What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions

Nine Things We’ve Learned About College Football at the Halfway Point

1) Georgia isn’t as bad as they look.

Well, they’ve only beaten Tennessee and Roast Beef State Louisiana-Lafayette, and they aren’t going to a bowl game, but the calls for Mark Richt’s head are premature. I understand how losing to a sorry-ass Colorado team can give one cause to wonder, but settle down, Dawg fans. I understand you are in a “wait until next year” scenario, but Richt has won a lot of games for you and he isn’t done yet.  Now, if they lose at home to Idaho State, all bets are off.

2) Penn State is as bad as they look.

Yesterday catastrophe against Illinois confirm the suspicions that it may be a long season in State College.  This wasn’t just the effects of having a freshman quarterback; this was full-on, nuclear-powered, suck-assery not seen since the Zack Mills era. This team has all the talent to make big plays, if only they knew how to make big plays. Much like the aforementioned Georgia Bulldogs, this is a temporary condition. Unlike Georgia, the Nittany Lions may eke three more wins out of the schedule to become bowl-eligible, but don’t surprised if it doesn’t happen.

3) Defense now Optional in the The Big 12:

The scores tell the story.

  • Nebraska 48, Kansas State 13
  • Oklahoma State 54, Louisiana-Lafayette 28
  • Texas Tech, 45, Baylor 38
  • Arkansas 24, Texas A&M 17
  • Utah 68, Iowa State 27
  • Missouri 26, Colorado 0

Other than the anomalies of the putrid Colorado offense and Texas A&M playing a good SEC team, this is a conference in which one is smart to bet the over.

4) Michigan has now been sufficiently exposed.


You can't have 4 without Coach 4-Head


Forget whatever Denard Robinson does, or how much Kirk Herbstreit wants to blow him. As we’ve said before, he is the entire Wolverine offense and once you contain him, that team simply isn’t that good. It seems that a quarterback who can use his legs to create plays also can use his arm to throw three interceptions. But Michigan’s real weakness is defense. For the second week in a row, this unit gave up huge yardage; the anemic Indiana offense threw for nearly 500 yards, and Michigan State rolled up 536 total offensive yards. If this continues, well, see points #5 and #9.

5) Jim Harbaugh is having a very successful audition to replace Coach 4-Head.

Harbaugh’s resume: He turned Stanford into a Top Ten program, he’s beaten Southern California in consecutive years, his long NFL career gives him massive recruiting credibility and he’s a Michigan alum. The only question left is how much cash does it take to get him to head for Ann Arbor?

6) BYU will fail miserably as an independent.

Conference or not, making such a move when there is an aura of instability in the locker room can only spell disaster.  The irony is that in Bronco Mendenhall’s tenure at BYU has been all about steady success and a calm presence from its leadership. Those days are over as Mendenhall seems to be hitting the “panic button, ” announcing his most severe move yet during his tenure by firing defensive coordinator Jaime Hill. Mendenhall is going back to calling plays, and otherwise wants to have a greater hand in molding a struggling team that is off to the program’s worst start since 1973.

“I need to recapture the heart and soul of this team, and I am trying to position myself in a place where I can be most effective doing that,” he said. It seems an odd move, in part because BYU is about to face one of the country’s more efficient offenses in when the Cougars travel to TCU on Oct. 16.  Mendenhall said that merely demoting Hill wasn’t a possibility as there were philosophical differences that were too tough to ignore, or compromise.

“As a leader, there are pivotal times where there become, you can call them feelings, instincts, promptings, whatever you would like,” Mendenhall said. “And that’s exactly what I felt, and I chose to act on it immediately. I don’t expect it to be popular with anyone, other than I think I did the right thing for myself and our program, and it certainly was not easy, and it doesn’t mean I don’t care for coach Hill and his family, because I do.”

Translated, Hill didn’t jump when Mendenhall said “jump,” so he got the gate. Generally, failure follows such power struggles, and failure generally doesn’t help those looking to strike out on their own.

7) Florida can whip up on handicapped guys, and that’s about it.

This is only going to help the Gators if South Carolina replaces Stephen Garcia with Stephen Hawking.

8 ) South Carolina is for real

No matter what happens on the rest of their schedule, this weekend’s defeat of top-ranked Alabama is the signature win Steve Spurrier has been waiting for in Columbia. Sure, I thought it was winning in Knoxville a few years back, but that just proved to be the beginning of the end of the Fulmer regime on Rocky Top.  With the win over Alabama, and Florida’s loss to LSU, the Gamecocks find themselves as the front runners in the SEC East.

Barring any unforeseen catastrophes, the ‘Cocks-Gators clash November 13th in  Gainesville will have a trip to the SEC Championship Game riding on it. How will Gators fans feel watching the Ol’ Ball Coach help spell the end of Florida’s ownership of the SEC East?

