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21 Aug 2005

Confessions of a Football Junkie: That Time Already?

by Russell Levine

The Big House season tickets arrived in the mail a couple of weeks ago, and with them the harsh reality that college football season was right around the corner.

Wait a minute, harsh reality? Not joyous realization?

Allow me to explain. It seems the arrival of college football season has caught me a bit off guard this year. I've spent so much time this spring working on Pro Football Prospectus, our draft coverage for the New York Sun, and things like Four Downs, that I allowed the beginning of on campus fall practices to creep up on me.

I found myself suddenly staring down deadlines for the debut of Junkie, my Sun season preview material, and our college picks column, Seventh Day Adventure, and I must admit, I wasn't ready. Did I really sign up to take part in mgoblog's first-annual BlogPoll (more on that below)? Did I really commit to writing twice a week for the Sun, twice for FO, holding down a day job and keeping my sanity?

Who am I kidding? It's football season, and all that simply allows me to commandeer the remote for Tuesday night college football on ESPN without impunity in my house. Honey, I'm a professional writer now, remember? At least the IRS seemed to accept the argument when I submitted my deductions for ESPN GamePlan and NFL Sunday Ticket.

But once those tickets arrived, I got ready in a hurry. The flight was booked for the annual road trip. An entire fall of commitment-free weekends was blocked off the family calendar. My son's fifth birthday party was pushed to the Saturday when Michigan plays Eastern Michigan, not Notre Dame (his actual birthday is closer to the former game, and besides, I'll be in Ann Arbor for the latter).

I'm trying to take a different approach towards Michigan this fall. As a Michigan fan, I realize I have little right to complain compared to the bevy of college programs. Back-to-back Rose Bowls (which yielded two losses), a national title within the last 10 years, and eight straight New Year's Day bowl bids, including three Rose Bowls and an Orange Bowl.

But recent Michigan seasons have had sort of a Groundhog Day storyline. High preseason rankings (this year, fourth in both polls), followed by an impressive debut, followed by a crushing, non-conference road loss that usually includes some sort of Titanic-scale special teams disaster. With that loss, title hopes (at least the national title variety) are often largely dashed before the first conference game of the year.

Recent years have also included some disturbing conference defeats, most notably three losses to Ohio State in four seasons. If the Buckeyes win in Ann Arbor this November, Lloyd Carr will officially be Jim Tressel's you-know-what.

So this year, I'm not doing it. I'm not getting sucked into the hype. I'm not allowing myself to believe the regular shredding of the Wolverine defense over the second half of last season was miraculously cured over the summer. I won't accept that Braylon Edwards's departure won't cost Michigan a game somewhere along the line.

Nope, I'm keeping things reasonable. Michigan feels like a 9-2 team to me. If it beats Notre Dame and Ohio State at home and Michigan State on the road, I can live with pretty much whatever else happens, like a road loss at Iowa, Wisconsin, or Minnesota.

Pundits seem to agree that the Big Ten is as strong as it has been in recent years, but they're split as to the premier team. Michigan has the best offense. Ohio State the best defense. Iowa has the best coach. Purdue has the best schedule. This is the year JoePa finally gets it turned around at State College.

When I look at the Big Ten, I see a conference that's deeper than it has been in many years. A BCS or even Rose Bowl berth (yes, this is the one year in four that the Rose hosts the championship game, a cringe-inflicting event for all college football purists) from any of the big three (Iowa, Michigan, or Ohio State) wouldn't shock anyone, and a lot of people are looking at Purdue as having 2004 Auburn "out of nowhere" potential.

The 2005 season feels like a more wide-open race than any in recent memory. There's a clear-cut No. 1 -- USC -- and then the questions begin. Coming off Vince Young's "Michael Vick in the 2000 Sugar Bowl" impersonation in Texas's Rose Bowl win over some team in funny helmets, the Longhorns are No. 2 in both polls and even managed a handfull of first-place votes in each. Apparently, Mack Brown's shameless pollster begging carried over to the preseason poll.

The usual casts of characters -- Florida, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, et al -- are all in the mix for that No. 2 spot, it seems. It should be a fun year, especially with some tremendous early season non-conference games to get things started.

I love the fact that the NFL has abandoned Labor Day weekend due to poor TV ratings, leaving a five-day college festival to kick off the season. Other than Miami at Florida State on Monday night, September 5, the schedule is not loaded with great games, but I still expect to log some time in front of the TV every day, starting with Steve Spurrier's South Carolina debut on Thursday night. Other games to watch include Arizona-Utah on Friday, Miami (Ohio)-Ohio State, Bowling Green-Wisconsin, and Boise State-Georgia on Saturday, and Virginia Tech-N.C. State on Sunday. Let's hope the Atlantic Hurricane season doesn't disrupt the fun the way it did last year.

Since my full college preview will debut next week -- after it has run in the Sun -- I will spend some time running down my editorial plans for Football Outsiders for the season. Following next Monday's college preview, Seventh Day Adventure will make its debut on Thursday, Sept. 1 -- opening day of the college football season. Vinny and I will once again offer our fearless college predictions. Actually, if you follow our advice, you should be very afraid. I'd like to remind everyone I did have a 9-7 mark (good enough to win the NFC West!) on my Fred Edelstein Locks, however.

You'll also notice my ballot for the BlogPoll below. The BlogPoll is an excellent idea, which naturally has sprung from the mind of a Michigan grad, Brian Cook of mgoblog. I'll let him describe it: "It's a college football poll run and voted on by sports bloggers. No fooling! The goal of the BlogPoll is to collect information from a slew of different eyes and compile it into a poll more just and accurate than the AP or coaches poll."

And in the interests of full disclosure, I'll make my ballot public in Junkie each week. Feel free to comment, criticize or upbraid me as you see fit.

