A coaching carousel fix (cont.)
I think Texas' loss to Alabama is the fault of Mack Brown. He should have used those blowout wins during the season to prepare his backup QB for a situation like this instead of padding McCoy's stats to win the Heisman. Now McCoy didn't win the Heisman and Texas lost the national championship. What do you think?
It's a fair point, but I don't think a bunch of meaningless fourth-quarter appearances would make a true freshman quarterback any more prepared to enter the national championship game. Nothing could have possibly prepared Garrett Gilbert for that besides actual starts in big games during the season. I can't even imagine what it must have been like for him to be abruptly thrown into the fire against Alabama's defense on the biggest stage in the sport. Once he calmed down and acclimated himself to the speed of the game in the second half, you could see his abilities, but that first half had to be the most overwhelming experience imaginable.
What hurt Texas far more was its lack of a running game. It wasn't a new problem -- Texas hasn't had a dependable rushing attack in two years -- but the Longhorns had been able to compensate for it due to McCoy's deadly accuracy and ability to use the short-passing game as a substitute. In an ideal scenario, you lean on your running game and put as little responsibility on the quarterback's shoulders as possible. But the 'Horns (not surprisingly) never got things going on the ground, Gilbert was forced to throw the ball 40 times and, inevitably, he made some costly mistakes. He's a true freshman. Ask Matt Barkley or Tate Forcier what that's like.
Stewart, I only want to ask you one simple question. With all the pregame talk about the BCS Championship game being a mismatch, after seeing them play, did Texas belong in the BCS Championship game?
Absolutely. The final score was deceiving, but Texas played its guts out, especially on defense, which boasted every bit as much athleticism as Alabama's. The 'Horns really got to Greg McElroy on the few occasions he passed. The Tide's running game did overpower them in the second quarter, but Will Muschamp must have made some important adjustments at halftime because the 'Horns mostly shut 'Bama down the rest of the way. I just wish we'd gotten to see their full team.
With Colt McCoy being out for most of the BCS title game and with Texas keeping it close late in the game, don't you think Alabama should have an asterisk next to its name in the record books? It's highly likely McCoy would have made the difference and Texas would have won.
No asterisk. Injuries -- even one as calamitous as McCoy's -- are part of the game. And while it makes for fun debate, one should never make assumptions on the outcome of a game based on hypothetical scenarios. That's particularly true considering how early the injury happened. The entire game would have played out differently, one way or the other.
Alabama won fair and square.
I can't stand that you continue to use the term "cyclical" to describe the ebb and flow of successful teams and/or conferences throughout the decades. There is nothing "cyclical" about it. If there were, we would have by now seen Princeton, Yale, Harvard, Army, Pennsylvania, Cornell, etc., in the Top 25. How about we retire the term "cyclical"?
Sure -- just as soon as the Ivy League schools rejoin Division I-A and World War II breaks out again.
So after all the hoopla surrounding the Fiesta Bowl with Boise State-TCU, did it live up to what everyone was looking for, a.k.a. the TV rating?
Pretty much. First of all, the atmosphere inside that stadium was electric. All those people who said the teams were relegated to a "meaningless" game apparently forgot to tell Boise State's fans. The announced attendance was 73,227, of which at least 40,000 were wearing orange-and-blue. That's pretty impressive when you consider Boise's home stadium only seats 33,000.
The TV rating -- not earth-shattering, but not the disaster many were predicting. The game did an 8.2 rating (13.8 million viewers), which put it slightly lower than the Florida-Cincinnati Sugar Bowl (8.5), but well above the Iowa-Georgia Tech Orange Bowl (6.8). It confirmed what I believed from the beginning: that fans would find that matchup more interesting than they would the other feasible options, which had Boise playing Iowa in Glendale and TCU playing Georgia Tech in Miami. Neither of those games would have rated as well. (And no other proposed matchups were realistic given the selection order.)
