Readers' irritating poll obsession, Florida's question and more (cont.)
Stewart, as an extremely concerned Michigan fan I have one simple question: Rich Rodriquez = Bill Callahan?
Wow -- you're really going there already? I figured Michigan fans would be panicking this week, but Callahan was arguably the most disastrous coaching hire this decade. You don't happen to be the kind of person who runs to the doctor's office at the first sight of a pimple?
I'm guessing you're making the parallel because Callahan, like Rodriguez, tried to overhaul a previously successful program's offensive system. And, like Callahan, he's an outsider. But at the end of the day, Callahan didn't fail at Nebraska because of his offense. On the contrary, the Huskers were quite powerful offensively by the end of his tenure. He failed because he was an NFL-bred coach trying to run a college program like an NFL franchise and, in the process, he managed to alienate almost everyone connected to that program.
Rodriguez, on the other hand, is a proven college coach. If you haven't noticed, West Virginia hasn't been the same without him. Tommy Bowden just resigned in part because he could never replicate the success he had with Rodriguez as his offensive coordinator. The guy knows what he's doing; unfortunately, his players can't yet say the same.
Can you remember the last time anyone saw Louisville play on Saturday?
Good question. Basketball season?
With last week's firing of Auburn offensive coordinator Tony Franklin, that makes 10 coordinators (five offensive and five defensive) that Tommy Tuberville has gone through in his 10-year stint at Auburn. Can you give us an idea as to how normal or unusual this systemic "changing of the guard" is compared to most top programs in recent history?
It's beyond unusual -- but then, Auburn is not your "usual" type of place when it comes to the coaching climate. The boosters are insane, the fans and media are continually out for blood and even the slightest missteps elicit calls for change. When Tuberville arrived in 1999, Auburn was in full rebuilding mode. In his second season, he led them to the SEC title game. The next year, the Tigers slipped back to 7-5 and he basically spent the next three years fighting to save his job. The undefeated 2004 season earned him substantial leeway that now seems to have evaporated with one bad year.
Any good program is going to lose coordinators to better gigs, and that's been the case for several of Tuberville's aides (Bobby Petrino, Gene Chizik, Will Muschamp), but in terms of the amount of hirings and firings? Absurd. But again, I'm not sure Tuberville has had much of a choice. For one thing, Tuberville is very much a CEO-type coach. His coordinators do nearly all the dirty work, so he's only going to be as successful as they are. So any time there's the slightest bit of discontent, he feels pressured to make changes or risk losing his own job.
I must say, however, that the Franklin soap opera has taken on a far different tone than any of Tuberville's previous staff changes. It was by far his riskiest hire to date -- hiring a former coaching renegade to completely revamp his long-standing offense -- and now that it's backfired, it reflects far more critically on Tuberville than it does Franklin. Like I said last week, Tuberville has created his own PR nightmare, one that only grew worse with the loss to Arkansas. It's not like there isn't continuity on that staff -- five of his assistants have been with Tuberville since Ole Miss -- but it's remarkable that he's been able to maintain any semblance of consistency while changing the program's identity every other year. You wonder whether the latest move was one too many.
Is there any other team in the nation that is having a worse year than the Washington State Cougars? First they lose nine scholarships due to academic failings that happened under the old regime, they bring in a new coach from the I-AA ranks who looks to be in way over his head, they lose starting QB Gary Rodgers to a career-ending spinal injury and in the same game lose back-up QB Kevin Lopina for a significant amount of time. An open try-out was then held to add another QB to the roster. Now comes news that the current starter, redshirt freshman Marshall Lobbestael, will miss the remainder of the season due to tearing both his ACL and MCL this past week against Oregon State, which leaves another redshirt freshman to take his place with the walk-on as his backup. Aside from a win against I-AA Portland State, the Cougars haven't even been competitive, losing every game by at least 25 points. And to top it all off, just when it seems that things couldn't possibly get any worse, USC is coming to town this weekend. Ugh...
I don't have anything to add to that. My jaw drops just reading it.
First SI.com asked readers to do better than you at predicting the weekend's games. Now they're asking us to do better than you at ranking teams if we've "got a different view than Stew." Are you worried that they're trying to undermine your credibility?
No, I feel bad that they keep trying to dupe you into believing I'm some sort of oracle. According to the latest standings, 507 of you have done a better job picking games so far. As for the rankings ... I say we just turn over my ballot to the Georgia fans. They have all the answers.