Friday, December 13, 2002
Season preview: Answering 2000's questions
By Mike Diegnan
The 2000 college football season is upon us. With it comes the questions of fall. First off, who will take the fall.
Here are five coaches who are feeling the heat around the country.
Terry Shea, Rutgers: Rutgers is moving closer and closer towards Temple (and for that matter UConn, since the Huskies will be joining the Big East soon) than Boston College and West Virginia. Shea has posted just eight wins in four seasons.
Bob Davie, Notre Dame: The Irish have a killer September with Texas A&M, Nebraska, Purdue and Michigan State. There's a possibility Davie could be facing an 0-4 record and the ax. Then again, if QB Arnaz Battle is the real deal, Notre Dame could pull off a few wins, be in the national title picture, and Davie would all of a sudden be everyone's candidate for Coach of the Year. If ?
Carl Torbush, North Carolina: Pretty much signed his own death warrant if things don't turn around this season when he hired former N.C. State mentor Mike O'Cain to run his offense.
John Cooper, Ohio State: The annual restocking stalled a year ago, and Cooper is facing the possibility of another rough season. The schedule makers didn't help the Buckeyes out: their byes this season in the Big Ten: Northwestern and Indiana. Then again, Cooper could help himself out with OSU fans: improve on his 2-9-1 record against Michigan.
Nick Saban, LSU: After the Gerry DiNardo regime, Tigers fans are not ready to sit still for long. With his big paycheck, Saban will be expected to deliver the goods immediately.
Players that could feel the pressure on campus:
|Notre Dame head coach Bob Davie is in an unfamiliar position this year -- unranked in the AP Top 25 preseason poll.|
Rashard Casey, Penn State QB: JoePa has taken a lot of heat by backing up Casey in his assault case. With his second chance, Casey will have to deliver off the field. And on it -- Paterno is seven wins shy of Bear Bryant's all-time wins record.
Arnaz Battle, Notre Dame QB: The swarm of bees is getting angrier and angrier around South Bend. Julius Jones is the real deal at tailback and the defense should be better, but if Battle is not ready, the Irish could be battling an 0-4 record at the start of the season and Davie's head could be served on a platter by October.
Drew Henson, Michigan QB: Now that he's not a Yankee or a Tiger, Henson has mentioned that he might stick with football. With David Terrell, Anthony Thomas and another dominating line, he'll be expected to return the maize-and-blue to Pasadena -- if he can't earn a return trip to Miami.
Alex Brown, Florida DE: His five-sack performance against Tennessee will be the talk of Knoxville prior to the Gators' Sept. 16 visit. But Brown will also have to be more consistent -- his offside penalties helped crush UF against Florida State.
Marvin Minnis, Robert Morgan, Anquan Boldin, Florida State WRs : With Peter Warrick gone, who will fill his shoes in Mark Richt's high-flying offense. Boldin has the potential to fit into Warrick's mold, but will he do it with the spotlight blaring on him?
Five questions to begin the year:
1. The Major or The Prodigy?: Is there any coach that wouldn't want to be in Mack Brown's shoes right now? Both Major Applewhite and Chris Simms could start for almost every team in the country.
2. Crime pays: Last year, UCLA had its handicapped parking players, Florida State its shopping spree, and Kansas its chalupa. Who will take the prize this year?
3. Heisman voting: LaDainian Tomlinson outrushed Ron Dayne in 1999 and finished 14th in the voting for the Heisman. If Tomlinson has a 2000-yard season this year, will voters be swayed?
4. K-State conspiracy: If Kansas State finishes in the top 10 again, will the Wildcats earn a BCS bowl berth? Or will K-State find itself in the galleryfurniture.com Bowl?
5. When will it end: Lou Holtz starts the year with his South Carolina squad winless in 20 games. Two of the first three games are with New Mexico State and Eastern Michigan.
|TCU's LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 406 yards against UTEP in '99.|
Southern Miss. -- at Tennessee, at Alabama, at Oklahoma State, Memphis
Notre Dame -- Texas A&M, Nebraska, Purdue, at Michigan State
Colorado -- Colorado State, at USC, Washington, Kansas State
Oklahoma -- Texas, at Kansas State, Nebraska
Michigan State -- at Iowa, Wisconsin, at Michigan, Illinois
Baylor -- at Texas Tech, Texas A&M, at Nebraska, at Texas
South Carolina -- Tennessee (Oct. 28), at Florida, at Clemson
Kansas -- at Nebraska, Texas, at Iowa State
Vanderbilt -- Florida, at Kentucky, Tennessee
Michigan turned down a chance to play Virginia Tech in the Kickoff Classic. Instead the season opens with Bowling Green and Rice.
Texas coach Mack Brown cancelled the Longhorns' trip to Hawaii and bought out, the Hula Bowl in turn told him to stay home for the all-star game he was scheduled to help coach.