Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Classless, Clueless and Congratulations

A few Quick Hits on the bowl season so far...

Mark Richt runs it up:

Georgia head coach Mark Richt pulled two of what I considered to be the coolest moves of the 2007 college football season on his way to a 10-2 season and a berth in the Sugar Bowl.

At 5-2 with the Bulldogs season in the balance and facing the defending national champion Florida Gators, Richt sent his entire team out to the end zone after an early touchdown to send a message to the Gators that they were not going to be pushed around as they had in several previous meetings between the schools.

He knew they would get penalized and that people would talk trash about the tactics, but he realized that his team needed a boost.  The move propelled Georgia to a 42-30 win over Florida and helped inspire his team to five straight season ending wins.

The second pull from Richt's coaching grab bag of tricks came two weeks later against rival Auburn when Richt sent his team out in red jerseys, only to have them yank them off to reveal their rarely seen black jerseys.

Those moves had me thinking I really kind of liked Richt and how he was handling his players as he seemed to really understand motivation and knew how to keep things loose and have a good time, a la Pete Carroll at USC.

However after watching his team steamroll the Hawaii Warriors in the Sugar Bowl while Richt ordered passing plays and fourth down attempts in the fourth quarter with his team up 41-10, I lost quite a bit of respect for Georgia's head man.

Why do that?  What could there possibly be to prove?  People knew going in that it was going to take a big time effort for Hawaii to hang with an SEC school like Georgia and when the score got out of hand and Colt Brennan had been knocked out of the game there was no reason for Richt to keep the pedal to the floor.

The television announcers mentioned next year's pre-season polls as possible explanation for Richt running it up on Hawaii, but that's crap if you ask me.  

So too is the idea that Richt wanted to let his backup guys get some stats and find the end zone in a bowl game.  In fact there was no good reason to try and embarrass a team and a school who quite frankly was overmatched from the opening kickoff.

As entertaining as Richt's regular season antics may have been, in the end he proved to be nothing more than another classless college football coach who has little in mind besides his own ego.

Riley saves the day:

The California Golden Bears were one of the more disappointing teams in 2007, reaching number two in the country and then falling off the map and finishing 6-6.

Much of the blame for Cal's demise was placed on redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Riley who freaked out in the final seconds of a loss to Oregon State and cost Cal the chance to be the top ranked team in the country.

But it was none other than Riley who saved the Golden Bears in their bowl win over Air Force in relief of embattled starter Nate Longshore.

Just when it looked like Cal and Longshore were about to suffer another bad loss to an inferior team, head coach Jeff Tedford made the move he should have made weeks earlier and gave Riley his second chance.

All the kid did was go 16-of-19 for 269 yards and three passing touchdowns and ran for another score on his way to leading a 21-point comeback in the Bears' 42-36 win over the Falcons.

Why Tedford waited so long to finally make a move on Longshore is a mystery to me and most Cal fans who had such high hopes for their favorite team in 2007.  Thankfully it appears the starting job will not be handed to Longshore in 2008 as it was this past year.

Personally I can't wait to see what Riley can do with a whole season as the starting quarterback for the Bears as they look to put the disaster of the 2007 season behind them.

Henne and Hart go out winners:

I've never been a huge Chad Henne fan and I've never thought Mike Hart was overly impressive outside of his ability to hang onto the ball and get the tough yards.

Despite the fact that Hart doubled his career fumble total by putting the ball on the ground twice and Henne threw two interceptions in the Capital One Bowl against SEC powerhouse Florida, both of Michigan's senior leaders came up big when it mattered and led the Wolverines a 41-35 win.

Along with senior left tackle Jake Long, Henne and Hart came back to school to win a national championship with a team many considered one of the best in the country prior to the season.  But an opening season loss to Appalachian State sent the title hopes down the tubes and by seasons end Michigan would be unranked and searching for a new head coach.

But Henne and Hart rallied their teammates like the true leaders they are and to them I say congratulations on two stellar careers in the maize and blue.

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