All posts by Damien Bowman

Damien Bowman is the Executive Editor of the College Football Roundtable and manages all digital content for the More Than a Fan Digital Network.

Campus Pressbox 63 | Talking Pac-12 Football And So Much More

It’s tougher to win at some schools as opposed to others. Sometimes it’s due to tradition and other times it’s due to academic standards. Even if your school has tough academic entrance requirements, it’s still possible to win at a consistent level. Schools like Stanford don’t want to hear the excuses.

Continue reading Campus Pressbox 63 | Talking Pac-12 Football And So Much More

Kyrie Irving Pushes Away LeBron James, and His Public Image

On Friday, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported that Kyrie Irving is looking to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James for another team and a bigger role. The storyline here has been evolving, and fast. Here are our quick thoughts:

Josh Flagner (@railbirdj):

I think Kyrie is a superstar who never figured out how to be a superstar, and the Cavs are a championship organization that never learned to be a championship organization. Kyrie was sold on a long-term Cavs contract before LeBron came back, and he never felt the focus that he was promised. There’s no blame to assign there, it’s not like the Cavs could tell LeBron no, and LeBron didn’t call Kyrie and tell him before Kyrie decided. It happens. Kyrie is the same age as LeBron was when he made his infamous decision, which really doesn’t mean this is the perfect time for a defection, but young dudes look at life a little bit differently than some of us old dudes do.

Continue reading Kyrie Irving Pushes Away LeBron James, and His Public Image

Welcome to the SportsHax Digital Archives

The goal of this site is to become a de-facto record-keeping website for long-gone sports sites. The columns and posts preserved here are done so in a respectful manner to the original author’s and publisher’s. While this site doesn’t visually reflect the look and feel of the original site, the content is untouched.

All works in this collections are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license.

If you have questions or concerns, please e-mail Damien Bowman at [email protected].

On ESPN, Layoffs, and Life’s Lessons…

Yesterday, ESPN laid off a bunch of people you’ve heard of. For those people who lost their job, yesterday is likely the worst day in their professional lives. Nothing is worse than being let go of a job with likely great pay and benefits and the chance to work with some of the best people in your industry. The unfortunate truth is that the same could happen to any of us anytime at our place of employment.

I’ve spent time on both sides of buyouts and layoffs – involuntary separation in corporate speak – and I can tell you it isn’t fun for anyone. I’ve had people threaten me, my family and promise they’ll harm themselves or other people.

This will sound harsh, but the reality is, the day of your termination is the best day of your life.

Being let go gives you another chance at life – personally and professionally – and allows you to put everything into perspective. It reminds you that friends and family are more important than the paycheck you receive and how long you likely been living high on the hog.

A few things about losing your job, or something to think about if you haven’t lost your job: the company you work for is loyal only to its bottom line and if there’s a significant chance something will hurt that, your bosses will do whatever within reason to rectify that.

Bill O’Reilly – ever heard of him? He made hundreds of millions of dollars for FOX News; so much FOX was willing to pay out his victims of sexual assault, keep him around and extend his contract before firing him. Why’d they fire him? Because he threatened the bottom line.

ESPN laid off about 100 people that you’ve heard of yesterday, not because it wanted to, but because those people were affecting ESPN’s bottom line. Bob Igor, CEO of ESPN’s parent company Disney, basically told ESPN to shore up the books or, we’ll replace the people at the top. So, when faced with the prospect of losing one’s executive job or letting go of a bunch of probably over-paid people, what’s the obvious choice: protect yourself and let go of a bunch of people.

Remember, loyalty to the bottom line is all that counts.

Pure speculation here: ESPN probably needed to cut about 300 of its most expensive positions to help make up for the millions of cable subscribers its lost. As a mid-level manager at a company with a couple hundred thousand employees I can tell you easily how this works: attrition where people leave on their own, get fired, die, or retire. In the past year, you can probably name all the high-level ESPN on-air people who left the company through attrition. If you’re a company of any size, attrition is your best friend.

ESPN also (probably) needs to downsize another 100 current contracts this quarter to take the fiscal hit one quarter. It doesn’t matter that some of these contracts are for many years and some are likely guaranteed or have some type of buyout clause. Because when you terminate 100 people you’re not only getting rid of salary, you’re getting rid of benefits. Think insurance, retirement, etc. That shit is expensive also.

