Some random thoughts before I get on the plane to West Coast, where it is warm and sunny:
1. It’s been a very good year at Georgia Tech. While last night’s loss to Iowa in the Orange Bowl was a disappointment to Georgia Tech and its fans, at some point today it will be time to put it into perspective with the rest of the season. Georgia Tech ran into a big, athletic defense that had had over 40 days to prepare. When quarterback Ricky Stanzi was healthy, Iowa was the best team in the Big Ten and would have likely gone undefeated if he had been available for the Northwestern and Ohio State games.
In just two seasons Paul Johnson has made Georgia Tech a player again on the national stage with an ACC championship, a BCS bowl, and a win over Georgia. While it can’t be a great year unless you beat the state rival, this was a very good year at Georgia Tech.
2. Time to give the Big Ten its props. The Big Ten has gotten beat up during bowl season lately, going 1-6 last year. Iowa was the only Big Ten team to win a bowl last season when it beat South Carolina. But this season the Big Ten has posted four pretty impressive wins: Ohio State over Oregon to snap the Big Ten’s six-game losing streak in the Rose; Penn State over LSU in the Capital One; Wisconsin over what was supposed to be a faster, more athletic Miami in the Champs Sports; and finally Iowa over the ACC champs in the Orange. Northwestern had several chances to beat Auburn in the Outback before losing in overtime.
3. Kudos to Rich Brooks. The former Falcons assistant coach has decided to step down at Kentucky after seven seasons. One of his goals when he took the job was to leave the program in better shape than he found it. On that point he was a huge success. The program was devastated by NCAA probation when he got there and after struggling (9-25) in his first three seasons there were a lot of people who wanted to get rid of him. But athletics director Mitch Barnhart and President Lee Todd stuck with Brooks, who then took the Wildcats to four straight bowl games, something never done in the football history of the school. I will never forget Kentucky’s upset of No. 1 LSU in Lexington in 2007. In fact, that season I went to Lexington three times to watch Kentucky play and saw three great games, including a four-overtime loss to Tennessee which put the Vols into the SEC championship game over Georgia. Brooks turns the reins over to offensive coordinator Joker Phillips.
4. Bama looking for first win over Texas. There is a lot of history that says No. 2 Texas can beat No. 1 Alabama in tomorrow night’s BCS championship game. The two storied programs have met eight times in history with Texas holding a 7-0-1 mark:
1902———————Texas, 10-0 (Regular season)
1915———————Texas, 20-0 (Regular season)
1922——————–Texas, 19-10 (Regular season)
1947——————–Texas, 27-7 (Sugar Bowl)
1960——————–3-3 Tie (Bluebonnet Bowl)
1964——————–Texas, 21-17 (Orange Bowl)
1972——————–Texas, 17-13 (Cotton Bowl)
1981——————–Texas, 14-12 (Cotton Bowl)
I’ll be in Los Angeles on Thursday where I will give you my five burning questions about the BCS Championship game.
5. Urban Meyer wasting no time. For a guy who was supposed to be taking a leave of absence, Florida’s Urban Meyer has been a busy boy this week. He has lost four assistant coaches since the end of the regular season—Defensive coordinator Charlie Strong along with assistants Kenny Carter and Vance Bedford are all headed to Louisville. Offensive assistant Billy Gonzalez left before the bowl game to go to LSU. He has been replaced by Zach Azzani of Central Michigan. Meyer and interim coach Steve Addazio have hired former Gator assistant Stan Drayton, who left for Tennessee with some hard feelings in 2007 saying that he wanted to coach in a more conventional offense. Drayton is a good recruiter and Florida needs that to hold this class together. D.J. Durkin, who coached the past three seasons at Stanford, has been hired to coach the linebackers, which was Strong’s position. We’re still waiting to hear on the defensive coordinator’s job although published reports say that current assistant Chuck Heater has a shot.
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