Starting 11: The ACC Stinks Edition
Only, here's the deal, combining those two games with the Georgia Tech-Kansas and Virginia Tech-James Madison and Boise State games, the ACC's four top 25 teams went a combined 0-5 last week. "Monster Saturday" might as well have been known as "The ACC Sucks" weekend. Of course, it wouldn't have tested as well in Charlotte, but it would have been more accurate. Neither Miami nor Florida State ever left a doubt in any viewer's mind that they were going to lose their big games and by the time the week's fallout was over, the ACC's 12 teams occupied just one spot in the top 25.
Meanwhile, the SEC, occupying part of the same geographical footprint as the ACC, has six of the top 16 teams in America. Of course, one of those teams is coached by Les Miles, but, still, that's an impressive feat this early in the season. The same could be true, albeit to a lesser extent, of the Big 12, the Pac-10 and the Big Ten. Effectively, just four weeks into the season, we've eliminated the ACC and the Big East, which collapsed last week, from all relevant discourse in college football's national landscape. If you're keeping geographical score at home, that means almost the entire east coast is already irrelevant before mid-September even arrives.
That's no small feat.
Without further ado, on to the Starting 11:
1. Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery are the best running back/wide receiver combo that Steve Spurrier has ever coached.
That's true no matter what e-mails y'all send to try and persuade me otherwise. I'm guessing they all include Fred Taylor and (insert wide receiver who crapped out in the NFL here.) You're wrong, but feel free to go ahead and send the e-mails. Now the biggest Gamecock question is, can Stephen Garcia play quarterback well enough to keep Spurrier from going insane? Garcia missed two wide open touchdown passes against Georgia or that game against the Bulldogs isn't even close.
As for Spurrier, after seeing his hangdog performance at SEC media days, I thought he would be done coaching after one more year. Now that he has Lattimore for at least two more seasons, I don't think he'll retire without winning the SEC East.
That's a pretty remarkable turnaround and indicative of how much one top recruit can mean to a program. Lattimore reminds me of a freshman Jamal Lewis, seemingly crafted to dominate from day one.
You know things are going well for Spurrier when he starts lobbing verbal grenades at his opponents. He'd been pretty quiet at South Carolina for several years. No longer. After the Georgia game, he took a shot at new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. Only, he didn't even name Grantham, which is an even bigger insult: "When you have a back like Marcus and the linemen opened cracks, I'm sure that Georgia defensive coordinator (became frustrated). That little inside zone play, the NFL doesn't run that play. That's a new scheme, I guess. I'm sure they knew we'd run it, but they certainly didn't stop it much."
2. Denard Robinson will be the Heisman leader at the end of September, but can he survive the season?
I don't think so. Not stay healthy and remain as effective as he presently is anyway. He's taking too many hits in every game. Can you imagine what it felt like to get up in the morning after he accounted for 92 percent of Michigan's offensive output against Notre Dame? Yet Rich Rodriguez is going to continue to run him into the ground as soon as the Big Ten season starts. And you can't really blame Rich Rod for that since his job basically rests on Robinson and since the Wolverines don't have any other offensive weapons.
I've written quite a bit about jersey sales in the wake of Tim Tebow's popularity and A.J. Green's suspension. Jerseys offer an interesting jumping off point to examine the economic impact that big-time recruits actually have on college programs. But here's an even more interesting question: If you were apportioning pay based upon actual performance, what percentage of Rich Rod's $2.5 million salary should go directly to Robinson?
Gotta be at least 80 percent, right?
In other words, Robinson's play is worth at least $2 million of Rich Rod's salary. Yet Robinson doesn't make a dime and Rich Rod stays rich. And people wonder why college coaches push the rules.
3. James Madison's victory over Virginia Tech was the biggest win for Madison since the War of 1812.
And a modern-day British burning of the White House would probably have been better received in Boise than Virginia Tech's loss to James Madison. Everyone is pointing out that this loss is a debilitating blow to Boise State. I disagree, at least somewhat.
Because Virginia Tech still might win the ACC, and it's not uncommon at all for a team to struggle playing a game a few days after an emotional loss that it put everything into. Rather than say Virginia Tech isn't very good because it lost to James Madison, I'd point in the other direction. Look at how much emotion and focus the Hokies put into trying to beat Boise. They put so much into the game that six days later they still had nothing left.
4. Can we push to expand Saturday's kickoff hours?
There were just too many games going on at the exact same time to adequately monitor this past Saturday. And this was before CBS even starts its 2:30 central game telecasts. Seriously, at what point does the U.S. Open have to move its tournament up into the weeks before football starts. Does anyone care about tennis right now? The point is that college football's abundance of scheduling riches is just too much to fit into a standard 12-7 eastern kickoff model. There are so many games, in fact, that I've got a solution. Why don't we get a Red Zone channel for college football?
If you're like me -- this would mean you sometimes watch Sexo Urbano in Spanish on Cinemax so hopefully you're not -- you spend much of Sunday watching the NFL red zone channel. I think it's the best thing the NFL does because it keeps you constantly updated on every game, there are no commercials and you rocket around the country to keep tabs on everything that is happening instantaneously.
