1. We're just a few weeks away from the end of the regular season, so everybody should have a pretty good handle on how good their teams are and what sort of records they can expect to finish with. Looking back over the season, which was the game where your team really defined itself in 2006, for good or ill? Or to look at it another way, which game, win or loss, was most representative of your team's attitude and style of play this season?
You could really tell who was happy with their season and who wasn't by their answers to this question. Pumped-up Michigan fans variously selected their red-assed beatdown of Notre Dame or their avoidance of a prime letdown opportunity against Wisconsin; the Golden Domers at The House Rock Built and Rakes of Mallow picked Notre Dame's stirring comeback against Michigan State; Texas A&M & Baseball in No Particular Order chose the Aggies' upset win over surging Missouri. Ramblin' Racket came up with a great answer: Georgia Tech's comeback against Maryland.
Every year of the Chan Gailey era has gone as such: "Stop me if you've heard this one before -- a Georgia Tech team beats a ranked opponent, then loses to a middle-tier ACC team that they should have beaten." This year, GT has won all the "trap games" (so far).
And then there were the malcontents, people who picked out embarrassingly close wins or just plain embarrassing losses as signatures of seasons that hadn't gone quite like they'd planned. At the time, it didn't get malcontenter than at Georgia; I picked the pants-crappingly close game against Colorado as our signature game, while Kyle King went all the way back to Georgia's defensively challenged loss to West Virginia in last year's Sugar Bowl. 50-Yard Lion picked the shouldn't-have-gone-into-OT Penn State-Minnesota game as "a sign of things to come." Off Tackle declined to share in TAMBINPO's Aggie optimism, calling the weird TAMU-Army game most representative of A&M's fortunes in 2006. And then there were the real doomsayers -- two of them disgruntled Iowa fans (Kinnick North picked the loss to Vanderbilt-of-the-Big-Ten Indiana, The Bemusement Park said double-OT against Syracuse "was no fluke"), the third an Alabama diehard who can't get the stinky cologne of the Mississippi State loss out of his nostrils.
Finally, I have to give a shout-out to a truly intriguing bit of method acting on the part of Sunday Morning Quarterback, who decided he was as bored with his Southern Miss Golden Eagles as everybody else and took on the persona of a disgruntled Southern Cal fan instead:
USC, let's face it, sucks this year. Pete Carroll should be fired immediately. What kind of coach loses a game with the number-one recruit in the nation at every single position, especially to Oregon freakin' State, which doesn't even offer scholarships? We tried to tolerate it when Carroll failed last season to win the mythical championship with the Greatest Team of All Time (seriously, like, an NFL playoff team), we showed patience, but this is the last straw.
Hmmm. Are you sure you're a USC fan and not a fan of [insert SEC team here]? We've turned coach hatred into a fine art down here. Based on the speed with which we turn on our coaches -- even the good ones -- you'd have to conclude we would divorce Alessandra Ambrosio the very first time she comes to bed wearing granny panties.
Yecch! Plus I hear she chews really loud.
2. Are there any teams you think are still hugely overrated? What about underrated?
Almost a quarter of our respondents called Notre Dame overrated. Yikes! So whom do the Notre Dame fans think are overrated? Rakes of Mallow says Florida, while WVU is underrated "now that they've plummeted"; The House Rock Built comes up with one of the year's best quotes ("Ratedness is overrated") but says Texas has no business being ranked substantially higher than ND based on résumé, inadvertently agreeing with MGoBlog, which means the universe is now going to explode or something.
Apparently few people agreed with my assessment of Louisville, as they were a popular "underrated" choice; 50-Yard Lion said both Louisville and Rutgers were underrated, which was interesting. But apparently a lot of people agreed with me that Wisconsin was underrated, including Mountainlair, Westsider Ride, and, by implication, The Bemusement Park.
Badgers: You'll always get your props here.
Unique choices: Double Extra Point says fuck the defense, Hawaii should be getting more props for scoring 5,336 points a game. Off Tackle says WVU is overrated even after their loss to Louisville, an open invitation to the most heinous kind of couch arson imaginable. Sunday Morning QB quite presciently picked out Texas as cruisin' for a bruisin'. Ramblin' Racket hates on Tennessee and LSU Silky Johnson-style. But Kinnick North gets the prize for daring to call Auburn overrated. Fuck yeah they are (were)!
3. Did your team play any Division I-AA opponents this year? If so, do you think it benefited your team at all? If you were a coach or an NCAA official, what policy would you have toward scheduling D-IAAs?
