Sunday, December 31, 2006

Kooly Cup, 2nd round

(1) vs. (8) -- Rose Bowl

The Broncos came out fired up, and the bi-partisan Pasadena crowd got behind them. However, the Buckeyes had no intentions of being upset -- or even being challenged. Troy Smith and company proved to have too much firepower for the WAC Champs, and waltzed to the semis.

Ohio St. 38 Boise St. 14

(2) vs. (7) -- Citrus Bowl (to hell with sponsors)

The Men of Troy were mad after losing to UCLA. They got even madder after being named the number seven seed -- feeling they got jobbed.

The Gators defense didn't much give a damn about how the Trojans were feeling, they were in Orlando to play football. Tough, nasty, rough SEC football. The Gators D hit Trojans QB John David Booty all night, and Chris Leak led the offense to a comfortable lead that withstood a late USC rally.

Florida 28 USC 21

(3) vs. (11) -- Gator Bowl

The Mountaineers proved that they could run their offense against a strong D when they beat Oklahoma in the first round. But the Wolverines aren't just a strong D. Steve Slaton and Pat White got their scores in, but the Michigan D toughened up in the second half, and WVU couldn't keep pace with Chad Henne and his gang.

Michigan 41 WVU 24

(4) vs. (5) -- Cotton Bowl

Louisville's offense proved they could hang with the best of them, but unfortunately for the Cardinals their D has not. Jamarcus Russell carved apart the Louisville secondary all afternoon, and the physical Bayou Bengals D made life painful for Brian Brohm and company.

LSU 45 Louisville 10

Semifinals:
(1) Ohio St. vs. (4) LSU
(2) Florida vs. (3) Michigan

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Kooly Cup, round 1

Time for the first round results of my made-up college football playoff, the Kooly Cup. Remember, there is nothing scientifical about these results. They are my opinions on who would win. Nothing more. With that said, in the words of Johnny Cage: let's dance.

(1)
vs.
(16) -- Columbus

Twas a glorious day for Troy. Unfortunately for the Sun Belt Champions, it was Troy Smith who had the great game -- well, great two and a half quarters anyway.

In all reality, this game was over when the brackets were announced. In actuality, the game was over after Troy Smith hooked up with Ted Ginn, Jr. on a long touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage. And again on the Buckeye's second offensive play, right after the their D picked off a Trojans pass.

If those two weren't enough, Smith added one more touchdown lob to Anthony Gonzalez, and Antonio Pittman scampered for two scores as well. All before halftime, mind you. The defense did the rest of the work, and the boys in scarlet and silver walked through their first round game.

Ohio St. 56 Troy 0

(2)
vs.
(15) -- Gainesville

As if it isn't bad enough to lose your coach right before the postseason, the MAC Champion Chippewas also had the pleasure of preparing for the Mighty Gators, winners of the SEC.

Well, coach be damned, the Gators weren't letting this one become close anytime soon. The much-maligned Florida offense set the tone early, marching down the field to the Central Michigan 3-yard-line. What happened next? You guessed it, Tim Tebow barrelled his way into the end-zone, the first of two rushing touchdowns for the freshman, who also threw for another touchdown.

But the star of this game was the Florida D, namely defensive back Reggie Nelson. Nelson stepped in front of CMU QB Dan LeFevour's first pass and took it to the house, setting the tone for turnover-filled day.

Florida 45 CMU 0

(3)
vs.
(14) -- Ann Arbor

Kevin Kolb had never seen a defense quite like that of the one wearing maize and blue. But he wasn't scared, and he showed it.

On the Cougars opening drive, Kolb found his rhythm and Houston got a field goal out of the drive, taking a 3-0 lead in the early going.

Not to be outdone, Chad Henne found Mario Manningham on a skinny post and the Wolverines took the 7-3 lead. Now, any sane person would think that would be all the Wolverines D needed.

Apparently, Kolb is no sane person. Undaunted, he marched the cougars right back down the field, this time putting the ball in the end-zone, and giving the Cougars a 10-7 lead that would hold up for the rest of the first quarter.

And then Mike Hart took over, and Kolb didn't see too many opportunities after that. Hart finished with over 200 yards on the ground, and three scores on the day. The Michigan D, apparently upset over Kolb's solid first quarter, shut down the high-flying Cougar offense en route to a comfortable win for the Wolverines.

Michigan 34 Houston 10

(4)
vs.
(13) -- Baton Rouge

John Beck may have put the BYU QB position back on the map, but the Bayou Bengals D has been there for awhile, and had no intentions of letting an upstart QB change that.

While Beck kept up his reputation as an accurate passer, he rarely had the opportunity to get a pass off clean. The Tigers were in Beck's face all night long, even when he was on the bench.

Jamarcus Russell did the rest, spreading the ball out to his magnificent WR trio on the way to a big night. The rowdy Cajuns in purple and gold had plenty to cheer about on this night.

LSU 42 BYU 14

(5)
vs.
(12) -- Louisville

In college basketball, the 5-12 match-up is almost always cause for concern for the high seed.

Not here it ain't. Brian Brohm and the Cardinals offense sliced and diced their way through the Demon Deacons defense, en route to the highest first round score in the Kooly Cup.

Jim Grobe's misdirection offense put a dent in the Louisville D, but just didn't have the steam to keep up with Brohm and co.

Louisville 66 Wake Forest 34

(6)
vs.
(11) -- Norman

In a game that featured a titanic RB showdown, a QB stole the show. Pat White, the oft-dissed Moutaineers QB, proved once and for all that he can indeed throw the pigskin around when called upon.

Both defenses came into this game knowing their goal: shut down the run. Although neither did that very well, they did manage to contain the ground attacks to a certain degree -- even though both Adrian Peterson and Steve Slaton showed why they'll both be fine NFL RBs in the near future.

However, when it came down to it, WVU had an answer for the Sooners' loaded defensive box: toss it over the top. White threw for three second half touchdowns to help alleviate Slaton. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers defense was able to slow down Peterson just enough to force the Sooners into passing the ball -- and that's where the trouble started. OU had no answer for White's performance, and WVU walked out of Norman with a very unexpected win.

