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

jumbeauxtiger

January 14th, 2011
1:17 pm

Initial Bodog.com odds for the 2012 BCS national championship:

Oklahoma 7/2
Alabama 15/2
Florida State 10/1
Boise State 12/1
LSU 12/1
Oregon 14/1
Florida 15/1
Nebraska 18/1
Penn State 20/1
TCU 20/1
Ohio State 20/1
Texas 20/1
Stanford 25/1
Virginia Tech 28/1
Wisconsin 28/1
Notre Dame 30/1
Oklahoma State 30/1
West Virginia 30/1
Arkansas 30/1
Texas A&M 35/1
Michigan State 40/1
Auburn 50/1
Miami 50/1
Mississippi 50/1
Mississippi State 50/1
South Carolina 50/1
Georgia 50/1
Iowa 60/1
Missouri 60/1
Cincinnati 75/1
Michigan 75/1
North Carolina 75/1
California 100/1
Clemson 100/1
Pittsburgh 100/1
South Florida 100/1
Tennessee 100/1
Utah 100/1
Arizona 100/1
BYU 125/1
Oregon State 125/1
Texas Tech 125/1
Washington 125/1
Arizona State 125/1
Georgia Tech 125/1
Kansas State 150/1
Boston College 150/1
UCLA 150/1
Field 10/1

3rdN8

January 14th, 2011
1:17 pm

Here’s Newton’s offers coming out of JUCO. I guess UNC has really lowered their academic requirements.

http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/recruiting/player-Cameron-Newton-95471

3rdN8

January 14th, 2011
1:21 pm

jumbeauxtiger

I was leaving, but your list caught my eye. If I’m reading that correctly, it means that there is a 10/1 chance that someone in that list will win the NC.

I manage my wife’s 401k, and other investments. She’s out of town at the moment. Who should I call?

The Ghost of Wally Butts

January 14th, 2011
1:22 pm

Go Thug-Dawgs…defend the CUP, win that 2011 FULMER CUP!!

Mike

January 14th, 2011
1:23 pm

I used to really like that song “We Are Family” I swear if I hear it again I will hang myself with dental floss. Excellent point though Gator.

3rdN8

January 14th, 2011
1:25 pm

Mike

Both of my sons, and one daughter-in-law are AU grads. Forget the dental floss…..it’s not strong enough….but I did lose a tooth.

Ramguy

January 14th, 2011
1:27 pm

I don’t think the question is could TCU beat Auburn. The question should be could TCU beat Ala, Ark, SC (twice), Ga, Miss St and LSU in the same year. Auburn did and I don’t think TCU could. Could Auburn beat (teams in TCU’s conference that they beat this year) Wyoming, New Mexico, UNLV, BYU, Air Force and Utah? You bet they could have. It’s so simple it’s stupid.

Atlanta Gator

January 14th, 2011
1:28 pm

Dental floss is for sympathy-seekers. Piano wire is for those who want to get the job done.

Atlanta Gator

January 14th, 2011
1:30 pm

Gold star for Ramguy @ 1:27 pm.

jumbeauxtiger

January 14th, 2011
1:33 pm

3rdN8, “the field” means any team not on the list has 10/1 odds. I believe there’s 50 listed so that means to win one of the other 70 schools not listed would have to win the BCS.

A few years ago I placed a bet while in Vegas and took the field against Tiger Woods in the Masters. If anyone but Tiger got the Green Jacket I would have won. Of course Tiger won the tourney :(

You better hold on to your wife’s money :)

3rdN8

January 14th, 2011
1:33 pm

“Dental floss is for sympathy-seekers”

As Lou Holtz would say….”Yeth it ith”.

3rdN8

January 14th, 2011
1:35 pm

jumbeauxtiger

I’m so glad I asked….I was getting nowhere with my penny stock portfolio, and that looked like a real winner.

ARdawg

January 14th, 2011
1:41 pm

Atlanta Gator

January 14th, 2011
12:38 pm

“Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Yes, but the NCAA doesn’t have anything like “absolute power” over anything.

ATL Gator

That’s where we’ll have to disagree. NCAA is absolute power over all they survey. They also have the ability to manipulate any individual university or collective universities they choose. The NCAA is a governing board with maximum authority in college athletics. Do you know of any instances where universities do not follow their directives or rulings?

This Past Year

January 14th, 2011
1:44 pm

- My belief is C. Newton is guilty as sin. I will never believe he didn’t know what his father was up too.

- It couldn’t have been much of a season with a lot of teams having “down” years when Auburn wins the NC.

- And I AGREE, I’m really glad the season is over.

how2fish

January 14th, 2011
1:50 pm

Tony great article, I’m sure there will more to the Auburn/Newton story well into next year but I’m hoping I’m wrong. Thanks for all the work during the year !

Au82

January 14th, 2011
1:51 pm

Gosh THUGA fans…now that Cam and Nick are gone, what will you whine about???…you might have to spend a few seconds whining about your own irrelevant program.

Oh, I take that back. When Ray Drew and Isiah Crowell commit to Auburn in a couple of weeks you can start whining and calling in the FBI, the NCAA, and the Pope to figure out why two future NFL players would want to play for the National Champions instead of the Liberty Bowl losers.

