Emptying out the notebook from the sudden firing of Florida coach Ron Zook:
Four years ago, I ripped Alabama for firing Mike DuBose with three weeks left in the season. However, I think Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley made the right move in announcing Monday that the university had made Zook a lame Gator.
Foley said he didn't want to be a hypocrite when he and university president Dr. Bernie Machen had already made up their minds to make a change. You have to like anyone who shoots straight. Foley has been shooting straight for a long time.
A question out of Gainesville arose about whether Foley had actually fired Zook's staff, since it's quite possible that a new coach will keep one or more of them. That's possible, yes, but they no longer have jobs. They must re-apply and re-interview for them. You can make the case that they have an advantage but the bottom line is that they no longer have their jobs.
Several of you wrote to inquire about a reference I made Monday to a dispute between Foley and former coach Steve Spurrier when the latter resigned in January 2002.
As I recall, the biggest dispute between them concerned Foley leaning on Spurrier to make some staff changes. Spurrier instead chose to leave. Foley dismissed any notion Monday that he does not get along with Spurrier, and it's easy to picture the two of them sitting down to discuss a return.
What do you think about Rick Neuheisel as the next Florida coach? It's about as far away from Washington as he can get, and I know he'd love to get back in the coaching ranks. Besides, they don't care about scandal and honesty down south.
Jason M. Rosen
Jason, does the name Mike Price mean anything to you?
Zook 20-13, Willingham 20-13 with a worse record in the last 20. Why should Notre Dame tolerate Ty Willingham any longer?
If Florida can fire Zook, there should be no complaints if Notre Dame fires Willingham.
Keven J. Kelleher
The biggest distinction that I can make is that Willingham didn't take over a perennial SEC champion. Notre Dame hasn't contended for the national championship since 1993, the year that current high school seniors entered first grade. The other distinction is that Notre Dame has never fired a coach without first allowing him to fulfill his contract, traditionally, five years. Notre Dame takes its traditions seriously.
I have finally read an article written by someone in the mainstream (although skewed by sports) media who has written a completely unbiased article on the debates. It is sad that I had to come to a sports website to do that. ESPN does a fantastic job reporting and I thank you for your efforts at "keepin it real".
Thank you and Go Boilermakers!,
Wow, that was better than 90 percent of the analysis on CNN, Fox etc. I really enjoyed the way you humanized what is a tough debate and as well that, though the parties are miles apart, a lot of Americans are in the middle and can listen to one another. I only wish our representatives and president could do the same.
Great article today about the University of Maryland football players and their debates about the presidency. The article portrayed not only the differences between different cultures and people with different backgrounds, but also about how the stereotypes that some Americans have (about these different cultures and backgrounds) can be flawed.
Again, great article.
Matthew O. Brady
Outstanding! This article should be forwarded to every college football coach in the country. (Maryland coach Ralph) Friedgen is right when he says, "That is education." College is about expanding one's horizons and seeing the world from different perspectives. I am excited for the kids who are lucky enough to play ball under someone who understands that and encourages it. Keep up the good work. (For Argument's Sake is my favorite thing on the Internet ... don't tell Geno.)
The story on Maryland players Andrew Crummey and Domonique Foxworth generated a lot of e-mail, and more than 95 percent of it favorable. Once or twice a season, I interview players that I figure we're all going to work for someday. That's the impression I got when I met Foxworth in July.
I must chime in in defense of Tom Osborne. The 1995 Nebraska team was one of
the most dominant teams of all time, winning their games by an average score of
53-15. The closest game was 35-21, and it wasn't as close as the final score
indicates. Last week you wrote, "Phillips' return galvanized the Husker
offense." I tried to do some research, but was unable to find the 1995 season
statistics. Perhaps you have greater access to such information than I and you
could correct me if I'm wrong, but if memory serves me correctly, Lawrence
Phillips only played in the first two games and the bowl game. The Huskers won
their games in which Phillips did not play by an average score of 51-13. They
scored an average of two points less without Phillips.
You also wrote, "The Ahman Green of 1995 was not the Green of 2004." That may be true, but Green was still a darn good back in 1995, rushing for 1,086 yards and 13 touchdowns, with a whopping 7.7 yards per carry average. The point is, the Huskers hardly needed Lawrence Phillips to win games. They did just fine without him. Tom Osborne did not keep Phillips on the team so that they could continue winning. He kept him on the team to give him a chance to turn his life around. As was pointed out last week, Phillips was a lost cause, but I think the criticism Osborne has received for trying to help a troubled man is unjustified.
The problem is that I worked off memory as well. Yes, that was Tommie Frazier's team, but I remember the offense being a level or two more dangerous when Phillips returned. Either way, as you point out, the Huskers were dangerous.
I was surprised by your Las Vegas Bowl pick because Stanford shellacked BYU 37-10 back on Sept. 11. Granted, BYU's starting quarterback was out and the Cougars' offense didn't look much like the team that had beaten Notre Dame the week before, but what's the sense of a rematch if the previous game was so lopsided?
I live two hours from Vegas, and I'm a huge BYU fan (one of the few who actually travels and spends a little money during the bowl season), but I doubt I'd go to the game if the opponent were Stanford.
As you know, the bowl folks are not in the football business. They're in the tourism business. So why would the Las Vegas Bowl folks agree to a rematch, especially since there are bound to be so many BYU fans who wouldn't travel to see another game with Stanford?
Cedar City, Utah
The Pac-10, unlike the other BCS conferences, slots its teams into bowls depending on where the team finishes, not where it would make the best matchup. If the Cardinal goes to Las Vegas, the bowl will, if its officials think like ticket-selling bowl people across the country, want a team like BYU whose fans travel. Well, most of them, anyway.
Maisel is Lame
In this week's article you write:
It is worth repeating that only once in the last three decades have more than two I-A teams finished the season undefeated. In 1993, Florida State and Nebraska played for the national championship in the Orange Bowl. The third unbeaten, West Virginia, complained about being left out of the title game, but got waxed by Florida in the Sugar Bowl.
Uh, sorry Ivan. Just not true. 1993 was ND 31, FSU 24, so FSU was not undefeated going into the Nebraska game. You had to know that -- that game was the first ever GameDay on campus!
Shoot me back if ya think I'm wrong. I love reading your stuff, keep up the good work.
No, Florida State was not undefeated, but Auburn was. Nebraska, West Virginia and Auburn, which was on probation and didn't go to a bowl, all finished the regular season 11-0.
Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your question/comments to Ivan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your e-mail could be answered in a future Maisel E-mails.