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Urban Blight; Bowl Bailouts; Tough Stanford Schedule

The firing of Urban Meyer after 13 games as an NFL coach was stunning but inevitable.

From Florida to Ohio State to Jacksonville, Meyer's lapses in judgment have been legendary.

In Jacksonville, his time was a disaster almost from day one—kicking players, calling assistant coaches losers, hiring strength coaches with race-baiting backgrounds, twerking with a woman who wasn’t his wife, and berating his players on the sidelines and to the media.

Not to mention losing 11 of 13 games.

Meyer’s college glory days included three national championships, but were tainted by the enabling of a wife-beating assistant coach at Ohio State and the arrests of over 30 players during his tenure at Florida.

Yet Meyer was—and still is, by some—considered to be one of the best coaches in college football history. And he is only 57 years old. One must wonder: will some college program hire him?

In my mind, there’s no doubt someone’s going to give him another chance. Some lower level Power Five Conference team, seeking to turn its fortunes around, or a Group of Five team will hire him in the next few years.

It's happened before with disgraced coaches. Like Bobby Petrino—who was fired at Arkansas after an infamous motorcycle accident exposed an extramarital affair with a department staffer and who earlier had abandoned the Atlanta Falcons in mid-season. Like Hugh Freeze—who committed a raft of recruiting violations at Mississippi and used his university cellphone to book escort services.

Petrino caught on with Missouri State and Freeze is at that paragon of virtue, Liberty University.

And it'll happen again with Meyer. Some unprincipled AD looking for a few headlines, some TV dollars, and a potential turnaround will hire him. You can bet the ranch on it.

Rotten Peaches: This year’s Peach Bowl, featuring Pittsburgh vs. Michigan State, figured to be one of the best matchups on the over-loaded 42-game bowl schedule. It was to feature two of the best players in the country, Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett and Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker, who finished third and sixth in this year’s Heisman Trophy voting.

But both Pickett and Walker have decided to skip the bowl game to prepare for the NFL draft, which means the game can be scratched off the list of games to watch. Such a shame. And such a tough break for our old friend, Peach Bowl director Gary Stokan, in our opinion the nation’s best bowl boss.

Other big names are doing the same thing—like Iowa State running back Breece Hall and Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux.

This whole trend started five years ago when Stanford's Christian McCaffrey decided to skip the Sun Bowl.

Since then, it’s become an epidemic. The lure of NFL money, the risk of injury, and pressure from agents worried about their own commissions have led many top players to skip "meaningless" bowl games.

Nowadays, it seems as though if a team isn’t in the College Football Playoff, it’s kosher for players entering the draft to bail out. It’s all part of today’s “me” generation.

But what about loyalty to your team and coaches? What about leaving your teammates high and dry before, at least in some instances (like the Peach Bowl), your team’s biggest game of the year?

And what about the guy who would’ve been blocking for you, or catching your passes? How will your absence affect his stock with the NFL people? How about the coaches whose jobs and end-of-season bonus may depend on the outcome of the bowl game? How about the bowl people who are paying millions of dollars to have your team play in the game? Or the hundreds of bowl volunteers who worked to put on the game, only to have you destroy its appeal?

I guess I'm old school, but I think it's shameful.

2022 Schedules Released: Next year’s college football schedules were released last week and the news wasn't necessarily good for our local lads.

Both Stanford and Cal's non-conference schedules include a game against Notre South Bend. And the Bay Area schools are playing much tougher non-league schedules than some of their counterparts in the Pac-12.

Consider that while Stanford is playing Notre Dame, BYU and (ahem) Colgate on its non-league schedule, UCLA is hosting Bowling Green, Alabama State and South Alabama. Seriously. Three sure wins for the Bruins...and three empty Rose Bowls.

As for Stanford, thank God for Colgate, the only "sure" win on the Cardinal schedule. No Arizona or Colorado, unfortunately, as Stanford once again must face Utah and Arizona State.

Plus away games at Oregon, Washington, UCLA, Cal and the afore-mentioned Notre Dame. And a season finale against BYU, which beat five, count 'em, Pac-12 teams this season (conference champ Utah, USC, Arizona, Arizona State, and Washington State).

Unless some highly-touted freshmen deliver big time, and the offensive line suddenly regains its footing, Stanford could be looking at another disappointing season.

Cal has it a little easier, with Colorado and Arizona (instead of Utah and ASU), and non-conference games against UC Davis and UNLV. Here’s hoping Bears’ coach Justin Wilcox is rewarded for his decision to stay in Berkeley rather than take the bigger bucks and lavish locker rooms at Nike University in Eugene.

Stanford Needs a Stud: One of the reasons for Stanford's downturn in recent years—both on the field and at the gate—has been the absence of a great offensive player.

It wasn't that long ago that Stanford had several Heisman Trophy runners-up—Andrew Luck, Toby Gerhart, the aforementioned McCaffrey, and Bryce Love. That means Stanford had the second best player in the country (actually at least two of them should've won the Heisman as the nation's best player).

There's no one in Stanford’s lineup right now remotely approaching that level. I don't see Tanner McKee becoming a great QB; he’s simply not accurate or decisive enough. Running back Austin Jones has actually regressed since he arrived on the Farm.

Coach David Shaw badly needs to recruit or develop someone who steps up and takes it to the next level.

49ers’ Revival: Speaking of the next level, bravo to the 49ers for their impressive turnaround. The Niners have won five of their last six, thanks to the under-appreciated excellence of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, the all-world performances of tight end George Kittle, the explosiveness of receiver/running back Deebo Samuel, and a stout defense led by Player of the Year candidate Nick Bosa.


Gary Cavalli - Bowl and League co-founder, author, speaker 

Gary Cavalli, the former Sports Information Director and Associate Athletic Director at Stanford University, was co-founder and executive director of the college football bowl game played in the Bay Area, and previously was co-founder and President of the American Basketball League.

Get in touch//@cavalli49//

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