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14 Nov 2005

Confessions of a Football Junkie: Passion Heads South

by Russell Levine

The Southeastern Conference may not produce this year's national champion, but it still lies at the heart of a sport driven by passion. That fact was never more evident than on Saturday, when the conference put on a remarkable three-game slate that not only shaped the divisional races for the league championship game, but showcased the unique hold college football has on the region.

Though Alabama's loss to LSU ruined the last unbeaten season in the conference, at least this year's SEC champ won't suffer the same indignity as last year, when Auburn and its perfect 12–0 record was denied a spot in the Bowl Championship Series title game in favor of USC and Oklahoma.

Those Alabama fans who were already bemoaning a similar fate after the Tide began the season 9–0 were clearly getting ahead of themselves. Despite Alabama's wonderful -- and surprising -- start, as of Saturday morning the three toughest games of the season still stood between it and an undefeated campaign, beginning with LSU.

The Tigers emerged from the din at Bryant-Denny Stadium with a 16–13 overtime victory that all but ended Alabama's conference-title hopes and its larger aspirations of playing for the national title -- or at least being a thorn in the side of the BCS, whose officials should remember to include LSU coach Les Miles on the Christmas-card list this year.

That's because LSU's win not only cleared up the Rose Bowl picture by leaving just two undefeated teams -- #1 USC and #2 Texas -- but also prevented a possible mutiny against the BCS from one of its marquee conferences.

The SEC enjoys such a strong reputation among college football observers that when Auburn was denied last year, the most common complaint was along the lines of "how can a team go undefeated in the SEC and not play for the national title?" Such a defense would not have been made of the Big East or the Pac-10.

Had Alabama suffered the same fate this season, the BCS would have been beset by complaints from outraged SEC officials and fans, demanding changes to the formula and decrying the anti-southern bias in the media polls and national TV networks.

With several very good teams but no great ones, the SEC is perhaps suffering a down year this season. What's undeniable, however, is that SEC teams are backed by the loudest, most loyal fans in the sport. When you're watching a game on TV and the picture begins to shake from the crowd noise during a big play, it's invariably a contest in the SEC, the league where LSU fans once registered on the Richter scale.

That passion was on display all over the south Saturday, as three intertwined games played out over a period of about 12 hours. The day began in Columbia, S.C., where former Florida legend Steve Spurrier took on the Gators as the enemy leader of South Carolina. Seemingly rejuvenated after a frustrating two-year stint in the NFL, "Darth Visor" has not only led South Carolina to a 7–3 record and a spot in the AP Top 25 after knocking off the Gators, 30–22, but has instilled in the Gamecocks the confidence to win big games.

Spurrier is having fun with the underdog role at South Carolina, and that's bad news for the rest of the SEC. The other USC has long been a sleeping giant of a program, with a fan base as loyal as any in the conference. The Gamecocks routinely play before sellout home crowds of better than 80,000, and the school sits in the heart of fertile recruiting territory. It doesn't hurt that he has delivered two of the biggest wins in school history in the last three Saturdays: the Gamecocks' first-ever win at Tennessee two weeks ago and their first win over Florida since 1939 on Saturday.

Next up was the LSU-Alabama contest. The knock against Alabama in the Rose Bowl argument has been its anemic offense. But for a while Saturday, Alabama's dominant defense was good enough to make you wish they'd have a shot at smothering the offensive juggernauts of USC or Texas, much as Alabama's 1992 national-championship team snuffed out explosive Miami in the Sugar Bowl. Time and again Saturday, with the scored tied in the fourth quarter, the Crimson defense stiffened when LSU gained possession at or beyond midfield. But the college overtime format proved too big an obstacle to overcome, as LSU won with a JaMarcus Russell touchdown pass on its first possession.

LSU is a mercurial team, loaded with NFL-caliber talent on both sides of the ball and just two seasons removed from a BCS championship. But the Tigers somehow surrendered a three-touchdown lead at home to the worst Tennessee team in more than a decade for their only loss on September 26. If not for that second-half collapse, LSU would be undefeated and in the thick of the BCS argument.

