An irreverent look at all things said, considered, tweeted, posted, played and otherwise gone amuck in college football
News flash: The University of Arizona bused 317 miles to El Paso for last Friday night's football game:
Reaction: That sounds like high school, all right, except this was a Pac 12 team going Greyhound. Wait a minute. The conference signed a $3 billion deal with ESPN and FOX. The Pac 12 commissioner makes $4 million annually and Arizona Coach Rich Rodriguez earns $2.2. That worked out to almost $1 million per win, last year, for Rich Rod.
Arizona made the move to save a little money. Somehow, the athletic department is on the road to seeing red, so taking the bus to UTEP last Friday made fiscal sense. I also guarantee you this story will be clipped, saved and shared by other Pac 12 schools as a recruiting tool.
Oregon might have tried this, but the players would have had their own personal limos and a ride-along nutritionist.
From a sportswriter's standpoint, however, the U of A made the right move. We on the college football traveling circuit long had a "three-hour" rule on road trips: The rule was: if you could drive the trip in less than three hours, rent a car.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
We upped that to a "five-hour" rule after Sept. 11, 2001, that terrible event that forever changed America and curb-side check in. The thinking is driving the trip can be easier than going to the airport, taking a shuttle bus, hassling with security and then waiting two more hours as maintenance checks a "loose bolt" on a tray table in First Class.
Last Friday's trip, from Tucson to El Paso, was four and a half hours. That passes our "go for it" test by a half hour. So long as the radio's playing Marty Robbins, and the toilet's not over-flowing, and Sandra Bullock's not driving, what's the problem?
Any back lash was mitigated with Arizona's crushing, 63-16 win over the UTEP Miners.
The team also flew home from the game. On a jet. On Cloud Nine.
Block that coach: Penn State Coach James Franklin, leading 56-0 last Saturday, called time out to ice Georgia State's kicker. Sorry, but this ranks way, way down the list of egregious things any Penn State coach has been accused of doing. If Franklin did call time to ice, well, shame on him. But he claims he didn't. He said he called time because his fourth-string defense, on the field at the time, didn't know what they were doing. So he called time to put in his second unit, which was ordered to block the kick.
And if you have a problem with that? Here's Franklin's four-days later spin on it: "If that's how you think and how you feel, then you won't ever understand me and you won't ever understand us. Whether it's the first play of the game or whether it's the last play of the game or whether we're losing or whether we're winning, or whether it's raining or whether it's sunny, we are going to fight for every inch on the field, every yard on the field, every second on the clock, we're going to fight."
Tom Joad picks it up from there. "Whenever there's a fight, so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad. I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry and they know supper's ready, and when the people are eatin' the stuff they raise and livin' in the houses they build - I'll be there, too."
Not enough faces in the crowd: The NFL is, Big Hands Johnson down, the most popular sport in the United State. Don't even talk to us. Shut up, get out of my face.
Well, not so fast yet in L.A.
Here are the numbers from last weekend, when the Rams, Chargers and USC Trojans all played in town.
The Rams and Chargers combined to draw 81,993 fans at two different venues.
USC versus Texas drew 84,714 at the Coliseum.
Ok, it's an anomaly. The Rams and Chargers are new in town and USC was playing a premier opponent.
But also get this straight: USC will be football king of L.A. so long as it competes at a championship level. The atmosphere at the Coliseum was electric.
That was different than the Rams and Chargers, where it seemed like someone pulled the plug.
Grazed and confused: meet the new Texas Longhorn mascot: a strong, masculine, tenderloin donned in brilliant shades of tan and brown.
Bevo? No, Matthew McConaughey.
I was lucky enough to be standing near McConaughey at the end of USC's double-overtime win at the Coliseum last Saturday night. McConaughy, the famous actor, has long been a Texas football insider. I watched him closely for any signs of "Hollywood" exploitation or, god forbid, over-acting.
Verdict: This dude is the real deal. Yes, he was wearing a brown, leather jacket that may have cost more than my first house. But this wasn't some celebrity-type trying to milk a few shots on the Jumbo screen. When Texas scored in the final minute to take the lead, McConaughey was as wrapped in the moment as anyone I've ever seen. He ran up and down the sideline, hugging Longhorn players but also screaming "focus! focus!" knowing there was still time on the clock.
McConaughey knows how films can end in Hollywood. Sure enough, USC raced down the field, tied the game on a last-second field and won in double OT. That's how they do it here. "Cut! Print it! That's a Wrap! John Wayne, you know, attended USC.
Mike Leach tweet of the week 1:
Mike Leach tweet of the week 2: