Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football ("Onside Kick Rules For Dummies" books sold separately -- discounted rates available for Pac-10 refs ):
The Dash understands why Sooner Nation (2) lost its collective mind after the officiating fiasco at the end of the Oregon game, which was won by the Ducks 34-33. The non-call on the onside kick stunk. The inept review of the call was worse. The Pac-10's one-game suspension of the offending officials was completely justified.
But the Oklahoma reaction has become an overreaction. In fact, it has transitioned from righteous indignation to outright insanity.
The actions of school president David Boren (3) make you wonder whether he isn't actually the booster club president instead of the guy running an institution of higher learning. The former governor and U.S. senator pushed out his pouty lip and dashed off a petulant letter to Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg (4) that is embarrassing on multiple levels.
" The Big 12 should request that the game should not go into the record books as a win or a loss by either team in light of the level of officiating mistakes," Boren's letter said.
And strike the Kansas City Royals' 1985 World Series title from the record books because of that terrible call at first base by Don Denkinger, too!
"It is truly sad and deeply disappointing that members of our football team should be deprived of the outcome of the game that they deserved because of an inexcusable breakdown in officiating," Boren concluded.
What's truly sad and deeply disappointing to The Dash is the fact that Boren should have such an inexcusable breakdown in perspective.
Is there really nothing better for the president to do at the University of Oklahoma? Like, maybe check in on the college of arts and sciences? Or, if he's that terribly concerned about the football program, perhaps he could lend a hand to the compliance office and help monitor players' jobs at local car dealerships. Y'know, make sure they actually show up and do some work.
If the president can put down his pompon for a minute, he'll realize a couple of things:
1. Bad calls happen. In every game. A few times a year, they can play a critical role in a game's outcome. Are we going to set a precedent of presidential hissy fits after each critical blown call?
2. The game did not end on this bad call. Oklahoma still had the lead, still had a chance to win. It didn't get the job done.
But instead of absorbing this as an object lesson -- life is not fair, but you have to deal with it -- the school president is setting the sore-loser tone.
Coach Bob Stoops (5) went off shortly after Boren, all but declaring the officials and the Pac-10 unforgiven for the damage done to Oklahoma's season. (Bob: You can still win the Big 12 title and go to a BCS bowl. And you weren't going to win anybody's national championship anyway. You might have sustained the illusion for another few weeks by winning this game, but it wasn't going to happen.)
When asked about Boren's letter, Stoops thanked the prez for taking time away from reviewing game film to join in the bitchfest.
"We have a great administration," Stoops said. "President Boren is the absolute best president a head coach can have."
Clearly. The question is whether he's the best president a math professor can have.
Then again, maybe Boren is simply following presidential precedent at Oklahoma. It was OU prez George Cross who once explained to the state legislature a need for more funding because, "I would like to build a university which the football team can be proud of."
In closing, The Dash will take the obnoxious step of quoting itself, just to help the honorable president Boren. This was from an August column enumerating 23 new rules of conduct for college football fans:
If the scoreboard says you lost, you lost. That's not going to change. Take an hour to vent postgame, then try to regain your sanity. Do not diminish your quality of life -- and the quality of life of those around you -- by spewing for days about the refs who cheated your team, the flagrant league bias against your team or the complete lack of class displayed by the team that beat your team. Your team l-o-s-t. Try to deal.
USC unbeaten? Not a surprise. Ohio State, West Virginia, Auburn, Florida all without a loss? Nobody's fainting over that news. But in some more modest locales, 3-0 is reason to fly that car flag with extra pride. The Dash examines five unlikely unbeatens and appraises how far they can go without a loss:
Wake Forest (6)
Last time the Demon Deacons were 3-0: 1987, when they ran it to 5-0 and finished 7-4.
Rankings: Not receiving votes in either the AP or USA Today Top 25s. Ranked 36th in the Sagarin Ratings.
Key ingredient: Mental toughness. Wake lost its starting quarterback, Ben Mauk (7), to a broken arm in the opener, but hasn't been deterred. Wake also has won the fourth quarter of every game, outscoring its three opponents 24-0 in the final 15 minutes.
When will reality hit? With their next two games against reeling Mississippi and lightweight Liberty, the Deacs have a chance to go 5-0. Then comes a home game against Clemson -- a team Wake has beaten two of the past three years, with the lone loss coming in overtime. A victory over the Tigers could be the school's first 6-0 start since World War II -- but don't count on it.
Last time the Scarlet Knights were 3-0: 1981, when current coach Greg Schiano was 15 years old.
Rankings: Rutgers is 28th in AP voting, 29th in the coaches' poll and 40th in the Sagarin Ratings.
Key ingredients: Stout defense and a strong running game. They're the basic building blocks that have been important since roughly 1869, when Rutgers started this crazy thing by playing Princeton. The Knights lead the Big East in scoring defense, total defense and pass efficiency defense -- although playing three lousy throwing teams has helped. Sophomore Ray Rice (9) is fourth in the country in rushing and has five straight 100-yard rushing games.
