Sprint Option: Week 6

So, we successfully weathered the hurricane with fair-to-middling damage; it could have been significantly worse. I’m thankful for last minute NNW corrections of category 4 storms. Another miracle was the fact that I was able to watch a full slate of games on Saturday (and Sunday if you count UGA/SC). Here are my thoughts coming off this damp weekend.

To the Option, James! And don’t spare the horses!

LSU vs. Florida canceled, fans of both teams embarrass themselves and their teams…

So, this is first because I feel like I should clarify my position based on some of the feedback I received from my mini-write up in Bet the Board. In no uncertain terms do I believe that any conscious effort was made by Florida to dodge LSU. I mean, come on. This is rivalry game. The kids want to play. I’m not so cynical to sit here and think that the game was pocket vetoed by Foley or Alleva over some contrived notion of gamesmanship. I did not make this clear in my other column, so I’m setting the record straight now. The Florida alum in me would love to see this game go unscheduled for only one reason. That way, when Tennessee gets run over by Alabama next weekend, the conflagration that will envelop the city of Knoxville and Tennessee fans will be total (and fantastic). Florida winning out in conference would get the better of the Vols in a year when Tennessee finally ended that decade losing streak. That would be personally satisfying, but I’d still rather see Florida play LSU. Expect them to play November 19, in Baton Rouge. LSU has made it clear that they are not going on the road the last three weeks in November. I don’t expect UF to pay LSU’s buyout if Death Valley hosts, but that’s the best case (assuming the commissioner’s office doesn’t postpone the SECCG for a week to get the game in). Don’t be surprised if Sankey slow plays this one to see if the outcome will have implications. Another Florida conference loss will sound the death knell for the Gators in the race for the East. I expect an announcement to be made the first week of November. Getcha popcorn ready for this one.

Tech keeps pace with Pitt, drops down the stretch…

Georgia Tech lost a heartbreaker to a revitalized Pittsburgh team this weekend. This loss comes on the heels of Paul Johnson’s idiotic comments to the fans, admin, and press about facilities, support, and funding. I’m throwing up the stop sign on CPJ here. You can’t sit there and say the fans aren’t supporting you when people actually still attend these games voluntarily this season. You can’t blame the facilities 8 years in when you won 11 games two seasons ago. He then went on to say that firing him wouldn’t matter. This should be the most troubling statement to you if you’re a Tech fan. It means that he is at least three and maybe four years or more away from having a strong team. If he is not in position with his recruits to do better than any other hire, why would he be retained? He better be careful; Tech is liable to get plenty of alumni support as frustrated grads kick in money for the boosters to buy his acrimonious ass out. On the Pittsburgh side of things, the team continues to prove that it is capable of putting points on the board, which is more than you have been able to say for Pitt in the past few seasons. Their defense was not ready to play against the Yellow Jacket offense, but the offense responded well enough to win. Pitt is one or two decent classes away from being top of the heap in the Coastal. But anyway, all aboard the Fire Paul Johnson train. #BringInStrong #YeahRight

Noles/Canes get that ol’ time feeling, let the game come down to kicking…

Miami cruised through the Noles in the first half and built a 2 score lead only to have it eroded in the second half by stagnant playcalling, excellent halftime adjustments from FSU, and tough breaks on foul calls. I mention the fouls as part a deeper point about the targeting rule. The Noles had been caving Miami’s left guard protector in all game on field goals and extra points. It’s no surprise they got one, but man, it would not have been FSU/Miami if it hadn’t been the game-tying PAT. Mercy, this series is taking years off these fanbases. Regarding the penalties, FSU had a player ejected for a dirty hit on Brad Kaaya where the Miami quarterback lost a tooth. Later in the second half, Miami lost a linebacker on a targeting call that was a letter of the law call, but was, in my opinion, a hard football play without malicious intent. Granted: we can’t let officials start calling the game on intent. Plus, Miami’s lack of production is what made the tight calls at the end of the game matter, not the calls themselves. Still, targeting as a rule can be divided into two types of calls: the malicious hitting that the rule was created for, and the hard hits caught by the wide net cast by the rule. Officials have protocols known as “if-in-doubts;” for instance, if an offense in hurry up quick sets to snap the ball, if in doubt, the formation was set. In interference: if in doubt, it is not pass interference. For targeting, the if-in-doubt is: if in doubt, it IS targeting. This is the only protocol like this, and while it does catch the bad targeting, it also ejects players who commit a “letter of the law” foul, which can be called targeting, but probably shouldn’t. Simply put, there’s no way you can watch the targeting on Kaaya and the targeting on Whitfield and believe both hits should be enforced the same way-and this is coming from a guy who is big into player safety. The rule clearly needs more work.

