Category Archives: College FB

This is Why Black College Football Coaches are Rare

Hamilton and Kiffin - "Blood" Brothers?

Hamilton and Kiffin - "Blood" Brothers?

“During our process, Lane Kiffin stood out. He has great football bloodlines and has been part of a strong football tradition since birth.”

Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton, on the hiring of the Vols’ new football coach.

This is what’s wrong with college football. What’s wrong is people such as Mike Hamilton being allowed to make major hiring decisions based on, what, genealogy? What’s even worse is that the University of Tennessee athletic director is allowed to trumpet it publicly without anyone standing up and saying: Are you freakin’ kidding?

After what Hamilton jokingly called a “national search,” one that took place in less time than it took fired Vols coach Phillip Fulmer to clean out his desk, Hamilton hired a guy with a year and a cup of coffee’s experience as a head coach and a 5-15 record, a guy who has never been a head coach at the collegiate level, never mind at a program with national championship aspirations such as Tennessee.

And he stood out because of bloodlines – the luck of the gene pool?

If we chose our president the way Hamilton hires football coaches, well, never mind. I guess we used to, but he’ll be leaving office Jan. 20.

Trouble is, Hamilton’s not alone.

That mentality, that “process”, still dominates the hiring of college football coaches, not just in the South but throughout the nation. That’s just one of the reasons why the dearth of African-American college football coaches might be the most mind-numbing story in sports. It’s been a story for as long as I can remember and the lack of progress – particularly now – might make it the most embarrassing corner of the sports landscape.

Lately, in the wake of the ouster of two black head coaches (Ty Willingham at Washington and Ron Prince at Kansas State, and the resignation of Mississippi State’s Sylvester Croom (a good coach who never really had a chance for sustainable success at MSU), the numbers have been widely reported: Just four black head football coaches among the 119 NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision schools, half as many as there were a decade ago and the fewest in 15 years.

Change? Hope?

Not in college football.

Not unless something drastic happens, on many fronts.

NCAA president Myles Brand has in the past decried the lack of black coaches. But when The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida released its annual report last month detailing the number of minorities in leadership positions in college sports, it was Charlotte Westerhaus, the NCAA’s vice president for diversity and inclusion, who told the Los Angeles Times that the numbers were “appalling.”

Brand has said the NCAA can not legislate something like the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview non-white candidates for coaching vacancies. I’ve heard from all corners that it would be difficult to implement and enforce such a rule due to the autonomy of the disparate major institutions. But since when does difficult preclude trying? Form a committee comprising college presidents, advisers from pro sports and people such as Floyd Keith, executive director of the Black Coaches Association; and Richard Lapchik of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport and charge them with creating a framework that would be the starting point for college sports’ version of such a rule.

Then give the rule teeth with sanctions such as the loss of scholarships for schools that do not comply.

Moreover, once a hire is made, new coaches such as Kiffin should be required to adhere to the rule as well.  So far, with the hiring of his brother-in-law in some capacity and the rumored hiring of his dad as defensive coordinator, Kiffin looks to be watering the entire family tree from the Vols’ trough. Forget nepotism, but is Kiffin assembling the best staff possible?

Not possible when you’re only fishing in the family pond.

Little will change until the young black men who represent the 55 percent of all student athletes begin to hold the schools and coaches accountable for their hiring practices. Particularly those who are the cream of the recruits, the young studs who will carry the burden of expectations.

In the age of Obama, these young men should be inspired to ask the tough questions, “Why should I play for you if you don’t feel anyone like me is capable of being a leader at your institution?”

I know it’s a lot to ask of young men, but if they know their history, they know that the movement that paved the way for Obama’s election was carried out by young men and women no older than they are.

In his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speech former NFL tight end Kellen Winslow charged a generation of recruits to leverage their opportunity to influence change: “‘Son,'” he said at one point, speaking as if he was a college coach recruiting a top player, “‘we’d really like for you to play for State U. We have a fine academic program, and a winning tradition, and it’s close to home, so your folks can see you play a lot.’ — Player to coach — “‘That sounds great, but it bothers me that there are only two African-American coaches on your staff, and neither one of them is the offensive or defensive coordinator.'”

“With these few words, African-American athletes can begin to open doors of opportunities that for whatever reason were once closed to African-Americans.”

Kiffin wasted no time to reaching out to Tennesee’s top prospect, Marlon Brown (pictured), a 6-foot-5 wide receiver from Memphis. We don’t know whether Brown asked Kiffin about his plans for his staff, whether any non-white men would be recruited as a coordinator or position coach. But we can hope.

