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To get last week's trivia out of the way:
A famous sports agent, I met my first client (and future number one overall pick) while working as an RA. I've represented Pro Bowlers, Hall of Famers, NBA All-Stars, and MLB regulars, while heading up an agency with a guy who would go on to be part owner of a MLB team. I was also the inspiration for a rather sappy Tom Cruise movie, (aren't they all?) but this one should have had you at hello. Who am I?
That's right, it was:
Leigh Steinberg. Yeah, I couldn't pick him out of a lineup either.
This week's trivia? Why, I'm glad you asked:
I was the first receiver to ever top 100 catches in a single season in the Pac-10, though my speed (or lack thereof) led me to be more of a possession receiver than a big play threat. I was drafted in the fourth round but didn't ever end up playing for the team that drafted me - instead I spent four years on the opposite coast mostly as a special teams player, only managing 14 catches for my entire NFL career. Something of a latter day Sean Dawkins (or Geoff McArthur's predecessor?), who am I?
I could be off with that last sentence since I never saw him play in college, but I did see him in the NFL repeatedly. HINT HINT
Every team can play the "if but for a few plays here and there we would have been undefeated!" game, so close shaves against Washington and Arizona really don't prove anything - we could have easily lost to Washington State as well, you know? So the answer is we weren't really that close. I don't think it's as simple as the Bill Parcells adage that "You are what your record says you are", as I'm more of an underlying performance kind of guy in the line of what the DVOA numbers produced by Football Outsiders say, but there's no way we were to close to a ten win team this season.
I'm of two minds on this - I feel like saying that the offense is too complicated is a crutch and a catch-all complaint that fans levy on a team's coaching staff when the team's offense isn't doing well, but somehow this complaint never shows up when the offense is doing well. I mean, I'm pretty sure I didn't hear about it last year, or the year before, or even earlier this year when Riley was playing. When we had Riley at QB, and everyone could see that Marvin Jones was open by Riley winged it into the crowd instead, yeah. We could see that it wasn't the complexity of the offense that was the problem. It was RIley. And then all of a sudden when Mansion's in at QB the playbook is too complicated? Are you kidding me?
That said, I think there's some validity to complaints that playbooks can be too complicated, because of the refrain that we hear from pro teams from time to time (i.e. the Eagles run an incredibly complicated passing offense, and the 49ers offense is so basic even spying on them doesn't matter because you know what's coming anyway), but honestly, if these guys are college students, they should be able to pick it up. I don't think that's an excuse, especially when you've been in the program as long as Mansion has.
As far as what makes it so complicated? I don't think necessarily that remembering the plays can be all that difficult. I mean, theoretically, would it be difficult for a WR to come in and memorize the entire route tree and then pick up the terminology to be able to understand what part of the play call corresponds to the route he's supposed to run? I don't think so. Or should it be difficult for the RB to understand where and if he's supposed to run, stay in and block, or go out on a route? Again, I don't think so.
But if Tedford's playbook calls for a lot of sight adjustments (and to be clear, I'm not even sure that it does) that depend on what they see live in the defense in real-time, then that can't really be practiced. I would expect that it takes a lot of time for a QB and WR to get in sync when it comes to running option routes and the like, and giving the QB the freedom to audible into different plays at the LOS would add another layer of complexity. Though there's about a 0.0000001% chance that Tedford gave Mansion the right to audible into anything beyond a different pair of socks.
Playing the offensive line can also be very complicated in terms of the number of protections, blitz pickups, recognizing fronts, and blocking techniques, but I believe that's more on Marshall than it is on Tedford and his playbook.
Again, to be clear, there were a lot of problems with the offense. Players weren't playing well, receivers weren't getting open, it was a mess. Coaching, playcalls, techniques? Yeah, I can understand those as complaints. But I don't think the size or nature of the playbook is a legitimate one.
What happens if South Carolina beats Auburn, and for the sake of argument, it is on a last-second field goal? Does TCU automatically get the bump up to the championship game? Auburn would still have at least five wins (Alabama, LSU, Arkansas, Mississippi State and South Carolina) on par with TCU's lone signature win (Utah). Would we really punish a team that ran the table against such a markedly better schedule just because it lost a rematch to a top 20 team it's already beaten?
-- Brian, Brookline, Mass.
Yeah, I think TCU would get that bump. Voters value wins over everything else (well, for the most part - witness Nevada not budging from the ~20s in the polls until this past week despite better records than the teams around them), and even moreso when a team is undefeated.
I don't think there's any question that an undefeated team from an AQ conference (including either the Big East or the ACC) would jump into the top two spots if every other team in the country had at least one loss, so I think it's a bit unfair to single out TCU when all they've done is defeat everyone they've played on their schedule. I'll concede that Auburn would likely have the better overall body of work if they do lose to South Carolina on a last second field goal, but ultimately voters will have made an exception for them if they keep them in the top two. And they shouldn't.
OK, now that the fourth undefeated team has dropped out of the picture, how does the Mandel Plan look for this year? It would be a cluster ****. Wisconsin, Stanford, Ohio State, Michigan State, and you could make an argument for others. Who would be the "deserving" fourth team in the plus-one playoff?
-- Kirk, Ridgefield, Wash.
