Senior Writer

Weekend Watch List: D-Rob not Dantonio's biggest problem


Stop Denard Robinson.

That's the easiest part of Mark Dantonio's Saturday, Michigan State's coach-in-returning. All he has to do is slow down Michigan's hyper-driven quarterback who is on track for a 2,000-yard rushing season and an appointment in New York. A trip to No. 18 Michigan is going to eliminate an unbeaten team from the national landscape and lend some further definition to the Big Ten race. Otherwise, Dantonio has to be really worried. He has to know by now that the school has a fallback, a first runner-up should he not be able to fulfill his duties as head coach. (Gratuitous Miss America pun if you don't get it.)

Point is, Don Treadwell can coach. Interim coach only, for now. That could change. Michigan State's offensive coordinator is 2-0 in Dantonio's absence, including a win over then-No. 11 Wisconsin. There are only 18 unbeaten teams left heading into Week 6. There are only four other coaches (besides Treadwell) who are undefeated while beating a top 11 team. Technically, that puts Treadwell in the same class as Nick Saban, Chip Kelly, Chris Petersen and Mike Stoops.

You know the recent history. Dantonio intends to be back for Michigan State after missing two weeks because of a heart attack and blood clot. The plan, once again, is for Dantonio to coach from the press box. The man knows when his job is being threatened. Dantonio was texting assistants from the hospital last week offering "suggestions."

You can bet he knows the Wally Pipp story. It's never good to take a day off in this business. That's why they speak of Treadwell in hushed tones around the Spartan football offices. "Watch your back," they say. "He's taking credit for Little Giants," they whisper.

Yes, it's a power play and it's been ugly as Dantonio tries to reclaim his job.

"You can't keep me down Michigan week," he said.

Meanwhile, Treadwell's career is littered with the broken careers he has stepped over on his way to the top. Michigan State receiver Charles Rogers somehow became a first-round draft choice despite Treadwell being his position coach in the early 2000s. Jim Tressel was somehow limited to one I-AA national championship while Treadwell coached under him at Youngstown State (1986-91). It took three long years for Stanford to get to the Rose Bowl after Treadwell left Tyrone Willingham's staff in 1996.

WWL could go but why put more stress on Dantonio? Treadwell is good, sneaky good. Coach D knows what's at stake. It's a lot bigger than a trip to the Big House. It's a lot bigger than Sparty being 5-0 for the first time since Nick Saban was coach. It's about that interim coach trying to remove more than the interim label.

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Watch your back, Coach D. Watch your back.

Scoping the Nation

The Great Les Miles Debate: Of course, it won't go away. Why should it? The Tigers are undefeated and ranked in the top 10. And there are villagers with pitchforks and torches massing outside of Tiger Stadium.

Or something like that.

Leave it to the Ol' Ball Coach to sum up a game he has nothing to do with this week.

"I read something interesting in the paper the other day about the Ryder Cup golf matches. One writer said, 'Whoever wins the Ryder Cup, that captain will be considered somewhere between John Wooden and Vince Lombardi.' And he said, 'The loser will be considered like an SEC football coach after a loss.' He'll be the dummy. And that's just the way it is. And we all know that. As coaches, we all know that."

Steve Spurrier being Steve Spurrier, he had to toss in this zinger.

"Of course, sometimes you can win and still be a dummy. We've learned that recently, too."

Spur Dog still has it. We'll see if Crazy Les still has whatever he has with LSU playing at Florida. Some quarterback or another has to shine. The Tigers and Gators combined to throw six picks last week.

WWL Wondering ... why after 3 ½ seasons in the system, Florida's John Brantley is running the option. Those little half roll outs look fairly effective against Alabama. He's a drop back quarterback, Urban.

... if the Boise buzz ... is ... just ... about ... over.

