The recruiting wars


Urban Meyer made quite a splash with a monster recruiting class at Ohio State, but some of his fellow coaches in the Big Ten weren’t too happy that he came in and “flipped” players. The whining from Bret Bielema and Mark Dantonio seemed a bit much according to David Whitley, who pointed out that recruits had every right to change their minds after a coach of Meyer’s caliber joined Ohio State.

But Whitley makes a larger point – that the Big Ten has much more honorable recruiting practices than the SEC. Yes, the SEC is currently winning all the titles, but Whitley points out some pretty pathetic actions by Les Miles and Nick Saban. The oversigning has gotten out of control.

Hopefully the push by the Big Ten towards 4-year scholarships will put even more pressure on the SEC to clean up its act.

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LSU survives in overtime, has inside track to national title game

Louisiana State University quarterback Jordan Jefferson (L) crack up with teammate center back Tyrann Mathieu after beating the University of Kentucky at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana October 1, 2011. Jefferson was just released from suspension by LSU this week. REUTERS/Dan Anderson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Defense and kickers, that’s what might have just decided the national championship. LSU survived a 9-6 overtime slugfest tonight against Alabama in a matchup of the top two teams in the country.

It certainly wasn’t pretty, but that doesn’t mean it was bad football. Quite the contrary, actually. These are two defenses unlike many we’ve seen in college football, and that’s fun to watch. They’re big, they’re fast and they’re physical. And let’s remember, when these two teams aren’t playing each other, the offenses do just fine.

The key in this one wound up being Alabama’s ineptitude in overtime, as the Tide went backwards and were forced to try a 52-yard field goal, which missed, um, poorly. LSU merely had to run the ball and set up a field goal on its possession, and it did, kicking a 25-yard game winner from the center of the field.

But A.J. McCarron struggled all game long, and Nick Saban showed late the lack of confidence he had in his quarterback by not calling a timeout with a little less than 2 minutes left and LSU set to punt it away. A coach that’s confident in his quarterback and offense calls that timeout and gives them a chance to drive for a game-winning field goal. Saban sat on his timeout and played for overtime.

Now, unless there aren’t any unbeaten teams remaining, there’s no chance we get a rematch here, nor should we. While I feel these are the country’s two top teams, they’re certainly not unbeatable, not with those quarterbacks. If either team runs into a situation where its defense is struggling against a good team, it’s in a lot of trouble. Do you trust McCarron, Jarrett Lee or Jordan Jefferson to bring a team back at the end of a game? I don’t.

That said, would you bet on either defense failing? I wouldn’t.

Fade Material: 2011 College Football Week 6 Predictions

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck scrambles for first quarter yardage during play against Virginia Tech in the 2011 Discover Orange Bowl NCAA football game in Miami, January 3, 2011. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

If you haven’t hopped on this gravy train yet then shame on you because these picks are crashing and burning on a weekly basis now. After my 1-2-1 effort in Week 5, my season record is 10-8-2 but I’m now 4-7-1 over the past three weeks. It’s only a matter of time before that season record of mine gets below .500 and I’m providing true “Fade Material.”

Here are my picks for Week 6. I see a couple of backdoor covers and one underdog that should be down by 21 points by the end of the first quarter…

Florida State @ Wake Forest, 12:30PM ET
The Seminoles are having a hell of a time trying to run the ball (they’re 115th in the nation in rushing offense) and injuries are starting to mount for FSU. Meanwhile, Wake Forest has won three straight games for the first time since 2007 and quarterback Tanner Price is off to the best four-game start in school history (1,119 yards). The ‘Noles are just 2-5 against the spread in their last seven road games against the Demon Deacons, while the underdog is 6-1 ATS in the last seven meetings between these two teams.

Florida @ LSU, 3:30PM ET
It’s going to be a long day for freshman quarterback Jeff Driskel, who is subbing for the injured Jeff Brantley in Baton Rouge today. LSU is allowing just 12.8 points per game and is coming off a game in which it allowed just 155 total yards in a win over Kentucky. The Gators are just 2-6-1 against the spread versus a team with a winning record and 1-4 ATS in their last five October games. I doubt LSU will roll but I don’t envision Florida scoring more than 10 points.

