As winter quickly approaches us and most of my loyal followers are preparing for bitterly cold nights, snow, and all the other things that come along with it while I sit here in my shorts pecking at my computer (nah nah ), due to a couple of major college football stories, I feel compelled to break my own rule yet again and extend it to covering Tuesday as well, especially since one affects a certain game on Dec. 5th. So here are 10 things I learned in the week and a day between 11/24 and 12/1.
1) What an idiot!- How can you, in the week leading up to one of arguably the biggest games in your career, do something so stupid as what Carlos Dunlap did to effectively end his career at the University of Florida. I honestly don't see him playing another game this year, and he was likely to come out, so this pretty much puts the kabosh on UF's leading pass rusher and defensive MVP from last year's BCS title game. It remains to be seen as to what effect this has on the Gators on Dec. 5th, as the Gators do have lots of talent, but unlike some of my fellow Gator fans, I realize this will affect them at least somewhat. There is not another Carlos Dunlap on this team, and his presense and pressure will be missed to some degree, no matter how well everybody else steps up in his absense. And to those trying to pin this on Urban Meyer somehow, please stop. What, do you want these teams to have 100 assistant coaches to babysit each player personally all the time? Notice, I wasn't in here blaming Lane Kiffin for what Richardson and his thug friend did (although I did find it funny that it was the same guy Lane got in trouble with the SEC over). It's how the coach deals with these situations that you can hold them responsible for, not the actions themselves. Dunlap is an adult, and he will face the consequences of his poor choices.
2) Bobby deserved better- Yes, I know things haven't been going the Seminoles way recently. I have NEVER seen a UF-FSU game where the Noles didn't deserve to be on the same field as the Gators until Saturday. But this is the man that had FOURTEEN straight AP Top 4 finishes. That's a mark that's very likely never to be duplicated ever again. The whole Bowden-Fisher situation will be filed away under "How NOT to handle a head coach in waiting." Depending on who you listen to, Bobby Bowden was either forced out, or given the option to come back, but as little more than a figure head. Now, while I feel that Bobby should have been allowed to come back next year with no strings, Jimbo did deserve the right to name a defensive coordinator, as that would have been Bobby's last year. You did have to start preparing for life after Bobby. Thing is, it's awful hard to be the man who replaces the man. Why do I get the feeling that if FSU struggles early next year, that firejimbofisher.com is not too far away. Hopefully FSU sends Bobby out on a winning note in whatever bowl game they end up in.
3) Sorry Charlie- In a move that surprised absolutely no one, Notre Dame cut ties with Charlie Weiss on Monday, ending Notre Dame's worst three year run in their history. While there is a lot of blame to go around here, where is the blame that should fall squarely on the shoulders of the former athletic director (I forget his name)? As much of a weasel as he is, Mike Lupica pointed this out on a recent "Sports Reporters" on that four letter network. He's the one that got played by Charlie Weis and locked him up to a ridiculous 10 year deal that's now going to cost Notre Dame something in the range of $20 million to pay a coach who won't be coaching for them. And they'll have to pay whoever comes in, likely involving another buy-out. And where's these strong athletes from ND's alleged top 10 recruiting classes recently? They have Floyd for one more year, and Teo for two more. Beyond that, what do they have? Claussen will be gone. Tate will be gone. If you notice, Charlie only won with Willingham's players. It's going to take a lot for Notre Dame to return to BCS title contender, because as I pointed out before, the reason they had lost 9 bowls in a row before last year was they kept running into superior competition due to them being Notre Dame and drawing well in both fanbase and ratings. This is not going to change soon, even if they start winning 9-10 games a season. Those annual bowl blowouts do hurt you when it comes to recruiting. I don't care if you are Notre Dame.
4) Crash that Tiger- Who the hell is in Tiger Woods P.R. staff and why do they still have jobs? Look, Tiger owes us the general public absolutely nothing. No explanation. And I can see why his lawyers told him not to talk to police (because Elin would be in jail right now if he had). But if you want to see a playbook of P.R. done right, spin it back to Kobe Bryant. He had geniuses on his P.R. team. To think that this would go away just because you're Tiger Woods. Look, because you ARE Tiger Woods, somebody in the media will dig up the dirt and uncover the story. And while stonewalling the police is the correct legal tactic, don't think they won't do the same. Fewer people are going to forgive him for trying this P.R. coverup spin job. The media, police, and public are not stupid. We can put two and two together just fine on our own, thanks. UPDATE: As I was piecing my blog together, Tiger finally came out and admitted some of the stuff, something he should have done on Sunday, but I guess better late than never. It is my sincere hope though that people can now leave him alone and let his family work it out if they can, or handle what they must if they can't. I just know I'd find it hard to cheat on Wood's wife, although I'd find it hard to marry her now knowing her temper. Hell hath no furry like a woman scorned.