The Michigan, Notre Dame, and Alabama fans are exempted from this question and may view the remaining responses from atop their no-IAA-playing high horses. As can Sunday Morning QB for as long as he remains a USC fan.
. . . USC definitely does not play I-AAs because USC is in the PAC Ten and the PAC Ten RULZ and plays the toughest out-of-conference schedules every year. USC took on Arkansas and won BIG, so every team in the entire SEC can shove it for the rest of eternity.
All righty then. Of the 11 bloggers whose teams played a D-IAA this season, all but four were suitably embarrassed by the practice; the dissenters included Double Extra Point, who didn't have a problem with the Cornhuskers playing Nicholls State (even if it wasn't exactly great preparation for USC the following week); TAMBINPO, who witnessed what had to be a thrilling TAMU-Citadel match but thinks there are plenty of D-IA scrubs who would have been just as bad; Ramblin' Racket, who thought Samford was a good pick-me-up bouquet after the disappointing loss to Notre Dame; and Kinnick North, who would like to send Montana a basket of mini-muffins for helping the Hawkeyes to get bowl-eligible.
Grizzlies, this one's for you.
Co-Hawkeye The Bemusement Park also appreciated Montana's gift, but would prefer not to see too many D-IAAs in the future:
I don't have a problem with I-A teams playing I-AA opponents, provided the I-A teams agree to play in frilly pink tutus and ballet slippers. As we are fond of saying around here, Competition creates competitors.
4. Which not-a-typical-national-powerhouse team (i.e. no Ohio States or USCs) has played well enough this year to set themselves up for a breakout season in '07?
Burnt Orange Nation says Oklahoma State is getting close, and Sunday Morning QB agrees. Roll Bama Roll goes out on a limb and says former C-USA doormats Tulsa and Houston. The M Zone goes out on a limb and says Illinois, coach [NAME REDACTED] and all.
But if you want in-your-face chutzpah, look no further than Aggie Nation, where TAMBINPO and Off Tackle both pick Texas A&M to be that breakout team: Bold! Mountainlair picks his own West Virginia Mountaineers: Also bold! Kinnick North, however, throws water on the 'Eers' parade (and asks for another burnt couch) by saying WVU and Louisville will fall off and all the traditional powers will hold on, meaning no true breakouts in '07.
MGoBlog took issue with me apparently not having figured out that Rutgers was already having a breakout year, which is a legit beef. I wasn't the only one -- Kyle at Dawg Sports agreed -- though he may have only done so as an excuse to post more Kristin Davis pictures. Fool me once, Kyle, shame on you; fool me twice . . . Double Extra Point picked Missouri unless Gary Pinkel finds a way to fuck it up (which, as 'Husker fans, they hope he does), and The House Rock Built picked Ole Miss, though apparently under duress . . .
Because the Orgeron is standing outside my window with a hunting knife mimicking that he will slash my throat if I don't give a shout out to the Wild Boyz. So there.
5. Take a look at your team's bowl prospects this season. Which bowl(s) do you think you have a reasonable shot of ending up in? Of the teams you might likely face in a bowl, which team would you most want to play and why (maybe you've always wanted to see how your team would match up with them, maybe there's an old score you want to settle, or maybe you just want to finish the season with an easy win)? Conversely, which potential opponent would you really like to avoid in a bowl game?
All the Michigan bloggers are getting to enjoy the kind of season where if they fuck up they go to play USC in the Rose Bowl, so no real surprises there. The Irish fans want to go up against Florida's "knifewrench offense" in the Sugar. At Burnt Orange Nation, HornsFan is looking toward either the BCS title game (nope) or the Fiesta (maybe), as long as they don't have to face the undefeated Boise State Broncos:
I'd most like to play Notre Dame, for a multitude of reasons, and least like to play Boise State. Playing Boise State is a lose-lose proposition. If you blow 'em out, you were supposed to. If you win close, you were supposed to blow 'em out. If you lose, you suck. There's no happy ending.
Well, there is one -- punch them in the gut on the very first play, pick them off four times in the first half alone, and make Heismanpundit eat his words. You'll have to ask D.J. Shockley and Greg Blue about all that, of course.
Speaking of Georgia, 50-Yard Lion isn't nuts about possibly going to the
Mountainlair would like a shot at Virginia Tech in the Gator Bowl assuming Notre Dame keeps their grubby Papist hands off it, while Ramblin' Racket, assuming a win in the ACC title game, would like to face Auburn in the Orange Bowl -- not surprising given Tech's recent history against the Tigers, and there's just something cozy and right about that matchup, which would fit into the Orange Bowl as snugly as Scarlett Johansson into a Hooters uniform. Speaking of uniforms, Kyle King wouldn't mind another old-skool rivalry being reinvigorated in the Peach Bowl -- Georgia vs. Clemson -- but he says leave the all-purple uniforms at home, k thx.