[Merenbloom: ESPN’s Sagging Ratings are Reflective of the Network’s Hard-line Liberal Views]

ESPN probably still needs to dump another 100 or so people and will do so through restructuring of contracts and will replace some of the highest 100 earners with kids who will do that same work for a fraction of the cost.

The next question everyone has: why not Stephen A. Smith or Dick Vitale? Because they contribute far more to the bottom line than Jayson Stark and Brett McMurphy. I wouldn’t even want to be in the same arena with the Smith or Vitale, but I’d have steak dinner with Stark and McMurphy and I hate steak.

Again, none of this is said to make anyone feel good, but think about it this way: all of this could happen to you tomorrow. Any one of us could be fired, laid off, whatever from our jobs and there’s likely nothing we can do about it.

So, what’s your backup plan? Do you have enough money saved to cover expenses for six to 12 months? Do you have an alternate source of income?

If you don’t, instead of worrying about highly-paid journalists who lost their job, think about what you would do if you lost your job. That’s the real lesson of this week’s layoffs.

The only person who’s loyal to you…is you.

E-mail Damien at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @damienbowman.com.

2017 NCAA Tournament Notebook: The South – Where Everything is Fine

I’m back. I know it’s been a long time, but let’s get right into it. When Bob assigned me the South region of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, I thought it was a gift and you know what, it was. During the first two rounds (remember, play-in games aren’t part of the tournament), there were virtually no upsets in the South region. The closest call was either No. 12 Middle Tennessee (nee: MTSU) over No. 5 Minnesota or No. 10 Wichita State over No. 7 Dayton, but we all know that’s hogwash.

Any team beating a Big Ten team in this year’s tournament makes complete sense, but because anyone (me) who paid even a middling amount of interest knows the Big Ten was terrible in basketball this year. 1. So, if an undervalued Middle Tenn (we’ll just keep making their name shorter and shorter) beats an overvalued Richard Pitino (how long until he goes by Rick or Dick?) Golden Gopher team, then it isn’t much of an upset. I don’t think Vegas is necessarily the key to knowing exactly how every game will play out, but the sportsbooks said MT was 1.5-point favorite over Minnesota.

Seems about right.

The next “upset,” which, again, anyone with a brain knows is complete hogwash, was Wichita State over Dayton. Dayton is a good team, so let’s not knock them, but to even suggest that Wichita State was seeded properly might be as dumb as suggesting that Donald Trump has a chance to become…never mind. The Shockers entered that contest as 6.5 favorite and beat the Flyers by six, so maybe Vegas does know something about how this process should work?

Perhaps it would make more sense to have Vegas setup the brackets?

Round of 32

Chalk.

I mean my bracket doesn’t look anything like I think it should at this point, but the top four seeds all advanced to next weekend in Memphis which I guess is how it’s supposed to be. No. 8 Arkansas gave No. 1 North Carolina all it could handle until the pressure became too intense. The Razorbacks had a good season even if their performance versus Kentucky in the SEC Tournament was childish at best.

We will no longer ignore the elephant in the room, which was Wichita State and No. 2 Kentucky yesterday in Indianapolis. The game was great, in fact it was so good that it should have been played this weekend in Memphis, but again, because the people on the selection committee forgot how good the Shockers are, we watched that game yesterday.

I’m clearly in the corner that Wichita State was under-seeded and yes, they did lose yesterday and probably would have lost to Kentucky next week, but it seems to me that it makes the most sense to have the best teams playing each other later in the tournament so those games are watched by more people.

One very important side note about Wichita State: Lynn Marshall, the wife of Head Coach Gregg Marshall is apparently very animated during games. There’s a report she may have been extremely intoxicated. There is a picture of her (below) standing behind Yahoo! Sports’ Pat Forde yelling at screaming (not at him like all y’all do) but either in celebration or trying to help the refs get through a tough sequence. I don’t know if she was drunk or how animated she is or what exactly is going on, but that this made the national media should be worrisome to the higher-ups at Wichita State.

I understand fans will be fans and that’s perfectly alright, but the wife of the coach shouldn’t have facility security talking to her about her behavior or have media speculating about how sober she is or isn’t.

Can she have one or 10 beverages before the game? Absolutely. Should it be obvious and on display to everyone because she’s in the front row being louder than the cheerleaders? No, not at all.

