2008 Thanksgiving Edition – 11/30/08

Happy Thanksgiving weekend to all of you.  This year’s musings have been a treat to draft, and not just because we are in the seventh season of the greatest college football dynasty of all team.  The sport itself, and the opportunity to share my random musings each week, are occasion for Thanksgiving in and of themselves.  That my Trojans continue to make history just adds to the sheer joy and bliss of my already-charmed life.
– Lest I be accused of hyperbole in describing what my Carroll-led Trojans are doing, understand that if we beat UCLA next week (and this not done until we do it), this team is set to go to its seventh consecutive BCS bowl.  We have won five of the six we have played in (losing one by one point with 16 seconds to go).  We have won three Rose Bowls and two Orange Bowls in the last six years, and are playing Saturday to clinch our fourth consecutive Rose Bowl appearance (the granddaddy of them all), and hopefully our third consecutive win!  We have won the Pac-10 championship now seven years in a row, and with either a win over UCLA or a Bowl win will add to our own NCAA record of most consecutive 11-win seasons.  It is impossible to not be overwhelmed with pride at what this program is doing, and continues to do.  Thank you Pete Carroll, thank you coaches and coordinators, and thank you players.  You make this Trojan proud.
– I am not sure what will happen with Charlie Weis, but I do wish him well.  I talk a tough game, but I am a softie at heart, and the truth is I have never taken any joy in seeing anyone lose their job.  Weis has made it harder to feel bad for him because he is just so smug.  But like most smug people, I am sure he is tremendously insecure beneath the surface.  I wish him well, whether it be in a fifth year in a row getting his ass kicked by USC, or in receiving the largest contract buyout in the history of sports.
– The Stanford band should be forced to watch the Notre Dame band’s halftime show every day until they learn to have some god#@*m respect for this country and what she stands for.  The Notre Dame tribute to America was classy, beautiful, and what I expect from another private university that breathes off of the oxygen the freest and greatest country on earth has produced.  Those spoiled little snots at Stanford can take their parents for granted all they want, but to insult this nation the way they did is a disgrace.  We hope you enjoyed Southern California, Notre Dame marching band.  Please come again.  You are welcome any time.  Stanford band – apologies can be sent to itakemycountryforgranted@growup.com.

– Oh, and Notre Dame’s band could beat their football team in football, by the way.

– Notre Dame had ZERO first downs until the last play of the third quarter.  That goes along with the nine yards of offense we gave up in that time span.  Lest one be tempted to blame this entirely on Charlie’s play-calling and their inept offense, do the homework to look at the statistical achievements of this defense throughout the season.  It is nothing less than mind-boggling.  The country is being ripped off by not letting this defense go head to head with the powerful offenses of a Florida or Oklahoma in a playoff context – morally ripped off.