I remember last year in Athens when THUGA barely beat a very mediocre Auburn team (yet acted as if they had just won the National Championship), a THUGA fan said to me after the game “That Guz Malzahn offense will never work in the SEC”…ROTFLMAO now.

Oh and by the way, for the THUGA who is about to come back and say “1-4 in the last five years”…well, I guess that is THUGA math for you as we did not start this series 5 years ago. Auburn leads the all time series and it looks like we are about to start increasing that lead.

War Eagle!!

Bye bye Auburn!!

January 14th, 2011
1:52 pm

wballs,

I may be wrong about how long Fairley has been on Auburn’s campus (I believe I read he started a couple of games in the ‘09 season) but I am still correct with my assumption as to why they are both leaving. $cam is bolting before the terds hit the fan with his recruitment, and because I’m sure he’s tired of signing his name on tests that his tutors are probably taking for him. Same with Fairley in that regard.

jumbeauxtiger

January 14th, 2011
1:52 pm

Good article Tony and thanks for another season.

I also hope that there will be a 4 team playoff. It would only add one extra game by seeding 4 teams using the BCS bowls.

gdawginkalamazoo

January 14th, 2011
1:53 pm

Has Terrell Pryor declared for the draft yet? Deadline is approaching.

Sad season for the clowns at the NCAA. Barnum and Bailey will now preside over college football.

Good luck to Cam in the NFL don’t blow all that bonus money in one church.

Yes Ramguy, Barnhart should use that post next season. I am sure Les Miles will if LSU is pushing for a bid with one loss. .

Rix

January 14th, 2011
1:53 pm

when the NCAA strips Auburn of their national title in the coming months, shouldn’t they do the same with OSU’s Sugar Bowl win? They allowed cheats to play for both programs.

DC

January 14th, 2011
1:58 pm

Rix,

Where are you getting your facts to make such a strong statement? Or are you just be one of those fans who says extreme statements to make a point…

Top Recruit

January 14th, 2011
1:59 pm

Very good article Tony! I enjoyed reading it. Thanks.

And Georgia high school football, along with the Dawgs and the rest of the SEC will be here before we know it. Great game with outstanding players and coaches. Fun to be a part of, irregardless of whether it is good, bad, or tough.

gdawginkalamazoo

January 14th, 2011
1:59 pm

I would bet 3rdN8’s wifes portfolio that if anything comes out against Auburn in the Victoryland /Colonial transcripts/cases it won’t involve just Cam.

LOL

January 14th, 2011
2:03 pm

“I remember last year in Athens when THUGA barely beat a very mediocre Auburn team (yet acted as if they had just won the National Championship),”

Kind of like your fans acted this year after beating a terrible UGA team!

dawgfan

January 14th, 2011
2:07 pm

Well Au82, we won’t have to worry about pieces of trash like Fairley taking cheapshots at our QB anymore. That’s a relief. He can do that in the NFL where his behavior this past season would have gotten him hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. And I really doubt we’ll have to worry about Auburn scoring 49 points without Cam. Nobody will be talking about Auburn football in 2011. Hell, nobody really talked about Auburn football this past season. It was the Cam Newton Traveling Circus from day 1. It was like Auburn didn’t even have a football team. They just had Cam Newton.

Something stinks about your football program and you better pray to Cam Newton that nobody finds out about it. That’s all I’ve got to say.

One Two Thress

January 14th, 2011
2:09 pm

Yo Cam…I need my money bro. Ya cheating fool.

Jakeau24

January 14th, 2011
2:11 pm

@Jakeau24 reply. What, the report that his dad was at the game? Are you kidding me? Is that all you have? Yes, a dad went to watch his son play in the National Championship game. Big deal. Auburn could not make him not attend. I don’t blame him for going.

One Two Thress

January 14th, 2011
2:13 pm

Yep something does stink about AU…the truth will come out eventually. The whole world figured out AU Jamz Brokks could not read and he “graduated” from AU. The truth will come out eventually. Pateince.

Rix

January 14th, 2011
2:14 pm

“Strong statement?” It’s called a question. Didn’t think it was possible to ask such a “strong” question….

Jakeau24

January 14th, 2011
2:15 pm

Dawgfan: How many personal fouls did Fairley have this year? Four! One against uga too which was the correct call. How many arrests has uga had this year……..? Your program is on the decline so worry about it instead of Auburn. Glad Richt kept the staff intact too. Reminds me of Tubs last two years.

DC

January 14th, 2011
2:20 pm

dawgfan,

Is that why we (Auburn) beat Oregon when Cam was basically ineffective? Get over yourself..stop crying about AU beating you all late November…you think anyone cares about UGA right now? check your recruits…and check your “potential” recruits to come…I think AU is having a blast taking recruits away from you…

huh?

January 14th, 2011
2:20 pm

All the commentators IMMEDIATELY began making excuses for Boise when they announced to play UGA next year by crying about how much “talent” they will be missing, and it won’t be a “real” Boise team UGA faces to begin the 2011 season. Well if that’s true, then why are they already in the pre-preseason top 5 poll, while UGA isn’t even in the top 25?