Here are some other highlights of the coming season:

  • Junkie's second-annual Anatomy of a Road Trip edition, which will be filed from Ann Arbor during Notre Dame weekend, Sept. 10. I'll once again attempt to recapture lost youth in during a big college weekend. I've even extended the trip a day, until Monday morning, in order to stick around a take in NFL opening Sunday with the boys.
  • Trying to figure out what to write after the weekend of October 8-9, which will start with Minnesota at Michigan on TV Saturday, followed by a U2 concert at MSG that night. Sunday brings Buccaneers at Jets at the Meadowlands. I'll be attending my first Bucs game, in fact my first NFL game, since Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego. Trust me, when you have two pre-K aged children, weekends like this don't happen very often.
  • Junkie's inaugural Live From Las Vegas edition. After devoting nearly all of my fall weekends to football for the better part of two decades, I'm finally going to take my first Hajj to Mecca November 5-6. I'll be spending much of Saturday and Sunday at the sports book, attempting to 1) hang on to the deed to my house and 2) to paraphrase "rockumentary" director Marty DiBergi, capture the sights, the sounds ... the smells of a football weekend in a Las Vegas casino.
  • The two-part Seventh Day Adventure Bowl Spectacular, in which Vinny and I will offer our analysis and picks of every bowl game, even the Poinsettia Bowl Presented by San Diego County Credit Union (yes, that's a real title).

That's a little bit of what you have to look forward to this season. What am I looking forward to? Any college fan can worth his salt can come up with Army-Navy, Howard's Rock, the Iron Bowl or Chief Osceola. Here's a partial list of what I expect will be some of the more arcane pleasures this year's college season:

  • Midnight kickoffs from Hawaii on ESPN2.
  • Seeing Bobby Bowden break his own world record for being the oldest person to wear Oakleys. At night.
  • Trying to figure out who's in the "Atlantic" and "Coastal" divisions of the ACC.
  • Friday night games from the Smurf Turf in Boise.
  • The College Gameday rap song (Bubba Sparxx's "Back in the Mud," if you need it).
  • A Brent Musberger signature call.
  • The guy wearing #12 making a tackle on kick coverage in College Station.
  • Ralph Friedgen in the Team Under Armour ads.
  • A completely incoherent Lee Corso tossing pencils on the set of Gameday.
  • Complaining about how Tuesday-night MAC TV games are an affront to college football, but watching them anyway.
  • Watching a two-TD underdog holding a big lead in the fourth quarter, only to have the wheels come off.
  • Any Steve Spurrier press conference in which he mentions Philip Fulmer.
  • Chuck Amato's shades (What is it with ACC coaches and their sunglasses?).
  • Virginia Tech blocking a punt to turn around a big game.
  • Pac-10 Uniforms out of the Eastbay Catalog: Oregon, Cal, Washington State.
  • Speaking of the Pac-10, stumbling across Barry Tompkins calling some game from at Washington State at 11:30 p.m. on MSG Network. And realizing that it's snowing in the Palouse. In October.
  • Pete Fiutak's brilliant Cavalcade of Whimsy column on collegefootballnews.com.
  • Exchanging barbs on the comment boards with Trogdor about Ohio State and Michigan.

Junkie Housekeeping

Junkie readers know that the "Mike Martz Award" was a weekly staple, awarded to the coach who made the shakiest decision of the previous week, in honor of the Rams' unconventional leader.

It's time for a new name.

Thanks to a compelling essay by Jason McKinley in Pro Football Prospectus 2005 called "In Defense of Mike Martz," I realize I've been to harsh on Mike. So, I'm going to re-name the award. But who should get the honor? Bruce Coslet? Rich Kotite? I'm open to suggestions. Feel free to post them in the comments.

BlogPoll Preseason Ballot

1. USC -- Duh.
2. LSU -- Schedule gives them the edge in the SEC.
3. Texas -- It'll take more than the Rose Bowl win to convince me they're ready to beat Oklahoma.
4. Oklahoma -- Write them off at your own risk.
5. Tennessee -- Back-to-back September road games at Florida and LSU will make or break the Vols.
6. Virginia Tech -- Can Ron Mexico's little brother stay away from the jailbait?
7. Miami (Florida) -- Fast start (at FSU, at Clemson, vs. Colorado) should put them 8-0 going to VaTech in November.
8. Michigan -- Too many defensive holes emerge from tough Big Ten unscathed.
9. Florida -- Urban's first job: teach Chris Leak some mechanics.
10. Ohio State -- Comparisons to 2002 national champs are premature.
11. Iowa -- Scary good LBs, QB, but tough roadies at Ohio State, Purdue await.
12. Georgia -- Team has "Tennessee in 1998" feel to it.
13. Auburn -- Lots of losses on O, but defense is still stout.
14. Texas A&M -- Aggies ready to challenge in year three of Franchione era.
15. Louisville -- Brian Brohm-led offense should pile up points, wins in a joke of a conference.
16. Cal -- Marshawn Lynch ready to make everyone forget J.J. Arrington.
17. Boise State -- September 10 Smurf Turf date vs. Bowling Green could be mid-major Game of the Year.
18. Florida State -- 2005's Team Turmoil has a lot to overcome, but gets Miami at home to open the year.
19. Purdue -- Everyone's favorite sleeper. Schedule Gods were kind, but Orton loss is huge.
20. Texas Tech -- Voted "team most likely to have both a 50-point win and a 50-point loss."
21. Virginia -- Cavs might have best OT (D'Brickashaw Ferguson) and LB (Ahmad Brooks) in the country.
22. Arizona State -- Sam Keller's warming up the arm.
23. Fresno State -- Is this the year they finally beat Boise?
24. Pittsburgh -- Wannstedt won't be Pete Carroll, but he won't be Rich Brooks-at-Kentucky either.
25. Bowling Green -- Omar Jacobs gets plenty of face time in September roadies to Wisconsin, Boise.

Posted by: Russell Levine on 21 Aug 2005

50 comments, Last at 27 Aug 2005, 7:53pm by Tarrant


by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 10:01am

As for the coaching award, how about Marty Mohrningweg, of "I'll kick off to start the overtime," fame? It's hard to pick, because one really wants a coach that is known for some mind-numbingly bad decisions - not one that just had a bad team or bad luck.

I can't wait. Less than two weeks! I am pumped and ready for college football this year.

To see if Notre Dame can get some things going under Weis (I think they will, but I'm not sure if it will reflect in their record this year).
To see if USC can go back-to-back-to-back.
To watch Texas-Ohio State.
To see the annual Bill Snyder/Kansas State ducks-in-a-row nonconference schedule.
To see if Michigan somehow blows it to Notre Dame again (had to get that one in there).
To see how Oklahoma responds to the bruised egos from the Orange Bowl.
To answer the question "Can Texas finally beat Oklahoma?"
To see what team manages to blow it because they traveled to Hawaii (hopefully it isn't USC, whose season opener is at Hawaii...).

