Monday, January 21, 2013

Nosuch Dame, Notre Shame, etc.

I've spent the past week craning my neck and gaping in can't-even-wrap-my-head-around-this-nonsense amazement at the train wreck that is the Manti Te'o story. I started to write about it a couple times and then stopped because (a) my words were immediately rendered irrelevant by whatever new nonsense was dripping from the wreckage and (b) I don't even know how to sensibly write about something that has at no point been sensible. Basically, there is both nothing to write and everything to write.

I'm gonna start with this: My initial reaction was that there was literally no possible way Te'o wasn't in on the whole thing. More than anything else, it was the unbelievability that anybody could have a four-year relationship-type thing with a person who claims to be in a terrible car accident, go into a coma, be diagnosed with leukemia, undergo extensive treatment and then die without ever seeing said person. And considering that he did claim (in amazingly detailed fashion) to have met her at a Stanford game, vacationed with her in Hawaii, etc., the only possible scenarios were that Te'o was directly involved from the beginning (either for the publicity or for a cover story) or was/is a mind-blowingly naive, ignorant and socially awkward person who's also a liar. The more detail that comes out -- from the documentation of the roses he sent to that house in California to the anecdotal Facebook messages and recollections of lengthy phone calls and whatnot -- the more plausible the latter seems. Whether that's actually better is a matter of opinion.

I mean ... I just ... I don't know, man. Go back and read the second sentence of the previous paragraph. There's naive/ignorant/socially awkward and then there's that.
She was in that hospital for about two months. ... Remember, she got in the accident and she was in a coma. We lost her, actually, twice. She flatlined twice. They revived her twice. It was just a trippy situation. It was a day I was flying home from South Bend to go home for summer break. It was May. Mid-May. That was the day where they said, "Bro, we're going to pull it. We're going to pull the plug." I remember having this feeling like everything is going to be OK. They were telling me, "Say your goodbyes." From April 28 to around mid-May, I was always talking to my girlfriend who was on a machine.
Ehh, I'll visit the dying love of my life some other time. NBD. And that black box over her face on Skype is probably just a weird Skype thing because lol technology. Like everything else about this story, his involvement in what he supposedly thought was a serious relationship with somebody his father honestly believed "could be our daughter-in-law" makes no sense whatsoever.

And what makes even less sense is every single thing about Ronaiah Tuiasosopo. Every single thing. Why would a "family friend" do that? Why were they tweeting back and forth months and months ago if he weren't a family friend and were just some guy associated with a girlfriend he'd never actually met? Why were they hanging out in Cali after the USC-Notre Dame game, which was right about the time the whole thing started to unravel when the fake Twitter account for U'ilani Kekua (which Te'o was following and tweeting to) was deleted after people started tweeting about it being a fake run by the same person running Lennay's account? Why do these paragraphs exist and make as much sense as anything else?
A friend of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo told us he was "80 percent sure" that Manti Te'o was "in on it," and that the two perpetrated Lennay Kekua's death with publicity in mind. According to the friend, there were numerous photos of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo and Te'o together on Tuiasosopo's now-deleted Instagram account.

The sheer quantity of falsehoods about Manti's relationship with Lennay makes that friend, and another relative of Ronaiah's, believe Te'o had to know the truth. Mostly, though, the friend simply couldn't believe that Te'o would be stupid enough — or Ronaiah Tuiasosopo clever enough — to sustain the relationship for nearly a year.
I don't know, man.

On a related note, I couldn't be any less inclined to believe Notre Dame's story that Te'o was gonna come out with the whole thing the Monday after Deadspin went ham; mmmkay. That story was gonna stay buried until somebody unburied it, as was made evident by Te'o bunkering down for three days after it broke and then saying nothing until an off-camera, after-midnight interview with a lawyer present and with only Jeremy Schaap asking the questions. Spending a week getting your story straight doesn't lend a lot of credence to the story that you were just totally hoaxed by something and did nothing wrong oh except for all the lies yeah those ummm yeah.

