A tough gig

The blog almost had to take a bye week as some important day job issues got in the way this week. In addition I’m getting the call from the bullpen this weekend to babysit my two nephews (who aren’t babies) so my sister and brother in law can enjoy a well deserved Saturday night out and night off. I’m cool with it because as an uncle I can just teach them a bunch of inappropriate things and then go home.

Lets start by saying that I admire coaches and if I could get a do over I would pursue that career path since I have two careers to advise teenagers to avoid. But let’s face it, it’s a tough gig. This week showed us that. USC fired Steve Sarkisian due to substance abuse issues. Coaches are put on a pedestal but at the bottom line they are humans and are like the rest of us as perfectly imperfect. They deal with sick children, divorces, aging parents and all the crap life can and does throw at you. Coach Sark as he’s called was apparently self medicating and has been for a long time. Let’s hope he gets the help he needs and can move forward with his life. He’s apparently going through a divorce and I’m certain his drinking had something to do with it. His firing however is just another cumbersome moment for Athletic Director Pat Haden. He’s obviously smart. He’s a Rhodes Scholar and he loves USC but so far he’s fired a basketball coach mid season, hired the flavor of the month as his replacement whose done nothing, pulled Lane Kiffen off the team bus to fire him in the airport and hired a guy whose life was out of control as his replacement. Then there’s a well publicized incident where he went barreling out of the press box to confront officials on the sidelines. It’s a live and learn world but make no mistake that the new football coach will ultimately determine whether he survives as as AD.

Then there’s Steve Spurrier. Apparently he did what legendary College Basketball Coach Lefty Driesell did when he woke up one morning mid season and told himself that he didn’t have to do this anymore. Steve Spurrier realized that coaching college football is not so much about coaching anymore, but is all about recruiting. That’s all it is. Tennessee coach Butch Jones is a first class recruiter but struggles with actually coaching. Steve Spurrier is a coach and he can’t just do that anymore. He has to spend all his time convincing some 17 year old to come to Columbia, South Carolina. You could tell that from his press conference when he said he’d never coach another college team but may coach a High School team that the current state of college football is frustrating him. He could  just be a coach in high school. But as the guys who coach high school will tell you, they have to deal with parents who all believe little Timmy is a star. Spurrier is smart to go out on his own terms to avoid the awkward exits of Phillip Fulmer, Bobby Bowden, and Joe Paterno. Va. Tech’s Frank Beamer should follow suit because if he doesn’t he and the school are headed for an eventual ugly divorce.

This week is one of the reminders of why we love college football. There are 3 games  marching Top 10 teams. The most interesting to me is LSU and Florida. Florida is somehow 6-0. This despite numerous off the field issues including the starting quarterback getting suspended for a full calendar year for taking performance enhancing drugs. Those weren’t specified but he claims he took a supplement he didn’t know was banned. Let’s just hope he didn’t have to seek medical help for an erection lasting more than 4 hours. I understand that’s the definition of performance enhancing. I like LSU because Florida is an undefeated mess. Also in the SEC is Alabama at Texas A&M. Don’t look now but Alabama is lurking in the weeds. Since getting beaten by Ole Miss, all the Crimson Tide has done is line up and punch people in the mouth. While I’m a huge fan of Texas A&M defensive coordinator John Chavis, I like Alabama to keep punching. Then there’s the game between Michigan and Michigan State. Michigan has pitched three straight shutouts. I laugh why I hear what a quirky character Jim Harbaugh is. So he’s different? Who defines normal anyway? As long as he wins Michigan doesn’t care if he keeps referencing the Lion King in his press conferences. He’s doing an amazing job but Michigan State has a Senior quarterback and there’s no substitute for that so I like MSU.

Other Saturday selections: Houston over Tulane, BYU over Cinncinnati, Boise State over Utah State, UNLV over Fresno State, U-Conn over South Florida, East Carolina over Tulsa, Ohio becomes bowl eligible with a win over Western Michigan, Toledo over Eastern Michigan, Army over Bucknell, Marshall over Florida Atlantic, Florida State over Louisville, Iowa over Northwestern, Wisconsi over Purdue, Baylor and West Virginia may combine for 200 points but Baylor will score more,  Texas Tech over Kansas, Memphis stays unbeaten by beating Ole Miss at the Liberty Bowl, Florida International over Middle Tennessee, Mississippi State over Louisiana Tech, Pittsburgh over Ga. Tech, Central Michigan over Buffalo, Northern Illinois over Miami, Ohio, Ball State over Ga. State, Bowling Green over Akron, Troy over Idaho, back to reality for Va. Tech with a loss on the road to Miami, Virginia over Syracuse, Oklahoma over Kansas State, Minnesota over Nebraska, Air Force over Colorado State, Indiana beats Rutgers, U-Mass over Kent State, Charlotte over Old Dominion, Nevada keeps Wyoming winless, South Carolina over Vanderbilt, Washington State over Oregon State, Ga. Southern over New Mexico State, New Mexico over Hawaii, Clemson over Boston College, North Carolina over Wake Forest, TCU over Iowa State, Appalachian State over Louisiana Monroe, Southern Miss over UT San Antonio, Temple over Central Florida, Georgia big over Missouri, Notre Dame over USC, Ohio State over Penn State, Arizona over Colorado, Utah stays unbeaten over Arizona State, San Diego State over San Jose State, and Washington over Oregon.

Our FCS game of the weeks takes us to Cedar Falls, Iowa for the 44th all time and 38th straight meeting between the Panthers of Northern Iowa and the Leathernecks of Western Illinois. Western Illinois is the only non military school to use a military nickname under a special license from the United States Marine Corps. Amazingly UNI is just 2-3 but ranked 12th.

Division II features top ranked Minnesota State at the Concordia Golden Bears. The  Mavericks are 6-0.

For Division III it’s off to Ithaca, New York where the 4-1 Ithaca Bobmers host Brockport State. Ithaca in its football history has made 7 appearances in the Division III title game with 3 Championships, but haven’t won a title since 1991.

NAIA goes to Lebanon, Tennessee where Cumberland University hosts 6-0 Reinharrt College Eagles.

Finally to the Junior College ranks where the top ranked Red Ravens of Coffeyville Community College hosts third ranked Butler Junior College. Coffeyville is quarterbacked by Tennessee castoff Riley Ferguson.

The leaves are turning and fall is definitely here so get outside and enjoy it.

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About mbrown021851