I want the two weeks to be done - I'm ready for kickoff.


by El Angelo (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 10:12am

Great to have the column back Russell. Suggestions for the award besides the Aforementioned Crappy Jets Coaches: Dave Shula, Dave Campo, and of course, Marty Mornhinweg.

by Russell (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 10:38am

Tarrant, come on now. Michigan only blows it against ND on the road.

And for the record, I'm terrified of Charlie Weis at Notre Dame. I think they finally got the right guy, and I also think the adminstration is on board the way they haven't been since the early years of the Holtz regime. They'll lightne up the schedule and my guess is that no recruit that Weis really wants is going to be denited admission. They'll beat somebody they have no business beating this year, I just hope it's not the maize and blue.

by B (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 10:48am

I think the award should go to an active NFL head coach. One known for boneheaded descisions both on and off the field. One who, apparantly despite his own best efforts, manages to put a competitive team on the field year after year. I nominate Mike Tice.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 10:53am

I would rather it be your maize and blue than my cardinal and gold :)

I do agree that Weis "gets it" moreso than certainly Davie or Willingham did. He's trying to link the ND of the past with the ND of today, a critical thing given that most of next year's recruits would not have been alive the last time ND won a national title.

I wonder at times if their new direction of lightening the schedule is going to pay dividends or not - it will most likely payoff in the wins column for the short term, but will it pay off in the "notoriety" and "ratings" columns? Certainly I can't see NBC foaming at the mouth to televise Notre Dame vs. "Typical SEC non-conference opponent X". However, I think for the near term, that they need it, because they're likely not going to be taking Michigan off the schedule anytime soon, nor USC, and that's already pretty brutal.

If Weis can get them to a bowl game - any bowl game - and win it this year, then I will be very scared of ND next year.

The other thing I see at ND right now is something that's needed to happen - last year's Willingham/Meyer fiasco and media beating that followed really brought ND down a few notches in the pride-and-ego department. The alumni in particular needed to face the reality that it was no longer the 50s/60s/70s and that Notre Dame today isn't, and never can be, the Notre Dame of that era - the landscape has changed. Once you come to that realization, a new base of support can be grown from it. Other schools (notably USC, during the Paul Hackett era, his subsequent firing, and being turned down by more than half a dozen coaches, all who got new deals, before getting Carroll) that were, shall we say, "Living in the past", have gone through this as well, and it results in a new attitude that can really help turn things around.


by Tim (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 11:24am

Welcome back Russel. This is my favorite column I read each week. I like the Marty award or the Tice award. Both are good choices. Though if you looked at GMs too the Mcillen award would work. I can't believe he got an extension.

by James, London (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 12:02pm

"yes, this is the one year in four that the Rose hosts the championship game, a cringe-inflicting event for all college football purists"

Could a purist explain to a Brit with no real knowledge of college 'ball why this is "cring-inflicting" please?

My vote is for the Herm Edwards 'draft a kicker and screw the clock' Award

by Russell (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 12:26pm

Re: 7

James, the Rose Bowl is the oldest, and most tradition-laden of all the bowl games. It dates to 1902, and even managed to avoid adding any kind of corporate sponsorship to its name until a couple of years ago. For 50 years, it was played on New Year's afternoon, always between the Big 10 and Pac 10 champs, and was the last holdout to joining the BCS.

When it hosts the title game, the Rose Bowl is played at night on Jan. 4, with no conference affiliation.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 12:30pm

Pre-BCS, the Rose Bowl, the Granddaddy of them All, has, for decades, hosted its game between the champions of the Pac-10 and Big-10 conferences. While the participants in the Orange, Cotton, and Sugar (and of late the Fiesta) bowls might be from various conferences and changed over time, the Rose continued, in its traditional way, to host the champions of the Pac-10 and Big-10.

When the Bowl Alliance was formed, the Rose stood firm, and only relented when the BCS was formed, figuring that one championship game every 4 years wasn't "too bad", and in the other years, they could get their Pac-10 vs. Big-10 matchup.

Unfortunately, it hasn't worked that way.

2002, the Rose's turn at the championship game, ended with a dud of a game.

In 2003, USC (Pac-10 co-champ) played Iowa (Big-10 co-champ) in the Orange Bowl thanks to a never-before-used BCS rule that let the Orange take priority in picking, while Ohio State (other Big-10 co-champ) played in the Fiesta (BCS title game), and Washington State (other Pac-10 co-champ) played Oklahoma in the Rose (and got demolished). So the Rose Bowl in essence was played in Florida.

2004, the Rose was happy - not only did they get USC vs. Michigan, but USC got half of the national title in the process, and the Rose had as much publicity as the LSU/Oklahoma Sugar Bowl.

2005, of course, the Rose again didn't get their Pac-10/Big-10 game, although they got a great game in Michigan/Texas, it isn't the game they wanted.

In general, the Rose hasn't been happy with the way its games have gone in the BCS.

In the "new" BCS contract, the one that expands the system to "5" bowls a year with double-hosting, the Rose was a bit stodgy in negotiations, and thus, unlike all the other bowls, only has to take a non-BCS-conference team once in the 8 years and after fulfilling that once, can veto any other arrangement of teams that gives it a pairing it dislikes, even if it means the other bowls get stuck with dud games - and at least one other bowl is likely going to get a non-BCS team three times if the Rose only takes one once.


by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 12:36pm

Also note that even now, with limited corporate sponsorship, the Rose refuses to be the "soandso" Rose Bowl, like the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, the Nokia Sugar Bowl, the FedEx Orange Bowl, etc.

The Rose is always "The Rose Bowl Game, presented by (soandso)." The Rose Bowl logo isn't allowed to be doctored up with sponsor names and logos, etc. While they recognize the modern reality that requires them to do things like get a sponsor, they aren't willing to "take the plunge" as it were and sell the 'name of the bowl'.


by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 12:40pm

The Rose Bowl is traditionally played between the Big Ten champion and the Pac-10 champion. It's not a given that that won't happen this year, but it's always cringe inducing (especially for a Michigan fan) that it's not guaranteed.

