Psst. Psst. Hey, have you heard?
*Whispering very quietly*…It seems like the SEC might not be very good this year.
No, no, no. Stop cheering. Keep it down. We don’t want to jinx it.
LSU lost to Florida State. The same Florida State that nearly lost to a putrid Boston College team on Saturday. LSU then thumped Mississippi State this past week, who needed overtime at home to hold off Arizona. Thus, beating Mississippi State doesn't earn you bonus points.
South Carolina was beaten handily by North Carolina. Yet this past week the Gamecocks gave Georgia all they could handle in Athens. Yea, that Georgia. Two time defending champs.
Tennessee looked rather mediocre in beating Austin Peay a week ago. This week they fell to Florida. This is the same Florida that looked just awful in Utah a couple weeks ago. Can you say mediocre?
Perennially overrated Texas A&M got throttled by Miami a week ago, after which hot seat Jimbo Fisher accused Miami of cheating tactics on a two point conversion attempt. The Aggies lost by 15.
Arkansas lost to Kedon Slovis-led BYU at home. Not a good sign for a team trying to climb into the upper echelon of the league.
And then there is Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide. Alabama has three quarterbacks, but really have none. Saban has tried them all, none to rousing success. After losing at home to Texas last week, the Tide didn’t exactly roll in beating South Florida 17-3.
For the first time since 2015, Alabama has fallen out of the AP top ten, landing at 13 this week.
Yes, my SEC hating friends, we may be seeing the end of SEC dominance, at least for this year. The portal and NIL are evening the playing field among many schools. It will be much harder for the same two or three schools to always have the best rosters.
Most people aren't shedding any tears. Many across the college football world have been waiting for this day for quite some time.
It reminds me of the final episode of Seinfeld when Newman barges in, and after suffering through 9 seasons of Jerry’s dominance over him he unleashes this diatribe.
“All right! But hear me and hear me well - The day will come. Oh yes, mark my words, SEC - your day of reckoning is coming. When an evil wind will blow through your little play world and wipe that smug smile off your face. And I'll be there, in all my glory, watching - watching as it all comes crumbling down.”
Yes, all you SEC haters know it’s true. You’ve been waiting with bated breath for years and years for this day to come. Even though all things sports are cyclical, it sure seemed like this cycle was never ending.
But here we are.
I still think we should keep it quiet. I would hate to be responsible for giving the SEC bulletin board material.
Facts are facts, however, and as we head towards full blown conference play, the SEC just isn’t very good.
Alabama is in real trouble. No quarterback makes Nick a mere mortal. I speculated on my podcast that this could be the beginning of the end for Saban, who can’t coach forever.
We won’t know about Georgia because they don’t play anybody. Tennessee is the scary game on the Bulldogs schedule, but less scary after watching Tennessee lay an egg at Florida.
I tend to think Georgia is good. I also tend to think LSU is good.
Maybe this is the year Lane Kiffin crashes the party, and I dare you to find that proposition uninteresting. Missouri and Kentucky may be trending up, but not national prominence up.
The rest of the league ranges anywhere from mediocre to bad. Yes, Coach Saban, that includes you, too.
It is good for college football to have different teams challenge for championships. We all get fatigue from seeing Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Clemson, and Michigan dominate the playoffs. That is exactly why TCU was such a great story last season.
Nobody wants to see two of the four playoff spots dominated by the same conference and same teams. Change is good for the sport. It allows far more fans to stay hopeful.
Over the last decade plus, the SEC has become the big, bad bully. The character in movies some like, but most want to see take a fall. It certainly isn’t official yet, but it sure looks like the SEC is taking a fall. At least a tiny one, and that’s good enough for the haters of the big, bad bully.
A few more college football storylines
- A few of the teams I said sent the strongest messages a week ago, sent a different message this week. That message was we are going to sleepwalk through garbage games. Texas finally woke up in the fourth quarter to pull away from a spunky Wyoming team that had already beat Texas Tech. Florida State needed a careless penalty from Boston College to help them close out the Eagles. Michigan was borderline catatonic. Penn State wasn't sharp. Kids are human, and they can see the schedule. When it is the second or third straight game where the other team has little to no chance it is hard to get fired up.
- The Big Ten stinks. Northwestern, Indiana, Illinois, Nebraska, and Purdue already have two losses. Minnesota is 2-1 but is not even close to decent. Michigan State got obliterated at home and is in disarray. Rutgers is 3-0, and good for the Scarlet Knights. However, it is Rutgers, and they will struggle to win three more games the rest of the season. That leaves Maryland, Iowa, and Wisconsin. The league needs to hope at least two of those teams keep winning. Wisconsin has a decent opportunity to be 6-1 when Ohio State comes calling in late October. Because of the softness of the league, Iowa has a real chance at ten wins. Finally, it is possible Maryland is 7-1 when Penn State visits in early November. It would probably be good for the league if one of those teams beat at least one of the “Big 3”.
