Nobody asked me this morning but:
1. There is a lot of work to do at Georgia Tech: Coach Paul Johnson said that Monday’s 14-7 loss to Air Force in the Independence Bowl was a “microcosm of the season.” He’s right. A year ago Georgia Tech was talented enough to overcome mistakes. This season they were not. A year ago there was a serious receiving threat with “Bay-Bay” Thomas. This season there was not. Some thought freshman Stephen Hill was going to be plugged into that spot. He was not ready. Georgia Tech lost a lot when quarterback Joshua Nesbitt broke his arm against Virginia Tech. Tevin Washington has a chance to be a good quarterback but Tech could have used Jaybo Shaw (now at Georgia Southern) down the stretch. The defense played well until the last Air Force drive that ate up the clock. That side of the ball still needs some better athletes. It is going to be an interesting spring on The Flats. Johnson is going to look back at this season and not be happy. He shouldn’t be.
2. Tuberville had “no choice:” Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville finds himself without a defensive coordinator as his Red Raider team prepares to play Northwestern on Saturday in the Ticket City Bowl. I exchanged messages with Tuberville on Monday and he made it clear that he had no choice but to let Willis go. There are reports that Willis is talking to Florida and that Tuberville learned of it through a third party. Those reports have not been confirmed. This is not an unfamiliar situation for Tuberville, who will be hiring his eighth defensive coordinator in 16 years as a head coach. He had five defensive coordinators in his 10 years at Auburn. And yes, Tuberville is a former defensive coordinator.
3. Bill Stewart’s lame duck year begins: West Virginia takes on N.C. State today in the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando and thus begins what will be a strange chapter in Mountaineer football history. Stewart, who took over the program after Rich Rodriguez bolted for Michigan in 2007, will be a lame duck coach in 2011 and will then be replaced by Dana Holgerson, who was installed as offensive coordinator and head coach in waiting by West Virginia athletics director Oliver Luck. Luck said he made the move because he didn’t think the Mountaineers could win a national championship on their current path.
If the national championship is the standard that’s going to make it tough for the next few coaches because West Virginia has been playing college football since 1891 and has NEVER won a national championship. The realistic goal at a place like West Virginia is to compete for the Big East championship every year and once in a while things come together and you have a special season, like Rodriguez did in 2007 and Don Nehlen had in 1988.
This is a pet peeve of mine. There just aren’t many places (Texas, Alabama, Ohio State are a few) where competing for a national championship on an annual basis is realistic. Now there are a bunch of places were competing for the conference championship should be a yearly goal. Because there is no playoff, winning a national championship is a function of luck as well as skill.
4. Notre Dame-Miami must stay on this side of the border: The Sun Bowl earned a reputation as one of the fun bowl trips for players because they would get a chance to leave El Paso and go across the Mexican border into Juarez and see a different culture. But now that is not possible because of a drug war that has claimed over 3,000 lives this year alone. So players at Miami and Notre Dame who have passports will have them collected before the trip and will not be allowed to cross the border.
5. Are there really too many bowls? Yeah, 35 is a lot. There are a bunch of them that I don’t see one minute of. But what I’ve learned is that a lot of these bowls aren’t for me or you. They are for the players at schools like FIU, which kicked a field goal on the last play of the game to beat Toledo 34-32 in a bowl in Detroit named after a pizza company. It was the biggest win for a school that has been playing football for only nine years. Then those kids got on a plane and were greeted by family and friends back at the Miami. You can’t put a price tag on memories like that. Nobody is going to remember that FIU finished 7-6 in 2010. They are going to remember that December night and that wonderful flight back to South Florida.
Having said all that, I still want a four-team playoff.
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