WVU 42 OU 31

(7)
vs.
(10) -- Los Angeles

The Trojans came into this one mad, very mad. Their dynasty had been toppled by their cross-town rival UCLA.

Auburn on the other hand was riding high. Despite the ugly loss against Georgia, the Tigers went into Tuscaloosa and defeated in-state rival Alabama for the 5th straight year.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, that memory was the only good thing for them on thsi day. Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett abused the Auburn secondary all day, tallying two touchdown catches each. The USC defense did the dirty work, hitting hard all day long and holding the beaten Tigers ofefnse to under 200 total yards.

USC 28 Auburn 10

(8)
vs.
(9) -- Boise

If you like excitement on offense, this game wasn't for you. Both offenses ran wild on the opposing defenses.

When it came down to it, however, the home-field adavantage -- and a late field goal -- was just enough edge for the Broncos to pull it out against the arguably overrated Badgers. Ian Johnson and Jared Zabransky came out on a mission to prove that the WAC powerhouse belonged with the big boys.

Mission accomplished.

Boise St. 31 Wisconsin 28

Second Round Games:
(1) Ohio St. vs. (8) Boise St. -- Rose Bowl
(2) Florida vs. (7) USC -- Capital One Bowl
(3) Michigan vs. (11) West Virginia -- Gator Bowl
(4) LSU vs. (5) Louisville -- Cotton Bowl

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

My bowl picks

Here ya go, no spread, just winners.

TCU
BYU
Rice
South Florida
New Mexico
Tulsa
Hawaii
Cent. Michigan
UCLA
Alabama
Cal
Rutgers
Clemson
Oregon St.
South Carolina
Texas Tech
Maryland
Navy
Texas
Va. Tech
Miami
Tennessee
Auburn
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Michigan
Oklahoma
Louisville
LSU
Western Michigan
Ohio
Ohio St.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Kooly Cup Selection Show

As per my rules posted yesterday, I will announce the participants, seedings and matchups of the Kooly Cup -- my fantastical college football playoff.

Remember, there will be 16 teams competing for the title. Of those 16 teams, 11 will be the winners of each D-1A conference. Those winners are:

ACC: Wake Forest
Big East: Louisville
Big 10: Ohio State
Big 12: Oklahoma
C-USA: Houston
MAC: Central Michigan
Mountain West: BYU
Pac 10: USC
SEC: Florida
Sun Belt: Troy
WAC: Boise State

Now for the dramatic part, the 5 at-large berths. The selection process for these berths is nothing more than my own opinion, using the BCS rankings and human polls as tools. Without further ado, the 5 at-large teams in the Kooly Cup:

Michigan (Big 10)
LSU (SEC)
Wisconsin (Big 10)
Auburn (SEC)
West Virginia (Big East)

There you go. And of course, the seedings and first round matchups:

(1) Ohio St. Buckeyes vs. (16) Troy Trojans
(2) Florida Gators vs. (15)Central Michigan Chippewas
(3) Michigan Wolverines vs. (14) Houston Cougars
(4) LSU Tigers vs. (13) BYU Cougars
(5) Louisville Cardinals vs. (12) Wake Forest Demon Deacons
(6) Oklahoma Sooners vs. (11) West Virginia Mountaineers
(7) USC Trojans vs. (10) Auburn Tigers
(8) Boise St. Broncos vs. (9) Wisconsin Badgers

Another place to read my wonderful writing

Below The Mendoza

Um, it's pretty much gonna be the same drivel you read here. Only there'll be other people to banter with. So, enjoy at a comfortable pace.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The TD2Kool CFB Playoffs - Ground Rules

As I said earlier today, I hate the BCS and what has become of the bowl system.

(This is the beginning of the rant I promised before the season)

The BCS is the biggest crock of shit to ever hit collegiate sports. The fact that teams are stripped of the ability to prove themselves on the field is bullshit.

Now, for as long as I can remember I have been in the pro-playoff crowd (back on the original Playstation, you could actually change your postseason format while playing NCAA Football, guess what I did?). Bowls haven't been useful since before I was born, before the age of corporate sponsorship and 6-6 being a bowl-eligible record.

Now, I'm always told by bowl supporters that the best part of the bowl system is that teams are rewarded for their hard work during the season. I got news for you: every team works hard, bowls are supposed to reward results, not practice. No 6-6 team deserves a bowl game, not even my beloved Crimson Tide. You should be at least 3 games above .500 to earn a bid.

As special as it is for the players in the Troy-Rice bowl game, no one cares about it outside of those camps. It will get shitty ratings and even worse attendance. It will not make millions of dollars, which bowl supporters like to tell you every bowl makes.

The tradition of bowls is long dead. This bowl season, 19 bowls feature at least one team that has 5 or 6 losses. That is pathetic. There are 32 bowls, that means 64 teams are playing postseason ball. 64 out of 119 teams -- that's over half for the non-math majors.

Bowls were special when there was less than 20 of them. Now? Well let me just put it this way: I'll never be telling my grandkids about the golden days of the New Mexico Bowl.

*****

As I did last year on the now defunct Our End of the Bar, I will give you my fantasy college football playoff. Right now, I will be lay out the ground rules that I devised, and will later present my seedings and matchups, then move on to the actual "games."

Without further ado, I present to you the rules of the Kooly Cup.

> The regular season will start the first weekend of September, and will end Thanksgiving weekend. That gives teams 13 weeks to play a maximum of 11 games.

> The weekend after Thanksgiving will be for conference championship games and the Army/Navy game ONLY.

>Each conference must have a clear-cut champion, proven on the field. That means either have a conference championship game or play a full round-robin schedule.

> Everyone except Army and Navy will be required to be in a conference. That means you Notre Dame, you aren't special.

> There will be 16 teams in this playoff -- because 8 just doesn't satisfy me. Of these 16, 11 will be automatic bids to the winner of EACH conference. That's right, even the Sun Belt winner gets a shot.

> The 5 remaining spots will be at-large berths. A committee comprised of human beings, not computers, will select at-larges. Exactly like the NCAA basketball selection committee. However, the BCS may be kept around as a tool in aiding the selection of at large teams and seeding - much like the RPI rankings in basketball.