We can hope that, at minimum, Brown will tell Kiffin to appreciate him for more than his bloodlines.

Harding Academy photo

The Obama Effect: Sports Still has Plenty of “Firsts” to go

In the days following Barack Obama’s historic election, a friend mused that the 44th President of the United States might be the “last first,” that in breaking what might be described as the ultimate color barrier, Obama might represent the last person of color whose ascension to a lofty position of power is cause for recognition, if not celebration.

In 2007, you no doubt recall, we embraced Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy and Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith for being the first African-American NFL coaches to lead their teams to the Super Bowl. Then after Dungy’s Colts won Super Bowl XLI, black Americans, including myself, got all misty-eyed at the sight of him being handed the Lombardi Trophy, standing in a place no black man had stood before. Seems kinda trivial now, doesn’t it?

Today, not too many years after the hiring of a black or Latino coach prompted shouts of “hallelujah” in minority circles, black and Latino head coaches are hired (and fired) in every pro sport, and in college basketball, without much fanfare. There was barely even a recognition of Don Wakamatsu’s historic hiring last week as the manager of the Seattle Mariners, making him the first Asian-American manager in a sport now profoundly infused with Asian talent.

Call it just another example of the Obama Effect. Now that we have a black president, why not hire a (fill in the minority) coach, GM, team president, etc.?

Don’t be fooled. Don’t be lulled into thinking The Dream is wholly fulfilled, or that we’ve reached the Mountaintop. It’s not Game Over. Not by any means. There are still barriers to conquer, especially in sports.

Who knew we’d have a black president before we had a sports commissioner who was not a white man?

Who knew we’d have a black president before one of the major sports networks – broadcast or cable – was run by someone other than a white man?

Who knew we’d have a black president before a national sports magazine was run by someone other than a white man?

Who knew we’d have a black president before we could stop wondering why it’s so hard for colleges to hire black men to coach their football programs?

Who knew we’d have a black president before American tennis could nurture another Arthur Ashe?

Who knew we’d have a black president before black athletes stopped being judged by the bad behavior of their most trifling peers?

Who knew we’d have a black president while the Boston Red Sox had not a single black player? (And the New York Yankees weren’t much better.)

Who knew we’d have a black president before NASCAR got it at all?

Who knew we’d have a black president before the NHL would figure out how to market its 20 black players, especially to kids who’ve never held a hockey stick or attended a game?

Who knew we’d have a black president before we no longer needed the Black Coaches Association?

Few if any people can claim with all honesty they thought they would see America elect an African-American president in their lifetime. Well, we have.

Now sports must get back to breaking its own barriers once again.

Associated Press photo

The $700 Billion Could be Better Spent on Sports

Which Bulls is this guy referring to?

Which Bulls is this guy referring to?

Seven hundred billion dollars. That’s billion. Enough to make even Mark Cuban’s heart skip a beat. Seven hundred billion just sitting around waiting to bail out struggling, failing industries. But is the government targeting the right one? Do we really need to save Wall Street, an industry based on greed that essentially made its own bed? Or even the U.S. auto industry, which went about building Hummers while Asia was building hybrids?

The industry that could really use – and deserves – some of those bucks is sports. I know, greed thy name is (fill in any sports owner’s name here). And any industry that pays guys hundreds of millions for throwing a football or baseball or handling the rock doesn’t deserve another penny.

I don’t argue those points. But there are still a few nooks in sports where a bailout is worthy, at least as worthy as Wall Street and Detroit. To name a few:

Chicago Cubs fans: Is there any group more deserving? They could use the bucks to buy the rival White Sox and merge the two teams. Maybe between the two of them, they can end the Cubs fans’ wait for a World Series win.

Detroit Lions: Right now this city’s beleaguered citizens don’t have a decent NFL diversion. With the money, this team could maybe buy some heart.

• Boxing: Talk about an industry in need. With its share of the money, maybe it could buy the UFC, the sport’s only shot at renewed popularity.

Tampa Bay Rays: To keep the talent that took them to the World Series.

Kansas City Royals: This franchise deserves to be in the bidding wars at least once. At least enough to buy a copy of Tampa Bay’s script.

Los Angeles Clipper fans: To buy the team from Donald Sterling. Could longtime Clips fan Billy Crystal do any worse?

• Ailing former pro athletes: To somewhat compensate for seeing another generation reap the rewards of their blood, sweat and broken bodies.