How Bad Are the Tournament Officials?

Look, I officiate basketball and at one point in my life I thought I may have a chance to do it consistently at a higher level than high school. For several reasons, it didn’t work out and I have very few regrets about that, but I’ll say this: these tournament games and every game in the college ranks are hard games to officiate. Officials will miss calls and some will be very bad misses.

How those three men missed the goaltending in the Gonzaga/Northwestern game I’ll never understand, but I can say the conversation with NCAA Men’s Basketball National Coordinator JD Collins was not pleasant. I also cannot make an excuse for the amount of contact that have been “no-called” by officials this past weekend. It isn’t a good look. It isn’t what Collins wants to see happen in the tournament, because he has bosses too who are probably looking at all the news and reports and are saying how does this continue to happen?

Are there likely solutions that could make this easier or fix a lot of this? Yes. But consider this, and only this, you me and everyone at home has the luxury of HD televisions and we aren’t constantly in motion trying to get an angle on play or trying to officiate 10 men that are significantly faster and stronger than us.

As much as coaches complain about how they want younger officials, they then complain about how bad those younger officials are at communicating or how they don’t trust them. At the same time, the officials who have been around the longest aren’t nearly as good as they were 10, 15 or even 20 years earlier.

I don’t say any of that to make excuses for the number of bad calls we saw this weekend, but for every bad call we saw there were at least five or more that were correct or where people on Twitter had conflicting opinions. Block, charge, traveling…well, sure pick one…or pick nothing and play on. It’s a choice officials must make decisions in a split-second again without the luxury of replay or beer.

South Region Links:

How did he tip that in? Kennedy Meeks basket helps avert upset for UNC [Scott Fowler/Charlotte Observer]

Three-minute crash: Hogs black out with victory in sight [Bob Holt/Whole Hog Sports]

What’s next for Middle Tennessee’s 10 returning players? [Aldo Giovanni Amato/Daily News Journal]

Sweet 16 celebrated far and wide by former Butler coaches, players [David Woods/Indianapolis Star]

Bearcats can’t contain UCLA, out of tourney [Tom Groeschen/Cincinnati Enquirer]

UCLA to head to Sweet 16 after defeating Cincinnati 79-67 [Matt Cummings/Daily Bruin]

Kentucky ends Wichita State’s season with 65-62 second-round win [Paul Sullentrop/The Wichita Eagle]

Wichita State talked, Kentucky listened and the Wildcats advanced [Kyle Tucker/SEC Country]

I think that’s enough for now. Please check out the tournament notebooks from the other three regions as well as all our 2017 March Madness tournament coverage.

E-mail Damien at [email protected] or following him on Twitter @damiEnbowman.

  1. Yes, the Big Ten is STILL better in basketball than football. Fight me.

We’re Willfully Ignoring Colin Kaepernick and Adam Jones’ Issues Because of Their Approach

Over the past year, it seems sports in this country has been taken over by politics when, in reality, the two have been so closely intertwined for years…decades in fact.

The current ‘crisis’ involves San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones. Their issues, or at least the issues they’re trying to bring to the forefront, are those that have faced our nation since, well, before the Civil War.

I, as someone who participates in sports and owns a sports media website, have mostly been on the sideline throughout this argument because I’ve been of the opinion that sports and politics should remain separate, but I’ve changed my opinion.

I recognize that young Americans of all color see athletes as role models, along with members of the military and law enforcement, as well as doctors and nurses. The truth is that we, no matter what profession we are part of, in some ways are looked upon as heroes for people younger than us. And if the adults would rather their kids not look to people like Kaepernick or Adams as heroes because they chose not to stand for the National Anthem, or because they chose to publicly point out what they see as racism or oppression, then maybe we – the adults – need to look at ourselves in the mirror.

To be perfectly clear, I respect and understand the struggles that members of law enforcement and the military go through, and I do respect Kaepernick’s right to not stand during the National Anthem. I don’t view it as disrespecting the flag or members of the military.

The people who fight every day for our freedom do so because they know they’ll represent people that agree and disagree with what happens in this country on a daily basis. If the only thing we see is Kaepernick not standing for the Anthem or Jones saying baseball has become “a white man’s” sport, then we’re willfully ignoring the issues they’re trying to bring to the forefront.