The day's final marquee SEC matchup pitted Auburn against Georgia in a new chapter of one of the game's oldest rivalries. Alabama's loss earlier in the day meant Auburn would need help to reach the SEC title game, and Florida's loss put Georgia in better position to clinch the SEC East -- something they can still do with a win over Kentucky next week -- but those earlier results sapped none of the intensity from this game. Auburn rallied to win, thanks to a late, fourth-down completion that was followed by a wild scramble for the ball in the end zone.

Unless something crazy happens during the season's final few weeks, the SEC won't have a say in the national championship picture, rare for the only league to produce more than one champion in the BCS era (Tennessee in 1998 and LSU in 2003). But football is alive and well in the conference, which may be deeper than ever, even if it's not top-heavy. And with rivalry week, featuring the likes of Alabama-Auburn, on tap next Saturday, more TV picture-shaking moments are surely in store.

John L. Smith Trophy

This has been strictly a college-based honorific since the award was renamed a few weeks ago, but I can't resist calling out a couple of NFL coaches this week. The first noteworthy coaching performance was by the Giants' Tom Coughlin, who was justifiably outraged after his team laid an egg against the Vikings. Coughlin looked like some veins in his neck were about to burst during the postgame press conference, but he bears some of the blame. After the Giants clawed their way back in the game to tie things up, Coughlin allowed his defense to play soft against a Viking offense that had barely moved the ball all day. Predictably, Brad Johnson dinked and dunked Minnesota into field goal range the Minnesota escasped with a three-point win. Why would a coach allow his defense to play a soft zone in that situation against an offense it had bottled up the entire game?

The second NFL coach to take some flak is Washington's Joe Gibbs. After Tampa Bay went for two in the final minute to beat Washington by one, all the postgame attention focused on Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden's decision. But Gruden would not have gone for two had the 'Skins not jumped offsides on the game-tying extra-point try. How can I blame Gibbs for the offsides, you ask? You're right, it's not entirely fair. But this wasn't just a case of one player flinching a half-second early. Both rush ends on the field-goal try completely disregarded the snap and were a good two steps offsides before blocking the kick. The penalty practically dared Tampa Bay to go for the win. It was an extreme lack of discipline in a critical situation, and for that the head coach always bears some responsibility.

BlogPoll Ballot

Here's my latest ballot in MGoBlog's BlogPoll. Last week's ranking in parentheses.

1. Southern Cal (1): Who's scarier on the schedule -- Fresno or UCLA?
2. Texas (2): On cruise control vs. Kansas.
3. Penn State (3): Can Michigan State pull the shocker and create Big Ten chaos?
4. Miami (Florida) (4): Biggest suspense left before ACC title game is when they break out the court jester jerseys.
5. LSU (7): How exactly did they lose to Tennessee?
6. Notre Dame (6): Does that anti-torture bill in Congress cover the Navy rivalry?
7. Virginia Tech (9): DNP.
8. Alabama (5): No shame in the loss to LSU, and that defense is something to behold.
9. Ohio State (10): We'll find out this week if Tressel really owns Carr.
10. Auburn (12): Alabama game should be one of the best in years in the series.
11. Oregon (11): Maybe the quietest one-loss team in America.
12. UCLA (12): Back to winning shootouts.
13. Georgia (8): Would have liked to see them play Auburn before they clinched the SEC East.
14. West Virginia (15): How hard are Big East officials rooting for WVA to get their BCS bid over South Florida?
15. Michigan (18): Carr's not going anywhere if they lose to OSU on Saturday, but next year will be a lot more miserable if he does.
16. Fresno State (20): Took care of business vs. Boise, now get their shot at the Men of Troy.
17. TCU (21): Rolling right along after crushing UNLV.
18. Louisville (23): Maybe Rutgers should have stayed off the Cardinal logo.
19. South Carolina (NR) Isn't it great to have the Ol' Ball Coach stirring things up again?
20. Florida (13): That had to hurt for Urban.
21. Florida State (17): Watch them win the ACC now.
22. Boston College (NR): Tough year to figure out the ACC.
23. Wisconsin (19): Tough way to go out at home for Alvarez.
24. Texas Tech (16): I'm reaching.
25. UTEP (NR): Coming soon to a BCS league near you: Mike Price.