9) The 2010 Coaches Death Watch:


Ralph Friedgen, pictured here as a small dog, survives...for now.


It is a certainty that some coaches will lose their jobs after this season. It is just a matter of picking which ones. In order to do that, we have ranked some likely candidates in order of the probability they will not return for next season.

Ralph Friedgen, Maryland: Metaphysical Certitude

It is a certainty that Maryland doesn’t want him back; they’ve already named his successor. The problem is they didn’t check the athletic department’s bank balance before they shot off their mouths; he has a $1.75 million salary, and there is some question as to whether the University of Maryland can afford to buy out his remaining contract. As fishy as that sounds, if all goes according to contract, Friedgen will retire in 2011 and James Franklin will become the new head coach.

Mike Locksley, New Mexico: Missing an Inside Straight Draw

This is a guy who should get fired just for being tied to two other guys on this list. Locksley was a running backs coach at Maryland under Ralph Friedgen, and he’s coached with Ron Zook at both Florida and Illinois. But he’s got reasons to get fired all his own. He’s had off-the-field distractions ranging from an altercation with an assistant to sexual harrassment charges from a secretary. On the field, he has improved the Lobos’ talent, but an 0-5 start another season lacking in much competitiveness could make it difficult for the brass to stand by him past Year 2.

Saves His Job If: His players turn his system into a winner by showing some promising signs or a big win over a team like BYU or TCU. He also has to keep his name out of the news from a ll the off-field stuff.

Gets Fired Because: The Lobos go 1-11 (or worse) again and he doesn’t stay out of trouble.

Tim Brewster, Minnesota: Spilling Coffee on Your White Shirt Just Before an Important Meeting

Brewster has his fans, but also as many detractors. He also has a booster base that built a new stadium, and they want their first Rose Bowl nearly a half-century. He took over a program that was destroyed by Glen Mason, and the rebuilding is going slower than most would prefer. That may not be realistic, but that’s the situation Brewster find himself in.

Saves His Job If: Somehow, he has to squeeze no worse than a 4-8 record out of a young and troublesome defense and an offense returning nine starters.

Gets Fired Because: Short of a big win in the rest of the conference schedule, the loss to South Dakota may have sealed his fate.

Paul Wulff, Washington State: Getting a Giant, Disfiguring Pimple Before a Big Date (or if you are over 40, suddenly discovering the importance of Viagra)

This poor guy took the job because he wanted to be a head coach, and this was the open job. But he can’t escape a 3-22 record.

Saves His Job If: He finds a way to come up with a conference win, double “saves his ass” points if it is against season-ending rival Washington. After losing the opener at Oklahoma State, the Cougars rebound with wins over Montana State and at SMU. At 2-1, Washington State will have some confidence as USC comes to town. If the Cougars can pull an upset at UCLA and against Arizona at home, a 4-8 season may be the best.

Gets Fired Because: He couldn’t meet even the minimal expectations in Pullman. Even in a short time, too many embarrassing losses have piled up during the Wulff era.

Dan Hawkins. Colorado: Toast Landing on the Floor Jelly-Side Down

How Hawkins survived after last season is a head-scratcher. It seems the “Friedgen Rule” might be in effect; Colorado can’t afford to gas him. Hawkins is 16-33 in four years in Boulder, and if there is another sub-par year in Boulder, they may have a telethon to raise money for the buy-out.

Saves His Job If: This team is made up of Hawkins’ players and they have all played a great deal over the past two or three seasons. If one can gamble one experience meaning anything, Colorado bets on catching a few breaks and reaches a bowl game.

Gets Fired Because: His bets don’t come in and Colorado decides it can’t have any more 52-7 losses at California heading into its first season as a member of the Pac-10.

Rich Rodriguez, Michigan: A Torrential Downpour When You’ve Left Your Sun Roof Open

I’m not sure we really need to belabor the point here…Rodriguez was expected to restore Michigan football glory, and it hasn’t happened in three years. Meanwhile, as previously mentioned Michigan alum is just upping the offer coming from his alma mater.

Saves His Job If: He has to either win a bowl game or beat Ohio State. Period.

Gets Fired Because:  Because nobody is going to get more than three years to win in Ann Arbor.  Jesus himself would be staying way from lumber stores in Michigan right about now…

Bob Toledo, Tulane: Having Your Drive-Thru Order Get Messed Up

Being that everybody took pity on New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Tulane got a piece of that pity pie. But after five years, the bakery may be closing.

Saves His Job If:  Lets’ face it, short of Washington State, this team might have the lowest expectations on this list. The Green Wave has gone a swampy 9-27 in the last three years. All Toledo has to do is not finish last  in Conference USA again.

