College Football Mailbag (cont.)
Posted: Wednesday September 19, 2007 12:56PM; Updated: Wednesday September 19, 2007 3:01PM
Dude, you're taking this Celebrity Crush thing waaaaay too seriously.
Hmm. I'm starting to notice a trend here -- and it's not a good one. Am I going to have to retire the Celebrity Crush bit? Did I really go too far this time?
During the Tennessee-Florida game, one of the color commentators ventured that "95 percent of all college teams will be running the spread offense within five years." Given the potential for injury to the quarterback, do you agree, or do you see the spread going the way of the wishbone and the veer, which were abandoned at winning programs because they couldn't continue to get top recruits to take the risk?
I hate to question you on a medical issue, Jim, considering your e-mail address inferred that you are a doctor, but where's the evidence of this supposed spread-offense injury risk I've been hearing about ever since Urban Meyer came to Florida? (Kind of like how the spread would never work in the SEC because of all that speed on defense; you don't hear that one too often anymore.)
First of all, any quarterback in any offense is highly susceptible to injury because there are guys on the other side whose entire job on every single play is to come after the quarterback. Plenty of pro-style QBs get hit all game long, whether they run the ball or not. Meanwhile, West Virginia's Pat White has been running the ball out of the spread 15-20 times a game for three years and remains standing. Alex Smith did not miss a start in two years at Utah. Vince Young had no major injuries. And so on and so on.
I didn't hear the comment, but 95 percent seems like an unrealistic number considering the amount of NFL-bred head coaches around the country who will always run a pro-style offense. But I do think the spread will continue to ... umm, spread, considering the massive success being had with it by schools like Florida, West Virginia and Oregon.
In fact, the place where it's most likely to take off next is the SEC. It's no secret coaches are copycats, and as teams find out over the next couple of years (as Tennessee did last week) just how hard it is to defend the spread when you've got the right quarterback and skill players, many of them will likely adopt it themselves. (LSU has already begun doing so a bit under new offensive coordinator Gary Crowton.)
I don't see the spread as a fad; I see it as an epiphany that, for whatever reason, took football coaches 100 years to realize, but now that they have, seems almost like common sense. Simply put, if you spread the field, you give your playmakers more room to run free. As the late Randy Walker, who himself converted from the power-I to the spread at Northwestern, told me in 2005, "It's as if all those years, we were playing football in a phone booth."
I'm not a Kentucky fan. I'm not a Louisville hater. But when the polls came out on Sunday, I said, "Wow, these people really are idiots. Good thing Mandel, with his common sense and knowledge, will have the Wildcats above Louisville, even if it's just one spot." Now, I'm going to stop just short of calling you an idiot for this week, but what's your reasoning behind the Cardinals' higher ranking?
I'm not proud of it, believe me. I really do make a concerted effort to try to make sure my ballot is logically sound each week, and I did spend no shortage of time working and reworking that one particular section in an attempt to avoid that very glitch. It's tough sometimes, however, when you're trying to balance that logic while also maintaining some sort of consistency and continuity from one week to the next.
Basically, the problem was ... Nebraska. Last week, I had Louisville 10th, Nebraska 11th. I didn't think it would be fair to drop the Huskers inordinately low for losing to the No. 1 team in the country, even by a lopsided nature, so the biggest drop I could rationalize was down to 19th. Meanwhile, Louisville's losing on the road in the final seconds against a bitter rival is not exactly galling, but I felt like I probably had the Cardinals too high to begin with the week before, so I ended up dropping them the same amount of spots (to 18th).
I tried out several scenarios where Kentucky would come in higher than both of them, but wasn't comfortable with it because a) I don't actually believe yet that the Wildcats are a legitimate top-20 team (I put them 20th), and b) I don't believe they're better than Nebraska. So the weird and somewhat clunky compromise was to go 18) Louisville, 19) Nebraska, 20) Kentucky.
Keep in mind, this all had to be figured out by the time I went to bed Saturday night about 4 a.m. Central. With the benefit of hindsight, it probably would have been smarter to either move Kentucky a little higher or drop Louisville a little bit lower, but considering the game was decided in the final 30 seconds, and on Kentucky's field rather than Louisville's, I don't think it's the biggest injustice in the world, either. If the teams played 10 times, they'd probably split.
Uh, I think you're creeping us all out with your Jordana Spiro stalkery. Leave the poor girl alone.
Jeez. Well, that settles it then. The last thing I want to be known as is a creepy celebrity stalker. I guess nobody got the joke.
In fact, this is getting to be flat-out depressing. I'm going to have to take a break and finish this Mailbag later. I need to make a couple of calls anyway. In fact, I've been out of the office for a couple of days and neglected to check my work voice mail.
You have one new message ...
Oh good, I probably didn't miss anything too important. Probably just the dentist's office reminding me about my appointment (again).
Hey there, Stewart. This is Jordana Spiro, calling with the hopes of redeeming myself (giggle). Give me a call if you can, my number is ...
Well, I'll be darned. I guess somebody wasn't creeped out by the joke. "Are you kidding?" a familiar female voice tells me when I return the call. "I thought it was hilarious. It was all a big misunderstanding."
Whew. What a relief. So how did you find out about last week's Crush controversy anyway, Jordana? "My brother e-mailed me the link and was mad at me. I felt defeated -- much like the defeat I'm sure you felt when the Wildcats lost to Duke."
Do you see now, guys, why she's the coolest Celebrity Crush on the planet?
Filming for season three of My Boys doesn't begin until January. What is Jordana doing until then? "I'm just kind of reading [film] scripts and taking meetings with people."
Really? I wonder if the quality of scripts she's getting has gone through the roof ever since the whole Mailbag Crush thing happened. "You have no idea," she says. "The stamp of approval is just phenomenal. People are like, Emmys, Schemmys. We want the girl who's the Mailbag Crush."
OK, because apparently a lot of you don't like when I devote too much time to non-football topics, I better hurry up and wrap this up, but I do have to ask her one last question. In the season finale of My Boys, P.J. was about to settle in for a long flight to Italy. Say, Jordana, what did our favorite female sportswriter bring to read on the trip?
"Well, she's already read Bowls, Polls, and Tattered Souls three times, so she's hoping you come out with Volume 2."
Yep. That's my Crush, all right.
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