After three weeks of football, I think it’s fair to make some observations about college football on and off the field.
Urban needs to pick a quarterback
Throughout the off-season fans were inundated with talk about which quarterback would have the starting job at Ohio State. Three weeks in it isn’t clear which of the two remaining candidates has the job – though Cardale Jones has started the first three games – but it would seem like the team would be better off if he’d pick one and go with that person. I’ve been in the J.T. Barrett camp since the end of last season, and even though I appreciate how good Cardale Jones can be throughout the game it seems unfathomable to me that he started against Northern Illinois, and seems crazier to me that he might start again next week versus Western Michigan.
Many feel that Jones was given the job because he decided to return to Ohio State instead of declaring for the NFL draft. If true, that’s a poor decision. Playing two quarterbacks hasn’t cost Ohio State a game, (and because of the Buckeye’s defense I’m not sure it will) but for the sake of continuity Urban Meyer Should pick either Barrett or Jones and stick with that person. Unless one gets injured or puts a win in jeopardy with poor decision making, pick a quarterback and stick with them.
My choice: Barrett. Dance with the one who brought you.
Is there anyone who likes Steve Patterson?
Last week, Texas fired athletic director Steve Patterson. No big deal in the grand scheme of things. As Seth noted, Patterson ran Texas’ athletic department like the business entity it is. Patterson’s downfall may have ultimately been a banner that flew over Darell K. Royal-Memorial Stadium during the Rice game, or it may have been the meeting with the millionaire (and billionaire) donors the day before that game. Or honestly, it could be that the aforementioned group of super rich people can’t stand when someone say’s no or treats them like regular people.
I get it. College sports is about raising money and to do that you have to do a lot of butt kissing and glad-handing. It’s probably why I’ll never be a good salesman. I hate people, and I get the feeling Patterson does to.
My issue with Patterson’s firing is the media’s take. I understand Patterson fired their favorite sports information director, and that he might have been able to handle it a bit better. But isn’t the media supposed to have an arms-length relationship with the subjects they cover? Did Steve Patterson do NO good at Texas in 22 months? Coaches who make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year are upset because they have to buy their own lunch? The Big 12 changes their ticketing process for visiting marching bands and Patterson gets the blame because he actually enforces it?
And no, Texas basketball does NOT need to fly on a 737. I mean good God, how many people travel with that basketball team?
SEC West Explained
After three weeks into the season, handicapping the SEC West is probably the dumbest thing I’ll do today, but here goes anyway. LSU, Ole Miss, Alabama, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Auburn, and Arkansas.
I’m fully aware Ole Miss beat Alabama Saturday night. Despite the late start I wasn’t that drunk, but right now I’d say right LSU is the best team in the west. It isn’t because I consider Les Miles to be the luckiest coach in all of sports, (or that he eats grass which is always entertaining) but because of Leonard Fournette and the defense that supports him. The biggest question for LSU is the quarterback, (as always) and whether Fournette can stay healthy. Thigh bruises hurt but a deep thigh bruise would probably make me cry. I’m not interested in crying.
Ole Miss still has a lot to prove to me. Yes they beat Alabama for the second straight year for the first time in series history. Impressive. It’s also September, and I’m interested to see if they can sustain this success through the month of October before I crown them. Apply the same reasoning if you want to LSU, but I’ve seen Les Miles teams perform and I have faith in him. Still waiting for Hugh Freeze to give me a reason to put faith in him and the Rebels.
To Auburn and Arkansas, there’s till plenty of time. But I’d say the season dissipation light is making itself conspicuous in the corner of their eyes.
Alabama had five turnovers to Ole Miss' zero and still had a chance to win the game, they will be just fine.
ESPN’s College GameDay due for a refresh
I haven’t consistently watched ESPN’s College GameDay in years because the product is stale and predicable. I understand why it’s so popular and I get why people put so much stock into where these guys show up every week. But, at some point don’t we have to wonder when it’s time to completely refresh the show? ESPN has the advantage right now because as respectable as FOX’s pregame show is, it still doesn’t stand a chance to pull many (if any) viewers from ESPN.
ESPN, in a way to keep Reece Davis with the network moved Fowler from the show to the prime time game with Kirk Herbstreit, but that wasn’t enough in my opinion. This is where the conversation might get uncomfortable for many of you, but it’s time for Lee Corso to retire. He clearly isn’t the same as he was before his stroke a few years ago, and even though he has his moments of fun, in general he’s tough to watch.
David Pollack does a good job in that spot, but he’s earned the right to be on the show full time. Kirk Herbstreit is young (ish) and vibrant, but after 25 years I can’t imagine he’s still got the fire to prepare for this show and broadcast the evenings games. How about the occasions where GameDay and the show aren’t in the same place and he has to travel?
Like many things about ESPN, the formula works because the competition is so far behind, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best product for the consumer.
McElwain’s throat-slash reaction fair and appropriate
I think we’ve all gotten a little soft in 2015. Blame participation awards, social media, or whatever else might make you feel good about your day. Many people think Jim McElwain’s response to Kelvin Taylor’s throat-slash celebration penalty was unjust and over the top.
I don’t. I think it was perfectly fine. I also think many are upset about McElwain's response because it isn’t something we see or hear about often. Trust me it happens often.
Yesterday, I was refereeing a fall league with high school kids. One of the coaches is a well-known AAU coach. Most people don’t have a ton of respect for AAU coaches, but some of these people know what they’re doing. One of the players on his team received a technical foul and in the end cost the team about six points. The team ended up losing by four or five.
This coach’s tirade was near McElwain’s level of anger. I watched, laughed, and repeated many of the things the coach said to this kid. It was funny. There was yelling, screaming, cursing, spitting…all of it. It’s sports, and it isn’t always tasteful. Could the coach have had the same conversation in a calm and collected manner with the kid without dressing him down? Sure. Would the lesson have been learned? Probably not.
I’m of the belief that many athletes – kids in particular – don’t respond well unless they’re embarrassed in front of their peers about the stupid decisions they make. Yelling, screaming, spitting, and turning red generally worked for me when I grew up. But if someone tried to do that to me now I’d laugh and walk away.
So yeah, McElwain’s words were tough to handle, but in general they were fair and accurate. Taylor shouldn’t think that because he’s the son of a NFL player that he’s above reproach, and that his teammates should understand that because of their poor play over the past few years. They’ve gone through coaches and piled on losses on at unacceptable rate.
Like it or not, McElwain’s reaction is fair, appropriate, and if needed should be repeated.
Also, this happens every day at every level of amateur sports. No one cares how the sausage is made until they actually show you the process.
Links that I like
Inside the rise and fall of Urban Meyer's Florida Gators [Jeremy Fowler/ESPN] - The story of the Florida Gators under Urban Meyer featuring Aaron Hernandez, Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin and MANY coaches who are or were collegiate head coaches.
Cubit an open book at Illinois after life-changing month [Adam Rittenberg/ESPN] - How Bill Cubit is trying to change the culture at Illinois [could he be part of the problem?] and his ongoing job interview.
Five Days in Michigan: The State of the Wolverines and Spartans in 2015 [Andy Staples/Campus Rush] - What's new in Michigan is old at this point. Michigan State is up; Michigan is down...for now. Incredibly jealous of Staples' access.
ESPN Blasted for Televising Sexist GameDay Sign [Andrew Bucholtz/Awful Announcing] - 1. I'm a guy, so I'm not offended. 2. I've seen much worse when taking friends and kids of friends to college and no one said a word. I think we as society are too sensitive, but then again not much offends me. If you're offended, fine, but this isn't bad. Lee Corso said 'fuck' on television a few years ago. That's worse.