Welcome to the weekly rewind. In this absurdly long weekly column, I cover the most important things that happened each weekend, from awesome performances to the absurdities that occur in the world of college football.
THE FAB FIVE
(My five favorite storylines from last week)
Devin Gardner and Jeremy Gallon go HAM against Notre Dame:These two Wolverines will haunt the Irish's dreams more than a British Nick Saban. Four touchdowns for Gardner, eight catches, 184 yards and three scores for Gallon...the two had a great night. Not only that, but Gardner pulled off the uniform of the year, eviscerating Notre Dame while wearing number 98. I loved the move.
#BECKHAM4HEISMAN: I'm 100% in on the way-too-early Heisman dark horse bandwagon for LSU wide receiver/returner Odell Beckham. After torching TCU for 118 receiving yards in week 1, Beckham caught three touchdowns and returned a field goal 109 yards for another score against UAB. I have four categories that I grade a serious early-season Heisman candidate on: numbers, flashiness, coverage and marketability. Obviously, a guy has to put up impressive numbers to be a Heisman candidate. He also needs to put up numbers while looking impressive (doing things like returning a field goal 109 yards) and having a few highlight plays per game. Coverage and marketability are intertwined, but not necessarily the same thing. Coverage simply means how much the guy is on TV. If he plays for a good team (like LSU) or in a highly publicized conference (like the SEC) it means his games will be televised on a wider scale, and his highlights will probably be on SportsCenter more (especially if he has flash). Marketability comes with something like a nickname or a storyline that keeps him easy to remember. Everyone knew who the Honey badger was, or who RG3 was, or the guy on Notre Dame who had a dying girlfriend was. Beckham, who's nickname is ODB, has that too. It's kind of easy to remember a guy named Odell Beckham, but it's really easy to remember the electrifying ODB.
C-LOL-WNEY4HEISMAN: Look, I love Jadeveon Clowney. I think he is supremely talent, and in a game where pass rushers are becoming more important seemingly by the minute, Clowney is going to be a fantastic pro. That all being said, anyone who thought he was going to win the Heisman drank a few too many Coors Banquets with the old ball coach. Offenses are going to dare the rest of SC's defense to beat them as they double or triple-team Clowney. He's obviously frustrated, but it was immature to voice his displeasure to the media. He should have known after the summer of publicity post-decapitation that people would watch his every move, and that dumb "is Clowney really that good?" discussions were going to come up. It's just the way sports media works in 2013. Build them up, tear them down. Clowney never had a chance to win the Heisman to being with, want to know why? Defensive line is a relatively boring position. One of the (legitimate) reasons Te'o finished second last year was because he had a job that took him all over the field. There's nothing sexy about filling gaps and tackling running backs a yard past the line of scrimmage, and how many times (especially after The Hit) would he see enough plays even come his way? The Clowney for Heisman folks were misguided, but that doesn't mean that they should be disappointed with his effort or performance.
Yet another reason why Brent Musburger is the best.-
Can we please just have a show where Musburger gives gambling advice to unwilling celebrities? With all of the terrible reality television shows out there, can we please just get this one on the air?
The hottest of hot seats: Obviously this is about Lane Kiffin and Mack Brown, after their teams lost to Washington State and BYU respectively. Brown responded by removing Manny Diaz as his defensive coordinator. Kiffin responded by finally naming a starting quarterback (Cody Kessler). The most fascinating thing about this story, to me at least, is not whether or not these two will be gone by the end of the year (which is a no brainer), but how the two schools go about their coaching search.
Texas needs two things: a young leader, and a defense. Now, that does not necessarily mean the same thing. Everyone has been talking about Nick Saban, but why would you want to go after him? Not that he wouldn't be great there, but Saban is already 61. It's an extremely short-term play. Sure, you may win a championship, but why go through this search again in five years? If you want to win, you make a list of the best head coaches that can win for the next fifteen years and offer them one by one. My list would look like this:
- Kevin Sumlin (49 years old)
- Urban Meyer (49)
- Charlie Strong (53)
- Will Muschamp (42)
- Dabo Swinney/Chad Morris (43/44)
That's it. That's the list. No Saban, no Miles, no old coaches (sorry Art Briles). Sumlin would be a fantastic recruiter from day one and turn Texas into the best team in the country within two years. Worried about the defense? He could bring anyone he wanted in as defensive coordinator. Reports surfaced from Let Me Be Frank that Sumlin offered Bud Foster a spot on his staff at Texas A&M. He obviously turned it down, but I think he'd think a whole lot harder if it was Texas. Or if he says no, the next best guy probably wouldn't, especially for, say, 3 million dollars a year?
