Wednesday, October 7, 2009

NCAA '09 Football: Week 6

For Week 6: Huge Conference Rivalry in SEC Will Determine #1; Rumblings at Florida State over Bobby Bowden's Fate

Successful college coaches can serve across generations when they lead the right college program. They become part of the institution, huge figures in the school’s history and legacy. Many storied coaches come to mind such as Woody Hayes at Ohio State, Bear Bryant at Alabama (who also coached the Terps!) and the legendary, Eddie Robinson at Grambling just to name a few. Two living legends are still patrolling the sidelines at their respective schools: Joe Paterno at Penn State and Bobby Bowden at Florida State. Paterno is the patriarch of a top ten program who were it not for Iowa could be in National Champion discussion. For Bobby Bowden whose program was at or near the top for much the 1980’s and 1990’s, time appears to be passing him by as the Florida State program is only in the middle of the pack of the ACC, a conference they overwhelmed for years after moving there in 1991. Any college football observer can see the tail off in recent years and so does the Florida State Board of Trustees. In an unfortunate statement that reached the media, Jim Smith, chairman of the Board, wants Bowden to retire after this season is over.

The article on ESPN.COM says it all, “Turmoil in Tallahassee.” Florida State has a transition plan in place where offensive coordinator, Jimbo Fisher would assume the head coach’s position upon Bowden’s exit, but the question remains when? Bowden and those close to him insist it will be on his terms and the time is growing closer.

It’s sad to see legends of the game leave, but all of them in the past have and all of them present and future will. Bear Bryant and Woody Hayes left amidst some embarrassment. For Bowden, it’s not so flagrant, but his era is running on empty.

For these great men who’ve given so much to their team, their school, and their sport, they deserve all kinds of respect and consideration. Nobody wants to see the final chapter being a contentious dismissal. In college hoops, who could have left in better circumstances than Dean Smith? Alas, such is not the case for so many.

Florida State was rated #18 in the AP Preseason Rankings. Now, at 0-2 in their conference and 2-3 overall, they are nowhere to be found as they prepare to face #22 Georgia Tech who is quite capable of embarrassing them further. Moral victories truly are shallow accomplishments that comfort some who need to ease the pain of vicious reality. A Florida State victory could be called a moral victory for Florida State’s miserable season unless it becomes the turning point giving the team a chance to finish with some measure of respectability. They’re dead last in their division with six ACC games, three at home and three away before playing their traditional final game against Florida at the swamp this year. Nothing short of dominating the rest of their ACC schedule and beating Florida could salvage 2009 for Bobby’s boys.

The pressure is on but we surely hope Bobby Bowden can keep his head held high at almost 80 years of age, he’s given so much as the alumni of great talents who’ve played for his program clearly testifies.

This week’s picks:
Nebraska #21 (3 ½) at Missouri #24
Missouri’s been rumbling about not getting respect and have a chance to prove them worthy as we pick them to pull the upset at home this week.

Boston College at Virginia Tech #5 (-13 ½)
This is a game that Virginia Tech should win and cover the spread to show they belong in the National Championship picture regardless of what critics might say of the ACC. The ACC is showing signs of returning to strength this year. Look at Miami’s resurgence.

Alabama #3 (-6) at Mississippi #20
‘Bama needs a convincing win to keep itself right up there in National Championship recognition. While Florida and LSU got at it, the Crimson Tide must do better than cover the spread to really heat up this debate.

Maryland at Wake Forest (-11)
We’ve wanted to highlight our regional big time team, the Terps, but they’ve been so darned mediocre, they’re not worth much attention. For them to be -11 points down to another ACC team that is not nationally ranked tells the story. No matter how much we might root for our Chesapeake region team, Wake Forest should prevail.

Florida #1 (-7 ½) at LSU #4
This game comes down to one thing, Tim Tebow’s noggin. If he’s well enough to play effectively, Florida should prevail. If he can’t play, the game belongs to LSU. Even in the best of health, this game is a very rough test for the Gators. If Tebow plays, Florida wins, but probably won’t cover the margin. No Tebow, LSU’s a go.

Michigan at Iowa #12
Iowa fought its way into the top 15 by playing giant killer. For the second year in a row, they’ve played dream wrecker for Penn State, but this year on a miserable rainy night, they invaded central PA and beat Paterno’s boys on their home field. At 5-0, the Huskers look pretty good, but now begins their battle with conference rivals. Meanwhile, Michigan is working to build respectability for the Rich Rodriguez era with their only loss to Michigan State, whom they were slightly favored to beat. Beating Iowa would be a huge success for putting the Wolverines back in the top 25 (-8). We’re calling for a Michigan upset!

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