10 Questions, Week 13: Injury, Insult and Intensity

Dixon's injury reshapes national picture

College Football Preview: Week 13

> The Red Zone  |  Tape It Up  |  Strike The Pose  |  Breaking The Code
> B.J.: Love and Hate  |  Amsinger: Weekly Picks  |  Sorenson: 10 Qs  |   Braff: Backups Crash and Burn
> Trev: Love Woodson's' Poise  |  Michigan's Next Move   |  Hart: Giving Thanks At The Border
> Blackburn: Miles To Ann Arbor?  |  Palm: Impact Games Galore  |  Roland: Mizzou To End Kansas' Dream
> Caparell: Long Time Coming For Mississippi State  |  Crystal Ball: Weekend Predictions

Nov. 19, 2007

By Eric Sorenson

Special to CSTV.com



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

There may be nothing crueler than a rabid college football fan.


I mean, how many fans in Kansas, Missouri, West Virginia and Arizona were happy with Dennis Dixon going down with an injury early in that Oregon loss to Arizona? Sorry, that's how fans think. Anything to help their teams' cause. And because of it, a handful of new teams have newfound hopes in the title chase. Dennis Dixon was that good.


But Dixon's a good dude too. I mean, you saw his latest TV commercial, right? Academic honor roll, 3.6 GPA, in so many straight semesters and already has a Sociology degree. Not to mention he was a fifth-round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves last summer and appears to have a good pro baseball career ahead of him.




Too bad the Heisman-hyping commercial ran during the game in which he was injured for the rest of the season. And in turn, maybe we just saw the last of his football playing days altogether. It's okay, I'm sure we'll be seeing him on a pro baseball diamond soon. He's that good.


So while wondering how badly new Oregon baseball coach George Horton would've wanted Dixon to be a part of the Ducks' re-generated baseball program, here are this week's 10 Questions.


Question 1: Has an injury ever had a bigger impact on both the national title and Heisman chase than Dennis Dixon's on Thursday night?




The entire college football world took a right turn at Albuquerque after the Duck dynamo went down with a wounded stick. In fact, this might be the biggest injury in recent college football history. The Heisman front-runner was moving his team through the Arizona defense like Britney goes through Paxil. But after he went down, Oregon was a bunch of dead Ducks. They couldn't execute an effective offense, they couldn't establish any momentum, they couldn't move the ball, they hadn't a hope in Hades. Wildcat QB Willie Tuitama played solid and Antoine Cason played like the second best Heisman candidate on the field, returning an interception and a punt for TDs. Arizona looked nothing like the team that got off to a 2-6 start


But keep in mind, if the Heisman is supposed to go to the best football player that also means the most to his team? Dixon's still the man, obviously.


None-the-less, Kansas, Missouri, West Virginia and oh yeah, Tim Tebow, you're on the main stage now.


Break a leg.


Question 1a: Did you ever wonder what Texas would've been like if Vince Young had gotten hurt?


Just look at the Oregon Ducks after losing Dixon. After all, how has UT done without the Heisman runner-up since he left?


Question 2: What was the best thing on TV this weekend?


The HBO documentary "Michigan-Ohio State: The Rivalry"


Incredible. From the opening that featured Bo Biafra, the lead singer from the Buckeye punk band "The Bastard Sons of Woody" (Formerly The Dead Schembechlers, and a damn entertaining band, too), to the highlights of fans carrying off pieces of turf from the Horseshoe after last year's 1-vs-2 matchup, this was a really great documentary.


My favorite part? The recounting of the 1950 Snow Bowl game, won by Michigan 9-3 (Sorry Bo Biafra). It occurred during what they called the Great Appalachian Snowstorm of 1950 and saw both teams combine for an incredible 45 punts, some coming on first down. Yes, first down. And also you can't beat the fact that Michigan won the game on a blocked punt right before halftime and ended the game with zero first downs. And did you see those snowdrifts? My gawd.


Most ironic shot? The cameras capturing Bo Schembechler as he looked around an empty Michigan Stadium for the last time two days before his death last November.


Question 3: The SEC might be the biggest soap opera on the field, but what conference has the biggest rebels against authority figures?


The Big 12.


And I don't just mean that Mike Leach post-game accusation against the Longhorn's hometown referee - though that's interesting. But rather, in light of KU's rise to a No. 2 national ranking and national title hopes, do you remember when Mark Mangino wasn't so hot about the BCS?


In 2004, lowly Kansas nearly beat No. 6 Texas, but a pretty awful offensive pass interference call cost the Jayhawks a 27-23 loss (check to see if Randy Christal made that call), after which Coach Mangino said, "You know what this is all about, don't you? BCS. That's what made a difference today in the game. That's what made the difference in a call in front of their bench. Dollar signs."


Mangino eventually apologized. But Leach didn't, after calling the Big 12 refereeing and the video replay results as a "complete travesty."


But guess who else gets robbed by the replay rule this week? Once again, Oklahoma has the right to be bent over getting rooked at another bad replay review in the loss at Texas Tech. With just over five minutes left, Joey Halzle's pass to the corner of the end zone to Manuel Johnson was a touchdown, the video even showed it - ball in hand, foot in bounds, six points. But the replay officials deemed it should only take fifteen seconds to wrongly rule no catch. (And by the way, don't replay officials usually take 8-10 minutes to make a rule on an obvious call?). OU ended up turning the ball over on downs two plays later. That correct call would've cut the Tech lead to seven and made a comeback more manageable.


Question 4: At the same time, why am I sort of glad Oklahoma isn't going to the BCS title game this year?


