We begin this week, the season opener with our bon-voyage to former Ohio State President Gordon Gee.
Gee, a college football advocate, was politely shown the door on July 1, after suffering from a recurring case of “foot-in-mouth” disease. He was apparently afflicted with an incurable strain.
Although the following bon-mots won’t make the Tommy Menino Hall of Fame (that is after all, a very special category) they are nonetheless amazingly insensitive for a person in his position.
The first occurred during the height of the Coach Jim Tressell controversy when Gee was asked if Ohio State considered firing its coach.
A smiling Gee said, “No. Are you kidding? Let me just be very clear, I’m just hopeful the coach doesn’t dismiss me.” Two months later Tressell was forced to resign.
GG then had this to say about Notre Dame. “Those damn Catholics. The fathers are holy on Sunday, and they raise holy hell the rest of the week.” Of course once his words were made public he was forced to issue an apology.
Here are a couple of other faux pas from his apology tour.
He disparaged the football scheduling of Boise State and TCU saying that Ohio State did not play “The Little Sisters of the Poor.” The Pres apologized and The Ohio State University gave a sizable cash donation to the Sisters – good for them.
Finally, he likened the difficulty in running a large university to the “coordinating of the Polish Army.” Ouch! Something tells me Gee wasn’t serving Kielbasa at his weekly tailgate.
Therefore on this opening Labor Day weekend, let’s see which coordinated teams raise holy hell on the field, and which perform so ineptly, they couldn’t defeat the Little Sisters of the Poor, leaving a shade of crimson on the face of its university president.
No. 1 Alabama vs. Virginia Tech – Atlanta (ESPN, 5:30 p.m.) St. Nick’s (one earns the right to that moniker after winning 4 national championships, and compiling a 68-13 resume in six seasons prowling the sideline at Bryant-Denny Stadium), Tuscaloosan Titans, have more diverse offensive weapons than the murderous regime of President Assad, or the Egyptian military.
The Tide’s triggerman is its “duende-dripping” Heisman candidate QB, AJ McCarron, the nation’s most efficient passer, who sported a 10-1 TD/interception ratio last season, while squiring an All-America statuesque lady friend.
The marksman of the two-time defending national champions is assisted by a pair of All-Americas; tailback T.J. Yeldon and wideout Amari Cooper, creating arguably, the most dynamic offensive trio in America.
If the faithful have an offensive concern, it is an untested o-line that will have three new faces, albeit, with five-star pedigree.
The strength of the Tide’s D, which has 7 returning starters, is its linebacking corps featuring All-America C.J. Mosley, and his three compadres; Trey DePriest, Xzavier Dickson, and Adrian Hubbard.
Last season in Blacksburg, the faithful witnessed a serious puncture to the “Beamer-Ball” Express.
In order to plug that leaky rubber, Coach Frank Beamer hired Auburn’s Scott Loeffler as his offensive coordinator and quarterback coach with the mandate of modernizing the fossilized offense.
The biggest beneficiary, will be the biggest Hokie, its goliath (6-6, 257) QB Logan Thomas. Once touted as a first round pick, the dual-threat Logan resembled, and played like a plane stuck on the tarmac at Logan, completing just a shade over fifty percent of his throws, while often appearing clueless on the field.
The rest of the VaTech attack will feature tailback J.C. Coleman (high ankle sprain), and a passel of fleet footed, but untested receivers.
As it has done for countless seasons, the success of the Blacksburg eleven will depend on the performance of Bud Foster’s D, and with nine returning starters, led by end James Gayle, and tackle Luther Maddy, big things are expected.
Unfortunately, the Hokies could have Tom Brady and Adrian Peterson in the backfield and still not be able to beat Alabama, as Saban begins his trek for an unprecedented (in the modern era) third consecutive national championship, and fourth in five years. If he is successful, he’ll be one step closer to his “Holy Grail” quest of passing the Bear’s record of six. (The last team to win three consecutive titles was the great Army teams of the WWII era 1944-46.
No.5 Georgia at No.8 Clemson (Ch. 5, 8 p.m.) Kudos to both schools for not munching on a season opening cupcake, but scheduling a prime season opening entree with huge national implications.
In Athens, the Dawgs offense is stronger than the Fed’s case against Whitey Bulger, or the Commonwealth’s case against Jared Remy.
The Bulldogs are directed by its senior All-America caliber QB Aaron Murray, who barring injury, upon graduation, will hold every major passing record in Georgia football history.
The starry signal caller is assisted by possibly the best tailback tandem in the nation; Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, better known as “Gurshall” in a cap tipping acknowledgement to Georgia’s iconic Heisman winner Hershel Walker.
The QB also has a pair of field stretching receivers; Michael Bennett and Chris Conley.
The D featuring end Garrison Smith, and backer Amario Herrera, remains a Sanford Stadium enigma, but needs only to be average for it to be a truly special season in Athens.
With apologies to Jim Morrison, is this the year that the Tigers “Break on through to the other side?”
The Death Valley faithful are giddy over consecutive 10-win seasons (21-5) for the first time since 41– GHW Bush – the good one – occupied the White House in 1989-90.
Clemson is led by its dual-threat All-America caliber QB Tajh Boyd, who is comforted by his Linus-blanket All-America receiver Sammy Watkns. While a deep and seasoned offensive line will road grade wide opportunities for newly minted tailback Rod McDowell.