When will reality hit? Get ready for Rutgers Mania to extend well into October. The Knights will be 6-0 before they get their comeuppance at Pittsburgh on Oct. 21. By then, greater New York will actually be forced to acknowledge that college football exists.
South Florida (10)
Last time the Bulls were 3-0: 1997, as a I-AA team. It never has happened on the big-time level.
Rankings: South Florida is not receiving votes in either poll and is ranked No. 41 in the Sagarin Ratings.
Key ingredients: A strong survival instinct and a weak schedule. Quarterback Matt Grothe (11) has thrown the winning touchdown pass in the final 3½ minutes of the past two games, against Florida International and Central Florida. The Bulls' three opponents are winless against I-A competition.
When will reality hit? If not in Lawrence, Kan., this Saturday, then at home Sept. 29 against Rutgers. There has been little so far to suggest South Florida is in this for the long haul.
Last time the Tigers were 3-0: 2003, their second season under Gary Pinkel. That year ended 8-5 after a trip to the Independence Bowl.
Rankings: Mizzou is 32nd in the AP voting and 35th in the USA Today poll, showing that there are more voting alums of the prestigious Missouri School of Journalism out there than there are voting alums of the sketchy football program. Missouri is 34th in the Sagarin Ratings.
Key ingredients: Good quarterback play and what might be the Tigers' best defense in several years. Sophomore Chase Daniel (13) has stepped into Brad Smith's large cleats and done the job, accounting for 849 yards of total offense and nine touchdowns. Defensive end Brian Smith (14) anchors the nation's No. 2 total defense and leads the nation in sacks with six.
When will reality hit? With home games against Ohio and Colorado up next for Mizzou, The Dash projects the Tigers taking their first 5-0 record since 1981 into Lubbock on Oct. 7. The Dash also projects Missouri leaving Lubbock 5-1.
Last time the Cougars were 3-0: 1990, during the John Jenkins run-and-shoot heyday.
Rankings: Houston is receiving no votes in either poll and is ranked No. 78 in the Sagarin Ratings.
Key ingredients: Gunslinger Kevin Kolb (16) and a user-friendly schedule. Kolb, a career 10,000-yard thrower, has piled up 880 yards and eight touchdowns so far. Of course, he and the Cougars haven't yet had to leave the city of Houston, and beating Rice, Tulane and Grambling does not qualify as a landmark accomplishment.
When will reality hit? Saturday against fellow unbeaten Oklahoma State. Even with the game at home and the Cowboys similarly untested against three weak opponents, that looks like the end of the line for this Cougars streak.
Coaching Heat Index, By Conference
One-fourth of the way through the regular season, it's time for a temperature check on the backsides of a few coaches around the country:
On freakin' fire: Chuck Amato (17), NC State. It was bad when Amato's Wolfpack lost to Akron. It was worse when Amato then took a shot at the Zips' admittance of academic nonqualifiers. And it got worse still Saturday when Southern Miss rolled up the Pack by 20. Amato isn't even lucky enough to have Duke on the schedule.
Burnin': Larry Coker (18), Miami. The U has become The Few on offense -- few playmakers, few points, few clues about how to fix it. The Hurricanes are scoreless in the second half against I-A opponents this season.
Toasty: Dennis Franchione (19), Texas A&M. A 3-0 start counts for only so much when the defeated teams are The Citadel, Louisiana-Lafayette and Army -- and when the Aggies were life-and-death to hold off the Cadets at the goal line Saturday. Fran hasn't beaten a I-A team that finished the year with a winning record since 2004.
Unseasonably warm: Ron Zook (20), Illinois. Eleven-game losing streak to I-A competition. Hasn't come within single digits of a win during that streak. Bottomed out (one would hope) with a 31-21 home loss to similarly inept Syracuse, a beatdown that was camouflaged by two fourth-quarter touchdown bombs by the Illini. Hard to envision a coach being fired in only two seasons at a place like Illinois, but the Zooker certainly is building a thick case file against himself.
Off the hot seat (at least until the next loss): John L. Smith (21), Michigan State. Lloyd Carr (22), Michigan.
Hot cheeks: Greg Robinson (23), Syracuse. Even the good news comes with mitigating circumstances. Robinson's team won by 10 points on the road against a Big Ten opponent -- except the opponent was Illinois, which is only a de facto I-A team at present. His team scored more than 24 points for the first time since the third game of 2005 -- except that two of the scores were defensive touchdowns. So they won't be building a statue of Robinson outside the Carrier Dome just yet.
Slow cooker: Walt Harris (24), Stanford. Impossible to imagine The Farm getting rid of a coach after two years even if Harris goes 0-11. (Besides, cleaning up the work of Buddy Teevens is only slightly less daunting than cleaning up after Katrina.) But the Cardinal are not just 0-3 this year, they're a bad 0-3. After the four-touchdown loss to Navy, Stanford is last in the nation in rushing defense by a whopping 76 yards per game over No. 118 Buffalo.