(Side note: my favorite completely hypothetical from that list would be the Swinney/Morris combo, but it would HAVE to be both. Bring the offense, recruiting, southern swag and pleated slacks.)
What does USC need? Three things, an offense, a personality, and a guy not afraid to finish the rebuild. USC comes with bright lights, but the team only attracts the country's second biggest audience when they're entertaining, see the Pete Carroll era. Here's my list for USC:
- Kevin Sumlin
- James Franklin
- David Shaw
- Al Golden
So, what happens if both of these teams go after Sumlin? It would be an incredibly close race. Would Sumlin even want to leave A&M, and if so would he even consider staying in-state? I think Shaw is the best play here. USC could offer him a ton of money and resources, I don't care how easy he makes it look, coaching at Stanford is incredibly tough. Either way, this will be one of the most entertaining off-seasons in recent memory.
THE #goacc POWER RANKINGS
The Dave Shinskie Division
(Dregs of the conference)
14. Wake Forest (1-1, LW: L 24-10 @ BC):The Demon Deacons were battling with Boston College for this coveted lone spot in the Shinskie Division, and with their loss Wake locked it down. While their defense played decently, barely giving up 300 yards, their offense was a different story entirely. They racked up a stunning 246 yards of total offense (also known as a Shinskie, hence the name) and had three turnovers. I'm no expert, but Wake's offensive struggles could be because it relies on a backfield of Tanner Smith and Josh Harris, two guys that have been there since the Watergate scandal.
The Cameron Sexton Division
(Not the worst, but really, REALLY close)
13. Syracuse (0-2, LW: L 48-27 @ Northwestern): It's not pretty, transitioning to both a new head coach and a new quarterback, and everyone knew that 'Cuse was going to struggle a little bit this year. While quarterback Drew Allen has been a huge concern (he threw four picks on Saturday), their defense has been even worse. Not only did they lose to a team starting an 18-year-old at quarterback week 1, they gave up 375 yards passing to a team known for pounding the rock. There's a significant possibility that they give up 500 yards to Tajh Boyd or Jameis Winston. If you could somehow combine the Orange's pass defense and UVA's run defense we could potentially see the worst defense of all time (and if you give them Al Groh as their coordinator, they would definitely be the worst defense of all time).
12. Pitt (0-1, LW: BYE)- You know how everyone said that Virginia Tech didn't give up a real 35 points against Alabama, in terms of their defensive effort? Well Pittsburgh gave up an incredibly real 41 points to Florida State on Labor Day. Pitt could definitely be a ton better than they showed against the 'Noles, but as of right now Jameis Winston owes them some money. Specifically, he owes whoever was covering Nick O'Leary some money. Leaving a guy uncovered for a score is inexcusable. The same guy uncovered twice? Unforgivable. A THIRD TIME? Well let's just hope the Panthers didn't have their own version of French. Paul Chryst & Co. could be in for a loooooong year, but the last time I said that this happened, so I'm not going to walk down that road quite yet.
The Reggie Ball Division
(Not good, but somehow wins games)
11. Boston College (2-0, LW: W 24-10 vs Wake Forest): I didn't mean to, but I initially wrote BC's record as 1-1. Not that I didn't know that they won both of their games so far this season, it's just that "Boston College-Undefeated" is not really a phrase that has had to be in my vocabulary over the past few seasons. Two things are very evident about the Eagles this year: one, their mustache game remains strong. Two, they are going to run running back Andre Williams (35 carries, 204 yards against Wake) until his legs fall off. Remember, new head coach Steve Addazio's offense at Temple averaged 49 attempts a game. Forty-nine! By hiring Addazio, the Eagles basically said "thanks, but no thanks" to what was left of Chase Rettig's legacy, one of the few remaining hostages left from the entire Spaziani campaign. While a 2-0 start is great, let's see how they fare against Southern Cal and Florida State in back-to-back weeks before we see how many dudes they actually have.
