Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at 10:46 AM
Just how quickly do the hands of fate work in the National Football League?
Well, note that right now all 32 NFL teams have played two-thirds of their 2011 season (actually 69 percent of it) and whom among you good folks would have believed that Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Seattle, Kansas City and San Diego all would be sitting with identical 4-7 SU (straight-up) records at this rather late stage of the season?
Remember that last year the Eagles, Seahawks and Chiefs all qualified for the 2010 NFL post-season while the Bucs (10-6 last year) and Chargers (9-7) were denied playoff berths despite their winning records.
P.S., don't be shocked if three of these five teams currently sporting those 4-7 SU marks have new coaches in 2012 - if you ask us the handwriting's on the wall for Philly's Andy Reid, San Diego's clueless Norv Turner and even young T-Bay Bucs boss Raheem Morris.
And speaking of coaching moves after Tuesday's firing of Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio (and that was a long time coming!), the College Football world has been all atwitter with all sorts of changes in the past handful of days and so let's weigh in here on who has been axed and who we think should be the replacements (if not yet already named):
Here's our alphabetical romp through the College Football world ...
ARIZONA - The Rich Rodriguez Era will begin next fall but count us among the folks who believed former Texas Tech boss-man Mike Leach should have landed this job in Tucson. Will Rodriguez lead the U of A Wildcats from their recent slumbers (see 8-5 as the best seasons both in 2008 and '09)? Don't necessarily count on it!
ARIZONA STATE - It's about time the Sun Devils bid adieu to Dennis Erickson who hasn't guided this Tempe team to a bowl since way back in 2007. Lots of names being bandied about here but can we recommend TCU's Gary Patterson who may or may not want this hot potato job.
ILLINOIS - Now that Ron Zook made sure this year's Illini season went up in flames after that scintillating 6-and-oh start, we think this Big 10 team should look to land a "big fish" and pay the extra loot. Go for Leach and his offense will give all the conference's big shots a real run for their money.
KANSAS - No doubt we're surprised the Turner Gill was such a humongous flop following his successful stay in Buffalo but the Jayhawks now need to lick their wounds and get a young up-and-comer to turn this program around and our first thought is Northern Illinois' Dave Doeren would be a good fit - but will be leave DeKalb after just one season?
OHIO STATE - Now that Urban Meyer has maneuvered his way into one of the four or five-best coaching jobs in the nation (that's college or pro, folks) you can rest assured the Buckeyes will be national title contenders for years to come ... or until Meyer starts bellyaching about his health which happens about every 18 months. Hey, maybe Luke Fickell - who's been kept on the staff after his one-and-done season as Buckeyes' head coach - will wind up getting back as the "lead dog" here when/if Meyer retires again with health issues.
OLE MISS - The Rebels had thought they struck pay dirt when Houston Nutt came aboard in 2008 but 4-8 and 2-10 SU seasons the past two years got Nutt a one-way ticket out of Oxford and our inclination here is to beg Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart to leave that kingdom and rebuild this Rebels program (and start out by giving him a six- or seven-year contract).
PENN STATE - Now that Meyer has filled the coaching spot in Columbus, the single-biggest opening in the land comes in State College and be sure that nobody from this current staff will be retained following the messy (and still on-going) Jerry Sandusky Saga. If we had a real educated guess here, than Penn State will opt for someone who is established in the profession but not too old in the tooth - and the name we're coming up with is Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald but will he leave his alma mater? Hmmm. The one name really making the rounds these days is Miss State boss-man Dan Mullen who has connections to folks in the school's administration.
UCLA - After four hugely disappointing seasons, Rick Neuheisel has been shown the door and make no mistake about it this Bruins' job ain't great when you consider that USC's Lane Kiffin will have a national championship-type team for years to come across town. How about a clean slate with an up-and-comer assistant coach at one of the nation's top programs such as the aforementioned Smart at Alabama or perhaps well-respected Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo?
