In honor of Halloween with all its spirits and ghouls and such, it’s the back-from-the-dead Belly of the Beast Call-In Show. I’m sure most of you assumed this was just another idea that lasted two weeks until it was completely crushed under the weight of my laziness. But I’ll bet you didn’t think they were going to make a Friday the 13th Part VII: Jason Goes to Hell either. So here it is in all it’s glory. If you’re confused, which happens to most people reading these incoherent thoughts here, the idea here is that if the Belly of the Beast had a call-in show, this is what it would be like. And although I tend to focus mostly on what goes on around the SEC, I take calls covering all schools and conferences. That is, if I had a telephone set up, which I don’t, an ability to broadcast said phone calls (nope) and people actually called, which they wouldn’t. On to our first caller…
Abe from Stillwater, OK: So Dez Bryant gets suspended for the year thanks to lying about a meeting with Deion Sanders? Is there any method to the NCAA’s madness?
Gray: Yes, it’s hard to believe that a guy who has been out of the NFL for three years (although in spirit it’s been more like eight. Seriously, do you remember anything after his time in Dallas?) and he’s still making life difficult for wide receivers. And why Deion Sanders has any kind of relationship with Bryant is even harder to believe. But to answer your question about the NCAA, the answer is no. You lie, you get suspended for a year. Take money and other benefits, just pay it back and miss a few games. Both are wrong, but one is an athlete thinking he’s protecting himself and the other compromises the core of what the NCAA claims college football is about, amateurism (even though it makes millions and millions of dollars of these amateurs).
NCAA justice reminds me of Roman emperors. Steal some bread, twenty lashes. Make a weird face at the wrong person, I hope the lions are surprisingly gentle as they tear the limbs from your body. Well done, NCAA, well done.
Hank from Des Moines, IA: In what sort of devil worship did the Iowa coaches participate in order to secure our 8-0 start?
Gray: I’m not sure, but I feel certain it involved the sacrifice of at least 25% of all livestock and wheat in the state of Iowa. That might explain the good fortune behind having the 87th-ranked team in total offense and still being 8-0. And the unbelievable fortune in blocking not one, but two field goals in the final seconds against someone called Northern Iowa. And the break of a pass interference penalty, which led to a touchdown against Michigan State with no time left on the clock. And the absurd luck in being 6th in the nation in turnover margin when your own team has eleven turnovers that must be overcome.
Whatever Jobu-juju the Hawkeyes have going on is sure to run out soon unless more sacrifices are made. In fact, I saw yesterday that their starting running back is now out for the year, which is the first chink in the good fortune awarded to them by the dark prince. Well, that and their eventual burning for all of eternity.
Terry from Florence, AL: So who’s going to be the first one to flinch, Joe Paterno or Bobby Bowden?
Gray: In what has become a contest between two old men to see which one can grow the better garden that no one under the age of 55 cares about, one has finally fallen behind. Bowden now trails Paterno by 20 wins after some of his wins were taken away to due to a small matter like academic fraud (Florida State is appealing that decision and will lose since the NCAA prefers not to overrule itself). The whole process is pretty much a joke because both of these guys quit coaching around 2000 and make no attempt to pretend like their still involved in any decision-making (Have you seen either one of them wear a headset in the last 10 years?).
I would love to know what they do on a day-to-day basis. Can you see an 79-year old and an 82-year old making recruiting phone calls everyday? Or riding around on a plane for three days at a time when recruiting season really picks up? If their Cadillacs can’t make it there in two hours with someone else driving, they’re not going. For the past 8 to 10 years, they’ve been in the role of Don Corleone halfway through The Godfather. They provide the face of the program, but they’re no longer running the show. All Penn State and Florida State fans can hope for is that the family has no Fredos. Check that, it’s all Penn State fans can hope for. We already know about the Bowden Fredos.
Let’s take one more…
Jim from Columbus, OH: Boise State! Cincinnati! TCU! Iowa! How can these teams be in the top 10 of the BCS standings and THE Ohio State University is not? A two-loss Big Ten team is always better than one of these teams. What an outrage!
Gray: Yes, it’s unfortunate that a victory over Toledo doesn’t mean as much as it once did. And you would think if you didn’t leave the state of Ohio until October 3rd you’d be in a better spot. But, he does bring up an interesting point. Is a school from the SEC, Pac-10 or Big XII South (the Big XII North is not a real conference) with two losses (sorry, the Big Ten is also not a real conference) a more worthy choice for the BCS at the end of the season than an undefeated team from a smaller conference out West or from the Big East? They’ve certainly played a harder schedule and seem to be penalized for something they can’t control.
It’s an interesting argument, but to me, if you’re a good team, then you don’t lose two games or lose to a crappy team (ahem, USC). I firmly believe that any one-loss team (that didn’t lose to a bad team) from the conferences mentioned above should always be in front of the teams from smaller conferences. They should be rewarded for playing well through much tougher schedules and competing in such an aggressive athletic environment. But once you lose two, you’re done. Let’s see what these smaller conference schools can do at that point. If they get destroyed on a regular basis, then they should be cast down to the Houston and Mobile bowls.
There’s not enough history to determine if they should no longer receive opportunities. Hawaii, WAC Champions, lost to Georgia 41-10 and last season Cincinnati lost to Virginia Tech 20-7. Of course, there’s the Boise win over Oklahoma and last year Utah beat Alabama 31-17, so they’re basically 2-2 with only one really embarrassing loss and one surprisingly dominant win, which doesn’t indicate they’ll fall into a pattern of being dominated. And when USC goes to a BCS game this year, wouldn’t you rather see a team like Boise State get a shot at them rather than the annual drilling they’ll put on the runner-up Big Ten team?