Hanging Half a Hundred
"What's your deal?" ... "What's your deal?"
(On-Field exchange between USC coach Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh of Stanford after the Cardinal beat the Trojans 55-21 last weekend)
While that exchange might win no prizes for lyricism or wit, it fits well within a century-old college football ritual.
Welcome back to The Campus Game ... where we know gratuitously hanging half a hundred on somebody is part of a grand college football tradition - running up the score.
Seems Pete got his dander up mainly because Haurbaugh went for a two-point conversion with 6:47 remaining and Stanford clinging to a scant 48-21 lead.
Now, Harbaugh can cite any reason he wants for piling on (and he told a few whoppers on the Colin Cowherd ESPN radio show this week), but the plain fact is he wanted to hang half a hundred on the Trojans and he eventually did even though the conversion failed; the Cardinal plunged in with a short TD at the 2:19 mark after an interception return.
Instead of denying his desire to rub it in, Harbaugh might have been better served to channel his inner Steve Spurrier.
The old head ball coach routinely ran up the score on opponents at Florida in the 1990s and didn't shy away from showing some swagger in doing so.
"Wanted to hang half a hundred on them" Spurrier crowed after the Gators trampled the Georgia Bulldogs (his favorite foil) 52-17 in 1995 ... at Sanford Stadium no less. The Georgia-Florida game is typically played in Jacksonville but was played on each campus once in the mid-90s while the Gator Bowl was renovated, and the visored one wanted to make sure he left Clarke County after having rung up the most points ever against the Dogs between the hedges (he did).
Haurbaugh, a Michigan man, could have also revisited an old foe of his alma mater.
Legendary Woody Hayes and Ohio State battered Michigan 50-14 on the way to the 1968 national championship. After the Buckeyes scored their last touchdown, Woody rubbed salt in the Wolverine wounds and had the Bucks line up for the 2-point conversion (it failed).
Asked afterward why he went for two, Hayes supposedly growled "because I couldn't go for three!"
That's the spirit!
If you're man enough to run up the score, be man enough to say you did.
Even old Woody pales when compared to the all-time score runner-upper.
John Heisman (yes, that Heisman) of Georgia Tech paid Cumberland College of Tennessee $500 to play the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta in 1916. He got his money's worth.
Seems Heisman wanted a bit of revenge because his Tech baseball squad lost a game 22-0 to Cumberland in the spring of 16. He earned his vengeance - ten times over.
Never passing or punting, Tech rambled to a tidy 32 touchdowns in a shortened game and won by the fabled mark of 222-0.
Woody, Spurrier, and Harbaugh would have been proud.
Before getting to this week's games, a few plugs for good football books (or sports books in general).
Earlier this season, I recommended The Real All-Americans by Sally Jenkins ... the story of Pop Warner, Jim Thorpe, and the Carlisle Indian School. I do so again; fine book and here's a review.
I am currently re-reading A Civil War, another in a long-line of sports books by the prolific John Feinstein (this one about the Army-Navy football rivalry). Want to learn about one of college football's greatest spectacles? This is your book.
As a fan of sports talk radio, I rank Paul Finebaum's show out of Alabama about the best around. Yesterday, he had the great Pat Conroy on the show. Conroy was there to talk about his latest book (South of Broad - have read it and it's good but very grim) but I want to mention My Losing Season, a terrific recount of his senior basketball season at The Citadel, a book I occasionally require my students to read. You can hear the interview with Conroy (it's very good) at Finebaum's website.
Finally, just finished Tall Tales. This is Terry Pluto's history of the early NBA. Not a football book, but an interesting and fun read - wonderful stories of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s when the earliest players seemed to play mainly for the beer, and coaches thought nothing of punching fans, officials, even team owners (the Celtics Red Auerbach once decked Hawks owner Ben Kerner before a game and wasn't even ejected) and sometimes each other.
Maybe good for Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh they didn't coach back then.
BCS Bowl Projections
The bowl season approaches rapidly, and BCS bowl selections will be most interesting this season.
Since there are two undefeated teams from non-BCS conferences (TCU and Boise State) and only the SEC clearly merits two teams in BCS bowls this may get a bit hairy.
Let's say the top three of Florida, Alabama, and Texas win out in the regular season and Texas wins the Big 12 title. The BCS championship would obviously pit Texas against the survivor of the SEC.
The selection order would then be as follows:
1. Sugar (for losing SEC champ to title game ... note that if Texas finished atop the standings the Fiesta would get first replacement pick)
2. Fiesta (for losing Big 12 champ to title game)
3. Orange (would already automatically have ACC champ so would choose foe)
4. Rose (would be set with PAC-10/Big Ten champs)
The Sugar would certainly take the SEC title game loser, but what about the Fiesta Bowl? Boise State? TCU? Big East champ? Big Ten runner-up? PAC-10 runner-up?
Here are this week's projections in order of selection:
BCS Title: Alabama/Florida winner vs. Texas
Sugar: Chooses SEC title game loser
Fiesta: Chooses Cincinnati if undefeated
Orange: Chooses TCU to face ACC Champ
Rose: PAC-10 vs Big Ten champs set
Sugar: Chooses Iowa or Penn State? Boise State?
Fiesta: Chooses Boise State ... or Oklahoma State if the Cowboys win out ... or Georgia Tech if the Jackets lose the ACC title game ... on and on!
The Campus Game Top Ten Rankings (Week 12)
10. Stanford ... three losses is too many for this rank but playing great ball.
9. Ohio State ... Buckeyes best of a bad league.
8. Pitt ... Panthers are methodical but sound.
7. Boise State ... will Broncos be left out of BCS mix?
6. Georgia Tech ... can Jackets win a bowl when opponent has time to prepare for the option?
5. TCU ... Horned Frogs blasted Utah and should sail to a BCS bowl.
4. Cincinnati ... Bearcats keep churning out big wins, but did not look great against West Virginia.
3. Texas ... Longhorns look to cruise to national title game, but Nebraska might be worthy Big 12 foe.
2. Alabama ... Tide plays Chattanooga choo-choo this week before the Iron Bowl.
1. Florida ... mighty Gators get an FIU bye then close out regular season with Seminoles.
The Campus Game Top Ten Games (Week 12)
10. Connecticut at Notre Dame: Charlie is probably already gone, we'll see if his team is too.
9. Virginia at Clemson: Orange-hot Tigers can win ACC Atlantic division by unseating the Cavaliers.
8. Penn State at Michigan State: Don't count Joe Pa out of BCS berth just yet.
7. Kentucky at Georgia: Two bowl-bound SEC teams battle between the hedges.
6. Kansas at Texas: Suddenly Mark Mangino feels the heat - from his Athletic Director no less.
5. Oregon at Arizona: Ducks try to survive in desert against Wildcats.
4. Oklahoma at Texas Tech: Sooners usually arrest passing game of Red Raiders.
3. Cal at Stanford: One of few games pitting top 25 squads this week.
2. LSU at Ole Miss: Rebels wore out Vols and face shaky Bengal Tigers
1. Ohio State at Michigan: who cares about the records, it's one of college football's best rivalries.
Remember to visit later in the week for Around the SEC and Professor's Picks.
See you at kickoff!