Posted: Wednesday September 7, 2005 1:51PM; Updated: Friday September 9, 2005 1:42PM
Eight in the Box
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1. Nobody on ABC's crew directly criticized former Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham during the Irish's 42-21 defeat of Pittsburgh on Saturday night, but their words spoke volumes nonetheless.
Dan Fouts, second quarter: "Tackling on kickoffs is something N.D. didn't do particularly well last year."
Fouts, second quarter, following an acrobatic TD catch by junior Irish wideout Jeff Samardzija: "You know what, Keith? That's his first career touchdown catch."
Aaron Taylor, former Notre Dame All-American, during the halftime show: "Charlie Weis has brought an attitude to this team. Something Notre Dame didn't have last year."
Beano Cook, postgame: "Charlie Weis will win two Heisman Trophies before he's finished at Notre Dame." (O.K., only kidding)
Final Irish note: senior fullback Rashon Powers-Neal equaled his career TD total (3) and had two fewer yards rushing versus Pitt (41) than he had in all of 2002 and 2003 combined (43).
2. Oklahoma's embarrassing home loss to Texas Christian takes all the heat off coach Bob Stoops. If the Sooners had started the season on a winning streak, it would have been difficult for Stoops to demote redshirt junior quarterback Paul Thompson, a players' favorite who patiently waited his turn behind Jason White. But now that there's an OUch to OU's regular season record for the first time since 2002 ...
"We're going to give Rhett Bomar a chance to start and see where he takes it," Stoops said after Monday's practice. "By no means am I sitting here saying that Paul Thompson is responsible for the way we played Saturday. That's not the case. We had a lot of guys, mostly older guys, play as poorly as I have seen them play. We feel Rhett deserves the same opportunity that Paul had."
Bomar took 10 of the Sooners' 67 snaps last Saturday. He's a stud in waiting and you can understand why Stoops would figure, as long as we're now a longshot for the national championship, we may as well build for the future. Not that it's any consolation to Thompson, the fall guy for Saturday's abysmal showing. How many other OU offensive starters lost their jobs this week?
3. Do you agree that it's not half as much fun watching Miami and Florida State tussle on the season's opening weekend, and on a weeknight no less? That game should always be played on a Saturday in mid-October, when the stakes are higher.
4. Both Joe Morgan and SI's own Tom Verducci have come out this week espousing an idea to give the wild card teams in the baseball playoffs a more difficult route to the World Series (a reaction, I suppose, to the last three World Series champs coming from the wild card). Morgan and Verducci would give the wild card team only one home game (the third game) in the best-of-five series. How about this instead? You give the wildcard team the fourth game at home as well, but they must bat first. Or, if you don't like that idea, how about you decree that should the series go five games, the wildcard team must pitch Kevin Brown at least three innings?
5. Enough readers have written in, so here's the correction in print from last week's column: Maverick flew an F-14, not an F-16. An F-14 is a Navy aircraft, while an F-16 is an Air Force aircraft ... and, if you'll permit me the Nigel Tufnelian parallel, two F's more.
6. The White Stripes rock like no other two-person band I've ever seen (and I'm throwing England Dan and John Ford Coley into that mix), and I like them even more after reading an interview with Jack White in the current Rolling Stone. Here's Jack's response to David Fricke, who gently accuses the Stripes of being a "work of artifice": "And if you think Ashlee Simpson is the truth, you gotta have your head examined. I hate to call Rolling Stone on it, but you defended that crap. When she used the backing track on Saturday Night Live, Rolling Stone said, 'Oh, everybody uses a backing track on Saturday Night Live.' I raised my hand and said, 'I didn't!'"
7. As long as I've broached the topic of England Dan and John Ford Coley, does anyone remember James at Fifteen? Now that was a cool show, buoyed by the duo's cool theme song:
Oh oh James, singin' Oh oh James. The people in the streets owe the pourin' of the rain. Is it a feelin' in the heart, or is it something you can name. Oh oh James, singin' Oh oh James.
And, seriously, am I the only one who wishes that show would air in re-run land somewhere?
8. I'm just waiting to read an item in the paper with the headline: "NCAA Clears Oregon State's Nickname."