THURSDAY'S COLLEGE FOOTBALL TV PREVIEW
Note the ranking below reflects the current BCS Standings:
#23 WEST VIRGINIA (8-3, 4-2 Big East) at SOUTH FLORIDA (5-6, 1-5 Big East) - 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
The mantra around Morgantown this week has been this: Win and get some help! Simply put, if the West Virginia Mountaineers win here in Tampa and than heavy-duty favorite Cincinnati disposes of UConn on Saturday than the top of the Big East standings will sport a three-way tie (Louisville, West Virginia and Cincinnati) and the team that will than be awarded a BCS bowl berth will be the one with the highest BCS ranking come Sunday.
And that'll be West Virginia.
First things first and that means the 'Neers must win here and nothing's come easy in recent weeks for first-year head coach Dana Holgorsen and Company as their last three games have been decided by 3, 3 and 1 point (two wins and a loss) and here QB Geno Smith (25 TDs and 5 INTs) hopes to stay on target while the WVU defense - one that registered 10 sacks last Friday night of Pittsburgh QB Tino Sunseri - looks to make life tough on expected starter QB Bobby Eveld who threw for 210 yards and a TD in last Friday's 34-24 loss to Louisville. A shoulder injury figures to keep usual Bulls' starting QB B.J. Daniels (12 TDs and 6 INTs) sidelined here although he's lobbying for playing time.
Spread Notes - West Virginia's failed to cover four of its last five games against South Florida while dating back to the 2006 season and note the WVU Mountaineers are a decent 11-8-1 ATS (against the spread) in all conference action since the start of the 2009 season. Meanwhile, South Florida is 1-7 versus the vig this year ever since starting off the 2011 campaign with back-to-back-to-back spread wins. Overall, the USF Bulls are 6-15 ATS at home the past three-plus seasons.
THURSDAY'S NFL WEEK 13 PREVIEW
PHILADELPHIA (4-7) at SEATTLE (4-7) - 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network
Have you ripped up your "Eagles to win it all" ticket yet? The so-called "Dream Team" has flopped facemask first this year and how about this factoid: The Eagles have lost five of their seven games this season by one score and so maybe you do ask yourself "what if" had Philly not committed so many mental mistakes here and there throughout the course of this very ugly 2011 season.
Early word is don't necessarily expect QB Michael Vick (broken ribs) to play here but maybe QB Vince Young is the least of head coach Andy Reid's concerns - how about loud-mouth WR DeSean Jackson hanging onto some passes here?
Spread Notes - Philadelphia is 4-7 ATS this season and did you know the Eagles have failed to cover 10 of their last 14 games when placed in the favorite's role? On the flip side, Seattle is a tasty 7-4 versus the vig this 2011 campaign and the Seahawks are 9-5 against the odds at home during the one-plus-year Pete Carroll Era.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL UPDATE
The Big 10/ACC Challenge rolls on and here's a preview of a high-profile Wednesday night game:
#9 WISCONSIN (6-0) at #5 NORTH CAROLINA (5-1) - 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Guess the UNC Tar Heels are not invincible, after all!
Roy Williams' crew was whacked 90-80 by 7 ½-point home underdog UNLV last Saturday night in the championship game of the Las Vegas Invitational and now the Heels are hoping to be full strength for this clash in Chapel Hill - note F Harrison Barnes had a "full" practice on Tuesday and so he figures to get green-lighted after suffering an ankle injury last weekend when he shot just 6-of-16 from the floor (note he's averaging 17.3 ppg this year) against the Rebels.
Wisconsin has yet to be tested so far this year -- the Badgers' smallest margin of victory was 17 points in a win against 8-point pup BYU last Saturday in the championship game of the Chicago Invitational as senior Noah Hartsock powered the way with 18 points, 6 rebounds and 4 blocked shots and note Wisky nailed 13-of-24 trifectas in that mini-tourney win.