be playing in the Orange Bowl, LSU in the Sugar and USC in the Rose.
Could you please tell me what goes wrong with Washington State when it plays Washington? I watched that game Saturday, and it looks like WSU has a mental problem when it plays UW. Is there any possible solution, other than bringing someone in that is not affiliated with WSU and the pain Cougs fans go through in losing another Apple Cup?
It's got to be mental, because Wazzu has had by far the better team the past few seasons, this year being the most glaring. It's like the Ohio State's woes against Michigan under John Cooper. After the first couple of times, you start worrying whether it might happen again, especially when you're the team with everything to lose. You tighten up. The Huskies, on the other hand, know they have nothing to lose, gain great satisfaction from shocking their rival yet again and probably come out more loose and fearless. I don't know what the best solution is, since the Cougars are hardly in need of a coaching change. Maybe book some time with a sports psychologist or, at the very least, Stuart Smalley.
Stewart, what do you make of the rumors surrounding Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville? Will he be back? Should he be back?
I think they're laughable. For one, Tuberville got an extension last year that includes a $4 million buyout. I know Auburn has no shortage of fat-cat boosters, but come on. As any self-respecting SEC booster knows, with that much you can get at least 10 or 12 blue-chip linemen.
And besides, how would it possibly benefit Auburn to fire Tuberville now? The Tigers have had a disappointing year, no question, but it's hardly a program in shambles. And they've obviously got a leg up on their arch rival right now. To go through the uncertainty of a coaching change would just give Alabama an opening in recruiting it wouldn't otherwise have.
What do you think about Tulsa's Steve Kragthrope as coach of the year?
My two finalists come from the same state and have succeeded beyond any reasonable expectations, yet couldn't be doing it under more different circumstances.
What Kragthorpe has accomplished this season is incredible. It's not as if he imported a bunch of blue chippers. He simply took a core of players that had gone 2-21 the previous two seasons and put them in position to go 8-4, the biggest improvement in the country. Coach of the year awards tend to go to guys who have accomplished a lot with a little, and Kragthorpe is unquestionably that guy this season.
But is that line of reasoning necessarily correct? Considering how many otherwise good coaches often wilt under the pressure of expectations, is what Bob Stoops is accomplishing this season any less significant than Kragthorpe? A) He assembled this team; B) he never shied away from the expectations; and C) he's managed to fulfill those expectations and go several steps beyond them. We could be looking at one of the most dominant teams in the history of the sport. Give credit where credit is due. For whatever reason, we tend not to do that with people from whom we already expect greatness. Witness Michael Jordan's winning only five MVP awards in 13 seasons.
Am I being an overly sensitive Sooner fan, or is there a growing East Coast bias for Larry Fizgerald at the expense of the best QB in the nation?
I think there's a certain truth to that. Not necessarily an East Coast bias, but perhaps -- what's the polite way to put this -- a Bristol bias?
Fitzgerald is a phenomenal player. He makes more highlight plays than any player in the country, which is obviously conducive to ESPN's many highlight shows. But the way their analysts -- one of them, mind you, a former Pittsburgh player -- keep relentlessly hammering home Fitzgerald's candidacy, it seems as if they're on a mission to make sure people a realize the best player in the country is not a quarterback.
Problem is, that's hardly fair to White. All he's done is go out and win more games and throw fewer interceptions than any of the previous 10 Heisman quarterbacks, have a higher completion percentage than all but one and throw for more touchdowns than all but two. While it's true the traditional Heisman criteria is hardly ideal, to suddenly change the standard now at this kid's expense would be criminal.
What are the chances of Texas A&M shocking arch rival Texas at Kyle Field?
About as good as Lloyd Carr's chances of being the featured speaker at next year's National Association of Broadcasters convention.
Stewart Mandel covers college sports for SI.com.