Thursday, January 05, 2006

Taking the 2005 College Football Season To Bed pt. 1

It was a quick, strange season (one in which I made almost no comments because I neglected this blog like Fred Smoot running into one of the party boat “hired guns” at a strip club.) But now that it’s over, I can look back and seem quite wise with the power of 20/20 hindsight vision (and if you lack this, LensCrafters is more than happy to fit you with hindsight glasses. Or they’re just slap a comically oversized pair of Elton John shades on your ass and call them “hindsight glasses”. Just remember to ask for J-Bone and whatever you do, for God’s sake don’t ask for the hindsight contacts.)

The two best things to happen in college football, 2005 (tie)

D.J. Shockley having a great season / Tennessee’s Linda Lovelaceian 5-6 choke job. Before the season I hoped Shock would come out and be a great player. The rationale was there: sure he looked like one of the neck beard-sporting Detmer brothers vs. Tech last year, but Richt was planning on him being in there. A full offseason of reps with the #1 offense, Richt calling plays for him, not Greene, these would all help and we might not miss Greene that much.

Sure, we didn’t really have proven wideouts for him to throw to, but he’ll come around. A Shockley did more than that, setting a UGA season record for touchdowns and tying Eric Zeier’s record for TD passes.

The best Dawg to play only one season as a starter? Hells yes. He deserved one more shot against WVU, but I’ll still buy him a beer if I see him downtown from now until I eventually check into AA (which will come too soon if the D continues 2006 the way they ended the sugar bowl, but that’s another column.)

The Vols's collapse I predicted somewhat before the season too—just never in my wildest dreams (well, the ones that don’t involve me, Jessica Alba, Brittany Murphy, Eva Mendes and those SuperUltraKing beds they advertise in the Robb Report) did I think UT would only beat one SEC East team (and that that team was Kentucky) and spend bowl season sitting at home.
UT at preseason #3 was seriously overrated though. I questioned if sports writers really watched some of UT’s games last year. Yes, they beat UGA and I hate them for it, but it was close. If it their season consisted only of the close win against the Dawgs and the almost redemptive “we’re not going to lay down and get completely asswhipped so you look better in the eyes of the BCS” SEC championship loss to Auburn, followed by the beatdown of Texas A & M, maybe I could cede a Top 5 birth. But no, it was top 3, and Gerald “what’s a textbook?” Riggs was a freaking Heisman Candidate.

The SEC’s produced some great running backs, but Riggs’s non-badassness aside, when was the last time the conference had a running back in the Heisman race late? I can’t think of any since Garrison Hearst in 1992. Backs don’t accumulate the numbers in the record-setting bunches needed to wow national voters. Sure Jamal Lewis was a better back than Ron Dayne, but Ron Dayne got to rack up yards against Illinois and Northwestern while Lewis was stuck vs. Florida and Alabama (while maybe—allegedly—setting up a nice coke ring).

Point being, the hype was ridiculous, and people seemingly forgot how many near losses the 2004 UT team had. They nearly lost to Vandy and Kentucky last year…Cutcliffe’s lousy final Ole Miss team too. The refs nearly handed them the Florida game.

UT, top 3 team? I laughed. But when they lost to Vandy and South Carolina and their D quit on them late in the 4th against the Dawgs, and when they finished 5-6 I laughed even harder. The silver lining is that as bad as 5-6 is, it wasn’t bad enough to get Fulmer fired. A good coach with some of UT’s talent would be downright scary.

The 2005 Highlight Reel: Memento Style

The Rose Bowl—best national championship game I’ve seen since Ohio State-Mimai (which beats out the Rose for two chief reasons: 1. the company was better. I watched the Rose bowl with my good friend Miller Lite, the Fiesta I watched with my friend Amanda and her Q-tip fetching cat Roxy. 2. Overtime. Like many a lady will say “sorry, longer is usually better. Sure the refs screwed Miami towards the end, but Texas got a overturned gift touchdown in the Rose too—and the refs were seemingly not going to call holding on either O-line.) Bill Simmons had a great line about Vince Young’s throwing motion though, saying Young “throws like someone who just realized they have dog poop on their hand and is trying to fling it off.”

Fecal-flinging arm motion aside, Vince gave one of the most dominant college football performances ever (up their with #34 almost single-handedly leading UGA past Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl) and it was great fun to watch, if a little disconcerting.

Why? Because now Mack Brown has “won the big one”. I think many folks forget how perennially overrated the ‘Horns were under Brown until this season. His own fans would refer to him as “Mr. February”. One Rose bowl later, Mack Brown is second in the Texas coaching pantheon to Daryl Royal and many Trojan fans are talking to old school Pats fans about all the bad things Pete Carrol did in the NFL that they fear he may do now. Two years ago, Tommy Tuberville was the guy who lost at least 4 games every season. This year, Richt is the coach who can’t beat UT, Auburn and Florida all in one season—here’s to a 2006 turnaround of Mack Brown proportions.

The Fiesta Bowl—Bowden looked out of it, but I wish FSU had won. Much as it was nice to see Ohio State shut up the yammering Notre Dame love for a week or so (until the “early” preseason polls put them at #2 and forget that Weis doesn’t coach D and it shows), I had grown tired of hearing about Joe Paterno’s “comeback”. If just one person had spun the angle with a “if JoePa had let his players, his senior quarterback play like this a few years ago, would we be talking about a comeback?” I could’ve lived with it a lot more.

The Sugar Bowl—I don’t want to talk about.

Other Bowls—I was shocked at some upsets, to say the least. Utah whipping Tech was just funny. Auburn playing like their 1st game against Tech against a statistically pathetic Wisconsin defense was a shocker (not literally). Miami getting their asses handed to them by LSU was much unexpected (I guess LSU plays better in the Georgia Dome with a backup qb.) But overall, I was pretty disinterested with this year’s crop of bowls. There weren’t that many interesting matchups (on paper) until the (day after) New Year’s games, and I admit to being somewhat preoccupied with worrying about the Red Sox front office’s lack of moves.

To be continued…

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