College football 2010: The good and the bad

The SEC has won its fifth straight BCS national championship. Auburn has won its first national title since 1957. And the argument continues: What if  No. 1 Auburn (14-0) played No. 2 TCU (13-0) on Saturday to settle the national title? We’ll never know.

The incredible thing about a college football season is that in July and August, it just feels like it will never start. Then, once it does, it seems to be over in a couple of heartbeats.

I will always remember the 2010 season because it gave us both the good and the bad that is the game of college football in the 21st century.

You know the good. The game, as it is played on the field, has never been better. Every week there was a new, dramatic story line. Every Saturday there was something that made us go “Wow!”:

**–Oct. 2: For about 90 seconds in Baton Rouge, Tennessee had apparently pulled a stunning upset at LSU. But on what appeared to be the last play of the game, Tennessee’s defense had 13 men on the field. LSU got one more snap and won.

**–Oct. 9: South Carolina upsets Alabama, the defending national champions, to beat the No. 1 team for the first time in school history.

**–Nov. 26:  It was a Friday that we will never forget. Auburn rallies from a 24-0 deficit at Alabama and wins a game for the ages, 28-27. Then, in the wee hours of Nov. 27, Nevada ends Boise State’s dreams of playing for the national championship with a field goal in overtime.

I could go on and on. College football is so good now that we EXPECT to have these unforgettable moments week after week. The game rarely disappoints.

But we also had a chance to see college football’s dark side. This is the side that threatens to undermine the long-term credibility of the game with the public that loves it so:

**–The academic scandal at North Carolina that forced the school to suspend as many as 13 players. It turned an ACC championship caliber team into one which was lucky to finish 7-5.

**–Agent gate: One bad decision by one of the game’s premier players (A.J. Green), basically wrecked Georgia’s season. An agent throws a South Florida party for underclassmen because the benefit far outweighs the risk. This problem is not going away. It is only going to get worse if something doesn’t change–and quickly. Unfortunately, the NCAA doesn’t do much of anything quickly. They need to open up the proccess and get these kids talking to agents much earlier in their careers.

**–In June there was the money and power grab that was known as conference expansion and realignment. When it was over the Big Ten had 12 teams, the Big 12 had 10 teams, and the Mountain West had lost its three most high-profile programs: TCU (Big East), Utah (Pac-10), and BYU (Independent). The Pac-10 almost talked Texas into leaving and destroying the Big 12. It was an ugly thing to watch.

**–USC got hammered by the NCAA in the summer and Reggie Bush eventually gave back his Heisman Trophy.

**–While Cameron Newton’s play on the field was magnificent and deserving of the Heisman Trophy, the entire case involving his father was bad for college football. Legally, the NCAA had no choice but to let Newton play based on the facts (or lack of them) in evidence. But this loophole needs to be closed before another season comes around. The guardians of the sport had better hope that no more damning information comes out about this case. We watched USC vacate a national championship and its star player give back a Heisman Trophy. College football does not need another body blow like that.

**–And then there was the Ohio State ruling, which suspended five players for selling stuff given to them by the school. But the NCAA allowed the suspensions to start after they played in the Sugar Bowl. Critics jumped on the NCAA and college football because it appears both are making these rules up as they go along. The ruling made no sense unless you believe Ohio State’s claim that their players had not been instructed on the rules. I don’t.

There was also tragedy:

**–Student photographer Declan Sullivan was killed when the scissor tower where he was filming Notre Dame’s practice collapsed.

**–Eric LeGrand of Rutgers suffered paralysis in a terrbile injury against Army.

**–Mississippi State defensive end Nick Bell lost his battle with cancer. He was only 20 years old.

So again, it was a good season and it was a bad season. Mostly it was a tough season.

The hard edge to the Cameron Newton debate was disturbing. The kid almost lost everything because the father. The Newtons got lucky. The next kid whose father gets caught doing this won’t be so lucky. Parents who act like agents in the future (and get caught) will not be happy with the result.

