Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Only Oregon State can save us now

Exactly the scenario I was afraid of played out last night at Fedex Field, as Boise State got their latest "this will be our resume for the entire season" opening day win against Virginia Tech. Give the Broncos credit for the victory. They're a good, solid team. What they are not is one of the top three teams in the country, but thanks to yet another Hokie gag job in their opener they will be touted as such all season long. Boise State did a brilliant job of picking this game, because VT has perpetually been overhyped (3-5 vs. ranked teams the last two years, yet billed as a top ten team again) and unprepared to start the season. This is the fourth loss in their last six openers against Division 1 teams, and their third in a row. Among those giants they've managed to lose an opener to since 2004 is East Carolina. Last night VT was down 17-0 after a disastrously sloppy first quarter (botched snap leading to field goal, blocked punt for short TD drive, missed FG) and STILL should have won. The decision to throw deep on third down with Boise out of timeouts and 2 minutes remaining on the clock was so idiotic I thought Les Miles had hacked into the VT headsets to make it. Even with a kneel down, VT's best case scenario is getting the ball back with about 1:10 to go and considerably more pressure. A running play, which they should have done, would have made that closer to a minute if it didn't get a first down. Instead, the incomplete pass left Boise plenty of time to comfortably execute their offense and win the game. Thanks to a backloaded ACC schedule VT won't play another ranked team until November 4th at the earliest, meaning the value of this win will be artificially inflated deep into the season as the Hokies move back up in the rankings by beating teams like James Madison, Central Michigan, Wake Forest and Duke. How delightful.

One of the NCAA's limitations in investigating potential violations is that it has no true authority over anyone who's not either a current athlete or employee. It's not a governmental body, and has no subpoena power. The state of North Carolina does have those powers, and once their Secretary of State decided to use them on Marvin Austin in her investigation Friday then things got interesting. If Austin decides to lie to her and gets caught, he can face perjury charges with jail time involved. Suddenly defensive line coach John Blake, the guy who once worked for the agent who's been most closely linked to the current scandal in reports, has resigned from the Tar Heel football staff. That is a really interesting coincidence of timing. Also noteworthy is that his attorney, when asked if Blake got money from any agents while he was coaching, does not deny it but instead calls it "a complicated question". Doesn't sound that complicated to me, which speaks volumes.

Tennessee has suffered their first noteworthy injury of the season, as wide receiver Gerald Jones will likely miss at least the Oregon and Florida games with a broken hand. This will only get worse now that the Vols are playing teams capable of competing in a way their opening week FCS opponent could not hope to do so. It's going to be a long year in Knoxville.

Tony Dungy and Rich McKay showed the way to build a successful team in Tampa Bay. They drafted talented players also known for good character, while taking passes on guys who might have more pure talent but who were also sketchy personalities. In recent years, that philosophy has changed as the team spent draft choices on guys like Aqib Talib. Apparently they're so thrilled with Talib's behavior - getting into a fight at the rookie symposium, about to serve a league suspension for punching a cab driver, etc. - that they thought he needed a sparring partner. Welcome the newest Buccaneer, LeGarrette Blount. The guy's a proven trouble maker in both collge and pro situations. Why do the Bucs think this is a good idea? It's going to be a long season.


Patrick Swayze said...

I'm guessing you forgot about the choir boy reputation of Warren Sapp before he joined the Bucs, as well as other McKay/Dungy winners like Damien Robinson, Chidi Ahanotu, and Nate Webster.

Heath Cline said...

Sam Wyche drafted Sapp, not Dungy. Of the other guys, not aware of any of them having issues on their resume when they were brought in. Ahanotu's problems occurred well after his Bucs career - how's that their fault?

Patrick Swayze said...

1. What did McKay and Dungy do when the contract Wyche signed Sapp to ran out?

2. Talib was drafted by the Allen/Gruden regime, so why are you blaming Dominik and Morris for him?

3. It was only ever reported Talib got in trouble with drugs in college. So if his issues in the NFL have been with violence, is it any different than guys like Robinson and Webster later having issues they never had earlier?

Patrick Swayze said...

Lastly, the reason it's going to be a "long season" is largely because of a mass of players who never got in trouble. They just can't play football very well (Michael Clayton, Marquis Cooper, Will Allen, Carnell Williams, Barrett Ruud, Alex Smith, Chris Colmer, Davin Joseph, Jeremy Trueblood, Maurice Stovall, Gaines Adams, Arron Sears, Sabby Piscitelli, Dre Moore, Dexter Jackson, etc.). Troublemakers like Talib, Tanard Jackson, and Kellen Winslow are among the most talented on the team.

Heath Cline said...

1. They kept Sapp, because Dungy kept him under control and getting rid of him would have been stupid.

2. When did I say this negative trend began with Morris/Dominik? I said "recent years". You're apparently not familiar with the fact I bashed the Talib move at the time when Gruden made it. It was another example of the approach that brought in turds like Jerramy Stevens and David Boston. Guys with talent who are constant distractions aren't worth it.

3. Talib had other issues than just drugs in college. Many teams reportedly had removed him from their draft boards altogether. The guy had just about every character red flag possible.

4. Your last comment proves my point. Teams where the "most talented" guys are troublemakers are losing teams. That's what Tampa Bay's going to be for the foreseeable future. I never said draft chiorboys who can't play, but they need guys with character who can.

Patrick Swayze said...

So in the case of Sapp, you're saying it's ok to put up with players who are troublemakers as long as they're good enough and as long as you can keep them under control? I wonder if that's not what they're doing with Talib. He hasn't been in trouble in over a year now.

And they're not losing now because their best players are troublemakers. They're losing because they don't have enough good players. Period. If you traded even a vintage Ronde Barber for Talib and a vintage John Lynch for Tanard Jackson, they'd still be terrible. They need a lot of players.