– Before I get deeper into the USC-Notre Dame game and the USC-UCLA game, let me get my BCS bashing out of the way.  The winner of Florida-Alabama will take one seat, and then either Oklahoma (as a winner of the Big 12 championship game), or Texas (as a team who vigilantly watched Oklahoma lose it), will take the other.  The humans have Texas ahead of Oklahoma this week.  The computers have them behind.  The fact that Texas beat Oklahoma straight up, and they both have only one loss, was not relevant to the computers.  I can’t make this stuff up.  I take back what I said above about always feeling bad when someone loses their job.  If these BCS cretans do not lose their jobs, I am going to recommend criminal imprisonment for them to my fellow ally in the cause of a playoff, President Barack Obama (he and I are tight – we are totally eye-to-eye on many issues, like, um, this one).  These people should be ashamed of themselves.  This year’s Operation Chaos appears to be going as planned.  If Florida beats Alabama, which is by no means a sure thing but is certainly what I expect, then we will have virtually an entire top 10 of one-loss teams (with the only exception being undefeated teams from non-major conferences).  We are about to create the most mythical college football champion we have ever created.  And I am not saying this because the team who wins it will not be the team that is the best team; I think the team that wins it will be just as victimized by this horse manure as the teams that are left out.  These 19-year old kids do not deserve to have the legitimacy of their accomplishments forever clouded by controversy and doubt, but how could it not be?  Let them play it out on the field, and grow up.  This is beyond idiocy – it is morally contemptible.  They are insulting the intelligence of the fans of the greatest sport in America.  If I knew the home addresses of the BCS principals I would order their houses to be toilet-papered by my street posse, and I am not kidding.
– USC’s defense is very likely going to put five players in the first round of the NFL draft.  To have four players on your entire team drafted anywhere in the seven round draft is stunning; to have five guys from one side of the ball take up 20% of the first round is never again going to be repeated.  Taylor Mays (the only underclassman I expect to lose), Kevin Ellison, Ray Malaluga, Brian Cushing, and Fili Moala are all about to be very well-paid young men.  And God Bless them for it.
– Even if Alabama loses to Florida, they deserve some BCS berth, especially if they lose in a close one.  Saban has done a remarkable job, and they are a fine team.  I don’t think I have ever seen an undefeated #1 team get less respect, but I think that they have been unfairly victimized by one of the worst years for the SEC in history.  The reality is that they have not yet played Florida, and every other team in the SEC has turned out to be a complete disaster.  Does everyone remember who won the national title last year?  Yes, LSU.  Remember who started this year #1?  Yes, Georgia.  Bama has been the beneficiary of a terrible year for their competition, no doubt, but going this far into the season without a loss is remarkable no matter how you slice it.
– I apologize in advance to my USC family who are already planning their New Years Day outfits in Pasadena, but I truly can not bring myself to celebrate another trip to the greatest Bowl game on the planet until next Saturday’s feat is accomplished.  13-9 rings too familiar in my mind.  Especially after UCLA’s 34-9 loss to the four-win ASU Sun Devils, in which ASU did not score an offensive touchdown yet won 34-9, a stat that I am pretty sure can not be repeated until Haley’s comet next appears, I am more nervous than ever.  Why would I be nervous about a UCLA team that has four wins (and frankly, the only two they should have are against the bottom-dwellers of Washington and Washington State – the atrocious Tennessee team and very mediocre Stanford team literally gave the game to the Bruins)?  Why would I be nervous about the worst running team in the country?  Why would I be nervous about a QB who has less completions to his own teammates than he does the members of the other team?  Because – I have seen some really, really bad UCLA teams beat some really, really good USC teams.  And you just never know …  Frankly, this one would be the worst, as I think we are probably 40-45 points better than them (I would not be surprised to see a 50-0 final score), but I also know that this game is all they live for.  More on my thesis this week in a special bonus edition about the genesis of my hatred of UCLA, but I believe that they live for a resentment that they are not at USC.  It is a systemic issue. 
– USC’s defense is the best in the country, and it is the best defense Carroll has had at USC.  But I just don’t know what would happen if this USC team went up against Florida or Texas or whatever.  Our offense sometimes does not kick into the gear you would think it needs to dominate, and yet, the stats are not all that mediocre at all.  Mark had a couple bad throws, but the playmakers at receiver and tailback are superb, and all things considered, I think this is a special group.  Joe, Stefan, and CJ are all getting it done, and I am pretty darn proud of what this group has accomplished.
– Oregon State can not blame the 65 points they gave up to Oregon on their star tailback being out.  At least, I don’t think they can.  Expect the Beavers to be the biggest Bruin fans on the planet this weekend.  In fact, if 131 of them bought tickets for the game, that would be 14 more tickets than UCLA will sell to their own fans.
I need to cut it short this week.  May this be a week of celebration and healthy rivalry.  And may the BCS get dealt.  It is a virus, and it needs to be exterminated.  But even those bastards can not make me anything other than …
The Greatest College Football Lover of All Time