The nastiness of the BCS debate is disquieting. I want a four-team playoff or a true plus-one, where two teams are picked after the bowls. I believe college football will need to made a change in the post-season format when the current BCS contract expires after the 2013 regular season. The debate has always kept interest high in college football. But I think we are reaching a tipping point where the debate is so destructive that it hurts the game.

In many ways it was another great season but in many I’m glad the season is over. I don’t remember feeling that way too many times.

Please follow me on Twitter:

www.twitter.com/MrCFB

“Barnhart and Durham:” Among our guests will be Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com. We’ll look at his early Top 25 for 2011. Join us at 10 a.m.  www.790thezone.com

572 comments Add your comment

jeff

January 14th, 2011
8:17 am

Gumby

January 14th, 2011
8:23 am

Well I guess the Cam Newton thing will blow over now and be swept under the rug since he declared for the NFL. I guess Daddy said the money is too good, go pro.

Dawg_Mike

January 14th, 2011
8:25 am

Don’t forget Eric LeGrand of Rutgers. Remarkable story….

jeff

January 14th, 2011
8:27 am

I still like the idea of a bigger Big 10 and a bigger Pac 10 (12?) Utah could make some noise in the Pac 12. Col. probably will take time to develope and of course TCU to the Big east is going to be fun. Could TCU win the Big Least? Remember when Miami joined the ACC. They would DOMINATE! I do not remember seeing the U in any of the Championship games so far, have you?

Too many kids getting hurt. Something should be done. I know it is a hard contact sport but the kid at ND never should have been up there. The Rutgers kid, however is another story. What, if anything, could be done to help keep that from happening?

TCU could beat Auburn. That is why none of the BCS leagues would want it to happen. Think about it like this. If TCU wins the Big Least next year and ends up taking on Utah (possible Pac 12 Winner) what would the BCS powers say then. Only when they join a real conference could they get a shot at the title?

Fun Season. Can not wait until it all starts again.

JaxDawg05

January 14th, 2011
8:27 am

The stench from this year in college football won’t go away for a LONG time. The NCAA has painted them selves in a corner with this years rulings.

Dick the ex-Weasel

January 14th, 2011
8:28 am

I want apologies from everyone who was sure that all of the OSU players would turn pro. And no comments about how they knew they’d be taken low (or not at all), their talent hasn’t changed since your comments came out.

Arch Dawg

January 14th, 2011
8:30 am

There is no loophole to close, well except for the one specifically opened for Cam Newton. If you can’t admit that the NCAA and SEC bent the rules to allow the best player in college football to keep playing then I’ve got some ocean front property in Tennessee to sell you.

RomeDawg

January 14th, 2011
8:31 am

The Good: Seeing a local take over as HC at a major university, even if it is the hated Gators. Andrew Luck staying another year!

The Bad: The Cam Newton saga. The thing some parents will do to their children. Isn’t his dad a preacher? The Lord does work in mysterious ways! A J Green leaving for the NFL.

The Ugly: Nick Fairley’s play ALL year. Way to prove how justified our complaining was by trying to rip someone’s head off in the NC game.

kudos

January 14th, 2011
8:32 am

kudos to jeff for being first (1st?)

RomeDawg

January 14th, 2011
8:33 am

Oh yeah, the NCAA showing money was more important than morals by letting Ohio State let 5 players play in bowl game. That is bad on so many levels. Money rules college football, bottom line!

Later Vacated

January 14th, 2011
8:33 am

The Auburn mess continues to be sordid. Shame on the War Eagle and all the facilitators.

Steve

January 14th, 2011
8:34 am

Tony, I just don’t buy the A.J. Green suspension basically wrecked Georgia’s season. Ineffective coaching and the 2010 Fulmer Cup are much bigger factors that have a sustaining impact.

Hopefully, the NCAA will somehow mature and be relevant.

ARdawg

January 14th, 2011
8:35 am

This year it became obvious that the BCS and the NCAA are the same Cartel. The SEC, Slive and Barnhart receive their orders from the Cartel.

Barnhart is a Gomer

K.Kardasheeun

January 14th, 2011
8:35 am

Has Newton returned his Heisman yet?

