Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Tale Of Two Programs

Want to know the difference between the football programs at Miami and Florida right now? Simply look at their current coaching searches.

Miami fired Randy Shannon after he and his team lost the season finale to South Florida. Since that time, the 'Canes have thrown out lots of big names, including Jon Gruden and Bo Pelini. But my sources tell me that the job will be offered to Temple's Al Golden or Connecticut's Randy Edsall.

Really Miami? You have a job open for two weeks, and that's the best you can do? No offense meant to Golden or Edsall. Both are good coaches who have done tremendous jobs at their current stops. But is one of these guys supposed to turn Miami back into the 'Canes of the 1980's and 1990's? I'm not buying it.

On the other side of the coin, check out Florida's coaching search. Urban Meyer resigns on Wednesday. And on Saturday, Florida AD Jeremy Foley announces the hiring of Will Muschamp as the new head coach.

Three days, and a coach is hired. And, by all accounts, Muschamp is one of the rising stars in coaching. Muschamp was the "coach in waiting" at Texas, but with no retirement coming from Mack Brown, he decided to jump ship and take the Florida job.

Granted, no one knows how Muschamp will do as a head coach, since he's never served in that capacity before. But all indications are that the 39-year-old will be an outstanding head coach, and he'll certainly have all of the resources he needs in Gainesville.

It's a shame that Miami's search is going the way it's going, while another Florida school is able to make a quick and solid decision. NCAA Football would be better if Miami were better, but as the brass at UM botch another search, it may be a while before that happens.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

BCS Gets It Right

Love it or hate it, the Bowl Championship Series got it right on Sunday night. The matchup between Auburn and Oregon should be a classic. And, after what we saw on Saturday, these are clearly the two best teams in the country.

Auburn dismantled the Ol' Ball Coach and his South Carolina Gamecocks in the SEC Championship Game. Meanwhile, Oregon visited arch rival Oregon State and took care of business, with their typical big second half.

These two teams figure to provide the nation with an offensive explosion in the BCS Championship Game. Both teams average more than 40 points per game. Auburn is led by Heisman Trophy favorite Cam Newton, while Oregon has its own Heisman candidate in running back LaMichael James.

Those that cry foul each year during the college football season really have no argument this season. Sure, TCU is unbeaten and is being left out of the title game, but the Horned Frogs play in a non-automatic qualifying conference (for now), and they clearly did not face the schedule that either Auburn or Oregon faced.

Other Big Bowl Matchups

Utah vs. Boise State (MAACO Bowl Las Vegas) - Two previous BCS Busters meet in this one. Both teams are nationally-ranked, and Boise State figures to be highly motivated after a devistating loss at Nevada last weekend. Utah has been up and down, but Kyle Whittingham always has his team ready to play in its bowl game (just ask Nick Saban).

Tulsa vs. Hawaii (Sheraton Hawaii Bowl) - If you like points, keep an eye on this game on Christmas Eve. Tulsa is 10th nationally, averaging 39.7 points per game. Hawaii is ninth in the same category, posting 39.9 points per outing.

Miami (Fla.) vs. Notre Dame (Hyundai Sun Bowl) - OK, so it's not 1990, and it's not Catholics vs. Convicts, but this is still a matchup of two of college football's biggest names. Miami fired Randy Shannon at the end of the regular season, so it will be interesting to see how the 'Canes respond. Notre Dame has had its troubles this year as well, although it appears that Brian Kelly has them headed in the right direction.

Florida State vs. South Carolina (Chick-fil-A Bowl) - These two teams will enter the game after losing in their conference title game. Jimbo Fisher has the 'Noles back in the national picture despite falling to Virginia Tech in Charlotte on Saturday. Steve Spurrier has to get his team to rebound from the pounding they took at the hands of Auburn in the SEC Championship.

Penn State vs. Florida (Outback Bowl) - Joe Paterno has already announced that he's returning for his 95th season next year (slight exaggeration only). His team will face Florida, a team that had a very disappointing regular season. However, the Outback Bowl skipped South Carolina to take the Gators, and Urban Meyer should have his team ready to face the Nittany Lions.

Alabama vs. Michigan State (Capital One Bowl) - Another SEC vs. Big Ten matchup in this one. The defending national champs are 9-3, with tough losses to South Carolina, LSU and Auburn. Michigan State lost only once (37-6 at Iowa), but the Spartans did not face Ohio State. However, they did beat Wisconsin in Week 5.

Michigan vs. Mississippi State (Konica Minolta Gator Bowl) - The interesting thing in this game, to me, is whether either of these teams will have the same coach at the beginning of next season. Rich Rodriguez is under pressure at Michigan, while Mississippi State's Dan Mullen figures to be a hot commodity once this game is over.

TCU vs. Wisconsin (Rose Bowl presented by Vizio) - This game is a clash of styles. TCU is unbeaten and does it with defense. The Horned Frogs give up only 215 yards and 11.4 points per game, leading the nation in both categories. They will face a Wisconsin team that is fourth nationally in scoring (43.3 points per game). Side note: TCU also averages 43.3 points per game.

Arkansas vs. Ohio State (Allstate Sugar Bowl) - Arkansas was perhaps the hottest team in the country at the end of the season. Quarterback Ryan Mallett puts up huge numbers in Bobby Petrino's offense, and that will be a challenge for the Buckeyes' defense. On the other side, Arkansas must find a way to stop Terrelle Pryor and the Ohio State offense.