Cavalcade of Whimsy: Michigan Uniforms, Jake Olson, UCLA-Texas A&M
It’s back to college football with the ugly uniform problem, the Jake Olson situation, and the rest of Week One.
2017 Cavalcade of Whimsy
Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault …
Here’s what happened at my every attempt to write something entertaining, humorous or interesting in this week’s offering …
“Where did you get that dress, it’s awwwwful … and those shoes … and that coat …”
Would you wear black socks and sandals in public? If you’ve given up on life, yeah.
If you’re over 22-years-old, would you get caught dead wearing a jersey in public? Please – we’re not animals.
How about jorts? A RompHim? White, now that it’s after Labor Day? Squared-toe dress shoes?
A mock turtleneck, 8-ball jacket, or acid wash jeans?
Of course, you would never, ever, under any circumstances, be that guy who wears the t-shirt of the band to that band’s concert.
Fortunately, your wardrobe is iconic. It’s timeless. It’s classic. It’s dominant and intimidating simply by what it is and what it represents about you.
But despite that, in front of millions of people, you willingly chose to dive into the Atomic Banana collection.
If it takes a uniform change to get a recruit to come to your school, not only do you not want him, the University of Michigan shouldn’t accept him.
Kids are busting their guts out for the honor of a lifetime of crippling student debt while attending this world-class university, and this is how you choose to represent them?
A wacky uniform change? Who are you, Oregon?
You’re Michigan. Like I called it six months ago, you’re going to the College Football Playoff. Dress the part.
And get off my lawn.
Fortunately, for this week, he found the right balance between school and football
It was amazing, it was historic, it was everything we love about college football and sports and … and …
Josh Rosen removed his helmet before leaving the field.
When it comes to unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, the helmet removal is as soft as they come, and in a rational, just world, shouldn’t be penalized. But Rosen did it, he should’ve been flagged, and Texas A&M should’ve received a massive break.
In the craziness after the fake spike play that led to the brilliant throw for the game-winning touchdown – lost in the craziness, by the way, was that the clock was stopped and a spike wasn’t necessary – Rosen and the UCLA sidelines went batspit nuts. And as it happened, one of the most thoughtful guys in college football lost his helmet on the field in the celebration and should’ve cost his team 15 yards.
And nothing happened.
No, really, get … off … my … lawn.
“You’ve done worse than let Haldeman slip away: you’ve got people feeling sorry for him. I didn’t think that was possible.”
I feel for Kevin Sumlin.
Yeah, he’ll be fine no matter what – J.J. Watt raised slightly more for hurricane relief than it would take to buy out Sumlin’s contract – but he couldn’t catch a break against the Bruins.
It’s not necessarily his fault that the team suffered the historic loss. It took about 412 different weird things to happen for UCLA and Rosen to make that comeback, and A&M was on the wrong end of all of them.
The D line punched itself out – it was gassed. Ask the Atlanta Falcons what happens when you can’t get to a smart, accurate quarterback late in a game.
The defensive backs were in place time and again and just missed on ending the game three different times. Every bounce went the wrong way, and every big moment went to UCLA’s side.
It didn’t help that Kellen Mond couldn’t complete a forward pass – Sumlin’s starting quarterback, Nick Starkel, was knocked out with a leg injury.
And then there was the pure luck factor on the second-to-last touchdown that Rosen – by his own admittance – just chucked and prayed.
On the plus side, for about 44 minutes of game time, that’s exactly what you want Texas A&M to be.
It was fast, explosive, tough, powerful – dominant.
Soon, though, it has to be lucky, too.
Because this column, so far, hasn’t been old farty enough …
I’m a horrible, evil, awful person who thinks horrible, evil, awful things – but I’m not a heartless monster. Now that we’re all in agreement on that, and we can move forward with those ground rules firmly established, I’ll be the horrible, evil, awful guy in the room who’ll point out the obvious.
In the miserable state of the world we currently live in, the USC Jake Olson story vs. Western Michigan was beautiful. It was sportsmanship at its finest, and it was so many things we want out of sports and from the people who handle college athletics at the highest of levels.
With that said, just … just … work with me on this.
For those of you who missed it, here’s the speed version of a story that’s equal parts gut-wrenching and heart-warming.
