Starting 11: Fire Steve Addazio Movement Gains Steam in Florida
In the immediate moments after Florida's game-tying field goal attempt sailed wide right, ESPN cameras cut to the stands at Ben Hill-Griffin Stadium and captured a group of Gators fans in the throes of agony.
Look at this picture now. What was most surprising about the shot was its crystallization of the Steve Addazio era. In particular, this brunette, left arm pushing back her hair, shoulders slumped in defeat. She looks like Florida wide receiver Chris Rainey just texted her a death threat. Only worse. It's as if Leonardo Da Vinci captured the collapse in Gainesville with one image, the Mona Addazio.
Consider all the perfect details from this image: The ESPNU logo up in the right corner, a clear sign that the program has slipped to an inferior network. The discarded pom-pon, a vestige of past touchdown celebrations, silent and forlorn against the cold concrete. The other fan in the matching bedazzled Gator shirt, a bit older, attempting to console her. You can almost read her lips saying, "At least you weren't alive in 1987." On the score line, check out the number 22 next to Florida, the fact that Mississippi State's name appears above the Gators.
I mean, the entire image captures the season.
If you'd shown Florida Gators fans this still shot photo in August, back when John Brantley was going to make people forget Tim Tebow, they wouldn't have believed it could be true, they wouldn't have believed it could ever be possible. Florida was going to lose to Mississippi State at home? Yeah, right. And we're only going to score a single touchdown in the game? But late at night, when they tried to go to bed, it would have recurred to them and they would have shivered, like Poe's murderer, in the Tell-Tale Heart, they feared they could hear an infernal beating, three syllables then silence, Uh da zio, Uh, da zio.
Even before Halloween, your nightmare has arrived Gators fans.
How could one man be handed the most beautiful jewel in the land, the Florida Gators offense, and bungle things so badly. If Tebow'd, a verb coined by my Florida Gators friend, came to personify everything about Tebow's dominance of the SEC, then Addazio'd has to mean the exact opposite, a return to mediocrity.
1. War Cam Eagle.
Who was the brilliant writer who told you three weeks ago, before anyone else was even taking note, that Cam Newton was going to win the Heisman? This dashingly handsome fellow with the beard. Well, now that the nation has finally taken note of Cam's brilliance, allow me to point this out: Newton is going to win the Heisman and it isn't even going to be a remotely close vote.
Don't believe me?
Who is the second best option right now? Terrelle Pryor. Uh, no. Denard Robinson? He won't finish the season and, if he does, Michigan will be 7-5. That's not enough wins to be relevant. Boise State's Kellen Moore is the second-best option now and he has no prayer of actually winning.
If Auburn beats LSU on Saturday, then Cam Newton will have created such a distance between himself and the rest of the Heisman field that he'll be able to coast on to the win. That is, as long as he stays away from Auburn students' laptops.
2. Was anyone surprised when Ohio State went down 21-0 at Wisconsin?
You kind of expected this, right? This is what the Buckeyes do, they get rolled on national television. What does Jim Tressel do so well that psyches out his team before big games? Does he deliver the pregame speech completely naked save the sweater vest? Refuse to allow the team to eat all day before the game?
Regardless, thanks for managing to choke earlier in the season than normal, Buckeyes fans. It's always a great day in college football when Ohio State loses and we can be thankful that you're nationally irrelevant for the remainder of the season and we don't have to hear ESPN slobber over your dominance.
Good riddance Buckeyes. And look on the bright side. At least this year you didn't get embarrassed by another conference.
3. Mark Ingram ought to have to return the Heisman Trophy for being a fraudulent winner.
I know Reggie Bush had to return his Heisman for cheating, but at least he was a worthy recipient of the award. Last year, I told Alabama fans that Ingram was the worst Heisman winner in 30 years and they reacted like I'd told them evolution should be taught in their public schools. It was pure anarchy. I'm not making this up. Multiple 'Bama fans threatened my life for saying this.
Well, this year Ingram has gone ahead and proven me correct. He's on pace for the worst follow-up season in Heisman history. Right now, he's run for a grand total of 148 yards in his past three SEC games and he's averaging less than four yards per carry in those games. Sitting at 456 yards on the season, he'll be incredibly fortunate to crack 1,000 yards in the regular season.
4. Matt Barkley will be the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL draft.
It's hard to believe that the starting quarterback at USC could be under the national radar, but he is. Right now Barkley has 20 touchdowns against just four interceptions, and he's thrown for almost 2,000 yards. Maybe it was needing to see him in person, but Barkley makes unbelievable throws that only a handful of quarterbacks can make.
