Addressing the Utah situation, OSU's wasted talent and more (cont.)
You wrote earlier that Gene Chizik has "zero chance to succeed" at Auburn due to lack of fan support. Two questions: What do you think of his recent staff hires, and given the fact that many Auburn fans think he's on the right track with hires, recruiting and convincing Antonio Coleman to stay, do you still think he has zero chance at success?
I would characterize his recent hires as "interesting." All I heard for three weeks was that Auburn fans couldn't wait to be done with the awful spread-offense experiment and get back to some good-old fashioned I-formation football -- and then Chizik goes out and hires one of the reigning gurus of the no-huddle, shotgun-spread attack, Gus Malzahn. I think he's a great coach, but Auburn fans are going to need to do a complete 180 on their opinion of the spread. Wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor, on the other hand, is a fantastic fit and a phenomenal recruiter.
Chizik may well win some games, go to some bowl games, but over the long-term, I'll stick with the "zero chance to succeed" prediction. That's because A) Chizik will always be viewed as a questionable hire, which means any little misstep will be amplified and patience will be at a premium, and B) Auburn ultimately measures itself against Alabama, and any coach that took that job would be hard-pressed to keep pace with Nick Saban. Auburn ran Tommy Tuberville out of town after a one-game losing streak to the Tide. What happens if Chizik has the bad fortune of losing two straight Iron Bowls?
Do you think President-Elect Obama (who is a playoff advocate) could send a message to the college football world by inviting both the winner of the Florida/Oklahoma game AND Utah to the White House as is the custom? He could at least win a few more votes in Utah next time around.
I would be all for that. It would be a great reward for Utah. I don't think it would do much to sway the BCS power-mongers, however. Maybe if they received an appearance fee.
Texas A&M needs to be nominated for the renamed Ole Miss/Clemson Syndrome. They are now behind Texas, Texas Tech, TCU and arguably Baylor within the state of Texas. I love the Aggies and their passion and tradition, but they need to wake up and realize that John David Crow and the Wrecking Crew are not coming back anytime soon.
While several schools -- Pittsburgh, Georgia, even Southern Miss -- received nominations in this department, Texas A&M received tenfold. And the next-most popular response was to reinstitute Auburn.
I'm fine with both of these, primarily because it gives the disorder a far catchier name than ever before. Ladies and gentlemen, the next time you see a school fire a perfectly competent coach based on outdated, unrealistic expectations, chalk it up to just another case of "Auburn/A&M Syndrome."
I really enjoyed your recount of your first Rose Bowl experience. Great article, your best work ever maybe. I wish you would write from the heart more often and not be so cynical a lot of the time.
Thanks, Garth. I was pleasantly surprised by how many people wrote in to share their own similar stories of memorable bowl trips. I can also tell you that I got to the Rose Bowl early this year and was coming up from the field back into the stands just as the first wave of spectators were being let into the stadium. It was pretty awesome to watch some of the fans (presumably attending their first Rose Bowl) as they first came out of the tunnels into the bowl. You could see their eyes light up, and I heard a couple of, "Whoas!" It was like watching my 19-year-old self all over again.
That said, if you think I'm cynical ... you should really take a look at my inbox sometime. Case in point:
How could Texas blitz the cornerback covering 6-foot-6 Terrelle Pryor one-on-one when the play was an obvious jump-ball fade for a touchdown? And why cover Pryor with a safety who can only run over and look up like a child at an NBA game? How can Texas do that and ask to be rated No. 1?
That's right, folks. We've resorted to criticizing the coaching of the winning team.
Enjoy Thursday night's game. I'm sure you'll all have plenty to say afterward, so I'll check back in with one last Mailbag early next week.