Mack Brown, LSU, and West Virginia

I’ve always been a Mack Brown fan. I’m not really sure why, but it definitely has something to do with the way he handled a question from Scoops Callahan a few years ago. He comes across, to me anyway, as old school but progressive, in control but not controlling, calm but aggressive. But if the most important thing a college football coach must do is win, the most important thing the Texas coach must do is beat Oklahoma. Mack Brown came to Texas in 1998. Bob Stoops arrived at Oklahoma a year later. After Saturday’s 63-21 Oklahoma victory, Brown’s record against Stoops stands at 5-9; Brown’s overall record at Texas is 145-41, not much different from John Cooper’s mark at Ohio State. But like Brown, Cooper had some trouble with his chief rival — he was 2-10-1 against Michigan and was fired in 2000.

College football is different from other sports. Fans may not remember whether their team went 9-3 or 8-4 in a given year but they sure remember whether they beat their rival. If you’re the coach at Texas and you’ve lost to OU two years in a row by a combined score of 118-38, a lot of folks are going to think you shouldn’t be the coach at Texas anymore.

Unbeatens fall

I was in New Orleans last weekend, and although the people there don’t spend much time thinking about football teams other than the Saints, when they do they prefer LSU. The Tigers had a huge home game last Saturday against South Carolina. Several LSU fans told me that, despite South Carolina’s perfect record and higher ranking, they still didn’t consider the Gamecocks among the SEC’s elite. “They’re still learning how to be good,” they said, which is just a perfect way to get under your enemy’s skin.

Sure enough, LSU won 23-21 to give South Carolina its first loss of the season. “That was Death Valley,” LSU coach Les Miles said after the game. “That was the place where opponents’ dreams come to die — and it was spectacular.” (I have a love-hate relationship with Tiger Stadium, though I’ve never been there. I love the tiger eye on the middle of the field; it is masterfully done. I hate that every five yards are marked on the field as opposed to the standard 10.) LSU fans, I was surprised to learn, are not enamored with Miles. As soon as his name was mentioned at a bar in New Orleans, one LSU fan jumped right in with criticisms. “The thing I don’t like about Les Miles…” he said before rattling off a few reasons, most notably that Miles “refuses to change.” I can’t think of any coach (who would realistically take the job) who would be better than Miles.

West Virginia dropped its first game as well, losing to Texas Tech 49-14. While it was hard to watch WVU’s offense in September and imagine them failing to outscore most everyone, deep down we had to know this was coming. When the Mountaineers failed to light up the scoreboard, they lost. What is surprising is that they only scored 14 points despite no turnovers or sacks allowed. In other words, their offense was simply out of sync. It also underscores the difference between the Big East and Big 12. WVU will have to play more good teams now than when it was in the Big East; a poor performance is now more likely to turn into a loss.

Even with SC and WVU losing, there are still 12 undefeated teams. And that’s why it is way too early to pay attention to the BCS standings, which were released on Sunday.

Play of the Week: Notre Dame’s goal line stand. The Irish are 6-0 after a 20-13 overtime win over Stanford last Saturday. As was the case the last time ESPN’s College GameDay was in town, seven years ago, the game ended with a rushing attempt from the goal line. Stanford quarterback Josh Nunes clearly doesn’t know his college football history because he failed to give his teammate, Stepfan Taylor, the shove he needed to get into the end zone.

Quote of the Week: “They draft, we recruit. And they get the first 25 picks of the draft.”
–Derek Dooley, Tennessee head coach, on Alabama

Hero of the Week: Jeff Driskel. Driskel set Florida’s single-game rushing record for a quarterback on Saturday against Vanderbilt, as he ran for 177 yards. Why does this make him a hero? Because it gave us another chance to mention Tim Tebow, the previous record-holder.

Stat of the Week: 177. That’s how many yards Jeff Driskel ran for on Saturday, breaking Tim Tebow’s record!!

Photo of the Week: Landon Ard, South Carolina. Ard is the onsides kick specialist for the Gamecocks, and I couldn’t help but notice he is a total nerd something different about his appearance.

Kahn Family Smiles: 🙂 🙂 And I’ll be smiling in Ann Arbor, as I’m here with my girlfriend Megan for the game against Michigan State. During my college years, Michigan was 4-0 against the school former Wolverine Mike Hart called “Little Brother.” Michigan is 0-4 since I graduated, so I returned to inspire the team.

Upset pick: Cal over Stanford (season record: 2-5)

*  *  *

The college football world lost a legend last Thursday when Carroll “Beano” Cook passed away at the age of 81. There was nobody else like him covering college football, and there may never be again. I never met Cook, but I was very familiar with his work at ESPN. When it comes to media commentary, they don’t make them much better than Dave Kindred, so be sure to check out his reflection on Beano’s career.

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