Posted on: October 3, 2010 9:58 pm

Sunday Morning Quarterback

Things I learned from the action Saturday

Alabama is a good football team: And I mean scary good. Granted, Florida has been horrifically overrated all season, playing sub par opponents and scratching out victories. However, they do have a fair amount of talent on that squad and they were completely dismantled. That game was an absolute massacre. Ingram had fairly pedestrian stats (12 rushes – 49 yards and 2 touchdowns) and Alabama still won by 28 points. Auburn may be the only team left that can keep the Tide away from a second national championship game, and the only reason I say that is because it is a rivalry game, and Cam Newton is playing way above his head right now.   

Oregon may be the 2<sup>nd</sup> best team in the country: You want a dominant performance? Oregon goes down 21-3 in the first quarter. Their response was to simply outscore the ninth ranked Cardinal 49-10 for the rest of the game. I was incredibly impressed especially with the onside kick Chip Kelly called after their first touchdown, which set up a second score and brought the Ducks back into the game. They don’t have much in the way of defense, but their offense is the most explosive in the country, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them vault over Boise State and TCU if they manage to run the table in the Pac-10 in the rankings – although USC getting upset this weekend hurts those chances.

The Big-XII is having a down year: Texas and Oklahoma played this weekend, did anyone notice? The Sooners managed to hold on in the face of a furious Texas rally and now a collision course with the Cornhuskers in the Big-XII championship game seems immanent. Yet, I ask myself if Oklahoma or Nebraska were able to run the table, would it be enough to put them in the title game ahead of an undefeated Ohio State, Oregon or even TCU and Boise State? The answer right now is undoubtedly no. I can’t remember the last time that I really believed that an undefeated Big-XII champion wouldn’t belong in the national championship, but that is a clear indicator of just how down the conference is this year. They needed to have a strong year from their big names that were staying in the conference, and every game Nebraska wins hurts the conference, which I still don’t think will be around in 5 years.

The Buckeyes are vulnerable: Ohio State is not nearly as invincible as advertised. Their 24-13 win against Illinois was a lot closer than the scoreboard indicated, as they only had a 4 point lead late in the fourth quarter against a pretty bad Illinois team. Granted, Ohio State does tend to play down at least once or twice a year against Big-10 foes that it should handle easily, however their schedule is not exactly a walk in the park, especially with tough road games in Madison and Iowa City, and Penn State and Michigan at home are not exactly gimmes either. I thought this team would play for the national championship this season at the beginning of the year, but they need to improve a lot if they want to run the table in the resurgent Big-10.

Michigan State is a darkhorse in the Big-10: At the beginning of the yar I had Michigan State penciled in as a contender for the Big-10 title. Their schedule was incredibly favorable (easy non-conference, Wisconsin at home, no Ohio State) and they were returning a lot of talent. I will be the first to admit I didn’t think they would live up to my expectations but they have passed every test sent their way. Now we will see if they can truly contend for the Big-10 title as they have their first road game of the year against the most explosive offense east of the Mississippi. If the Spartans win this weekend there are really only two more tests on the schedule, at Iowa and at Penn State.

Denard Robinson is still a freak: Seriously, the man is a human highlight reel. He is doing things that no one has ever done and he is doing it as a sophomore. He looks like someone playing a video game against the lowest difficulty setting. The yardage he racks up every week is astonishing, he has led two game winning drives on the road and, most importantly, he is not turning the ball over. One interception against UMass and a fumbled snap against Indiana are the only blemishes against him thus far, and if he can stay healthy, Michigan has a shot at beating any team they play this season.


My Top 5:

1) Alabama

2) Oregon

3) Ohio State

4) Boise State

5) TCU

Posted on: December 14, 2009 6:05 am

I'm Disappointed...

My Saturday was going great...I ran in a 5K for arthritis, and had finished two papers for a class. I got to watch a little college football with my little brother, and even enjoyed 2 hours of American Ninja Warrior on G4 (I love watching grown ups do obstacle courses.) Then, right around 8:45, it promptly took a turn for the worse.

Let me preface this post by saying that I have no problem with Mark Ingram as a person. He went to school near me and I will always root for local boys in almost every situation. I think he is a fine athlete and a good person, his speech at the Heisman acceptance speech was moving and compelling. He had a very good season, and I will be rooting for his team to kill the Longhorns in the national championship.

However, having established this fact, I just cannot rationalize any way in my head that he should be the Heisman trophy winner.
By now Alabama fans who were about to add me to their favorites lists are now doing the dramatic water spit up out all over their computers I’m sure. But please, before you dismiss this post entirely, read on and give me a chance.

I’m of the opinion that the Heisman trophy is exactly what it claims to be, a trophy awarded to the “most outstanding player in football”. Yet, this year, Mark Ingram, who had a fine season, didn’t even win the award for best running back. That award went to Toby Gerhart, who was another Heisman finalist. I don’t understand how on earth a player who was voted the best at his position then loses to that same player in the award that is for “most outstanding player”.

I tried to look at it from different angles. Statistically it is not even close. Gerhart was 1st in rushes (311), rushing yards (1,736), and touchdowns (26). Keep in mind that he played one less game and had far superior stats to Ingram (249, 1542, 15).