Olson was born blind in one eye, and as a young kid, he tragically lost the other eye to cancer. But before he underwent the surgery to permanenently lose his sight, then-USC head coach Pete Carroll went above and beyond the call to make the boy a part of the program.
Fast-forward to a few years later. Olson – now a student at USC – learned how to snap a football well, now-head man Clay Helton made sure he was a part of the team, and that led to what went down on Saturday afternoon.
Olson worked hard at perfecting his long-snapping ability, and Helton decided he wanted to give the kid a his moment on the field. He wanted to get Olson a chance to play in a real game.
So Helton made a deal with Western Michigan – accounted perfectly by Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times – that would allow Olson’s dream to come true. From Plaschke’s piece …
“Helton called (WMU head coach Tim) Lester and offered to make a most unique deal. The Trojans would not rush the Broncos’ first extra-point attempt if the Broncos would not rush an extra-point attempt involving Olson.”
Helton was doing something amazing, Lester – a far, far better human being than I am – seemed genuinely happy to go along with the plan, and it was all set up when USC didn’t rush the kicker on WMU’s first extra point try.
It all sounds great, and the media certainly pumped it up as one of those special “bigger than the game” things – because it really was. But take a step back for a moment.
Helton put Lester in one hell of a spot.
Tim Lester is a 40-year-old first time head coach who took a MAC team into USC to kick off the season in one of the biggest moments in his professional life. Beyond that, Western Michigan was coming off a 13-1 campaign with a run to a New Year’s Six game – there were and are hopes and expectations to come up with another amazing season.
So while Lester was trying to figure out how to battle with the No. 4 team in the country on the road, he had to deal with this? Of course he was all cool – but what if he wasn’t?
What was Lester supposed to do, say no to letting the blind kid snap a football?
Do you think for a second that if it was Stanford in Week One, Helton would’ve called up David Shaw to make this deal? Shaw’s a great guy, but in a Pac-12 showdown against a top team? Not … a … chance.
What if Lester was hoping to set a tone for his team, season and era by going for two on the team’s first touchdown? That went out the window thanks to this deal. But more than that, this was only supposed to kick in on the USC side if the game was a blowout.
And the game wasn’t quite over.
When USC came up with a touchdown to go up 48-31, there was still over three minutes to play – that’s when Helton chose to put in Olson to snap the ball.
Lester told his team not to go after the extra point, but down 17, going for the block and the two-point conversion the other way was WMU’s one desperate long shot chance to stay alive. No matter what, the Broncos would get the ball back late with a chance to keep fighting and competing.
More than that, even if USC hit the extra point, after busting their tails against US-fricking-C in 90-degree heat, the Western Michigan players were supposed to just give up? What if the Broncos returned the ensuing kickoff for a score? What if they marched to a fast touchdown? What if the WMU players still wanted to – you know – try?
In a more likely scenario, what if there was a snafu on the extra point?
What if Olson air-mailed the snap? What if the holder bobbled it and the ball was bouncing around? Was Western Michigan supposed to just stand around and let it all happen, even though the chance would’ve been there to keep the game and the dream of beating USC alive?
And while this is obviously a wonderful story on so many levels, what about the Western Michigan player who waited his entire life for this game and this moment? It wasn’t like it was 41-7 – why was the try-hard, no-star-recruit Bronco special teamer being asked to lie down in a game that always, always emphasizes the value of never giving up? THAT’S the “bigger than the game” part of college football.
No one and no player can actually say it without looking like a jerkbag, but what kind of a message did Lester just send his team that it’s okay to quit on a game?
Of course, this really is a great story, and of course it’s just a game, and of course it was a special moment in so many ways, and of course everyone did the right thing for a kid who endured so much.
Now, USC, try to make this same deal with Josh Rosen and ask UCLA to stop playing if the Bruins get down late.
Seriously. Lawn. You. OFF.
Michigan should’ve been suspended for Violation of Team Uniforms
I’m not sure what it says about our current overall climate that Florida players being suspended from the Michigan game for alleged credit card issues feels like a sigh of relief. At least it’s not a sexual assault case.
Five Cavalcade of Whimsy footballey opinions and, like, other stuff
Five conversation starters at your next dinner party, and/or to impress that special someone at the right moment …
5. The New Year’s Six Group of Five problem
Really? You want South Florida with the way it played its first two games to be in your New Year’s Six game?
Come up with the Mountain West team that looks the part, or the killer out of the MAC. or the big-time Conference USA power or special Sun Belt team.