Look, if I could've found a picture of Scarlett Johansson in a Hooters uniform, I would've used a picture of Scarlett Johansson in a Hooters uniform. Instead, you get this.
Then you have the people who are out for revenge -- Kinnick North wants an Iowa-Missouri matchup in the Alamo, so as to punish Mizzou for bitching out on the Hawkeyes' sked earlier this year -- and, as always, the pessimists. Roll Bama Roll is hoping for Tulsa or Houston -- not coincidentally, his candidates for an '07 breakout season -- in the Liberty Bowl specifically because a Tide loss to either of those teams would be more likely to shake things up on the coaching staff. And while The Bemusement Park thinks Iowa could go to the Insight Bowl, he thinks there's at least a chance they'll end up in sunny Detroit for the Motor City Bowl, where he "doesn't like their chances against Central Michigan and their creepy brand of ninja football."
6. In a roundtable question during the off-season, we were asked whom you'd pick if your current coach fell deathly ill and you had to select another coach to lead your team to victory. Let's turn this around and imagine that you've somehow schemed your way onto the search committee to select your biggest rival's next head coach. Which rival would that be, and which coaching sooper genius would you try to stick them with?
So many awesome answers here -- lots of people wishing Chuck Amato, Ron Zook, or John L. Smith on various rivals, lots of Michigan fans simply hoping Bobby Wallace, Ty Willingham, and John Cooper will one day return to Michigan State, Notre Dame, and Ohio State, respectively. 50-Yard Lion would like to send Jay Paterno to Michigan State (are you listening, Bobby Bowden?); Kyle King, who hates Auburn, would like to send Jeff Bowden to the Plains but says Ray Goff might be even better. Sunday Morning QB says "Whoever the Guy Was Before Carroll" to Notre Dame.
For your information, that was Paul Hackett . . . and a great choice.
Only one team punted on this one, and that was an unusually conciliatory The House Rock Built: "I'm fine with our rivals being well-coached and successful teams, as long as the Irish also have a somewhat competent coach." That's sweet, but in the words of Homer Simpson to his daughter, "You're a liar, honey. A dirty, rotten liar."
Here are my favorites.
Third runner-up: Burnt Orange Nation digs up a coach who never seemed to lack for work no matter how many programs he'd laid waste to and asks, why not let him lay waste to another?
Well, let's see. I'm very pleased with Coach Fran's performance at A&M, so we'll leave him be. That leaves OU. Let's say Stoopsy heads to the NFL next season; who might we enjoy placing at the helm in his stead? How about John Mackovic? It's out of the realm of possibilities, but boy that would be deliriously funny.
Second runner-up: Roll Bama Roll proposes to use Bobby Lowder's Macchiavellian tactics against him.
I'd want to send a private jet from Auburn to pick up Dave Rader before letting [Tommy Tuberville] know.
First runner-up: Double Extra Point wants Lou Holtz coaching again, for all the right reasons:
The major reason is that this would remove him from his ESPN studio gig, which would allow me to once again enjoy their Saturday coverage. In addition, I like Colorado more when its program is shrouded in controversy, and let's face it -- when you hear Lou Holtz you obviously think "institutional control." Lastly, I just like the way Holtz says "Nebrathka."
Insert "J.D. Stokley"/"University of Auburn"/"Colorado could really make some noise in the Big Eight" joke here.
But the grand prize goes to GaTech blogger Ramblin' Racket, who would like to allow himself to nominate . . . himself.
I would make myself the head coach at the University [sic] of Georgia. I recently began coaching the Ellenwood Steelers flag football team, and I think I've developed my skills plenty enough to be the "CEO/Coach" that a modern head coach must be. I would bring with me my current staff (read: my dumbass friends), and we would spend most of our time scouting talent of the non-football player kind in downtown Athens.
If all went according to plan, the whole program would be a total shambles within two years or so, and although I'd get shit-canned quite promptly, hopefully I'd maintain the job just long enough to cripple it for a good while.
In case you couldn't gather just from the quote, the Georgia "talent" he's talking about is of the female variety, and I just can't get angry at someone with such similar interests to mine. Well met, Racket.
I find your taste in football teams disturbing, but otherwise your taste is unassailable.
In fact, well met everybody. Thanks for participating.