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General Thoughts II: Around The Nation

Here we go around the nation, the second installment in this series:

  • The big game of the weekend, of course, was LSU v. Virginia Tech. And I have to say, what game? That thing was a joke. LSU deserves a lot of credit, they played a great game, and it was very obvious from the get-go that Virginia Tech simply was not on the same level that LSU was on. And it really cut both ways, LSU played well and VT played terrible. A lot of the big plays that LSU had were a result of poor tackling, etc. by the Hokies, and they just really weren't ready for a team like this.
  • Speaking of the Hokies, I think they basically confirmed my doubts. I know the media always loves them (and this was before the terrible massacre), and recent events only magnified that love. But, truth is, this was not a great team, and is not a great team. As I said before, they couldn't even win the ACC a year ago in the weakest its been in ages, and lost to mediocre Georgia Tech by three touchdowns. Beyond that, they lost to a mediocre Georgia squad with a true freshman quarterback in one of the worst meltdowns in modern bowl history. This year, they returned everyone, but were really given a major test by East Carolina, while their running game was stifled (30 yards all day), and their defense gave up almost 300 yards. For those who picked a great year for the Hokies, you can't say the warning signs weren't there. I figure they go 8-4 at best, and that's in an ACC that's still weak. Truth is, good teams don't get annihilated like they did Saturday night, regardless of how good your opponent happens to be.
  • Through two games, Notre Dame currently has -8 rushing yards. Just so you know. Only team in the country with negative rushing yards.
  • Michigan was annihilated yet again, and this time by a very mediocre Pac-10 team. It's just going to be a long year for them, no two ways about it, and now they have to go with a true freshman quarterback. Considering that Notre Dame made some improvement from week one to week two, and that Michigan apparently regressed, the Irish are probably the favorite, and Michigan may well start 0-3. If they lose to the Irish, they'll start out 0-4 after a loss to Penn State. I said a few days ago that this team wouldn't implode and fall into a Dubosian shell, but I believe I was wrong on that one.
  • Am I the only one who think the Fighting Irish have to be thinking twice about that huge contract they gave Weis?
  • Speaking of Weis and his big contract, that gives a great opportunity to make some relatively obvious yet elusive to some insight: It does not really matter the amount of your investment, all that matters is the return on investment. Some people say Nick Saban is overpaid, with his four million dollar per year salary in a football program that generates about 45 million dollars per year, and turns a profit of almost 30 million per year. In reality, for a top program, the difference in the total revenue generated in a good season (think BCS game) and a poor season (think 6-6) can be up around twenty million dollars. In other words, we could basically pay for Saban's entire contract with one appearance in a BCS game. Hell, we could pay for well over half of it just off the bonus we'd get for a single BCS appearance alone. On the other hand, take Pokey Chatman (before she was fired, obviously) at LSU. She was making over $500,000 per year, and her program was generating only about one million dollars per year, and was running at a loss of about one million dollars per year. So who's really overpaid in a situation like this? I'll give you a hint, it's not the Nicktator. Bottom line: absolute amounts doled out don't mean anything, it's all about return on investment.
  • So, Arkansas is ranked 16th in the country, and Alabama is unranked. But, according to the Vegas lines, 'Bama is a 2.5 point favorite over the Hogs. That should sum up the validity of early season polls quite nicely. If the boys who bet empires -- literally -- on games so vehemently refute pre-season polls, it indicates they are pretty meaningless.
  • If you were watching the LSU v. Virginia Tech game, you probably saw the option run that resulted in a touchdown out of the pistol formation. I thought that was a nice touch by Crowton. In essence, he ran a very simple and familiar play out of a very odd-ball formation that you really never see at this level. I'm surprised teams don't do that more often.
  • Tennessee could very well be in trouble. They got it together in the second half to knock off a scrappy Southern Miss team, but they are probably going down to Florida next week to fall to 1-2, and after that they probably drop another to Georgia, while picking up wins over Arkansas State and Mississippi State. Odds are, they will be 3-3 going into the Alabama game. If the Tide were to knock off the Vols in Bryant-Denny, that could spell the death knell for the Fat One. The end isn't at hand for Fulmer, but it doesn't take much of a stretch of the imagination to see it possibly coming about quite soon.
  • South Florida really revealed Auburn as what they are. Despite trying to give it away as much as possible, the Bulls knocked off Auburn, a week after a mediocre Kansas State handed the game to them. At bottom, this is a team with a terrible offense and a defense that must do everything it can just to give them a shot. They are currently 1-1, and still have games left with LSU, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Arkansas. I figure this team goes 7-5 or so at best. I said in the pre-season that this would be their worst year since 2003, and the first two weeks have pretty much given validity to that prediction.
  • I'll give credit where it's due, South Carolina looked very good, and it's very likely that they or Florida will end up in the SEC Championship Game. But are the Gamecocks really ready for the big time? They'll roll over South Carolina State next week, and they'll mainly use it to recover from a very physical game against UGA. Then they'll head to Baton Rouge, and we'll see what this team is made of.