By rule, someone has to be this year’s Western Michigan and be the little guy nice story in a NY6 bowl game against a powerhouse, but let’s start it now. GOF champion -23 vs. random good enough Power 5 team.
4. The punchline
Virginia needed a late score to put away William & Mary, but it was a relatively dry game. Meanwhile, the game thrust-into-national-conciousness star ESPN3 announcer Robert Lee – who got pulled from doing the Virginia game because of his name – got the terrific Pitt-Youngstown State game that went into overtime.
(Feel free to insert here your own politically incorrect comment about Robert Lee winning.)
3. Now the 2018 NFL Draft got really interesting
It’s only one week, but Sam Darnold was off, Josh Allen got hurt, and Mason Rudolph and Josh Rosen were fantastic. Throw in Lamar Jackson being Lamar Jackson vs. Purdue, and the quarterback class of the 2018 NFL Draft has already become the most fun storyline of the season.
It”s been a foregone conclusion that Darnold is the best of the lot, but Rudolph might be changing that. Rosen still isn’t quite big enough, but he’s obviously got that “it” quality, and Allen has the best tools of the bunch.
Several NFL GMs are going to have to make some massive calls a few months from now. This is what we wanted – an every week reality show among future franchise-makers. It’s going to be a blast.
2. No “Discipline”
Every new coaching staff comes in talking about how everyone needs to work harder and how there needs to be a new attitude. Fine, but enough with the announcers, media types, and everyone dealing with Texas talking about how the team needed more discipline.
Say that to Charlie Strong’s face – I triple dog dare you.
If nothing else, and for all his failings, Strong was all about keeping everything as tight as possible – he cleaned house when he first arrived in Austin.
His team couldn’t tackle, which is discipline in its own way. But in terms of how he handled his team, be careful. Praising the new coach can be an insult to the last one.
1. These games are really, really long
What did we learn after this weekend? It’s hard for any team to last a full four quarters without hitting a wall.
Indiana vs. Ohio State, Georgia Tech vs. Tennessee, Texas A&M vs. UCLA – teams got really, really tired and had little left in the tank late.
It’s possible to keep the same intensity, the same fire, and the same production when the teams aren’t quite in game shape. That’s why you always, always, always schedule a cupcake in Week One.
And then hope you’re not Baylor vs. Liberty.
This week’s reason why Nick Saban didn’t suspend me for the season opener against Florida State …
I’d tell you, but LSU head coach Ed Orgeron is keeping all suspensions in-house to “gain a competitive advantage.”
The sure-thing, 100%, rock-solid lock, sell the house, sell the kids, no doubt about it picks of the century for this week
PICK SO FAR: 15-3 SU, 10-4-1 ATS
Ohhhhhhh, you thought my rough Week 0 was going to be a sign of things to come.
I gave you Cal over North Carolina.
Georgia Southern – as rough as that was against Auburn – covered. So did Iowa, with ease, over Wyoming. So did Michigan over Florida, Alabama over Florida, and Nevada over Northwestern.
I whiffed on FIU vs. UCF, but I’d still take Illinois -6.5 over Ball State, and I even told the world – and was accused of trolling – that James Madison would beat East Carolina, but … okay, enough chirping. That’s not why you called.
1. Utah +1.5 over BYU
2. Stanford +7 over USC
3. Missouri -2.5 over South Carolina
4. Miami -14.5 over Arkansas State
5. Pitt +20.5 over Penn State (PSU outright)
6. Iowa -2.5 over Iowa State
C.O.W. shameless gimmick item …
The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: The ACC in late July
Underrated: The SEC now
2) Overrated: The non-stop barrage of promos for the ESPN app that anyone watching the game already has anyway
Underrated: Watching all my games on my phone from my TV
3) Overrated: Saturday of the Greatest Opening Weekend ever
Underrated: Sunday and Monday of the Greatest Opening Weekend Ever
4) Overrated: Labor Day
Underrated: Being wished a “Happy Memorial Day” three times on Labor Day
5) Overrated: Blaming Florida quarterbacks
Underrated: Blaming the shocking lack of offensive playmakers
Sorry if this column sucked, I wasn’t my fault …
“no disrespect to Steve,” but it would’ve been a whole lot better if Lane Kiffin was the offensive coordinator in the College Football Playoff National Championship.