I'm convinced he's the best pocket passer in college football. If USC can come out and beat Oregon after its bye week on Oct. 30, then Barkley may well punch his ticket to New York. I don't think he'll win, but I think he's got a decent shot to be there. The rest of college football can thank Monte Kiffin for trotting out such an awful USC defense that Barkley's performance at the helm of USC's offense has been completely ignored.
5. Betty Draper Francis on Mad Men is the most hated character in television history.
She hasn't established a level of hate like, say, J.R. Ewing in Dallas, where you hate her, but you also love to watch her. She's just hated. Season four of Mad Men ended yesterday, so I don't want to ruin it for y'all who still have to watch on your DVRs, but I don't know a single person who watches the show and doesn't hate Betty.
Think about how hard this level of hate is to pull off. Send in your nominees if you can think of any fictional character who has ever been more universally hated. I can't.
6. Texas trounced Nebraska.
You know what that game looked like? It looked like Nebraska hadn't played a single decent team all season. Oh, wait, Nebraska hadn't? Well then, big surprise. The Cornhuskers were the most over-hyped team in the poll. Yep, even more so than Ohio State.
Nebraska can still win the Big 12 and shatter the trophy at the post-game celebration, but after 10 months of trying to get back at the Longhorns for that infernal second that was brought back onto the clock in the Big 12 championship game, Nebraska failed completely.
7. Marcus Lattimore is the most important cog in the South Carolina offense.
The moment he went out with an injury, the SEC East turned into a mosh pit of futility. How bad are things? Vanderbilt is 1-2 in the conference and coming off a 43-0 defeat at Georgia yet still controls its own path to Atlanta. When Lattimore was injured on Saturday, he'd already put up 212 yards of offense in one half.
After he was injured, South Carolina's offense wasn't able to move the ball and the game ended as many Gamecocks fans have feared a game would end all season, with Stephen Garcia throwing an interception into the end zone. Don't worry South Carolina fans, you're still in good shape thanks to Florida's loss to Dan Mullen.
Mullen, by the way, just wrote his own check that will be cashed by a big-time program in the offseason. He's out of Starkville after a season.
Well, at least Kentucky's players were happy with the result, right?
Kentucky's best player, Randall Cobb, tweeted the next day @rcobb18: "To all the fans: loved seein Yall come late, love hearing Yall tell us we suck during the game love we have to play against own fans too! Love that we can't pack the house when we play #10 team in the nation. It means that much more to me. I love my team! Brotherhood they got my back n I got they back. The rest of Yall can get ready for bball season!"
8. What if TCU and Boise State scheduled a game for Dec. 11?
As sort of a default playoff just to thumb their noses at the BCS? I don't think the game could count for purposes of the BCS standings, but could it count in the polls? In other words, could the pollsters reward those teams for playing an unsanctioned game?
What would be the penalty from the NCAA for doing this? Wouldn't it be an unbelievable PR move? Okay, we can't have a playoff, but at least these two teams care so much about which one is better that they're willing to play each other in an end-of-the-season contest.
Maybe it's a ridiculous idea, but the two teams are probably going to get shunted into the Separate But Equal Bowl again this year anyway.
9. When I got back from Los Angeles on Sunday, I took my two-year-old son to the circus.
Two great things happened. First, they do the pledge of allegiance and the national anthem before the circus. Seriously. And the clowns stand at attention during both.
Second, after my son was too terrified of the sounds to actually watch the circus, we stood on the concourse and watched the end of the Cowboys-Vikings game. One of the clowns was standing beside us checking his BlackBerry for score updates from earlier NFL games. After high-fiving approximately 14 times with my son while watching the game, he turns to me and says, "You see those Favre pics? What an idiot!"
10. Yale's kickers are 1-10 this season and the only one made bounced off the goal post.
It always amazes me that schools filled with prep school athletes can't find a kicker in the student body. Remember when Mike Leach found his kicker at halftime of a Texas Tech game? Yale needs to open up the placekicking duties to the entire student body and find someone with a stronger leg.
There have to be at least 10 students who can do better than 1-10.
11. The SEC champ will play for the BCS title.
Just go ahead and write it in stone. Oklahoma is going to lose to Missouri this weekend. And Oregon is going to lose to USC on Oct. 30. By Halloween, the projected BCS title game will be Auburn-Boise State. Alabama vs. Auburn should be a default playoff game, the winner advances, loser stews in indignation for the entire season.
And, by the way, if Michigan State and Boise State play for the national title, the south is going to secede again.
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