Some points to ponder

Considering that most teams are past the half-way mark in their season, I feel it necessary to hand out a few awards.  My awards may not have the publicity of the Oscars nor the prestige of the Nobel prizes, but hey – who really cares about those worthless trophies when there is college football on the television? 

Fannie on the Flames Awards

  1. First place -  Bobby Williams at Michigan State.  Show me a single coach in the country (other than Mack Brown) who has accomplished less with more talent over the past 3 seasons.  Coming into the year, the Spartans were 13-11 under Williams, and Saban left them absolutely stocked in terms of talent.  Throw in losses to Cal, ND, and Minnesota, and Williams better start winning in a hurry.
  2. Second Place – Ron Zook at Florida.  My theory is that aliens from Roswell have kidnapped the real Gators and replaced them with this batch of underachievers in order to discredit the sport and the SEC.  Florida fans are apoplectic right now, and they should be.  This Florida team may not be loaded at every position, but there is ample talent left to beat teams like KY, Ole Miss, and even LSU.  Embarrassing.  If this trend continues, Zook will be lucky to last this year and next. 
  3. Third Place – Tie.  Paul Pasqualoni at Syracuse and Bob Toledo at UCLA.  I am not sure if either will get fired this year or not, but their fan bases cannot be happy with their overall results in recent years.  8-4, 7-5, 6-5, 10-3, and a 1-6 start to this season will not win you many friends Mr. Paul.  Throw in blowout losses to BYU, Pitt, and West Virginia along with a loss to lowly Temple, and Syracuse alums have to be upset.  The once mighty and proud Orangemen are now no better than the middle of the pack in the Big East.  Miami, Virginia Tech, Pitt, and who knows what other Big East programs are now better than the Orangemen.  Meanwhile, Toledo and UCLA look good early (as usual) early in the season.  My question is what will happen in October and November where Toledo's Bruins are 6-13 since 1998?  With two straight losses, the past seems to be repeating itself once again.  The loss of Paus is devastating as another collapse could equal a pink slip for this coaching staff.
  4. Honorable Mention – Frank Solich.  I do not think Nebraska will be able to get away with firing him this season.  The Rose Bowl that they did not deserve to play in will prevent this because the media would hound the Cornhuskers for getting rid of a guy the year after he played for a national title.  I think they WILL fire him next year if the team does not make dramatic improvements between now and next November.  Of all the losses, the most recent one to Oklahoma State is perhaps the most damaging.  Try this on for size; the Cowboys were up by 14 points until a late score by Nebraska at least brought them within 7…  With games remaining at Texas A&M, at Kansas State, Texas, and Colorado, Nebraska could be staring at their first season under .500 since the oh-so-forgettable Bill Jennings era in the late 50's.  Ouch.

Lame Duck Award 

  1. First Place – Bobby Williams.  Bobby needs to start checking out real estate in other college towns in his spare time.  He will be moving sooner than later if this Michigan State team continues to underperform for a third straight season.
  2. Second Place – Frank Solich.  This is why many programs refuse to hire an assistant with no head coaching experience.  It worked out for Nebraska with Osborne, but it does not look like it will this time.  At the very least, Solich needs new coordinators (especially on defense).  My feeling is that the Huskers should just get rid of Solich and cut their losses before the program tanks and they have to rebuild in a conference with Texas A&M, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas State, etc.
  3. Third Place – Paul Pasqualoni.  Syracuse alums have been rattling their sabers for years.  They may get to use them soon to chop off the end of Paul's contract and send him packing.

Lousy Fan Displays 

  1. First place – Penn State.  The Penn State comeback against Iowa was a thing of beauty even if it did fall short.  The problem is that only about half of their fans saw it in Happy Valley.  The rest of them watched from the parking lot because they had packed it in and given up.  Ironically, those same fans will be the ones screaming at their television and their players to "never, ever give up!"  Go figure.
  2. Second place – USC.  That you could go to the USC website and order tickets for the California, Arizona State, Washington, and Notre Dame games in early October is disgraceful.  No wonder USC has had troubles in recent years with fans like this.  They are having a very nice season but still are having trouble selling out the coliseum?  Repeat this tongue twister 10 times quickly.  "Fair weather fans, fair weather fans, fair weather fans..."

Can we play just the fourth quarter?

