Welcome to this week’s edition of ‘Case of the Mondays” where we look at the good, bad and sublime from the world of college football and beyond.
And with this week’s edition, we also bring a disclaimer: There will be no talk of Bobby Petrino, motorcycles, paid administrative or sexting. Instead, we’ll begin by asking…
1. What’s next at Arkansas?: As promised, we won’t be discussing the unnamed coach who just got fired, but we will however chat about his replacement. Taver Johnson has taken over the program for the intermediary, but what about the long term?
Truth be told, I’m thinking Arkansas’ best bet is to take the Ohio State and North Carolina approach, plug-in Johnson as the interim coach for 2012, and then continue the search for a full-time replacement in the winter of 2012. That is assuming of course, that Johnson doesn’t do a bang-up job and earn the spot outright.
A couple things here: First, I know that’s a tough pill to swallow for Arkansas fans. The Hogs enter 2012 with as much genuine excitement around the program as there has ever been in my lifetime. The idea of basically punting a season where Tyler Wilson will be a fifth-year senior and Knile Davis a potential All-American seems preposterous, I know. Simply put, championship opportunities don’t come around very often, and this is one of them.
Except here’s the thing: It only takes one bad hire to submarine the entire program for years to come. To bring someone in like a Gus Malzahn or Butch Davis might fix things in the intermediary, but what about the long term? Sure they might be able to salvage eight or nine wins this year, but what happens in 2013 and 2014 when Wilson and Davis are gone? Then what?
And really, looking overing the replacement options, nobody seems like a home-run, can’t miss hire.
Look, I love Gus Malzahn, and enjoyed what he did in his time at Auburn. At the same time, it’s going to take him a lot of money and security to get him to leave a really cushy situation at Arkansas State right now, and do you really want to invest a lot of money and security in a first-time, first year head coach in the SEC West? Same with Garrick McGee. Besides, if those guys are that good, they’ll be there for the taking in December, with a year’s experience under their belt.
It’s a tough pill to swallow, I know Arkansas fans. But keeping Taver Johnson for the time being is your best bet.
2. By the way…: I know I promised I wouldn’t mention Bobby Petrino… But seriously, is there anything funnier than the idea of Petrino- a 51-year-old- a man so curmudgeonly, that Webster’s actually had to change the definition of the word “curmudgeonly”- texting a 25-year-old girl who is quite literally half his age?
Honestly, close your eyes for a second, and think of Bobby Petrino- Bobby FREAKIN’ Petrino- picking up his phone, and punching in a bunch of “LOL’s” and smiley faces into his screen. Seriously, what’s better than that? Besides Will Muschamp playing in a Chucky Cheese ball pit, I can’t think of any single scenario that’s funnier.
Anyway, I suppose I should get back to college football, and discuss…
3. Aaron Lynch’s transfer out of Notre Dame: Which became official on Friday afternoon. According to reports, Lynch apparently had tired of the South Bend lifestyle, and was ready to get back home to his native Florida.
On the surface, this is obviously a devastating blow for the Irish, who the single biggest playmaker in their defensive front seven outside of Manti T’eo. As a true freshman last year, Lynch led the Irish with 5.5 sacks to go along with 33 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss.
Really though, this goes beyond just the numbers, and is an even bigger “cultural” hit for the Irish. Championships are won with elite defensive lines, and for all the success that Brian Kelly’s predecessor Charlie Weis had in developing offensive playmakers (Jimmy Clausen, Golden Tate, Kyle Rudolph), he was woefully unsuccessful in bringing in top-flight defensive talent. To his credit, Kelly saw that, and immediately made it his goal to improve the Irish’s defensive front seven. Lynch (who could’ve gone to any school in the country) was Kelly’s first big defensive recruit, and was supposed to be the difference-maker up front that the Irish had been lacking for years.
Now he’s gone, and the Irish have a big hole in their defensive front seven. For a program that is coming off a disappointing 8-5 season, this isn’t news they needed to hear.
Now let’s go to Notre Dame’s biggest rivals, the Michigan Wolverines…
4. Who made big headline news this weekend: By “hash-taging” Michigan stadium. What do I mean? Well, they quite literally put a Twitter hashtag (#GoBlue) on the field for their spring game Saturday.
Allow me to be a huge buzz-kill right now, and ask the question: Umm, who cares?
Look, I get that the move is relatively unique, and yes it’s a bigger deal because the school is Michigan. The Big House is an iconic venue, and in the past, the Wolverines haven’t allowed advertising in the stadium.
At the same time can we act like Michigan football has reinvented the wheel by throwing a stupid hashtag on their field?
The truth is, we live in a society where attention spans are short, and dollars are spread thin, meaning that everyone has to do something catchy to attract attention. That attention will in turn attract eyeballs to TV sets, butts to seats, and ad dollars in pockets. That’s all this was, a simple marketing ploy. No different than printing up posters, taking out newspaper ads, or having some kid stand on the corner of a busy street screaming “extra, extra, read all about it.”
It was a cute and clever but let’s not go overboard here.
