Hayes vs. Hall: Generating Interest During a Slow Weekend of College Football

Each week, SN NCAA football writers Matt Hayes and Spencer Hall ↵put aside their petty differences to come together via instant ↵messenger ... and argue about their differences.
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Hall: This is a bad but potentially meaningful week on the schedule, dude. Weis at Navy, for example. ↵

↵Hayes: Not gonna happen. Notre Dame will win that game by three touchdowns. Their defense is playing well, and Clausen played with the flu last week. They're 7-5 and will play in the Gator Bowl. ↵

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↵Hall: You mean they won't decline a bowl bid because “it’s beneath them”? ↵

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↵Hayes: No way. This isn’t your granddad’s Notre Dame. ↵

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↵Hall: Weis is still in trouble, and this game really doesn't change that. They can't fire him, but the quease has set in. ↵

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↵Hayes: The buyout is unholy, and he has proven he can recruit. Now it's time to get them to win games. Next year will be a big season there, both in terms of expectations and production. He set the bar too high the first two years. ↵

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↵Hall: I don't think the man can manage a college football team well. He's displayed little to show that he can. However, Ty Willingham's got a knack for denting the future of football programs like no one's business, so I’m still improbably cutting him slack for that four years into his tenure. ↵

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↵Moving on: South Carolina? Will challenge Florida, no? ↵

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↵Hayes: No way. Not enough on offense to keep Florida's offense off the field. ↵

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↵Hall: Not even a three-quarter upset alert before they pull away? ↵

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↵Hayes: They'll wear down defensively, and gators roll in 2nd half. ↵

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↵Hall: I could see that. I think it's one of those games that goes from 10-7 to 34-7 rapidly. ↵

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↵Hayes: The game in Tallahassee is more dangerous, and only because it's a wicked environment, and FSU has a fast defense and some decent skill players if Ponder doesn't overthrow everything. ↵

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↵Hall: I think they can make hay just running it. Antone Smith is a pad-killing runner, and Ponder’s been nice on the option. ↵

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↵Hayes: Hey, I was as big a skeptic as anyone with Florida's run defense. FSU will not win that game running the ball, though. They have to throw at some point, and Ponder will have to make a handful of plays and no big mistakes for them to win. ↵

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↵Hall: The FSU offensive line is key, then. They're vastly improved now that Rick Trickett's vomit-inducing workouts finally set in. ↵

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↵Hayes: No doubt. But they haven’t faced a front seven like Florida’s. That will be the test of those young pups, and may make Trickett’s head explode. ↵

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↵Hall: True. It's a positive for Florida fans that you have to assume for them to lose that something really way out of pattern will have to happen at this point. ↵

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↵Alabama-Miss State: does this take place in the parallel universe where a Croom team grows a massive pair for one game and just takes it to Bama? ↵

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↵Hayes: CFB has been all about "against pattern" the last two Novembers, but that's asking a lot of a team that can’t move the ball, can’t cover anyone, has limited confidence, and is playing a better team it has beaten two straight times. Besides: Alabama has Whoo-Lee-O Jones. ↵

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↵Hall: It's Chinatown, Jake, and it's Mississippi State. This team does weird, improbable things. You were saying about November? ↵

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↵Hayes: What game are you intrigued by this week? Any? ↵

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↵Hall: The SC/Florida game. It intrigues me, as does Ohio St./Illinois. The Zooker just lost to Western Michigan. This just screams of a Zook Classic. ↵

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↵Hayes: Rose Bowl to no bowl ... which is sort of like losing to Mississippi State and Mississippi twice. ↵

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↵Hall: Games for you? ↵

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↵Hayes: I love Cal at Oregon State. This is it, everyone: if Cal doesn’t beat Oregon State, no one will, and that means big, bad USC will not win the Pac-10. Think about that stunning development. OSU still must play at Arizona (no easy game) and at home against Oregon (again, no easy game), but those are two good personnel matchups for the Beavers. This one against Cal is not. ↵

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↵Hall: Yes, but it's Cal, the team that when you need them to come through in any hypothetical situation, usually does not. ↵

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↵Hayes: That couldn't be more true, and I don’t like saying that because i think Tedford is a terrific coach, but they have a history -- of late -- of just tanking in big situations. ↵

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↵But -- BUT -- Cal is winning here. ↵

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↵Hall: You naughty contrarian, you! ↵

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↵Hayes: At least I admit it. Quick final question, and be honest: if you’re the WVU president, do you admit it and go get Kelly if you can? ↵

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↵Hall: No, and mostly because WVU hasn't been absolutely bad enough for me (as prez) to be convinced I was wrong. ↵

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↵Hayes: Really? WVU was a NC contender of a team this fall. ↵

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↵Hall: You don't get into a position of power without a fervent belief in your own rightness. He’ll never admit it out of habit. ↵

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↵Hayes: Here's a better way to look at it -- stay with me here. Let’s say Pat White gets hurt Week 1. Out for the season. With Stew, how does WVU finish? With Rod, how does WVU finish? Here’s my guesses: Stew goes 4-8, and Rod goes 9-3. And there’s you’re difference. ↵

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↵Hall: I don't think that's the reasoning WVU fans will buy into at all. Right now, all they'll say is "It took some time, but things are moving along, blah blah blah." ↵

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↵Hayes: The reason I use that scenario is that Stew had the most dynamic player in the game, and somehow turned him into Patrick Pinkney ... and Pat White is gone next year. What happens then? Do you, as a WVU fan/administrator/booster feel good about the future? ↵

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↵Hall: I'll play PR guy here for the Mountaineers. "We'll have players who are even more comfortable with the new systems, Coach will have deepened his local recruiting ties, and things will be even better!" ("And the president won't have to admit to making a mistake.") ↵

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↵Hayes: To me, it looks like you're staking your program's five-year future on a roll of the dice: “I dont know, maybe Stew will work out, maybe he wont." If that's Bowling Green, fine, but WVU most certainly isn’t Bowling Green. ↵

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↵Hall: That happens more than most people would like to think about, I'm guessing. But there’s more to the decision than on-the-field results. Ego and money play a huge part here. ↵

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↵Hayes: And if WVU goes 7-5? Then what? ↵

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↵Hall: Grumbles, begging for patience ... then another year. Barring disaster, this is a three year thing, I think. ↵

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↵Hayes: And two more for the next guy to get it under control. That's five years from being among the nation's elite to waiting five more years. ↵

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↵Hall: Yes. Because of a single hurried, emotional HR decision. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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