And really, considering that (a) Te'o's story at this point is that everything before this point was a lie and (b) Tuiasosopo has disappeared off the face of the Earth except for Te'o claiming he's said various apologetic things, isn't it possible that the above-blockquoted excerpt is entirely accurate and that everything coming out now is being manufactured by lawyers paid to generate face-saving cover stories? That's somewhat of a rhetorical question, I guess, but it's not entirely rhetorical since yes, it is possible. And plausible. The great thing about this story is that you can believe anything and it is as believable as anything else.

From Bill Simmons:
Is this the strangest sports story of all time? Will we ever have a sports story weirder than a star linebacker for the highest profile school in the nation possibly making up an online girlfriend, eventually killing her off, using that as "motivation", then claiming he was a victim of a hoax and either making the whole thing up or really being the victim of a hoax? — Trevin, Fort Worth, TX

SG: The short answer: No. If only because the whole saga was so elaborately convoluted from start to finish that this was either (a) a phenomenal hoax pulled off on someone who was phenomenally naive; (b) a snowball-type story in which Te'o got catfished, found out in the August-September range, then decided to keep embellishing the story and making things worse over just coming clean; (c) the handiwork of one of the greatest pathological liars who ever lived, and someone who was involved in the hoax the whole time; or (d) the workings of a closeted football star who invented a fake girlfriend to throw everyone off the scent, never imagining that his career and team would take off, and that the ensuing level of scrutiny ended up trapping him within this spiderweb of lies that just kept getting worse and worse. Those are the only four acceptable answers. So yes, we might not ever have a stranger sports story than this one.
Indeed. Note to self: DVR Thursday's "Katie" for the first time ever.

I could pretty easily write 2,000 more words here, but they'd effectually be the same as what's above and therefore can be aptly summarized by "WTF" and "this is the weirdest story ever." Srsly. This thing is weirder than Tonya Harding and weirder than O.J., because those things (as weird as they were) at least made sense on some level. This thing still makes none and probably won't unless Te'o comes out as being gay (as believable as anything else; see above), in which case the internet would explode again and columnists everywhere would look down their noses at society for requiring a guy to make up a fake girlfriend and kill her off to avoid the stigma and such. Barring that, this will probably remain the weirdest story ever for all of eternity, and that's OK since it's resulted in some entertainment-related brilliance that might never be outshone. 

From LSUFreek:

And from Cuppy Cup:

For the win.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

You were good, kid

So that's that. Oregon-related crisis not averted. Chip Kelly is gone, and with him goes a lot of the Oregon-ness of the great-googly-moogly version of Oregon. I mean, yeah, Mark Helfrich will take over (after a search that's only being conducted because it's required by state law) and presumably keep things as close to the same as possible, but if Mark Helfrich were Chip Kelly, he'd have been going 46-7 with four straight BCS appearances and an almost national title at some other national power instead of being a quarterbacks coach and nominal offensive coordinator.
. . . . . .

Almost exactly three years ago, I wrote something on the old version of my site about Urban Meyer's legacy after he retired (haha) in the most WUT way possible. The premise: The guy had a 95-18 record at three schools in three conferences, three unbeaten seasons, two national titles (the only coach in the BCS-era to have done that at the time) despite the spread being incapable of winning a national title according to Gary Danielson, a squeaky-clean record, etc.

About a week later, I wrote something similar about Pete Carroll (after he bailed for the Seahawks and their gajillions of dollars) except without the squeaky-clean part.

Chip Kelly isn't really either of those guys because he doesn't have the national titles. In terms of just winning, though, he's pretty close: 46-7 (a) is ridiculous and (b) yields an .868 winning percentage that's better than Urban Meyer's overall win percentage at this point (.856) and Carroll's win percentage at USC (.836). Actually, it's the second-highest winning percentage EVER among D-I coaches, with only Knute Rockne's .881 higher. Wow? Wow. And that's to say nothing of the four BCS games in five years, the total of two losses to teams that didn't win at least 10 games, the zero Pac-12 losses to teams other than USC and Stanford over the past four years and the general hilarity on offense. BTW, all of that stuff was accomplished with a program that had previously been to three meaningful bowl games in modern history and had won 10 games a total of three times before Kelly showed up out of nowhere (New Hampshire is basically nowhere) as O-coordinator in 2007, the year Oregon might have won it all and Dennis Dixon might have won a Heisman if not for the ACL gods striking him down at midseason.