The modern sports fan craves instantaneous information about as many games as possible.
That's why the Red Zone channel is so outstanding. It fits our time.
Why can't we get a similar channel for college football? I know there are rights fee issues since the NFL is a single entity whereas every conference sells its own television rights, but this is such a good idea it needs to happen.
Otherwise it's impossible to adequately keep tabs on multiple big games taking place at the same time.
5. Is it 1984? When did gold chains return as a fashion statement in college football?
In no less than eight games that I watched on Saturday, every team had a player wearing a gold chain beneath his pads. Leaving aside the stupidity of wearing the gold chain -- how much television time can your chain possibly get on television vs. the risk of strangulation on a tackle -- when did this trend return?
Who brought this move back from Miami Vice days?
I need theories and right now, I have none.
6. Oregon's 48-13 win over Tennessee was the Vols' worst defeat in Neyland Stadium history.
There's really not much to say to that other than this fact: Oregon has now outscored two FBS opponents 120-13. If you were just voting for the top 25 based solely on the first two weeks of the season,Oregon has to be number two or three in the country, right?
Here are two early predictions for you: The Ducks are going 12-0 and LaMichael James is heading to New York for the Heisman presentation.
7. Boise State brings in viewers, as evidenced by the ratings for the Virginia Tech game -- the highest in ESPN history
Doesn't this suggest that college football fans crave non-traditional powers? What's more, after I tweeted that Boise should be considered as a legitimate contender for the national title, I was inundated by tweets from angry SEC fans who all disagreed with me. (Perhaps this is one reason that Birmingham, Ala., rated higher for the Boise State game than any markets in Virginia or Idaho. People were so angry at Boise, they had to watch.)
As a broader question, consider this fact: The lack of a college football playoff automatically delegitimizes the underdog. No one quibbled in the least with Butler playing Duke for the basketball title. In fact, quite to the contrary, just about everyone was rooting for Butler. The entire ethos of college basketball is that we want the underdog to win. In college football, your average fan is insulted by the concept of the underdog winning.
It's food for thought on the college football playoff. Since perception governs our selection of champions, non-major teams will never win the perception battle until there's actually a playoff.
8. Is there any less efficient product that more people buy than ponchos?
I can't think of one.
The entire purpose of the poncho is to keep you from getting wet. Yet the poncho doesn't accomplish that feat. You're still going to get soaked even if you wear the poncho. Plus, there isn't any ancillary benefit. For instance, women's fashion is often predicated on wearing uncomfortable objects because it looks good. See the shoe industry. But there's no fashion benefit whatsoever to the poncho.
Yet attend a rainy game and everyone buys these awful devices.
Why not just get your regular clothes wet and not wear the poncho? Anyway, the poncho is the leader in the clubhouse for the most inefficient object that still sells a ton. I want your nominees for what other products are similar for the mailbag.
9. The Florida Gators are losing three games in conference this year.
The Gators have no offensive explosion. They're going to play a ton of 20-17 type games. Beginning, believe it or not, in Knoxville this Saturday. UT-Florida may set offensive football back 100 years. Actually, Tennessee by itself might accomplish that, but the Gators are going to help on Saturday.
10. While I watched football on Saturday, my nine months pregnant wife and her mother watched Legends of the Fall.
We still haven't selected a name for our son, and I knew that Tristan was going to end up being suggested by her mother. Every woman watches Brad Pitt in that movie and wants her son to grow up just like Tristan in the film. Every. Single. One.
That movie came out in 1994 -- the same year that Rashaan Salaam won the Heisman, to put it in football context. Meaning the Tristan's who were named after that movie are now 15 or 16, just coming into their age as high school athletes. My prediction for you: Over the next five years, the number of kids named Tristan who are eligible for recruitment is going to skyrocket. In fact, I'll go this far: I can't think of a name that no one had ever heard of that became more common based entirely upon a single star in a single movie. Again, I'll take your nominations, but I'm pretty convinced Tristan from Legends of the Fall is the winner. Every year since 1995, Tristan has been one of the top 100 boy names in America.
So, in case you wondered, your wife wishes you had fought in World War I, grown up in Montana ... and looked like Brad Pitt.
11. Vanderbilt's Robbie Caldwell received an apology for last week's blown call against Northwestern.
The call was made in the final couple of minutes and ended Vanderbilt's chance at upsetting Northwestern.
Of course it didn't help Caldwell against LSU the next week, but it did continue a suddenly huge trend. Since when have officials become so quick to apologize over missed calls? This year, evidently.
We've had missed call apologies from the Seattle-Pittsburgh Super Bowl of several years ago. Ed Hochuli apologized to Chris Johnson for missing the call that cost him a shot at the single-season rushing record in the NFL. Chances are you know more of your own.
This trend is uncanny.
What is it about our modern era that leads to officials admitting their mistakes?
Follow Clay Travis on Twitter here. With All That and a Bag of Mail returning for the football season, you can e-mail him questions at Clay.Travis@gmail.com