Posted: Tuesday July 3, 2007 12:09PM; Updated: Friday July 6, 2007 11:57AM
I have a flawed but interesting theory for you. The teams that most often win the national title have a quarterback who is their most important player (either talent or leadership), while teams that are just out of reach of the title often have another position player in this role. What do you think?
It's an interesting theory all right, but I'm not sure recent history does much to back it up. Was Chris Leak or Tebow Florida's most important player last year? No, I'd argue it was safety Reggie Nelson. Meanwhile, there's no question Troy Smith was Ohio State's most important player but the Buckeyes, as you call it, fell just out of reach. Meanwhile, was Matt Mauck the most important player on LSU's 2003 title team? How about Craig Krenzel for Ohio State the year before?
I see what you're trying to say, but too often we overemphasize the quarterback position. I would say the only truism is that you can't win a national title with a bad quarterback. He needs to be dependable, accurate and a good leader. But that doesn't mean he has to be the best player, the biggest leader or even a star. He just needs to get the job done. Leadership can come from just about any area of the team, and one common characteristic you'll usually find in champions is a core group of upperclassmen throughout the roster who help foster the chemistry. Usually the quarterback is part of that group.
The two-headed quarterback system: viable strategy like "running back by committee," or catch phrase used by coaches who don't want to make a difficult choice?
First of all, I think nine times out of 10, running back by committee is a bad idea. First of all, if you're not making sure your top running back touches the ball 20-25 times a game then he can't be that good. And secondly, running backs, more so than any other position, depend on getting into a rhythm. I hate when a coach yanks his tailback right when he's starting to get hot. About the only team recently to have much success with the approach is LSU (and that was more out of necessity due to a never-ending slew of injuries to Joseph Addai, Alley Broussard, etc.) USC often starts the season rotating three or more guys but usually narrows it to two primary guys eventually.
As for quarterbacks, I'm on record saying that two-quarterback systems might as well be banned. They usually cause more trouble than their worth, and yes, they usually mean the coach doesn't have all that much confidence in either. But Urban Meyer certainly made the two-QB thing work last year with Leak and Tebow. Georgia also made good use of David Greene and D.J. Shockley together. In both cases, the second quarterback provided a unique skill set different from the other's that genuinely made things more difficult for the opposing defense. I'm not opposed to that. But if, as in most cases, you're rotating two guys in and out depending on which one's thrown an interception less recently or because you just can't decide on one over the other, you're going to screw up their confidence more than you're going to screw up the defense.
Is there any reason to be excited about Texas Tech football in '07? All the preseason magazine hype has been extremely negative. "Experts" are already pointing to '08.
Well I can think of one reason right off the bat to be excited: For the first time since 2002, Mike Leach has a starting quarterback, Graham Harrell, returning from the year before. Both Harrell and the Red Raiders struggled mightily the first half of last season but really picked it up the second half, with the then-sophomore throwing for 519 yards and three touchdowns in a near-upset of Texas, 353 yards and no touchdowns in a 30-24 win over Oklahoma State and, most notably, 445 yards in leading the biggest bowl comeback in history against Minnesota. A couple of Harrell's most reliable receivers are gone, but considering Leach complained about last year's receivers being a bunch of prima donnas, maybe that's not such a bad thing.
Leach will have his work cut out for him, though, both because of heavy losses on both the offensive and defensive lines and because the Big 12 South figures to be extremely tough. In addition to Texas and Oklahoma, this could be both Oklahoma State and Texas A&M's best teams in years. Leach has been nothing if not consistent the past seven years, never winning less than seven or more than nine games, but I do wonder if he's reached his ceiling. I know he wanted the Miami job badly last winter and was disappointed not to get a more serious look. His Air Raid system has proven extremely successful within the confines of the Big 12 but it may be that as long as he's at Texas Tech he'll always have his limitations.
Stewart, I was impressed with your ability to generate so much anticipation and hype for the Celebrity Crush announcement. My question: which was hotter and more anticipated, the iPhone or the Celebrity Crush?
Considering there were still people lined up on the street outside the AT&T store near my apartment at 9 p.m. last Friday (the phone came out at midnight the night before), I'd say the iPhone release was a tad bit more highly anticipated. But in terms of which is hotter, the iPhone or Jordana -- c'mon. Having now seen pictures of both, it's not even a contest. Just look to the right.
Plus, I've heard all kinds of complaints about the iPhone already. If anyone's complaining about the Mailbag Crush ... look at the pictures again.
Have a happy Fourth, everybody. Come back next week for my annual ranking of the nation's best and worst coaches. What can I say? I'm a glutton for e-mail punishment.