It is true that men like me, Kaepernick and Jones, who are minorities, have benefited from being great at our jobs and have been paid well by those same “white men,” but the struggle they are trying to bring focus to is those who don’t have a voice. So, while they could shut their mouths and stand for the Anthem, they’re sacrificing the respect that many have for them and endorsement dollars to help those who cannot help themselves. In reality, that’s what being a hero is; sacrificing yourself for the good of others.

No, Jones and Kaepernick aren’t walking into the line of fire every day, though San Fransisco and Baltimore aren’t exactly the safest communities, what they are doing is saying, “I know I’ve had a good life but what can we do for others in my community that aren’t?” I’m also not on board with the assertion that police officers are murdering African-Americans at a historically high rate. And yes, if people didn’t commit crimes they wouldn’t be in the position to have interactions with law enforcement.

But, let’s think about this for a second, for years’ crack and cocaine criminal cases were adjudicated differently in the federal courts until Americans demanded equal laws and sentencing. What’s the obvious difference between crack cocaine and cocaine, well it’s literally black and white. The sentence for crack cocaine was completely different than it was for powder cocaine. Fundamentally, aren’t they same?

So, when I go out with my mostly white friends on a Friday night and they ask me about Kaepernick, their expectation might be that I think he should stand up and shut his mouth. Honestly, I do want him to stand up, but I don’t want him, or you, or anyone else to shut their mouth because it might disrupt the peace and calm that we suburbanites enjoy. When I’m critical of all the “Clevelanders” who’ve never lived in the city, or move when they have kids, it’s because nothing in Cleveland will get better until the people who can make a change, do make a change.

Can't wait til I'm old enough to wear velcro again!
How bout dem socks? Photo: Someone from the 80’s

Don’t tell anyone else who writes at Campus Pressbox, but baseball is my favorite sport. I played when I was a kid and tried out when I got to high school. I didn’t make the team. I didn’t cry or claim I didn’t make the team because I was back. I moved on with life and made myself better.

Sometimes someone saying “no” is what makes you stronger as a person, but don’t ever tell someone they should stop talking because they’re already privileged enough. When Jones says that baseball has become a “white man’s sport,” he’s both right and wrong. He’s both willfully ignoring the number of other minorities that are prevalent in the sport and not doing anything in his community to bring additional black kids into the sport.

No, you cannot make kids play baseball if they think it’s boring, but like the National Football League, Major League Baseball can encourage their teams to put more minorities in positions of power. Encourage doesn’t mean enact a version of the Rooney Rule, but say, if all things are equal, maybe it’s best to put a minority in this spot instead of the same guy that’s already been fired three times.

Nothing in this country will change until Americans of all color decide there’s a problem and that we need to fix it. We can hide in the suburbs and pretend like everything is great, but your kids don’t see color unless you teach them to. So, maybe it’s time we stop trying to make things about color and make things about equality.

E-mail Damien at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @damienbowman.

Photos: Damien Bowman/Self.

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I Hate All of Your Teams Except for These 6

Every now and then some random person on the Internet asks me which teams I cheer for, which teams did I grow up watching and which teams I hate. Since we’re so close to the beginning of the season, I think this is a good time to pull back the curtain and tell you about the teams I’ll be cheering for this season. Note: I’m still not going to tell you my teams. Everyone has secrets.

Alabama Crimson Tide

This IS actually a team I grew up cheering for. I went to the 1993 Sugar Bowl where my guy Gene Stallings led the mighty Crimson Tide to a National Championship after defeating the hapless Miami Hurricanes. Keith Jackson, Bob Griese, Bourbon Street and tons of women. I don’t remember any of it, but I’m told it was all there.

Anyway, I expect the 2016 version of the Tide led by Nick Saban to, well, win another title. I am a Bama guy and Saban basically wins it every other year. There will be struggles – the obvious being: Who is the quarterback? Will the defense survive the season without a major injury? How many games will the Tide lose this season?

The last is the most important of those questions, so let’s get to it. Alabama will lose a game this season and it will mean something in the long run. Most likely, the loss comes to, yes, LSU and Les Miles on Saturday, November 5, in beautiful Baton Rouge.