Dropped out: Georgia Tech (22), Colorado (24), Northwestern (25)

Games I watched: Boise State-Fresno State, Rutgers-Louisville, Indiana-Michigan, Florida-South Carolina, LSU-Alabama, USC-Cal, Auburn-Georgia.

Ed. Note: Portions of this article appeared in Monday's New York Sun

Posted by: Russell Levine on 14 Nov 2005

28 comments, Last at 16 Nov 2005, 7:20pm by Chris I.

Comments

1
by Duck in MA (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2005 - 11:29pm

Thanks for the vote of no confidence in Oregon. What does it say that a team is one win away from a 10-1 season in a major conference whose only loss was to the #1 team in the land, and is struggling to stay in the top 10? Are they really that much worse, than Alabama or any of the other 1-loss SEC teams? At least the Ducks can score some points now and again. But this has always been the problem with the Ducks. They don't just go and blow out the competition they should be beating by 3 touchdowns forcing people to take notice. They didn't really come alive until the 3rd quarter saturday, and then once up by 10 sat back and waited for the game to end. This invariably led to a WSU comeback, which meant a late drive and kick a last second field goal. I've seen it too many times. They had a graphic during the game that Bellotti, in his 11th season as a head coach, is something like 44-20 in games decided by 7 points or less. Is this a good thing that the Ducks know how to win the close ones, or bad that half of their games are so close?

2
by JonL (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 12:11am

I have to say, I love the fact that a guy like Steve Spurrier exists. College football is just a lot more fun when he's involved. I recently heard an interview with some sportswriter who mentioned that Spurrier's been a lot humbler this year and not stirring things up too much, but I hope that changes soon.

It doesn't get much better than "Free Shoes University."

3
by Richard (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 2:10am

Re: #1

Is it that the Ducks know how to win the close ones, or is it that the Ducks know how to make the ones they win close?

I have never looked into it. But you description seems more consistent with the latter.

That said, I don't see how people can rank LSU higher than Oregon. I'm a resumé voter, and Oregon's resume seems more impressive, to me. Their one loss is to USC; LSU's to Tennessee. They play in the tougher conference (tougher this season).

Actually, this is more of a "LSU shouldn't be that high" rather than a "Oregon should be higher."

4
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 2:33am

I was always partial to his great "You can't spell Citrus without UT" taunt.

5
by zerlesen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 2:37am

I'd feel a lot happier about the Ducks as a top-10 team if Clemens hadn't gotten his leg broken. It's a real pity: he was finally having a season go his way. Meanwhile, although they can't really be demoted unless they lose one of these nailbiters, and 9-1 is 9-1 and all that, I don't think anyone's really feeling tremendously secure about Ryan Leaf's younger brother yet.

6
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 4:55am

Re #4: I know I'm supposed to hate Spurrier now that he beat us, but I've been saying all along that Urban Meyer teams have never been great in their first season. He had a couple of good ones after the Florida game, like "Since Florida didn't need Auburn to win anymore, I figured I'd cheer them on, instead".

By the way, Russell, Georgia hasn't clinched the SEC East yet. If they lose to Kentucky next week, USC, UF, and UGA will all be in a 3-way tie for the SEC East. Georgia has a worse record in the SEC East, which eliminates them first. UF lost the head-to-head against USC, which eliminates them second. That would actually leave South Carolina as the SEC East champions. A longshot, for sure, but definitely still a possibility. Georgia needs to beat Kentucky before they formally clinch the SEC East.

7
by GatorGriff (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 4:57am

My Favorite Spurrier-ism is a tie. (1) Mind you he said this circa 1996 when Tennessee could not beat Florida, yet beat everyone else on their schedule handily..."I passed the Citrus Bowl the other day and there's a huge sign outside which says 'Citrus Bowl, Winter home of the Tennessee Volunteers.'" (2) Florida went up to Knoxville in 1996 and took a 28-0 halftime lead before eventually beating UT 35-29. After the game, a reporter asked Spurrier, "was it as loud as you expected?" Spurrier's reply, "yeah, it was real loud, and then we kicked off."

8
by GatorGriff (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 4:59am

Oh, and Spurrier delievered this beauty after the win on Saturday, "The headline in the Florida papers tomorrow morning should say, 'Guess whose rooting for Auburn now?"

9
by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 10:42am

How did they lose to Tennessee?

