The Alphabetical, Week 6: Where Les Miles Continues To Redefine Boundaries Of Football

The Alphabetical this week praises Les Miles' innovative introduction of basketball into your football, the Tao of Steve Spurrier, and issues completely made-up BCS rankings just as pointless as any you'll see anywhere else.

A is for Alshon. Let's review tales of recruiting past

According to Jeffrey and Wilson, Kiffin told Jeffery that if he chose the Gamecocks, he would end up pumping gas for the rest of his life like all the other players from that state who had gone to South Carolina.

Further proof that Lane Kiffin is wrong about everything and anything forever, Alshon Jeffery pumped diesel into the regular tank of Mark Barron with intent and knowledge of the damage he was doing. His seven catches and 127 yards receiving for two TDs put South Carolina out to an improbable 21-3 lead on the defending national champions. More impressive than leaping out to a quick lead was the way South Carolina held the lead and pressed on both sides of the ball, sacking Greg McElroy seven times on the day when Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain, suffering from a gamelong low-level stroke, saw Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson in the backfield and thought, "You know, it'd be neat to see if we can win a game without them." (Answer: you can try, but it's probably a bad idea.) 

B is for B-A-N-A-N-A-S. Les Miles continues to press the boundaries of what you think football is. You'd think his field goal flip from the 2007 South Carolina game would have been the limit of what one can accomplish on a single fake play, but no, dear reader: like Kanye West, he just keeps pushing the envelope of what you think is possible on a football field. Bounce passes, once thought to be strictly the property of basketball players, are now in football. Hyperbole is now fact with Les Miles and LSU, though like all the great and criminally insane you need only describe his actions to tell a tale no one will ever believe. 

C is for Croquet. The English game of manners and mallets most suited to the sensitive Tim Brewster's disposition, since the brusque game of football indeed may be too much for the lad.

"I thought it was a very poor decision by a head football coach, and he'll have to live with that," ... "It was wrong. Everybody in here knows it, and everybody in college football knows it. It was wrong."

We have baseball for obscure unwritten rules and battles of frilly matters. Football's simple: you control the ball or you don't. In case you've missed the entire Tim Brewster era, then I would remind you that Tim Brewster's teams have fallen into the latter category and not the former, capable of stopping little opponents have thrown at them. So when Bret Bielema opted for a two point conversion up 41-16 (ostensibly because the playcard says it's optimal to go for it then, not out of any spite,) Brewster had an option: stop it, or don't. 

The Gophers stopped the conversion, but it didn't stop Brewster from bitching about Bret Bielema's "very poor decision," and that is the right word: he's bitching because in four seasons he's 15-28 with most of those losses coming in excruciating and/or lopsided fashion, and because the last protections offered to a struggling team like his are removed when the other dude decides score two points against you when he could have scored one. Gary Patterson is a good coach, and shortens games not because of any unwritten rules of engagement, but because he simply wants to reduce the risk of injury, take no chances on turnovers, and get to the next game. Football is ruled by utility, and you negotiate your own treatment on the field. When Tim Brewster gets in a position to run up the score on anyone he can then demonstrate his good manners, but not until then. Until then he should focus on beating South Dakota and other assorted FCS schools, another subject he knows very little about as a head coach. 

Wikipedia again cuts with a knife more honed and deadly than any you or I might bring to the fight. 

Tim Brewster (born October 13, 1960 in Phillipsburg, New Jersey) is the head coach of the Minnesota Golden Gophers football team and the 26th head coach in program history. He is thought by some to be a good national recruiter.[1]

Damning with faint praise never goes out of style.

D is for Déclassé. As in fallen from rank, or high status to low. Texas and Florida now sit in a kind of rehab for football aristocrats, broke nobility chilling at the Motel 6 for you know, just a few weeks until they get the penthouse back. (Winks.) Texas is out of the AP Top 25 altogether, but were it not for a line of credit extended to them mysteriously by voters the Gators, too, would be on skid row with Mack Brown, rummaging through garbage cans for unspent Sterno cans and opponents they can beat. This is what undiagnosed and unrecognized offensive dyslexia leads to: don't let it happen to your football team. This message is brought to you by the Coalition to Please Put Greg Davis and Steve Addazio In A Diving Bell From the Months of September to January With Only Cellphones And Food So They Can Call Recruits And Not Plays. 

E is for Excellence In Special Teams. 