Really, beyond the lack of a national title, there's only one thing about Kelly's record/resume/whatever that could be construed as anything other than totally awesome:

Oh yeah. That. Oregon's gonna go in front of the COI at some point soon, try to explain some utter nonsense (insert Manti Te'o reference here) that looks a lot like purchases of recruits and then get some mostly meaningless penalties along with maybe a bowl ban that might actually be of some significance; I mean, without a bowl game, Nike will only be able to design 12 ridiculous jerseys a year instead of 13, and that's just not gonna be sufficient in recruiting, let me tell ya.

So something is gonna happen, and that something will be not good but probably not at the devastating end of the scale that goes from "nothing" to "Penn State." Wherever it falls in between will be somewhat of a determinant in Kelly's legacy, and that's kind of an ambiguous way to leave things. Maybe he's leaving largely because of that; I guess that's possible, but it seems a lot more possible that he's leaving because he ultimately wants to know whether he's The Best or just really good. That's an insignificant difference to people who aren't running massive organizations and getting paid even-more-massive amounts of money, but Chip Kelly is one of those people; Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll are also among those people. Beyond that, non-Penn State-esque sanctions are eminently overcomeable; Ohio State is doing pretty OK right now, and USC would be doing just as OK if the defense still existed (or, more specifically, if Carroll and the gang were still together). Winning is still winning, and Oregon has been freakin' winning. But I don't know for sure; I'll never know for sure since this thing in question isn't really knowable for anybody who isn't Chip Kelly.

Whether he'll turn out to be any good in the NFL* isn't really knowable, either, nor is it relevant to this particular site unless he's so not good or so disenchanted that he becomes a much more smirky version of Nick Saban/Bobby Petrino by leaving the Eagles for a school that isn't Oregon (or maybe even a school that is Oregon) in three or four or five years. I don't think that's very likely, but that's just, like, my opinion, man, with some basis in the  Patriots using a lot of spread inside-zone stuff and quick screens and other Oregon-type stuff (the tempo, specifically) and the Niners/Seahawks/Redskins pretty effectively using various zone-read concepts.

Regardless, that matters not at all to Oregon and only slightly more to me (and entirely from a curiosity standpoint). What matters is whether Mark Helfrich can maintain the Oregon-ness that I referred to earlier, with the scoring-a-lot-of-points thing probably more manageable than the going-to-the-BCS-every-year thing. There will be a drop-off of some degree just because Helfrich isn't debatably the best offensive coach in all of football. I don't think that drop-off will be massive, though, even if Helfrich was a pretty blah O-coordinator at Colorado (he was a pretty widely respected quarterbacks coach at ASU and Boise State prior to that) before getting the Oregon gig. Firstly, it seems reasonable to assume that he's learned some useful stuff from Kelly and been involved somewhat extensively in both gameplanning and playcalling. Secondly, Oregon will still be Oregon. There will still be the crazy-ass jerseys and the "players' lounges" filled with 87-inch TVs and not-yet-released electronic products and various other things that basically serve as a way for Phil Knight to give the players cool stuff and circumvent the NCAA. Woo recruiting!

But Mark Helfrich's Oregon won't be Chip Kelly's Oregon, and that's kinda sad, because Chip Kelly's Oregon was awesome in an "lol touchdown wwwhheeeee" way that nobody else's program has ever been. It's sad for everybody except the rest of the Pac-12 and obviously the guy, whose life will feel so fulfilled until he realizes at some point in the near future that Chip Kelly was really freakin' good.

*Chip Kelly and Monte Kiffin ended up in the same division. Hahahahahahahahahaha.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Stop that, you guys

Tommy Tuberville's been around, yo. He's been a D-I coach since I was in middle school (which was also before I'd ever had in-home internet lol). The dudes in his first recruiting class as a head coach are now 36. Etc. The point of this paragraph is that Tommy Tuberville is not entirely unfamiliar with recruiting and the various things that accompany recruiting.

