1. We're just a few weeks away from the end of the regular season, so everybody should have a pretty good handle on how good their teams are and what sort of records they can expect to finish with. Looking back over the season, which was the game where your team really defined itself in 2006, for good or ill? Or to look at it another way, which game, win or loss, was most representative of your team's attitude and style of play this season?
The loss to Mississippi State, hands down. It had everything: The inability to score in the red zone, a defensive touchdown and, despite a less than stellar performance in the first half, the D giving us every chance to win in the second if the offense could just please, God, please, move the ball, Shula looking perplexed when interviewed going into the half, JP struggling to do it all himself and get into the end zone at the end of the first half but to no avail....it all just spells Alabama football right now.
Is there a more appropriate image for this season?
2. Are there any teams you think are still hugely overrated? What about underrated?
Overrated: Notre Dame. After all the pre-season hype and ESPN trying to fit them into "the narrative" they've struggled against their mediocre opponents (Ga. Tech, Purdue, UCLA), been flat blown out by their one good opponent (Michigan), and were almost embarassed by their worst opponent (Michigan State). Their best win so far is over a four loss Penn State team, and they are likely to get waxed by Southern Cal to finish the regular season.
Underrated: Houston? They're sitting at 7-3 right now with their only losses coming at Miami (13-14), vs La-Lafayette (28-31), and at Southern Miss (27-31). The La-Lafayette loss is pretty inexplicable, but losing to Miami by 1 point is good for a mid-major (even if the 'Canes suck this year) and Southern Miss is never a team to look past. Their remaining schedule consists of trips to SMU and Memphis, two teams that they should deal with handily, and with a tie breaking win over a Tulsa team that could finish up with 9 wins as well, Houston is your probable C-USA champion, and likely bowl opponent for our own beloved Tide.
3. Did your team play any Division I-AA opponents this year? If so, do you think it benefited your team at all? If you were a coach or an NCAA official, what policy would you have toward scheduling D-IAAs?
Thankfully we did not. I'm fairly certain they would have put up as much of a fight as Duke or La. Monroe and that would have been seriously embarassing. If I had my say on scheduling D-1AAs, I'd allow teams to schedule a 13th game before the start of the season against a D-1AA opponent that wouldn't count towards the regular season record or bowl eligibility. Teams wouldn't HAVE to play this game, but any program that wanted that pre-season practice against an opposing team would be allowed to do so.
4. Which not-a-typical-national-powerhouse team (i.e. no Ohio States or USCs) has played well enough this year to set themselves up for a breakout season in '07?
I'm going back to C-USA with this one and touting both Tulsa and Houston here. Both teams are sitting on potential 9 win regular seasons and could reach the 10 win mark depending on their bowls. If Kragthorpe sticks around one more year at Tulsa, the Golden Hurricane could easily be a TCU/Boise State BCS buster hype machine.
5. Take a look at your team's bowl prospects this season. Which bowl(s) do you think you have a reasonable shot of ending up in? Of the teams you might likely face in a bowl, which team would you most want to play and why (maybe you've always wanted to see how your team would match up with them, maybe there's an old score you want to settle, or maybe you just want to finish the season with an easy win)? Conversely, which potential opponent would you really like to avoid in a bowl game?
If we do get a bowl bid we'll end up in either the Liberty Bowl facing the C-USA champion or the Independence Bowl facing a Big 12 selection. If we land in Memphis, Houston or Tulsa is the likely opponent, and if we wind up in Shreveport then we'll wind up with maybe Kansas State, Oklahoma State, or a rematch with Texas Tech from last year's Cotton Bowl. Of all those, the one I'd most like to face would be either Tulsa or Houston, because I seriously want us to lose to a mid-major in order for there to be some change in T-Town. I wouldn't want to face any of the Big 12 teams because, as bad as we are, they aren't that great either and we just might pull that one out and earn a second straight bowl win over a BCS league opponent for Shula to hang his hat on.
6. In a roundtable question during the off-season, we were asked whom you'd pick if your current coach fell deathly ill and you had to select another coach to lead your team to victory. Let's turn this around and imagine that you've somehow schemed your way onto the search committee to select your biggest rival's next head coach. Which rival would that be, and which coaching sooper genius would you try to stick them with?
I'd want to send a private jet from Auburn to pick up Dave Rader before letting Tuby know.