Around the Horn

Charles Babb checks in with some views and opinions on the world of college football after yesterday's games.

Two Triumvirates

In ancient Rome, there were two famed Triumvirates. There are two in today's musings as well…

Less From More

Larry Coker - Yes, I know people are going to ask if I have plum lost my mind. After all, in three seasons the man has a national title and only a single loss. At the same time I am forcefully struck by what I see with the Hurricanes. They are a team without discipline. They constantly look like they are either uninterested or unprepared for games. If Florida were not as soft as a baby's butt on defense, they would have lost that game. Without an unfortunate decision to blitz on fourth down that left Miami's receivers and Winslow in single coverage, West Virginia likely would have won this past week.

Mack Brown - At no point in his career has Mack Brown won any sort of championship. No national titles, no conference titles - nothing. Watching Texas play Kansas State, the sheer size and athleticism of the Longhorns jumped out. They look like an NFL team. There is no possible way that Kansas State should have even come within three touchdowns in Austin, but as it was, the Wildcats nearly pulled off the upset. Win or lose this week, Brown's teams should be expected to do just enough to get close, but it is doubtful that they will ever win any sort of hardware.

Lloyd Carr - I will have more on Lloyd either this week or next, but has anyone else noticed that Michigan just seems to tank several games each season? They have all kinds of talent. That is not the problem. Point to Navarre if you wish, but I believe it runs much deeper. Michigan has experienced only one season with less than three losses since 1997. Carr actually has three seasons with four losses and another three with three losses in the eight years he has spent in Ann Arbor. He has a head start on yet another with the 1-2 record of Michigan in the past three weekends.

More with Less

Jeff Tedford - California has itself a keeper in this gentleman. The only problem is that he will not be staying once the offers begin rolling in after this season. There is no possible way that the Golden Bears had any business upsetting USC. However, they did. Not only that but Tedford has them sitting at close to .500 (3-4) on the season. Maybe that does not sound too impressive to some, but they should understand that prior to his arrival this program had experienced only one winning season in the last decade. Further, they fell to 1-10 in 2001.

Kirk Ferentz - Iowa hired this guy over Bob Stoops. For two years all they heard was how stupid they were. Now it looks like they were not so dumb after all. Granted, Ferentz will probably end up in the professional ranks. In the meanwhile, Hawkeye fans are being treated to the kind of teams that Hayden Fry used to put together in his prime. The Iowa offense is a pleasure to watch, and the defense focuses on stopping the run. Put those two together and combine them with arguably the best kicker in the Big Ten in Kaeding (though Nugent is no slouch), and you have a program that could actually win another Big Ten title in 2003. It would be the first time that has happened in Des Moines since the 1921-22 squads won one conference title outright and shared another.

Houston Nutt - Here is a coach who has labored largely in anonymity for the better part of a decade. Personally, I have enjoyed watching his teams immensely. They are fundamentally sound, play great defense, and run the football right down their opposition's throat. Though the Razorbacks find themselves in probably the least envious position with recruiting in the SEC West division, all they do is win games. When Nutt has enough offensive talent, look out - they will make a run. They did so last year, they did so in 1995, and they will probably do so in 2003. Give Nutt the talent at Florida, and he could win a national title. Actually, he has an outside shot of playing for a title this year.

Bayor and Colorado

Congratulations to Baylor. By sticking it to the Buffaloes, Baylor managed to get their first win over a decent program in the Big 12. Not just this year - EVER. Since joining the conference in 1996, the Baylor Bears were a humiliating 4-52, but with Saturday's win, they find themselves with a 3-2 record and tied for the conference lead at 1-0.

Nor was this some strange happening like lightning probably will not strike the same spot more than once. Baylor was lining up and ramming the football down Colorado's throat. Where the Buffaloes struggled on the ground, averaging under 3 yards a carry, the Bears rushed 56 time for 203 yards and held the football for over 37 minutes.

Baylor not only won the game, they did so convincingly.

Turner in Trouble?

