TCFA

Posted Jan. 8, 2015

Oct 10, 2011

Thoughts From The Valley: Back To Reality.

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THE HANGOVER

HOW I AM FEELING: Refreshed. Recharged. A little bit sad. A tad depressed. But overall, quite happy to have made the effort to head up to Happy Valley this past weekend. Because let me tell you: The weekend was every bit as wonderful as I hoped it would be. Good friends. Great weather. A lovely tailgate. A (long, long) stroll around town and campus. And, perhaps most notably, an unexpectedly complete performance from My Beloved Nittany Lions, who improved to 5-1 (!) with a 13-3 whooping of Iowa. I mean, for the first time in a long time, the Nits actually controlled the line of scrimmage against a decent opponent; it was a fitting tribute, in that sense, to the 1986 Penn State national title team, which was honored at halftime, and which specialized mostly in, well, controlling the line of scrimmage. That, and kicking the crap out of people. Miami still doesn’t know what hit them.

WHAT I AM DRINKING: Victory Storm King. We have crossed the threshold from early Autumn into full-blown Autumn. Fireplace season, in other words, is finally upon us. And so, yes indeed, it is time for a fireside brew. Storm King certainly qualifies. In a word: Robust.

WHAT I AM LISTENING TO: The buzz, emanating from Happy Valley, regarding The Urban Meyer Rumor. More on this later.

VILLA UPDATE: No match for the Villa this weekend, as the world of soccer/football is on “international break.” That being said, Villa striker Darren Bent bagged a goal (as did former Villa star and TCFA Favorite Ashley Young) as the Three Lions of old England fought to a (wait for it) draw with Montenegro. Wayne Rooney was sent off, which has caused widespread discontent in pretty much the entirely of the UK, but the draw was good enough to qualify England for the European championships next year. They have precisely zero chance of winning that tournament, however. Because Spain has SEC speed.

MY THOUGHTS ON THE WEEKEND

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: No college football program is truly immune to The Slump. Not anymore, at least.

The days of the never-ending dynasty—of winning season after winning season, of constant and unchallenged brilliance, of bowl bids in perpetuity—are officially over, and while this is most certainly a good thing for college football as a whole, it is of course a decidedly bad thing for the fan bases of Our Great Nation’s traditional superpowers—those folks who have become so accustomed to success that the mere thought of, you know, a losing season seems hilarious, and ridiculous, and generally impossible.

But such losing seasons—seasons delivered directly via the mighty forces of The Slump—are not impossible. Not in the least. And all you need to do is take a quick look around.

We’ve seen the Slump hit USC and we’ve seen it hit Notre Dame. We’ve seen it Oklahoma, and Nebraska, and Alabama, and Michigan. We’ve seen it hit Florida. We’ve seen it hit Florida State. We've seen it hit Penn State. We’ve seen it basically destroy UCLA.

And now? Well, now we’re seeing it hit Ohio State.

And let me assure you, Buckeye fans: Unless you get the right guy in there to fix this mess now—unless you pull in a heck of a recruiting class and get some proper leadership in place (sorry, Luke) by, like, December (at the very latest)—you will not escape The Slump either easily or quickly. Because the inertia of The Slump is a powerful brand of inertia, you see, and only enormous effort, delivered at precisely the right moment, can counteract it.

In other words, no, you cannot safely assume that this current struggle is but a minor bump in the road.

You cannot safely assume you’ll be down for "just one season."

You cannot assume that what happened to Michigan under The Snake-Oil Salesman Wearing A Wizard’s Hat can not happen to you.

Because it can happen to you. Or, perhaps more correctly, it already is happening to you.

My advice, then, is simple: Act now. Or suffer the consequences.

THREE YARDS AND A CLOUD OF DUST

THREE: The Great Penn State Quarterback Debate of 2011 is over. Done with. I wish to hear nothing more about it. Because while Matt McGloin is indeed deeply flawed, and while he will certainly not be reminding anybody of Chuck Fusina anytime soon, there is also no questioning the fact that McGloin (average quarterback rating for the season: 128.8) is miles and miles ahead of Not-So-Young Robert Bolden (average quarterback rating: 80.8) as a passer. And leader. And, you know, quarterback. So just give McGloin the start already. Let him play a full game. And let us move on from this ridiculous situation already. It’s well past time.

TWO: Let us review: Texas jumped out to a surprising 4-0 start based mostly on the fact that they didn’t play anybody. Even still, the ‘Horns charged up the rankings, and eventually took the field in The Red River Rivalry with a very pretty No. 11 sitting next to their name. Then they got absolutely smoked by Oklahoma, losing 55-17, and generally proved themselves to be tremendously overrated. Yet here it is on Monday morning, and those same ‘Horns are still ranked in the top 20—No. 22 in the AP Top 25, No. 21 in the coaches poll. Hmm.

ONE: OK, it's official. Brady Hoke is doing a hell of a job up at Michigan. Coming into the season, of course, we knew the Wolverines Aka Denard & The Miracles could score. And indeed, they are doing precisely that, averaging more than 37 points per game thanks to the general awesomeness that is Denard In Motion. What we didn’t know was that these guys could actually play some defense. Take a look at your national defensive rankings, folks, and you’ll notice that Michigan is ranked No. 2—yes, No. 2—in scoring defense right now. The guys in Maize and Blue are giving up just 10.2 points per game. Given the awfulness of the Michigan defense under That Last Coach, this turnaround is nothing short of remarkable.

TOUCHDOWN: I would be remiss if I did not mention The Biggest Story Of The Weekend: The rumored discussions/negotiations/etc. between former Florida coach Urban Meyer and officials at Penn State. I have two points to make here: 1. Though Penn State athletic director Tim Curley has emphatically denied that he talked to Meyer about replacing Joe Paterno, I don’t doubt one bit that the story is indeed true; I mean, let’s face it, Penn State would be crazy to not at least be exploring their options at this point; 2. I know Meyer will have other opportunities (at Ohio State, or at Texas, or pretty much anywhere he pleases in the Pac-10), but I really do think the easiest place for him to go—the place that is most likely to embrace him, even if he stumbles early—is Penn State. Here's why: At Texas and Ohio State, the fans still have ridiculously high expectations. Most Penn state fans gave those up circa 2009.

OVERTIME: It’s official: The three finalists for the 2012 TCFA Podcast Road Trip are as follows: 1. Baton Rouge for an LSU game; 2. Madison, Wisconsin for a Wisconsin game; 3. Fayetteville, Ark. for an Arkansas game. Have an opinion on there The Podcast Team should go? Well, drop us a note at podcasts@intelligentcollegefootball.com or youreditor@intelligentcollegefootball.com.

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