Note that it's not guaranteed any other year in the BCS, but they try to choose a Pac-10/Big Ten rep. This year they don't really have a choice - it's #1/#2.

by Jeremiah (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 12:41pm

You know, I would be tempted to favor Purdue in the Big 10. They may have been 7-5 but they finished 14th in the nation in scoring margin. In other words, they underperformed their Pythagorean projection by probably 2 or 3 wins. Considering they bring everyone back besides Orton and that they do have an easier schedule, they are a HUGE sleeper.

by Derek (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 12:47pm

With all this Rose Bowl talk, I'm curious about whether FO readers think the Big Ten will have a representative in the NC/Rose Bowl.

All of the big four (UM, OSU, Iowa, Purdue) seem to be getting various degrees of preseason hype. As a Hawkeye fan, I'm feeling a bit drunk on the good press.

Russell...your 8, 10, 11, and 19 rankings suggest nobody will get through the season with less than 2 losses. Even if it isn't the Hawks, I'd sure like to see a Big Ten member in the Rose Bowl.

by Domer (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 1:11pm


Thank you for your kind words concerning ND. I understand but slightly disagree with your perception of ND alum and subway-alum reaction to the Willingham "fiasco", and your remarks about ego/arrogance. While many media outlets, led by ESPN, put a particular spin on the firing, followed by the ill-fated Meyer courtship, the serious ND fans were thrilled with the firing - I felt like we had won a BCS bowl game when they announced TW was cut loose. The "TW-as-victim" media parade was especially galling after we found out that TW had discussed the Washington job in the middle of last season, weeks before he was fired. But he dealt with the firing by keeping his mouth shut and will now consign Washington to the bottom half of the PAC-10 for the next decade. I think Meyer is a great coach, but I think Weis will be a better fit for ND. All in all, while it was portrayed as a fiasco, the serious fans couldn't have been happier with the process and the result, and wailing and gnashing of teeth by some faculty and administration figures was largely ignored by the faithful.

My slight disagreement -- and it's more of a slight adjustment to what you said -- is when you say that the alums needed to stop resting on the tradition. Hell, that's what we've been saying ourselves since 1994! The school/athletic department, including its vast marketing department, has been touting the past so much, and looking at football only as a revenue stream, that it ignored the very foundation of the program. But don't blame the fans for that, we've been screaming the same thing since the Davie hiring.

What the Weis hiring really tells me is that the new administration at ND (Fr. Jenkins et al., ) did its homework. And to that extent, I think you are right that we can start building again.

Russell: you left out the unkindest cut of all for Michigan - they lost 2 out of 3 to Willingham-coached teams. For shame.

One other nitpick - I don't think the admissions policy has gone through cycles as much as it is sometimes perceived to have. Dan Saracino, the longtime admissions director, had a recent quotation in which he essentially devastated the Davie/Willingham recruiting efforts, saying that there was a palpable difference between the players Holtz (and now Weis) brought to the table. The gist of it was that it was NOT the case that Davie and Willingham were bringing in guys that were then denied admission. They never even got the players to the table. Willingham never openly complained about admissions, but Bob "it wasn't my fault" Davie has relied on that canard to explain his mediocrity.

Russell, all of the UM fans I know have the exact same outlook you do. What is Carr's expected tenure? He's certainly not going to get fired, but I have never heard much about how long people expect him to coach, or whether there is an in-house heir apparent.

I am looking forward to this season and more great columns.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 1:21pm


The last time the Big 10 sent someone to the NC was when they were the strongest as a conference in recent history - 2002, when OSU, Iowa, Penn State, and Michigan were #2/#3/#10/#11.

Maybe that bodes well. :)

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 2:05pm

Re: ND and the "academic standards" argument.

Frankly, I agree with you, I see that as a copout. Davie complained about it, and it's mentioned all the time by radio talking heads, alumni that are TV commentators, etc. But frankly, there are numerous other good football schools that had average player GPAs and SAT scores that were greater than those at Notre Dame (Michigan, for example, had better scores in some of the past few years, if I recall) - players that would have had no problems getting into ND - and let's face it - while they won't break their rules, ND under Holtz was willing to bend them a little to get a player that the coach said was NEEDED - every school, after all, has an appeals process for admission that can take into account 'hardships'...the problems is those players had zero interest whatsoever in Notre Dame. They weren't excited. Even the ones they already had weren't excited.

A college head coach's first job is to get a recruit excited about the school, and his second is to keep them excited and motivated week to week. Emotion plays so much more a factor in the college game than the professional leagues. Willingham was too businesslike, too professional. He was Mr. Boredom, not Mr. Excitement (this is a problem I see right now with UCLA, too - OK coach, nice guy, but he's dull and listless). His teams trudged out onto the field. Weis is not like that, and it's the jolt that ND needed.

It was also the jolt that USC needed and got from Carroll, that Paul Hackett (I feel like I should do the sign of the cross or something to fend of evil spirits when I say that name) did not provide. I would cringe when I would be at a Paul Hackett-led USC game, and the crowd would be cheering pregame, and the announcer would say "Now taking the field...your USC Trojans!" and the band plays and...the team would listlessly jog on out of the tunnel like they were trying to catch a bus (but, sadly enough, I didn't miss a single home game during Hackett's tenure, even though I was no longer an undergraduate - gotta support the team, even if one doesn't like the coach).

That, in the end, is why Willingham got fired - not for performance on the field, but because no one cared. Even the players he got weren't "fired up" about Notre Dame. Look at the players that get interviewed from Michigan or USC or Ohio State or Oklahoma or wherever and they're always on fire - they're always excited to play for their coach. Weis, in a few short months, has already started to transform that ND atmosphere. If he keeps it up, win or lose, you get the feeling that they'll always be out there fighting (no pun intended), and if things start there, he WILL turn it around.


by Domer (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 2:35pm


Your penultimate paragraph summed up the feelings exactly. And Southern Cal had a longer down period. I'm hoping for the same rebound, in a similar time frame.

And no more 31-point losses.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 2:41pm

I will say that while I have no real dislike of ND as an institution (the ND-USC rivalry has always been more...friendly...sort of civilized, compared to the tOSU/Mich, USC/UCLA, Aub/Alab, etc.), the 31-point losses to USC are one new Notre Dame tradition I would have no problem seeing continue for the long term.



by Todd S. (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 2:44pm


As a Purdue fan,I think you've got them listed in about the right spot. The schedule is nice, but the team has to prove that they can win enough close games during a single season before they can be rated any higher. Plus they have a relatively tough game #2, on the road at Arizona with a somewhat inexperienced QB. On top of all that, fall practice has not gone well with losing 2 of their 3 top recruits as well as a returning starter at offensive line.