- Colorado is 3-0. Deion Sanders has found something each week to motivate his team. He is incredibly smart. He knows what he is doing. He always has. I think Sanders sometimes brings up things that aren’t necessary, but it is always calculated. It sure does appear that Deion is a really good dude that some won’t give a chance because of the sunglasses, chains, and bravado. A lot of people are actively rooting against him because they think he is “gangsta” or bringing the “hood” to college football. People have actually said these things to me. Gosh, the rural American thought processes sure are fun. Sanders had the Rock with him this weekend. That was fitting because Sanders is like a pro wrestler. He is great on the mic, and at heart is a baby face who performs better as a heel. If you had the chance to see the 60 Minutes segment on Sanders last night, I dare you not to respect the man. I dare you to not realize the honesty he shows. I dare you not to realize how good he is for those kids and that community. I dare you not to realize how respectful he is to the game. I dare you not to like Coach Prime. The fun starts this week at Oregon and then the following week at home vs USC. Whatever the future outcomes are, Deion Sanders is a breath of fresh air for college football.
- It is a shame that there aren’t more quality games early in the season. We get Notre Dame vs Ohio State this week which will be great, but this past week had one mismatch after another. It is imperative that the CFP committee rewards and puts more emphasis on strength of schedule.
Two Cent Takes
~Pirates GM Ben Cherington stated Sunday that he expects his team to contend for the playoffs next year. He went further to say the team should win more than 84 games next year. Stop snickering Pirates fans. I’ll write more when the season ends, but the team has been playing very respectable baseball the last two months despite spotty production from their young guns.
~Tampa briefly caught the Baltimore Orioles in the standings. This is important. The division winner gets a bye and can arrange their pitching staff they way they want. Baltimore won the last two and are back out to a two game lead.
~The Phillies play 10 of their final 13 games against the Mets and Pirates. They will certainly hold onto their top wildcard spot. However, they have been making a habit of late of losing series to playoff caliber teams like the Marlins and Braves. You aren’t always able to flip the switch in the playoffs.
~With two weeks left the wildcard races are going to be wild. Seattle, Texas, and Toronto all deserve a playoff spot, but one will not get in. Right now Seattle has the toughest road. In the National League everyone continues to tread water. Except for the Cubs that is, who are sinking. The Cubs, losers of four straight have put themselves back in the position of possibly missing the playoffs. They join Miami, Arizona, Cincinnati, and maybe the Giants who are battling for two spots. All it will take is for one of those teams to have a hot week. I’m just not sure any of them are capable of string together four or five wins.
~The Pirates and Nationals played a game in 1:58 last week. Wow, that takes me back. It helped that our good friend Angel Hernandez was behind the plate. He always approves of moving the game along.
Yesterday, Ángel Hernández had the lowest single-game accuracy rate calling balls and strikes of any MLB umpire in the last 5 years (according to @UmpScorecards) and I'm not even kidding. pic.twitter.com/6WM2QvQvSh— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) September 15, 2023
~Good for Adam Silver for being proactive on the load management issue that was a horrible look for the league. Fans were getting cheated from seeing their favorite stars play. This year that will be curbed significantly thanks to Silver instituting new rules. Nobody should be surprised that Silver is being proactive. Maybe the other professional sports commissioners should take note.
~Best line of the day came from a referee just trying to do his job.
“I’m talking to America here excuse me”— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) September 17, 2023
All time line from this ref pic.twitter.com/03q9CgPmWO
~I can’t imagine the Ravens are as good as it seems, and I camping imagine the Bengals are as bad as it seems.
~Joe Burrow got dinged again. Cincinnati better get him healthy, or it could be a real problem.
~The Ravens have average receivers —yes, you too OBJ— an average running back, and an erratic passer. These winning ways won’t last.
~Welcome to the jungle!
My favorite part is the security guard doing his best Undertaker impersonation getting ready for the choke slam.
~The Vikings should really try holding on to the ball. They are one of those teams that always look like they should be better.
~The Eagles were my Super Bowl pick. After two weeks, I am a bit concerned. Not major concerns, but they look a little blah so far.
~So, do I have to start believing in the Cowboys now? Nah. I’m going to wait until they beat someone not from New York. I will say that defense, coached by Dan Quinn, is legit. Micah Parsons is very legit.
~Jacksonville vs Chiefs was the most disappointing game of the day. Thought this would be a shootout. I don’t think KC has it this year, and Jacksonville is a work in progress.
~Can the Colts be playoff contenders with rookie Anthony Richardson at quarterback? Maybe. That division is up for grabs, and this kid doesn’t look overwhelmed.
~The Chargers are 0-2 with Justin Herbert at quarterback. Brandon Staley is still employed as head coach. I see a correlation there. Staley has to be on the hot seat.
