10 Questions, Week 9: Goodbye, Normalcy

One look at the nation's conference leaders will tell you nothing is shocking anymore

College Football Recap: Week 8

> Full Scoreboard  |  GameTracker Final Stats  |  Images of Saturday
> The Red Zone  |  Tape It Up  |  Strike The Pose  |  Breaking The Code
> Run & Shoot: Rutgers Tops USF  |  Sooners Survive In Ames  |  Gamecocks Victims To Vandy
Wells Leads Buckeyes To Victory  |  USC Dominates Notre Dame  |  Cal Drops Second Straight
Gators Win Shakes Up Standings  |  Kansas Remains Perfect  |  Ducks Steamroll Huskies
>Gutsy Call Gives LSU Comeback Win  |  Game Room's Sunday Headlines   |  SEC Wrap Up     

Oct. 22, 2007

By Eric Sorenson

Special to CSTV.com



Eric Sorenson is a regular contributor to CSTV.com, covering football, basketball & baseball. E-mail here!

Remember the salad days of college football?


You know, back when Michigan was losing to FCS (I-AA) teams, LSU had a defense, Florida was unbeatable, Louisville had an offense, West Virginia had a couple of Heisman candidates, USC could beat anybody, Nebraska was giving coaches raises and extensions, Texas had the Big 12 in its hip pocket, the Top 10 was full of impostors and Home Depot commercials were showing males in a positive light?




(Okay, I was kidding about that last one.)


Man, suddenly this season seems like it's been going on forever. In the meantime, it's also been flipped on its ear. Been there, done that? Ho-hum? De rigueur? Not this season. There's no longer any semblance of normalcy. In the words of Jane's Addiction, nothing's shocking anymore.


So while wondering if there is a better ad campaign out there than Jack Links' "Messin' with Sasquatch," here are this week's 10 Questions.


Question 1: Before I get to any other questions, how 'bout if I put this whole 1988 Auburn-LSU "Earthquake Game" hoax to bed for good?


I guess I just heard one too many references to it before this weekend's epic Tiger-Tiger game. So let me explain.


In the fall of 1988, I was working just off campus at a store called "Tiger Sports" that sold LSU fan gear and whatnot. On game days, we obviously stayed open right up until game time and then re-opened for one hour after the game was over for fans to come by and spend their dough.


At the conclusion of the game, as I was walking out of the stadium, I looked at my watch and saw it was 9:45 p.m. That meant we'd have to stay at Tiger Sports until 10:45 p.m. The next morning, the LSU Geosciences department issues a statement that a small tremor was recorded at about 9:45 p.m on the LSU campus. That was at least 10, maybe 15 minutes later than when Tommy Hodson's touchdown pass to Eddie Fuller won the game for LSU. Especially since there was still 1:41 left on the clock when the score happened.


Plus, they said the tremor lasted 15-20 minutes. Obviously LSU fans didn't keep jumping up and down for 15-20 minutes.


And here's one last reason I'm calling B.S. on this legend: in all the 80+ years of great games and spontaneous game-winning plays at Tiger Stadium, wouldn't you figure there would be NUMEROUS times that an actual tremor was caused by the fans jumping up and down over the years? There's no way this phenomenon occurred only once, if it ever occurred at all.


Question 2: Okay, now that that's over, Les Miles... brilliant tactician? Or oafish lucky stiff?


I'm trying not to listen to all the chatroom rumblings, but I'm also getting closer and closer to the lucky thing.


Look, that was another incredible LSU-Auburn game. It seems like there must be some kind of rule that something freaky has to happen when these teams meet. But damn! If Matt Flynn's game-winning pass gets tipped into the air, deflected into the crowd or picked off on that last play, the time runs out and LSU loses. Goodbye National Title. Goodbye storybook finish.


And did you realize that when Richard Dickson got tackled on the play before, there were 45 seconds left in the game? But the Tigers took until the eight second mark to snap the ball on that last play.


After all the fake field goals, fake punts and fourth-down gambles, Miles and O-Coordinator Gary Crowton have become old west gunslingers. But those gambles caught up with them at Kentucky and with the SEC having weekly battles come down to the last play, they're going to have to tone down the brinkmanship tendencies or it will bite them in the arse again.


"It wasn't a gutsy call. It was a bad call that turned out good." - Westwood One's Terry Bowden on LSU's last play touchdown.


By the way, no hats off to Crowton, anyway. This is an offensive coordinator that regularly decides to shy away from game-breakers like Keiland Williams, Charles Scott and Trindon Holliday just when it looks like these guys are making big-time plays. If these guys were utilized more in the second half of the Kentucky game, LSU wins by a couple touchdowns.


Question 3: What's a bigger freak show, a Mike Gundy press conference or what's happening on the field in the SEC?


I'm going with the SEC.


How can you beat 13 one-score games? Yes, 13 SEC games have essentially come down to the final play. Holy EKG, Batman!