Still, while Orton and Stubblefield are big losses, the two biggest losses are the aforementioned Ohio State and Michigan-from the schedule.

I, too, am worried about what Weis has done so far in recruiting at Notre Dame. I keep telling myself that he hasn't proved anything yet, but this becomes less and less convincing each time Purdue loses an Indiana recruit to ND.

by Larry (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 2:49pm

I say keep it as Martz. Why? Because all I could see when I looked at the defense of Matrz stats was that a few spots behind him in both tables was, wait for it, ... BARRY SWITZER. Really. I'm ok with comparing Martz to Switzer. Works for me.

You could rename the award "the Barry Switzer" award though, if you wanted.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 3:01pm

As for the name, though, while I suggested Marty, it wasn't named because Martz is a terrible all-around coach. He isn't. His stats are good.

The award was named because Martz has that tendency to, more frequently than some of his peers it seems (I'd even say more than Marty), make some completely random, boneheaded in-game decision that either costs his team a chance to win, or makes a game that he's winning a lot closer than it should be.

It doesn't mean that for 60 minutes he's terrible and the worst ever. It arises from that tendency to make a really weird, wrong, head-scratching decision at just the wrong time. And that's something I don't think he's cured himself of, so I don't think FO has to rename the award.


by Domer (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 3:09pm

Consider this:

When you named it the Mike Martz award, we all understood what it meant, and what the intent was. It has served all of us well. Let's not forsake it too quickly.

Yes, the article in PFP changed my mind and clarified some things, but part of the problem with Martz can't be shown by stats - it's his attitude. I like the Rams but I don't like watching Martz on the sidelines. It's an intangible thing. I just don't like the guy.

Also, tell the guys not to change the "Keep Choppin' Wood" award name.

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 3:48pm

One difference between Mornhinweg and Martz is that Marty's errors weren't as costly. He never did (and never could have) blown a playoff game for the Lions.

I'll adapt Russell's comments about Michigan for my alma mater - yes, they're returning all 11 starters on defense, and no, they don't play Michigan or Ohio State, but I simply can't believe that Purdue has a shot at the title this year, Big Ten, national, or both.

There's no question that Tiller has raised expectations at Purdue, but I don't believe the Boilers will be year-in, year-out contenders until they can win the games they lost last year. It should no longer be good enough to hang with the "big boys." Purdue must learn to close out games and avoid mistakes in the fourth quarter.

Especially now that I'm closer to being able to afford to go to bowl games. I've seen one Purdue game, the Outback Bowl in 2000 ... couldn't afford the trip to Pasadena with Drew. :(

by Wes M (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 3:59pm

As a left-coaster I'm disappointed. One of my pastimes is decrying "East-coast bias," and yet I cannot complain about your ballot. Boise St. AND Fresno! Three Pac-10 schools! (Though I'd put ASU ahead of Cal ...)

Plus, as an extra bonus, Louisville and Bowling Green. My (other) favorite complaint about polls is the bias towards the "BCS" conferences, especially the SEC and the Big XII. (The SEC deserves it to a point, but the Big Twelve is top heavy and it raises the profile of some mediocre squads.) Do I expect all four of the abovementioned mid-majors to be in the final Top 25? No, but three-five mid-majors seems about right.

Besides, there shouldn't be any polls until the majority of schools have played three games anyway...

by James, London (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 4:52pm

Russell, Tarrant & Pat, thanks for the heads-up. This sounds as bad as the FA cup holders (soccers' oldest cup competition) withdrawing to play for a meaningless trophy in South America.
Wait, Man Utd did that in 2000. At least you don't have sponsors logos on the uniforms...

by Aaron (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 6:20pm

We will NEVER change the name of the Keep Choppin' Wood award. :)

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 6:26pm

At least, not until a disaster with this season's Jack Del Rio motivational slogan, "Keep drinkin' that flesh-eating bacteria."


by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 8:24pm

Re: Mike Martz Award -

Russel, I really suggest keeping it named the Mike Martz award. To quote,

it was renamed for Martz when the Rams coach attempted to challenge a ruling of a fumble on a ball that was intercepted in mid-air for a defensive touchdown.

Mike Martz could be declared the smartest coach in the NFL, but after decisions like that, he deserves the award named after him.

by Russell (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 9:17pm

Aaron, the fans have spoken! It shall remain the Martz award. Pat, I had forgotten writing that description. You're right, there's not another coach that could pull off a replay challenge like that one.

by Harris (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 2:25am

Ty Willingham was punished for the sins of Bob Davie. The administration that gave that boob a contract extension(!) panicked and axed Willingham too soon. Whether or not he was the right man for the job, I don't know. But it would have been nice for the man to get fired for his own failings instead of Davie's. Besides, any coach who beats Michigan with that much regularity can't be all bad.

by Bill (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 11:11am

Harris - The fact that Willingham took 2 of 3 from Michigan just embodies why he was a failure. How? A team that just overruns Michigan in the second half and physically dominates Tennessee defensively should not rush for 11 yards and lose against BYU. Period. That's Ty in a nutshell - inconsistent play, inconsistent offense, inconsistent recruiting efforts.

Notre Dame cannot afford a bad coach, an average coach or even an above average coach. The job requires a top-flight coach, and when ND has it, it is overwhelmingly successful. Rockne, Leahy, Parseghian, Holtz (and to a lesser extent, Devine) all had 'it' as a coach. I think Weis has it as well. Davie did not, and Willingham did not either.

I commend ND's administration for not repeating a past mistake - extending Bob Davie.

Notre Dame has undergone a dramatic makeover in the last 9 months. The man at the center of the hiring and the pussification of the football program (Father Malloy) is gone. The new man in charge (Father Jenkins) has given notice that the quality of ND football will no longer be ignored by the administration. Forget the NBC contract - the history and the tradition of the school demand excellence in the program. Period.

