Wednesday, December 03, 2008

From the Weekend That Was

After setting a blistering pace heading into the final week (60-15, .800 winning percentage), I stumbled through the finish line thanks to two SEC teams stinking it up against ACC teams and LSU blowing a 30-14 against Arkansas.

Last Week: 4-4
Season Record: 64-19 (.771)

Ole Miss 45, Mississippi State 0
Inmates in third world country prisons don't get abused as badly as State did on Friday. I've never seen Ole Miss do anything remotely close to what they did to the Bulldogs. At one point, I actually felt bad for laughing when State would attempt to pass the ball. No quarterback should have to endure the punishment all three of State's were getting. Although, Tyson Lee seemed to get a good laugh when Chris Relf was smashed on his first pass attempt, a right which Lee probably earned since he was nearly killed a few times.

As you know by now, the abuse was so severe that Sylvester Croom was told he would not be coaching at State anymore. I know officially he resigned, but resigning coaches don’t usually get buyouts for themselves and their assistants. And someone as stubborn and arrogant as Sylvester Croom doesn’t just resign unless there’s a really good reason. Like, say a big buyout for himself and guaranteeing money for his assistants, which is a good thing for those often forgotten in coaching changes.

Over the past few days, we’ve been bombarded with statements saying Croom is a man of character and did things “the right way” at State. Now, I’m not going to argue with the character statement. By all accounts from people who know him or have worked with him, he is a good guy. But I’ll take issue with the doing things “the right way” claim.

Does someone really need to be praised for doing what they’re supposed to do? Don’t cheat (or get caught), make sure your players make their grades, keep your players out of jail (it’s been ignored he gave Jackie Sherrill a run for his money in this category), and get your players to play hard. These are pretty much the basic things expected from a college football coach, with winning being the major requirement.

Sylvester Croom tried to do all of these things and was constantly given a media high-five for his attempts. As long as high-fives were being given out for doing what he was hired to do, why not give him some recognition for getting out of bed in the morning, practicing proper hygiene and not murdering people? This whole “right way” thing is completely absurd. Hundreds of other coaches have been doing the exact same thing and never once do we hear he’s doing things “the right way.”

A coach referred to as doing things the right way is like the quarterback that’s called a game manager. It’s a nice way of saying, “This guy is a good guy and tries hard, but he stinks.” Or, more importantly, it’s an excuse given to someone that doesn’t deserve one. Sylvester Croom no doubt was well liked as a person and tried hard as a coach, but he was not a head coach. He had five years to find a quarterback, five years to change his offense, five years to build on offensive line and five years to turn a bad program into a competitive one. He did none of these.

He refused to change when it was clear change was needed, both with certain coaches and his offensive scheme. He never blamed his team’s failures on his offensive scheme, which never worked in five years, but on individual players’ inability to make plays over that span. He claimed they were always in position to make plays, but never did, in effect, throwing them under the bus. In the end, that’s what brought him down. He was waiting on the players to change their performances when it was he who needed to change.

And one final note about Ole Miss in this game, when Peria Jerry finishes the year, gets drafted and moves to the city in which he’ll be playing, I hope he’s open to the idea of us getting an apartment together. My man-crush is reaching the same level it reached with Darren McFadden.

Actually, two more final notes about the Ole Miss game. One, when was the last time Ole Miss went undefeated in November? The ‘60s? This season was like the anti-David Cutcliffe season. Rocky start, strong finish. With Cutcliffe, we shouldn’t have even bothered playing games in November. And to be fair to Cutcliffe, this entire season was like the anti-Ed Orgeron season. Good coaching, winning record. And two, we outscored teams in November 152-20. That’s an average score of 38-5.

Arkansas 31, LSU 30
This co-defensive coordinator business needs to change before LSU goes to their bowl game. Up 30-14 in the third quarter, the defense allows Casey Dick, seriously, Casey Dick, to lead not one, but three scoring drives to win the game. Oh, and they gave up almost 400 yards of total offense.

Les Miles may not be destroying the LSU program, but if he drops another 7-5, 3-5 SEC stinkbomb next year, he’ll be looking for a new job. Luckily for him, Michigan should be canning Rich Rodriguez right about the time he would be getting fired. So he’s got that going for him, which has to be nice.

Georgia Tech 45, Georgia 42
Stafford and Moreno’s stats?

Stafford: 24 of 39, 407 yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT
Moreno: 17 carries for 94 yards 1 TD and 4 receptions for 74 yards

Georgia’s offense is like 2007 Golden State Warriors. All the starters are fantastic for a fantasy team, but the team itself isn’t quite good enough to do any real damage.

Clemson 31, South Carolina 14
I just realized Chris Smelley is only a sophomore. What are the chances he and Spurrier will be together for his senior year? -25%? -75%? -10,000%?

Florida 45, Florida State 15
At some point last football season, I wrote that instead of watching the Saints and Bucs battle to their inevitable 16-9 final twice a season, the NFL should scrap those two games and we should get to watch a staying awake contest between Ed Orgeron (Saints D-line coach) and John Gruden. Watching Orgeron inhale Red Bull, beef jerky and recruiting videos, while seeing Gruden think of ways to come up with longer names for his plays, would be infinitely more compelling than watching the Saints and Bucs play.

Well, I think a similar contest should be in order for Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno to determine the greatest coach of all-time. Whichever one has the lead in career coaching victories should just retire and let the other one catch him. Then, the guy who ties the record retires, and the two basically try to see who can outlive the other one. That way Penn State and Florida State fans don’t have to watch as a couple of guys in their 90s try to coach major college football. It’s just stupid at this point.

Alabama 36, Auburn 0
Kudos to me for correctly picking Florida (7-1) to win the SEC East. Massive fail to me for picking Auburn (2-6) to win the SEC West.

Tennessee 28, Kentucky 10
Too bad Tennessee waited until games 11 and 12 to find out they actually have a better chance to win when they throw less than 10 passes. Granted, it was against Vanderbilt and Kentucky, but give Phil Fulmer credit for scrapping what wasn’t working and doing what he had to do to win.

Wake Forest 23, Vanderbilt 10
Congratulations to Vanderbilt for tying that Memphis team from last year or year before as the worst bowl eligible team in the history of college football. And another congratulations on finishing strong after the 5-0 start. They should have plenty of momentum headed into bowl season with a 1-6 finish.

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