>Teams not qualifying for the Kooly Cup playoffs but still deserving of a postseason game will play in bowls. Teams must be at least 3 games above .500 (7-4) to be bowl-eligible. There will be 8 bowls -- which bowls they are is none of my concern.

> You will not talk about the Fight Club. Oops, my bad, wrong set of rules.

> The playoffs will start two weekends after the conference championship games. That allows time for players to study for finals, and time off in general.

> Sites for the playoffs will go as follows. The first round games will be played at the homes of the higher seeds. The rest of the playoffs will be played on neutral bowl sites. The current four BCS bowls are the active "big bowls," so they will rotate hosting the championship game and semifinals. The one bowl left out of that mix will host a quarterfinal game. The other three quarterfinal games will rotate sites between the other bowls. To clear that up, let's say that this year the Sugar hosts the NC game, the Orange and Rose host semis, and the Fiesta hosts one of the quarters. Well, that leaves 3 playoff games left, and don't forget about the 8 non-playoff bowls. So that's a possible 11 sites to choose from. With the rotation, it allows for cities to host a meaningful game every few years, as opposed to a second-tier bowl every year. Just like the Big Dance.

> This is the most important aspect, one that many people are surprisingly unaware of. The NCAA does not officially recognize a college football national champion. That's why every other major NCAA champion gets one of those plaques, and the NCAA football champ doesn't. Well, in my playoffs, that will change. The NCAA will sanction this playoff, and will recognize the champ. The champ will get one of those plaques too. If some company still wants to sponsor the crystal ball, well that's fine by me.

> The fans will rejoice at actually having a true champion, determined on the field.

TD's Bowl "Preview"

Ah yes, the magical time of year that is bowl season.

Plus: It's all football, all the time.

Minus: The "tradition" of the bowls is a long time gone.

With that said, my awards for the 2006/2007 bowl season.

The "Best Case for Eliminating 80% of the Bowls" Award goes to...

The New Mexico Bowl. Guess who's playing in this one...go ahead...got it? yep, it's New Mexico. What...the...fuck? It gets better, they're 6-6. Their opponent? 8-4 San Jose St. Just shoot me now.

The "Why Are We Rewarding These Teams With a Postseason Game?" Award goes to...

In what could be the worst bowl season ever, we have a tie. The Emerald Bowl between 6-6 Florida St. and 7-5 UCLA gets one half. The other half goes to the Independence Bowl between two 6-6 powerhouses, Oklahoma St. and Alabama. I'm just gonna move on before I get depressed.

The "Defense? We Don't Need No Stinking Defense" Award goes to...

The Hawaii bowl featuring Arizona State (7-5) vs. Hawaii (10-3). First team to 50 wins...the first quarter.

The "Annual Irresistible Force vs. Immovable Object Bowl" Award goes to...

The Sugar Bowl. The force being Notre Dame's offense, the object being LSU's defense.

And finally, the "Tell Me Again How This is Tradition" Award goes to...

Another tie! This time between the 19 bowls that have at least one five-loss team in them (I just died a little) and the brand spanking new BCS National Championship game. You know what, that last one deserves its own rant. Stay tuned for that.

Friday, December 08, 2006

So Rod ain't our man

Big deal. It's not the end of the world. Of course, judging from the reaction on Alabama message boards, it's even worse.

Let's go back to my original list of candidates and see what we got left.

Paul Johnson, Navy Head Coach

Why? Because he's a winner. Two national championships at Georgia Southern. Three straight winning seasons at Navy. He can adapt to his team (one of Shula's faults). Ex: He ran a spread offense that consisted of the run & shoot, option and play action pass at GSU, and now the flexbone triple option at Navy. Imagine what he will do with SEC athletes...


I still stand buy my endorsement of PJ. If you can win at a service academy, you can win ANYWHERE.

Mike Sherman, Houston Texans assistant coach

Look at Pete Carroll. Look at Gene Stallings. Sometimes, guys just can't coach the pros, and then they do wonders in the college ranks. However, the aforementioned three have a personality, Sherman? I'm not so sure. Still, he was pretty solid in Green Bay. The only thing that did him in was the fact his players went down faster than black people in horror flicks
.


Still the snake in the grass if you ask me.

Jim Grobe, Wake Forest head coach

I know the 30-0 drubbing of FSU in The Doak. But other than that, nothing.

Steve Kragthorpe, Tulsa head coach

Seriously, can a guy make the jump from Tulsa to Bama? I don't know...but, I do hear very good things
.


Same thing I said before about these cats: I jsut don't know enough about them.

Mike Leach, Texas Tech head coach

Look up some of his interview quotes. The guy is friggin hilarious. Plus, that offense is fun as all hell to watch -- and he's playing with leftovers that Texas and Oklahoma don't want, it would be interesting to see his offense with some top tier athletes. But again, I need defense...a good one
.


He was interested in the Miami opening, would he be interested here? Of course, I doubt any Bama booster could stand his offense here. Not enough three and outs.

One thing's for sure, I don't want Nick Saban. Why? I just have a bad feeling about the guy. Like he said, he already had a great job in college (LSU), why would he leave there if he just wanted to come back in 2 years?

Whatever, we'll see.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

An update to the Bama coaching search

My new favorite candidate might just be Rich Rodriguez. I've done some more research on the guy, and well when people say he's the game's best offensive mind they aren't lying.

So, with all this news about him meeting with Mal Moore, I'm a bit excited.

Anywho, things to look for in the coming days: bowl previews and the beginning of my fantasy college football playoff system.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

TD2Kool breaks down the candidates

I suppose with all the talk of firing Shula, I should say a few words about who I would like to replace him.

I'll break them down into some categories, then I'll tell ya why I like them. As for a "why not?" type of question: it's the same for everyone, can they handle the stress that is the head coaching job at Alabama?

Without further ado...

If we hire this guy, my faith in the administration will be restored

Paul Johnson, Navy Head Coach

Why? Because he's a winner. Two national championships at Georgia Southern. Three straight winning seasons at Navy. He can adapt to his team (one of Shula's faults). Ex: He ran a spread offense that consisted of the run & shoot, option and play action pass at GSU, and now the flexbone triple option at Navy. Imagine what he will do with SEC athletes...

