Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Cynic’s Guide to College Football: Week Two

With most of the I-AA game silliness behind us, we finally start getting into some interesting games next weekend. We have a couple featuring ranked teams (#14 Georgia Tech at #20 Miami; #19 Nebraska at #13 Virginia Tech) and a couple more conference games with some bad blood to settle (Texas Tech at Texas; Tennessee at Florida). So we're starting to get to the fun part--it's like when you're just reaching the top of the hill on your first roller coaster ride. You are still going slow and not much has happened yet, but you can see over the hill and eagerly anticipate the craziness in front of you. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's deal with some of last week's debacles.

Maybe He Was Too Hard on Intramurals

Let me be the latest to pile on Colorado's Dan Hawkins for the Buffs 0-2 start. Losing your season opener at home to your in-state rival is bad enough. But going on the road and getting beaten down by a MAC team? Well, that won't do wonders for confidence in your coaching ability. Toledo beat CU 54-38 and, frankly, the game wasn't that close. In CU's first two games, they have been outscored 43-6 in the first halves. Throw in a rough upcoming schedule and, congratulations Coach Hawkins, you're the first contestant on Coach's Hot Seat.

After last season, Coach Hawkins promised "ten wins and no excuses." But between now and the end of October, CU plays Wyoming this Saturday (Buffaloes are favored, but remember Wyoming gave Texas a game for a half last week) before games @ West Virginia, @ Texas, vs. Kansas, @ Kansas State and vs. Missouri. Barring a turnaround of near-biblical proportions, Colorado will be doing well to have two wins by Halloween. Throw in season-ending games @ Oklahoma State and vs. Nebraska, and Colorado looks to be closer to ten losses than wins. While there is some speculation that CU might not be able to afford Hawkins' buyout, don't think CU boosters aren't already crunching the numbers.

Hawkins feeling the burn. And that’s just on his backside.

Christians vs. Lions Was the Undercard

Last Saturday night, some friends who are big Oklahoma Sooners fans got the OU vs. Idaho State game on pay-per-view and invited us over to have a cookout and watch the game. While the game certainly wasn’t much of a draw, it was still fun to hang out with them and let our kids play. While I’m certainly no fan of I-A teams playing I-AA teams, even by those weak standards, this one was completely unforgiveable.

First, let’s be honest here—doesn’t matter what state you live in, your best high school football team right now would be a three touchdown favorite over Idaho State. The Bengals (yes, the Idaho State Bengals—I have no idea why) are that bad. Over the last five years, Idaho State has gone 1-11 (with a season-ending overtime upset of Sacramento State as their only win), 3-8, 2-9, 5-6 and 3-8. So we’re not even dealing with a good I-AA team (a la Appalachian State, Richmond, William & Mary, etc.) who can at least compete on a larger stage. We’re dealing with someone who is lousy, even at the I-AA level. So does their athletic department do something to help, like scheduling a couple of D-II opponents? No. Instead, they offer the poor Bengals up as sacrificial lambs to the likes of Arizona State and Oklahoma. So, through two games, Idaho State has a combined 81 total yards, -27 rushing yards, 7 turnovers, 16 punts and 3
points to show for it. In 30 possessions and 120 minutes of play, they have crossed midfield one time.

While I’m not going to defend ASU and OU for scheduling these games, I’m putting the blame for these games squarely on Idaho State athletic director Jeff Tingey. Sure, you rake in lots of bucks for your athletic department. But at what cost? A downtrodden and demoralized team? No prospect for hope? Idaho State players know their talent levels and don’t hold any illusions about being better than they are. All they want is to play the game the love and have a chance to compete. By scheduling games like these, Idaho State has made that impossible.

But on the plus side, at least the athletic department can see the bright side of things: following the ASU loss, the headline on the school website read, “First Team Defense Hangs Tough in 50-3 Loss to Arizona State.”

“It is all lies. The infidels from Oklahoma can never defeat the mighty Bengals of most glorious Idaho State.”

From Big Winner to The Biggest Loser

Kudos to Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen for dropping 105+ pounds in the last year. Unfortunately, the Terrapins outlook is season is dropping just as fast. After getting waxed 52-13 at California in Week One, the Terps thought this week’s home game against James Madison would be the cupcake that has been lacking from Friedgen’s diet. Unfortunately, this appetizer was tougher than my grandmother’s meatloaf. Maryland got the win, but only after rallying in the fourth quarter to force overtime and JMU missed an OT field goal. While I don’t know that it’s time for Maryland fans to hit the panic button just yet, another loss in the next couple of weeks and look for UM boosters to start sending truckloads of fried crabcakes to Friedgen’s door in an effort to bring the old coach back.

Terps Fans Will Take Whichever One Gets Them to the Best Bowl

And for my ray of freaking sunshine this week,

Welcome to the Party

Congratulations to Steve Sarkisian on getting not just his first career win as a head coach (42-23 over Idaho), but Washington’s first win since November 17, 2007. Much to the dismay of Seattle police. The Huskies’ 15-game losing streak was tied for the longest in Pac-10 history. We’ll check back Washington State week when the Huskies are going for two.

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