Just my $.02.

by Lou (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 6:23pm

Russell Athletic - will I ever get a mention in your column (great read btw) AND HOW DO YOU GET PERMISSION TO GO ON THESE EXCURSIONS!


by Domer (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 9:48pm


I love you, man.



by Harris (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2005 - 1:02am

Bill, I don't disagree. My point is that Willingham got the hook less for his own failures than for the university's mistake with Davie. Whether Willingham was the right man for the job is something of a side issue. Davie clearly WAS NOT the right man. Because he wasn't, and because the university inexplicably extended his contract, Willingham got fired earlier than he might have had the school not waited so long to give Davie the boot.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2005 - 1:07am

Re #1: It's always been extremely unfair that Morninwheg has gotten so much heat for electing to kick in overtime. During the SB years in Denver, Shanahan likewise took the wind in overtime (I think it was against Buffalo). It worked out exactly like he hoped. A quick defensive stop, a short offensive drive, an easy OT victory. Everyone called him a genius and a mastermind for his unconventional tactics.

Basically, it's one of those moves that make you a genius if it works and an idiot if it doesn't. The difference between Shanahan and Morninwheg is the Broncos were very very good, and the Lions were very very bad, so the chances of it making them look like a genius were drastically different. Let's face it... as bad as the Lions were, it wasn't likely that they would have won even if he did take the ball.

by Domer (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2005 - 11:16am


I understand, and agree that TW had a shorter leash than if he had followed a successful coach. But TW's only good run of games came immediately after Davie, and the spiral was headed downward. Any serious look at the program revealed that TW was an even worse choice than Davie.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2005 - 12:05pm

The real victims are the fans of Washington, who, immediately after TW's firing, pursued him with reckless abandon and believed that they got a real steal.

I believe TW will continue Washington's era of mediocrity for years to come.


by Derek (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2005 - 3:43pm

I'm not a huge fan of Ty Willingham (or Notre Dame) but I'm not sure he is getting a fair shake in this forum.

Willingham did lead Stanford (no football powerhouse) to a 44-36-1 record and the Irish to 10 wins in 2002.

Will Weis' record at ND be much better than TW's record after his first 3 years? Predictions?

by Domer (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2005 - 6:15pm

Derek, here's more info than you ever needed from NDNation:


1. Tyrone Willingham has lost 8 games by at least 3 touchdowns. By
comparison, Bob Davie lost 4 games by 3 touchdowns and Gerry Faust lost
3 games by 3 touchdowns. That means that in 3 years Tyrone Willingham has
lost more games by 3 touchdowns than Bob Davie and Gerry Faust did in
their 10 years combined.

2. Notre Dame was shut out by at least 30 points twice in 2003. The
last time that happened was 1904.

3. In Tyrone Willingham’s first 3 years, Notre Dame has lost by at
least 30 points 5 times. For perspective, in the previous 40 seasons
(1961-2000), Notre Dame lost by at least 30 points a total of 4 times.
Bob Davie only lost by 30 points 1 time, as did Gerry Faust.

4. The 38-12 loss to 6-6 Syracuse was Notre Dame’s first 3 touchdown
loss to an unranked team since 1960.

5. From the 44-13 loss to Southern Cal in 2002 until the 20-17 loss to
a 5-6 Brigham Young team, Notre Dame lost 10 games over a 15 game
stretch. That was the worst 15 game stretch since 1960.

6. Tyrone Willingham is the first Notre Dame coach since Joe Kuharich
(17-23) to have fewer wins by 3 touchdowns (5) than he had losses by 3
touchdowns (8). Bob Davie had twice as many 3 touchdown wins as losses
(8 wins, 4 losses). Gerry Faust had over 4 times as many (14 wins, 3

7. In 2003, Tyrone Willingham became the first Notre Dame coach to have
consecutive 4 TD losses to Southern Cal. In 2004, he had his 3rd in a

8. Tyrone Willingham has been a Notre Dame coach for 3 years out of the
school’s 117 years (2.6% of the seasons) and has coached in 36 of Notre
Dame’s 1,106 games (3.3%), however, he has coached in 23.8% (5 out of
21) of Notre Dame’s losses by at least 30 points.

9. After starting out 8-0, Tyrone Willingham’s record since has been

10. When Tyrone Willingham took over, Notre Dame had the #1 all time
winning percentage, with a record of 781-247-42 (.749), ahead of
Michigan’s 813-265-36 (.746). At the end of the regular season of 2004,
Michigan now has the #1 all time winning percentage, with a record of
842-274-36 (.747) while Notre Dame is #2 with a record of 802-261-42

Some miscellaneous stats:

Three Notre Dame opponent records have been set in the last 3 years:
Most passing yards against Notre Dame (425 yards)- Carson Palmer, USC,
Most receiving yards against Notre Dame (217 yards)- Craphonso Thorpe,
FSU, 2003
Most passing touchdowns against Notre Dame (5)- Tyler Palko, Pitt,
2004, Matt Leinart, USC, 2004

Combined 3-year records:

Joe Kuharich: 10-18 (.357)
Ara Parseghian: 25-3-2 (.867)
Dan Devine: 28-7 (.800)
Gerry Faust: 18-15-1 (.529)
Lou Holtz: 25-10 (.714)
Bob Davie: 21-16 (.568)
Tyrone Willingham: 21-15 (.583)

Year by Year Coaching records for their first 3 years:

Joe Kuharich:

Ara Parseghian:

Dan Devine:

Gerry Faust:

Lou Holtz:

Bob Davie:

Tyrone Willingham:

Coaching Home Records for Their First 3 years:

Joe Kuharich: 7-8 (.467)
Ara Parseghian: 14-1 (.933)
Dan Devine: 12-3 (.800)
Gerry Faust: 9-7 (.563)
Lou Holtz: 15-3 (.833)
Bob Davie: 15-4 (.789)
Tyrone Willingham: 11-7 (.611)

Total Scoring Margins Through Their First Three Years at Notre Dame:

Ara Parseghian +731
Dan Devine +517
Gerry Faust +241
Lou Holtz +438
Bob Davie + 114
Tyrone Willingham +18

In the 117-year history of Notre Dame football, Notre Dame has lost by
more than 30 points 20 times.