So it was kinda weird that he literally walked out on a bunch of recruits at a restaurant to take the Cincinnati job; still, that just makes him a slightly skeezier version of Todd Graham. Whatever. It was something else entirely to yoink offers from the entire Cincinnati recruiting class by way of just not telling them.

From Matt Hinton:
First up: Demetrius Monday, a three-star cornerback from Fairburn, Ga., who committed to Cincinnati last summer, and told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Thursday that he's back on the market after failing to hear from Tuberville – who accepted the Cincinnati on Dec. 8, less than 48 hours after Jones left for the top job at Tennessee – for a solid month. When Monday's family finally contacted the university this week, according to his father, they were told to "look other places."

Next up: Jaleel Canty, a three-star "athlete" from Lansing, Mich., who also committed to Cincinnati last July, and also told the AJC he had to find out he'd been dumped the hard way. After a month with no news, he called the football offices on Thursday.

"They said they were bringing in their own guys, so all the guys that are committed are out luck," Canty said.
Oh. In other words, this is Tommy Tuberville's recruiting exit strategy:
Bob Porter: I looked into it more deeply and I found that apparently what happened is that he was laid off five years ago and no one ever told him about it; but through some kind of glitch in the payroll department, he still gets a paycheck.

Bob Slydell: So we just went ahead and fixed the glitch.

Bill Lumbergh: Great.

Dom Portwood: So, uh, Milton has been let go?

Bob Slydell: Well, just a second there, professor. We, uh, we fixed the *glitch*. So he won't be receiving a paycheck anymore, so it'll just work itself out naturally.

Bob Porter: We always like to avoid confrontation, whenever possible. Problem is solved from your end.
BTW, Signing Day is in three weeks. And those stories basically just confirmed what the coach of Ohio powerhouse Massillon Washington had said a couple days earlier after Tuberville inexplicably decided incoming quarterback Kyle Kempt (who picked Cincinnati over Tennessee, West Virginia and various other pretty good schools) that he would no longer be incoming:
Massillon football coach Jason Hall stopped short of declaring Bearcat football dead to him, but clearly he isn’t happy with the way Cincinnati’s new football coach is operating.
“It was an ugly situation,” Hall said. “I think they thought he was going to go to Tennessee with Butch Jones and they offered another quarterback. But that wasn’t the case. Cincinnati will not be allowed back in Massillon on our campus as long as Jason Hall is in Massillon.”
At least Massillon never has any good players or anything oh wait hahaha just kidding. But seriously, doing what Lane Kiffin does is always a good idea. Always.
Three days before he was scheduled to arrive on USC’s campus as an early enrollee on Jan. 10, defensive end Kylie Fitts — Rivals’ seventh-best defensive end in the Class of 2013 — was told that his scholarship was no longer available for the spring semester.

The Trojans’ did not pull Fitts’ scholarship entirely but rather deferred him to the fall. But since Fitts had already graduated from Redlands (Calif.) East Valley High School, he would have had no place to go until the start of USC’s fall camp this summer.

As a result, Fitts has decommitted from the Trojans and is now considering Notre Dame, Washington and UCLA. More detrimental to USC than losing Fitts is the long-term damage it did with East Valley, one of the better programs in the state of California.

If a Friday tweet from Bruich is any indication, the Trojans have some work to do in patching up that relationship.

Kurt Bruich @CoachBruich: When people are desperate, their true colors show. Take the USC coach, captain of an underachieving ship. His true color: SHADY! #goKylie
/laughs and nods approvingly at karmic gods as Lane Kiffin gets fired
/shakes head as Lane Kiffin inexplicably gets hired by the Eagles

Solve for the "?":

You get "piss off as many recruits and high school coaches as possible," right? Sweet.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Football Season Is Over

It's a Saturday. There is no football. Sigh.

I don't like this Saturday. I never like this Saturday. The calendar never cares that there are about eight months more than I need or want.

To the best offseason piece ever written (it's tradition, man):
... you will face the winter again, holding the note and understanding the urge to write those words on a sheet of paper: "Football season is over."