My friends have argued that he was more important to his team than Gerhart. I would agree with them if we were only taking the Florida game into account, but I mean, where would Stanford be without Gerhart? Because of this player, Harbaugh is suddenly the top coaching prospect left on the market, they knocked off two top 5 teams in consecutive weeks including the worst beatdown USC has suffered in some time (maybe ever?). In one less game, Gerhart had 62 more rushes than Ingram…isn’t that essentially saying he meant more to that offense than Ingram? Even more telling, Ingram, who had fantastic stats against ranked teams, only had 30 yards on 16 carries against the mighty defense of Auburn, in a rivalry game with the national championship on the line. I just don’t think that is a Heisman worthy performance.

Another side fact that I wish had swayed the voters more was the fact that Gerhart is a senior , and Ingram is a sophomore…he will have his chance to win this award when he has a season that is more deserving. I know that’s a bad reason to want for someone to win it, but as a senior in college now I sort of empathize with Gerhart.

Now, I’m not going to go out on a limb like some other authors on this site have and say that he wasn’t even the best running back in his conference (McCluster is a name that comes to mind as a rival in that dept) or in his region (Spiller) like a certain columnist here has (*cough*Doyle*cough*).

I’m disappointed in the Heisman voters because it feels like they copped out. I know they did the popular thing and put Texas in the championship (which everyone wants to see more than Alabama-TCU, the two teams I think are best in the country) but for them to do that and then give this award to Ingram just feels like they are giving the best player on the best team the award, which I think violates the spirit of the award. I feel cheated. Instead of doing the hard thing and giving it to the player who plays on a less high profile team who legitimately had a better season. I’m all for giving Ingram an award, heck, we could make our own award and call it the Ingram, and make it for the best player on the best team.

Anyway, I’m sorry if I’ve upset you Alabama fans, but I had to get that off my chest. Congratulations again on getting your first Heisman winner, he had a fantastic season worthy of recognition, I just wish it hadn’t been in a year when there was someone who got passed over while having a better one. Good luck in the BCS championship, and for the record, I have you winning 27-13 against the Longhorns.
Posted on: December 11, 2009 9:58 pm
Edited on: December 11, 2009 9:59 pm

Restoring the Glory since 1993

This is my contribution to the blog "Critical Couzens" at, if you wish to see the otherviewpoints on this topic, go to

With the hire of Brian Kelly today, Notre Dame officially put the Charlie Weis debacle behind them (Goodbye Charlie, you will be sorely missed in Ann Arbor, we will never forget your late inning heroics in the game this year). Notre Dame fans around the country rejoiced. The bells rang from churches everywhere. The smoke rising from the Vatican finally burned white. The anointed one had come, the man who would lead the Irish from the desert of mediocrity into the promised land of excellence once again.

But did they make the hire right? Personally, I think they did. The rumor floated by my good friend The Architect was completely right; I think Michigan hired the wrong coach from the Big East when they stole Rich Rod from West Virginia. Kelly has been a proven winner at every location he has coached. Since 1991 (when he first became head coach at GVSU) he has a record of 171-52-2, a .748 winning percentage. At one point he had a 32 game winning streak with the Lakers. He successfully turned around a horrible Central Michigan program to the point where now the Chips have won 3 of the last 4 MAC championships. And he set school records for Cincinnati, winning 10, 11 and now 12 games in his 3 seasons there. My esteemed friend The Bus Driver points out that Rich Rod won everywhere he coached as well, but the point I differ with him on is the aftermath. Personally I believe a sign of a good coach is when he leaves and the teams he leaves behind continue winning. Central Michigan and Grand Valley are still winning at the same rate that they were when Kelly left, yet West Virginia has dropped off its winning significantly.

However, Notre Dame fans should temper their rejoicing for two reasons. The first is that Brian Kelly’s teams do not play great defense. In his 6 years coaching D-1 ball his defenses given up an average of 23 points per season. The adage “Defense wins championships” comes to mind, but the other fact of the matter is that Notre Dame was mediocre this season because of their defense. They gave up 311 points this season, an average of 26 points per game. They had the offense solved, and Kelly will continue that production with his spread attack. He won with 5 different quarterbacks last year and put up video game numbers with Tony Pike and Collaros this year. But, if he can’t find a way to create a solid defense at Notre Dame, he won’t be able to win as consistently as he did in weaker conferences. The second downside to Brian Kelly lies within his nature. He is a mercenary coach. He goes where the money is, and has no compassion for the people he leaves behind. While I respect him for the consistency, Notre Dame had better be prepared to be the latest team to be burned. If the NFL comes calling, I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised to see him take off faster than Usain Bolt.

This hire is Notre Dame’s Alamo. If Brian Kelly, a proven winner in every other program he has coached, can’t win at Notre Dame, it will officially signal an end to the rich tradition at Notre Dame. Short of stealing Urban Meyer from Florida, the school won’t be able to return to a national powerhouse without either drastically changing its standards academically or joining a conference. No pressure Brian.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or