3-point stance: Return of Midwest football

November, 19, 2012
11/19/12
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1. The demise of Midwestern college football has been relentlessly chronicled over the 25 years. The population shift to the Sun Belt left fewer players for the Big Ten. The game’s emphasis on speed favors warm-weather recruits and the colleges that sign them. A BCS Championship between the last two unbeaten teams, traditional powers from the Rust Belt, would be a powerful tonic. And a Notre Dame-Ohio State game could fall into place next week, if only former Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel hadn’t lied to the NCAA.

2. It may not pass muster under the bowl rules but I want to see Iowa (4-7) play Ole Miss (5-6) in this postseason. The Hawkeyes are 2-4 in games decided by three points or fewer. The Rebels have lost their last two games in the 60th minute. Iowa has been slammed by injuries. Ole Miss is a young, improved team learning hard lessons under first-year coach Hugh Freeze. Both teams could use a break.

3. Derek Dooley didn’t win enough (15-21) to get a fourth year at Tennessee. Given the dire financial and roster problems that Dooley inherited when he arrived three years ago, he was doomed. Vince Dooley, his Hall-of-Fame coaching dad, wouldn’t have won in that situation, and I’m not so sure that Gen. Robert Neyland, the greatest coach in Vol history, would have, either. Derek Dooley, like Mike Shula at Alabama, served as a bridge across troubled waters. Not that Dooley or Tennessee will find solace in that.

Ivan Maisel | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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