I only give the Tigers a chance at this because I’m not stupid enough to pick against LSU at home, at night. That’s it. If this somehow turned into a 3:30 start (the time hasn’t been announced yet), I’d take Alabama without thinking twice.

On August 31, under the assumption Alabama plays LSU at night, I’ll say this is the Tide’s only loss. Won’t matter. LSU will have two losses and Alabama wins out the rest of the year and, yes, wins another championship. #BookMostOfThat

Navy Midshipmen

Again, this IS actually a team I grew up cheering for. I love Navy, how can you not? The Silent Service, the SEALs, the jets and yeah, Top Gun. Exactly. Navy will not win the American Athletic Conference, the Middies will not beat Houston (I won’t be mad if they do) and they will not make the AAC championship game.

Here’s what Navy will do: Beat Air Force, Beat Army and make Notre Dame shake in their shorts a little bit. None of those three predictions is surprising. I expect a down year for Navy after the graduation of Keenan Reynolds and transition to Tago Smith (probably).  As a result, I expect the overall offensive production numbers to be low.

If you’re available on October 8 and can get to Annapolis, then watching Houston play Navy is worth your trip.

Go Navy. Beat Army.

UCLA

I have a team in the Pac-12 I like, but it isn’t UCLA. I’ve also made it clear I think USC is overrated in every imaginable way. I don’t care if my Pac-12 team and USC make me look stupid this year, but if they do, I’m still on the Josh Rosen train. I read Matt Hayes’ profile of Rosen [link http://thelab.bleacherreport.com/a-beautiful-brash-mind/] and it’s worth every moment of your time.

Rosen, much like me, comes across as a straight-shooter. He’s a, “It is what it is and they are who we thought they were,” kinda guy. Rosen knows he’s good and doesn’t give a damn. He says what he wants even if it might hurt him at the next level, but he’s there for his teammates and in the end that’s all that counts.

I’m sure there are other Josh Rosen’s in college football this season, but he has my attention right now and that’s all that counts. Can Rosen and UCLA head coach Jim Mora lead the Bruins to the Pac-12 Championship, sure.

I don’t think they will. I think Stanford has the best chance.

UCLA’s losses this season: vs. Stanford, vs. Utah, and at Colorado (only because it’s a Thursday night). Remember: USC will not be as good at the end of the season as people think they are now.

UCLA over USC.

Clemson Tigers

I have zero connection to the Tigers except for my friend who’s a Tigers fan, so I’ll take it. I also think the Tigers make the playoff this year, but I’m not sure they’ll make it past the semi-final. If Clemson makes it past Auburn this weekend (spoiler alert: they will) then the [Clemson] Tigers should run the table.

That includes beating Florida State in Tallahassee and whatever lower-level team Dabo Swinney and company face in the ACC Championship. Deshaun Watson, Dabo Swinney, and a workable schedule put the Tigers back in the playoff two years in a row.

That’s it. This pick is based purely on how many good starters Clemson is returning and a friendship. Go Tigers…or whatever they say in South Carolina.

Four is probably enough, but I’ll throw two more teams in for shits and giggles:

Michigan State – I like Mark Dantonio a lot and I like Tom Izzo a lot. I think the Spartans have a lot of work to do in a reloading year, but I think having Michigan and Ohio State at Spartan Stadium works in their favor. The primary goal this year should be to defeat Ohio State since the Buckeyes will beat Michigan in Columbus this year.

Create Big Ten chaos, Mark. It’s been forever.

Arkansas – This is sort of a shot in the dark. I like Bret Bielema and I sort of feel like he’s the kid at school that will do whatever it takes to get just a tiny bit of attention. I think that’s why he embraces ‘Bert’ and says stupid things like his kids will never get in trouble.

The Razorbacks might also be the only team in the SEC – and maybe the country – that faces five ranked teams with four at home. It won’t matter, Arkansas will get slaughtered by Alabama and Ole Miss. And ya know what, there’s a chance they face a sixth (SIXTH!!) ranked teams this season.

Look, I know a lot of people think Bielema is in over his head at Arkansas, but as I said earlier this week, it won’t matter who else is coaching in the SEC West as long as Nick Saban is there.

That’s it. Those are the six teams I’ll be cheering for this season.

Roll Tide

Go Navy!

Bruin Up (or whatever)

Go Tigers (that fits everywhere)

Sparty On (I wonder if the MSU people like that?)

