Sorry if this is too far off topic for this week, but I thought it was a very interesting article. Especially when we debate the various moves Dave Brandon makes to our athletic department.
I think this is a key paragraph:
Tradition? Tradition is great where it's a sellable, marketable commodity. Alabama can sell tradition. Penn State can sell tradition. Michigan can sell tradition. At those places, tradition is the differentiation, but at the schools where it's not? They have to go in the opposite direction. And no one has done that better, or more consciously, than Nike and Oregon, which for the purposes of this conversation are essentially one and the same. Oregon's tradition at this point is the overtly embraced lack of tradition. Change.
The one thing about that is - how well does it sell when you're copying Oregon (like ASU) or Boise State (with colored fields popping up over the country)? Tradition is a brand, and so is "change." But "change" and "bucking the trend" works best if you're original. Otherwise you're just more noise.
It also makes me cringe a bit to hear that "Nike and Oregon are essentially one and the same." I'm happy Michigan doesn't have that relationship with, say, Ford's.
Back by popular demand, or maybe entirely despite it, I return for my third year providing your weekly primer in what not to watch. Last year, no team pulled off the shutout, but 12 teams had 2 or fewer wins. Welcome to the list, Memphis. Elsewhere, New Mexico managed to go 1-11 and not finish last in their conference. The mighty MAC had no less than 4 teams with two wins or less. So without further ado, let's get into it.
The season is ending too quickly. Let's relish the few games we have left and hope for some interesting games. Have fun and let's keep it about the actual games and not about, well, the other stuff.
The season is starting to wind down, so rather than trying to pick some bad games out of the dwindling pool of options, I will instead take a look at the Big East playoff picture, which is Ugly unto itself. When there is a four-way possibility that the winner will have four losses, that deserves a look. But first:
Akron wins a game! Akron wins a game! Oh my God, Akron wins a game! The Zips beat Buffalo 22-17 to get their first win for the season. Akron's QB, P. Nicely, was 13/24 for 193 and 3 TDs. I really only mention it to say that his name is P. Nicely. Buffalo was making a game of it, until a late fumble gave the ball back to Akron to run out the clock.
North Carolina almost blew a 24-10 lead to Duke in the 4th quarter, but Duke ran out of time on their last drive. Not sure why Duke threw a 6 yard pass to the 41 as the last play, but they are Duke. Laettner must not have been open at the free-throw line. They did manage to score 19 points with 275 total yards and a 0.8 YPC rushing average. I'm sure they're happy it's basketball season.
Last, Vanderbilt dutifully lost to a 3-9 Wake Forest team 34-13. Vanderbilt's AD issued a statement saying he and Caldwell reached a "mutual agreement that the university and the football program needed to go in a new direction." Well, from where they are, there's only one way to go: up. Vandy actually had more offense than Wake, but missed two field goals (I know how that feels) and turned over on down five times to give Wake short fields.
We do have the Washington/Washington State mess, but nothing holds a candle to the impending Big East Trainwreck, so without further ado I present:
aka the "Big" East preview. There is no scenario in which the Big East winner will have fewer than three losses. First off, UConn controls their own destiny. Win and they are in the BCS. At 8-4. And probably unranked. They are 4-2 in conference, with key wins over the other contenders West Virginia, Syracuse and Pitt. They play one of the other possible title contenders, South Florida this weekend. I'm assuming here that the first tie-breaker is head-to-head, then overall record, which gets them in a head of 8-3 West Virginia, because West Virginia is also 4-2 in conference.
That's the easy part: if UConn wins, they get it. But if they lose, here come the scenarios. If UConn loses, they are 4-3 in conference. West Virginia is the next most likely winner, as they are also 4-2. They play Rutgers this weekend, who is 1-5. West Virginia has beaten USF and Pitt, so that gives them the edge in the head-to-head. So if West Virginia wins and UConn loses, they're in. Notice: after this point it starts to get meteor-hitting-a-lottery-winner level of likelihood, but I'm going to do it anyway.
If WVU loses, unlikely, though it may be, next in line is Pitt. Pitt plays on the road at Cincinnati, and is coming off a stretch versus UConn (loss), USF (win), and WVU (loss). A win would put Pitt at 7-5 overall and 5-2 in conference. And in a BCS bowl. A Pitt loss really throw a wrench in the works by making 5 teams 4-3 in conference: West Virginia, UConn, Pitt, Syracuse and USF.
I think maybe Syracuse gets the title since they beat USF, who will have beaten UConn, so by transitivity they win? Does UConn win by virtue of beating WVU, Pitt and Syracuse? I hope the Big East has enough tie-breakers to handle this, and I really hope one of them involves a 100 yard dash between the mascots to decide it. I don't know what else to do in this scenario, other than declare TCU the winner a year in advance.
Welcome to week 6, in which we can ignore the MAC for another week. There are a number of in-conference potential blowouts this week, like Oregon v WSU and Wisconsin v Minnesota, but there are two truly ugly games to preview. But first:
Last Week's Recap
Miami mercifully didn't wear their Orange Crush jerseys and hung on to beat Clemson as Clemson shot themselves in the foot, leg, arm, head, etc. with six(!) turnovers. After seeing Syracuse's jerseys last week, I'm holding out for a Clemson v Syracuse bowl game.
Idaho cashed in their frequent flier miles and beat Western Michigan. This game featured neither team rushing for more than 100 yards, plus seven total turnovers and 16 penalties. Western barely cracked 100 yards passing. That's probably all you need to know about that game.
Colorado beat Georgia, and the Buff fans stormed the field like they just won the Big 12 championship or something. And the only reason they won was because of a late Georgia fumble after missing a field goal at the end of a time-consuming drive. Congrats to CU for storming the field on a 1-4 opponent.
This is the kind of week this column was made for, with two (deux!!!) "We're Gonna Win!" games featuring 0-5 teams: Western Kentucky v Florida International, and New Mexico v New Mexico State.
First up, WKY v FIU. You may remember Western Kentucky from such games as 49-10 against Nebraska, 63-28 against Kentucky, or 24-12 against South Florida. The Hilltoppers are a dual-threat (Ed: more like a dual-Threet?): 109th in Points For, and 118th in Points Against. FIU's starting QB has 4 passing TDs on the season, which is one more than WKY's. Fun fact: no team in the SunBelt has a winning record at the moment.
Finally, the "Our State Insect is the Trantula Hawk Wasp" bowl is New Mexico versus New Mexico State. New Mexico's leading rusher has yet to score a rushing TD. This game features New Mexico's 117th/120th ranked offense/defense going against NMSU's 118th/119th offense/defense. I can't write a better scenario than that. This game used to feature the Maloof Trophy, but now just features an Aggie being burned in effigy at the pep rally, which who doesn't do that?
This is the only reasonable conclusion I can draw based on the games ABC has featured the last two weeks.
This past weekend, those of us in the Big 10 footprint were treated to a classic matchup of Ohio State vs. Eastern Michigan for the 3:30 game on ABC. This week, while most of the country will be watching Top 10 teams Stanford and Oregon slug it out for the early lead in the Pac 10, we will be treated to the sure-to-be-compelling matchup of Notre Dame vs. Boston College at 8:00 on ABC.
Is there such thing as an Angry Big Ten Footprint Football Watching Fan Hating God?