You can tell Tommy Tuberville is just profoundly uncomfortable in his new job at Texas Tech. The scores sometimes appear with a three or a four in the tens digit, a condition he rarely encountered on either side of the ball at Auburn by design because Tommy Tuberville has three allergies he suffers from: peanuts, rock shrimp, and touchdowns. It's a cry for help when you go onside, a cry for help here that turned into a near-suicide attempt Saturday when Baylor returned a magical egg called "the football" that Texas Tech's onside team "left out for the wolves" on that play.  Tech avoided an 0-3 start for the first time since 1990 with a 45-38 win over the Bears, but afterwards staff members could hear Tuberville weeping softly in his office and watching the 2008 Mississippi State/Auburn that ended 3-2. Quoted through the closed office door: "We'll get there, Tommy. We'll get back to single digit games."

F is for Free Zac Lee. Last year's starter at Nebraska sat there on the bench. Yup. Just hanging on the bench, waiting for y'all to get over this running quarterback fad, even if it did get you 48-13 layup victories over Kansas State on the road by embarrassing margins, like really embarrassing margins since the score wasn't even 35 points close and Kansas State appeared to be playing in weighted pants against Nebraska. We only run three plays now, he thought, and two of them are just variations of "Insane Taylor Martinez running touchdown." 


15 rushes for 241 yards and 4 TDs? Whatever. That's a running back, man. If you're just starting a rugby team he'd be cool to have, but we all know who the most important quarterback on the Nebraska roster still is, he thought. Right, guys? Right? 

/empty silence from teammates on bench. 

"Um, yeah. Zac. You the man OH SNAP THERE HE GOES AGAIN--" 


G is for Glory. Up 13-9 with 0:55 seconds left over South Florida and in the victory running formation attempting to bleed the clock out? This is not Syracuse football. A false start while trying to run said clock out? Ah, we have attained Syracuse football, though we all avoided first degree Syracuse football by not having a fumble returned for touchdown during the clock-running endgame. Syracuse football under threat! They are 4-1, and if they win two games of their last seven will become bowl eligible. Sadly, this may be asking for a lot, but one of those games is against Boston College, so it's really like they need to win one out of their last six because Boston College is horrible and only beats schools with trucking programs. (So in other words: they stand a real live chance against Boise State, who still has a trucking program.) 

H is for Humble. No, not about Alabama's need to feel this way after losing 35-21 to South Carolina, but instead about South Carolina's elegant simplicity in gameplanning against Alabama. Offensively the blend was half retro-Spurrier fade and half new zone-read run game, and at any point if Jeffery was singled up on Mark Barron, the ball went up in a looping arc his way. More often than not, he caught it. Freshman Marcus Lattimore balanced him out, Steven Garcia made superb snap decisions, and that is how you beat the Alabama defense. No miracles, not elaborate schemes, just execution, balance, and the luck of doing it at home against a green secondary with an experienced quarterback.

Defensively the stunting and twists of the defensive line aggravated a mismatch at right tackle for Alabama, allowing the Gamecock defense to drop seven into coverage while getting pressure with four. Alabama fans postgame have complained of Greg McElroy holding the ball too long, but holding the ball at all in a situation where D-linemen are running free is a miracle. The flip side of holding the ball too long would have been tossing passes haphazardly into seven man coverages, and though that's made Brett Favre very popular it's likely not the best thing McElroy could have done in that situation. (The best thing he could do was precisely what he did: allow Melvin Ingram to express his deep love for McElroy buy accepting a very rough embrace and falling to the turf with possession of the ball.)  

See, football isn't that hard. If you need the Ol' Ball Coach, he'll be lining up a putt on the fifteenth hole while Nick Saban watches his eleventh hour of film in the dark, and don't begrudge him that. When you go 3-1 against the Nicktator you may criticize, but not until then. 

I is for Ibuprofen. Julio Jones caught a pass on the final drive of the game for Alabama with a broken hand he suffered sometime in the first half of the South Carolina game. Julio Jones finished the game with eight catches for 118 yards and a TD despite having a broken bone in the hands he catches passes with in very physical football games.  This sounds almost as painful as having the tip of your finger cut off in a freak helmet injury, but no one in their right mind would play through that kind of nonsense. James Rodgers, Oregon State WR, is out for the season with a left knee injury, which he will not play through because it is his knee, and he is not insane like the previous two cases just mentioned. 

J is for Janus. The most two-faced of all teams in college football, UCLA lost 35-7 to Cal. Keep in mind that we just said that UCLA was more inconsistent than Cal, a statement that would be considered absurd if UCLA hadn't lost to K-State, then beat Texas, then struggled against Cal, a team who didn't bother to pass for more than a hundred yards and who frankly didn't need to with Shane Vereen running for 251 yards and two TDs. Football hipsters, take note: Shane Vereen is now this year's Cal running back to cite as example of your non-East Coast bias, but if you're really cool you'll go with Vai Taua of Nevada. (He's obscure, you probably haven't heard of him.) 

