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Will the Mark Sanchez Conference Cost Pete Carroll in Recruiting?

It’s really tough to judge Pete Carroll based on his answers to questions regarding Mark Sanchez’s decision to leave school early for the NFL draft. Carroll’s clearly motivated by his desire to run a strong program, and having Sanchez back for a 5th year would ostensibly put the team in its best position to win the Pac-10 and compete for a BCS title. At the same time, he recruits and coaches his players and develops strong relationships with them over the years. Wouldn’t he want the best for those players and want them to take his advice when he feels so strongly about a subject? Given the numbers and history of quarterbacks leaving school early, I understand why he advised Sanchez to return to USC, putting his own motivation aside. But I also understand why Sanchez left and can’t blame him for it.

Mark Sanchez had the game of his life in the Rose Bowl and really could not be leaving on much of a higher note. It’s not a guarantee that his stock will improve just by staying another year, especially considering the all-world performance he put on in Pasadena. Couple that closing note with Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford returning to school, and the choice to leave for the NFL seems like a logical one for me. If Sanchez’s goal is to get drafted as highly as possible and to make a lot of money, this is probably the right move. Furthermore, Sanchez is a senior in school standing, and if he’s really motivated to become a pro, who’s to say he won’t do well? And even if Carroll disagrees with the move, why tell the media?

I don’t understand how it helps Carroll to tell people that he disagrees with the move. What good does that do him or the program? Couldn’t that be used against him by other coaches in recruiting? Maybe potential recruits saw that and didn’t like it. That’s not to say that Carroll won’t be able to get great players — he still will — but that wasn’t a good sign. Though USC will still be strong next year, perhaps Carroll may be feeling some pressure from having coaches on his staff leave and one of his top players go pro. Look at Nebraska, Florida State, Tennessee, and Miami and some of the other dynasties of the past 15 years. You dominate for a good five years or so, then after that, things start going downhill. It’s inevitable, and this might mark the first step for USC.

If you haven’t seen video of the conference yet, here it is via Hot Clicks:

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Are Thom Brennaman and Tim Tebow Secretly Dating?

The game itself was pretty enjoyable, albeit not as high scoring as many had expected. Really the only problem with the game Thom Brennaman’s love affair with Tim Tebow. As much hype and praise is doled out to Tebow, I’m not sure I’ve seen anyone go as over the top with his comments as Brennaman did. The commentary was so nauseating it almost became unbearable. Chris Burke at FanHouse was struck by the same issue and documented some of Brennaman’s remarks:

“If you’re fortunate enough to spend five minutes or 20 minutes around Tim Tebow, your life is better for it.”

Even after Tebow earned a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for taunting Oklahoma’s defense, Brennaman claimed: “That might be the first thing he’s ever done wrong.”

Sure, Tebow is a fantastic player and played well in the second half of the game, but he’d be God’s son the way Brennaman told it. I really hope Tebow goes to the NFL just so I don’t have to deal with another year of this crap. I don’t believe I’d be able to handle “Tebow’s chase for a third national championship” or second Heisman. And you know what, as much as they make it seem like it was all Tebow in the game, to me it was more about the Florida defense coming up big and the opportunities Oklahoma squandered.

The Sooners became the first team to intercept Tebow twice in the same game in his career. How many points did they turn that into? None. They got stuffed on 3rd and 4th and 1 from the 1 by the Florida defense when they could have turned things around. Oklahoma had a chance to go up before halftime but Sam Bradford threw a pick to end the scoring threat. And at the end of the game when Oklahoma was only down three and had a drive, Bradford was picked off again. Like I said, it was more about Florida’s defense stepping up and Oklahoma’s inability to capitalize than Tebow’s heroics.

Video: Percy Harvin Slaps Urban Meyer on the Ass to Celebrate the Big Win

After Florida had scored their touchdown to make it a 10 point game, things looked like they were over. They officially ended when Oklahoma couldn’t convert the 4th down play with about three minutes left. After that pass was broken up, many of the Gators started celebrating on the sidelines. Perhaps the best celebration was expressed by Percy Harvin on his head coach, Urban Meyer. Check it:

Maybe coach will think twice next time before he slaps one of his own players on the ass. And what does that say for Harvin? That’s gotta take some balls to hand it to your coach like that. He must know he’s leaving for the draft to do something like that. Whatever happened to respecting our elders?

Those BC Folks Sure Seem Forgiving

On the same day that Boston College puts itself in the news for a good reason — knocking off the #1 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels in basketball — they also were put in the news for a bad reason. I had heard the Jets planned to interview BC head coach Jeff Jagodzinksi for their head coaching vacancy, but I didn’t know the BC brass was going to get all possessive-girlfriend on him. ESPN says that BC informed Jagodzinski that he’ll be fired if he does interview with the Jets. Lending credence to the story is the Boston Globe report where Jagodzinski denied he’s spoken with the Jets, most likely because he doesn’t want word getting out. Oops! Too late for that.

