Most underrated coaches, latest on Reggie Bush and more (cont.)
What is more likely to happen this year: Reggie Bush losing his Heisman trophy or USC winning a national championship?
After more than two years of grandstanding, it appears the walls are finally caving in on 'ol Reggie, who remains one of the three most exciting players I've ever covered (the others: Michael Vick and Vince Young) but also, as it turns out, one of the biggest phonies. Last week, a San Diego judge denied Bush's request to privately resolve a lawsuit filed against him by Lloyd Lake, one of the con men/sports marketers at the heart of the former Trojan's scandal. That means Lake's one-time partner, Michael Michaels, with whom Bush had previously paid off with a settlement, will be forced to proceed with his scheduled Aug. 29 deposition.
According to the San Diego Union Tribune, NCAA officials have indicated to Lake's attorney that "they don't need anything else" besides Michaels' deposition to wrap up its investigation. Presumably, his testimony will simply reaffirm everything we already know about the hordes and hordes of extra benefits Bush and his family allegedly received while still a collegiate athlete, at which time the NCAA can officially decree what we've long since assumed: That Bush was ineligible at the time.
All of that said: The answer to Tye's hypothetical is still unquestionably "USC/national championship." For one thing, the NCAA case is still a long ways from being resolved. We're still only in the investigation stage. It could be weeks or months after that deposition before the NCAA officially "concludes" its probe, at which point it must present its findings to the school in a "notice of allegations." The school then has a certain amount of time to respond, eventually there's a hearing, and, finally, the infractions committee announces any penalties. The whole thing could take a year or more.
Even then, I would still not put much stock in the possibility of Bush losing his Heisman. The Heisman Trust is a completely separate entity from the NCAA. It is also an extremely conservative and loosely bound organization. In 73 years, they have never revoked a winner's trophy, and I can't imagine they're eager to start now. More realistically: The NCAA forces USC to "vacate" any victories from the record books that it attained when Bush was ineligible. (And only then if it's found that the school had reason to be aware of Bush's arrangements.)
In reading an article about Mark Richt, I noticed that he was hired in 2001, the same year as Pete Carroll and Jim Tressel. Georgia, USC and Ohio State are currently ranked Nos. 1, 2, and 3. Those seem to be three pretty strong hires that year. Please look into the other coaches hired in 2001 and let me know if there was another year that so many coaches were hired and turned out to be successful.
I don't know of any way to figure it out historically, but there's no question that 2000-01 offseason was a bonanza for successful coaching hires. In addition to the three you mentioned, that was also the year Bowling Green hired Urban Meyer, Rutgers hired Greg Schiano, Boise State hired Dan Hawkins, West Virginia hired Rich Rodriguez, Wake Forest hired Grobe, Missouri hired Gary Pinkel, Maryland hired Ralph Friedgen, TCU hired Patterson, Virginia hired Groh (though I'm still not sold on that one) and Oklahoma State hired Les Miles.
That's a whole lot of coaching changes for one offseason, nevertheless ones that dramatically changed the fortunes of so many programs for the better. And mind you, a lot of the names on that list who went on to have the most success -- Richt, Carroll, Meyer, Schiano, Miles -- were first-time college head coaches whose employers were unquestionably taking a risk with their hires. Kudos to their athletic directors.
Some other coaching hires from that offseason that did not turn out so majestically: Miami's Larry Coker (fired in 2006, though not before winning a national title), Alabama's Dennis Franchione (bolted after two seasons), BYU's Gary Crowton (fired in 2004), North Carolina's John Bunting (fired in 2006) and Arizona State's Dirk Koetter (ditto).
Stewart, you have to react to the USA Today preseason poll. I will give West Virginia the benefit of the doubt here and not question their preseason top-10 status, but MICHIGAN?! At 24?! In the entire country?! As far as I'm concerned, if they are bowl-eligible it's a successful season.
I wrote a few years back about the recurring phenomenon of Michigan's overinflated preseason rankings (quite prophetically, I might add; that was the year they started No. 4 and finished 7-5) -- but this is the most flagrant case yet. Have the coaches been living in a cave the past eight months? Did they miss the news about Chad Henne, Mike Hart and Jake Long graduating? Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington turning pro? Ryan Mallett transferring? Half the offensive line following suit? All at a time when the new coach is trying to implement an offense for which he currently lacks the proper personnel?
I hate to beat this to a pulp, because I've said it several times before, but Michigan's offense is going to stink this season, and nothing short of Charles Woodson's return and/or a 1997-caliber performance from the defense will render Michigan a top-25 team. Which leaves only one possibility: There must be a bylaw in the coaches' poll -- much like the one that requires them to vote the BCS title-game winner No. 1 -- mandating the Wolverines' inclusion.
Stewart, what happened to Steve Spurrier in the coaches' poll? I thought he always voted Duke at No. 25? Does this have something to do with their new coach, or have they even become this bad to the Visor?!?
Like you, I also noticed Duke's mysterious exclusion, and like you, my thoughts immediately turned to a possible conspiracy theory involving Spurrier's relationship with new Blue Devils coach David Cutcliffe, what with his longtime Tennessee background.
But apparently there was a far simpler explanation. Spurrier told South Carolina reporters last week that Grant Taeff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association, asked him to discontinue the practice "to keep the integrity of the poll alive."
My response: HAHAHAHAHAHA. Integrity? In the coaches' poll? Why start now? Not to mention -- what if Duke does turn into a legitimate top-25 team at some point? Would Spurrier still be disallowed from voting for them? Is there a certain win threshold the Blue Devils have to reach before they're allowed back in the pool?
Ah, the coaches' poll -- one-third of our national-championship formula.