Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Excuse Pete Carroll While He Slips Into Something A Little More Comfortable

In a move that had been rumored for many months, Pete Carroll and Rick Neuheisel have come to an agreement which will allow both teams to wear their home jerseys in their rivalry game this Saturday. The change in attire will honor the days when both the Bruins and Trojans shared the Los Angeles Coliseum and also will allow USC to further embrace their rich heritage:

Rick Neuheisel has also suggested that as long as the two teams are honoring their traditions, they should go all the way back to beginning of the rivalry and have both teams lineup in the single wing formation all game. In fact, Neuheisel has promised not to allow Kevin Craft to throw a single pass if Carroll will do the same with Mark Sanchez.

It was originally feared that the teams would not be able to restore the jersey tradition because NCAA rules mandated that the offending team be charged with two timeouts during the course of the game. But in a last minute decision, the NCAA capitulated to one of its cash cows storied institutions and minimized the penalty to only one first half timeout. However in an effort to not appear biased towards USC, the NCAA has enacted another new rule whereby any interception thrown by Kevin Craft that is not returned for a touchdown will instead be ruled as an incompletion.

In other college football news, Oregon coach Mike Bellotti has named Chip Kelly the head coach in-waiting, but has yet to set a date for when that might be. Kelly now joins Jimbo Fisher at Florida State and Will Muschamp at Texas as the coaching equivalent of a mistress who stays with a married man because he tells her that he's going to break it off eventually. He just needs to wait for the right moment. These things take time, baby. Meanwhile, they don't get any younger, their wrinkles start to show, and their desirability to other suitors begins to wane. So they better hope this gig works out, because there might not be time for any others (certainly not for Fisher).

This Thursday, the Raiders-Chargers game will be televised in 3-D in select theaters in Los Angeles, New York, and Boston. 3ality Digital feels this game will be a great opportunity to showcase their new technology; and as an added bonus, they are able to reduce costs as this game will not require them to put any cameras in the endzone.

I'm no marketing major, but my feeling is the best way to make sure the 3D experiment is a success would be to make sure there are some cameras on the San Diego sidelines to capture all the dimensions of:

But if viewers in an Imax theater end up seeing Norv Turner's facial craters or Al Davis' animated skeleton in 3D, then 3ality Digital is going to need a GM sized bailout by the end of the game.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has suspended Sean Avery indefinitely for referring to this puck bunny:

as "sloppy seconds." Bettman had to invoke the suspension for the good of the game, as Cuthbert is the only fan the league had left. Bettman will meet Avery soon to discuss the duration of the suspension and to make certain that Avery is aware that this particular term will not be tolerated and should instead be replaced by, "a drop pass into the crease," "a rebound through the five-hole," or simply "bacon scraps."

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Well, Vols Fans: Lane Kiffin Is Your Future. Might As Well Pretend To Like It

...and there's really only one thing to do:

The SEC has established itself as the place where failed NFL head coaches go to resurrect their careers. It started with Rich Brooks at Kentucky and has continued with Steve Spurrier at South Carolina, Nick Saban at Alabama, and Bobby Petrino at Arkansas. (Rod Marinelli may want to look for real estate in Starkville.) Later today, that tradition will continue as the University of Tennessee is expected to formally announce that Lane Kiffin will be the new head coach of the Volunteers.

I know what Vols fans are thinking. "Really? That's the best we could do? I thought we were players in the world of college football. Couldn't we get a bigger name than this?" I'm familiar with this response because it's the same thing that UCLA fans went through when they learned that Rick Neuheisel would be their next head coach. (Coincidentally, they thought those concerns were assuaged when Neuheisel's Bruins beat Tennessee; but in hindsight, that victory was more about the deterioration of the Tennessee program rather than the elevation of UCLA's.) However once Kiffin is formally introduced in Knoxville, Tennessee fans can no longer express frustration over the absence of an elite candidate. Instead, they must follow in the footsteps of Bruins fans and convince themselves that this was the head coach their program needed all along. To help expedite this process, here are a few of the familiar talking points that Tennessee fans may wish to learn:

The program was headed in the wrong direction. We needed a coach with a completely different style.
For the Bruins, they needed to replace stoicism with enthusiasm. As for the Vols, they had gone 29-21 over their last four years- a far cry from the 45-5 record they amassed under Fulmer from 1995-98. Obviously, the team no longer responded to the elder statesman. He needed to be replaced with youth. At 33, Kiffin fits the bill. He'll be the youngest coach in the NCAA, and he'll get the Vols to play happy and play hard.

Sure their last job may have ended poorly, but looking beyond that, the new coach has enjoyed success in the past.
Neuheisel was fired for not getting along with the AD at Washington, but not before winning a Rose Bowl as their head coach (tho primarily with Jim Lambright's players). Kiffin was fired by Al Davis for insubordination. However prior to that, he had helped guide USC to a Rose Bowl victory (albeit with Pete Carroll's players).

We're not just getting a new head coach. We're getting some great assistant coaches too.
The Kiffin hiring is rumored to be a family deal, with papa Monte coming along to coach the defense at Tennessee. Ed Orgeron is also thought to be part of the new staff. At UCLA, Neuheisel was able to persuade DeWayne Walker to stay and convince QB guru Norm Chow to lead the offense. Of course, even legendary coaches have their limitations. With his NFL background, Monte Kiffin won't be as familiar coaching against the spread formations that are run at Florida; and Norm Chow has difficulties mentoring a quarterback who doesn't discriminate against jersey color when he's lobbing the ball downfield.

Ok, he may not have been the fan's first choice, but the AD seems to know what he's doing in other sports.
Bruce Pearl. Ben Howland. Both, excellent hires. Both great at helping fans keep their minds off of what's happened to their football program.

Even if things don't work out right away, we can still head to the stadium on gameday, throw back a few beers with friends and scream our lungs out for a few hours. It still beats spending the day at home.

This is the only cogent argument in the group.

Best of luck, Tennessee. And hey, if things don't work out with Kiffin, maybe you can hire Peyton Manning in a couple of years. I have a feeling he'll be ready for the coaching biz pretty soon.