10. Virginia (1-1, LW: L 59-10 vs Oregon):Sure, they beat BYU, that's great. And I know that no one was expecting anything close against Oregon. But it was just a reminder that this program still isn't close. Not only did they get absolutely steam rolled, but they couldn't even sell out Scott Stadium. In fact, the biggest piece of news to come out of Charlottesville was this USA Today story about Virginia fans being angry that Oregon fans were throwing a football at their tailgate. You can excuse their behavior though, because the normal rule around town is that if you throw the football, you're immediately forced to transfer to a FCS school.
9. NC State (2-0, LW: W 23-21 vs Richmond):Is there a more boring team in the conference than State? With a coach that previously coached at Northern Illinois, and a quarterback that previously played at Colorado State, NC State is practically mid-major East. Although the Dave Doeren era has started off with a positive note offensively (putting up over 400 yards each game), they lost starting quarterback Brandon Mitchell to a fractured foot in week one, and watched his backups struggle against Richmond. The Pack eked out a win against the Spiders, but will face an even more challenging test when Clemson comes to town next Thursday (the 19th). If this was any year in recent memory, the Pack win this game and then go on to lose five of seven. Will the Doeren era be different? Will they beat the teams they're supposed to beat, while losing to the teams they're supposed to lose to? Is Debbie Yow secretly hoping for a loss, as to get as far away from the Notorious TOB era as possible? All of these are questions that will be answered in the coming weeks. But in the meantime, they did wear these awesome bad boys, which they should make permanent, because #Murica
The Perry Hills Division
(Sure you can joke about them, but they're secretly productive)
8. Duke (2-0, LW: W 28-14 @ Memphis): Two weeks ago, Duke shut a team out for the first time since the first Roosevelt administration. This week, they lose quarterback Anthony Boone indefinitely after he broke his collarbone...which is just the way things go in Durham. That quickly threw change-of-pace playmaker Brandon Connette into the fire. The junior could draw comparisons to a poor-man's (collegiate) Tebow, but can he throw it well enough to win four more games? Looking at the the schedule I say there's a fifty percent chance they can, and a fifty percent chance that this is the highest that they will ever be in these rankings.
The Thaddeus Lewis Division(Holes in their game, but can put up impressive numbers)
7. UNC (1-1, LW: W 40-20 vs Middle Tennessee):The good? Larry Fedora and the Heels gained over 500 yards, in a bounce-back win over the Blue Raiders. The bad? Fedora and the Heels allowed over 400 yards in a bounce-back win over the Blue Raiders. Such is the story of Carolina this season. If the loss to South Carolina showed us anything, it was that the departure of Gio Bernard will hinder the offense severely against good defenses (no running back ran for more than 46 yards against MTSU) and that physical teams can man-handle them up front. It will also be interesting to see how the season develops in Chapel Hill as their coach sits drooling over potential job openings at Texas and USC.
6. Maryland (2-0, LW: W 47-10 vs ODU): In his first two games back after over a year away, C.J. Brown has thrown for almost 600 yards as the Terps have rolled, prompting a "BROWN4HEISMAN" text from my buddy Charlie (a Maryland alum). I hate to say it, folks, but Maryland could write a very good cloing to the ACC chapter of their lives this season, with a soft schedule outside of Clemson and Florida State. I know you're all waiting for an "as long as they don't have to play a linebacker at quarterback" joke, but I think Randy Edsall has that covered this season. They have six quarterbacks on their roster.
The Joshua Nesbitt Division
(Can do one thing EXTREMELY well)
5. Virginia Tech (1-1, LW: W 45-3 vs Western Carolina): I'm not going to provide much of a reason or analysis to this ranking, because I think you guys all know what happened over the last two weeks. I honestly think that this team could go 10-2 and play in the ACC Championship Game. It could also, however, be a team that struggles to beat anyone with a competent defense (that doesn't sound familiar, does it).