LSU rolls the dice and calls for a lob throw in the corner of the end zone to beat Auburn, Florida looks like it could actually win a national title with two losses, Alabama is a freakin' roller-coaster ride that looks like it's ready to rock anybody's world and Vanderbilt, of all people, makes Williams-Brice Stadium turn into a mausoleum with a knock-out win vs. the Ol' Ball Coach. What the hell is goin' on down there?! If the network execs decided they wanted to do a reality show, just point the cameras at all 12 SEC schools. There's your drama.


And do me another favor. Go ahead and have Vegas throw out the point-spreads for SEC games the rest of the season. Because that is absolutely NO indicator as to what's going to happen.


Question 4: Have you guys seen who's at the top of the conference standings lately?


Conference leaders wearing paper bags on their heads:


ACC Coastal Division: Virginia (4-0, 7-1)

Folks, this is the same team that lost to Wyoming 23-3 while being held to five first downs and 100 total yards?


Big 12 North Division: Kansas (3-0, 7-0)

This is the same school that lost to the likes of Toledo, Nebraska and Baylor a year ago.


Big East: Connecticut (2-0, 6-1)

Okay, so they beat Louisville. The party may be over soon with USF and Rutgers on deck.


Big Ten: Michigan (4-0, 6-2)

Amazingly, tied with Ohio State, this is the same team that lost to... well, you know.


Conference USA: Southern Miss (3-1, 4-3)

Anyone who loses to Rice deserves to be steamed.


Pac-10: UCLA (4-0, 5-2)

Anyone who loses to Utah by 38 deserves to be steamed.


Mountain West: BYU (3-0, 5-2)

Still hard to tell if losing to UCLA should be considered embarrassing or not.


SEC East Division: South Carolina (3-2, 6-2)

Yep, a Spurrier-coached team committed the ultimate sin by losing at home to Vandy.


Question 5: Why does Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese secretly hate Rutgers again?


Because for the second year in a row, the Knights have denied a Big East team a chance for the national title.


Who doesn't love the South Florida story? A program built out of two temporary trailers. Man that's cool. And Jim Leavitt deserves some kind of Coach of the Year mention, no doubt. But thanks to the Scarlet Knights' win over USF on Thursday night, this conference just blew its best chance at a national title game appearance again. So Mr. Tranghese couldn't have been happy about seeing his No. 2-ranked team get eliminated.


Look, Big Easters, you can laud how great and how improved your conference is and how it was ludicrous for anyone to suggest the Big East doesn't deserve a BCS bid, but until one of your teams plays for the Waterford Crystal, you're still a cute novelty.


Question 6: Don't you love how baseball people are all freaked out because the Colorado Rockies will have an eight-day layoff before facing the Red Sox for the World Series?


Just imagine if they had to wait 40-50 days for the World Series like college football teams routinely do every year for the bowl games.


That's the main reason why I think bowl game results turn out as freaky as they do. If only those teams could keep their momentum going and play the week after the regular season ended. Then I think we'd get more accurate assessments of how good teams are in bowl games. As it is now, it usually comes down to whichever team can actually keep their focus for a full month or so. That's no way to decide a champion.


Question 7: What's the best part about this incredible amount of parity and once-beaten teams we're seeing this season?


No network will be running a "best team ever?" show this coming December.


Question 8: So what are my five biggest sneaking suspicions for the remainder of this season?


1. The SEC, still parlaying the success of Florida's win over Ohio State, may just get a two-loss team to the title game.


2. Ohio State, a team on a mission, may finish No. 1, but a win over someone other than an SEC team won't really convince anyone.


3. USC is going to be a totally different team once all of its injuries heal. Only problem: Are they healed enough for Oregon on Saturday?


4. Jim Leavitt may love South Florida, but he's still going to take a "step up" job.


5. In about two weeks, college football fans around the country are going to be asking, "Hey, did Miami and Florida State already play each other?"


Question 9: What announcers' phrase has joined "it is what it is," "their body of work" and "swagger" as phrases that should be blown up like Disco Night at a White Sox game?


"In space."


Todd Blackledge set a record for using that phrase four times during the first quarter of the Auburn-LSU game and Kirk Herbstreit uses it like a bad drug. What, did people forget about using the phrase "in the open field" like they used to?


Blackledge spewed this piece of brilliance about Brad Lester during Auburn's first drive: "He's good in space. He can make people miss. He's hard to tackle in space."


Dumb fad.


Question 10: Why do I love Michigan State, USC, UCLA, Washington and Notre Dame more than any other programs?


Because those five teams are the only ones that have never played a Division I-AA opponent. (And yes, I still refuse to call that division by whatever the silly new name is supposed to be, Football Championship Division, or whatever.)


Ohio State and Michigan were on that list, but both scheduled one of those lambs for the first time this year. Albeit I'm betting Michigan wishes it hadn't now.


Oh and while we're on the subject, hats off to Coach Craig Bohl and the North Dakota State Bison for their 27-20 win over Division I-A Minnesota this weekend. The Bison, who are three years removed from Division II and on their way to becoming a D-1 team, are now 7-0 and ranked No. 1 in Division I-AA.


The 11th Question

How many breaths will be wasted with people uttering "this season really should be decided by a playoff?"