He won before, he'll win here (I hope)

Rich Rodriguez, West Virginia Head Coach

He wins, plain and simple. My only thing is he must get some defense. Maybe it's just his players at WVU, but keeping Kines would ease my soul. Also, where does JP Wilson fit into his offense? I'd hate to waste the senior year of DJ Hall, Keith Brown and Tyrone Prothro while the players learn the new system.

Bobby Petrino, Louisville Head Coach

Better offense for our players. Again, where's the D? Probably my #2 choice behind Johnson.

You know what, this guy might not be that bad

Mike Sherman, Houston Texans assistant coach

Look at Pete Carroll. Look at Gene Stallings. Sometimes, guys just can't coach the pros, and then they do wonders in the college ranks. However, the aforementioned three have a personality, Sherman? I'm not so sure. Still, he was pretty solid in Green Bay. The only thing that did him in was the fact his players went down faster than black people in horror flicks.

Chris Petersen, Boise State Head Coach

In his 6 years at Boise St. including this year (5 as the OC), the Broncos have won 5 WAC titles. His offenses are always among the nation's best in scoring. And they're very dynamic. But, that's a big jump, and he's only got one year experience as a head coach. Still, I'd rather go with someone who'll stay here a long time.

I just don't know anything about the guy...and that worries me

Jim Grobe, Wake Forest head coach

I know the 30-0 drubbing of FSU in The Doak. But other than that, nothing.

Steve Kragthorpe, Tulsa head coach

Seriously, can a guy make the jump from Tulsa to Bama? I don't know...but, I do hear very good things.

Well, he'd be fun as hell, that's for sure

Mike Leach, Texas Tech head coach

Look up some of his interview quotes. The guy is friggin hilarious. Plus, that offense is fun as all hell to watch -- and he's playing with leftovers that Texas and Oklahoma don't want, it would be interesting to see his offense with some top tier athletes. But again, I need defense...a good one.

Eh, I suppose he'll do

Steve Spurrier, South Carolina head coach

I mean, the thought of his offense with JPW, Hall, Brown and Pro makes me very happy. But how many years does he give us? The other plus about this rumor is that all of the rumblings also include Bill Oliver coming in as DC -- and he's about the only other guy I'd want over Joe Kines.

No, no and HELL NO!

Houston Nutt, Arkansas head coach

I want someone who has actually heard of the forward pass, thank you.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

At least the mass media agrees with me

ESPN's Pat Forde:

And then there is the cuckoo's nest known as Alabama (10). Irrational passion and general delusion don't just drive the bus at Alabama. They drive the wheels off it like Dale Earnhardt.

The Crimson Tide went from being in love with Mike Shula last year when he went 10-2 to firing him this year after he went 6-6. Surprise meter reading: 8.5. Then again, we probably shouldn't be surprised.

This is, after all, Alabama.

The unpardonable sin was Shula's 0-4 record against Auburn, but that still doesn't make this the right move at the right time for a program craving stability.

Don't look now, but lordly Alabama has become the single biggest burnout job in college football. The Tide's next coach will be the eighth in the last 25 years and the fifth this century. Nobody -- not even the bottom-feeding, revolving-door, dead-end schools like SMU, UNLV, UTEP, Utah State, San Jose State and so forth -- has gone through five coaches as fast as Alabama.

Since Bear Bryant ascended directly into heaven on a dazzling white cloud, surrounded by a host of angels, the program flux has been ongoing. Only Gene Stallings has coached more than four years in Tuscaloosa without fleeing or being fired. Stallings lasted seven seasons in the 1990s, which now makes him look like Joe Paterno in terms of permanence.

Between the stability of Stallings and the turbulence of today, Alabama has been slammed with NCAA sanctions for buying an overweight, underproductive defensive lineman; scandalized by the indiscretions of first Mike DuBose, then Mike Price; dumped by Dennis Franchione, who convinced his players to "hold the rope" through probation but couldn't wait to drop it himself; and now it has fired the alum who helped drag the program through the toughest part of its penalty phase.

Somebody find the prestige in that recent run.


ESPN's Ivan Maisel:

Alabama hasn't hired anyone remotely similar to the right guy since Stallings came in 1990. That's Gene Stallings, who had a losing record at Texas A&M and a losing record with the St. Louis/Arizona Cardinals. He returned to Alabama, won the 1992 national championship and four of the first five SEC West championships and retired with a 70-16-1 record in seven seasons.

There's no reason to think that Moore or a powerful trustee named Paul Bryant Jr. will hire the right guy this time. They've had more opportunities than most and they haven't done so yet. It comes as little solace to Alabama fans these days, but the right guy is rarely the obvious one.


SI.com's Stewart Mandel:

There have been a flurry of comings and goings in the coaching world since Sunday. There was a point Monday morning when I actually thought to myself, "You know, there isn't a single one of these schools that didn't make a good decision."

And then those doofuses at Alabama fired Mike Shula.

Mal Moore, the college athletic directors' answer to Isiah Thomas, was said to be "evaluating" Shula for more than a week now, but I didn't think he could possibly be short-sighted enough to pull the trigger. I can't believe I underestimated him. He is, after all, the same guy who hired a completely unqualified (at the time) Shula to step into college football's most thankless job in the first place.

Monday, November 27, 2006

My reaction to the Shula firing

I am PISSED.

Not because Shula is gone, but because of how and why.

Look, Mike Shula took over this team when it was at rock fucking bottom. The NCAA hit Bama with the worst sanctions that college football has seen since SMU's death penalty. He brought this program up from the depths of college football hell.

He had to put in a new system without spring practice. He had to convince recruits to come to Tuscaloosa despite the probation. He had to deal with the scholarship reductions. He had to deal with Bear Bryant's shadow. He had to battle a powerhouse Auburn program for recruits. And above all, he had to learn how to coach (more on that later).

To kick him out after all of that, after all he has done for this program...it just isn't right, nor is it smart.

Shula's Timeline

2003: He was hired in the spring - after spring practice. That means he only summer practice to install his brand new system. He was also hired into a program on probation. Did I mention that this was his first head coaching gig? In the face of all of that, Shula's team went 4-9, but also played #1 Oklahoma down to the wire, lost in 3 OTs to Arkansas and lost a heartbreaking 5 OT thriller to Tennessee.