Pass the asbestos britches: Sylvester Croom (25), Mississippi State. The good news is that Croom's team scored its first points of 2006 on Saturday. The bad news is that Tulane -- nobody's idea of a powerhouse -- scored three more than Croom's team. A coach taking over a program in the shape Jackie Sherrill left State should get four years to fix it, regardless. This is only Year 3 for Croom. But nobody's clocks tick faster than SEC fans'.
Anyone smell smoke? Houston Nutt (26), Arkansas. Beating Utah State and Vanderbilt by a combined 22 points won't make any Hogs fans forget the opening-game wipeout against USC. Nutt has hitched his wagon to freshman quarterback Mitch Mustain, which could go either way: Some fans will say Nutt deserves the chance to coach such a rare young talent for a couple years; others will say Mustain's potential should not be squandered in Nutt's hands. He should be able to finagle six wins and a bowl trip out of this season; will it be enough?
Just beginning to smolder: Ed Orgeron (27), Mississippi. Much as Rebels fans would like to delight in the travails in Starkville, they can't afford to with their own debacle unfolding in Oxford. Ole Miserable has been on the road twice and lost by the combined count of 65-21 -- and that's to Missouri and Kentucky, not Texas and Florida. Strong recruiting should buy Orgeron time, but fans have to wonder every day why it was imperative to get rid of David Cutcliffe in 2004.
Hit The Training Table, Dashettes
With word out of Spain on Monday that the fashion industry is weeding out models for being too thin, The Dash is doing its part to encourage healthy babeness. Tatiana Zavialova (28) and all the other slightly bony Dashettes are encouraged to grab a protein shake every day before visiting the weight room.
Last Interception Pool
The Dash has revived an old favorite, asking readers to select which quarterback among the top 100 listed in the NCAA pass efficiency leaders will be the last to throw a pick in 2006 and how many passes he will get off before finally tossing one to the wrong team. Your choices:
Drew Willy (29), Buffalo. No interceptions in 97 attempts.
Troy Smith (30), Ohio State. No interceptions in 81 attempts.
John David Booty (31), USC. No interceptions in 71 attempts.
Stephen McGee (32), Texas A&M. No interceptions in 62 attempts.
Thaddeus Lewis (33), Duke. No interceptions in 62 attempts (the first 62 attempts of the freshman's career).
Jared Zabransky (34), Boise State. No interceptions in 53 attempts.
Riley Skinner (35), Wake Forest. No interceptions in 46 attempts (also a freshman).
Quarterbacks must throw a minimum of 15 passes per game to remain in the rankings. Any fewer than that and they're out of the pool. Pick your favorite pick-free QB today.
Reader E-mail Of The Week
Last week, we featured the Dead Schembechlers, an alleged band of freakish Ohio State fans who write songs about the Wolverines-Buckeyes rivalry. In the interest of equal time, we turn over the pulpit to Michigan grad Andrew DeSilva (36), who is at least posturing about a potential band war. To wit:
These are all hypothetical at the moment, but I do have a tambourine and a Fender amp from the Ford administration (former Michigan player, zing), so a single may be forthcoming. Potential Band Names:
The John Cooper Chronicles
Panic! At the Horseshoe
The Chaz Woodson Experience
Satan Wears a Sweater Vest
Tax Bracket Nosebleed
Scarlet and Grey Genocide
The Dash votes for Electric Biakabatuka, followed closely by The Chaz Woodson Experience. Start layin' down tracks with full tambourine accompaniment, Andrew. Nov. 18 will be here sooner than you think.
Putting Out An APB For
Tom Rathman (37), perhaps the best of all the lead-blocking fullbacks in Nebraska's rich history. Rathman flattened linebackers for Mike Rozier and other star I-backs in Lincoln, then went on to a productive NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers. He coached running backs in Detroit through last year. Anyone with knowledge of the current whereabouts of the former crewcut-wearing 49er, please advise.
Meanwhile, The Dash is pleased to report that last week's APB subject, former Iowa defensive end Andre Tippett (38), is alive and well and working for his old pro team, the New England Patriots. Tippett is the director of football development and promotions with the Patriots and maintains a prominent profile in the greater Boston community. Thanks to the many alert readers who passed along info on the former Hawkeyes great.
Due to circumstances beyond The Dash's control, there was no eating and drinking decadence on the road this past weekend. Instead, here are a couple of suggestions from the newest college football town in America, Louisville, Ky.:
When hungry in Derby City -- as several thousand West Virginia fans figure to be in early November -- hunker down over a fat slab of meat at Pat's Steakhouse (39). If you want to try a local microbrew after dinner, hit the Bluegrass Brewing Company (40). See if they're serving up their Homewrecker double India pale ale. And be prepared to stay up late. Closing hour in several parts of the 'Ville is 4 a.m.
Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPN4D@aol.com.