~Aside from an incredible Hail Mary, Russell Wilson looked a lot like Russell Wilson. Maybe Sean Payton isn’t as good at quarterback whispering as he thinks.
~I love the Patriots old school helmets. Belichick would like to review that statement.
Bill Belichick. National treasure.pic.twitter.com/ObT7lIykba— DraftKings (@DraftKings) September 18, 2023
Sorry, Bill. The call stands. I like those old school helmets.
~Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel is one weird dude, and I’m here for it.
Nobody:— FanDuel (@FanDuel) September 18, 2023
Mike McDaniel: 🏃♂️💨pic.twitter.com/2NSfETB7iB
~Hey Steelers fans, the Rams scored 23 points against the 49ers defense. Just saying.
~If the Steelers offense doesn’t look better tonight, Matt Canada should be fired. He won’t be, but he should be. These numbers are unbelievably disturbing, and more proof that Mike Tomlin likes to have subordinates as assistant coaches rather than peers. There is a replacement out there that couldn't do any worse, and he would sure as hell make it interesting.
If Steelers don’t score over 20 points Today Matt Goes back to Canada…………. OC AB 🤔— AB (@AB84) September 17, 2023
When AB can see how bad this guy is, it is very disturbing. Because AB is very disturbed.
The Weekly Shiny Penny
This was a pretty cool scene in the postgame presser after West Virginia’s victory over rival Pitt. This is CJ Donaldson receiving a call he always takes
CJ Donaldson always takes a call from his mother, even in a postgame press conference: pic.twitter.com/cK8OLniQTg— Joe Brocato (@joebrowvm) September 17, 2023
I know they are technically adults, but college players are still kids at heart. Good for Donaldson for always taking mom's calls.
A Penny For My Final Thought…
Has Pat Narduzzi taken Pitt as far as he can?
Is Pitt sort of like the Nebraska of the East, a good program that’s ceiling is 8 or 9 wins each year?
The guy that complained about people taking his players in the portal did just that with quarterback Phil Jurkovec. Narduzzi lured him to Pitt from Boston College. He is a hometown kid, so the sales job was easy. I picked Pitt to win the ACC, in large part because I thought Jurkovec would get back to his form of a couple years ago. Turns out that form may have been a mirage.
Jurkovec went 10/32 last week in a loss to Cincinnati. He and the team were booed, and Jurkovec didn’t like it. This week he was 8/20 and was so off target it was hard to tell what his target really was. The good news is West Virginia fans gave him a rousing round of applause.
The guy looked like he wanted to crawl in a hole most of the night. Any confidence he had is shot. It is possible that starting Christian Veilleux, the former Penn State quarterback, would be the best thing.
I mean, when the opposition says this, you know you are in a bad way.
One of the greatest Backyard Brawl quotes of all time. The pitt QB Phil Jurkovec is absolutely horrible, but it's hilarious hearing Beanie Bishop say it during the postgame! 🤣🤣🤣 "We knew coming into the game their quarterback wasn't good at his job." pic.twitter.com/jbZ7Faqg4P— Ben Booth (@TheBenBoothShow) September 17, 2023
Narduzzi is famous for losing games he shouldn’t lose. These last two games are prime examples. But is he willing to bench his hand picked quarterback to prevent more losses. This doesn’t currently look like a team of winning too many games.
West Virginia should have been one Pitt wins easily.
Nobody could have expected Jurkovec to play this poorly, first and foremost, Narduzzi. Still, it seemed a bit odd for a guy who will roll players and assistants under the bus in a heartbeat to deflect blame away from Jurkovec. And it isn't like he is a freshman. Jurkovec is a sixth year senior. Anyone could see that the Panthers had no shot at victory the way the quarterback was playing. Narduzzi was correct in stating there were other issues. But none of the other issues were as glaring as the horrific quarterback play from Jurkovec.
It seems this may be one of those "go down with the sinking ship" situations for Narduzzi.
The Backyard Brawl is a fun experience. It is a game that should always be played. Pat Narduzzi may have helped West Virginia coach Neal Brown retain his job. You don't expect that kind of hospitality in a bitter rivalry like this one.
But what about Narduzzi's job?
He is far too busy taking shots at Penn State. He is busy worrying about other schools picking up his players in the portal. He runs his mouth far too much.
If only he got his teams ready to play as well as he waxes not so poetic about everything that bothers him.
Losing in ugly fashion last Saturday night caused me to think about Pitt football. I’m not so sure this is a school that can sustain winning. I mean serious winning. They have always had NFL talent on the roster, but you have to go back over 40 years to find Pitt on the national stage consistently.
Narduzzi isn’t going to change. He is who he is. A blowhard with an opinion on everything --usually incorrect. He does win just enough to keep Pitt marginally relevant.
Nevertheless, I wonder if Narduzzi is what is best for Pitt football going forward.
Or has the administration gotten comfortable with 8-4?