I understand that BC took Jagodzinski away from the Packers where he was their offensive coordinator and made him a head coach where he’s had success, but schools and teams usually allow their staff to interview elsewhere when it’s a step up. For Jagz, leaving BC for the Jets would be a step up, as long as it’s in the same capacity (which it is). To threaten Jagodzinski with a backup plan that the offensive coordinator at BC would get his job should he interview with the Jets seems pretty childish to me. What kind of message is that sending to your coach? What will his feelings be towards you if he ultimately remains at BC? Perhaps he won’t be as motivated as before, or at least he won’t have the same type of loyalty he may have had before. Bad P.R. move by BC, as long as the report is true. I guess we’ll see what happens.

Utah Is Not the #1 Team in the Country

After beating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl 31-17, Utah was tooting its own horn about achieving perfection. The Utes finished the year at 13-0 becoming the only undefeated team in Division-I. Not helping matters is coach Kyle Whittingham’s claim that he’s voting his team #1 in the Coaches’ Poll.

“This is a great football team,” an elated Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said to Utah fans chanting “Num-ber One, Num-ber One” in a postgame celebration. “I know where I’m moving us [in the coaches' poll]. I’m voting us No. 1.”

“I don’t know why [the Utes] wouldn’t deserve consideration,” Whittingham said. “Somebody explain it to me why they wouldn’t. There is only one undefeated team in the United States of America in Division I football, and it’s these guys right here.”

Not to get all major conference snobby on you, but I’d like to see Utah play Clemson, Ole Miss, LSU, Georgia, Tennessee, and Auburn and live to come away with an unblemished record (like Alabama did). Until they play that tough a schedule and win all their games they don’t deserve to be #1. Beating Wyoming, Weber State, and New Mexico just doesn’t cut it in my book. Beating Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Missouri all in succession — like Oklahoma did — gets my respect. Finishing undefeated is a great accomplishment, and beating Alabama is a nice statement and a fantastic win for the program. Unfortunately, beating one major team soundly does not mean you’re entitled to the top ranking in the country.

Pac-10’s Impressive Bowl Record Holds Little Meaning

This was easily one of the worst years for the Pac-10. Outside of USC (no surprise), there wasn’t a legitimate contender. Cal, Oregon, and Oregon St. all had pretty good squads but lost several games. The Washington schools were amongst the worst the conference has ever seen, while UCLA and Arizona State had seriously down years. In the past, at least the conference has seen a second team get to double-digit wins and a major bowl. That was not the case this year. Perhaps it also explains the conference’s perfect bowl record. The Pac-10 went 5-0 in bowls with USC hammering Penn State in the Rose Bowl, Cal beating Miami in the Emerald Bowl, Oregon State shutting out Pitt in the Sun Bowl, Oregon defeating Oklahoma State in the Holiday Bowl, and Arizona beating BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl.

The perfect record might make people stop to question how down of a year it was for the Pac-10. Don’t be fooled: the conference was still garbage this year. Like I said, the Washington schools were historically bad, and no team outside of USC posed a real threat in the rankings (except for Oregon once they beat Oklahoma State). That’s part of the reason the conference performed well — since the schools had down years, they were excited and pumped up to get to bad bowl games unlike years past when a Las Vegas Bowl berth or Sun Bowl berth was considered a disappointment. That’s the exact reason I dislike picking bowl games; you never know who’s going to be excited to play in the game and who will be disappointed.

Do you really think Utah’s a better team than Alabama? No, but Utah was pumped for the chance while Bama had its season come to an end with the loss to Florida. Was Vanderbilt better than BC? Not definitively, but Vandy was excited to actually be in a bowl game — something new for the school. As for the Big 10 bowl record of 1-5, that’s pretty indicative of their conference strength. At this point they’re only a step or two above the Big East.

Les Miles Showed Up Georgia Tech in 4th Quarter of Bowl Blowout

LSU crushed Georgia Tech with ease in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, 38-3. The team was up 35-3 at the half after outscoring the Yellow Jackets 28-0 in the 2nd quarter, getting short fields on several Tech turnovers. The vaunted Georgia Tech triple option was held in check almost the whole game, with LSU smothering them all night long. So when the 4th quarter rolled around and LSU was hammering Tech 38-3, I had to wonder why they continued to throw deep passes and run trick plays. On two occasions in the 4th quarter, LSU threw deep passes — one fell incomplete. They also had the gall to run a trick play on special teams:

As if to affirm its mastery of special teams, LSU pulled off a successful fake punt in the fourth quarter, with punter Brady Dalfrey running for 21 yards for the first down. LSU led 38-3 when coach Les Miles called for the fake, and Georgia Tech fans booed the decision.

It was a well-designed play that did further delineate Miles’ special teams genius. Problem is, what are you running that for in a 38-3 game in the 4th quarter? Save it for when you need — a close game. I really thought some of Miles’ tactics were unnecessary. Does he have some bad beef with Paul Johnson of which I’m unaware? Sure seemed like it. I hope these teams meet again so Georgia Tech has the chance to turn the tables.