... when Joe Paterno is going to win No. 400. The Nits are 3-2 headed into the Illinois game. Considering what we've seen to date, every one of the remaining seven games are losable. (Illinois, at Minnesota, Michigan, Northwestern, at Ohio State, at Indiana, Michigan State)

Southern Carolina: In what could be football foreshadowing, South Carolina this week lost a 13-year-old Supreme Court battle to hitch its rep to the "other" USC, the one in California. The Supreme Court ruled that USC does in fact own the right to its famous "SC" interlocking logo. That ended the challenge by what we can only assume was a school that wanted to be the University of Southern Carolina.

While it might be headed for struggles on the field, USC is still USC off. White horse, song girls, guy with sword. Oh, and championships. South Carolina can't match that. Federal trademark law prohibits the use of similar logs that are "likely to cause confusion." It was clearly a cash grab by USC-of-the-South to sell more merch.

Think of Alabama, then, as an extension of the Supreme Court Saturday when the No. 1 Crimson Tide visit Columbia. There just doesn't seem to be as much hype as there was two weeks ago when 'Bama was headed on an unprecedented three-week slog against three top 12 teams. After wins against Arkansas and Florida, going to Southern Carolina doesn't seem to be that difficult a task. The Tide are healthy, they're on a roll and they're complete.

"We haven't put together a 60-minute game yet," Mark Ingram said. "Once we do then it will be tough to beat us."

Southern Carolina, you have been warned.

A once-great rivalry: Miami (No. 13) is the highest ranked team in the state for the first time since 2005. The 'Noles and 'Canes both come into their game ranked this late in the season for the first time since 2003. (They were ranked in the 2004-2006 meetings but those were season openers.)

That's one way to look at it. Here's another: One of them is going to absorb a second loss in Miami Gardens this week when FSU (4-1) comes to Miami (3-1). The ACC needs both to be great, not just good.

The league started the season with five ranked teams. Only these two remain. There are more people talking about Michigan State-Michigan, Alabama-South Carolina and Les Miles vs. his own brain. Bobby's gone. Jacory is forcing it. The programs might be relevant again, but one of them has to run the table to help themselves, the rivalry and ACC.

The Brown-Muschamp-Richt triangle: As these things usually do, the losing at Georgia has spawned other stories beyond its campus. There was a report this week that Texas would "edge out" Mack Brown in order to keep defensive coordinator/coach-in-waiting Will Muschamp from going back to his alma mater. Maybe, but nothing will be settled until Texas says it is. If Mark Richt is let go -- the Dawgs are 1-4 hosting Tennessee this week -- and if Muschamp is tempted to return to Georgia, he will be subtly reminded that he is in line for the richest, most prestigious job in the country.

It's one of the reasons Carol Muschamp once told her husband, "If you leave Austin, I'm staying."

The Turnover Machine: You do not want to be Mike Sherman this week. Well, first, you do not want to be his quarterback Jerrod Johnson. The season is slipping away at Texas A&M as the Aggies prepare to meet No. 11 Arkansas at Cowboys Stadium.

Sherman is the A&M coach who must have an intervention with Johnson, his quarterback, who has more turnovers in his last two games (nine) than 52 teams have had all season.

"It's critical we get it fixed," said Sherman, whose team lost to the Hogs 47-19 last season. You and I know it as Dallas-Fort Worth: To the rest of the world it is center of the football universe this weekend. The Metroplex will feature five I-A games. That's 10 teams (two of them ranked) from four conferences playing in four cities within a 40-mile radius this weekend. All of them kick off within eight hours of each other. The lineup:

 11 a.m. CT, Texas Tech-Baylor, Cotton Bowl, Dallas  2:30 p.m., Texas A&M-Arkansas, Cowboys Stadium, Arlington  2:30 p.m., Wyoming at TCU, Fort Worth  6 p.m., Arkansas State at North Texas, Denton  7 p.m., Tulsa at SMU, Dallas

There is a place to go for the definitive weekly ranking of I-A conferences: Our Brian Stubits has carved out quite a niche for himself breaking down the leagues. Spoiler alert (or maybe not). The SEC is No. 1!

Quote of the week from the Ol' Turkey Inseminator

"Eastern Michigan is coming to town. The exciting part about that is they don't have a win, we have only the one."

--Vanderbilt coach Robbie Caldwell on this week's game.

Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.

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