1. Let's start out West with Southern Cal. What are your thoughts on Pete Carroll bolting and Lane Kiffin taking his place? Does Southern Cal stay as dominant as they have been this decade over the next five years with Kiffin at the helm?Mattare: I think over the last couple years it had become evident that Carroll was getting a little restless and wanted to take on a new challenge. The thing is he had such a cushy situation at Southern Cal that he wasn't going to leave for just anything. He was willing to wait as long as necessary until a job opened up that would allow him the control he thought he needed in order to be successful on the professional level. The Seahawks not only gave him that power, but they gave him $7 million and gave him the opportunity to stay on the West Coast. With the exception of the 49ers, Chargers, or expansion LA jobs coming open this was probably the best possible scenario for him to make the leap.
Now on to Lane. Goodness gracious, what a risk Southern Cal is taking with this guy. He's yet to proven he can be an effective head coach, yet to prove he can stay out of trouble, and yet to prove that he's not a timebomb ready to go off. The guy has the potential to lead the Trojans to even greater heights as a younger, more energized version of Pete Carroll but he also could be responsible for driving the program into the ground. Yes, the guy recruits like a maniac and has an elite staff coming with him to Los Angeles, but that will only go so far. As a Notre Dame fan I'm thrilled that he'll be on the Trojan sideline come fall. For all the potential he has to be great I think there's even more potential for him to totally implode. And to top it off, the fact that the odds of him taking a potshot at Notre Dame are somewhere in the 85-90% range means he no doubt will become the most villianous and hated coaching rival since Jimmy Johnson. And you thought we couldn't hate Southern Cal anymore than we already did...Bill: I think the Pete Carroll situation will play out further down the road. Everyone is waiting to see what happens to the USC athletic programs. If they are cleared of the allegations, then I have no problem with Carroll’s move, they were excellent this decade. If they are not, it certainly looks like he bolted before everything surfaced and I’m suddenly unimpressed and a little angry.
Lane Kiffin? I hope he does terribly at USC. He accuses the SEC of being full of cheaters, runs his mouth at Meyer before losing to him, his players get arrested, then leaves for a school that may have a dirty program. And lastly, he didn’t leave a school like Vandy, or Indiana behind. He left Tennessee whose fans are just as, if not more passionate than USC fans and the expectations are just as high. It was a move that stirred up a whole bunch of drama, and it almost seemed lateral. I do realize he has roots out West, but still.2. Pretend for a second you're a Tennessee fan. First, in ten words or less explain your feelings on Lane Kiffin at this moment without expletives. Next, who do you think they need to target going forward?
Mattare: Ten Words for Lane - "You probably killed Davey Crockett too, didn't you?"
The Vols need to go out and find a long-term solution, someone who is totally committed to the University of Tennessee and will immmediately add necessary stability to a shell-shocked program. The previous two coaches (Majors and Fulmer) had been there for over a combined 30 years and were totally devoted to the school. Now this slick-talking turncoat has tossed them into a coaching search for the second time in 14 months. The ideal would be Will Muschamp because he's a young, dynamic defensive mind that understands recruiting in the South, but I just don't feel like it's realistic to think they can pry him from Texas. David Cutcliffe is a respected coach who understands the culture but his age and health issues make me think he'd be more of a quick fix.
At the top of my list would Kyle Whittingham from Utah. He's not a spring chicken, but he's an up and comer that plays smashmouth, confident football. He went into the Sugar Bowl last year with a bunch of two and three star recruits and totally dismantled a top five Alabama team that was undefeated in the regular season. There would be some legitimate questions as to whether he could recruit in the cutthroat SEC, but remember there were those same questions levied at Urban Meyer when he arrived in Gainesville six years ago.
Hire Mike Leech, I don’t think he deserved to be fired for what he did to begin with. He’ll bring a swagger in with him and if his system can be effective in the SEC it will change the way teams have to play D in the conference.3. Urban Meyer turned the college football world upside down right before his team's bowl game when he stepped down as head coach of the Gators...but then decided after watching a good practice that his health issues weren't really that bad and he'd just take a leave of absence. What was your take on the entire situation?
Mattare: I understand that Meyer has a right to make whatever decision he likes, but I think the way he yanked around the country--but far more importantly his team and program at Florida--and over the course of a week did a complete 180 made him look terrible. First of all, I don't understand how one positive practice made him suddenly forget the terrifying health issues he's endured over the course of the season. Second of all, his "time to put family first" shtick followed by his daughter being quoted as saying "I get my Daddy back" followed by him going "PSYCH!" makes him look disingenuious.
This is a difficult situation for Meyer to be in and the public needs to be sensitive to that. That being said, I question the timing of the decision (the week leading up to your bowl game...why not wait and think it out in the offseason that was arriving six days later?) and if it turns out he's not coming back and he's just playing this game for recruiting purposes he'll go down as one of the all-time sleezes in sports history.
4. There have been an unheard of twelve coaching changes in the BCS conferences this offseason, including at powerhouse schools like Notre Dame, USC, Florida State, and Tennessee. What do you think was the best hire, the riskiest hire, the most underrated hire, and the worst firing?
Riskiest Hire - Lane Kiffin (USC)...Like we went over before, he could be great but he could also be a complete and utter disaster (fingers crossed for the latter).