Has Tennessee gotten better or worse during the course of the season?

Throw in the whole "returning after Katrina" atmosphere, and the sheer emotion was too much to contain -- that team was totally exhausted in the 4th quarter.

None of this is an excuse, mind you, just an explanation. Miles didn't have the team ready to play four quarters that night; I'm just not sure if anyone could have in that situation. And against a UT team that at that point hadn't quit on their season, it's possible, if not excusable.

10
by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 10:43am

Oh, and does that make two weeks in a row that Virginia Tech was DNP?

11
by Russell Levine :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 11:46am

Re: 6

Good catch on the SEC East thing. Not sure how I screwed that up, but I went ahead and corrected it in the text.

12
by princeton73 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 1:00pm

I was always partial to his great “You can’t spell Citrus without UT� taunt.

of course, you also can't spell Citrus without "USC"

(though I darseay Gamecock fans would very gladly accept the Citrus Bowl this year)

13
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 2:06pm

Clemson fans are going to be in pure, absolute, agony if the Spurrier-led Gamecocks turn into a real power. Clemson fans are so used to looking down their nose at their rivals in Columbia, (highly dependent on Clemson's national championship 20 plus years ago), that they will suffer vertigo if the positions are reversed.

As to the rankings, we BCS system haters have to now root heavily for a loss by Texas or USC, in order to create chaos as to which 1-loss team deserves to play in the championship team. If only the Notre Dame DB had turned to the ball on that fourth down play! We would now have Notre Dame, Penn State, Alabama, LSU, Miami, and still others saying they deserve to play Texas. Also, once one gets to the 3 loss teams in the rankings, it gets pretty hard to put them in order, since there are some 3 loss teams that Russell hasn't ranked that are likely every bit as good.

Finally, I am hoping that there are some SEC/Big Ten matchups in December and January. For whatever reason, these are the two conferences that grab my attention when they meet in the bowl games.

14
by GatorGriff (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 4:16pm

I'm still skeptical that South Carolina can turn into a real power on a yearly basis b/c they don't have a very strong and wide recruiting base. But if there is anyone who can poach from the surrounding states, Spurrier is the guy. While at Florida, even with all the talent in the state of Florida, he still was able to routinely get some of the best players from Georgia and Alabama.

Clemson should be worried though b/c if you are a blue-chipper in South Carolina, where would you rather play right now, Clemson or USC? Unless you have some family ties to Clemson, I'm going to bet that most guys right now would rather play for Spurrier.

15
by Justin (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 7:04pm

Just kind of wondering what people think of this:

In the North Carolina-Maryland game, UNC was faced with a third & goal from the 7 with 13 seconds left, down by 3. To me, it seemed like an obvious decision to take one more shot into the end zone (they had just taken two), and then kick the tying field goal. But UNC Coach John Bunting opted to kick on third down, sending the game to overtime, where UNC lost trying to match Maryland's field goal after never getting close to the 7 yard line again.

To me, this is a nominee for the John L. Smith award - does overtime really present a significantly better chance to win than giving a pass a shot in regulation? - but others I've talked to agreed with Bunting. Thoughts?

16
by Zac (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 7:33pm

I don't really watch much college football. But I do love figuring out tiebreakers. That said, here's how each of the conference championship races shape up. Odds are given as if each game left was a toss up.

ACC:
Florida State has won the Atlantic Division (100%).
Miami wins the Coastal Division with two wins or a win and a Virginia Tech loss (62.5%).
Virginia Tech can win the Coastal with two wins and a Miami loss, or a win and two Miami losses (31.25%).
Virginia can win the Coastal with two wins, two VT losses, and two Miami losses (6.25%).

Big 12:
Texas has won the Southern Division (100%).
Colorado wins the Northern Division with a win or an Iowa State loss (75%).
Iowa State wins the Northern Division with a win and a Colorado loss and a Missouri loss (12.5%).
Missouri wins the Northern Division with a win and a Colorado loss and an Iowa State win (12.5%).