Second year defensive coordinator Brent Venables has solidified the D, which features nose Grady Jarrett, tackles Josh White and Deshawn Williams, while Spencer Shuey anchors the backers.
In a game in which the scoreboard operator should be an arithmetician, Clemson keeps its national title aspirations full steam ahead.
No.12 LSU vs. No.20 TCU – Arlington (ESPN, 9 p.m.) The Bengal Tigers best recruit signing wasn’t a player, but offensive coordinator Cam Cameron – (formerly of the Baltimore Ravens – and more importantly a close friend of Les Miles) – whose sole mission is to insert a spark into the Tigers moribund offense.
The Coach’s arrival will be a huge boost for the Tigers overly scrutinized senior QB Zach Mettenbeger. The Prudential-sized signal caller (6-5, 230) is supported by a pair of talented backs Alfred Blue and Kenny Hillard, while wideout Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry are game breaking targets.
LSU’s D is as usual, the Death Valley calling card, and despite having lost a ton to graduation, the faithful will be comforted by a pair of All-Americas, tackle Anthony Johnson and safety Craig Loston, with an assist from backer Lamin Barrow.
In his dozen years at the Fort Worth campus, head man Gary Patterson, one of the nation’s most underrated coaches, has compiled a Mount Rushmore-esque record of; 116-36.
And this at a school where in the late 90’s its student body chanted at games, “Two, four, six, eight, score before we graduate.”
The Horned Frogs will also have the services of its Prodigal Son QB Casey Pachall, who returns after spending time in a rehabilitation facility for substance abuse. In addition, tailback Waymon James returns after missing 11 games with a knee injury, and he’ll blend nicely with Nebraska transfer Aaron Green.
The Purple Frogs D will set the tone for the season, as nine returning starters led by a pair of All-Americas; end Devonte Fields (dressed may not play) and corner Jason Verrett has the faithful dreaming of the championship days of Slingin’ Sammy Baugh.
There is a strong pull to take the Sons of Bob Lilly, but LSU has the better lineage, and the “Mad Hatter” somehow finds a way pull another W out of his chapeau.
No.19 Boise State at Washington (FSN 1, 10 p.m.) Coach Chris Petersen Blue Turfers are a jaw-dropping 84-8 in his seven seasons as the head man in Boise. (I know Sooner man, who have they played.)
Senior QB Joe Southwick is the established leader, who will have the luxury of utilizing an intentionally stripped down playbook. His steady hand will target a host of receivers featuring Matt Miller, while talented tailback in Jay Ajayi will handle the ground attack.
The D which has a lot of new faces, is anchored by ends Demarcus Lawrence, Sam Ukwauchu, and tackle Tjung-A-Tjoe, but will spend the early part of the season on the learning curve.
After three consecutive 7-6 season, the Seattle faithful are beginning to lose patience with Coach Steve Sarkisian.
The key to the Huskies season will be the rebound of its senor QB Keith Price, who dramatically regressed last season, as well as how quickly he adapts to the newly installed no-huddle up-tempo attack. Four returning offensive linemen should provide plenty of protection and provide plenty of open space for its starry tailback Bishop Sankey.
Wideout Kasen Williams provides a welcoming target, but it Gibraltar-sized (6-6, 266) All-America tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins is out with a broken pinkie finger.
The improving D features a trio of backers Shaq Thompson, Travis Feeney and John Timu.
The temptation is to take the Huskies at home, but it is never a good idea to go against Bosie in an opener, so we’ll take the Broncos to ride home with the W.
Mississippi at Vanderbilt Expectations in Oxford, the home of William Faulkner, haven’t been this high since Archie and Eli were leading the Rebels.
In fact you know you’re football royalty when your former jersey number 18 – Archie’s – is the official speed limit on the campus of your alma-mater.
Ole Miss’s newest gunslinger, and hopeful heir the Manning legacy, is dual-threat QB Bo Wallace, who has the luxury of being protected by a grizzled offensive line.
The dynamic leader has a quartet of skyscraper receivers led by starry field stretcher Donte Moncrief, and when the Rebels take to the ground, tailback Jeff Scott is a very capable runner.
The improving D returns seven starters led by backer Donzel Nkemdiche and end C.J. Johnson.
Coach James Franklin has dramatically altered the culture of losing in Nashville. Last season the Commodores won nine games (although none were against teams with a better than .500 record) for the first time since Woodrow Wilson – 1915 – occupied the White House.
It will now fall to newly installed starter Austyn Carta-Samuels to continue that upward trend.
The QB had a pair of stellar targets; All-America Jordan Matthews, but his partner Chris Boyd was arrested and charged with tampering with evidence in an ugly rape case involving five members of the football team. It has left a terrible stench around the Vandy campus. When the Dores run Wesley Tate will get the bulk of the carries.
Vanderbilt’s stingy D is led backers Chase Garnham, Karl Butler, and safety Kenny Ladler.
In a game that is evenly matched, but with distractions aplenty for Vandy, we’ll take the Rebels and the spirit of Archie and Eli to carry the day.
That’s it from cyber space, we’ll be back with week 2 next Wednesday evening, and be sure to read our weekend recap which will be up and running by noon on Sunday.
Until then, Peace. And listen to the music. PK