K is for Kids, This Is Fandom. The student section at South Carolina chanted "You can't stop us!" when the USC PA announcer reminded the student section not to charge the field after the upset of Alabama.  They were incorrect: a tasering of the first student over the barrier was enough to dissuade the student section from risking further voltage and pain at the hands of the Columbia police.   

It didn't stop the arrested student from doing what he needed to do, however. (See 1:20 mark. A helpful illustration follows.) 

(HT: Rubber Chicken.) 


Still celebrating in handcuffs? Well done, Gamecock fan. Your court costs should be covered by wealthy alumni, and the policemen standing there allowing you to continue celebrating should be given ribbons and medals for their forbearance. 

L is for Lee. A minor moment of redemption for Jarett Lee, formerly known as JarINT Lee, who threw the go-ahead tactical balloon of a TD fade to Terrence Tolliver in the waning seconds of LSU/Florida. He's not a starter, but LSU runs on bubble gum, stout defense, some baling wire, Les Miles' lucky rabbit's foot, and blind luck anyway, so maybe they just need half a quarterback to play at a time. It was enough to beat Florida, at least. 

/smashes television


M is for Mitten. Michigan State hung another banner off the side of Michigan Stadium after their 34-17 win over the Wolverines, leading us to question whether Michigan fans own lighters, and were they willing to use them, or have they been so beaten down by the Rodriguez era they would just allow this to happen. The answer, apparently, is an unwillingness to touch Juggalos

That was Saturday: financial mathematicians screaming at Juggalos, and the Juggalos winning. The State meathead directly behind me literally said "bitch! fuck you!" whenever MSU tackled Denard Robinson for less than five yards. On Friday, Tim came back to his apartment to find a trail of blood leading to a passed-out State meathead who'd broken in. The same guys who clumsily spray-painted a bedsheet in 2008 to declare their glorious victory over the worst Michigan team in 50 years reprised their genius. As I walked home every glassy-eyed Stiffler that passed me upped the amplitude of my anger/depression cocktail. Jesus, they were everywhere.

The Michigan State fan response to this should be, of course: "Bitch! Fuck you!" #owningit

N is for New Mexico, The Cradle of College Football. Something had to give this week as winless New Mexico State played New Mexico, and fight as Mike Locksley might (HAHAHHAHA GET IT?!?!), the Lobos came out on the booty end of the stick here on a last minute field goal by the Aggies in a 16-14 loss. Mike Locksley is now 1-17 as a head coach, but remains undefeated in amateur bouts with his coaching staff.  

O is for Ouch. Cam Newton carried the ball ten times on the game-clinching, seven minute and 25 second drive that clinched a 37-34 win over Kentucky. (With, because this is Auburn, a field goal, because some state code of Alabama requires that all Auburn games end with a field goal. Love, bitter Florida fan.) Someone in Kentucky is missing teeth this week, and--EDIT. Some Kentucky football player is missing new teeth they had previously after Newton's battering ram performance.  

P is for Punchless. Penn State has scored six TDs on offense in six games this year. To give you an idea of how bad this is, Florida's Steve Addazio suggested that Paterno's offense "might have some problems."  Doom has a smell, and it is this. 

Q is for Quid Pro Quo. Shareece Wright, USC cornerback, is one of college football's hardest-hitting corners. This is a good thing. Yay, Shareece Wright! He is also one of its most negligent spearers, and leads with his helmet like he's not going to paralyze himself or someone else someday. Boo, Shareece Wright. (Examples are here and here.) 

So it is not without irony we remind you that Stanford qb Andrew Luck decimated Wright on a post-fumble tackle in the Stanford/USC game. 

R is for Reliability. I was in full recovery mode in Athens following Florida's loss to LSU, meaning I was at the City Grill stuffing as much grease in my belly as possible while looking at a dying cellphone for updates when one of my tablemates said: "Stanford has a minute left on the clock, is down 34-35, and is on their own 26."  

Me, with a mouth full of food and sadness: "They're going to kick a field goal to win, because USC's defense can't hold water in a bucket standing in the middle of a pool." 

This is precisely what happened, not only because of USC's consistently lax pass coverage but also due to a critical personal foul penalty on USC during the drive. Their defense has been one of the most reliable units in the Pac-10 this year, but in that terrible way you never want to be reliable--reliably flimsy at the worst possible times. If you'd told me Monte Kiffin's unit would be the weakness while Lane Kiffin's would be the strength of the team six months ago, I would have doubled down with some other absurd bet like LSU being 6-0, or Texas not being ranked, or maybe even an insane parlay with all of these and a bet that Nebraska would actually have an offense. This is why I'm an awesome gambler. 

