The Week that Was in College Football
By Tony Gerdeman
Now that college football season is officially here, it's okay to begin obsessing about it full time. As a public service we are making an effort to feed your OCD by keeping you up to speed on the goings-on around the college football world. Then, with all of this football knowledge gathered inside your brain, you'll hopefully be able to change the subject at work when the conversation inevitably turns to something "funny" that a coworker saw on Facebook last night. Unless, of course, you'd rather talk about Facebook at work.
I didn't think so.
So with spring football in full swing around the nation, let's take a look back at The Week That Was.
Last Saturday, the Miami Hurricanes had their annual Spring Game in front of a "estimated capacity crowd of 10,000" people at Traz Powell Stadium on the campus of Miami-Dade College, which is a nearby junior college.
As an aside, it must suck to have to play your spring game in another college's stadium. Also, how can you have an "estimated capacity crowd"? It seems to me that if the stadium was full, you'd probably know it.
The game pitted the offense against the defense, with the defense coming away the 58-53 victory. With quarterback Jacory Harris out for the spring, the backups proved quite a handful for the defense, throwing for over 450 yards on the day. The standout on offense was receiver Travis Benjamin, who caught six passes for 171 yards and a touchdown.
The Buckeyes have just started their spring practice, but in an effort to get a leg up on Ohio State, Michigan got their spring practice going a while ago. The biggest news right now is that quarterback Denard Robinson appears to be running with the ones a little bit more than you'd expect from a backup quarterback. Which, of course, makes one wonder if he's still in fact the backup quarterback. Obviously, Robinson is more the ideal quarterback in Rich Rodriguez's system than Forcier, and despite Rodriguez and his internet following's zealous assertions to the contrary, his system doesn't work as well as he'd like without a quarterback who is a threat to run for 1,200 yards.
From reports, Robinson is a much better thrower this year compared to last year, but that bar is so low that he would have actually had to work harder at becoming a worse thrower than he already was. Still, he was so bad last season, that I can't imagine him being able to improve enough to the level where he is even a decent passer. But with his alleged ability to run, maybe they don't need somebody who can throw the ball. Of course, it also might help if he would eventually be able to run the zone read option, which he has yet to be able to do. So basically we're supposed to believe that he is now a much better thrower and also capable of running the zone read - two things that he was absolutely incapable of doing last year. Who knows, maybe the defense won't be the weak link after all this year.
On second thought…
Some of the saddest news of the week came from USC where the university announced that it was no longer granting agents access to players and practices. From the university release:
"Among those not permitted access to practice are agents (such as athlete agents, marketing agents or financial advisors to athletes) or their employees, representatives or affiliates."
It seems every year college football loses some of its history. Last year was Bobby Bowden's final go-round, but at least he knew it was his last season. You have to feel for all of the agents and their minions who had no idea that they were on their way out. I don't think it's fair at all, but then life isn't fair. Oh well, at least the agents can still talk to the players when the players swing by their offices to "drop off rent".
Also, in more USC hilarity, Lane Kiffin has stated that the quarterback job will be an open competition between Matt Barkley and Mitch Mustain. Undoubtedly this happened because Mustain's mom somehow got a hold of Kiffin's cell phone number.
Last week, a survey of college football coaches showed that 93% of the 117 coaches surveyed favored the bowl system over a playoff and 85% are in favor of the current BCS team selection process.
And without any proof whatsoever, I can guarantee that the one coach who is in favor of the status quo more than any other is, ironically, Boise State's Chris Peterson. Despite the MWC's commissioner bellyaching about his conference being left out of the Championship picture last year, there is no team in the nation MORE IN the picture this year than Boise State. They will likely start the season in the preseason top five and be favored in possibly all but one game this season (against Virginia Tech in Landover, MD).
With their position in the top five, even if they started at #5, that still means that two of the four teams ahead of Boise State will probably have to run the gauntlet unscathed to remain ahead of them. And since Boise State has two decent BCS teams on their schedule this year (Oregon State and Virginia Tech - though neither game is technically on the road), voters will tend to give Boise State more credit than they would for any other team, given that these are two fairly typical opponents for every BCS conference team in the nation. But since Boise State is playing them, voters will think, "Hey, Boise State isn't ducking anybody." Nevermind the fact that BCS schools are playing at least four times the amount of BCS schools as Boise State this season.
But congratulations to Boise State, because they've done exactly what you have to do when you aren't a BCS team. And now they're in the best possible position to reap the rewards.
Penn State is also in the midst of their spring practices and Head Coach Joe Paterno was asked yesterday about his freshman and the always-complemented-for-actually-being-alert-despite-his-advanced-age Paterno quipped, "Freshmen? I don't even know they exist. You can't count on them. You want to go all the way down to Tuscaloosa [to play Alabama on Sept. 11] with freshmen?"
And when asked about his freshman quarterback Paul Jones, the newly-eagle-eyed Paterno let it be known that not much misses his gaze during practice.
"I've probably seen Paul Jones throw the ball eight times in 3 days."
This, of course, should put to rest any ill-thoughten ideas about anybody other than Kevin Newsome starting at quarterback for the Nittany Lions this year.
Purdue shooting guard Chris Kramer has used up all of his eligibility on the basketball court, but has been considering playing football for Danny Hope and the Boilermakers this year. He was apparently a standout defensive back in high school, and I for one would love to see him get an opportunity to take a charge from Terrelle Pryor this year.
In what could possibly be an embarrassing situation when he eventually takes the Auburn job in about seven years, Alabama is giving Nick Saban his own statue. The Tide's previous four National Championship winning coaches also have statues, but in order to make room for Saban's bronze doppelganger, they're going to have to get rid of Gene Stallings' statue. Stallings' statue will reportedly be transferring to Troy's campus.
After West Virginia clinched a spot in the Final Four, the Mountaineers' head football coach Bill Stewart happened to be in a sports bar in Myrtle Beach, and when asked to come up on stage and lead the crowd in a rendition of "Take Me Home, Country Roads", he didn't disappoint. Well, that's not true. He kind of disappointed. You know how when a popular song comes on in a bar and people start singing along, but only really know the chorus? (Ahem, "Sweet Caroline".) That's how this went. But considering Stewart has been living in West Virginia longer than probably anybody ever, shouldn't the words to that particular song be burned into his brain like "Dixie" is to everybody born in the South?
On a side note, Stewart singing in front of a crowd like that reminds me of Rich Rodriguez singing R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts" at Michigan's "Night of Champions" banquet a couple of weeks ago. There wasn't a dry eye in the house - and that was before the banquet even began.
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