Big East:
West Virginia wins the Big East's BCS bid with a win against South Florida, or with a win against Pittsburgh and a South Florida loss (68.75%).
South Florida wins the Big East's BCS bid with 3 wins (12.5%).
Pittsburgh wins the Big East's BCS bid with a win, a South Florida win over West Virginia, and either a Louisville loss or exactly one other South Florida win (17.1875%).
If West Virginia loses both games, Louisville wins both, and South Florida loses the other two (besides their game against West Virginia), the BCS bid goes to whichever team is the highest in the rankings (1.5625%).

Big Ten:
Penn State wins the Big Ten's BCS bid with a win (50%).
Ohio State wins the Big Ten's BCS bid with a win and a Penn State loss (25%).
Michigan wins the Big Ten's BCS bid with a win and a Penn State loss (25%).

C-USA:
Central Florida wins the East Division with a win or a Southern Miss loss (87.5%).
Southern Miss wins the East division with two wins and a Central Florida loss (12.5%).
UTEP wins the West Division with a win or a Tulsa loss (87.5%).
Tulsa wins the West Division with a win and two UTEP losses (12.5%).

MAC:
Bowling Green wins the East division with two wins or a win over Miami and an Akron loss (43.75%).
Miami wins the East Division with two wins or a win over Bowling Green and two Ohio losses (34.375%).
Ohio wins the East Division with two wins and two Bowling Green loses (6.25%).
Akron wins the East Division with two wins and two Miami losses and a Bowling Green loss to Toledo (3.125%).
There is a 12.5% chance of a 3-way-tie in the East Division involving Miami, Bowling Green, and either Akron or Ohio in which each team has gone 1-1 against the other two. I can't find the MAC tiebreakers online, so I don't know what the next tiebreaker is.
Toledo wins the West Division with two wins (or a win and a Northern Illinois loss) (62.5%).
Northern Illinois wins the West Division with two wins (25%).
Western Michigan wins the West Division with a win and two Toledo losses (12.5%).

Mountain West:
TCU has won the Mountain West Conference Championship.

Pac-10:
USC wins the Pac-10's BCS bid with a win (50%).
UCLA wins the Pac-10's BCS bid with a win (50%).

SEC:
LSU wins the West Division with two wins (25%).
Alabama wins the West Division with a win and an LSU loss (37.5%).
Auburn wins the West Division with a win and an LSU loss (37.5%).
Georgia wins East with a win over Kentucky(50%).
South Carolina wins East with a Georgia loss to Kentucky (50%).

Sun Belt:
Lousiana-Monroe wins the Sun Belt championship with a win over Louisiana-Lafeyette (50%).
Louisiana-Lafeyette wins the Sun Belt championship with a win and an Arkansas State loss (25%).
Arkansas State wins the Sun Belt championship with a win and two Louisiana-Monroe losses (12.5%).
There is a 12.5% chance of a 3 way tie, in which I believe all 3 are named co-champions and the New Orleans Bowl picks the Sun Belt representative.

WAC:
Fresno State wins the WAC championship with two conference wins or a win and a Louisana Tech loss and a Nevada loss (50%).
Louisana Tech wins the WAC championship with two wins and a Nevada loss (18.75%).
Nevada wins the WAC championship with two wins and a Boise State loss (18.75%).
Boise State wins the WAC championship with two wins and two Fresno State conference loses or a win over Lousiana Tech, two Fresno State losses and a Nevada loss to Utah State (9.375%)
There is a 3.125% chance that Fresno State, Nevada, and Boise State could be tied with 7 conference wins. The Bowl Selection Committee would then choose who gets to go to the MPC Computers Bowl.

17
by Zac (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 7:35pm

That lack of bolding Pittsburgh is not meant as a sign of disrespect to them. I just forget the bold tag for them.

18
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 7:37pm

Actually, in the Pac-10, if Oregon wins vs. Oregon State, then USC clinches the Pac-10 berth regardless of the outcome of the game against UCLA.

The reason is that if Oregon wins vs. Oregon State, then if UCLA beats USC, there is a 3-way tie for the Pac-10 title. The Pac-10 3-way tiebreaker system would eliminate UCLA (because UCLA lost to the 'worst' opponent, Arizona), and then USC would win the head-to-head tiebreaker against Oregon.

UCLA can only take the Pac-10 title if Oregon loses to Oregon State. That would mean a 2-way tie between USC and UCLA, which UCLA would win based on the head-to-head victory.

T.