Their poor track record away from Memorial Stadium.


Saturday's 34-27 loss to Texas Tech underlined a reoccurring theme for the Sooners. Check out their results for the five games they've played away from home:


W 62-21 at Tulsa

L 27-24 at Colorado

W 28-21 vs. Texas (in Dallas)

W 17-7 at Iowa State

L 34-27 at Texas Tech


This was obviously a team with a lot of youth to it, because other than the game at Skelly Field, OU sure didn't play with a lot of confidence and fire away from the confines of home. So my thinking here is, had OU gone on to face LSU in the Superdome, I don't think the results would've been pretty. And personally, I don't want another snore-fest of a BCS title game. Been there, done that.


I love the Sooners, don't get me wrong (so please hold the hate mail). But they're still a year away from being all the way back.


Question 5: Getting back to that over-hyped trophy that never goes to the right player, I have to admit, how do we know Colt Brennan shouldn't win the Heisman?


His replacement, Tyler Graunke, went 33-of-46 for 358 yards and two touchdowns in the win at Nevada. See, any decent quarterback can excel in June Jones' system. 


Graunke did play lights-out in the Friday night win to keep the Warriors in the hunt for a BCS berth. But let's face it, it's the receivers of Hawai'i we should be giving plaudits to. Davone Bess (81 catches, 983 yards, 10 touchdowns), Ryan Grice-Mullen (85 catches, 1,159 yards, 10 touchdowns) and Jason Rivers (57 catches, 789 yards, eight touchdowns) are the reason my late-night Saturdays are so much damn fun. Great numbers. Great athletes. And great trio of dread-locks too.


Question 5a: What the hell was Chris Ault thinking?


I'm with announcers Sean McDonough and Chris Spielman, there's no stinkin' reason for Nevada to burn both timeouts with 15 seconds left in the game. Why not call those time outs at the 50 second mark and give his team a chance to come back and win? I love Coach Ault too, he's a true Hall-of-Famer, but did he not have any confidence in his offense to make a comeback? It's like telling your basketball team that you'd rather rely on an opposing player missing two free throws with no time left than to get the ball with 10 seconds left and down by one.


Question 6: UL-Monroe?


C'mon St. Nick. You just lost to a team named after that eerie dude on Too Close For Comfort.


Question 7: Who else should be hanging their heads in shame after this weekend?


Western Michigan - 28

Iowa - 19


WMU came in 3-7, Iowa may still go to a bowl. How far has Kirk Ferentz's stock plummeted?


Florida Atlantic - 20

Florida - 59


Shame on the Gators for even scheduling this one.


California - 23

Washington - 37


How does a team go from No. 2 in the country all the way down to 6-5 and in danger of no bowl game?


Vanderbilt - 24

Tennessee - 25


Needing a miracle rally to beat Vandy? Raise your hand if you'd rather see a much-hotter Georgia team in the SEC title game.


Louisville - 14

USF - 55


The Cardinals' national title assault has officially derailed at Petticoat Junction, because it's gotten so bad they're wearing skirts now.


Question 8: So when did the LSU head coaching gig become a stepping-stone job?


Les Miles heading to Michigan seems to be the worst-kept secret in college football. (I know, I know, Miles isn't saying anything about it and nothing is official. Sorry, didn't mean to spread a rumor.)


But if that does happen, think about this: It appears one of the best programs in the country is actually becoming the stepping-stone for coaches. Saban took LSU to a title in '03 and then goes to the NFL (and then a step back down to Alabama). And now Miles will go from Oklahoma State to LSU to his alma mater where he played for a man named Bo.


I've always thought the LSU job should be a destination, not a stopping post. Looking at their facilities, tradition and fan following, this is a gem. Now I just wonder when a coach is going to take over this position and put his stamp on it?


Question 9: What is hitting the bell at the top of the "tiresome" scale?


ABC and ESPN showing fan reactions at Michigan games.


Okay, we get it. It's been a crap season in Ann Arbor. But haven't we all been inundated with shock and bawl reactions from the Michigan fans this season? From the Appalachian State game to the final shot of the Ohio State game on Saturday, we've all been subjected to a million shots of girl students crying or frat boys with their jaws dropped and eyes wide open.


But it's not just Michigan games and it's not just ABC/ESPN, it seems like we're seeing more crestfallen fan shots in every game this year no matter what the network. It's just like the local TV reporter going up to a victim's family, shoving a camera and microphone in their faces and asking, "So how do you feel?" I don't care about seeing the little kid crying in the stands for the umpteenth time, show me the post-play fight that the cameras always seem to miss or the slo-mo highlight of how the touchdown play worked. Damn sensationalists.


Question 10: I know academics and making money is important in college athletics, but who needs to change their philosophy on post-season play?


Harvard and Grambling State.


Harvard routed Yale 37-6 in their first face-off as unbeatens in Ivy play since 1968 and the G-men sit at 8-2, with both losses coming to Division I teams (yes, it should still be called Division I). Harvard finishes the season 7-0 in the Ivy League and 8-2 overall. GSU still has in-state rival Southern to play in the Bayou Classic on the 24th.


Now, the Crimson is part of the Ivy League, a group of teams who don't participate in the national playoffs for reasons that still haven't been explained to me well enough. The G-men and Southern don't take part in playoffs because their game in the Superdome makes them so much money, they don't want to give up that cash cow for a measly little playoff appearance.


The 11th Question: So how do we know for sure that Baylor just doesn't "get it" when it comes to football?


Apparently one of the top candidates to replace Guy Morriss as head coach of the moribund program is Houston Nutt. (sigh)