Internal affairs: News from around the non-BCS and Independents

October, 22, 2008
10/22/08
11:32
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

Whittingham leaves Utah in good hands: The reason Utah coach Kyle Whittingham agreed to spend a couple days traveling to Bristol, Conn., to make various appearances on ESPN was because he believed his seniors could lead without him.

At least that's what he told them.

So, according to seniors Brian Johnson and Louie Sakoda, the upperclassmen and other leaders rallied the team, kept it focused and had one of its most productive practices on Tuesday.

"Even with coach not here, we were doing everything with as much effort and intensity because that's what it takes," Sakoda said. "All the younger guys look up to that. They all follow suit. Coach Whit always talks about bridging the gap between the most committed and the least committed and that's something we've really done well this year."

QB controversy at Navy: With Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada still out with a sore hamstring, backup Jarod Bryant has been handling the starting quarterback duties. But after last week's 42-21 loss to Pittsburgh where Bryant was 3-for-7 for 18 yards and an interception (though he did rush for 81 yards and a touchdown), many fans were clamoring to see more of sophomore Ricky Dobbs, the Midshipmen's future quarterback.

But head coach Ken Niumatalolo said he didn't put Dobbs in earlier because he didn't want to upset his starting lineup or send the wrong message to Bryant. Dobbs got six reps at the end of the game and led the Midshipmen to a meaningless touchdown. Although it was against Pittsburgh's second-string defense, it still sparked some controversy over whether it can give the Mids a better chance for victory.

Can't play at a high level all the time: Tulsa coach Todd Graham said that no matter how much he'd like to see his team play at a high level every week, he knows it's not going to happen. But he hopes it doesn't happen often. The Golden Hurricane had a lapse against SMU two weeks ago, which nearly cost them their golden season.

"We have basically gone out and played flawlessly for six of the seven games that we've had and hopefully, SMU was kind of the down game and we won't have another one like that," Graham said. "I think it's hard to get your guys motivated every week, especially when you're playing somebody that's 1-5, but on the same hand, championship teams figure out a way to win."

Weis can relate to Willingham's situation: During Charlie Weis' news conference on Tuesday, the Notre Dame coach was asked whether he felt for Tyrone Willingham, Washington's 0-6 coach and the person Weis replaced at Notre Dame, who will likely be fired after this season. Weis and the Irish went through a similar start last year.

Weis said he has no ill feelings toward Willingham and would never wish anything bad to happen to him or any other coach.

"It's important as you get involved in coaching to never wish bad on another coach," Weis said. "I mean, that's really a bad thing, because when you do that, you're wishing bad on him and his family and his assistant coaches and their families, before you even get to the players that are in the program. So I always wish goodwill on everyone."

A season changer: Temple coach Al Golden was waiting for something to spark his team as it heads into the homestretch of the season, and Tuesday's come-from-behind win over Ohio might have done the trick.

The Owls got a touchdown with 51 seconds remaining to give them a 14-10 lead and the win. The Owls are now 3-5 overall and 2-3 in conference play with four games remaining and no clear-cut leader for the MAC East title. No team in the East has won back-to-back conference games. The Owls jump from second-to-last in the conference standings to second right behind Akron, which is 2-2.

"For a while there, we couldn't do more things wrong," Golden said after the game. "But our guys hung in there. The kids are excited right now. It's a big win. We finished a game and showed some toughness. It's the first time we've been in a situation like this this year where we finished a game and won. It's gratifying."

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