The experience, though, is now more than enough. The wind may cut through me now. It's an indicator that I'm alive, completely and fully alive in the indefinite span between arrivals and departures. This all matters so much more now, all of it, football and every other absurd fixation, the time, the space, the diversion, and most of all who you share it with, because it is finite, borrowed, and ultimately reclaimed. Its scarcity is its value; its pleasure is in its ultimate end. Its consolation is its rebirth and continuation.

In the depth of winter I finally learned there was in me an eternal September.
I think I can make it.

Catching up just needs the right time and place

Woo commitment: Since Brian Kelly's dream job is whichever is the best one available at the moment, his status at Notre Dame seemed relatively tenuous (especially after he left the country at a convenient time following his reported interview with the Eagles the day after the BCS title game) until he released this statement Saturday afternoon:
"This week, I had an incredible opportunity to speak with one of the premier organizations in sports about becoming their head coach," Kelly said in a statement released through the school.

"Like every kid who has ever put on a pair of football cleats, I have had thoughts about being a part of the NFL. However, after much reflection and conversation with those closest to me, I have decided to remain at Notre Dame.

"This decision was motivated purely by my love for Notre Dame and the entire Fighting Irish community, the young men I have the great fortune to coach, and my desire to continue to build the best football program in the country."
The obvious follow-up question: Why interview (or why interview now)? The obvious answer: Dennis Dodd has it.
There is no going back. Win 12, at least, each season. Ten wins won't be acceptable, probably not after this season. Not for Kelly, not for long. Notre Dame isn't the only place where that's the case. Mack Brown's Longhorns won nine in 2012 and legions are still asking what's wrong. ...

And at the moment, there is more certainty that Kelly can get himself to the next level (NFL) than he can keep Notre Dame at its current level.
To be clear, I don't think winning 10 games a year "won't be acceptable" at Notre Dame seeing as how that's happened, like, twice in the last many years, but the Kirk Ferentz Corollary exists; there's a point at which you're the awesomest thing ever and a point shortly thereafter at which you're the worstest thing ever because you couldn't sustain something that wasn't really sustainable. And the related RABBLE RABBLE citing Kelly's "not an option" comment from last week explicitly ignores the other comments he made to CBS Sports that day, specifically these, which indicate that he might kinda sorta eventually wanna check out that NFL thing:
"How can you not be (intrigued by the NFL)? When you've coached football, you look at everything -- you look at high school film and you watch coaches there, college, Division III to Division I, it doesn't matter, college, NFL. All of that stuff intrigues me. I still think it comes down to time and place. What is the right time, and what is the right place? I never take any of that off the board.

"My agent would get a call, he'd run it by me, and we'd go from there. But, again, time and place."
2013 and Philadelphia apparently weren't the time and place. 2014 and some other NFL city might be, though, at which point the ND Nation freakout will be one of historic proportions.

Syracuse needz haz coach: It's Scott Shafer, who had been defensive coordinator before Doug Marrone bailed for the Bills last week after taking Greg Robinson's flaming pile of poo and going to two bowls in the last three years.

Here's some hilariousness: Shafer was Michigan's defensive coordinator in RichRod's first year but got fired because of a general difference in 4-3/3-3-5 philosophy (which probably should've been realized at some point prior to midseason), at which point Michigan hired Robinson from the poo fire that was Syracuse and Shafer essentially took his place running the Syracuse defense. The results pretty much speak for themselves: Michigan became engulfed in said poo fire while Syracuse's defense improved from 101st in yardage and 101st in scoring in Robinson's last year to 37th and 81st in 2009 to seventh and 17th in 2010 to 64th and 73rd in 2011 to 48th and 46th last year. So Syracuse's defense basically went from terrible to somewhere between average and very good every year.

Shafer also had done pretty well before the one year at Michigan (which wasn't that bad, actually); he previously was D-coordinator at Northern Illinois, Western Michigan and then Stanford, with all of his defenses blitzing at an insane rate and thus producing a LOT of sacks/tackles for loss and usually a lot of turnovers. He's never been a head coach at any level, though, so whether he can run a staff or do anything other than implement defenses that GO CRAZY remains to be seen. One positive data point: He was Jim Harbaugh's assistant head coach in 2007 before taking the job at Michigan, which ... uhhh ... oops.

