Remember those hilarious old football television shows called Football Follies?
The ones created by NFL Films legend Ed Sabol and his son Steve that featured wacky plays, embarrassing bloopers, and voiceovers by funnyman Mel Blanc?
The 2009 college football season is showing signs of becoming a Football Folly – only without the laughs in most instances.
Welcome back to The Campus Game, the college football site where the only folly comes when we make our weekly predictions.
The follies can be categorized into three “P”s … Pinstripes, Programs, and Polls.
Pinstripes: Complaining about college football officials is sort of like complaining about getting grains of sand in your swim trunks at the beach. There’s just too much to avoid so live with it.
Still, seems there is a weekly controversy.
The most egregious call of last Saturday’s games came when an SEC crew flagged Georgia’s mild-mannered receiver A.J. Green for excessive celebration. Gosh fellows, he had just snagged a sensational TD pass with just over a minute remaining to put the Bulldogs ahead of 4th-ranked LSU. His teammates swarmed him and that was it. The penalty was costly as the Tigers Trindon Holliday returned the ensuing kickoff into UGA territory and LSU scored a couple plays later.
The conference released a “My Bad” announcement … seems that Green had stumbled coming out of the pileup and one of the 20-20 gang calling the game took that as Green bringing attention to himself. Makes one wonder whether SEC officials are still keeping a close eye on Georgia after that team celebration against Florida a couple years ago.
Programs: Several programs are turning into potential follies before our very eyes … Maryland, Virginia, Illinois, and Louisville come to mind along with several mid-majors. Still, three program follies really deserve our attention this week.
At Florida State, Jim Smith – Chair of the school’s Board of Trustees (as powerful a position as exists in a public institution of higher learning) – called for Bobby Bowden to be replaced. Smith’s blindside was part of an avalanche of bad news for the man who has probably earned FSU more money than any single figure in the past quarter century. Some newspapers called for a coup, and Bowden’s wife even went public to defend her husband.
FSU fans, boosters, and those newspapermen are entitled to their opinions but should be ashamed. Let the man go out on his terms. Smith’s comments are particularly damaging because his leadership position demands a voice of reason … not simply being a fan. Late word by ESPN is that Bowden will not be forced to step down this season (his contract is up after 2010 but it seems doubtful he'll make it that long).
Oregon also deserves a callout for climbing the folly scale. Seems the Ducks are contemplating allowing RB LaGarrette Blount (he of sucker-punching fame) to rejoin the team if he meets certain stipulations (he had been booted off permanently for his post-game behavior at Boise State).
Two aspects of this turnaround are fishier than the rivers in Oregon.
First, the campus newspaper published an apology from Blount. I've been a college professor for sixteen years, and if Blount actually penned that letter he ranks in the top 5% of students I've taught (more likely is that his laywers drafted it for him). So, when a legal team starts visiting with the school administration something is rotten in Eugene.
Secondly, have you noticed the Oregon won-loss record? That's right the men in (too many shades of) green are legitimate Rose Bowl contenders. Coaches, fans, and administrators get selective memories when Tournament of Roses trips dance in their head.
New Mexico: Yes, Mike Locksley is a rookie head coach and deserves time to prove he is up to the task of leading the Lobos. Yes, Locksley is an African American, one of an embarrasingly low number currently leading major college teams.
If any other university employee punched a subordinate (as Locksley may have done with assistant coach J.B. Gerald) during official college work, that person would have been fired (and likely led off campus by security).
If any other university employee was hit with a sexual harrassment and age discrimination complaint by a subordinate, that person would at least be placed on administrative leave until the matter was cleared.
Locksley's 0-5 start to the season does not help him either, but he's gotten off pretty easy from my perspective.
Polls: Longtime readers of The Campus Game know I do not support a college football playoff. I've yet to see a plan that would not harm the bowl system or make the regular season less important.
However, I do believe there should be more consistency in the national polls. Some voters tend to lock in their votes early in the season; the only way someone moves up is when another team loses. This can result in strange circumstances where a team like USC defeats Ohio State on the road, but gets voted behind the Buckeyes by some voters a couple weeks later following a loss (teams with same record and one beat the other on the road ... how could that happen).
Another issue with polls is lack of transparency. We have no idea who casts the votes for some of the coaches out there. Even publishing the votes of coaches does not give us a full picture of the process.
My thought is that the NCAA, the Football Writers Association, or some other knowledgeable body should develop more specific and consistent guidelines for voters to follow. Perhaps more space will be devoted in a later column.
Here are this week's Top Ten lists.
Campus Game Top Ten Rankings (Week 6)
1o. USC ... Trojans are best of the major one-loss teams in my opinion.
9. Auburn ... Plainsmen have feasted on relatively weak schedule (four of five games at home), but trip to Arkansas will be no picnic.
8. Missouri ... Tigers have ripped apart outmanned opponents to this point, but host sound Nebraska Thursday night.
7. Wisconsin ... how is this 5-0 squad not even in the Top 25 of major polls? Ohio State may show us at the Shoe this weekend.
6. Iowa ... I like to stick with undefeated teams from BCS conferences (even after ugly performances) ... Hawks host Michigan.
5. Cincinnati ... Bearcats best be aware of trip to Tampa in two weeks.
4. LSU ... Tigers survived against Georgia, now face Saturday night showdown with Gators on the bayou.
3. Texas ... Longhorns are well-rested and await arrival of struggling Colorado.
2. Florida ... will Tebow play? That's the big question for the date with LSU.
1. Alabama ... Tide faces biggest challenge to date with trip to Oxford.
Campus Game Top Ten Games (Week 6)
10. Nebraska at Missouri ... Big 12 North early leader will be determined on Thursday night.
9. Georgia Tech at FSU ... Can Noles slow down Jackets (and Bowden's exit)?
8. Georgia at Tennessee ... Will Lane Kiffin finally surpass Urban Meyer (Kid has two wins and Meyer two national titles) against hard-luck Dogs?
7. TCU at Air Force ... Horned Frogs remain in BCS-Buster contention.
6. Oregon at UCLA ... 3-1 Bruins are getting little respect but might earn some with a win over Ducks.
5. Michigan at Iowa ... Which Hawkeye team will show up - vanquishers of Penn State or pretenders barely beating Arkansas State?
4. Stanford at Oregon State ... the Cardinal sit atop the PAC-10 and I really like the job Jim Harbaugh is doing. Mike Riley and Beavers will be a fine test.
3. Auburn at Arkansas ... Two high-octane offenses in what could be a shootout.
2. Alabama at Ole Miss ... Rebs represent biggest threat to a second straight undefeated Tide regular season.
1. Florida at LSU ... all eyes will be on Tim Tebow. Gators have looked mortal even with Mr. Touchdown; without him trouble could be brewing on the bayou (along with plenty of other spirits for this night game).
See you at kickoff!