2004: First season without a bowl ban, but still under scholarship reductions. Loses quarterback and team leader Brodie Croyle in the third game of the season. Also loses starting tailback Ray Hudson and starting fullback Tim Castille. Despite losing his entire starting backfield, he manages to win six games and lead the team to the Music City Bowl.

2005: Still on scholarship reductions. Shula's breakout season. Leads the senior-led team to 10 wins and a Cotton Bowl victory. Gets a contract extension.

2006: First year with a full 105-man roster. On that roster, there are 56 freshmen. 56! He was also coaching a team that lost Croyle, Demeco Ryans, Mark Anderson, Freddie Roach, Charlie Peprah, Anthony Madison and Roman Harper. Not to mention playing without still-injured Tyrone Prothro. He had a sophomore QB, a young offensive line and an inexperienced defense. Another 6-6 season. However, he plays a brutal road schedule that includes 4 ranked SEC teams -- SEC West Champ Arkansas (a game in which his kicker missed 4 kicks), SEC East Champ Florida, Tennessee and LSU. The Tide plays all of them extremely close and loses by a touchdown to rival Auburn -- thanks to the craptacular play of right tackle Chris Capps.

So, let's review. Throw that first season out. That second season? A probation-damaged team with no depth loses its starting backfield -- find me a coach that can survive that, I dare you. The third season sees 10 wins and a bowl victory. His fourth season is his first with a full roster, but it's a very young and very inexperienced team.

Shula's Faults

Alright, I'm not saying Shula is the next Bear Bryant. The man had his faults.

Namely, he wasn't great at making adjustments. It was obvious many times that he was a young coach in a league that eats inexperience alive. But he was improving, vastly.

But, he was also a brand new head coach. Alabama was his first gig. Is that his fault? No, which leads me to...

The Real Culprit

Mal Moore: A fucking fuck up. That will be his legacy as Alabama AD. About the only good thing he did well was raise money for expansions to athletic facilities. Great, so the man is an outstanding fundraiser. Good, let him go lead a boy scout troop.

The man is an incompetent AD. He hired Dennis Franchonie and then had a hand in forcing him out. He hired Mike Price when it was apparent Price wasn't ready for the pressures of the Alabama job. Then, when the program was at rock bottom, he hired someone who had no previous head coaching experience at any level.

When you hire someone like that, you have to have patience.

Instead, Moore did what he does best: bow to the big money boosters and make a premature decision. He has never done what was best for the program. I'll take that back: he did keep Mike Gottfried around, and now the basketball team is a Final Four contender.

So how can Mal make one choice that has turned out so right and yet make so many others that haven't even come close to working out?

Because the basketball program is an after thought at Alabama, the booster couldn't care less about it. So Moore was free to run it as he saw fit. He felt Gottfried was the man for the job, and despite some circumstances that would've gotten him fired elsewhere, Gottfried was retained and now has a chance to take Alabama basketball to the top level in the sport.

But football is a different animal, and the expectations are ludicrous. Mike Shula went 26-23 in his first four seasons as a head coach under near-impossible circumstances. I'm not sure anyone else in the country could've done much better.

Mike Shula had a bad season, yes, but it was also an expected one. No one in their right mind expected us to contend for anything this year. In fact, next year is the year we're supposed to break out of the probation prison. And Mike Shula should be the man there to lead us. Those are his boys, and he deserves the shot to see if he can take them to the promised land. If he struggled again next year, then can him. It wouldn't be that bad because he has done a great job rebuilding.

The worst part of this mess is that the administration seemingly has no plan. The press conference today was worthless. If there isn't a new coach named in the next couple of weeks then I will go from pissed to furious.

With that said, who do I want as the replacement?

Well, not Steve Spurrier or Nick Saban. Why? Because I want someone that is guaranteed to be in it for the long run. A young but proven coach. Someone who has one at a smaller school and is ready for the big leap.

Look at Florida. Urban Meyer won at Bowling Green and Utah and now has them in a position to win the SEC title. Hell, look at Bear Bryant. He was young but proven. He won at Kentucky and Texas A&M. Then he came to Alabama for the long haul and won like no 0ther coach.

BUT, I'm not looking for the next Bear -- unlike our administration and most fans. I'm looking for a tough coach that will simply win and stay here for a long, long time.

If of course, the big suits let him.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Prediction Time!

My list of the best things about Turkey Day?

1. Football
2. Pumpkin Pie
3. Turkey
4. Mashed Potatoes w/ Gravy
5. Candied Sweet Potatoes

Last Week: 1-4
Season: 34-29-7

Texas vs. Texas A&M (+13)
While I don't think the Aggies will win, I do believe they will hang in there in similar fashion to last year. Of course, it is a Dennis Franchione coached team, so anything is possible -- both good and bad for the Aggies.

LSU (Pick 'em) at Arkansas
Eh, what more can I say against the Hogs? I just think they've fallen into their record moreso than earned it.

Tennessee vs. Kentucky (+19)
The 'Cats are actually, ya know, competitive this year. So why the hell not make them my upset special?

Georgia vs. Georgia Tech (+2)
So I was totally wrong about Georgia versus Auburn two weeks ago. But, I think it was more of Auburn losing than Georgia winning. Calvin Johnson has a huge day.

USC vs. Notre Dame (+7)
I expect many, many, many points to be scored. Take the over.

Guess it's time to start talking about this

There is no tougher coaching position than that of the head football coach at the University of Alabama. I'm convinced.

After the fifth straight loss to Auburn, the message boards and talk radio shows have gone berserk. The rumors are being tossed about like a snowball fight. It's ridiculous, really.

But I've already explained my situation time and time again. I'm behind Mike Shula. He deserves a shot to coach his first senior class and to correct any mistakes.

I expect some interior coaching changes to be made. Namely, the firing of offensive line coach Bob Connelly, and more than likely special teams coach Dave Ungerer and perhaps even strength & conditioning coach Rocky Colburn.

The biggest possible change would be bringing in a new offensive coordinator to replace Dave Rader -- one that ideally would take over play calling responsibilities from Shula, all while keeping the same system.

But the rumors are getting quite heavy. Everything from Nick Saban to Steve Spurrier to Rich Rodriguez.