As for Syracuse, there are worse places to start at; an ACC program with a lot of history that's gone 21-17 over the last three years and whose only real geographic competition (in terms of recruiting) is Penn State should be able to get to meh bowl games on a relatively frequent basis. The location and terrible stadium and general lack of awesomeness in most recruits' lifetimes are all problematic, obviously, hence a guy getting an NFL job after going .500 at Syracuse over four years. Still, the program as a whole is in way better shape now than it was when Marrone took over.

Nevada haz coach, too: It's Brian Polian, son of Bill Polian and formerly Texas A&M's special-teams coordinator. He's 38. He's also never been a coordinator or coach at any level; his 16 years of college experience include various positional-coach jobs along with special-teams duties the last few years at A&M and Notre Dame. He's got some connections, I'm sure; whether that translates to being able to run a program is pretty much unknowable.

There were some guys out there who'd been coordinators at Nevada under Chris Ault -- specifically SMU D-coordinator Tom Mason and recently deposed Arkansas O-line coach Chris Klenakis -- that at least superficially would've made more sense in terms of both experience and continuity, so I'm not really sure why a guy with zero connections to Nevada, zero head coaching experience and zero coordinating data that could even be extrapolated to determine his head coaching ability ended up getting the job; pay might have ended up being an issue since Polian's gonna be making only about $500K, a ridiculously low number for a head coach. Whateva.

At least he knows what's up from a continuity standpoint:
Polian did say that he will run Ault's pistol offense. Offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich, who left the Pack last month to become the offensive coordinator at Temple, has returned to Nevada and will be Polian's offensive coordinator.

“I'm not a dummy,” Polian said. “The offense has been pretty good here.”
Not a dummy. Probably not Chris Ault, either, since Ault went 233-109-1 at Nevada (Nevada!) and retired having gone to eight straight bowl games (at Nevada!). But not a dummy.

Alabama (the state) wins: No explanation needed:

I know.

Ted Roof likes to see the world: Ted Roof left Penn State this week for the D-coordinator job at Georgia Tech, which would be a lateral/slightly downward move if not for (a) the stuff at Penn State and (b) Roof being a Georgia Tech alum whose family apparently still lives in the Atlanta area. Keep in mind that he'd had four jobs over the past four years, with the only one of those that lasted more than a year being the Auburn gig from 2009-11 (that obviously included the 2010 national title).

Roof stopped being categorized as "good" a few years ago but, like every other coach at Penn State last year, ended up with something better than it had any reason to be. The defense finished in the top quartile nationally in every relevant category -- 16th in points allowed, 29th in yards allowed, 23rd in rushing yards allowed, 28th in pass-efficiency defense, etc. -- although some of that was probably due to the general craptacularity of Virginia, Temple, Illinois, Iowa, Purdue, etc. Still ... I mean ... 16th in scoring and 29th in yards. And the ACC is no less craptacular offensively, so Georgia Tech should probably see some degree of improvement from a defense that was statistically average last year but got absolutely obliterated in pretty much every meaningful game, giving up 40-plus points six times (six times!). That's assuming last year wasn't an aberration for Roof, obviously.

As for Penn State, secondary coach John Butler has already been promoted to D-coordinator, which is interesting inasmuch as (a) there was no national search and (b) a 39-year-old with no coordinator experience got a promotion that I think most people figured would have gone to Larry Johnson Sr. or Ron Vanderlinden, both of whom have been at Penn State for about the last 78 years.

Anyway, here's some very informative ... uhh ... information:
(Butler) wants an aggressive defense with multiple looks but simple enough for players to pick up and play at a high tempo.
Oh. OK. Regardless of what he's doing, Penn State won't be as good on defense next year if for no other reason than the losses of Jordan Hill, Michael Mauti, Sean Stanley, Stephon Morris and possibly some other guys I'm forgetting. Beyond that, I have no idea; there's no real data to go on other than a year as a secondary coach/special-teams coordinator, which whatever, and some generally effusive praise from people like Ted Roof, which whatever.

It's probably worth noting that BSD's collective reaction to both Roof leaving and Butler getting promoted has been "meh" followed by "let's discuss wings and Emma Stone."

