Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The "Tiffany Network" gets Its Man

In the grand tradition of college football, “back-ins”, this is perhaps one of the most fortuitous. We’ve seen some dandies lately…. Nebraska backing into the BCS title game after getting whipped by Colorado in their final regular season game in ’01 and Oklahoma doing the same two years later after getting crushed by K-State in the Big 12 title game.

Ohio State in a supposed rebuilding year, finished up their one-loss regular season this year by beating Michigan which put them in the 5 hole in the BCS standings on November 19th. Nice season. The Buckeyes were eyeing a trip out to the Rose Bowl to renew some classic 70s match-ups with USC. Of course, zany antics and hilarity ensued in the subsequent weeks and when the Bucks regained consciousness after their tryptophan-induced coma, they found themselves in the title game against LSU. (Yep, there’s a system that works).

Anyway, after Michigan… ummmm…. after Lloyd Carr stepped down as the Michigan coach it became painfully obvious that they weren’t used to hiring head ball coaches. The last time they actually went through the head coach hiring process is when they brought in Bo Schembechler from Miami (OH) nearly 40 yrs. ago. Subsequent hires, Gary Moeller and Carr were all “company men” that had been in the Michigan program for years.

Michigan clutzed around with Les Miles of LSU and Greg Schiano of Rutgers before backing-in to Rich Rodriguez the now former West Virginia coach and the guy they should’ve been going after all along. This is significant for no other reason than Rodriquez is the man primarily responsible for socializing the college football world to the “spread-option” offense that is currently the rage. Irony being, Michigan, itself, couldn’t stop this offense when playing App. State and Oregon in its first two games of the season.

And after being eyed suspiciously by much of college football as being “gimmicky”, the fact that Michigan has hired its guru is now a tacit acknowledgement of the full acceptance of the spread-option offense.

Let’s face it… Michigan is the CBS of college football. They are the embodiment of the stodgy, gray-flannet suit establishment of college ball. And like CBS, Michigan’s presumed dominance has been taking some hits of late – the program was showing its age and subsequently the ratings… and rankings were beginning to slip.

This is a great hire. This will inject life back into the program and rejuvenate the rivalry against Ohio State that had become rather one-sided of late with head coach, Jim Tressel being the man, for all intents and purposes, that forced Lloyd Carr into his resignation.

Ohio State, another “establishment” program though far more forward-thinking than Michigan, has had trouble themselves with this offense losing in the BCS title game to Florida last season and Ron Zook’s Fighting Illini this season.

With the Michigan/Big 10-type athletes Rodriguez will have, its going to take a couple of years to fully implement this offense but it will be fascinating to see how the Big 10 and the rest of the nation will now respond to the “nod” given by college football’s “Tiffany Network” to the glitz, hype and flash of the spread-option offense.

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