• American tennis: To build more courts in inner cities like in Compton, Calif.

• Urban schools: To revive gym and the sports programs that were cut even before the economy tanked. Yes, pay the teachers. But those of us who grew up playing sports and going to class know the value of both and feel for kids whose day ends at 3 p.m.

• The BCS: Never mind. The president-elect said Sunday night on “60 Minutes” that he’s going to “throw his weight around” to create a college football playoff. The BCS is about to become Lehman Brothers … gone.

• Fans everywhere: To simply be able to afford to attend games because, with all that’s going on outside our arenas and gyms, sports fans have never deserved their joy more – and been less able to afford it.

AP photo

All Together Now (except for USC): We’re No. 1!

You're right, Trojan Boy; You're No. 2

You

Who’s No. 1?

No one really knows. We may not even really know on Jan. 9, 2009, the day after the BCS title game. That’s because the game’s participants will have been decided by polls – which are heavy factors in the BCS standings that determine which two college football teams deserve to play for the national title.

Except sometimes/often, the polls fail to pick the right two teams.

Polls. I’m done with them.

I’m done with them in sports. I’m done with them in politics. Done with them.

We should all be done with them.

College football is the only major sport ruled by polls. Sure, other sports have polls. They provide fodder to fan chats and allow way too many foam fingers to be sold. But their championships are decided by the only poll that matters (or should matter) – the scoreboard.

At least a handful of teams could earn a shot at the title. College football uses polls to determine which two will play for the crown.

And as we’ve already seen this season, the polls are usually wrong. The consensus No. 1, USC, had its consensus tail whipped 27-21 Thursday night at Oregon State, defeated by a team that was better prepared, more motivated, and – at least for a night – seemingly more talented than the team whose name had all but been printed on the tickets for the national title game.

So now someone has to be No. 1. Second-ranked Oklahoma is most likely to slip into the void – if it can survive at No. 24 TCU on Saturday. Maybe it’ll be No. 3 Georgia, which hosts an Alabama team reveling in its return from mediocrity. Why not Florida, Missouri or LSU? Any of them could lay claim to the dubious distinction of being No. 1.

A distinction that will mean nothing until January.

By Saturday morning we’ll no doubt be flooded with a tsunami of polls reacting to Friday’s presidential debate. Who won? Who won among independents? Whites? Blacks? Hispanics? Likely voters? First-time voters? Student voters? Affluent student voters? Soccer moms? Hockey moms? Poker dads?

People on both sides of this presidential campaign circus will wring their hands in consternation over what each poll means for their candidate’s chances to win. Pundits will dissect each poll as if it were a lab frog, searching for meaning behind the numbers.

Well, they’ll mean about as much as those polls that had USC at No. 1

The only poll that matters during this political season is the one that will be taken on Nov. 4.

The only one that should matter in college football is the one registered on the scoreboard at the national championship game. Unfortunately, too many polls matter. And almost all of them get it wrong.

Reuters photograph

NYT: Football Bouys Black College

WEST GROVE, Pa. — The new Lincoln University football team, in its Tide-orange jerseys, gathered near the equipment shed on the hill behind the end zone. It was two hours before Saturday’s kickoff, and buses from campus began arriving at the parking lot nearby. Out spilled the cheerleaders. Then came members of the band, crisply costumed all the way to the orange tassels atop their chin-strapped hats.

Tweet! Tweet! Tweet! The drum major blew the whistle, and the drum line pounded a marching beat. Hips swayed and feet shuffled. Dancers and flag bearers and musicians, walking two by two, snaked into the stadium.

The Lincoln Lions had arrived, complete.

Lincoln is the oldest of the country’s more than 100 historically black colleges and universities, or H.B.C.U.’s. The schools are renowned for their educational opportunities, and many are famous for fall Saturdays that combine football with high-energy, high-stepping marching bands.

After 154 years and 15,000 graduates, including Thurgood Marshall and Langston Hughes, Lincoln feels whole. It has resurrected a football program that last played in 1960. And it has created its first marching band — and a fight song for it to play.

“Since we were the first H.B.C.U., I would have thought we’d have a football team and a band,” said the Lincoln junior Shanelle Robinson, who transferred from Virginia State to be part of the band’s flag corps. “I guess that’s what was missing from Lincoln University.”

The combination has electrified Lincoln’s sleepy hilltop campus in southeastern Pennsylvania, where the red-brick buildings creep down toward the surrounding farmland. On one edge of campus, a football field will be built, so the team will no longer have to practice on the baseball field and play its games at a high school six miles away.