Who the hell knows what's gonna happen. In the meantime, some words from ESPN.com writer Ivan Maisel:

Here's an idea about who the Alabama coach should be in 2007: Mike Shula. Jerk that knee, toss Shula out of the building, and here's what happens:

• You pay him $4 million, and when you toss in assistants' salaries and moving expenses for new coaches, you just spent around $5 million. Then go hire the kind of coach you want, deal with his buyout from his current employer and hope you can keep his salary at the $1.7 million you would be paying Shula.

• You start over again. You may hire the right guy and be a national championship contender after two seasons, as are Florida and Notre Dame. Or you may hire Walt Harris (1-10 in his second year at Stanford). Or someone in between, like Shula.

• You must eat the words of support that you have delivered this season. Both Witt and Moore have been quoted this fall as saying they expressed their belief in Shula when they gave him the new contract.

• You run the risk of having a coach say, "Why would I work at that nuthouse?" That's not likely, given the egos of coaches, most of whom believe they can win anywhere. But don't forget the price Alabama has paid for the frequent hires it made from 1997 (Mike DuBose) to 2001 (Dennis Franchione) to 2003 (Mike Price and Shula).

If Shula dug himself into this mess, shouldn't he be given an opportunity to dig himself out? If Shula refused to make changes on his staff, that would be one thing. But Shula said in his teleconference Sunday that he will reassess everything. I had one coaching agent tell me Tuesday that Shula already is in the marketplace to hire as many as three new assistants.

The negative reaction from the university and its fans will make it difficult for Shula to hire someone. Some coaches will feel like they are boarding a sinking ship. But Alabama can use the aforementioned egos to its advantage. Alabama looks like an opportunity for a coordinator to become a head coach. If you're hired to turn the Tide around, and you do it, you can begin to schedule your head coaching interviews.

If Shula stays, he will start the season with one foot in a hole. Ask Larry Coker how much fun that is. But improve the offense and the improvement will be immediate, because defensive coordinator Joe Kines is one of the best in the business. And, for goodness sakes, hire a coach and let him coach
.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Turkey Week Power Poll

In my perfect college football world, this weekend would be Championship Game/Army-Navy weekend. Instead, we get all this rematch/no-rematch crap.

1. -- As much as I'm against a rematch, it'd be interesting to see the result of a OSU/Michigan game on a neutral field.

2. -- I still don't get why the Gators aren't being mentioned by more people for the Buckeye's challenger in Glendale.

3. -- I'm not gonna punish them that much for losing by three to the best team in the country in their house.

4. -- Will this weekend's Notre Dame/USC game live up to last year's? Probably not, but it should be a good'un.

5. -- My spiel on Arkansas:

Arkansas is the luckiest team I have seen in a loooong time.

Here's how their season has unfolded:

Murdered by USC. Uninspiring 20-0 win over Utah St. Two point win at Vandy thanks to missed kick. OT win over Alabama thanks to missed kicks -- that's the key to their season right there. Mustain played a pathetic game, and Bama handed the win to them. Leigh Tiffin makes a kick, and both seasons are completely different.

Instead, they get a huge emotional boost from the win, and surprise Auburn and beat them. Then they beat a 1AA team, crappy Ole Miss, a Sun Belt bottom feeder whose only win is over a 1AA team, a decent win at SC (of course if SC had a secondary worth a damn, they woulda won), a home win over an injury ridden Tennessee team with a 2nd string QB, and Mississippi St.

Arkansas is good, but not that good. LSU beats them this weekend -- barring a Jamarcus Russell meltdown, which is completely possible -- then Florida beats them in the SEC CG.

6. -- Only problem with the game on Friday? I'll be at work.

7. -- Still an outside shot at a BCS game.

8. -- Sucks for the Mountaineers that Rutgers lost. They still had a teeny-tiny shot at the title game. Oh well, maybe Rich Rodriguez will actually recruit some D now.

9. -- Only Nevada stands in between the Broncos and a trip to the BCS.

10. -- The Irish have a chance to cause a shitstorm if they can beat the Trojans.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A few things

Chris Capps is by far the most pathetic excuse for a football player ever. The fact that he had the privilege to don the crimson jersey is an insult to everything that is Alabama football.

It's getting pretty damn sickening saying "we'll get 'em next year"

And as always: ROLL TIDE ROLL!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Prediction Time!

Quite honestly, I really could care less about "Judgment Day" right now, because the Iron Bowl is on at the exact same time.

Of course, if the start of the game is anything like last year's, then I'll be flipping to ABC in a hurry...after I break something, of course.

Last Week: 3-4-1
Season: 33-25-7

Boston College vs. Maryland (+8)
Maryland doesn't really impress me all that much, but they are playing out of their asses lately, and 8 points seem like too much to turn down.

Ohio St. vs. Michigan (+7)
This game deserves all the hype it's getting, but it's still second fiddle to anyone involved in the Iron Bowl, which is a testament to how much that game means.

Anywho, 7 points is a ridiculous line to me. I think the Buckeyes will pull it out, but it'll be every bit as epic as people hope.

(Let's just hope the OSU fans have class when it comes to the Bo Schembechler death)

Auburn at Alabama (+3)
Call it blind faith, but I just have a good feeling about this one. The same feeling I had before last year's 31-3 win over Florida. The feeling that something huge for the program is about to happen. That game told people that Bama had every intention of becoming one of the nation's elite again.

A win tomorrow tells everyone they mean -- especially those in Bama Nation who need something good to talk about. Screw all of the talk about Mike Shula's job security (he's staying, BTW), this one is about Crimson Pride. This one is about not losing 5 in-a-row to that "other" college. This one is about silencing every critic of the season.

An Alabama win tomorrow erases the Arkansas kicking debacle, the blown leads at Florida and Tennessee, the Mississippi St. embarrassment and the decrepit defense showing last week in Baton Rouge. A win tomorrow turns a season of disappoint and heartbreak into a great season...just like back in 2001, when a 5-5 Bama team went into Auburn and won 31-7 -- the close losses and blown leads were erased then, and tomorrow...well, tomorrow will be High Tide.