  1. First Place – Cincinnati and Gino Guidugli.  This kid seems to live for the fourth quarter.  He has fallen short on multiple occasions (OSU, Miami of Ohio, and West Virginia) in comeback attempts, but he never gives up.  If the Bearcats could just start forget about the rest of the game and play the last 15 minutes for all of the marbles, they would likely be undefeated.
  2. Second Place – Oklahoma.  The Sooners are beneficiaries of a melt-down by the Crimson Tide and a trick play in the Missouri game.  Their fans (and coaches) are going to get sick of this before too much longer.  Thankfully for the Sooner fans, it looks like the sales on Pepto-Bismol will be slacking off a bit in the coming weeks.  Stoops has the Okies playing some serious football now.
  3. Honorable Mention- Craig Krenzel.  As I have been saying for quite some time, Craig is a wonderful college QB.  I think Ohio State fans are just beginning to realize how special he is.  Alvarez looked downright green with envy after Craig defeated the Badgers Saturday.  Craig has not one but two fourth quarter comebacks that he has engineered to keep this Buckeye team undefeated.  Kudos Craig.

Winner of the Coaching Lottery 

  1. First Place – Notre Dame.  How can one team be so lucky?  Truly.  They ignore Willingham either because of abject stupidity or because of other unmentionable and frankly unacceptable motives.  They hire O'Leary, who would have been a horrid fit.  They get a mulligan and hire Willingham and now are 7-0.  Unreal.  They better enjoy it while it lasts though because the NFL is going to come calling pretty soon.  The money they will offer will be very, very difficult to turn down.
  2. Second Place – Iowa State.  Dan McCarney has been building for a while, but what he has done for the Cyclones program is just incredible.  A master of rebuilding projects (Iowa with Fry and Wisconsin with Alvarez), Dan has transformed the conference doormat into a team that might just challenge for the conference crown at some point.  Do not be shocked if Nebraska places some phone calls to Ames after the season is over.
  3. Third Place – California.  Jeff Tedford, the former offensive coordinator at Oregon, is doing a great job.  How well is he doing?  California went 1-10 in 2001, 3-8 in 2000, 4-7 in 1999, etc.  In fact, they have not had a winning record since 1993 and their last .500 year came with some dude named Steve Mariucci at the helm.  So what does Tedford do but win 5 of his first 8 games including huge upsets at Michigan State and at Washington.  The only losses for this squad are a 2 point loss to an undefeated Air Force team, another 2 point loss to USC, and a 10 point loss to a 7-1 Washington State program.  With games against Stanford, Arizona, Arizona State, and Oregon State remaining – the Golden Bears only have to win 2 of their last 4 to put them in a bowl.  "Paging Mr. Tedford, paging Mr. Tedford, your agent is on the phone.  He is wondering how many millions of dollars you want from the Cal administration before you seek fame and fortune elsewhere."

We love the color Yellow

  1. First, Second, and Third Place – Louisville.  The Cardinals need to learn that penalties are not helpful in winning football games.  I would sit down and count up the number of yards and penalties for the season against Louisville, but I lack the time, desire, and the mathematical skills to do so.  Suffice to say that the number of penalties they have committed is inexcusable.  Smith and his coaches need to get a handle on this.  It is costing them games.  I threw out some love to Smith as a coach on the rise, but he needs to instill more discipline among his players to keep them from killing their chances at victories with mental lapses.

Wake Me Up When it is October Award 

Colorado and Gary Barnett.  Barnett's teams have a bit of a history of starting slowly and finishing strong.  I do not know why, but this has been his modus operandi for much of his career.  Last season they started 0-1 and reeled off 10 wins in 11 games before Oregon dismantled them.  If you look back to his first season at Colorado, they entered October at 2-2 before finishing 7-5.  At Northwestern in 1995 and 1996, the Wildcats started 1-1 each year before finishing 10-2 and 9-3 respectively.  Don't look now, but will this squad do the same thing and belt out 9 victories after a 1-2 start?  Probably won't happen, but there does appear to be a pattern here.

Finally, for any fans compiling an early Christmas list, you might want to remember to ask dear Saint Nick for a few of these…

Michigan – A field goal kicker would be nice.  They had a victory against Notre Dame all wrapped up with a pretty bow on top until a missed field goal cost them the game.  Do not be shocked if this costs them a couple of more games before the season is completed.

Pac Ten – A media without an East Coast Bias.  I am not much for conspiracy theories, but this is one that I think is real.  There are some very good football teams in this conference.  An argument could and should be made that based upon its non-conference schedule results (and competition) that they are the best conference top to bottom.  Not the SEC.  Not the Big Ten.  Not the Big 12.  The Pac Ten.  Of all the major conferences teams that were undefeated, only NC State was ranked below Oregon.  Remember, this is the same Oregon program that went 11-1 in 2001 and finished second in the country in the final rankings.  Granted, Oregon lost Saturday – but someone tell me why their loss is less acceptable than say Florida State or Michigan?  This looks to be a very good conference AGAIN and yet the pollsters do not seem to notice.