Alumni have reconnected to their university like never before. Hundreds, including several football players from the pre-1960 era, helped cram the Avon Grove High School bleachers for the first game on Aug. 30, a happy 34-7 romp over a club team from George Mason. Students past and present have scooped up Lincoln souvenirs at the university’s bookstore.

“The first game, my lines were wrapped around the store two times,” the store manager Tanya Bynum said last Friday, when she sold out of Lincoln-logoed umbrellas during a rainstorm. “I can’t keep enough merchandise in the store.”

Despite Lincoln’s success in many of its other 16 sports — including a track team that has won 17 national championships — the university’s 2,450 students have a reputation for shrugging aside its teams and heading home on weekends. But now they talk football in the cafeteria and lean out dormitory windows to watch the band practice. They fill buses that shuttle them to the Saturday football games, because there is no place they would rather go.

“Before, you didn’t really think you had a void,” said the senior Milan Carter, the president of the Student Government Association. “Now that we have a team, you wonder what we did without it.”

Lincoln began playing football in 1894 and was a founding member of the historically black Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1912. But Lincoln stopped playing football after 1960, after a string of losing seasons, increasing disinterest, falling enrollment and competition for African-American athletes from newly integrated universities around the country. And Lincoln never had a marching band.

“When I travel, a lot of people say, ‘Where’s Lincoln?’ ” the senior volleyball player Jordean Matthews said. “I say that we’re the first H.B.C.U. But a lot of H.B.C.U.’s don’t even know where we are.”

She smiled. “But that’s changing.”

The decision to resurrect football and start a band was complex. Each will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to operate, and there are no delusions that football can be profitable. But Lincoln officials see benefits, tangible and intangible, that far outweigh the costs.

The university wants to reconnect competitively and culturally with the H.B.C.U.’s that followed Lincoln after its founding in 1854 as Ashmun Institute. (The name changed in 1866 to honor Abraham Lincoln.) In the increasingly competitive environment of higher education, sports can forge impressions and draw unparalleled attention. Among black colleges and universities, nothing gets noticed like football and the band.

The university president, Ivory V. Nelson, sat in his stately office last Friday and whittled it down by playfully answering a reporter’s question with one of his own.

“You’re sitting here because of what?” he asked, knowing the answer had to do with a football game.

“I couldn’t have called you and got you down here if I had 10 Nobel Prize winners.”

He laughed and acknowledged that 10 would bring plenty of news media queries. But the point was clear.

Lincoln also wanted to increase its male enrollment and retention, as women account for 62 percent of the student population and earn roughly two of every three degrees. And it wanted elevate its athletic programs from N.C.A.A. Division III to Division II, largely so it could rejoin the C.I.A.A., the historically black conference it co-founded nearly 100 years ago.

To do that, Lincoln needed football. And football needed a band.

“Everyone knows, especially in black college football, that the presence of the marching band has as much drawing power, and in some cases more drawing power, than the presence of the football team,” Nelson said. “So we put those two together.”

In the visiting bleachers on Saturday, Edward McLean, the athletic director from Fayetteville State in North Carolina, said football and bands went together “like peanut butter and jelly” at H.B.C.U.’s.

On Aug. 27, 2007, the day that O. J. Abanishe arrived as the football coach at Lincoln, a truck arrived from St. Peter’s College in New Jersey. Inside were helmets, shoulder pads, tackling dummies, game clocks, sideline headsets and more, provided for a steep discount because St. Peter’s had disbanded its program.

“It was like a complete football program starter kit,” Abanishe said.

It did not include any players. Abanishe plucked a handful from an on-campus tryout that attracted 120 hopefuls.

Most of the 55 players on the current roster, sharing 12 scholarships, were outsiders sold on the pitch that they could be part of Lincoln lore.

“We’re part of history,” said Max Holiday, a junior defensive tackle. “We’re going to be here forever.”

H. Wade Johnson, a former band director at three other H.B.C.U.’s, was hired to create the Orange Crush Roaring Lions Marching Band. He designed uniforms, purchased 100 instruments and recruited members to a band that has 50 members and plans for 128. He also wrote a fight song; Lincoln did not have one.

Saturday was a warm day topped with fluffy white clouds. Fayetteville State, a potential rival as Lincoln makes the transition into the C.I.A.A., brought one of the conference’s top teams and its 75-member band. The day displayed how far Lincoln had come, and how far it had to go.

