Sunday, January 2, 2011

Meanwhile, back in the realm of total domination . . .

There's very little left to say in the aftermath of the Coronation Saturday -- a resounding Jan. 1 reminder of the SEC's prowless.

Keep in mind that the three conference teams with the best records (though after Alabama's performance against Michigan State, we will not call them the SEC's three BEST TEAMS) haven't even played. Yet the middle-of-the-pack contingent of Alabama, Florida and Mississippi State outscored the Big 10 co-champ along with traditional powers Penn State and Michigan by almost 4 to 1. The Big 10 went 0-5 on the day, and will need a Sugar Bowl win by THE Tattoo U to even approach the Mendoza line in the bowl games that matter.

Some observations:

Poor Michigan State. Sparty's wonderful season was effectively buried in Orlando by the first Category 6 hurricane in recorded history. To call it Alabama's first complete game of the season is like saying Sitting Bull had a nice game plan at Little Bighorn.

Scary thought for the rest of the college football world: Maybe the SEC is just too good to allow the kind of dominance the Tide unleashed on 11-win MSU. Maybe the gaps in size and speed between Bama and State were that pronounced. Or maybe Alabama was just that good. Dinged-up defenders such as Marcel Dareus and Courtney Upshaw played faster than they have all year. An offensive line broken up again and again by injuries had time to heal and helped produce a running game missing since the first weeks of the season.

This is the Alabama fans expected to see. Instead they got a much more sputtering rendition, a team that was never as good as its individual parts, a team that started to come together in its first half against Auburn, then showed what might have been in a meaningless bowl game. In the end, the record books will say Alabama ended up 10-3. In actuality, Nick Saban's team fell about three plays short of defending its national title against Oregon.

Mississippi State has its coach. Michigan needs a new one. In high school mismatches, you can find a team that runs a mostly vanilla version of its offense and still looks explosive. Put another way: When was the last time you saw a major college football power play defense in the manner that Michigan played it Saturday? Rich Rodriguez has been in Ann Arbor three years -- plenty of time to put the school on probation, plenty of time to divide the fanbase and, given Michigan's stature, more than enough time to put a competitive team on the field. Nick Saban, Urban Meyer and Bob Stoops all took over struggling tier-one programs and won national championship in their second or third years. Rodriguez' third team, by contrast, made Mississippi State look like the murderous legions of the Dark Lord. RichRod's departure should be announced in the next day or so, then Jim Harbaugh or whomever begins the task of starting over again at UM. The country's winningest program is looking at several more years in the wilderness, and Alabama fans get on their knees each day in thanks that Rodriguez' wife vetoed his move to Tuscaloosa.

As for State . . . Dan Mullen is building something fast and mean at Starkville. In two years he has supplanted Ole Miss as the top program in a talent-rich state. Each year he adds a little more speed, size and ability to the Maroons. This is quickly becoming a scary, scary team.

Florida won or Penn State lost . . . you can make the case for either. Ironically, the winning coach is stepping away; the losing coach won't leave. Urban Meyer got his last win before he takes his furlough from coaching. His team, with so much misdirected talent, capitalized on enough of its opponent's mistakes to run away at the end. In actuality, Joe Paterno's Lions had their chance in the last minutes. Instead, JoePa's undersized and marginally skilled quarterback threw another killer interception, and that was that.

For a coach that won two national championships in four years, Meyer was ushered out like a department head in a community college. All speculation now turns to his replacement, Will Muschamp, and his reclamation project. With the hiring of Charlie Weiss as offensive coordinator, Muschamp shared the worst kept secret in college football: He will dismantle Meyer's spread, even if it will take him several years to recruit what he needs to run his new offense. First things first: Muschamp must rebuild the Gators' toughness. During Meyer's last years, they became a pretty team of top-ranked recruits who looked good, talked plenty, but didn't like it when someone hit them in the mouth. That's Muschamp's first challenge: finding 22 kids who will hit back.



Bama Brother said...

So, let's assume Richrod is sent packing from the Big House. What happens with Mark Richt in Georgia and Houston Nutt at Ole Miss? If their 2011 is a repeat of 2010, there will be movers in each of their driveways, and the movers may arrive before these guys are packed and ready.

Michael said...

Georgia AD already on the record, bro: He wants Richt back and expects to have him.

Nutt is clearly on a short leash, but if Ole Miss wanted him gone, he would have been axed after the Mississippi State loss. That tells us he has one more year.

Anonymous said...

The fact that Mrs. Rod vetoed the 'Bama job makes 'Bama the luckiest school of the 21st century, and that includes living through Mike Shula.

I think Richt and The Right Reverend have completely lost control of their programs, but why should that get in the way?