Much as I hate to say it, I would probably have to go with the Furd. They're the only team mentioned there whose one loss is to one of the top three teams (though bizarrely this might also mean that someone else should get their shot, since they've already lost to Oregon and Oregon fans would scream bloody murder if they lost a national championship semifinal or final to a team they'd already beaten soundly) while all of the other teams there lost to less highly regarded teams. But honestly, they just are a very good team.
Fever, Any chance the guys in colored blazers can get together in a back room and politely beg, bribe, etc. TCU to go to Glendale and let Stanford go to the Rose Bowl. It's an apples to apples swap, don't you think?
-- Scott, Pasadena, Calif.
I have a sneaking suspicion this is Scott Allen from Rule of Tree - because Oski knows that with a total of three Furd fans in the world, the chances of two (or all three!) of them being named Scott are very slim.
I'm confused -- how does TCU's move to the Big East help them? Last time I checked, last year's undefeated Big East champ Cincinnati had less of a shot of playing for the national championship than TCU does playing in the Mountain West. Does the Big East really offer that much more money, even over the long term?
-- Mark Gribbin, Richmond, Va.
I'm relatively sure it does. The Big East probably doesn't get much for their football rights, but they get a lot for basketball (even if they'd only be getting 1/17th of the cut), and it's more about access to the BCS on a regular basis than anything else. Sure, they might not have a great chance at playing for the national championship even if they go undefeated (as evidenced by Cincinnati last year), but that was a one-off event; how many more times is it likely that there will be five undefeated teams at the end of the year? The bigger picture is that if they do go undefeated they're guaranteed a BCS game, and have a much better chance of doing so with an undefeated record.
How can Ohio State make a BCS bowl when it does not have a single signature win during the season?
-- David Kay, Lake Charles, La.
Because as Cousin Stew says, bowls are businesses. Sure, they might not have any more of a resume than Nevada does, but they'll travel. So that explains why they were always much more likely to get an at-large berth to the BCS than the Furd was.
Fever, I'm no fan of Gary Danielson's self-appointed role as SEC mouthpiece any more than you are, but wasn't last night's Boise-Nevada game pretty much what he's been talking about? Danielson's point during the Iron Bowl broadcast was that a top-tier team from a non-AQ conference doesn't typically have to go on the road to face opponents with equal top-tier talent and an equal will to win during their conference season (as was plainly the case in Tuscaloosa on Friday), and that if they did, they wouldn't boast the gaudy win/loss records that Boise and TCU have over the past few seasons. If Boise had to face four teams like Nevada in its conference every year (two at home, two on the road) they would still be a great program, but probably wouldn't have the record to argue for a spot in the title game.
-- Beau, Oklahoma City
I understand that argument, and it's a legitimate one, but Nevada is a really good team. Which isn't to say that some of the teams in the SEC aren't, but a lot of teams would have lost to Nevada last Friday. So it's not as if they were coming up short against a complete upstart (like, say, Mississippi did against Jacksonville State). Basically, teams will always have to be both lucky and good in order to make it to the national championship game regardless of their conference opponents.
Is it likely that Boise State would be undefeated in the SEC? Not really, but then most teams in the SEC don't go undefeated. Most teams in most conferences don't go undefeated every year.
Why doesn't Boise just join the Big 12?
-- Dale Craig, Pryor, Okla.
Because they weren't invited?
Why does an AD need to hire a search consultant? Isn't it the AD's job to find coaches? Even I could tell Kirby Hocutt to contact Mark Richt, Dan Millen or Gus Malzahn. What is Chuck Neinas bringing to the table? Did he get Hocutt the job at Miami?
-- Frank De Lucia, Baltimore
I remember reading an article on this a while back (though I can't seem to find a link now) where I believe either Tedford or Mike Montgomery were brought in after Sandy hired a search firm - the gist of it, as I understood it, was that the search firm can do some under-the-table negotiating so that the school can maintain plausible deniability, that there's so much money involved that it helps to have an independent view on who would make for a good candidate for a variety of reasons, and sometimes they just need the extra manpower. Obviously you, I, or anyone else who follows college football can do a little light reading on the internet and be able to guess at who the hot candidates are, but presumably these search firms bring a little more to the table than their agents' phone numbers.
Fever: With Auburn jumping Oregon in the BCS standings this week and playing the stronger opponent on Saturday, we know that they will get to wear their home uniforms at the BCS championship. Oregon will presumably show up in their "road" uniforms, but do we seriously have any idea what they would wear?
-- Kevin, Boulder, Colo.
I hope they come out in this:
ARE YOU REALLY SERIOUS? I have always thought the BCS system was stupid now I think it is TOTALLY TOTALY CORRUPT! How in the world does Auburn move to No. 1? They almost lose, barely survive by ONE POINT and they are REWARDED FOR THAT???????????????. I was waking up and had the TV on and LITERLALLY shot out of bed when I heard that Auburn was GIVEN the No. 1 spot! I was NOT intending on getting up at 5 a.m. but when I heard that I was suddenly WIDE AWAKE it was so shocking. Yet it shouldn't be, like TV the EAST COAST BIAS shows up again.
-- Pat, Grant Pass, Oregon
I'm shocked that anyone would sign their real name to their rant, Pat. If that is your real name.