Wake Forest (Pick 'em) vs. Virginia Tech
Did anyone see that 30-0 shocker in The Doak coming?

USC vs. Cal (+6)
I've like Cal all year long in this one, and last week's result doesn't change my mind. USC isn't invincible this year.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

It's that time of year again

Iron Bowl week.

The week that everything else takes a distant second place to one football game: Alabama vs. Auburn.

The week I could care less about money -- or lack thereof. One thing matters this week: THE game.

Now, people familiar with the culture of Southern college football don't need to be told what this one means, but growing up in Maryland I was often asked why the hell I cared so much about a football game being played over 800 miles away.

Well, because it's in my blood. That's why. Because when you are born into Alabama football, like I was, this is the one game that means more than anything.

But it was tough to fully explain to people up here. They never understood, and they never will.

But by damn, I'm gonna try:

It's waking up the Sunday morning before and realizing this is the week you've been waiting for all season.

It's making sure the colors blue and orange never come close on anything.

It's waking up Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning and being angry it's not Saturday already.

It's waking up Saturday morning with a million butterflies in your stomach.

It's cringing at the sight of that "AU" logo.

It's getting a rush like no other seeing the crimson helmets pour onto the field.

It was getting chills every time you heard Ron Franklin's deep, growling voice describe the passion of the rivalry.

It's the hatred between the two schools causing a 40-year stretch where the game wasn't played...all over the simple matter of how much to pay the referees.

It's the animosity between the two fan bases dividing families, workplaces, friendships...and even ending marriages.

It's RVs rolling into town on Monday.

It's a stick, a box of Tide detergent and a roll of toilet paper.

It's wearing crimson every single day that week.

It's being all alone in your best friend's basement watching the game while your friends play outside...and then running outside like a madman screaming "Roll Tide, baby!" after seeing your boys stop the other team short on 4th down to clinch the game.

It's not letting a call against your team go...ever. Especially after seeing photographic evidence proving the call was bullshit a decade later.

It's running around your apartment complex at 11 p.m. shouting "Roll Tide!" to anyone and everyone within earshot...and screaming even louder after someone tells you to shut up.

It's The Kick.

It's Freddie Kitchens to Dennis Riddle.

It's the feeling after a win...one that is a million times better than any kid getting that one toy on Christmas morning. The one that means for 365 days, you smile everyday thinking about the final score.

It's the feeling after a loss...the one that makes you drink Crown and Cokes until you pass out. The one that makes for an absolutely silent 3-hour drive home. The one that feels worse than anything you can think of. It means for 365 days, you go over and over the what ifs and what mighta beens.

It's scheduling your confirmation retreat around game weekend.

It's turning down a date because the game is on.

It's calling up your dad about 57 times during the game and analyzing every play.

It's picking up the phone after the win and talking about how good it feels for an hour.

It's answering the phone with a "Roll Tide" all week.

It's not giving a damn about the Wii or the Playstation 3 because...well, dammit, it's Iron Bowl week.

Power Poll

Ah yes, Rivalry Saturday. The best damn day in the sports world if you ask me. And this year it's spiced up with the "Judgment Day" game between Ohio St. and Michigan.

Also, Alabama ends its 4-game skid to Auburn this weekend. So that'll be nice.

1. -- In this corner, wearing the scarlet and silver, the irresistible force that is the Buckeyes offense. (They also get to come out to the old Legion of Doom entrance music because LB James Laurinaitis is the son of Road Warrior Animal...what a rush indeed.)

2. -- And in this corner, wearing the maize and blue, the challengers, the immovable object that is the Wolverines D. (Entrance music? How about some "Bawitdaba" from Detroit-area native Kid Rock?)

3. -- Wait? Who's that on the ramp? Why...it's the Florida Gators! I thought they were out of the title picture!?

4. -- Speaking of teams who were thought to be out of the title race... good thing the national media has a raging hard-on for the Trojans. If this were wrestling (I might as well run with this theme), they'd be the guy who made a deal with the big boss to get a title shot

5. -- The unheralded challenger to the throne... a.k.a, the gritty underdog who wins the title at a pay-per-view and then loses it the next night.

6. -- They had the title shot wrapped up, and gave it away... like the guy in a steel cage match who tries to climb out -- all while his opponent sneaks out the cage door.

7. -- Two losses be damned, this team is scary good when they come to play... like The Undertaker pre-white trash motorcycle days.

8. -- Nice story and all, still got a big game in Morgantown vs. West Virginia... I'll anoint them the Intercontinental Champion for now.

9. -- Cruiserweight Champion... fun to watch, but no real threat to the throne.

10. -- As if losing wasn't bad enough, the Cardinals then got to watch Texas, Cal and Auburn lose on Saturday. If that second half Thursday went as well as the first half, the Cards ticket to Glendale would've been all but punched on Saturday... they're the guy who has a great match, and is about to win his title shot when all of a sudden his opponent hits his signature move out of nowhere and steals the win. Then the opponent celebrates while he lays motionless in the ring, finally getting up with one of those "wait, what?" looks on his face.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Prediction Time!

So Rutgers shocked the college football world last night, which means the BCS is sure to have a controversy on it's hands come the big selection day...excellent.

Last Week: 3-3
Season: 30-21-6

Auburn (-12) at Georgia
Georgia's just not good this year...not good at all.

Florida vs. South Carolina (+12.5)
Florida's offense has hit a wall, and as always Spurrier will have something up his sleeve. It'll be close, but the Gators will still take it.

Nebraska (-1) at Texas A&M
The weakness of the Aggies D is the secondary. That West Coast offense the Huskers run kinda focuses on, well, the passing game.

Arkansas vs. Tennessee (+6)
I don't need to go into my anti-Arkansas mode do I? I think the QB switch is gonna kill the Hogs' chemistry.

Oklahoma vs. Texas Tech (+9)
The Sooners want revenge for last year's controversial finish. Still, I never turn down that many points with the Red Raiders' offense.

LSU vs. Alabama (+18)
Some words of wisdom from two of my buddies this week. First from Clint: "Easy money this weekend on Bama, I'll take them to cover 18 against anybody." Second from George: "All I know is this: teams like Alabama, Miami and the like should never be 18 point underdogs...ever."

