Thursday, January 6, 2011

Two Dudes, One Post: The Bowl Edition

Two Dudes, One Post returns with some bowl awards, a quick reflection on the ND-PSU bowl games, and some analysis of the coaching catastrophes in Ann Arbor and College Park, MD.

Let's get to it!

1. It's time for Bowl Awards! What was the best game you watched, best individual performance, biggest shocker, biggest disappointment (player or team), and one team that didn't play in a major bowl that you predict will emerge as a contender next year?

Best Game: North Carolina 30, Tennessee 27 (OT)...Poor Derek Dooley had the rug yanked out from under him twice this season. First it was the comedy of errors at LSU and now it's the terrible break against North Carolina. In both instances the clock hit zero and Tennessee had more points than the opponent, but the refs allowed for an additional play in each game and the result was ultimately an overtime loss. Exciting, ridiculous, absurd, heartbreaking finish.

Best Individual Performance: I'll give the nod to Damaris Johnson of Tulsa. On Christmas Eve in the Hawaii Bowl he was the leading rusher (98 yards and 2 TD's on just 5 carries) and receiver (101 yards and a TD on 4 catches) for the Golden Hurricane as they throttled Hawaii in paradise. He was a one man wrecking crew.

Biggest Shocker: Iowa showing up and finding a way to knock of Missouri. Kirk Ferentz is one of the most uninteresting coaches around, but man what a masterful performance keeping his team focused amongst controversy and suspension.

Biggest Disappointment: Nebraska. What began as a very, very promising season spiraled into one surrounded in controversy and turmoil and crash landed in the Holiday Bowl where they were whipped by a team they'd embarrassed back in September. Rematches are terrible in college football and the team that won the first game has everything to lose in game two, but there's no excuse for the giant turd they laid on the field against Washington.

Team on the Rise: Look no further than the Notre Dame Fighting Irish! If they can figure out the quarterback position--and Michael Floyd comes back (pleasepleasepleasepleeeeeeeeease)--then they're going to make serious noise in the fall.

Best Game: I want to pick the National Championship because I have high hopes for that game, but I'll go with last night's Ohio State-Arkansas game. A little disappointed with the outcome though.

Best Individual Performance: Andrew Luck throwing for 4 tds in the Orange Bowl.

Biggest Shocker: Alabama's beat down of Michigan State. Just wanted more out of this one for our conference's sake. Not even a big conference proponent but a 11-1 Big Ten team losing by 40 to a 10-3 SEC doesn't look good.

Biggest Disappointment: John Clay not trucking TCU's defense

Team on the Rise: Texas!

2. The bowl season has had plenty of exciting games (Music City Bowl) and plenty of duds (Liberty Bowl). Has the excitement of the three week bowl extravaganza had any effect on your stance of bowls vs playoffs? Are the bowls the best thing for college football because of their inclusiveness?

Mattare: I love college football so I love the bowls, but the proposal laid out by Wenzel has completely flipped me to a playoff guy. The bowls are good for college football and the legitimate ones not named after a pizza or could (and would) exist outside the proposed playoff. They're nice rewards for teams and perhaps more importantly allow for 15 extra practices in December which can pay huge dividends down the road.

Bill: "Inclusive" might not be the right word here. Bowls are great for the players and the die hard fans who aren't contending for a title. It extends the season by a month, they get to go somewhere warm and play a team they don't usually play. Once you get to the elite teams however, the bowl system is far from inclusive as we all know, that's why I want a playoff. And I like that dude's idea about incorporating the bowls into the playoff rounds (i.e. Sugar Bowl is the semi-final).

3. Pretend you're the Michigan Athletic Director. Do you fire Rich Rod? Do you risk putting all year eggs in the Jim Harbaugh basket? Who would you turn to if you fire Rodriguez and Harbaugh says no?

Mattare: You have to fire Rich Rod. He's been a terrible match since the day he stepped on campus and at this point it's more a matter of "when" than "if." Obviously target number one needs to be Jim Harbaugh. He's a former All-American, he played for Bo, and he teaches a brand of football that makes all Wolverine fans salivate. He also is holding a serious grudge against his alma mater and seems more interested in the NFL so a backup plan needs to be in place.

Popular opinion is that Brady Hoke is the next target thanks to his previous ties to Michigan, but that's not exactly a slam dunk hire. People claim that they need to go find a "Michigan Man" who has ties to the school, but I don't think that's necessarily true at all. What they need is the best coach they can find that understands and embraces all the tradition and history in Ann Arbor. Lou Holtz had no ties to Notre Dame before he arrived but he threw himself into the University and now he's more beloved than any alumnus not named Hesburgh or Parseghian.

Short List of the "Non-Michigan Man" to Call - Bobby Petrino (he's slimy enough to bail on Fayetteville), Charlie Strong (great, young defensive minded coach), and Kyle Whittingham (his teams play a hard-nosed brand of football).

Bill: I would fire Rich Rod. No encouraging signs on defense after year three? You're out. Everyone quickly forgets about Denard Robinson's staggering numbers when they start dropping conference games. Can't win without defense. Defense, defense, defense.

4. Your teams had opposite bowl experiences. What are the three big takeaways from your team's performance in terms of what the future holds?

1 - Our defense is really, really good and should only get better. Kudos to Bob Diaco for going back to the drawing board after the Navy debacle and getting his unit to play the best stretch of Irish defense since the 2002 campaign.