Black Coffee & Bourbon

January 14th, 2011
8:39 am

It was a good season, full of highs and lows. I enjoyed watching the games on Saturdays and not having to worry about “real world” problems for a couple of hours. I had fun ribbing those in my family who pull for the Gators (Go Noles!) The conference championship games were interesting but to be honest I only watched a few of the bowl games. I agree with you Tony that the BCS/Playoff argument is becoming destructive. A plus one would appease most. Anyway, looking forward to 2011.

Dawg_Mike

January 14th, 2011
8:44 am

@ Steve-
I agree. wreck the season? Not exactly. While it did not help, here are the real season wreckers-

poor play calling
ineffective O line
Ineffective running game
ineffective defense
off the field issues
lack of passion and intensity from coaching staff
no contact in pre season practices
ineffective strength and conditioning program

I could go on but no need……

Jakeau24

January 14th, 2011
8:44 am

UGA fans should worry about themselves, their stale coaching staff and their declining program rather than Cam and Auburn. If we had your talent we could go undefeated again!! Cam is as clean as that national championship trophy in our case!!! At least Fairley will not be back to put your QB out again!!

Dawg Man

January 14th, 2011
8:46 am

Thanks Tony, Good perspective to end the season. Sadly for me the bad of this season outweighs the good by 2 to 1. Unfortunately, I feel we haven’t heard the last of the Cecil and Cam Newton pay for play scandal. IMHO I think more damning information will come to the surface and will rob Auburn of its NC, numerous scholarships, and ultimately it’s future

Hobnailbooty

January 14th, 2011
8:46 am

As a UGA fan the bad was UGA. Better fix it soon!!!

Redneck 61

January 14th, 2011
8:48 am

Georgia = CRYBABYS I have never seen anybody cry more than ga fans.When yall lose yall blame everybody but Richt fire him so you can have a wining team again.Ga is just wasting time next year without AJ GREEN you will suck again and you can cry again and blame everyone but richt.Next year SC will win the east and ga will suck again.

JB

January 14th, 2011
8:49 am

Best thing about 2010….The season is over and the Dawgs won’t have the pressure of trying to score a touchdown again……

@Jakeau24

January 14th, 2011
8:49 am

You have blinders on buddy… The Newtwons are far from clean… Tony, why no comment on the recent Newton information at the BCS game?

Grim Reaper

January 14th, 2011
8:51 am

Still laughing my arse off about FSWho at number 4 in early 2011 picks, better than the Wayan brothers, C’Rock, or any of any number of comedians out there. Yeah, got any more standup routines to last me through the rest of the waiting till OU thumps the Indians in Trailer’hassee by fifty next year? Hahahahahahahahahah

JB

January 14th, 2011
8:52 am

Redneck 61…… If you are a Carolina fan, you are so Correct to use the word ” Suck” in a sentence, because for 100 years, that has been what Carolina football has been all about.

Dillinger

January 14th, 2011
8:53 am

Disgraceful, totally disgraceful. From the power play conference shake-ups, to the poor officiating, and especially to Cam Newton, Auburn and their many apologists, it was a truly shameful year for college football. The asterisk should already be on this season.

Thuga

January 14th, 2011
8:53 am

Fairley did not try and rip the guys head off. He pushed his helmet as he got up. The announcers said it was stupid but not dirty. His driving QBs into the ground is not against NCAA rules. Buck Belue said it best,” if Fairley were a bulldog, they would consider him a rock star”. I cannot recall a season where fans have whined as much as thuga fans have this past season. What a bunch of pathetic losers! War Eagle!!!! 2010 National Champs!!! 3 undefeated seasons since 1993!!! Thuga???????