Gets Fired Because: He finishes last in Conference USA again.

Dennis Erickson, Arizona State: Getting Sunburned Even Though You Wore Sunscreen

Some coaches earn respect in this game to the point where there is a reluctance to fire them. Of course, it is a sliding scale. At one end is a guy like Ralph Friedgen, a guy who has not only effectively been fired, but he’s been fired like Milton from “Office Space.” They took his stapler, moved him into Sub-Basement B, but for some reason he still gets a paycheck. On the other end of that scale is Joe Paterno; statues are one thing, but when they put the coaches’ name on the library, they would have to find the Lindbergh baby in buried in his back yard, and even then they might only suspend him.

Erickson is a Hall of Fame caliber coach, so nobody at Arizona State wants to look as if they are giving him the bum’s rush. But he clearly hasn’t lived up to what the Sun Devil nation wanted. His National Championship experience was supposed to be reflected on the field. It wasn’t. His NFL experience was supposed to be reflected in recruiting. It hasn’t.

Saves His Job If: See Rich Rodriguez. Erickson either needs to get to a bowl game or beat the hated rival; in this case winning the ” The Duel in the Desert” looks like a tall order as Arizona is ranked an looks like they have a legitimate NFL quarterback leading them offensively.

Gets Fired Because: Right now, they are 3-3 with their only conference coming this past weekend on the road at Washington. That means they need to find three more conference wins out of this schedule:

Oct. 23 – @California
Oct. 30 – Washington State
Nov. 6 – @USC
Nov. 13 – Stanford
Nov. 26 – UCLA
Dec. 2 – @Arizona

The Sun Devils can forget about winning any of those road games. That also means they can’t count on the “beat the rival” card. Realistically, only the home date with Washington State is one they can feel confident about, nad UCLA is an honest “Maybe,” but other than that , the odds of picking up that third win look pretty slim.

Ron Zook, Illinois: Anybody who is a non-hot chick talking their way out of a speeding ticket

Many Chief Illiniwek lovers were hoping Ron Zook’s days in Champaign were over last year. However, it seems that getting the Illini into a Rose Bowl in 2007 was enough to get him another year. Besides, I think this weekend’s dismantling of Penn State in Happy Valley (for their Homecoming, no less) effectively saved his job. If he can get the Illini to beat in-state rival Northwestern in November, there’s no way he gets the gate.

Saves His Job If: He likely already has with the win at Penn State. This team has an outside shot a t a bowl game, with Big Eleven Ten puddles Indiana, Purdue, and Minnesota left on the schedule.

Gets Fired Because: The team completely collapses from here. If they fail to win another game and look ugly doing it, even the Penn State win won’t save him. But that isn’t likely to happen.

Lane Kiffin, USC: Data Insufficient, But There Is Cause For Concern

Honestly, I didn’t have Kiffin on this list until late Saturday night. I’m not sure how the loss to Stanford plays into the situation at Southern California, but it can’t help. The Trojan offense looks just fine; sophomore QB Matt Barkley has been solid, if unnoticed because of the Trojans’ fall from grace. However, he has completed 113 of 174 passes for 1,517 yards, 15 touchdowns, 4 interceptions. For whoever understands how this works, his passing efficiency mark of 162.03 is 14th best in the country.  Even in Saturday’s loss to Stanford, Barkley was 28-for-45 and a career-high 390 yards.

But the Trojan defense has borne the brunt of the blame. The Stanford loss only underscored the fact the USC defense can’t get many stops, especially the crucial, late-in-close-games kind. The Trojans rank 100th in the nation in total defense, allowing 428.67 yards per game.

Here’s where this gets dicey. Since Pat Haden arrived as the new Trojan athletic director, it has become clear that Kiffin simply isn’t “his guy.” Kiffin has no real head-coaching credibility, and in the wake of the scandals that have brought down the Trojan program, Kiffin is seen as an embodiment of those days.

Saves His Job If: Being in his first year as the USC head coach, he has to maximize his “new guy” status. His big problem is all the time he spent under Pete Carroll as an assistant at USC. Plus, if the boosters chalk it all up to a “probation” year and aren’t in the mood for a pound of flesh, Kiffin lives to die another day.

Gets Fired Because: Haden judges him on the sins of the past and other off-the-field criteria. On the field, that defense needs to stiffen now, otherwise their may be at least four foreseeable losses in the upcoming schedule:

Oct 16:    California
Oct 30:    Oregon
Nov 6:   Arizona St.
Nov 13:    @Arizona
Nov 20:    @Oregon St.
Nov 27:    Notre Dame
Dec 4    @UCLA

Plus, losing to Notre Dame and/or UCLA certainly won’t help.

About J-Dub

What your view of sports would be if you had too many concussions

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