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The 'bag gets modernized (cont.)

Posted: Wednesday July 19, 2006 11:25AM; Updated: Wednesday July 19, 2006 1:53PM
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When do we get our annual preview of EA Sports' NCAA Football 2007?
-- TL, Silver Spring, Md.

Sadly, the folks at EA seem to have taken me off their list, because I didn't receive an advance copy this year, and now the game is on shelves. So this year, I'll leave it to you guys to send in your own reviews, and I'll post some of them next week.

How would you rate the Colorado vs. Colorado State rivalry compared with others in today's game?
-- James, Fort Collins, Colo.

From a competitive standpoint, you couldn't ask for much more the past few years. Four straight games have come down to the last minute, with some crazy endings -- Mason Crosby's game-winning field goal last year, the clock running out on the Rams at the goal line the year before that, Jeremy Bloom's ridiculous catch in 2003. Unfortunately, the game gets lost in the shuffle nationally, and I think that has a lot to do with it being played the first week of the season. I realize that for the fans of the two teams it's an exciting way to start the season, but seeing as neither team is usually ranked high, if at all, in the preseason, the casual fan may not be inclined to watch. I think it would get more attention if it was played at the end of the season along with the other rivalry games, particularly if one or both teams had a major bowl bid riding on it.

Based on your interactions with coaches and assistants from many different programs over the years, answer me this: When do they sleep? Coaches generally make pretty good money, but the hours are terrible. Do coaches have other lives? Do you think it's worth it?
-- Steve, State College, Pa.

I know I couldn't do it -- I need a full night's sleep or I can't even think straight the next day. But I know a lot of type-A people who are the exact opposite. In my experience, most coaches are at the office by 7 a.m., if not earlier, and during the season often stay past midnight. The good news is that they're not chained to their desks. Often times, especially in small college towns, the head coach will pop out during the day to go to lunch with his kids or watch part of their Little League game, then come back. And you don't have to worry about finding time to work out. To me, the worst period is actually after the season, in December and January, when they're on the road non-stop, recruiting. They get a little down time in the summer, but not as much as you might think. They'll take maybe a week or two of vacation, but otherwise there's always something to do, be it speaking engagements, watching film or planning practices.

Is it worth it? I think if you're an established head coach, or an assistant with tenure and security, it's an extremely rewarding job. But what someone like Ron Zook went through at Florida, working around the clock for three straight years only to get laughed out of town -- I don't care how much money you're making, that's got to stink. Same with low-level assistants who are often paid very little but work just as hard, with little to no job security and the possibility of having to move every couple of years. Of course, those guys view it as putting in their time until they can get a head-coaching gig -- where they can then work even harder and get run out of town after three years.

Speaking of which....

Which head coaches are on the "bubble" this season? I'm not looking for the worst coaches, but rather, which ones might be out of work with another lackluster year?
-- Art Smalley, Huntington Beach, Calif.

It may be time to rename this Art Smalley's Mailbag. Last week I pointed out that he'd gotten a question in two straight weeks. Art wrote back to point out that I'd actually published him four times this summer alone. This is the fifth. What can I say, he asks good, concise questions.

Dennis Franchione has got to be No. 1 on the list. No way will Texas A&M stand for another mediocre season (7-5 or worse) while paying him $2 million a year. Next up would be Missouri's Gary Pinkel, who's been fortunate to survive the chopping block this long. With the departure last year of his No. 1 fan, AD Dave Braine, Georgia Tech's Chan Gailey is definitely vulnerable. Ditto for N.C. State's Chuck Amato. And Arizona State's Dirk Koetter can't afford another implosion like last year's.

I know there are a lot of Miami fans who would like to see Larry Coker on the list, and for some reason I've gotten a ton of e-mails from Michigan recently about Lloyd Carr's supposed hot seat, but I don't see either school pulling the plug on coach with a national championship unless something drastic happens.

I'm going to keep sending this question until you publish it! SMU went 5-6 last year with wins over UTEP, TCU and Houston -- bowl teams -- and four of its losses were by less than a touchdown. Do you think this is the year the Mustangs finally make a bowl game?
-- Scott Seibel, Dallas

Yes.

Who would you blame more for last week's Entourage debacle: Vince for being insecure and immature, Drama for being a pompous has-been or Eric for putting a threesome ahead of business?
-- William Hroncich, Columbus, Ohio

That's a no-brainer: Vince. You know, one of the interesting things about Entourage is that its main character also happens to be its least likable. The only reason you find yourself rooting for him to get the big parts is for Drama and Turtle's benefit. He got what he deserved this time. And I think we can all agree that Eric did exactly what just about any other American male would have done in the same situation.

You are intellectually distorted, not to mention uninformed. Pete Carroll doesn't go for fourth-and-two, Vince scores from anywhere. Those morons who are making noise are just as stupid as you are, Mandel. The problem was that Pete used the wrong formation to go for the fourth down. USC should be national champs again. The game was badly called, mistakes galore. Bad officiating. It was not only given away by uncharacteristic play by SC, but taken away by the officials and Mack Brown's childish behavior. SC will be back, Texas won't.
-- Dr. Frank Hernandez, La Quinta, Calif.

I'm just trying to determine which is the scariest part of this e-mail.

1. That Frank is still so rabidly bitter and, I think we can all agree, a rather sore loser, nearly seven months after the fact.

2. That he's so worked up about this that he somehow failed to notice that the comment of mine he was responding to defended Carroll.

3. That the man is a doctor!

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