19
by buddha (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 7:47pm

How can we have a John L. Smith award without mentioning Mike Nolan?

First, to even TRY a 52 yard field goal in that wind was insane. Then, to top it off, to have the ball on the two yard line, get a 12 men in the huddle penalty, followed by a delay of game penalty? Bad coaching screwed the Niners out of making this a very long week for Justin Gage.

20
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 9:23pm

Re #16:
SEC:
LSU wins the West Division with two wins (25%).
Alabama wins the West Division with a win and an LSU loss (37.5%).
Auburn wins the West Division with a win and an LSU loss (37.5%).

What happens if Alabama and Auburn both win and LSU loses?

21
by Ferg (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 10:17pm

Re 20: I think they're playing each other. Iron Bowl!

22
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 4:09am

Re #21: Ah yes, that'd do it. Thanks.

23
by MRH (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 12:46pm

The only reason to expect Spurrier to fail at South Carolina is if he mailed it in. That seems unlikely now.

The guy was not a good NFL coach. I don't know the reason, but he wasn't. But he always was a good-to-great college coach.

This year is an example of his ability to out-coach his college peers. He's taken a bunch of kids that mostly he didn't recruit and has turned them into winners. What will he do once he gets "his guys"?

On the "recruiting base" points about South Carolina, the "base" is important, it's far from everything. Nebraska, and at a lower level, K-State have succeeded in the past w/o substantial in-state bases. USC/UCLA were mediocre for years with potential enormous bases plus other lures for out-of-state recruits beyond the base. Carroll has awoken one sleeping giant, the other may not be far behind.

24
by princeton73 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 2:26pm

Spurrier must lead a charmed life

1. he came into the SEC at exactly a time when the normal powers in the east were suffering down years (relatively)

2. they've been lucky in a number of games with timely turnovers and fluke plays

3. they've also been lucky in that offensive coordinators of their opponents have been foolish in insisting on passing when they have been running up and down the field at will against the SC defense. This happened against Georgia, Tenn, Arkansas, and Florida as even the most fervent Gamecock fans will admit.

This is NOT to say that SOS is not a brilliant coach--just that sometimes it helps to be good AND lucky

25
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 3:48pm

I think one of the reasons Spurrier was not a great NFL coach, and it is purely an impression on my part (I really don't watch enough Redskins games to be well-informed), is that he did not value protecting the quarterback enough. Yes, Martz got away with it for a few years, but the reality is that the average NFL pass rusher is much, much, more physically dangerous than the average college pass rusher, and thus exposing the quarterback to pressure in the NFL has much larger ramifications.

26
by Ferg (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 5:38pm

Re 25: Well, I watched just about every game of the Spurrier era in Washington. You're right about the pass protection, but the bigger issue is that he didn't pay a lick of attention to defense. You can get away with that a bit when Marvin Lewis is the DC, but not so much when it's George Edwards.

Oh, and there were also a ridiculous number of penalties, particularly false starts and holding.

However, I did like some things about Spurrier, namely:
1. He never coached scared and would readily go for it on fourth-and-short. (Furthermore, despite his pass-wacky reputation he'd usually hand off to Rock Cartwright in short yardage.)

2. He never threw players under the bus and took blame for the losses. He even "benched himself" as he put it and gave someone else the play-calling job for a few games.

3. He had some pretty sweet gadget plays. Always a fun time.

I wouldn't say Spurrier was a *good* NFL coach, but I don't feel he's quite the disaster that he's occasionally made out to be.

And if you don't think he knew something about offense, just remember that Shane Matthews was once offensive player of the week.

27
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 5:57pm

One of things I like about Gibbs and Parcells is that they will make quarterback protection a top priority. Their teams may fail at this task due to injury or lack of talent, but they aren't going to serve up a steaming pile of Kill the Quarterback due to scheme.

28
by Chris I. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 7:20pm

Buddha (#19),

I agree with you about Nolan. That was a horrible decision to try such a long field goal in the windiest conditions I can remember in 30 years of watching football.

But I think you mean Bobby Wade, instead of Justin Gage. Wade was the one who fumbled the three punts.

And Zac (#17) -- don't worry about it. You were right the first time. Dave Wannstadt's teams don't deserve to be in bold. ;-)