More in coordinator-related news: Oklahoma State D-coordinator Bill Young "stepped down" this week after saying a few days earlier that had thought about retirement but decided to keep coaching for as long as he'd be welcome. Interpret that as you will. An interesting conversation as told by Young:
Young, 66, said he was told by Gundy in February that college football is a young man’s game “and I was the face of the defense and he thought my age would hurt recruiting and he thought players wouldn’t play for me.”  
Wow. So Glenn Spencer (who had been linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator) is the new DC. Surprise: Spencer is 49 and an "ace recruiter in the Southeast."

FWIW, Oklahoma State's defense has been somewhere between below average and bad for the last three years, although the Big 12's ridiculousness skews the raw data a little bit; in a relative sense, those same defenses have been just about average in the Big 12 every year. Okie State did force a crapload of turnovers in that time, too -- more than anybody else in the country by far -- and that resulted in a consistently pretty good pass-efficiency defense. Still, improvement is very possible. And this would be a particularly good year for it since O-coordinator Todd Monken (who was hired when Dana Holgorsen left for West Virginia) left last month to take over at Southern Miss; I'm not expecting much of a drop-off since the system/terminology/whatever didn't change last time and probably won't change this time, but continuity (or a lack thereof), especially in terms of playcalling, isn't meaningless.

Brissett out: Jacoby Brissett has finally given up on Florida:
Backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett is leaving Florida.

Coach Will Muschamp said the sophomore "expressed an interest in transferring and getting a fresh start."

Brissett started three games in two seasons and lost an open competition with Jeff Driskel before this season. Brissett completed 41 of 74 passes for 455 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions (in his Florida career).

He is reportedly considering West Virginia, Louisville, Arkansas, North Carolina State and Duke.
FYI, Brissett was a relatively big-time recruit but basically looked like a slightly-less-effective version of Driskel whenever he was on the field (which was occasionally in 2011 but rarely in 2012). Given Florida's general ineptitude on offense the last couple years, though, it's hard to say whether he could be a good player with some competent coaching/development/whatnot; seems plausible, especially considering that he hasn't used his redshirt year yet, so he'll have a year to sit and learn and then two years to play wherever he ends up.

As for the above-mentioned schools, West Virginia, Arkansas, NC State and Duke all lose multiyear starters (assuming Mike Glennon goes pro) to graduation, but since he'll have to sit out a year, Brissett would presumably be behind the 2013 starter come 2014 at any of those locales other than Louisville (Teddy Bridgewater has two  years of eligibility left). So he's gonna have to beat somebody out eventually at the risk of beating out Kiehl Frazier for Biggest Disappointment of the 2011 Quarterback Class.

Way to rank stuff: The Colley Matrix, which is one of the six BCS-approved computer rankings, had a final top two like so:

1. Notre Dame    0.973997
2. Alabama         0.961139

Guh. This is what happens when you don't let the computers use relevant data like, ya know, margin of victory and yardage differential and whatnot. In that regard, as far as the computers were concerned, there was no difference between Notre Dame's win over Stanford and Alabama's win over Notre Dame, and the nonsensical numbers above are the result. Basically, don't blame the computers for not having all the info. Wooooo BCS!

Johnny Manziel has a sense of humor: Seriously:


Wow: I don't even know what else to say about this 62-inch (!!!) pizza, which was made by a San Antonio pizza place for the Cotton Bowl:


Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Nick Saban is McKayla Maroney

Third national title in four years? Unimpressed:

Gatorade bath from grateful players? Irritated:

Another SEC title? Bored:

That is all.

OK, we get it, Bama

Great googly moogly. Analysis is unnecessary. This is analysis (via Prevail and Ride on
November 4, which dang):

. . . . .

I spent the hours after last year's curb stomping trying to convince myself that I most definitely had not just written about how LSU probably deserved at least a share of the national title no matter what happened in the title game because of a couldn't-possibly-be-bettered resume and whatnot, which haha just kidding. Alabama has now won 17 of its last 18 games; only three games in that time have ended with the other team closer than 17 points, and neither of the last two national championship games was one of those. Actually, that means Alabama has as many three-plus-touchdown wins over top-10 teams in that time as games of any type that were effectually any closer. That's just ... like ... I don't even know, man.