And by the way, if you’ll continue to allow me to be buzz-kill…
5. Why the hell did Cam Newton get a statue at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday?: Yes, you read that correctly: Cam Newton, a guy who just finished playing football at Auburn less than 18 months ago, had a statue put up in his honor Saturday. To which, I’ve got to steal a line from ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown and say… “C’Mon Man!!”
Look, I love Cam Newton. I do. With all due respect to Vince Young, Reggie Bush, Tommie Frazier, whomever, Cam was the single biggest difference-making college football player I’ve ever seen.
At the same time, isn’t it a little early to put up a statue for him? Couldn’t we at least wait a few years? Let the title sink in, let the memories fade a tiny bit, and then maybe after we gain a little perspective on where that Auburn team stands in history, and how much they meant to the school, maybe then we could put up a statue? How did Auburn wait 27 years to put up a statue of Bo Jackson, but not even 27 months on Cam Newton? Heck, couldn’t we have at least waited until Cam was old enough to rent a car to drive himself to the stadium for the ceremony?! (And for the record, I was just as much against Tim Tebow getting a statue at Florida and Nick Saban getting a statue at Alabama as well).
As a matter of fact, I say we put a moratorium on all statue-making in college football. I say that for a player to receive a statue, until they are 10 years removed from college football, and for a coach, at least five. Wouldn’t that give us all a bit of a sense of appreciation of what that guy accomplished?
6. Spring is in the air: And if you missed anything that happened this weekend around the country (well, besides Cam Newton getting his own statue), we at Crystal Ball run have you covered.
Here’s the most comprehensive list of what happened this weekend that you’ll find anywhere.
7. And finally, one last football link before we move away from college football: And that’s John Walters take on Vontaze Burfict via Sunday’s edition of The Daily. It’s a fascinating read, on a very complex character.
Take the five minutes and give it a look.
8. In non-college football news: The headline that struck me this weekend came from deep in the heart of Texas. No, it had nothing to do with Jerry Jones, Yu Darvish or Dirk Nowtizki, but instead… SMU basketball?
That’s right, our good friends in Dallas are looking to make a splash on the hardwood, and did so by bringing a very interesting candidate to campus to interview for their vacant head coaching job.
That man? Larry Brown.
In case you’re wondering, yes we’re talking about that Larry Brown. The guy who’ll turn 72 in December, has the commitment issues of a soon-to-be college freshman, and one who hops jobs more than an independent contractor.
And you know what? If they were to hire Brown, I would love it.
Seriously, let’s think about it for a second: What is the downside to hiring Larry Brown? Well, there’s a chance he’ll get ancy and leave in a year or two (because, well, that’s what he does at every job), and even if he stays, he’s 72, meaning that at best you get him for five or six years. Add to the fact that he hasn’t coached college basketball since 1988 (when none of his current players were even born), and it does kind of seem like a square peg in a round hole situation.
At the same time…. who cares!?!?!?!?! He’s Larry freakin’ Brown! The only man to win both an NCAA and NBA title! The guy who forgot more about basketball yesterday than most coaches learn in a lifetime! The guy who has won 1,500 basketball games in his career! Plus you’re SMU. What better way to get people talking about your basketball program (especially again, as they transfer into the Big East), then by bringing in this guy? Will grabbing an assistant from some other school, or a head coach no one has ever heard of do you any better?
And in the end, it looks like the folks at SMU are interested in Brown, with a catch. Late-breaking reports on Sunday seem to indicate that SMU is interested in hiring Brown with a stipulation: That he bring his successor (most likely Buzz Peterson) with him. That’ll calm any fears about Brown’s age, as well as that he’ll skip town before the work is done.
Either way, I say SMU hires Brown, with or without the guarantee of Peterson with him. After all, what else is going to get us talking about SMU basketball?
Let’s start to wrap up, and actually…
9. Praise Carmelo Anthony?: Yes, I didn’t expect to type those words this morning either. Actually, I take that back: I fully expected Bobby Petrino and Jessica Dorrell to get their own spin-off sitcom on Fox before I ever said anything nice about Anthony in this space.
Only it happened, because of what Anthony did on Friday night, when he hosted the family of Trayvon Martin at Madison Square Garden. It was a quick in-and-out for the family, which was in town for an interview with Anderson Cooper.
Look, at the end of the day I’m not here to get into the dynamics of the case, but I think we can all agree that it’s always sad when a person that young dies. Well, credit to Anthony for taking the time, and using his platform to brighten the days of Martin’s family.
Again, I’ve never liked Carmelo, but this was a truly special thing.
10. I always like to wrap up with a review of some book, movie or TV show I’ve been into: So today, I’ve got to mention his: I saw 21 Jump Street on Sunday, and the movie was straight hysterical.
Yes, it got a little goofy at times, and no, it isn’t for all crowds. But if you know coming in you’re going to see something dumb, and just simply embrace it, it makes the movie that much easier to tolerate, and that much easier to enjoy.
If you’re looking for a piece of cinematic artistry, than 21 Jump Street probably isn’t going to be your thing. But if you’re looking to sit back, relax and enjoy a few laughs, definitely check it out.
For all his opinion, articles and insight on college football, follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.