BAMA dude

January 14th, 2011
2:22 pm

Good luck to Cam in the NFL don’t blow all that bonus money in one church.

We have a nominee for Best in Show, ladies and gentlemen…

DC

January 14th, 2011
2:22 pm

Rix,

You started with a statement. “when the NCAA strips Auburn of their national title in the coming months”…that is what i was referencing…which I will say again…strong statement..

BAMA dude

January 14th, 2011
2:24 pm

DC

January 14th, 2011
2:20 pm
dawgfan,

Is that why we (Auburn) beat Oregon when Cam was basically ineffective?

Ehhhh

Could it be that Dyer and others went off because Oregon was using extra resources to make Cam “basically ineffective?”

Gen Neyland

January 14th, 2011
2:26 pm

zoo : Didn’t Pryor sign an agreement to return to the osu this season if he were allowed to play in the Sugar..? Are you thinking he’ll renege on that, ahem, promise..? Maybe he can get his start in the NFL as a Replacement Player.

jumbeauxtiger : Early congrats on what the pundits think of your program. Gotta make the family of Mettenberger give pause to what if what if didn’t happen. BTW, got any odds on the 2011 Fulmer Cup..?

BAMA dude

January 14th, 2011
2:27 pm

Jakeau24

January 14th, 2011
2:11 pm
@Jakeau24 reply. What, the report that his dad was at the game? Are you kidding me? Is that all you have? Yes, a dad went to watch his son play in the National Championship game.

See, this is where the Barners lose their credibility. On the one hand Cecil is a noble father who just wanted to see his son play, but on the other he’s a sleazeball who was willing to jeopardize his son’s career for personal gain without the son’s knowledge. Which is it?

gdawginkalamazoo

January 14th, 2011
2:32 pm

Gen Neyland, I don’t think he actually “signed” it unless you can count an “X” on the bottom line as a signature. He might not renege on it but being “academically ineligible” would relieve him of his contract agreement.

ESPN

January 14th, 2011
2:32 pm

Sports Fans,

Tune in to Outside the Lines at 3:00 ET for a discussion of Cam Newton and the ongoing NCAA investigation.

juice sourcer

January 14th, 2011
2:34 pm

The story line is this…these kids are one step above slave labor…while there masters are making millions.

JASon

January 14th, 2011
2:38 pm

“…Alabama, the defending national champions, to beat the No. 1 team…”

The media should be banned from ever referring to last year. They love to do it though, don’t they? (see Saints) Mr. college football, we tried to tell you before the season started that Alabama was nowhere near #1, but because of your narrow media vision, you just couldn’t help yourself. That must have been embarassing for you.

chazzo

January 14th, 2011
2:39 pm

“The ruling made no sense unless you believe Ohio State’s claim that their players had not been instructed on the rules.”

This actually makes the ruling far worse as it should then make the institution culpable for not effectively managing its environment. That is what USC got dinged for. Right? So, instead OSU was awarded for not properly instructing its players. Great precedent there.

Mr. Laughing

January 14th, 2011
2:39 pm

@ huh?

Caught that, did you? It’s not so much because Boise is playing UGA, it’s because Boise is playing an SEC team and and the talking heads at ESPN are smart enough to realize Boise can’t hang with even a decent SEC team for 4 quarters. It’s not that they so much prefer Boise over the SEC, they just appreciate the chaos and added story lines an undefeated Boise brings to them each year. Having that argument destroyed the first game of the season has to be a sports journalist’s worst nightmare. They love the “what if” hypotheticals a Boise brings them for 4 months each year.

gdawginkalamazoo

January 14th, 2011
2:40 pm

BAMA dude, I believe you will need to read the scriptures in order to answer that question. Or attend one of Cecil’s sermons. Better be in shape when you go because the offering plates they pass are HEAVY. Actually they may even use wheel barrows. Don’t hit the Brinks truck when you pull into the parking lot. And no, I am not casting stones because I lost my right to cast stones so long ago that I can’t even remember why I lost that right.

Rix

January 14th, 2011
2:40 pm

A statement that I think every non-Auburn koolaid drinker believes is inevitable.

Huh?

January 14th, 2011
2:42 pm

JASon,

Alabama was still ranked Number 1 when they lost to South Carolina. But your point still has merit. Auburn was Number 1 in 2010 — it’s now 2011 and they aren’t Number 1 any more.

kearns

January 14th, 2011
2:42 pm

Mr. Laughing,

So basically you are saying they are lazy, would-be “journalists” and they appreciate the annual drivel of a “well what about a Boise” weekly story? I couldn’t agree more!!

serious question

January 14th, 2011
2:43 pm

Is incest really legal in Alabama???

DC

January 14th, 2011
2:44 pm

bama dude,

No. It was extremely evident that Cam was trying too hard with his passes and over threw several times when he had wide open teammates.

Huh?

January 14th, 2011
2:45 pm

serious question,

Only if you don’t get caught. Same rules as in the NCAA.