Mock Richt

January 14th, 2011
8:53 am

Good: Cam’s play on the field, Andrew Luck, TCU showing class

Bad: Too much to list, but Cam scam at top

Ugly: UGA’s season

#1BamaFan

January 14th, 2011
8:55 am

First of all…congratulations to all of the Auburn Fans. I, as an Alabama fan pulled for Auburn all of the way and I am proud of them. The Cam situation will come to light when the Victoryland and/or Lowder Bank allegations go to court. All of the wire taps will then be public record because the FBI could care less about the NCAA. RTR

Bull Meacham

January 14th, 2011
8:55 am

Terrible season. Hotel gate at S. Carolina. Rainey stalks a woman and plays. AJ out 4 games for selling jersey he makes popular. Bama suspension, Ohio St , and topping it all off the scandal at Auburn and NCAA /SEC looking the other way.
At least North Carolina did things the right way.
Other than that, its a mess.
AJ didn’t ruin UGA season. He didn’t not got for it on 4th and inches in a meaningless bowl. Fat O lineman and terrible coaching lost it for UGA.

MAJORPAYNE

January 14th, 2011
8:56 am

It amazes me the DAWG fans with continued whining over Auburn. What Auburn mess? What has Auburn been accused of? Nothing! All that remians is the jealousy of Auburn winning and turning it around. UGA fans need to be worried with the mess they have created in Athens. It is now Tallahassee North. Criminals running the program, no respect for the coaches or the University and uninspired play. Resorting to uniform changes and Soulja Boy, shows a program that is desparate.

You may hate the way Nick Fairley plays but UGA has had those players for years, but not now, and would love to have him transfer. The difference is you saw the players at Auburn play with heart and insipration. Being down in so many games showed a team that was well coached and confident. With all the talent in Athens, the players could be called the cowardly lions, they have no heart.

Shug

January 14th, 2011
8:56 am

Tony, though you seem to be a bit of a company man, I have to ask: If and when all the Cam Newton facts come to light, will Auburn be subject to the death penalty? It has a history of violations, and it pretty much flaunted the whole scandal and dared the NCAA to do something about it.

JB

January 14th, 2011
8:58 am

The biggest winner in 2011…. The IRS……..Will now get a W-2 from Cam going forward and taxes will be collected. Help pay down that debt Cam…..And thanks for those construction jobs your Dad provided by repairing the Church………..Obama thanks you…..Cecil Newton, providing shovel ready jobs……..

Dawg Man

January 14th, 2011
8:58 am

Yep possible SMU type death penalty. Again just my opinion

bwkdawg

January 14th, 2011
8:58 am

@Redneck 61 Carolina has one lucky season and now they’re some sort of power house now huh. You don’t belive yall will come down to athens and beat us next year. Ga will win the east next year. You guys best season is a 5 loss season, cmon man.

Dr. Phil

January 14th, 2011
8:59 am

As an Auburn alum, I am glad that Newton is leaving. Auburn would not have won the NC without him, but his post-game cavorting and self-absorbtion were too much for anyone to endure. It is unlikely that Cam did not know what his father was up to, but suspecting that and proving it are two very different things. Newton was blessed by the NCAA, so he will likely keep his Heisman and NC ring. Next year, Georgia fans can focus on Mettenburger and hopefully forget about Newton and Fairley.

Virginia Dog

January 14th, 2011
8:59 am

I am a rabid DAWG fan that is married to an Auburn grad. With our sorry season the best thing for me this year was making the trip to Phoenix for the BCS Championship. I have to admit it was one of the best trips I have made in a long time. It felt good to be from the South and the SEC, especially when compared to the group from Oregon. The Auburn fans, which greatly outnumbered the Oregon fans, were fun and easy to be around. They partied hard but always respectful of Oregon fans that might wander by. No matter what happens in the Cam Newton saga, if Auburn has to give back the NC and Cam the Heisman, this trip and experience can never be taken away. The only thing that would have made it better is if UGA had been in the game…..maybe in my lifetime. Congratulations to Auburn on a great season and one last time….War Eagle!

Gator Mike

January 14th, 2011
9:00 am

Tony-good article and you are on target.
Observations:
1. I hope AU does not get hurt by Cecil Newton’s scumbag moves.
2. I wonder how many meanoingful credits Cam accrued in the classroom at AU in his 2 semester plus summer session tenure in school.
3. The AU Boosters were financially out bid by an NFL agent which is why Scam is “officially” going pro.
4. AU and college football are much better off in getting Cecil and Cam Newton in the rear view mirror.