Hired in 1997, Illinois coach Ron Turner has had more than enough time to turn the ship around. After a disastrous tenure by Lou Tepper, Turner was brought in to get the football program back to where John Mackovic had left it prior to his departure for what he thought were greener pastures in Austin, Texas. With the exception of an 8-4 mark in 1999 and a 10-2 record in 2002, Illinois has had nothing but sub .500 seasons.


This year, the Illini have started the season 1-5 and have yet to defeat a Division I-A team. Worse, the defense has yielded 122 points in just the last three games. With Michigan State, Michigan, Minnesota, and Iowa as their next four opponents, the road does not appear to get any easier. It might be November before fans in Champaign have a reason to celebrate a win and even that will be simply because Indiana is perhaps the most disappointing team in all of Division I-A major conference teams.

Perhaps some of that Champaign in Champaign will be used this offseason to bid Ron Turner adieu?

And then there were eleven

Every week, multiple undefeated teams have fallen. This week the two victims were Air Force (defeated by Navy) and Tennessee (thumped by Auburn).

Next week, Minnesota (@ Michigan), Arkansas (Auburn), LSU (Florida), Ohio State (@ Wisconsin), and Oklahoma (Texas) will all face opponents who could easily upset them. Further, Miami and Florida will be playing a high stakes game with the loser probably eliminated from title consideration.

Rarely does the hype on the television mirror reality. This Saturday it does, and it will. It is a certainty that at least one team in the top five will lose, and the odds are high that two or more could fall from the ranks of the undefeated.

All Ohio State has to do is survive. If they will continue to win ugly while others around them fall, then the dominoes will drop into place.

JoPa, Bobby Bowden, and the all time wins mark…

It had to happen at some point.

Before the end of 2003, expect Bowden to pass Joe Paterno for the all time victories mark among Division I-A coaches. Personally, I find this to be a sad proposition because Bobby Bowden is not half the man that Joe Paterno has been and still is. The number of arrests, scandals, and corners cut in Tallahassee over the past 20 years is disgraceful. Where Joe Paterno routinely graduates 70% or higher of his players, Bowden is doing well to reach 50%. Paterno has been what college football should be all about. Bowden all too often has shown his program to be what is most disappointing in the sport today.

In a perfect world, Paterno would forever own the mark.

Today in the NFL…

If you even watch the games (which I rarely do anymore), take note of the excessive and almost constant celebrations by players.

Where will it stop? It used to be that players celebrated if they made an incredible touchdown. Then, players began to gyrate for a great tackle/hit on defense or perhaps a fabulous offensive play. Now it has reached the point that most professional football players display more dance moves than Baryshnikov simply because they made a first down. They pop up off the turf and look like an air control official on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier - waving their arms all around just to make sure that everyone knows they made a first down.

As if the two little sideline markers and crew of referees in striped suits were not enough.

What will be happening in ten years? Will wide receivers celebrate a successful 3 yard route on third an 27 because they made the catch? What about an offensive lineman? Should we expect to see them dancing around like a herd of small elephants simply because they did not allow a sack on first and ten? Will running backs jump up screaming about their greatness after a 2-yard carry on fourth and five since the defense was unsuccessful in stripping them of the football?

Just play the game.


Buckeye Notes…

- Ohio State's strength of schedule took a big hit this weekend. NC State lost to a Jeckyl and Hyde team in Georgia Tech. Washington looked like they had UCLA well in hand with a 16-0 lead when the Bruins erupted for 39 unanswered points. San Diego State was driving and looking like they might tie it up late when they threw an interception to effectively end the game. Northwestern is back to the days of simply being Northworstern. Only Bowling Green emerged victorious.

- Wisconsin won, but… They appeared to have taken it on the chin with injuries. Sorgi has been nursing a sore hand. Anthony Davis has been attempting to come back following his injury at UNLV but may have re-injured himself against Penn State. Backup tailback Dwayne Smith also was struck down by the nefarious injury bug. Starting middle linebacker Mack was seen sitting on a cart with a possible ankle sprain. For the first time this season, the Buckeyes will probably have fewer injuries than their opponent.

- Penn State in Happy Valley is not going to be easy. They may be a program that is down right now, but they are not completely out. The Nittany Lions gave Wisconsin everything they wanted and more in a very physical game.

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