Of course, it also confirms once again that brand name programs will always be a bigger draw than mid-majors, regardless of record. Last year's Texas-Ohio State Fiesta Bowl did a 10.4
Well, the AP had the chance to put its money where its mouth is and it didn't. How can Boise be fourth in the final poll? How does a team beat the third-ranked team in a BCS bowl and end up fourth? Where would TCU have ended up if it had won? Behind Florida? The press likes to rail against the BCS, but it sure seems like the AP and Coaches' poll are as much a part of the problem as the BCS system.
I stated my opinion that I thought the Broncos should have finished ahead of at least Florida, but it's not hard to see how it happened. The Gators (at No. 5) were ahead of the Broncos (at No. 6) in both polls going into the bowl games. Florida crushed No. 4 Cincinnati. Boise edged No. 3 TCU. The voters moved them up the same number of spots. I'd hardly call it an injustice.
But you raise an interesting point that gets overlooked far too often. BCS critics (like the folks behind last week's television ads) tried to use TCU and Boise as exhibits of the system's purported unfairness while conveniently overlooking the fact that there was absolutely nothing stopping the voters from placing those teams in the title game. The BCS didn't show favoritism toward Alabama and Texas; the voters did. Why was there no similar outcry over Cincinnati? The Bearcats may have had an automatic bid, but they didn't get into the title game, either.
For all the outside uproar, I noticed there was no BCS outcry whatsoever from Boise or TCU's coaches and players. (Gary Patterson flat out said he doesn't want a playoff.) Chris Petersen is not a rock-the-boat kind of guy, but he also realizes that no program in the country has benefited more from the BCS than Boise State. Without a system that mandated their inclusion, the Broncos would probably still be that cute little team that plays on the blue turf, fortunate to reach the Poinsettia Bowl. Thanks to those two Fiesta Bowl wins, they've been able to build up their respect level to the point where they're now being ranked alongside teams that had a 100-year head start. It's incremental progress, but it's happening faster than I ever would have imagined.
Now that Saban has won another national championship in the SEC, and LSU has continued down its long slide toward mediocrity, who is more on the hot seat: Saban to win another national title or Les Miles to win?
Miles -- and it's not even close. We're about to find out just how quickly a coach can go from national championship (2007) to the firing squad (2010?) in the SEC, because right now we're watching every LSU fan's worst nightmare play out: Alabama is turning into the kind of program LSU might have become had Saban never left, at the expense of the Tigers. I've been a big Miles fan in the past, but he's lost a lot of his luster the past two years. LSU's slide to 8-5 the year after the title season was forgivable considering how much turnover the Tigers endured that offseason (including at quarterback). This year's 9-4 season seemed more disappointing both because of the Tigers' offensive ineptitude (they finished 112th nationally) and Miles' repeated game-management blunders.
There's still plenty of talent in Baton Rouge -- but it's young. LSU is only a year removed from landing Rivals.com's No. 2 recruiting class, and a lot of those guys are going to have step up to help fill the void left by veterans like Ciron Black, Charles Scott, Brandon LaFell, Trindon Holliday, Chad Jones and Harry Coleman. You know Miles must be feeling the pressure when the school's AD, Joe Alleva, felt compelled to write one of those "state of the program" letters to LSU's fans. "Improvements are already underway," he wrote. "We will work hard in the off-season to make the adjustments necessary to compete for a championship in 2010."
Miles' record at LSU, by the way, is 51-15.
Five reasons Texas will win: 1) Colt McCoy, Jordan Shipley and the offense, 2) Earl Thomas, Sergio Kindle and the defense, 3) Special teams, 4) Coaching, 5) Great team.
Five reasons you will never be welcome in Texas: 1) You have talked down Texas all year, 2) You have talked down Colt McCoy all year, 3) You are a no-count Yankee, 4) You are a reporter for SI, 5) You are not a very good reporter for SI.
I can't explain why that feels like the right way to end the season. It just kind of does.
While the Mailbag will go on hiatus for a few months, I'm guessing you'll still be seeing plenty of me on this site as long as Tennessee and USF are still looking for coaches and recruits are still looking for a place to sign.
In the meantime, if you aren't already, I welcome you to follow me on Twitter. I'm on there sharing nuggets and testing one-liners pretty much every day. And hey, Feb. 2 will be here before you know it.
That's the season premiere of Lost.
More College Football
College Football Truth & Rumors