2 - Brian Kelly is not as bull-headed and inflexible as originally thought. Over the last few games he gave opponents and heavy dose of the run game because it gave ND the best chance to win. The balance the Irish began to achieve will be huge next season as the offense takes strides toward reaching its enormous potential.

3 - We're definitively headed in the right direction and for the first time in what seems like an eternity there's a palpable sense of optimism heading into the offseason. It's not only a wonderful feeling, but an enormous relief.

1 - McGloin cannot start ever again. There's just no point. Trying really hard not to spiral into a Bolden transferring rant here...

2 - Defense played well. Setting aside MyGroin's pick 6 and the blocked punt TD Penn State only let up 23 points against a faster Florida team that had many short fields.

3 - LB Hodges saw plenty of time and looked like our most explosive linebacker while Astorino spent most of the game on the sideline despite having a year left of eligibility. I like where this is going.

5. Let's go back to the Coaching Carousel for a bit. What's your take on what happened at Maryland? The Terps fire the ACC Coach of the Year Ralph Friedgen, allegedly for the glamor hire of Mike Leach, but suddenly end up with Randy Edsall. Did they handle the situation correctly? Is Friedgen for Edsall a huge upgrade? Was passing on Leach a smart move?

Mattare: What an unbelievable display of mismanagement. I feel like the Maryland athletic director played the role of the Cleveland Indians owner in Major League all season, privately rooting for the team to fail so Friedgen could be junked for a flashier hire.

Friedgen had probably hit his ceiling at Maryland and the program had become somewhat stale, but he deserved more respect than he received from his alma mater (which, oh by the way, he resurrected from the ashes when he took over). Edsall is a fine coach (who made his own terrible decision in notifying his UConn players he was leaving via text message), but he's the polar opposite of a "glamor hire." He'll piece together a solid program that has 9-10 win peaks and some 5-6 win valleys...just like the guy he replaced (2009 notwithstanding).

Should they have hired Leach? Well, he's a hell of a football coach, but he's also a well-documented blowhard (and a borderline whackjob_ with an odd obsession with pirates. He sure would've made a splash, but there's a good chance his mouth would've made more national headlines than his team the first couple years on-campus. Why? Because no one really cares about Maryland football since they're a middle of the road team in a mediocre conference. That's their ceiling. Reality can hurt sometimes, but that's the truth.

Obviously the AD weighed the pros and cons and decided the baggage Leach brought was too much to overcome the fannies he'd put in the seats. There must have been a whole lot of baggage when all was said and done.

Bill: I'm not going to pretend to know who's the better coach here since I'm no coach myself but firing your conference's coach of the year doesn't make sense to many people. I think this move may have had something to do with the offensive coordinator jumping ship to Vandy and trying to take the staff with him.

Edsall did a great job at Connecticut and maybe Leach still carries a stigma from the Matt James incident but I do think Leach's offense would have taken the weak ACC by storm. No I don't think Maryland handled the situation correctly but time will tell with Edsall's performance and when we see where Freidgen ends up.


Mattare: Allentown Central Catholic quarterback Brandon Nosovitch was the 2010 Pennsylvania Player of the Year. Notre Dame's offensive coordinator was at 4th and Chew visiting him this week but Penn State doesn't seem interested. Are the Irish about to poach him from under JoePa's nose?

Bill: We are interested, we just don't offer early. You answer: No Way! He's a PSU lifer, I can feel it.

Bill: Why is Chuck Weis trying to go back to coaching at the college level when he clearly excels as a coordinator in the NFL?

Mattare: Because it was a package deal where his son is going to be a "student-coach" for Florida. Get ready for Gator fans to constantly bitch about Charlie Jr on the sidelines even though he does no harm being there.

Mattare: Last night Ashley Schaeffer BMW registered a big W in the Arlington Men's Basketball League to even our record at 1-1. How much do you think our mutual friend and occasional blog reader Aggon contributed to the victory?

Bill: 5 minutes played, 2 rebounds, 0-1 shooting, technical foul, ejection.

Bill: How much did he actually contribute?

Mattare: 1 assist, 1 rebound, 0-2 shooting with 2 airballs, 2 unforced falls due to a loss of balance, and a lack of athleticism that would've made a bowler shake his head.

Mattare: The unthinkable happened in our NCAA Dynasty League and MY WAKE FOREST DEMON DEACONS WON THE NATIONAL TITLE. Are you finally prepared after getting smacked around two years in a row that I'm just better than you? And what's your prediction for year three?

Bill: Absolutely not. I will chug that duck in 2011 and then paint it blue. My prediction is what it always is: Dukie Domination.

Bill: When am I getting paid for my contributions to the blog?

Mattare: When you start contributing. You're 7th in line to get paid behind Hinkle, Chuck, Mikey, Lord of Shots, Dip, and that dude from El Paso that threatened me in the running diary.

Mattare: Got any New Year's Resolutions?

Bill: To write less.

Bill: Remember when we were just going to open a bar instead of working 9-5's? Let's make it happen. I have like $200...

Mattare: Why didn't you ask me this before I bought an engagement ring? If we pool the $80 I've made from WNG with your $200 and Hinkle's tips from The Melting Pot we can open a

1 comment:

  1. 1. Bill needs to start drinking more than 1 glass of whine while blogging...

    2. When the day comes I will take my salary in non-consecutive, non-marked shots of Canadian Club, Rumplemintz, and Denny's Grand Slam shots. (If you haven't had the latter, you haven't been living.)