GOAT? Plus "Coach O", NFL Playoffs, Redbox, Rocky Long
Tuesday morning musings after the NFL Divisional playoffs and CFP Championship Game...
Burrow’s Legacy: Many pundits are proposing this morning that Joe Burrow’s 2019-20 college football season may have been the greatest in the history of the game.
Before dismissing this proposition, consider the following:
Heisman Trophy winner
6 touchdowns in national title game—5 passing, 1 rushing
8 touchdowns in national semi-final game—7 passing 1 rushing
60 touchdown passes (NCAA major college record)
65 touchdowns responsible for (also an NCAA record)
5671 passing yards (SEC record)
Only 6 interceptions
76% completion percentage
Likely No. 1 pick in NFL draft
LSU’s Legacy: One must also consider whether this year’s LSU team is one of the best teams of all time. In winning the national title and setting a wheelbarrow full of offensive records, the Tigers won 15 straight and defeated no less than six teams that were ranked in the top 10 at one time or another during the season—Texas, Florida, Auburn, Alabama, Oklahoma and Clemson—as well as two others that were ranked in the top 25 (Texas A&M and Mississippi State).
That’s impressive. And they were unstoppable in the playoff, beating Oklahoma 63-28 and Clemson 42-25.
Burrow, his receivers, and the entire LSU defensive backfield are all top NFL prospects.
They get my vote for one of the best 10 teams of all time.
Coach “O”: Congrats to LSU head coach Ed Orgeron, who should've been hired at USC after a very successful 6-2 interim stint in 2013, but was passed over in favor of Steve Sarkisian.
How’d that work out, Trojans?
Orgeron, with his folksy manner and gravelly voice, apparently wasn’t "Hollywood" enough for the suits at USC, but is a perfect fit in his home state of Louisiana.
Officiating OK: The much maligned Pac-12 officials did a respectable job in the championship game, other than a very questionable offensive pass interference call on Clemson that nullified a touchdown. That score would’ve cut the LSU lead to 10, but ultimately wouldn’t have mattered, since by that point LSU was scoring at will.
Redbox Results: The Redbox Bowl had one of its better games, with a beautiful day, a very respectable crowd (34,000) and a nice win for the locals from Berkeley. The only blemish was disappointing TV numbers. The game’s audience of 1.87 million viewers was the third smallest in the history of the bowl, adding further evidence that Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott’s decision to move the game to Fox from ESPN was ill-conceived.
Bottom line: Unless you have two marquee programs (like last year's Oregon vs. Michigan State matchup), it’s hard to generate good ratings without a sports lead-in and without the 24/7 promotion provided by ESPN.
NFL Divisional Playoffs: There were some strange happenings in last weekend’s NFL Divisional Playoff games. Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson, the presumptive league MVP, generated over 500 yards in total offense, but his Ravens were upset by Tennessee,
28-12. Three turnovers proved fatal. And Houston jumped off to a 24-0 lead over Kansas City, but the Chiefs—aided by some questionable decisions from Texans’ coach Bill O’Brien—scored 41 straight points and won 51-31.
Super Dreams: Imagine the Chiefs' spectacular offense vs. the 49ers' spectacular defense and Patrick Mahomes/Travis Kelce vs. Jimmy Garoppolo/George Kittle in the Super Bowl. Could happen, should happen and, I believe, will happen.
The Long Run: Last blog we talked about two of our least favorite college football coaches—Mike Leach and Lane Kiffin. One of our most favorite coaches, Rocky Long, retired last week as the head coach at San Diego State. He’s the exact opposite of the Mississippi twins—humble, honest, very interested in his players, very protective of his assistants. A class act.
This is the second time Rocky has walked away from a successful program. Twelve years ago, he left his alma mater, New Mexico, where he was the winningest coach in school history, declaring that the Lobos might reach greater heights with new ideas and a fresh approach. He went to San Diego State as a defensive coordinator and was promoted to head coach two years later.
Last week, after nine years with an 81-39 record and nine straight bowl appearances at San Diego State, Long stepped down again, citing the fact that he really doesn’t enjoy many of the demands of being a head coach.
Both times, his athletic director tried to persuade him to stay, but Rocky declined. Despite the fact that he turns 70 later this month, he’s says he’d be willing to coach a few more years as a defensive coordinator. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone takes him up on his offer.