"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
Roundtable 2.5: Regrets, I've Got A Few
Roundtable time! Trying to work in a "moops" reference because this one's hosted at a blog with the acronym MOOS.
1. Which coaches are clearly on the hot seat at this point? Who is surprisingly not?
I just want to point out that "Lloyd Carr" and "hotseat" don't belong anywhere near each other and never did. And media members are encouraged to remember that us crazy bloggers said that all season when y'all were writing chiding, fictional articles about a fanbase in revolt.
Obvious hotseat candidates have all been covered. Bunting, Coker, and JLS are less on the hotseat and more obviously getting fired. Dirk Koetter's QB samba has him in deep trouble. But what about Walt Harris of Stanford? He's managed to turn the Cardinal into obviously the second-worst BCS program in the country (hello, Duke!). Nine six-year-olds, a squirrel, and a dead manatee could rush for 8 yards per carry versus them. They've gone from a near-upset of Notre Dame to completely dead in six months. Harris is only in his second year, but good Lord.
As to who's not on the hotseat, surprisingly: Gary Pinkel of Missouri. He "wastes" Brad Smith's talents over four years, then immediately strikes gold with a sophomore QB who can -- get this -- actually throw. Loss to A&M is unfortunate but Missouri is headed for a nice bowl game and Pinkel has two more years with Chase Daniel.
2. Pick three of the undefeated teams and state your case as to why they won't run the table.
Rutgers. Because it's Rutgers.
USC. Squeaking by the bad Pac-10 tems probably means that at least one of the season-closing troika of Cal, Oregon, and Notre Dame will take down the Trojans.
Ohio State. Because I really, really want Michigan to win.
3. Which conference is playing the best football right now?
Nobody. It's a year in which every conference is seemingly down, save the Big East. But they're obviously not the best conference. If pressed I would give the most lukewarm of recommendations to the SEC.
4. Which team is playing above and beyond your expectations this season?
Wisconsin? I spent the early part of the offseason pumping up the Badgers as a potential surprise team, but when I got around to previewing them I backed off because of question marks at corner and... uh... everywhere on offense that isn't QB or tackle. My suspicions seemed justified when they limped through the patsies on their non-conference schedule then collected 150 meaningful yards versus Michigan.
But since then they've been crushing opponents. Not good opponents, sure, but when you're up 41-5 on Minnesota that's at least somewhat impressive. Neither Cal nor Michigan smashed the Gophers so comprehensively. At this point they're easily the Big Ten's third best team and if they can get by a tough Penn State defense that matches up with UW very well they have a clear path to 11-1. It would be a flimsy 11-1 -- their nonconference schedule is embarassing and they miss OSU -- but that's not bad.
5. Which team is crashing and burning in regards to your expectations?
I'm thinking of extorting fans of mid-level Big Ten teams with moderate expectations going into the season, as I have previewed the conference twice, twice overrated teams with a moderate level of hype, and twice watched those teams implode spectacularly. Last year it was Purdue. This year: Iowa, who I ranked #2.
No, not in Iowa. In the country.
This has obviously gone vastly wrong. Iowa sputtered along doing nothing of note for the first bit of the season. I probably should have leapt off the bandwagon after an overtime win over Syracuse, but Tate was out. I should have leapt off after a uninspiring victory over what's apparently a terrible Iowa State team. I did jump after a limp loss to Ohio State, but then they crushed Purdue and I was back on board. You lose? To Indiana? My preseason #2?
There is only one punishment for this:
DEAD TO ME
And you thought losing to Indiana was bad.
Side note: ND bloggers insufficiently unwary of throwing stones in their glass house get the FIST OF JUSTICE. Dylan of BGS:
We'll see what Iowa can do to redeem themselves and justify Brian at mgoblog's earlier top 2 ranking. Whoops.
There will be improvement across the board (particularly in the secondary), with the exception of the field goal unit. If we lose a game, it will be because of a missed field goal, or a failed 4th down conversion.
Apparently he forgot "or a complete and total beatdown in every facet of the game." Hey, at least he was right about a potential "trap" game:
Dylan - UM. If you can believe it, I think we might get caught looking ahead to MSU.
FIST OF JUSTICE!
(...which is apparently an internet comic book.)
6. Is your pre-season BCS championship game prediction still alive?
I didn't make one. Good thing, too, with the whole Iowa #2 thing.