On the football field there was certainly plenty of action to discuss, and yes there are teams that typically play themselves out of contention by week six, and this year is no different. But a major college football program finds itself in a more embarrassing situation that Texas, while an iconic figure over the past 28-years has decided to abruptly retire.
Steve Spurrier officially stepped down today as head coach at South Carolina. Spurrier earned the right to change the way the game was played in the South by leading Duke to an ACC title in 1989. He parlayed that success into a job at his alma mater – Florida – where he won a Heisman Trophy in 1966.
Many will look at his unprecedented success at South Carolina assuming Florida was always a major program in the SEC, but the truth is for decades the Gators were a doormat. Between joining the SEC in 1920 and Spurrier’s arrival in 1990, Florida ranked seventh out of ten teams. During “the Ole Ball Coach’s” tenure, the Gators never finished worse than 6-3 in conference play and won more games and conference titles than any other team.
He also launched the success the conference still enjoys. Bear Bryant’s final two titles came in ’78 and ’79 at Alabama, in 1980 Herschel Walker led Georgia to a title. Two years after Spurrier’s arrival at Florida, Alabama won the ’92 title (after beating Spurrier’s Gators in the first SEC Title game), and the SEC has won 11 of 22 titles since.
On the left coast USC is learning that a Rhodes Scholarship isn’t really relevant when it comes to running a major college athletic program. As a quarterback at Southern Cal in the mid-70’s, Pat Haden led the Trojans to a pair of National Titles. As athletic director at SC, he’s been a colossal failure. He fired Lane Kiffin on the tarmac at LAX, he hired Andy Enfield as the basketball coach because Enfield led Florida Gulf Coast University to a Sweet 16 appearance in ’13. In two season in LA, Enfield’s Trojans are 23-41 overall and 5-31 in Pac-12 play. Not good. He replaced Kiffin with another former Pete Carroll assistant – Steve Sarkisian. Sark apparently developed a bad drinking problem (which at the very least can be traced back to his days as head coach at Washington). Showing up drunk to a alumni event in August was bad enough, especially when Haden essentially gave Sarkisian a pass and allowed him to privately work on a drinking problem the coach wouldn’t yet admit to. Then, following a second loss in the Coliseum this season, this time to 3-2 Washington last Thursday, Sarkisian apparently came to work drunk on Sunday. First came a suspension, followed Monday by termination. Southern Cal can compete for titles with mistakes like Kiffin and Sarkisian running the football team, so imagine what they could do with a legitimate coach – and what legitimate coach wouldn’t consider this job? The question is, how much faith can Southern Cal have in Haden to find the right “legitimate” head coach?
As for the action on the field in week six, Texas gets a big win over Oklahoma, but still lack perspective. Bob Stoops and Mark Richt eliminated their programs from the playoff chase – as usual – before Halloween. Utah continues to impress, as does Clemson. A&M and Alabama are set for a playoff elimination game – as are Florida and LSU, and don’t look now, but Michigan is good with Jim Harbaugh as head coach.
First one other note; keep up the great work Tom Herman and the University of Houston Cougars. At 5-0 the Cougars are a serious contender for the “at-large” Playoff bowl slot afforded to the best team outside the “major” conferences. UofH hosts Memphis on Nov. 14 for their toughest remaining regular season contest, before a likely match-up with Temple for the American Athletic Conference title. I’d say win and your in Cougs.
As for the Texas Longhorns, congratulations. Following a very embarrassing start to the 2015 season and natives getting restless regarding Charlie Strong the Horns responded by beating hated rival Oklahoma 24-17. Behind 313-yards rushing, Strong earned his first signature win as Texas head coach. However, remember you are TEXAS, try to act like it. Enjoy a second win over Bob Stoops in three years, just don’t celebrate like you’re Appalachian State beating Michigan.
If Tennessee wants to celebrate its comeback win over Georgia like it’s 1999 so be it. It’s been almost that long since the Vols beat a ranked opponent and after yaking up leads to Oklahoma and Florida, topped with a unacceptable loss to Arkansas, Butch Davis needed this one. As for the Bulldogs, as if the season wasn’t unraveling fast enough, Heisman candidate running back Nick Chubb was injured on Georgia’s first play from scrimmage. Then UGA built a 24-3 second-quarter lead only to blow it in the second half. Georgia is stuck in a very difficult position. They’ve got a very good coach in Mark Richt who has won 140 games in Athens, but he doesn’t seem capable of getting the Dawgs to the top. Is almost good enough for a program with Georgia’s resources?
Congrats to Utah and Clemson – the two undefeated teams that nobody truly respects. The Utes handed Cal its first loss of the year by forcing Jared Goff into five interceptions. As for the Tigers, after beating Notre Dame a week ago, Clemson followed up by crushing Georgia Tech (boy was I wrong about the Yellow Jackets).
Saturday’s marquee SEC match-up on CBS will be A&M hosting Alabama. The Tide seemed to have found themselves after losing to Ole Miss. However, while the match-up with LSU may favor Bama, the Aggies ability to expose Alabama’s weaknesses provides A&M a huge opportunity. I can’t see Bama shutting down Kyle Allen to Christian Kirk, or Josh Reynolds, or Damson Ratley or Ricky Seals-Jones, or Speedy Noil or Tra Carson. I also wonder how well Jake Coker will look with Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall in his face all day.
In Baton Rouge, the LSU caught a huge break when the NCAA suspended Florida QB Will Grier for the next 12-months for taking a banned substance. The Gators have looked better each week under first year head coach Jim McElwain. The Tigers have one unbelievably talented player on offense – running back Leonard Fournette. However, the rest of the offense is below average. If Les Miles and or Nick Saban could recruit QB’s, either LSU or Alabama or both, would never lose. As is, QB is always both teams achilles heel.
Oh!Brien’s Top 10
- Ohio State
- Michigan State
Brien Straw co-hosts the Bstraw & PaulyG Show weeknights on SportsRadio 610. (FALL HOURS: Tue. 9:00pm – 11:00pm, Wed. & Fri. 8:00pm – 11:00pm.)
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