Well, Tony...

January 14th, 2011
9:01 am

…I give you a hard time so now I have give you kudos – the topic was excellent and your review perspective right on target.

Having said that, I must add to the good – still having Furman Bisher chime in twice this year was heavenly to this reader…may he keep adding the occasional prose to this rag until they pry the Royal from his fingers…

And, the bad – you STILL ain’t no Furman Bisher, but at least you now recognize that…

kral

January 14th, 2011
9:03 am

you want a plus one or a football playoff 4..shame on you tony…still a beauty contest system…tell me why every d-1 conference champion does not deserve a shot at a national championship..would it not be great for every team to start the year and say to themselves..boys we win our conference we got a shot at it…Iam sure western kentucky appreciates their champ. sub crown…they were the 16th seed…Iam sure Seattle fans appreciate the pro system..college fb continues to exhibit more an more parity between the haves and the maybe don’t have…no what yyou offer is still the good old boy plan we got control..not the teams controlling their on destiny

JB

January 14th, 2011
9:03 am

Majorpayne…………You think Georgia people are the only ones talking about Auburn and Cam and Fairly………..YES, on this blog, but I’ve read hundreds of stories from all over the country about THOSE THREE TOPICS…..You hate Georgia, fine, but this is a national story, that Ain’t over.

wballs1977

January 14th, 2011
9:06 am

It’s a shame that insightful bloggers are hard to come by these days. I used to think that SEC fans provided the most depth and logic when talking about college football. After this year, that has changed. SEC fans, including most on Tony’s blog, are nothing short of fickle and hypocritical…and it is becoming quite obvious to those few SEC fans that know the game and aren’t afraid to admit defeat.

3rdN8

January 14th, 2011
9:07 am

As a Bama fan, I am proud of the Auburn TEAM. I hate that their season has had all of these distractions. The Newton saga resulted in the limelight being taken away from the 90+ players who did things right.

I’d love to see Newton return, because I think Bama can win even with him on the field…..and competition is what it should all be about. But part of me is glad that he’s gone. I’m just tired of this story.

DawginLex

January 14th, 2011
9:07 am

2010 will go down for me as the year where college football became dirty. A year where cheating was allowed and rewarded. Honesty cost you wins and possibly your job and the NCAA abused its power time and time again.

Not just college football, college basketball. Mark Emmert, the NCAA President and former President of the Univ. of Washington, has yet to explain how it was ok for Washington to recruit Enes Kanter and Terrence Jones, but the minute they decided to go to Kentucky, Kanter’s background came into question.

If Kanter had stayed at UW, he would be eligible right now. At UK, he is permanently ineligible.

Ohio State 5-A big joke
AJ Green-4 games-misuse of authority
Auburn-The biggest joke of them all

JB

January 14th, 2011
9:09 am

Waiting on 2012………………

Blue

January 14th, 2011
9:12 am

DawgMike: when he put “**–Eric LeGrand of Rutgers suffered paralysis in a terrbile injury against Army.”, I thought he WAS not forgetting Eric LeGrand of Rutgers.

Dawg Man

January 14th, 2011
9:12 am

Couldn’t say it better JB. It’s a national story that isn’t over yet. It would defy logic and common sense for the Cam story to be over now. What’s sad is Cam now will get an NFL contract and leave Auburn in the cold

JB

January 14th, 2011
9:14 am

3rdn8@9:07……………” As an Alabama fan, I proud of Auburn Team”………………Lord, there is hope For Israel and Palestine…. LOL

Dawg Man

January 14th, 2011
9:14 am

The loyal fans of Auburn which as a Dawg fan I think are mostly good people will wish they had never heard the name Cecil and Cam Newton once the smoke clears

Zebra

January 14th, 2011
9:15 am

The way many of the Tide fans acted towards Auburn was another low point. Those people are just disgusting in their hatred.

kral

January 14th, 2011
9:15 am

The bowl system is rich in history because that is the only history d1 oone has..but it’s been flawed since as early as I can remember…about 1963…now there are people trying you correct this flawed history..hope I live to see the day