5) I've finally found the best team in the NFL- After wondering if it might be the Colts of the Vikings (and I still think the Vikings will be a tough matchup), and as much as it pains me to say it, because of their holier than thou, think they've already won somehting in the past, refusing to take off their Black and Gold glasses and defend Reggie Bush till the end fans, there is no denying that it is the New Orleans Saints. That was an epic beatdown of a pretty good Patriots team on Monday night, and they did something I never would have thought possible, especially form a Saints team, confuse Tom Brady with their defense. I was always holding reservation on the Saints, because I just didn't believe in their D (have always believed in their O, even with Reggie Bust). I always thought somewhere along the way it would revert back to the old Saints D. Well, now I know better, and unfortunately, it reaffirms my prediction of the Saints winning it all I made a few weeks ago. I'll be very happy for the Saints players (except Reggie and maybe cocky Shockey), and the city of New Orleans, but god, I dread having to deal with the obnoxious fans thinking that they just might FINALLY win something this year. By the way, Gregg Williams HAS to be coordinator of the year.
6) So much for that matchup in Tampa- Yeesh. The ACC has to be thrilled that its two best teams got beat by mid-level SEC teams this past weekend. Georgia Tech looked from being in line for a Top 5 finish to being just another conference champion. And that's IF they beat Clemson and win their Orange Bowl game. I'll have my prediction in point 10.
7) Can we stop with the overrated crap?- After Thursday and Friday in which Texas and Alabama both struggled on the road in rivalry games and Cincinatti's defense got exposed by Illinois, all the threads in here were about just how overrated these three teams are. And while I can't give a good defense to Cincy (although I still wouldn't call them overrated), the other two, along with Florida and TCU who took care of business on Saturday, are clearly the four best teams in the country. Look, they are called rivalry games for a reason. Usually you can throw the records out. And they all won, which is what counts in the end. The 2006 Gators didn't earn any style points in the season, but still handled tOSU with ease. And what I wouldn't give to see TCU play any/all of the other three teams. They are the real deal, and I think would matchup well. God, a playoff (even 4 team) would have been nice this year. And in a side note, I hope if Texas beats Nebraska, the BCS does the right thing and gives an invite to Boise State as well.
8) Some quick college hardwood thoughts- What a start for the University of Florida basketball team, one that most people has going 5th in the SEC East. Now, while they have yet to play a conference game, and Michigan State followed it up with a disappointing performance in last night's rematch of the title game, you have to like how good they look right now. It will be interesting to see how they do against Syracuse (another hot team early) in the SEC-Big East challenge game here in Tampa. Even as a Gator fan, I didn't see a 7-0 start. I'd love to see Billy's boys make the tournament this year. And what's happened to UCLA. They look completely lost out of the gate at 2-4. Now they have players transferring out. And it doens't get any easier with a Dec. 6th date at Kansas.
9) Look ahead- The games I'm looking forward to are the conference championship games, which I will predict in my next point, and in the NFL, Patriots Dolphins to see which team can bounce back from devastating losses, Cowboys Giants to see which team ate too much turkey on their Thanksgiving day game (my guess would be the Giants who seemed to load up before their night game with the Broncos), and Packers Ravens. There's also a couple interesting NBA games coming up with Boston San Antonio on Thursday, and Lakers Heat on Friday with the Heat on the back end of a two in a row situation. In hockey, you have the Penguins and Avalanche on Thursday, and my Lightning have a tough two game stretch with Boston tonight and New Jersey on Friday. And on the college hardwood, you have a very interesting Ohio State Florida State matchup tonight as part of the ACC Big Ten challenge.
10) BuccinGator's college football conference championship game predictions- While there are only 5 official conference championship games (3 BCS in SEC, Big 12, and ACC and 2 non in CUSA and MAC), with two conferences having defacto championship games this week with tomorrow's Oregon Oregon State game (which for the first time will decide a Pac-10 champion and Rose Bowl bid between these two) and Saturday's Cincinnati Pitt game, in what has to be a scheduling coup for the Big East and Pac-10. So, in order of how they are played:
Oregon 38, Oregon State 24 (just think Masoli is too much for the Beavers yet again)
Central Michigan 34, Ohio 17 (LeFevour gets it done)
Houston 45, ECU 20 (Case Keenum way too much for ECU, way too late for Heisman. Those UTEP and UCF losses will kill him)
Cincinnati 37, Pitt 27 (Although Cincy's defense does scare me. Pitt could pull this out, but I refuse to bet against Pike)
Florida 31, Alabama 27 (was going to go with last year's score as I think the game will be very similar [still do], but with Dunlap out, give Bama another TD)
Georgia Tech 31, Clemson 27 (C.J. Spiller could play spoiler, though. Just noticed the forecast for here in Tampa calls for thunderstorms that day. Of course, both these teams love to run anyway)
Texas 21, Nebraska 9 (Nebraska's D will keep this close, quite possibly closer than what I have it).
Hopefully I can go 5-2. Last year, I think I went 3-2, but I also think it was the mid-majors that tripped me up.