This week’s This and That: goin’ south, showing their sensitive side, a dream might not happen, indulge me once again.
Joe or Jeaux?
Just ten days after he left Ohio State, Joe Burrow announced he is joining the LSU Tigers. Reports last week had him leaning heavily towards Cincinnati, where former OSU assistant Luke Fickell is the head coach and Burrow's dad the defensive coordinator. While Cincinnati is close to Burrow's home of Athens and provides a certain comfort level because of his relationship with Fickell, the American Athletic Conference (where Cincinnati is a member) is not the SEC. It isn't surprising Burrow finds the prospect of playing a road game at a place like Alabama or Auburn a lot more appetizing than trotting up to Storrs, Connecticut to play woeful UConn. Yeah, I know AAC champion Central Florida went undefeated and smacked Auburn in the Peach Bowl (more on that later), but top to bottom, there isn't a comparison between the two conferences.
If you look further at LSU's quarterback situation, Burrow's decision makes even more sense. After 2017 starter Danny Etling was lost to graduation, the Tigers, like the Buckeyes, had a three-way quarterback derby in spring practice. But, unlike the Buckeyes, LSU had none of the three separate themselves from the rest. I'm guessing Burrow has been given every indication from the Tiger coaching staff he will have an opportunity to be the starter when they open the season on September 2nd against Miami at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. Did he jump out of the proverbial frying pan and into the fire, since he left a similar situation in Columbus? Possibly, but I think it is obvious by his decision he thinks he has a very good chance to win the starting job during fall camp.
The Tigers went 9-4 last year. That record includes a win over Auburn and a loss to Notre Dame in the Citrus Bowl. If Burrow is the starter, the Tigers are still going to be hard-pressed to equal that nine-win total of 2017. They have Alabama, Auburn and Georgia on the schedule. Throw in Miami, who won ten games last year, and Louisiana Tech, who can be one of those thorn-in-your-side programs. Most likely they get to a bowl, but I don't see it being a high-profile one.
The Sensitive Guys
I never took Alabama head coach Nick Saban and his current/former players for the sensitive types. But, when I see the comments made by he and former Tide quarterback-turned-analyst Greg McElroy, about UCF claiming a national championship, I’m thinking they’re spending a lot of time watching “This is Us” and listening to Michael Bolton CD’s.
In case you’ve forgotten, UCF went 12-0 during the regular season and defeated Memphis in 2 OT’s to win the American Athletic Conference championship game. Despite their seemingly gaudy record, the Knights were not invited to the College Football Playoff. So, after beating Auburn, who ruined Alabama’s perfect season before losing to Georgia in the SEC title game, and capping a 14-0 season in the Peach Bowl, it didn’t take long for UCF fans and players to break out the national champions shirts and hats. Alabama went on to win the College Football Playoff National Championship. So, while Tide Nation was celebrating, they kept hearing this little voice coming from the middle of Florida saying, “We’re Number 1!!” Kind of a college football version of “The Mouse That Roared” (young people can look up that one). I’m sure Saban, McElroy and Alabama fans everywhere thought everyone would ignore that little voice and continue to exalt the “true” champions. Well, that hasn’t happened and it looks like those two got their feelings hurt by all of this.
McElroy said recently, “Alabama would dust them, so would Clemson, so would Georgia, so would all those teams. They would dust UCF if the national championship was on the line. And you know what? Auburn would, too.” Wow, just a wee bit sensitive, aren’t we? To be perfectly honest, I don’t disagree, except for Auburn. The Tigers had their chance against the Knights and lost. McElroy claims Auburn didn’t play well against the Knights because it was difficult for them to get ready to play in the Peach Bowl, after losing the SEC Championship Game. That’s garbage. Auburn got their butts handed to them by UCF because they took them too lightly. In typical SEC arrogant style, the Tigers thought they could toss their helmets onto the field and the Knights would swoon at the sight of a team from the mighty, mighty SEC. It didn’t happen and the Tigers got embarrassed.
To his credit, Saban has not been nearly as harsh. He said, “I guess anybody has the prerogative to claim anything. But self-proclaimed is not the same as actually earning it. And there’s probably a significant number of people who don’t respect people who make self-proclaimed sort of accolades for themselves.” You mean like claiming a championship years after a season ended? The Tide has a few of those on the list of “championships” in their history.
Maybe they’re sensitive to all of this because Disney World gave the Knights a parade and not the Tide, and Nick didn’t get his picture taken with Mickey Mouse. Or maybe their enormous egos are hurt because they aren’t the one’s getting all of the attention. That’s the one I’m going with.
It Was A Nice Thought
When Ohio State and Texas mutually agreed to move their home-and-home series from 2022 and 2023 to 2025 and 2026, it greatly lessened the liklihood of a potential dream coaching matchup of Urban Meyer and his former offensive coordinator Tom Herman. Herman led the Buckeye offense during their national championship season in 2014. It is widely thought Meyer won’t coach up to those dates and Herman has been mentioned as a replacement for him more than once. The Buckeyes and Longhorns haven’t met since 2005 and 2006, when they split their home-and-home series, with each winning on the road. No replacement for the Longhorns has yet been announced. The Buckeyes still have a home-and-home scheduled with Notre Dame for 2022 and 2023.
In other scheduling news, Ohio State has added Buffalo for 2020 and Akron for 2021; both will be played at Ohio Stadium. The addition of the two MAC schools completes the schedules for those two seasons. The Buckeyes, also, play Bowling Green and travel Oregon in 2020, while the Ducks make the trip to Columbus in 2021, along with Tulsa.
Yet Another Personal Goodbye
This goodbye is a little different from my last one, when I said goodbye to my former high school
football coach on his retirement. In the coming days, my wife and I will be mourning the end of ABC’s ‘The Middle.” We’re not family drama/police/medical types. We’re more the “make us laugh” kind and that’s exactly that this show did for nine seasons. For 214 episodes, the “Heck” family from “Orson, Indiana” never failed to leave us laughing. The show never got into politics or controversial social issues; it simply entertained you and there’s nothing wrong with that. When “Frankie Heck”, played by OSU alum Patricia Heaton (who is, also, a Browns fan), towards the end of the final episode, said, “It’s the end of an era”, she was certainly right. The three “Heck” kids mirrored our son’s age throughout the life of the show. Like the oldest son in the final episode, who was leaving for a job away from home, our son will be leaving home soon as well. So, yeah, in more than one way, it’s the end of an era.
Memorial Day weekend always marks the unofficial beginning of summer. Have fun and be careful.