Good enough for me. Well, that and the Tide should be plenty fired up for two big reasons: first, last week's embarrassment against Miss. St. Second, last year's heartbreaking loss at the hands of the Bayou Bengals that ended the Tide's unbeaten season.

USC (-8) vs. Oregon
Eh, USC is angry. You seriously think the Trojans want to give up their PAC-10 crown that easy?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Prediction Time, part 1

Don't have the time to do the whole slate, so I'll just do tonight's Big East battle and do the rest tomorrow.

Louisville (-6) at Rutgers

Sure, Rutgers will be pumped up for the biggest game in school history. But everyone seems to be forgetting that Louisville will be just as jacked. They win out and it's extremely possible they're playing for a National Championship. So I don't think there's any chance of a letdown.

The Scarlet Knights are a nice story and all, but they ain't there just yet.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Another wise word to Bama Nation from the national media

This time delivered by Si.com's Stewart Mandel:

Back in 2003, when Alabama was going through yet another coaching change, I wrote a pretty critical column about the school and the state, saying the reason why the Crimson Tide have failed to sustain any long-term success since the Bear Bryant era is their penchant for chewing up and spitting out coaches. And now, it's happening again. No question, this has been a disappointing season for the Tide, and last Saturday's loss was horrendous. Has Shula done a good coaching job this season? Of course not. But hear me now: The worst thing Alabama could do right now is make yet another coaching change.

Most Alabamians remain in pretty strong denial about just how far the program has slipped -- and about just how directly two major NCAA sanctions and a gazillion coaching changes have contributed to that -- but think about it: Under the Bear, 'Bama was the undisputed king of the SEC. Over the past decade, however, the Tide have been no better than the sixth- or seventh-strongest program in the conference (behind Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, Auburn, LSU and, at times, Arkansas). The one thing Alabama needs more than anything is stability. If it fires Shula -- who, despite what this season's record might indicate, has done a very good job recruiting and did just win 10 games last season -- who is it going to replace him with? Butch Davis? Do you really think he's going to be there for 10 years? No, he'll be back to the NFL as soon as he has any kind of success, and then you're starting this process all over again.

I beg of you, Alabama fans, to try something new for a change: It's called "patience." Get off Shula's back. I'm sure he'll make some staff/program changes during the offseason. And if things don't get better next season, then you have my full permission to hang him in effigy
.


Thank you, Stewart. Now if only they'll listen to him...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Random Thoughts

  • Again on Arkansas: I don't like this QB switch at this point in the season. Mustain ain't been pretty, but he's also unbeaten. Sure Casey Dick looked good, but it was against a putrid South Carolina pass D. I am now 99% sure that Tennessee will win this weekend in Fayetteville.

  • I've completely sworn off any Alabama message boards for the rest of this season. I hate losing to Miss. St. too, but I still stand firm that firing Shula this season is the wrong move. Besides, Butch Davis turned us down once, and now we want him? Idiots, all of 'em.

  • On to the NFL, where everyone is pointing out how the Ravens have the easiest remaining schedule in the NFL. Sure, that's true on paper, but not in reality. Look at the schedule: @ Tenn. (2-6, this one is easy), Atlanta (5-3, despite the Detroit debacle, still a tough game), Pitt. (2-6, I don't care what their record is, the Steelers are always a tough game for Baltimore, that's why it's a rivalry), @ Cinnci (4-4, tough division road game), @ KC (5-3, they're hot and Arrowhead is always tough place to win), Cleveland (2-6, easy game #2), @ Pitt. (again, always a tough game for the Ravens, especially in Pitt.), Buffalo (3-5, looks easy, but those late season games are always iffy...still, I'll give in and say easy game #3)

  • The Alabama basketball team isn't getting a lot of preseason love (outside of Ronald "The Man Of" Steele, who should get tons of love seeing as he's the best PG in the land), but I think I'm alright with that. Even though I think the Tide can make it to the Final Four, I like that we'll sneak up on people.

  • Bob Barker is retiring, tis a sad day. But I swear to whoever, they MUST cancel the show after he goes. How can you replace him? You can't -- unless it's me, I'll take that job. I mean, I can be witty and smile, I can hold a microphone, I don't mind being hugged by crazy women, I would always make the putt just like Bob, and I think I would enjoy working with the Beauties.

  • Someone wanna send me like 5 grand? It'd help a lot.

Thank you Pat Forde

For this:

"When Texas and USC racked up 1,130 yards and 79 points in the Rose Bowl, it was considered one of the greatest games ever played. When Louisville and West Virginia combine for 1,018 yards and 78 points, it's the result of atrocious defense better suited to the Western Athletic Conference than the BCS Championship Game."

So, so true.

Sure, Louisville doesn't play the daunting schedule of say Auburn, but they win and win impressively. And yet they are getting bashed for it left and right.

Look, we're stuck with the BCS right now. And that means that the regular season is the playoff. If a team survives unscathed, then we're supposed to punish them?

But alas, that's what the BCS is good for: controversy. Until there is a playoff system put in place, college football's champion will almost always be surrounded by controversy.

Monday, November 06, 2006

I've got the power...poll

Blah blah blah, something something...whatever, I'm still pissed about this whole Miss. St. thing.

1. -- So did anyone actually think they were gonna lose? Didn't think so.

2. -- On the other hand, the boys in Maize and Blue are probably missing a few fingernails.

3. -- Sure, their defense couldn't keep a priest out of a whorehouse, but that offense is damn impressive.

4. -- Not to take away from the Horns, but it will be a damn shame if the one-loss Horns finish ahead of the unbeaten Cardinals.

5. -- Only a trip to Tuscon stands between the Bears and their showdown with USC.

6. -- I know I said Georgia would be overrated, but damn. Kentucky and Vandy in the same season? (If Auburn doesn't beat the piss outta them, well I just don't know)

7. -- The Gators punched their ticket to the SEC Championship thanks to the Tennessee loss, where if the ball bounces in their favor, they'll get a rematch with Auburn.

8. -- How in the hell did USC luck into getting these next three games at home?

9. -- Alright, alright...I'll show them some love. However, if South Carolina had half a defense I still think they would've won.

10. -- Turns out someone can stop the Mountaineers offense: themselves.