Woooooooooo, Pig! Sooie!

E-mail me at [email protected], follow me on Twitter @damienbowman or if you think you’re good enough, join the staff.

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Photo: commons.wikimedia.org

Let Freedom Ring: Time for College Football and for Nick Saban to Retire

Welcome back to college football. Thursday begins five straight days of football, cheerleaders, marching bands and what I believe to be America’s favorite sport 1. Today, I’ll tell you why the Big Ten East is the most competitive division in college football, the best time for Nick Saban to walk away and four games you need to watch this weekend.

The Big Ten East

The Big Ten’s East division is easily the most competitive division in college football right now. It was the most competitive in 2015 and I expect it to be as competitive in 2016. Between its three major competitors, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State, the road team won every game last season.

This season underrated Michigan State and underappreciated Mark Dantonio have both Michigan and Ohio State in East Lansing. To me, they have the toughest row to hoe, but I believe Dantonio to be the best in-game coach of the three.

I give the least amount of weight to Michigan and Jim Harbaugh, and not because I’m sick of hearing about him when he hasn’t won anything at Michigan while Dantonio continues to be the best (football) coach in the state (we know Izzo is the best coach in the state), but because of the losses last season. The last-second punt returned for a touchdown against Michigan State and the embarrassing blowout against Ohio State. I know the Wolverines lost to Utah in the beginning of the season, but those early games don’t count, right? RIGHT??

The last and continual favorite to win the East are the Ohio State Buckeyes and Urban Meyer who some say is currently the game’s best coach. We’ll save that argument for another day, but what’s important is that in the short time he’s been at Ohio State he’s been the best coach in the conference and has recruited the best talent, and when you have the best talent with a good coach there’s a very good chance you’ll win more games than everyone else. What also helps is that Ohio State has not lost a road game under Meyer and face both Michigan and Michigan State on the road. Ohio State’s only home game versus a division opponent is against Rutgers on October 1. Who draws up these schedules?

Here’s where I make a complete ass of myself:

The predicted order of finish of the Big Ten East – Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan, Penn State, Rutgers, Maryland.

Most likely to be fired – James Franklin, Penn State.

Most likely to have the craziest ending in at least two games – Michigan.

Most likely to lose an important game because of an interesting officiating decision – Michigan State.

When Will Saban Go?

I talked with Bird and Seth about Nick Saban in last week’s SEC 411. Other than Bird, who is an Auburn fan, almost every other college football person I know agrees the SEC West is Nick Saban’s to lose until he retires. The obvious question becomes, when will Saban retire? My guess is, only God knows. The 64-year-old from West Virginia shows no signs of slowing down heading into his tenth season in Tuscaloosa, and really that’s a shame. Not that I want Saban to slow down, because getting old isn’t fun, but because I like to see new challenges and really, there’s no challenge for him in T-Town anymore. Although, Paul Finebaum and Dan Wolken disagree about the lack of challenges this season.

I’m an admitted Alabama fan, and though the Tide hasn’t won the championship every year Saban has been there, it certainly feels like it has. So, when’s a good time for him to retire? Well, if you ask me it’s 66 so he can collect Social Security, or after he wins the championship this year. Shots fired.

Four Games in Five Days

There are four really important games to watch this weekend, so put these on your calendar and watch the rest of the nonsense when you can.

Oklahoma at Houston (Saturday, 12p) There are three games between ranked teams on Saturday and this is the biggest one. This game is between two of college football’s proven commodities. Houston begins its second season with Tom Herman leading the way and welcomes Bob Stoops and Oklahoma to NRG Stadium to start the day. Oklahoma lost in the semi-final last season to Clemson. Houston beat Florida State in the Peach Bowl. This game will be entertaining and flashy, but Oklahoma wins it. And Oklahoma wins every other game this season except for the last one.

USC at Alabama (Saturday, 8p) Everyone wants this to be the biggest game of the weekend, but it isn’t. It isn’t close to the biggest game. The Notre Dame people will be surprised it’s not them for once, but USC is the most overrated, over-ranked and over-appreciated team in college football. The Trojans are the poster boys for shooting their load early. USC continually beats easy teams at the beginning of the season then shits the bed when it’s time to play real teams. Well, that won’t happen this season because Nick Saban and former USC head coach Lane Kiffin are making this game personal. Roll. Damn. Tide.