Fayetteville State led Lincoln by 35-0 after one quarter and coasted to a 63-0 victory. Afterward, dejected Lincoln players stood in front of the band as it played the alma mater — a song recently arranged by Johnson for the band; it was usually performed as a choral piece.

Fans left, seemingly unbothered by the result. Lincoln athletes from other sports collected trash from the bleachers. And the players shuffled back to the equipment shed and sat quietly.

Their meditation was broken as Fayetteville State’s band triumphantly marched past to the boom-boom-boom of its drums and the siren of its horns. Back in the parking lot, Lincoln’s band ended the day where it started — working on a whole new beat of its own.

Just Sad

Kevin Hart needs help. Or he can get a gig when the Hollywood writers’ strike ends. Hart’s the kid who perpetrated the fraud of the year. On National Signing Day, he staged an elaborate press conference at his high school in Fernley, Nev. to “announce” that he’d chosen to attend Cal over Oregon, the two school that supposedly recruited him. Trouble was, neither of them did.

    An offensive lineman, Hart, the story turns out, hadn’t been recruited by anyone, let alone either of the Pac-10 school. And yet he wanted to play college ball so badly he concocted this elaborate script and duped a gym full of “extras,” who cheered and whooped and generally showered him with good wishes as he made his announcement.
    Now, rather than going to college, he may go to jail – perhaps for filing a false police claim (As his story unraveled, he originally claimed he’d been duped by someone he paid to promote him to colleges).
    Kent shouldn’t go to jail. He should go straight to Hollywood. The boy can sure tell a story.
    Some have stated that Kent’s hoax is a signal that Signing Day – second only to Christmas in some parts of the nation – should be scrapped. Too much emphasis on decisions made by kids, some say. Too much pressure. Too much hype.
    Hogwash. Signing Day is about hopes and dreams. It’s about the hopes of young men and the fans of the schools that sign them. It’s about families and friends and coaches who helped shape young lives. Is it over-hyped? Sure. So what.
     In fact, let’s create another Signing Day. One for kids who choose a college simply to, well, go to college. Let’s track them like we do high-school football players. Who are the best young math and science geeks, the best young writers, the best future business or political leaders? Who are the best minds?
    Let’s create web sites for them, and have departments heads recruit them like hungry football coaches.
    And then on the day they commit, let’s hold press conferences where we’ll cheer and whoop and shower them with good wishes like those good folks in Farnley did to Kevin Hart. Then maybe we’ll thank him instead of ridicule him.
    Or at least we’ll give him an Emmy.

Under Siege in Seattle

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At some point, we all knew technology and the underbelly of college sports would converge into one sickening mass. It’s happened.

Thanks the Seattle Times, a scum alum has been exposed. Based on two emails sent to University of Washington president Mark Emmert – the first on, Oct. 30, the latter on Nov. 29 – and obtained via public record by the Seattle Times, Ed Hansen, a lawyer, developer, banker, 1966 graduate of the university’s law school and former mayor of Everett, Wash., said he’d donate $100,000 to the school if head football coach Tyrone Willingham was fired. He also offered to donate another $100,000 if athletic director Todd Turner was fired.

Here are the contents of the emails, as reported by the Times: In the initial email, Hansen said he’d “decided to defer establishing the law school scholarship until Ty Willingham is replaced as Husky football coach,” according to the report.

Later, Hansen went on: “By this letter I hereby pledge to contribute a minimum of $100,000 towards a law school scholarship within 90 days, conditioned upon the termination of Ty Willingham as football coach.

“In addition, I hereby pledge a second $100,000 towards a law school scholarship within 90 days, conditioned upon the termination of Todd Turner as athletic director.”

I am sure this sort of thing has gone on as long as there have been fat-cat boosters and college coaches. But damn. It’s still amazing.

The Huskies were 4-9 this past season, their third straight losing record under Willingham, who took over a program that had been in turmoil under former coach Rick Neuheisel. There have been some rumblings (aren’t there almost everywhere except, maybe , LSU?). As well as support: Seattle Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander e-mailed, saying that he’d hung out with several Husky players and was pleased “with the direction of the program and the character of the guys Ty has been bringing in … Let him finish what he started and you’ll be pleased with all your decisions.”

To his credit, Emmert, the school president is ignoring the madness. He says he ignores any financial threats or inducements related to personnel decisions. he told the newspaper that the emails are “grossly inappropriate.”

Ya think?

