Not Just Another Boring Weekend
by Jim Alderson, 12/10/01
Here we go again. Hours after BYU demonstrated exactly how much of a BCS pretender they were and Tennessee pulled the last and greatest flop among the MNC wannabes, college football dominated the headlines to such an extent that one wondered if NFL games were even played last Sunday.
The festivities kicked off when Notre Dame, whose AD Kevin White heard ĎNoí more often than the class geek looking for a prom date, finally found somebody who would actually take the job of attempting to restore the Irish to quasi-respectability and hired George OíLeary. George OíLeary? Yep, college footballís Mister Congeniality, the guy whose Georgia Tech squads never were quite as good as advertised, now moves from the Ramblin' Wreck to perform CPR on the Irish Wreck of Bob ĎMaybe We didnít Belong In The Fiesta Bowl After Allí Davie.
Whatís in a name? Plenty, if it is OíLeary and everybody from Jon Gruden to Frank Beamer had already turned ND down. Timing is also everything, and after OíLearyís last Yellow Jacket team was picked by most to finally end Florida Stateís ACC dominion but instead staggered to a 7-5 finish in what was probably his best chance at toppling the Noles, George no doubt figured his time was now.
The Jackets, of course, underachieved like Vols in a classroom due in no small part, so to speak, of the loss of Offensive Coordinator Ralph Friedgen to Maryland, where he will very soon be "Franking" Terps AD Debbie Yow for some really big bucks. With a lackluster offense, and well aware that Florida State was fielding a very young team that will be back with a vengeance, OíLeary figured it was time to go. Irish eyes are smiling at the proud Notre Dame tradition being entrusted to a guy who lost two of his last three to the Hoos.
OíLeary trading the ghost of Bobby Dodd for that of Knute Rockne did leave Georgia Tech in the lurch, and Multi-Tech Athletic Director Dave Braine was quickly casting eyes to Blacksburg at something other than that piece of property he owns for retirement purposes. A call was made to Frank Beamer, who barely had time to inform Braine that he probably couldnít pull this again before the phone was yanked from his hand by Ricky Bustle, who stopped humming the refrain from the Animalsí ĎWe Gotta Get Out Of This Placeí and exclaimed, "Dave, my man." It can be assumed that Braine responded, "Iíll get back to you," and Bustle was back on the phone to that Hyphenated Louisiana claiming that he canít wait to be part of exciting RUTS Belt Conference football.
We barely had time to reflect on what a terrific interview the monosyllabic OíLeary will provide NBC after Michigan whacks his Irish by thirty when up popped the BCS show. While I admired Terry Bowdenís buzz cut and speculated as to whether that finely-framed camera shot was achieved by Bowden perched on a four-foot stool or John Saunders sitting on the floor, they announced that Nebraska would be Miamiís next victim in the Rose Bowl.
The Cornhuskers, fresh off that sterling defensive effort of holding Colorado to a mere 62 points, had nosed out the Buffaloes for the big game. What was even more fascinating was the final determination seemed to come from TCU, a team Nebraska flattened back in August, winning over Southern Miss Friday night. The result of an obscure CUSA game seemed to carry more BCS weight than a 26-point thrashing. Go figure. Who says CUSA isnít a BCS player? As "Frogs Rule" reverberated through the cornfields, a smirking Frank Solich dead-panned, "Well, there are a lot of worthy teams but weíre the ones in, so deal with it."
Among those not dealing with it was Coloradoís Gary Barnett. Remember last year when Butch Davis took the Canes getting jobbed with the taciturn air of a man who knew he would soon be raking in $3 extra-large per year in the NFL? It would seem Barnett doesnít have a pro job lined up yet, because he chafed vocally at his teamís exclusion. That pained expression on his face could also have resulted from having Fresno State on his schedule. Check how fast any future games between the two get canned.
The most amusing part of the entire BCS farce was current honcho John Swofford mumbling through some incoherent explanation of how a team that didnít even win its division, much less its conference, ended up playing for the Sears Trophy. I expected Swofford to finally respond to Saundersí questions with, "Look, itís basketball season. Why are we still talking football?" Swofford lists as his day job Commissioner of the ACC. This is what happens when you put a guy from a basketball league in charge of a football championship. Itís a wonder the computers didnít spit out a Rose Bowl of Duke and UConn. I suppose when the esteemed Commissioner of the Big East gets his turn, we will have a Sugar Bowl of Providence and Marquette. Smiling Johnís two years at the BCS helm have resulted in Miami getting shafted last year Ö and now this. Whereís Roy Kramer when you need him?
Lording over the SEC Championship at the Georgia Dome was where Roy Kramer was. Those dollar signs shining from his eyes during that Saturday night halftime interview came as a result of his awareness that no matter what happened between Tennessee and LSU, he had two teams in the BCS, and the attendant financial windfall. The deafening clamor for a playoff does not include Kramerís voice, or that of the Big XII boss, the other league that will grab a second BCS check. If there were more money to be amassed from a playoff, at least for the six BCS conferences, we would have one. Donít look for it anytime soon.
Despite all the griping and complaining, we will have a Rose Bowl between Miami and Nebraska and a bunch of other BCS bowls, none listing Tech among their participants. The Canes should be kicking off about the time I get back from Jacksonville. And so it goes.
Jim Alderson,who first made his mark with his biting political commentary on the A-Line email newsletter, also brings a unique, sarcastic, and well-informed perspective on college sports, particularly (1) Virginia Tech sports and (2) ACC sports. While Hokie fans currently have very little use for subject number 2, Alderson is an entertaining and informative columnist on subject number 1. For even more fun, visit Jim's A-Line home page.