Locker Room: Final bowl records make no statement

Fans like to talk about the final bowl records of conferences in the effort to make claims of power and so forth. Sometimes there is some indication, usually not. This past season was a perfect example.

These things are hard to judge because some bowl games are between obviously better teams in a more competitive environment with at least bragging rights going to the winner. Some of the bowl games mean very little. It’s something that needs to be looked at, however, there will be one more next. There’s going to be a bowl game in Myrtle Beach. Tourism is down that time of year I guess.

But counting the Final Four Playoff this past season the ACC finished with the best winning percentage in bowl games. Of course, that is mainly due to Clemson going 2-0. The ACC as a whole finished 6-5. That was the best. Nothing really stood out. But if you are an avid college football fan, you know without me having to tell you that the ACC is far from being the strongest conference in the country.

I still think that’s the SEC, but the margin appears to be getting slimmer. The SEC finished 6-6 and its top two teams, Alabama and Georgia, both got hammered in their final games. It wasn’t pretty. The Big was a solid 5-4, but it’s been better too. Ohio State had a big win in the Rose Bowl, Urban Meyer’s final game. But Michigan once again stumbled badly down the stretch. The Big 12 was an okay 4-3, and would have been better but most of West Virginia’s best players decided not to play, making a negative statement in this opinion. The Pac 12 went 3-4 and was fortunate to get that. It could have easily been 1-6. West coach football is really struggling. Unless you count the Rams.

But I feel it’s becoming more and more obvious. Just as many of the players are looking at things as individuals as opposed to team, the conferences are not as tightly associated as maybe in the past. Fans from Vandy can stand and shout all they want “SEC, SEC, SEC” every time somebody wins a bowl game or a national title. But the reality is that it’s not the SEC. It’s Alabama. It’s not Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, Ole Miss, or whoever. It’s Alabama! In the past dozen years take away Alabama and how many SEC chants to you hear? Not many. It’s been Alabama.

It’s certainly not the ACC. Nothing about Clemson resembles the rest of the ACC. Pitt played in the conference title game and finished 7-7, Boston College was 7-5, Wake Forest 7-6, Syracuse was the league’s second best team at 10-3, but no big wins, Florida State continued to decline and finished 5-7, Louisville 2-10 and is in turmoil again, Georgia Tech a disappointing  7-6, Carolina remained bad at 2-9, Miami continued to struggle at 7-6, Duke was 8-5, UVa an obviously better and improved 8-5, but Virginia Tech had its first losing season in 25 years at 6-7. So no, absolutely not. It’s not the ACC in football. It’s Clemson! What do I expect the ACC to be about in 2019? Clemson! I see little competition.

And the transfer situation, which is not good for college football in this opinion, will continue to make conferences less relevant. If you’re a college quarterback right now, but aren’t good enough to win the starting job, you transfer. There is no waiting your turn anymore. You just transfer, and if once is not enough, you keep transferring until you find a place you can play. I understand wanting to get on the field. I just wonder why they don’t realize that in the first place. For instance, why do top rated quarterbacks continue to go to Clemson unless you’re willing to wait for two years? Why don’t players go somewhere else in the first place? Would you rather be three deep at Alabama, or start at Mississippi State.

It seems like a cartoon at times. A quarterback commits to Ohio State. Then Justin Fields is mad at Georgia because he’s not the starter so he transfers to Ohio State. The Buckeyes top recruit sees this and says I’m out of Ohio State. Where’s he going? Georgia! Now you have Tate Martel, a top rated QB from two years ago supposed to take over at QB for the Buckeyes. He sees Fields coming and says I’m outta’ here. Reports say he will end up at either Miami, or West Virginia. Syracuse is mentioned everywhere. It takes up too much space to mention all the names, but the starting QB at LSU right now was a backup at Ohio State. They’ve had a ton of QBs in Columbus, and still have a couple good ones. Wonder who will go next and go dang it, I need to transfer.

By the way, the starting quarterback for Northwestern next year will be Hunter Johnson, the top rated pro QB prospect in the country two years ago. He said he wanted to take the snaps for Clemson.  No kidding. Brandon Wimbush is leaving Notre Dame to play quarterback for somebody next season. You have transfers, and graduate transfers. It will probably add up to a total well over 100 before it’s over. The QBs just get most of the attention. Shea Patterson, the QB at Michigan, transferred from Ole Miss. Oklahoma has recruited another crackerjack so last year’s backup Austin Kendall is leaving for somewhere.