Vanderbilt @ Alabama, 7:00PM ET
I’m choking on chalk this weekend but I don’t care. Vanderbilt is heading in the right direction under first-year coach James Franklin but very little is going to slow down this ‘Bama team from making a run at the national championship. The Tide are 15-1 all-time against Vanderbilt at Bryant-Denny Stadium and is outscoring opponents 45-8 in the fourth quarter this season. Nick Saban’s team doesn’t let up and even though this is a huge point spread, I like ‘Bama to produce a blowout for homecoming week in Tuscaloosa.

Colorado @ Stanford, 7:30PM ET
Oddsmakers keep jacking up the point spread on Stanford and the Cardinal keeps covering. Thus, there’s no reason to hop off the Andrew Luck bandwagon now. Stanford is 6-0-1 against the number in their last seven conference games and 12-3-1 ATS in their last 16 games overall. Meanwhile, the Buffs are just 1-4 ATS in their last five conference games and 0-5 ATS in their last five games as a road underdog of 10.5 points or greater.

Last Week: 1-2-1
Season: 10-8-2

Check out College Football Point Spreads at

Fade Material: College Football Week 5 Predictions

Alabama Crimson Tide head football coach Nick Saban runs onto the field before their NCAA football game with the Duke Blue Devils in Durham, North Carolina September 18, 2010. REUTERS/Jim R. Bounds (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

After a strong start I’m heading right downhill, which is good considering I’ve named this column “Fade Material.” After all, I don’t want to be made out to be a liar.

Arizona, Vanderbilt and Arkansas were all losers last week while Clemson was my only winner. That put me at 1-3 for the week and 9-6-1 on the season, which isn’t bad although I’m only 3-5 in the past two weeks. Let’s see if I can’t put together my first 4-0 or 0-4 Saturday…

Georgia Tech @ NC State, 3:30PM ET
The Wolfpack have looked horrible at times this season, but if they could just cut down on the turnovers they could stop sabotaging themselves. The underdog is 6-1 against the spread in the last seven meetings between these two teams and I’m a sucker for home dogs. Georgia Tech is 4-0 on the year and has covered in every game thus far, but the Jackets are due to suffer a scare.

Texas @ Iowa State, 7:00PM ET
The Cyclones don’t blow you away statistically but this is a decent Iowa State team this year. Not only are they 3-0 thus far, but they also covered the spread outright as underdogs to Iowa and Connecticut the last two weeks. Can they make it three wins in a row as a dog? I’m doubtful, but I like them to cover the spread against a Texas team that’s 0-5 in its last five conference games.

Alabama @ Florida, 8:00PM ET
The game of the week is in the SEC as the Gators host the Crimson Tide in the “Swamp.” In 58 games as head coach at Alabama, Nick Saban has allowed less than 300 yards of total offense 33 times and the Tide have held opponents to 10 points or less 26 times during that span. Florida has been explosive offensively at times this year but I think Alabama’s defense puts the clamps down in the second half. The Crimson Tide are 7-1-1 against the number in their last nine games against the Gators and 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall.

Notre Dame @ Purdue, 8:00PM
The underdog is 5-1 against the spread in the last six meetings between these two teams while the Irish are 1-5 against the number in their last six games as a road favorite. Meanwhile, Purdue is 3-1-1 against the spread in its last five games as a home dog and 9-3-1 ATS in its last 13 games as an underdog of 10.5 points or greater. The games between these two teams tend to be tight, so I like the Boilermakers to keep the score within 10 points.

Last Week: 1-3
Season: 9-6-1

Check out College Football Point Spreads at

Nick Saban-to-Titans rumors starting to circulate

Like a good case of H1N1, the Nick Saban-to-Titans rumors are spreading like wildfire.

The rumor started on Sunday and has quickly spread to the internet message boards, which provide really, really reliable information. While the more recognized sources like ESPN, FOX and SI discuss suitors such as Gregg Williams, Mike Munchak, Mike Heimerdinger and Dave McGinnis, the sharks on the message boards are chumming for anything illogical.

Granted, this is Nick Saban we’re talking about. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him leave a team in the lurch for a seemingly better opportunity because, well, he’s done it before. But rumors like this always seem to surface around this time of year because National Signing Day is in two days. It sure sounds like someone is trying to make a few Alabama verbals think twice about rolling Tide next year.

Chances are Saban isn’t going anywhere (for now) and the Titans will wind up with a more logical choice. Like Lane Kiffin.

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