4. Georgia Tech (1-0, LW: BYE): Somewhere off in the distance you can still hear Georgia Tech scoring on Elon as Paul Johnson slowly drinks the tears of yet another FCS opponent. The next four games will be a test, however, as they play Duke, UNC, Virginia Tech and Miami all in a row. The Yellow Jackets will be a threat this season, finally out of the turnover-prone shadow of Tevin Washington and into the hands of the incredibly dangerous Vad Lee. Lee should be able to add a little more style and flair to that option attack (sort of like providing Johnson with an argyle sweater vest as opposed to his normal one). More importantly, Georgia Tech is no longer under the defensive guidance of Al Groh, which means that there will be infinitely more smiles on the Jackets' sideline.
(They're good, right? Maybe? Who knows for sure?
3. Miami (2-0, LW: W 21-16 vs Florida)-Do you feel it? That really sad feeling in your gut that you usually only get after eating a Chipotle burrito too quickly? Yep, that's right! We're into "DA U IS BACK" mode this season, and after the Hurricanes victory over Florida it doesn't look like it will stop as quickly as it did last time (when Cody Grimm took Jacory Harris' swag and ate it for lunch). Sure, they only gained 212 yards of total offense to the Gators' 413. Sure, Florida was starting a quarterback that has more turnovers than Miley Cyrus has daddy issues. I'm sure they're for real this time. Right? Anyone? Crickets. Anyone at all?
The Tyrod Taylor Division
(The People's Champ)
2. Florida State (1-0 LW: BYE): Jameis Winston was awesome, and the Seminoles don't play a real team until Clemson on October 19th (though the Maryland game the week before could have spoiler potential). I'm going to be completely honest in this forum: on the radio two weeks ago I picked Florida State to play for the national title against Alabama, and did so for two reasons:
- They're the classic team that everyone picked a year too early. This has history going back years and years. When everyone picks the "sexy" team during a specific year, many of those same teams peak the following year. Tennessee in '97, LSU in both '05 and '06, Texas in '08. All of those teams played for the national title the next year.
- One of the reasons that last year was a year too early was because they needed more dynamic quarterback play. Jameis Winston will provide that.
As much as I hate myself for saying it, the 'Noles are going to be the best team in the ACC.
1. Clemson (2-0, LW: W 52-13 vs. Savannah St.): Who else right now? The Tigers beat two big time SEC opponents in a row dating back to last season. The offense looks phenomenal, and Sammy Watkins looks to be back. For those worried about Clemson pulling a Clemson, here's their schedule between now and Florida State:
@ NC State
vs. Wake Forest
A common theme running between all of those ACC teams? None of them are ranked higher than 9th on this list. The Atlantic is really, really bad outside of the top two (maybe three) teams and unless there is some sort of complete travesty, Clemson should not only win, but blow those teams out of the water.
WHAT'S ON TAP
1. (1) Alabama @ (6) Texas A&M: The biggest storyline this week is obviously Tide–Aggies, also known as the game to finally decide who America has turned on. Is America more tired of Alabama's collegiate dominance, or of Johnny Football's primetime tween drama aired on ESPN? I bet that Saban and Co. win by at least ten, followed by Saban unhinging his jaw and swallowing Manziel whole in front of a weeping Kyle Field. The lesson? Saban always wins.
2. (16) UCLA @ (23) Nebraska: The first time we saw Bo Pelini's "new and improved 2013 defense", it gave up 602 yards to Wyoming. Maybe they just needed to gel as a unit. Maybe they missed their former coordinator, who's now famous for calling for a spike on 4th down. All I know is that Brett Hundley could make Todd McShay and Mel Kiper seize with euphoria, which would be a total travesty to the hair gel industry.
3. (25) Ole Miss @ Texas:This would be the final nail in the coffin for Mack Brown should his team lose. The thing that I love about Ole Miss is that we could see them win by 30 or lose by 30, nearly every game. The youth will show in games, like it did in the first half of the Vanderbilt game, and things always have the possibility to snowball. Also, is Ole Miss still looking for a new mascot? Could Hugh Freeze talk to Bevo before the game and turn his commitment from the Longhorns to the Rebels? If anyone could make it happen, it would definitely be Hugh.