  • South Florida looks poised to make a surge at the big-time. They now have wins over Louisville, West Virginia, and Auburn, and they are only going to improve. A BCS bowl for the Bulls isn't a crazy thought if they can beat West Virginia at home.
  • In my best Comic Book Guy Impression, regarding the Louisville defensive meltdown, "Worst. Defense. Ever."
  • Tim Tebow looks like the real deal in Gainesville. He hasn't faced particularly great competition yet, but he's doing exactly what you would expect of a solid quarterback, and combined with his physical tools, that's scary. I doubt they repeat as SEC Champions, but the truth is that they will win at least nine games, and likely more, while making a serious run for Atlanta. They're rebuilding, but LSU better be ready come October 6th, this is still a good team.
  • I know it's early, but I think Georgia is pretty much done in the SEC East. You can probably, safely, cross them off the list for an a possible appearance in Atlanta. Considering that Florida has dominated them so much lately, the Gators will probably win in Jacksonville for the 16th time in the last 18 tries. UGA has been very good the past few years, but the truth is that they haven't played well in Jacksonville since the Dooley days, and that probably won't change this year. A loss there, and even if they win their other six conference games (Tennessee, Kentucky, Auburn, and others), they will still need both South Carolina and Florida to have three losses each to pass those two teams. That's just really unlikely. Again, it's early, but you can probably cross the Dawgs off your list.
  • Speaking of the SEC races, the West is really all LSU's. If Miles can't do it this year, it's a major shortcoming on his part. Auburn can't compete, and MSU and Ole Miss sure can't. I doubt Arkansas does, and that leaves us. I'd like to think we could win it, but honestly that's just not too realistic unless we can really get it together mid-season, and beat UT, LSU, and Auburn. If he can't get them to Atlanta this year, they should volunteer to move his stuff to Ann Arbor for free.
  • As far as the other side goes, Georgia is probably out, and Tennessee will be in a big hole if they drop this game to Florida this weekend. At the moment, early on, it looks like a race between Spurrier and his old team. Gators and Gamecocks.
  • And for the record, I've gotten my first piece of hate mail. More on that later.
  • More on the Gamecocks. If they can knock off LSU in thirteen days -- and given how LSU played on Saturday that's a massive if -- they should start out 8-0. The problem is, the final month of the season includes at Tennessee, at Arkansas, Florida, and Clemson. The Gamecocks have it made for the next six weeks, but after that? Look out.
  • USC gets their first big test of the year this Saturday against Nebraska. I imagine the Trojans are salivating after watching the Cornhuskers squeak by Wake Forest. After spending a week hearing about how great LSU is while USC had an off week, I imagine they are ready to show that there's a reason they were the team everyone thought was, without doubt, the best in the nation early on.
  • Now for the obligatory Les Miles to Michigan comment... What can you say? He's one of Bo's Boys, and Ann Arbor is probably where his heart lies. I don't think you can make much of an argument that Bo Schembechler is not the greatest influence in his coaching career, and even he probably wouldn't argue there. And it's not that LSU doesn't have a lot to offer. True, LSU was, as a whole, poor to mediocre for a quarter of a century before Saban arrived in 2000, but at the moment they are one of the top programs in the country. But even so, if Michigan comes calling, that's just probably not a battle that LSU can win. And rest assured, Carr is gone, and honestly -- if he were being really candid off-air and in private -- he would probably admit that much himself. The question will be whether or not Miles is the one that Michigan calls upon.
  • I will say this though... the last thing I want to see is LSU's season derailed by the talk of Miles to Michigan. The truth is, that talk is only going to get louder, and it's already very loud. Kirk Herbstreit said, plain and simple, in the ESPN broadcast last night that he thought Miles would leave LSU for Michigan, and again, that talk is only going to get higher. The truth is, the more LSU wins, the more the Miles to Michigan talk will grow, and honestly the more the talk will have real validity. Truth be told, every time LSU comes out and wins, it probably just increases the possibility that Miles won't be there next year, and honestly that's fairly obvious. And, of course, that's a major distraction if you are LSU. I just hope that, if they really are the best of the best, that the distractions from that don't derail them. It's all a competition, and the goal is for the best man to win, and that's how it should be. If LSU truly is that, I don't want to see distractions regarding their head coach end it for them.
  • Texas A&M squeaked by Fresno State after a boneheaded play by a Bulldog wide receiver. That win aside, the Aggies just aren't anything particularly great, and Fresno State showed that. The truth is, A&M has never been anything particularly special with Fran, they aren't anything particularly special with Fran, and they never will be anything particularly special with Fran. As much as we got our panties in a wad when Fran left, the truth of the matter is that we didn't lose a thing.
  • Oklahoma looks as good as anyone in the country, including LSU. They put 79 in week one, and beat a decent Miami team by almost 40 points. Their schedule sets up just great, too. If they can beat Texas in the Red River Shootout, they are legitimately looking at running the table. With the way these guys are playing, they simply aren't going to fall to the likes of Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Missouri, etc. If they can get past Texas, they are sitting pretty.