Watch a report on Willingham’s rehiring:

Sean Taylor’s (Alleged) Killers

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Here they are, with gratitude to thebiglead.com, which was first to dig up pics of the four knuckleheads who’ve now been charged with the murder of Washington Redskins All-Pro Sean Taylor in his Florida home earlier home last week.

The police are being pretty mum on the whole thing, thankfully. They’re only saying the killers had no intention of killing Taylor, whom they didn;t hink would be home. They only wanted to rob the place.

Small comfort.

Mitchell, Wardlow, and Hunte

Jason Mitchell, Charles Wardlow and Venjah Hunte (from left) were denied bail after appearing separately before a judge via a video link today. The fourth suspect, Eric Rivera, who has been ID’d as the gunman who shot Taylor, was still in custody in  Florida jail.

 

The Rankings are Rank

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Worthless. That’s what I think of preseason polls.

Oh, I know they’re fun for fans and they invoke a heavy dose of chest puffing among players. But they don’t mean squat. And if you don’t know that by now, well, you’ve been in a coma since early fall when Appalachian State thumped then No. 5 Michigan in Ann Arbor to ignite the most curious ( and entertaining, may I please add) college football season perhaps the in the history of the sport.

Now a conference no one outside of the players blood relatives has even heard on – the Atlantic Sun (doesn’t that sound like a casino? – has transformed the college basketball preseason polls into filthy rags. Gardner Webb and Mercer, the Bulldogs and Bears, lack-of-respectively, embarrassed some guys wearing big-time unis last week and rendered their vanquished to the ranks of the unranked. Kentucky and USC, Nos 22 and 18 in early polls, will probably climb back into the rankings before long – although one could argue that they’re right where they belong right now: out of the top 20 and starting at a long season of attempted redemption.

If you look at college footballs’ preseason rankings and four teams that were in the top ten -No. 1 USC, Texas, Michigan and Louisville – are ghosts (at worst) or understudies (at best) in the current rankings. Quite simply, none of them were nearly as good as their preseason hype. And since then teams that were nowhere to be found in the top 20 – No. 2 Oregon, undefeated Kansas, Missouri, Clemson, South Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, UConn (who knew they played football there?!) – have made 2007 a season to remember.

College basketball’s prognosticators obviously learned nothing. The preseason rankings are filled with unis – name schools whose biggest strength lies in the letters across the players chests. Nary a surprise among them. Neither Gardner Webb nor Mercer cracked the Top 25, and perhaps they shouldn’t. In college hoops, at least, those wins will count for something in March, should the two teams continue to play well and notch perhaps another couple of quality wins and do well in AS (Atlantic Sun). That’s when the venerable suits comprising the NCAA basketball committee locks itself in a room with a ton of very expensive shrimp and decides which teams receive invitations to the not-so-elite field of  65 teams that will have the opportunity to compete for the national title.

USC and Kentucky are the kinds of teams that typically qualify just by showing up for every regular season game with clean unis.  Not so GWebb and Mercer. But they’ve already opened some eyes.

The problem with the college football preseason poll is that it provides teams with an unfair advantage given the few spots in prestigious – read: phat payoff – postseason bowls. It’s like spotting the New England Patriots a touchdown every Sunday. Most seasons, those early notches prevent less-prominent teams with great records from breaking into the bowls of golf. This season is an aberration (though I hope not). LSU v Oregon (or even Kansas) in the title game will be refreshing.

Kill the preseason polls and allow the season to exist at least for a few weeks before releasing the first rankings. At least, by then, they won’t simply rank.

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Andre the Giant

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Okay, this is officially the best college football season ever. At this point, the national champion is almost moot. We could be looking at Kansas State v South Florida for the title and, well, it will be alright.

Today, on a Saturday with few games of an real national interest, Kentucky QB Andre Woodson – this year’s Vince Young, and my favorite player this season – orchestrated another stunning upset my leading the once woebegon-Wildcats to a 43-37 victory over No. 1 LSU. The win snapped LSU’s 13-game win streak and further threw the national title race into Twilight Zone.

Woodson (are the Jets watching???) hit Steve Jackson for a 7-yard TD to take a six-point lead in the third OT. Then after the Wildcats failed on the two-point conversion (required starting with the 3OT), vaunted LSU could not get 10 yards in four downs and were done.

Woodson was 21-for38 with 249 yards and 3 TDs. He was poised and powerful His arm zipped passes into places Chad Pennington couldn’t reach on ‘roids.

Kentucky is one of many Cinderellas in this Grimm’s of a season – the best college football season ever.

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