Friday, October 24, 2008

The Cynic's Guide to College Football, Week 8

We're getting close to the scariest time of the year. Around this corner are friendly folks looking to hand you sweets and goodies, just for asking. Around the other, blood-sucking ghouls looking to steal your soul. But then you find out they're the same person! Every one of them hiding their true identities behind a mask, each more frightening and hideous than the last. Yep, it's election time.

(Oh, and Halloween's coming up soon too.)


1. I’m The Cynic, and I Approved This Message

This time of year, we always hear a lot of talk about Washington, DC politicians flip-flopping. Well, apparently Potomac Fever has spread outside the Beltway and is infecting neighboring states. Have there been any more split-personality teams this year than Virginia and Maryland? For Virginia, the season started with a blowout loss to USC (no real shame in that) and then a 16-0 shutout over Richmond, putting the Cavs at 1-1, right where most people thought they’d be. But then things got weird—UVA was humiliated 45-10 by UConn and 31-3 by Duke (yes, that Duke). The Cavaliers were 1-3, with their three losses coming by a combined score of 128-20, and the scribes were already writing Al Groh’s obituary. But a funny thing happened on the way to oblivion—UVA started playing football. They destroyed Maryland 31-0, beat East Carolina and, most recently, upset #18 North Carolina in overtime. Suddenly, UVA is sitting pretty at 4-3. Admittedly, their schedule doesn’t do them any favors down the stretch. But as odd as their play has been this year, I don’t want to even try to predict which ones will be wins and losses.

If it’s possible, Maryland has been even more unpredictable this year. The team that struggled to beat Delaware (14-7), lost to Middle Tennessee State and got shut out by Virginia is also the same team that beat #23 California and #20 Clemson and shut out #21 Wake Forest.

With all this flop-flopping going on, I halfway expect to see Al Groh or Ralph Friedgen on the election ballot.

And you thought Dick Cheney was a heart attack risk.

2. Maybe Brett Favre is Tipping Off UW Opponents?

A month ago, Wisconsin fans were celebrating their 3-0 start, talking about how bad they would beat up on the Buckeyes and planning their Rose Bowl trips. But four straight losses—including ones to 2-5 Michigan and a struggling Iowa—now have the Badgers stretching for any bowl. Fortunately, they close out the season on 11/22 with a home game against Cal Poly (now there’s a novel idea—schedule your creampuff game at the end of the season). But they still will need to eke out two wins against Illinois, Michigan State, Indiana or Minnesota. They may get to six wins this year, but that is certainly not what Barry Alvarez or Badger fans had in mind this season.

Save the badgers.

3. What in the Name of Marshall Faulk is Going on Here?

When San Diego State head coach Chuck Long was asked if he felt his job was in jeopardy, he responded, “Our program is not healthy yet, but we do see light at the end of the tunnel with the issues we're dealing with inside (the program).” Coach, a light at the end of the tunnel is not always a good thing. It can be an oncoming train. Or in the case of a “not healthy” program like SDSU, it may well be a near-death experience. When you’re 1-6 this season, 8-23 in your career, your team ranks 100th or worse in 11 different statistical categories and just led your team to their third-worst loss in school history, your coaching tenure is definitely on life support, and it’s only a matter of time until the AD pulls the plug.

Go into the Light, Coach Long. There is peace and serenity in the Light.

4. Some People Call Me The Space Cowboy . . .

I don't really know how to incorporate this into a story, but I thought it was interesting. And made me wonder why I don’t have a cooler nickname. Kentucky’s offensive coordinator (and head coach designate) is named Joker Phillips.

Hold that block, or see me after practice.

5. Who Knew “Malternative” Was a Word?

Bad news for (insert name of your rival school here) fans: MillerCoors announced they have discontinued Zima.

At least the Natty Light supply is safe.

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