Makes you wonder why some of them don’t pay attention to what Kyler Murray did at Oklahoma. He waited until Baker Mayfield was gone, and then broke every one of his records, and is about to become filthy rich. But showing a bit of patience these days is rare. It’s a “me” thing they say.

It’s very prevalent right in our own state. Josh Jackson got hurt at Virginia Tech and Kansas transfer Ryan Willis was productive. Hard to know where the quarterback position is headed at Tech. Jackson should be able to return, so does Willis, Herndon Hooker doesn’t seem to be in the picture, and there is considerable thought that Chicago freshman Quincy Paterson (6-6, 230) might be the trigger man of the future. That might be the case because the Hokies have not signed a quarterback in next year’s recruiting class. The transfer situation certainly worked great for UVa. Bryce Perkins had a terrific season and he returns. The Wahoos did recruit 3-star quarterback Robert Harvey out of Orlando, Florida.


Well, well, well. Kyler Murray signed a $4.7 million dollar contract with the Oakland A’s before the college football season began. He was viewed as a one-year quarterback, and at the time said this was it for football. But then the Oklahoma QB pretty much erased everything Baker Mayfield had done. Now the NFL comes calling, teams inquiring as to what he’s going to do, and bonus money is in the air. He can make more with football. However, the A’s can renegotiate their offer, and you never know, that’s what this might be about anyway, however, he won the Heisman in his only year as a starter at OU. By being patient, which some others seem incapable of doing, Murray is going to be a very rich man.

Keith Jackson:

He was the kind of guy that would impress you without even trying. For years Keith Jackson was known as the voice of college football and he was. I do not like cookie cutter sports announcers.  They all sound like plywood. I like the ones that simply come off as who they are. Jackson had his own style. He did not copy anybody else. He also never stepped on anybody else. He also couldn’t actually define his own style.

I had the pleasure to meet Jackson in New Orleans. When he meant you the first time he treated you just like he had known you for 20 years, a very smooth and pleasant man. He could say your football team wasn’t very good without making you mad.

There were about maybe 10 of us setting in the press room at the Superdome. I asked Jackson one question. “Do you rehearse, and plan your broadcast according to what expressions you might want to use that day?” Jackson said, “I hardly ever rehearse unless it’s one of those award shows. I do have a ‘hit sheet’ he called it (and that’s why that’s what I call it), that reminds me of the order of things. But as far as how I broadcast the game, what words may or may not come out of my mouth, I do not know until the game starts and ends. Other than trying to be as pleasant and as clear as I can be, I don’t think I have a style, and never cared about that. Just do the game,” said Jackson.

He sure knew how to do the game. Keith Jackson passed yesterday. He never played a down, but he will be remembered as one of the greats in the game of college football. Best there ever was, and ever will be. And when the Cougar defense has its back to the goal line, and things are a bit tough, I’ll just say it’s time to “hunker down.” Then I’ll think of Keith Jackson.

Cheap Shot:

The press takes too many political cheap shots these day. I often wonder if they know how to do anything else. Monday Clemson’s national champion football team visited the White House at the invitation of the President. For the second time in the last three years the Tigers were glad to visit the “Biggest House.”

But we have a partial government shutdown. Certain things like food service aren’t getting done at the White House just like at other places. So what does President Trump do? He orders fast food, cheeseburgers, fries, and drinks for everybody. He has been criticized. Naturally. One of these days somebody will write a column on how he holds his fork. But you know what. Those players ate all that fast food, and drank all the soda. The players laughed, smiled, had fun, and enjoyed the experience.

And just like after the championship win over Alabama, the Clemson team impressed again with its stature. They were pleased to visit the White House, proud of their program, proud of their accomplishment, happy to meet the President of the United States, and it’s very apparent that the things that are important to their head coach Dabo Sweeny have become important to them. He may have become the most influential coach in America.

And the food and drink? President Trump paid for it all. Nobody’s tax dollars were spent. Some will say but he’s rich and can afford to do it, and that would be correct, but he still didn’t have to do it. He’s done a lot of nice things for people you likely haven’t heard about, and while honoring the Clemson team Monday, he was something else, very Presidential.