The question remains (cont.)
Posted: Wednesday November 28, 2007 12:11PM; Updated: Thursday November 29, 2007 1:43AM
Duke fired its coach, Ted Roof, after going 6-45. Given that Duke has had one winning season since Steve Spurrier left nearly 20 years ago, do you think it's even possible for Duke to climb out of the ACC's basement?
There's no legitimate reason why they shouldn't. The Blue Devils can't use academics as an excuse; Northwestern has turned itself into a near-annual bowl contender. They can't use location or lack of tradition as an excuse; Wake Forest just won the ACC last year. In this age of unprecedented parity, no school should be permanently stuck in the basement -- but you've got to hire the right coach, and the school has to support him.
In hindsight, Duke probably made a mistake when they elevated then-interim coach Roof. He'd shown signs of potential upon taking over for the ousted Carl Franks late in the 2003 season, but the fact is, that was Franks' team, not his. Roof had a solid reputation as an assistant, but no track record to indicate he was capable of such a daunting rebuilding job in his first stint as a head coach.
More than anything, it will be important for Duke to hire a coach who brings excitement to the table. He's got to be as much a salesman as a football coach, because right now there's simply no enthusiasm for that program, and the new coach will have to somehow create it. I'm talking about a Ron Zook-type, a high-energy guy who's able to convince recruits and fans that they're on the brink of something special even when there's almost no evidence to suggest it.
Rematches? You have UCLA vs. BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl, which is a rematch of a game played already this season. How hard will the Pac-10, the Las Vegas Bowl and ESPN work to try to avoid a rematch?
It's certainly not an ideal situation, but it may be unavoidable. Though the Las Vegas Bowl is not technically obligated to select the Mountain West's champion, they most definitely want BYU back because the Cougars are ranked and bring a ton of fans. Meanwhile, my projections were done with the assumption that both USC and Arizona State make the BCS, in which case UCLA would be the only eligible Pac-10 team remaining by the time Vegas got to pick.
Now, there are a couple different ways they could avoid this scenario: One is that either USC or ASU loses this weekend and Vegas would have multiple Pac-10 teams to choose from. The other is a potential deal the WAC is trying to consummate to send Boise State to Las Vegas. The appeal of a Boise-BYU game is obvious; however, to make it work, the Pac-10 would have to be willing to ship a team like UCLA to the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, which is sixth in the conference's selection order; and the WAC would have to find a suitable replacement for its spot in the Hawaii Bowl, assuming the Warriors go to the BCS. As it stands now, that league is only going to have four eligible teams for three spots, and they'd be taking two of them, Boise and Hawaii, out of the mix.
Isn't it funny how we heard from SEC fans at the start of the season that Tennessee losing to Cal was OK because "it was the sixth-best SEC team against the second-best Pac-10 team?" Now, I look at the standings and see that the second-best SEC team actually lost to the seventh-best Pac-10 team. How ironic is that?
Touche. I wonder if anyone's attempted to make a similar defense for Alabama, the ninth-best team in the SEC, losing to the Sun Belt's third-place team, Louisiana-Monroe.
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