Here is a listing of those losses, detailing year, coach, opponent, and
1900 - O'Dea - Wisconsin - 54-0
1904 - Salmon - Wisconsin - 58-0
1904 - Salmon - Purdue 36-0
1905 - McGlew - Purdue - 32-0
1944 - McKeever - Army - 59-0
1945 - Devore - Army - 48-0
1945 - Devore - Great Lakes - 39-7
1951 - Leahy - Michigan State - 35-0
1956 - Brennan - Michigan State - 47-14
1956 - Brennan - Oklahoma - 40-0
1956 - Brennan - Iowa - 48-8
1960 - Kuharich - Purdue - 51-19
1972 - Parseghian - Nebraska - 40-6
1974 - Parseghian - USC - 55-24
1985 - Faust - Miami - 58-7
2000 - Davie - Oregon State - 41-9
2002 - Willingham - USC - 44-13
2003 - Willingham - Michigan - 38-0
2003 - Willingham - USC - 45-14
2003 - Willingham - Florida State 37-0
2004 - Willingham - USC - 41-10

The Five Year Myth

It is a myth that every coach at Notre Dame has an inalienable right to five years to prove himself. That has never been policy. Fifteen coaches in Notre Dame's storied history have, for various reasons, had tenures of less than five years. That list includes Kuharich, Devore, McKeever and Anderson since Rockne. More recently coaches Davie and Faust were given five years, and those decisions proved to be miserable failures. There was some justification to warrant Faust's extra time given his high school background and Father Ted's personal commitment to him, but giving Davie five years was gross negligence. The five-year plan is not policy and even if it were time has proven it to be a colossal failure that should be learned from and not repeated. Ara himself set the standard by boldly stating upon his arrival that if you can’t do it in three years, you can’t do it. And without exception this has proven to be true. In the entire history of Notre Dame, no coach who failed at the three year mark, succeeded in five years. There are some who claim that because of parity, restrictions and other issues, that Notre Dame can't win anymore, but they said the exact same things before both Ara and Lou arrived in South Bend and were proved wrong. Tedford, Meyer, Carroll, Stoops, Tressel, Amato, Friedgen, Holtz and others have made immediate impacts on their schools, most with far, far less talent than Notre Dame. When the five-year myth is promulgated by media talking heads and writers, it’s important to note that most of those talking heads and scribes are not fans of Notre Dame or speaking in Our Lady's best interest.

"Lack of Talent": The Excuse and The Myth

Notre Dame has more consensus top 25 starters than USC, Tennessee and Michigan. * Phil Steele

Only one Notre Dame recruiting class was ranked below consensus #7. That is Ty's latest class.*Phil Steele

Notre Dame has 15 Parade and USA Today first or second team All-Americans, including linebacker, wide receiver, defensive back, and every position along the offensive and defensive lines.

ND vs. USC - Talent
(Post script - Now that the ND-SC game is over its is easy to see there is some validity in the composite rankings below. In the 1st Quarter Notre Dame dominated USC proving they had at least similar raw talent. Then - coaching took over. The superior USC coaches steadily adjusted on both sides of the ball, and the ever-stumbling Irish coaches didn't ... resulting in their 8th blow-out loss in 3 years, more than Faust & Davie could manage in 10.)

The data below represents volumes of hard data compiled on thousands of high school football players by Parade, SuperPrep, Lemming, Emfinger, G&W Recruiting Advisor, Prepstar, AND Rivals over the past 5 years, with no thought to bolstering anyone's argument for this Saturday's ND-USC game. (Please see page 294 of Steel's 2004 issue for more information on how this data is compiled.) You may want to consider looking at all the top recruit rankings, not just Rivals to determine a more accurate picture of the composite raw talent rankings by ALL top recruiting services of ALL high school AND junior college entrants to Div 1 programs. I doubt that all of the Rivals execs will share your willingness to shout about how foolish these other services must be just because there are cases where they may disagree somewhat on an individual recruit's ranking. In my opinion, these composite rankings of all top 6 recruiting services (including Rivals), while imperfect, give us a better gauge, OVER TIME, of which Head Coaches TEND to get more from less ROUTINELY and which HC's don't do that. Every ND HC coach who has been hired on Malloy's watch has failed to inspire, teach, develop, utilize and coach the raw talent they get to even meet, never mind exceed their potential. That is unfair to these kids. If you are really determined to argue that point (other than just calling anyone who disagrees with your poorly researched argument - a "fool"), you have a lot more work to do.

ND & SC starters (taken from their web site today) and how they were ranked at their position by a composite of the top 6 recruiting services leaving high school or JC in the country.


QB Quinn (12) - Leinart (9),
BACKS Walker (13)/Grant (25)/P-Neal (36) - White (7)/Bush (5)/Webb (253)
WR Stovall (4)/McKnight (9)/Holiday (8)/Samardzija (22) - Smith (3)/Buchanan (23)/McFay (76)/Jarrett (4)
TE Fasano (8) - Holmes (5)
OL Sullivan (3)/LeVoir (4)/Morton (14)/Harris (18)/Stevenson (19) - Lutui (4)/Matua (12)/Baker (15)/Kalil (34)/Drake (113)


DL Abiamiri (1)/Pauly (4)/Landri (5)/Tuck (16) - Cody (1)/Jackson (6)/Patterson (140)/Rucker (Unranked)
LB Goolsby (4)/Curry (25)/Hoyte (29) - Grootegood (3)/Santz (23)/Tatupu (Unranked)
CB Campbell (18)/Ellick (Unranked)/Jackson (69) - Wyatt (25)/Nunn (165)
S Zbikowski (9)/Burrell (21) - Bing (4)/Leach (29)

As expected USC ranks very well in the rankings for their overall recruit classes over the last 5 years (based on a composite of these same top 6 recruiting services, including Rivals) that comprise their 2004 squad = 11, 13, 7, 1, 1 for a very low total of 33 recruit points or an average of 6.6 per year. Very few teams in the country could match such impressive numbers. Surprisingly however, ND is one of those teams. In fact ND had an even lower 6, 5, 5, 3 (for a best-in-the-country average of 4.8) prior to Ty's last #17 ranked class that brought the 2004 team total recruit points up to 36 - for a still very low average of 7.2.

Despite this none of us would argue that ND has as much talent TODAY as SC, just that they did have more comparable raw talent when each of the past 5 classes arrived at each school. The major difference is that ND's talent (under any Malloy hire) is never fully inspired, developed, utilized, taught, prepared or coached.

by Domer (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2005 - 6:16pm

Just to be clear - I did not compile that info, so I can't take credit; it was a post on NDNation back in December '04 that summarized the TW era.

by Russell (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2005 - 7:02pm


Tell us how you really feel.