Alabama is a machine. Honestly, I spent the second half of the game perusing the interwebz on my phone just because I felt a little bad watching the violent, kinda embarrassing carnage that was only briefly interrupted by A.J. McCarron and Barrett Jones turning the carnage on themselves because DAMMIT WE JUST BURNED A TIMEOUT AND WE'RE ONLY UP BY 42!!! Nick Saban reacted by yelling at the refs only to hide the smugly satisfied look that otherwise would've appeared via the recognition that his happiness-less quest for perfection has assimilated itself in all things Alabama. Srsly: He walked off the field flashing a thumbs-up and halfheartedly yelling, "Good job, guys," as his CPU initiated smile.exe, and he then spent the next two minutes trying to convince the sideline chick that he was in fact happy but only for the next two days because them's the rules. Machine.

Alabama is also a dynasty. Three national titles in four years? Yeah. Dynasty. Whatever Saban's getting paid, he deserves it. IMO, the mid-90s Nebraska dynasty-type thing was a little better inasmuch as the '95 team was probably the most dominant team in modern history, but whatever. A dynasty's a dynasty. See above: Alabama has as many three-plus-touchdown wins over top-10 teams in the last two years (and national titles in the last four years) as games of any type that were effectually any closer.

Speaking of which, I saw that Alabama-Notre Dame game once before: It was in September and Michigan was Notre Dame, and it was pretty much the worst thing ever. And I'll probably see it again next year with some other teams that are comparably good but not Alabama; nobody's Alabama since nobody else has both Nick Saban and a team full of dudes who will be starting in the NFL in three years. I mean, is there a player on Notre Dame's offense other than Tyler Eifert who would start for Alabama? Maybe Zack Martin? I don't know. ND's defense could put a few guys in Bama's front seven, I'm sure; Manti Te'o, obviously, and maybe Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt. But having the best coach in the country (no dispute) and pretty much all the best players results in things like, you know, going 39-5 and winning three national titles in four years.

And you know what's really horrifying? Next year's version of The Best Team Ever brings back pretty much everybody of relevance other than Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack, Jesse Williams and probably Dee Milliner; that's two offensive linemen, one nose tackle and one corner. Without looking, I feel relatively comfortable saying Alabama will have a reasonably talented dude available at each of those spots since Alabama is by definition comprised entirely of reasonably talented dudes. A.J. McCarron comes back, Eddie Lacy comes back, T.J. Yeldon comes back, Amari Cooper comes back, D.J. Fluker comes back (unless he doesn't, which is possible), Cyrus Kouandijo comes back, C.J. Mosley comes back, Adrian Hubbard comes back, Ed Stinson comes back, Vinnie Sunseri comes back, Haha Clinton-Dix comes back, etc. That's probably the best team in the country even if it's filled out with crap, which it won't be. BTW, next year's schedule isn't difficult, either; the only non-joke of a nonconference game is the Something Something Classic in Atlanta against Va. Tech, and the only seemingly losable conference games are at Texas A&M and at home against LSU. I wrote this when the schedule came out a couple months ago:
Upshot: Just give Alabama the next two national titles (along with a couple broken crystal footballs and credit for about five national championships) so we can fast-forward to 2014 or whenever it is that Nick Saban gets bored and restarts his dynasty as coach at Kent State. 
Indeed. Maybe Jimmy Haslam will make out one of those really big lottery-style checks for eleventy billion dollars, at which point Saban will probably leave and things will probably be a lot more interesting for everybody who doesn't consider Bear Bryant a deity. Barring that, the only real uncertainty about next year is whether there will be more BCS title game camera time spent on A.J. McCarron's girlfriend or Nick Saban's daughter; I'm taking the latter based on new-ness.

/shakes angry fist at Pitt's kicker for ruining an Alabama-Oregon title game that probably would've been both competitive and entertaining, two things last night's game definitely was not. I mean, yeah, Notre Dame deserved to be there from an earned-it standpoint, but still. Yeesh.
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