By Lenn Robbins
Every now and then I’m sadly reminded that the first love of my life, college football, can be the worst swamp not known as Washington, D.C.
Wednesday was National Signing Day and I wanted to be positive. Rutgers (No. 40 according to CBS Sports) beat out some football first schools such as Auburn (No. 46). Heisman Trophy ballots went out this week and there are many wonderfully-deserving candidates this season.
But it’s hard to enjoy the dessert when the main course was a colossal flop.
Let’s look at a few of the sorry story lines from coast to coast.
From Texas, we bring you the Art Briles Coaching Reclamation Project (ABCRP). Briles, seemingly out of the blue, announced his resignation – as a high school coach! If Morgan Wooten or Bob Hurley Sr., never announced their resignations I can think of no high school coach ever thinking he or she warranted a public job status update.
Briles, you might recall, was fired after several reports and investigations uncovered a horrific culture within the Baylor program. According to a Wall Street Journal report, 17 women reported domestic violence or sexual assault incidents involving 19 football players from 2011 until his 2016 firing. Most were not pursued by the university.
This did not stop Mount Vernon High School in northeast Texas from trying to write its own sordid Friday Night Lights episode by hiring Briles. Just wondering which candidates didn’t get hired by Mount Vernon.
The audacity of Briles’ resignation is outdone only by the obvious gall of the timing. Briles apparently is the leading candidate to replace Hugh Freeze at Liberty University, who apparently is the leading candidate to replace Will Muschamp at South Carolina.
Freeze, you might recall, was forced to resign as the Mississippi coach when a pattern of personal misconduct was found, including the coach allegedly using a university-issued phone to call an escort service. Oh, the molder of men college football can provide us with on occasion!
Liberty University, you might recall, saw its president, Jerry Falwell Jr. resign in August after allegations surfaced that Falwell Jr., and his wife, Becki, had engaged in a threesome with a pool boy at a Miami hotel. But hey, the Flames are 17-6 in the last two seasons so who cares what the president and football coach might, or might not, have done.
Actually, Briles sounds like the perfect replacement for Freeze. Like I said, college football can be the worst swamp not named Washington, D.C.
Need more convincing? Talk about making the best of a bad situation, you’ve got to tip your hat to LSU.
It was expected that the defending national champions wouldn’t come close to last season’s record-setting 15-0 campaign. Gone was Heisman Trophy winner, QB Joe Burrow, and two coordinators. Repeating in any sport carries burdens but the Tigers were put in an especially tough spot, which kept getting tougher because of NCAA investigation.
The Tigers sit at 4-5, which in this pandemic-plagued season means LSU is still eligible to play in a bowl game. Except the Tigers won’t go bowling after announcing a self-imposed ban in the wake of a bevy of NCAA violations, including a booster paying a player $180,000 for a no-show job.
What a painful decision it must have been to pass on an invitation from the, oh, say TransPerfect Music Bowl after playing in the BCS National Championship game last season. But hey, no talk of escort services or threesome at LSU – yet.