I just skimmed that post, really that's ND info-overload for me. But I will take issue with regards to the talent ND is bringing in. I think there's a tendency to over-rate ND recruiting classes because it's ND. I think the results of the NFL Draft the last 10 years speak much more to the talent level that ND is bringing in, particularly at the skill positions. Sure, you can say the problem is that talent is not progressing once it arrives at ND, but I think the talent isn't getting there in the first place.

I've written about it many times before, but I think ND's problem is it needs to decide what it wants to be. There's no question that the school admin. was sick of losing after the Faust years so they adopted a "cover your eyes" approach and brought in Holtz, fresh off successful tenures at Arkansas and Minnesota that both ended with serious NCAA sanctions for infranctions that occurred on his watch.

When the school wanted to make winning the most important thing, in other words, it won.

by MDS (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 12:54pm

Domer, if USC beats Notre Dame 30-0 this year, will everyone say Weis is making progress?

Regarding the development of talent, I've definitely read a lot more articles about how physically demanding USC practices are than I have about how physically demanding Notre Dame practices are. Just because I haven't read the articles doesn't mean Notre Dame isn't demanding that its talent develop, but it does seem that other schools have exceeded Notre Dame in terms of their ability to get the most out of their players.

Regarding the academics question, I think there are three Div 1-A schools that clearly have higher standards for admission of football players than all the others: Army, Navy, and Air Force. I think every other 1-A school let's in a lot of guys who would never get a sniff based on academics, and Notre Dame is no exception. I do think, though, that Notre Dame probably is more demanding of athletes in the classroom once they get there. I know T.J. Duckett was scared off of Notre Dame when he found out he'd have to take calculus during his freshman year.

by Domer (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 6:37pm


If ND loses to Southern Cal by 30 points, Weis will hold an immediate post-game, overnight practice a la Frank Leahy.

The funniest thing about that Duckett story (a true story, by the way) is that calculus ISN'T required at ND - two semesters of math are, but not necessarily calculus. There are other, easier options. It's a common negative recruiting tactic, usually used by Llloyd "mansierre" Carr. I forgive you for perpetuating it.

The talent development problem has been huge. I see that changing. Along the same lines, utilization of talent has been a problem. See, e.g., Julius Jones. Genius Willingham never gave him anywhere near enough carries, and...never mind. I'm looking forward now.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 8:55am

Gee, I guess I should comment here, since I'm mentioned by name in the article, huh? Too bad work commitments are limiting me to quick blurbs instead of massive rants. So, let me say real quick...

1) Man, that's an awful lot of writing about a 6-5 team that hasn't been nationally relevant in about a decade. I can't imagine how many pixels will be devoted to them if Weis is good and they actually don't suck this year.

2) I can't believe your ballot, Russell. I mean, everyone knows Louisville is number one! Look at that schedule, and tell me who has a better chance of going unbeaten! You'll never vote for the AP if you refuse to use such silly logic for ranking the best teams.

3) September 10th will be a huge day. I can't wait. Everything before that is just an appetizer to OSU/Texas, and watching ND/Michigan while rooting for both to lose. That's the feeling I only get from special rivalries like Yankees/Red Sox, where I hate both teams so much I can't describe it. Too bad there are no more ties, that was always a good copout.

4) I was working at UM not long ago, and stopped by to watch them practice. Just for fun, they put me in at QB and let me run a few plays. I didn't throw it all that well, but I did run for 368 yards and 6 touchdowns.

by Russell (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 10:58am

Trogdor, good to have you back.

Working at UM recently? I think you were definitely out of your delivery area. There are plenty of Ann Arbor-based Domino's that could have handled the call.

Actually, your QB joke was pretty funny. But you should hope your QB is scrambling from tacklers, at not NCAA investigators, come Nov. 19.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 11:13am

Yeah, I realized I set you up for a good easy follow-up. I was thinking along the lines of, well I was put in at QB for an OSU scrimmage, and when I left I had two thousand dollars and a new car. But I think you got the essence of it.

By the way, I wish I was working at Domino's! What a sweet promotion that would be! Free uniforms and a sweet employee discount program, plus delivering to sororities has definite advantages according to movies, which never lie. Throw in the permanent pizza smell in the car (no more need for that pepperoni air freshener!) and it's possibly the best job in the world!

by TMK (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 11:38am

Russell, Trogdor:

That's good there are such opportunities available, because John Navarre and Craig Krenzel are both sorta free at the moment.

Just one favor; when you do your preview, please do not drag the "USC/threepeat" misnomer into it. USC cannot threepeat unless they win the next TWO titles; by the system they agreed to, LSU won the title two years ago. When LSU beats the Trojans in the Rose Bowl, do you think the national media will say the Tigers won two in three years? somehow, I doubt it.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 12:52pm

The BCS acknowledges USC's half of the title (http://www.bcsfootball.org/ - head to "History", under 2003). It's probably time to let that argument drop - the BCS acknowledged it pretty much immediately as a split title, and it'll go forever in the record books as one as well. Recall that the BCS was agreed upon only as a method of determining the champion of the Coaches' Poll.

And yes, "if" LSU beat USC in the Rose this year (of course, that won't happen as LSU won't even get near enough to the Rose to even catch the distant smell of flowers), the media would indeed say that LSU won two in three years, because the media has always acknowledged the Coaches' Poll title (which is all the BCS championship game delivers) as valid, much like the BCS/coaches poll acknowledges the AP title from 2003 as a valid national championship.

It's not like the media doesn't acknowledge all those split titles in the past - they do - so of course they would acknowledge any Coaches' Poll title that came this year, as they recognize LSU's half from 2003, too.


by TMK (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 5:25pm

So let me get this straight:

A system agreed upon to determine a national champion (however flawed such system may be) can be superseded if one of the factors invovled in that system has a different result than the entire system.

That makes sense only to a SID of the school that benefits. That some hold this as an equal or superior result only demonstrates the political fallacies of the whole arrangement. It is solipsistic, purely and simply.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 08/27/2005 - 7:53pm

And there's where your argument goes wrong.

"A system agreed upon to determine HALF of the national champion."

...is more accurate. The BCS has, since its inception, awarded the Coaches' half of the championship, and nothing more. The trophy is even the trophy that's been awarded for the Coaches' championship for years prior to the BCS.

As for whether or not it's considered valid, I'd say that, given the BCS freely admits the dual championship from 2003, that there's no point in extending the argument.