Nebraska – A new offense.  A new defense.  A new quarterback.  Some wide receivers who can catch the football.  A few linebackers (three preferably) who have the speed to pursue a play.  Some dominant linemen (offensive and defensive).  A new quarterback.  A coaching staff who can carry their own weight…  Umm… What did I leave out?

Miami (Fla.) – Consideration as a new NFL expansion team.  Why bother playing the college game when half of your players should be in The Show anyway?  After losing more first round draft picks in 2001 than some programs have in their entire history, Miami is still going strong.  They look to have been the best team in college football since 2000 and should have played OU for all the marbles.  Had the pollsters not put FSU above Miami after the Hurricanes defeated them in head to head competition, Miami might be going for a "3-peat" this year.  They are 33-1 since late 1999 and are sitting on a 28 game winning streak.  Unreal.  That the BCS put OU ahead of them in the latest poll is a joke and just goes to show why the system is broken.

Jared Lorenzen – A new girlfriend.  I do not know if he is dating anyone right now, but  I do know that he would be doing himself a favor if he would take out this chick I have heard of named JENNY CRAIG.  Every time I see him I have to repeat the mantra, – "Thiis not an offensive lineman, this is not an offensive lineman, this is not an offensive lineman…"  Please do not think this is not just some lame attempt at a cheap fat joke.  In some respects it is a plea for the kid to get in shape and drop some lard.  He has some serious talent but lacks the mobility needed at the next level.  He might just be costing himself millions of dollars (not to mention his long term health) with those extra burgers and fries…

Texas – A real head coach and another year of eligibility for Major Applewhite.

Florida – A time machine.  That way they can go back and hire someone besides Zook to take over after Spurrier left – someone like Tedford or Urban Meyer.  If only everyone had the luck of Notre Dame…

Rick Neuheisel – A reality check.  Pardon my skepticism, but 53 violations indicates that either you are a cheat or just plain stupid.  You pick.  Slick Rick Neuheisel is claiming he was merely being "creative" and "aggressive" in his recruiting tactics.  Yeah, right.  I suppose the Alabama boosters were merely "creative" as well when they purchased Albert Means for the Tide.  The Ole Miss folks were merely "aggressive" when they reportedly had their hostesses take recruits up to strip joints in Memphis during the early 90's.  Certainly the Oklahoma football program never intended to break the rules with their outlaw program of the 1980's – it was just all a terrible "misunderstanding"!  Blah, blah, blah.  Keep it up Rick, and if this list is updated in December I will have to add, "A new nose – for the Pinocchio problem affecting Neuheisel…"

Referee Consistency – Referees are going to blow calls.  That is part of the game.  What I am referring to here is the celebration penalties.  Some teams and conferences have players that do every dance move but the Macarena after a big play.  No flags are thrown.  Other teams and conferences have a guy smile following a touchdown, and the player is banned from the sport for life because of his callous humiliation of his opponents.  Get real.  Either call it all or don't call it at all.  I say call it when a kid starts pointing to the crowd and dancing around.  Make no exceptions for the team and its "style", etc.  Be consistent.  I like the rule personally but am tired of seeing certain teams get away with murder.

John Mackovic – Another shot at that desk job.  John looked quite dapper in that suit for ESPN.  He even did a pretty good job while at Texas and Illinois (I would take him any day over Mack Brown in terms of pure coaching ability).  Still, he has to be wondering why he took this job with Arizona managing only a 5-6 record in 2001 and they are only 3-4 this year.  Worse, the three wins are against Northern Arizona (37-3), Utah (23-17), and lowly North Texas (14-9).  Throw in the early success of Koetter at Arizona State, and Mackovic might be hard pressed to keep his job if improvements are not forthcoming in the near future.

Joe Paterno – I am going to send JoPa some cheese to go with his recent "whine" selections.  I love Joe.  I think he is what college football is all about.  He has oozed character and class for decades.  Yeah, the Big Ten refs are bad.  Yeah, they have made some poor calls that have cost teams victories.  Still, I hate to see Joe act this poorly in public.  Until recently, only Lloyd Carr acted this belligerently after a close game in the Big Ten.  Joe – please cease and desist.  You have too much integrity to act this way.  Do not tarnish yourself by stooping to such levels.  Lloyd just cannot help himself.  He is after all, "A Michigan Man…"

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