Arkansas obliterated by Alabama…

Woo pig? This was some kind of beat down. Eventually, late scores by the Razorbacks led to the final looking a lot more respectable than the game actually was. Alabama plays a type of football the likes of which Bielema is unfamiliar. The Hogs actually belonged on the field with Bama athletically, however, the sheer coaching superiority of the Tide was too much for Arkansas to withstand. However, good news for Razorback fans: your admins appear aware of the hazards of playing in the SEC West, and it does not seem like you’re looking to unload your coach. Keeping Bielema for the foreseeable future is about the only way Arkansas fields a competitive team year to year. It would be foolish to fire him. Look for Arkansas to bounce back against non-juggernaut SEC teams in coming weeks. Alabama is just a death machine this year. It’s not good for anyone that the Tide can put up 50 easily this season.

Michigan triggers state of emergency in New Jersey…

Not really, but they should have. There needs to be a special referendum at Rutgers to vote on canceling football altogether. That was awful. Rutgers was held without a first down until the fourth quarter, and were in the negative for yards for most of first 3 quarters. I cannot remember ever seeing a game or box score where a conference opponent was beat this bad. Hell, Vanderbilt doesn’t lose by almost 80 to SEC teams. I’m not yet sold on Michigan being better than Ohio State-mostly because the B1G’s bottom 75% is some of the worst competition you can find in a power 5 conference. I just don’t understand how this happened, but somehow the B1G is worse top to bottom than the PAC. I never thought that would happen. As with all the conferences, though, the top 3 or 4 teams can play with anyone. Michigan-Ohio State is going to be unbelievable television. We’ll dub it Khakis vs. Coronaries-please don’t send me letters, I don’t care if that hurt your feelings.

Navy’s storied discipline weathers Houston, crushes playoff dreams…

Navy is good for beating a great team at least once or twice a season. And, how great is this? Tom Herman has been the early coaching carousel darling, and then he goes into Annapolis and gets stuffed by the Midshipman. Not that it changes anything about his suitors, except it may prove to be devastating for Houston fans. Houston had to be undefeated to get a playoff bid. Those dreams are over. Now, there is nothing holding Herman at Houston. Cinderella teams don’t usually get back to back cracks at the playoff. Maybe Houston bucks that trend, but with how easy it is to make the playoff in a better conference, how does Herman stay there? Smart money is on him at Texas if/when Strong gets fired. Navy outplayed Houston down the stretch and fought off a rally to win. There’s something very special to me about seeing the future corps of officers rush the field in dress blues after a huge win. The Superintendent of the Naval Academy agrees-he canceled classes on Tuesday. Go Navy!

Texas A&M tries to lose to Tennessee, wins anyway…

The Aggies took two overtimes to do it, but they managed to fight off a late Tennessee rally that forced overtime. Say what you will about Tennessee’s luck, but they are showing vastly improved coaching over last season. The Vols actually adjust and adjust properly for the second half. Most people don’t realize that teams who look flat out of halftime either failed to adjust or are being stymied by a refreshed opponent who came out of halftime prepared. Tennessee appears to be the latter. Credit Butch Jones’s staff here. Tennessee is still a top 10 team which is both ridiculous and not ridiculous at the same time. Tennessee has the most impressive CV of any 1 loss team, and they have looked great in streaks this year. That said, they are very streaky and could just as easily be 3-3 (they stood a chance to lose both games to Florida and Georgia). But, they didn’t, so they’re a top 10 team. So, when the rankings come out, expect the band to play Rocky Top, 4…maybe 5 million more times this week. Also, A&M is a solid football team. Tennessee did not deserve to drop out of the top ten after that game. Next weekend is the Third Saturday in October, and Tennessee faces another streak at home. As weird as it sounds, the Vols are a good team and should cruise in the rest of their SEC East games. But, that doesn’t fix the problem that they have to play Alabama every year. 

Huskies fire up the death machine, make strong statement for playoff…

Ok, I’m ready to say it now. A PAC champion Washington team should be the 3 seed in the College Football Playoff. This team is unbelievably talented and if you’re missing them because you go to bed, you need to stay up. Chris Petersen has assembled the best offensive team since his days at Boise State. The scary part now is that he actually has a defense behind them. Washington looks like a complete team and should play the B1G representative in the playoff-assuming of course that the B1G actually sends a team and doesn’t implode. Michigan vs. Washington is the game I want to see.

Other Funny Things

NC State beat Notre Dame in a sloppy monsoon. Brian Kelly will probably be fired. He’s a jerk, so that’s satisfying.

Wazzu beat Stanford. If McCaffrey had any chance at the Heisman still, it’s over.

That does it for the Option. Bet the Board coming this week, but I will be going out of town on vacation so I’m not sure when I’ll have time to publish it.

But, it’ll be on here by the noon games on Saturday.




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