After taking the week off, here it is, a return of the gimmick that is my five favorite stories from the week. In no particular order:
1. Eastern Washington hopes to avoid those outside the state of Washington confusing it with Washington and Washington State.
Both of which, unlike EWU, are Division I programs. Although, with the quality of football displayed by the two big boys as of late, I suppose it could get confusing. Anyway, to avoid said confusion, EWU (I have no idea what their mascot is, but from the looks of this it appears to be some sort of bird of prey, like a falcon, hawk or some sort of medieval dragon ) has plans to install red turf on its football field for the 2010 season. This unconventional decision will most likely influence many other schools in the near future to install team color turfs. And eventually, this will lead the way to Alabama playing on an artificial surface of houndstooth at Bryant-Denny Stadium, which will result in thousands of Crimson Tide fans mistakenly assuming that they are actually dead and this is what heaven looks like. For everyone else, it will result in an epidemic of vomiting.
And in a semi-related story, Washington State does not have plans to change the color of its field to white, despite their 3-22 overall record and 1-17 conference record in the last two seasons.
2. Dave Rader ruining my week.
Well, not so much a favorite story as it is an important one. Or maybe it's Houston Nutt ruining my week. Either way it sucks. The latest word on the street says Ole Miss' vacant offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach position is Rader's if he wants it, and apparently we're all waiting to see if he'd rather run for public office in Oklahoma. No, I did not make that up. So to clarify, Ole Miss is courting a man that's been out of coaching for three years (and wasn't good when he was in coaching) and is considering a run in politics. Do you need any more understanding than that to fully see how we can never get out of our own damn way?
Look, I know Houston Nutt is basically the offensive coordinator. He calls the plays, but at least will consider input (at least according to the recently departed Kent Austin). So one would think we're not looking for a true offensive coordinator (because no one like that would come to Oxford to not have control of play calling), but we're in the market for a guy with an offensive mind who understands he's on back-up vocals. Oh, and a guy WHO DOESN'T HAVE A WORTHLESS HISTORY LIKE ONE DAVE RADER. The new hire needs to be a passionate recruiter and have some potential that will eventually lead him to take a job elsewhere as a full-time coordinator. That's it. No retreads and no hacks.
Also, the word says that if Rader chooses politics over coaching, Miami's (that's The U, not the Dolphins) offensive coordinator Patrick Nix is the next man in line. Please, shoot me in the face and don't miss my brain.
3. The Winter X Games are so back!
These games are not to be confused with the Summer X Games, which take place in a different month and every ramp is covered with dirt instead of snow. The Winter X Games are a more dangerous, yet equally as unappealing version of the Winter Olympics. And I feel like more alcohol and/or hippie lettuce is involved.
4. John Calipari leads another top-ranked team to defeat.
Just two days after Kentucky became the number one team in the country, Calipari lead them into the jaws of defeat at South Carolina on Wednesday night. The Gamecocks, lead by Devan Downey, who, if you haven't seen, you need to watch, beat the Wildcats in a game Kentucky had no business losing. Sort of like that time Memphis lost to Kansas in the NCAA Championship game. Kentucky has some truly outstanding talent on its team, but their youth and the always shaky in-game Calipari cost them this game, and I would expect will eventually hurt them in March. Which is too bad, since Calipari, much like Jackie Sherrill, is so loved in his profession.
5. Dexter McCluster continues to raise his first paycheck; Shay Hodge does the same.
One of the big stories out of the Senior Bowl practices this week is the explosion of McCluster onto the national media scene (or at least those who cover the Senior Bowl) and the radars of NFL scouts. In the past few days, I've read multiple stories which declare McCluster one of the biggest surprises and fastest risers in the upcoming NFL Draft, the fastest person in Mobile and a guy who will be gone by the end of the second round. And to that I say, I could not be happier for him.
As someone who watched his entire college career, from the awfulness of the Ed Orgeron days to his hydrogen bomb-like explosion in the last half of the 2009 season, this is a guy who absolutely deserves everything that's coming his way (on a side note, anyone who survived the shitstorm of Ed Orgeron deserves a lifetime of good fortune). He changed his lifestyle, worked his ass off and proved everyone that said he was too small wrong (which, at times, included me). Who knows what would have happened in the 2009 season had the Ole Miss coaches' rolled the dice and started him at running back to start the year. For starters, I probably would not have had directed so much anger at Jevan Snead. But, given McCluster's history of injury and fumbling, they chose not to do so. I can't say that I disagree with them initially, but after the fourth quarter against South Carolina in which he ran for 70 yards on 11 carries, the rest of the year should have been the Dexter McCluster Show. Nevertheless, McCluster is on his way to getting paid and sleeping in the third bedroom of the apartment with myself and Peria Jerry.
While not getting as much talk as McCluster, Shay Hodge is quietly proving himself to be one of the best receivers in Mobile. He's not particularly fast, but he's strong and a fantastic runner of routes, which will endear him to many NFL teams since timing is such a huge part of the NFL passing game. It would not surprise me if he's finally getting the respect he deserves because he's no longer receiving passes from a quarterback who enjoyed throwing to both teams, but instead a quarterback who can find the open receiver. I look forward to seeing what he can do with competent passes headed his way. And even though my ode to Hodge isn't as filled with as much adoration and praise as McCluster's was, rest assured, my man crush on him burns just as bright as it does for Dexter (why yes, we are on a first name basis since we're almost roommates!).