Underrated Hire - Mike London (UVA)...This is a young, intense guy who has experience in the pros, ties to UVA (coached there on two different occassions), and won big in his first head coaching job at Richmond. Hokie fans can't be thrilled about this development.
Worst Firing: Mike Leach (Texas Tech)...All you have to do is read the published letters that were exchanged between the AD, the Chancellor, and a prominent booster and you realize how stupid/egotistical the leadership at Tech is. Yes, Leach is quarky and did nothing to help the situation, but it's obvious the people at the top had no appreciation for what Leach did to resurrect their football program.
Bill:Best Hire: goes to Texas Tech...I’ve always been a Tommy Tuberville fan and I feel he can shake up the Big 12. The conference is deceivingly weak and lacks good defensive play. I think Tuberville sweeps Texas in one of his first three seasons.
Riskiest Hire: goes to USC...Did they really think this one through or did they just try to ease the Carroll situation as quickly as possible? Lane Kiffin will be solid, but I doubt if they will be able to maintain the standard set by Carroll. The Pac-10 has some strong teams right now and Kiffin has yet to put together an excellent season as a head coach.
Underrated Hire: goes to Florida State...Everyone knew it was going to be Jimbo Fisher but I feel this is a real chance for them to return to prominence. They have the talent, it's time to put the pieces together. I realize this is slightly hypocritical coming from a JoePa supporter especially since I didn’t necessarily agree with the move to fire Bowden, but I like how they had a head coach in waiting and I think it was the right guy.
Worst Firing: goes to Notre Dame...I enjoyed the Charlie Weis era so much.
5. This offseason more than ever there has been incredible fallout and resentment when a head coach chooses to leave one job for another. Many recruits have adopted the practice of committing to a coach more than they do the school and are somewhat left behind and cheated when the coach they committed to jumps ship. Does the rule need to be changed so that they can transfer without sitting out a year in these situations?
Mattare: I don't think the rule needs to change, I think the players' attitudes need to change. If there's one thing that these situations show it's that they SHOULD be committing to a school, not a coach. Think about the repercussions of allowing transfers without penalties: when a coach gets canned it will essentially make all of the players free agents who can pick and choose where they want to finish out their careers. If you think recruiting high school kids is ridiculous imagine how the sharks would circle if teams were allowed to poach from rosters when a coaching change was made. The mass exodus that could occur after firing a coach would essentially amount to a program death penalty in some situations. Allowing the ability to freely transfer opens a can of worms the NCAA is just not going to want to deal with.
Bill: I think so. Remember we’re talking about 18 year old kids here. I don’t think it’s fair to penalize them. It would be similar to a school drastically changing the curriculum of my major while I’m a sophomore in the college. I would be resentful. People are sticking up for these guys saying “it’s a business” and it is--for the school and the coach. But what about the student athletes?RAPID FIRE FINISH, EXTENDED EDITION!
Bill: The cast of Jersey Shore hits up Atlantic City on tonight's episode. Are you pumped?
Mattare: Pumped, but not as pumped for when they hit McFadden's in DC next Tuesday. I want to hear Pauly D's strategy on everything from Black Jack to the War on Terror.
Mattare: Penn State basketball sits at 8-8 on the year including a sterling 0-4 Big Ten record. Did you break any bones jumping off that bandwagon?
Bill: One word: Repeat. It's the NIT for us. Dechellis shuffled the starting lineup Tuesday against Illinois and we almost pulled one out. Almost.
Bill: How excited is DC about Shanahan? The last thing I need is for the Skins to be good.
Mattare: Cautiously optimistic because we've been burned by plenty of big names in the past decade so no one is "all in." Dan Snyder is still the owner.
Mattare: I have to cut Mikey a check for fantasy football since he came in second place this season. I put "Your Chlamydia Medication" for the description on Tim's check (he won the league), what should be the one on Mikey's?
Bill: Gerbil Retrieval Surgery.
Bill: What's your Super Bowl pick?
Mattare: It pains me to say it, but I really think the Cowboys are the team that emerges. I feel dirty even saying it.
Mattare: Let's go back to Penn State basketball (which you've done a great job covering so thoroughly for the blog). Did you attend more ND football games or more PSU basketball games in your four years of college?
(Editor's Note: Bill was at the ND-BC game in '04 and the ND-PSU games in '06-'07...that's 3-3 for those keeping track at home)
Bill: McGwire says steroids didn't help him hit home runs. That's like saying being super skinny didn't help you fit into your sister's sweatpants. Since you're still my friend, should Big Mac be in the Hall of Fame?
Mattare: No, he shouldn't. Ever. He's a complete moron for thinking they didn't help. And I'm going to stab you in the neck next time I see you.
Mattare: If your girlfriend had Tim Tebow's number in her phone and talked with him regularly how would you feel?
Bill: I'd feel confident knowing her best guy friend was uglier and less athletic than me.
Bill: They're finding ANACONDAS in Florida. Do you have Jon Voight and/or Ice Cube's number?
Mattare: Anacondas? I'm assuming there's a Tiger Woods joke hidden there. If not give Mr. Yack a call, he wrestles anacondas in his spare time.
Mattare: Snooki, the 4'6" creature from Jersey Shore whose brain cells commit mass suicide whenever she speaks, revealed that she wants to have her own veterinarian practice one day. I'm staggered. What would Vegas put the odds at of that dream coming to fruition?
Bill: 0.3%. She would diagnose a stuffed animal if you put it in front of her.