Welcome readers if you please. Make no mistake it's All Hallows Eve.
What's the tale of the Ouija Board? Well, maybe it's an attack of the living dead or a return of the Frankenstein monster, but the coaching merry-go-round is soon to be in full force.
Sports mirror the ghoulish behavior in the business world. Here's the latest from Booz Allen Hamilton:
|Miles has an out clause that lets him bolt for UM. (Getty Images)|
You can substitute football coaches for CEO's and get a sense of the witch's broom keeping agents busy. Just like dethroned CEOs, top coaches are given a fortune to come in, and a small fortune to get out. A contract is about as worthless as a car battery warranty.
Let's take a look at the college football landscape. Consider that in 2005 there were 11 coaching changes among the 119 Div. I-A schools. Last year there were 23. This year is sizing up to be a banner year if the bones roll correctly. Some palm readers see signs of unrest in one way or another among 18 coaching positions. SMU's Phil Bennett is already gone, but one wonders whether anyone could bring the Mustangs back from the dead.
Up there in the Big Red farmland is Bill Callahan, left acting like a scarecrow to ward off brickbats swooping down from all directions. You would think his mentor is Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Any coach with his feet to a roasting fire who gives himself high marks with a straight face is whistling past the graveyard.
Last week, Nebraska's defense gave up more than 200 rushing yards to Texas' Jamal Charles in one quarter. That's one quarter, folks. And, on most of the runs I saw, Charles was in charge and untouched. It's going to be Halloween all year long in Lincoln. Michael Myers is alive and well.
We might see some bizarre twists in the coaching whirl as it's beginning to look like a Scary Movie. Les Miles is probably headed for Michigan because Lloyd Carr is likely to hang it up at year's end (despite an impressive seven-game recovery after an 0-2 start). Miles' contract allows for one out: the Michigan job.
Coach Dennis Franchione at Texas A&M is counting the days. Tommy Tuberville, who is a constant winner at Auburn, could be in line at either Texas A&M or LSU. LSU fans that still harbor distain for Tuberville might be wise to consider his 6-2 record against Alabama. And, we all know how important that game will become for the foreseeable future. Tuberville still has a house near College Station and has a key assistant, Will Muschamp, who is familiar with the "LSU" way, having served as defensive coordinator from 2001-04.
|Will UTEP coach Mike Price be back on the move? (US Presswire)|
More than a few years back, Vols trolls sent a moving van to then-head coach Bill Battle's house. No such high jinks are in the works now. Phil Fulmer's flagging record likely won't get him ousted -- pulling one out against nemesis Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks helped the cause -- because it would cost $4 million and an even steeper cost with turning loose his assistant coaches.
Of course, Notre Dame's year is an endless run of black cats, but Charlie Weis has nine lives. Had this been Tyrone Willingham, or Bob Davie for that matter, he would be the victim of the headless horseman.
There are exceptions, and Dennis Erickson fills that bill. He's college football's mercenary, saving programs wherever he goes. Erickson has ASU veterans thinking of Frank Kush.
Will Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno step down? A couple years ago, Joe had a "For Sale" sign posted in his yard. So much for symbolism. Speaking of FSU, it symbolically fired Bowden by firing his son. But neither will go until Al Gore joins the Republican Party and Britney Spears gets a family values award.
Ain't easy in the SEC
But what is the cause of the cauldron of change boiling over?
With a core of exceptional players, college football teams are structured more like their NFL counterparts. Coaches build around them. That's all right unless the big boys start falling. Consider Tim Tebow at Florida. He is responsible for 75 percent of the Gators' offense. With his ability to run over people and pass like Steve Young, he has elevated into a class all his own.
But even Superman can't handle Kryptonite. Tebow is hurting because the SEC is an exercise in attrition. It's the Last Man Standing conference. So Tebow is not the threat he once was; at least not while he's dinged up. Just the reverse is true at Georgia. Knowshon Moreno, its redshirt freshman running back, racked up 188 yards and led the Dawgs to a victory against the Gators. Guess why he started? The grim reaper: injuries.
How many SEC teams will play in bowls?
1 to 5
All of them!
Total Votes: 7,062
Seven of the current top 10 were nowhere to be found at the start of the season. Hollywood's Southern California is running with the pack. Kansas is 8-0, as is Arizona State. Ditto for Boston College. Hawaii's record is unblemished, yet it gets no respect. I tell ya: It ain't easy being a Warrior.
Aha. Then here's a haunting for SEC officials: There are eight bowls that involve the SEC -- from the Sugar to the Independence -- and right now, only Ole Miss doesn't have at least five victories. Last year, Alabama went to the Independence Bowl with a 6-6 record. That's not likely to get it done this year. If Vanderbilt and Mississippi State want to end their bowl droughts, both might have to go 7-5.
So, there you have it, trick or treaters. What teams and coaches -- like ghosts -- will float above the rest? Crossing that evil spirit-filled pumpkin patch will be the test. Booooooooooooooooo.