S is for Spongy. The really stunning thing about Illinois' demolition of Penn State (besides Ron Zook winning a game in the Big Ten at all) was the Penn State run defense, historically the stoutest feature of Tom Bradley's defensive scheme. The Illini ran for 282 yards on Penn State, breaking a streak of 17 straight games where the Nittany Lions had not allowed a hundred-yard rusher.  

T is for Tyranny. In the Republic of Justin Houston, you die so that the country may advance on your stacked corpses, and by "you" we mean "opposing quarterbacks." Georgia may have had a largely inconsistent effort on defense this year, but Justin Houston has not been part of that problem, wheeling around tackles and decimating blocking schemes with ease. He leads the SEC with 5.5 sacks, and stacked up his lead by ensuring Matt Simms required a change of pants after the game on Saturday. The revolution needs bodies, however, and will continue apace.  

U is for Unsubstantiated BCS Rankings Of No Value Other Than Sheer Irritation. 

1. Boise State. Just to piss off everyone. 

2. Ohio State. Just to piss off everyone, since no one outside of Ohio State fans wants to see them lose another BCS title game, and also to irritate Ohio State fans who think they should be number one and who hate the tired gag of referring to their BCS losses. 

3. My Honda 2001 Civic Dx. Just a tribute to its past performance, since it's sitting in the driveway with a cracked catalytic converter and no hope of recovery. Interestingly enough, this is precisely the logic the Coaches' Poll uses to validate insane votes for teams that don't deserve their high ranking

4. Zach Galifianakis Overexposure Alert. It's as inevitable as a Boise State Fiesta Bowl berth at this point, and just as sad. 

5. Wednesday. Criminally underrated as a day by most pollsters, and saddled unfairly with the "Hump Day" label. 

6.  Bo Pelini's gum. Tenacious, and somehow still chewable after approximately 19,000 hours in Pelini's maw. (Trick: it's not gum, started as a piece of a truck tire, and is only now something resembling chewing gum. Pelini will give it up when you take it from his cold, dead mouth.) 

These are no more or less absurd than anything Brad Edwards is doing right now. 

V is for Vaya Con Dios. The latest iteration of Miami's latest comeback from their latest comeback as a program is, like the previous three or four revampings under Randy Shannon, now in need of some kind of comeback or revamping. Losing 45-17 to Florida State is bad, but turning the human interception sprinkler on and letting Jacory Harris throw the ball 47 times is just sheer madness on Mark Whipple's part, especially since under his tutelage Harris has only regressed into a better-dressed, African-American variation of Rex Grossman migrated a few hundred miles down the Florida Turnpike. As for Florida State, the initial disappointment of the blowout at Oklahoma has subsided into a calming consistency. This can only mean one thing: an impending loss of both my hypothetical wagering money on them and their undefeated ACC record when they lose to the aformentioned horrible Boston College team this weekend. 

W is for Weeds. Lurking in them: Utah, just waiting to either spoil TCU's BCS bid, make their own, or just give their own fans a double dose of heartburn when they are denied a BCS challenge and when Kyle Whittingham is again mentioned with every major open coaching position in the universe. 

X is for Xenobiotic. Denoting a substance foreign to the body, as in something one's body might reject, as in the horrid orange unis Florida wore against LSU. Some things need to stay in 1989: these things, my eighth grade mullet, any albums by Dangerous Toys or the Bullet Boys, the Bobby Brown fat pants my obese neighbor wore while practicing his dance moves in the driveway, and those jerseys. 


Y is for Yearning: For Oregon to make the title game just to shut up any inanity about the spread not working against a quality defense. A bad spread is like any bad offense: it's horrible, and often more visibly so since you can see individual blockers struggling with the concepts more. A good spread like Oregon's is a thing of beauty forever, and works in a fundamentally sound fashion against any comparable defense. 

Z is for Zazzy: Next week's slate with Wisconsin at home against Ohio State, Arkansas at Auburn, Iowa at Michigan, Texas going to Nebraska for their final Big 12 matchup, Nevada going to a shootout in the islands with Hawaii, South Carolina going to Kentucky, and the wily and possibly insane Houston Nutt and Mississippi coming to Alabama's rebound game in Tuscaloosa. It's a deep slate, so adjust your conditioning schedule accordingly. You'll need your endurance. 

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