Louisiana State University vs. Wisconsin at Lambeau Field (Saturday, 3:30p) This is the only Big Ten-SEC matchup on the board this weekend, so I’m hoping it’s decent. Living in Big Ten country, I always hear the natives complain that SEC teams won’t travel to the north because of X and Y or this and that. Well, here it is, LSU making the trip north to play one of the Big Ten’s bellwethers in its home state. No, this game isn’t at Camp Randall, but beggars can’t be choosers. As long as LSU has Leonard Fournette and Darius Guice to carry the ball, then I don’t imagine there’s a ton Wisconsin can do. Wisconsin’s best prayer is that LSU’s Les Miles does something stupid and the Badgers can capitalize.

Notre Dame at Texas (Sunday, 7:30p) A few weeks ago, I wouldn’t have given Texas a chance to win this game, but now the Longhorns could win it. Six Notre Dame players were arrested last week and while I’m not 100% sure what their impact would have been, enough has been made of it to make me reconsider blindly giving this game to the Irish. Texas lives on its football tradition, but it doesn’t compare to Notre Dame’s and at the end of the day, I think tradition, hard work and Brian Kelly overcome any obstacles those arrests or related distractions may have caused. I love Charlie Strong, but he isn’t long for Texas, which is too bad because I think he’s a very good football coach. It’s them, Charlie, not you.

Links of Love

Q&A: How ESPN’s Week 1 college football TV lineup came together [Daniel Uthman/USA Today] I know this type of stuff isn’t always sexy reading, but it’s interesting. ESPN is broadcasting all five of the big neutral site games this weekend. And my guess is all five will be good enough. The best one is listed above. Scroll up, then scroll down.

History says Huskers must get tough at the top (administration, too) to return to the peak [Lee Barfknecht/Oklahoma World Something or Other] The line that says everything about championship-winning football teams, “I’m a firm believer that coaches win games while administrations clear the way for championships.” I think it’s safe to say a few things about Nebraska: it’s doubtful they’ll win another national title in their current form and the administration needs to do what it can to help football be great again. Start with a great coach and stay out of his way. P.J. Fleck seems like the perfect youngster to lead that team. Hire him tomorrow.

With a Friend Nearby and a Big Job Ahead, Brady Hoke is Ready to Fix and Oregon Defense in Serious Need of Repair [Lindsay Schnell/Campus Rush] I like Brady Hoke. He seems like a solid guy who was on the path to be a successful head coach before he landed at Michigan. People rarely turn down their alma mater, especially when that alma mater is Michigan, so I get it 2. And to be fair to Hoke, the expectations at Michigan were unreasonably high considering what Rich Rodriguez left for Hoke and the people at Michigan can be unreasonably arrogant.

Sources: NCAA’s Ole Miss investigation expands beyond Laremy Tunsil [Pat Forde/Yahoo!] I’m really just getting caught up here, and well, this can’t possibly end well for Ole Miss, can it? Although North Carolina has managed to avoid the brunt of any sanctions from the NCAA, I don’t think Ole Miss will be as evasive. The texts about $300 for Tunsil’s mom aren’t good and the fact that investigators are offering immunity is worse. I suspect the NCAA will do whatever it needs to ensure that this case doesn’t end up like Nevin Shapiro and Miami, but I’ll say this, if anyone on the current roster is part of this then the entire team should be sanctioned immediately. I’m not a fan of imposing bowl bans on student-athletes that weren’t part of the problem, but if there are some here that were, then thanks for stopping in Ole Miss and Mr. Freeze here’s your show cause.

Last, I’d like to thank Kristen Botica, Mitch Gatzke, Bob McDonald, and Seth Merenbloom for taking over a lot of the day-to-day stuff that I used to try and do on my own at Campus Pressbox. They’ve stepped up to give me hours, days and soon a week completely detached to focus on life outside of Campus Pressbox. The entire staff of Campus Pressbox has been exceptionally great also and now begins the chapter where everyone knows our name.

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E-mail me at [email protected], follow me on Twitter at @damienbowman, and if you’re crazy enough to disagree with me then join the staff.

  1. The NFL has nothing – well maybe gambling and fantasy football – on college football’s superiority

  2. I didn’t forget about Less Miles or this infamous presser