College Football News and Notes
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Auburn's Newton wins Heisman, Texas' Muschamp now a Gator. This time of year always brings interesting stories. From awards to coaching changes to controversies, the time between the regular season and the bowls often sees the landscape of college football change. 2010 has certainly been no exception. Last night we had an unreal, yet controversial talent win the Heisman, just as a major coaching change was taking place.
* Cam Newton - I could go on and on and on about how good this player is. There are Heisman players we remember and there are Heisman players that fade into history. Cam Newton is a player that we will all remember many years and decades to come. He is a unique individual - as he calls himself quite often, "a blessed individual." He somehow turns "blessed" into two syllables. But he is. He is very athletically blessed.
All season, game after game after game, I have watched this guy become a better quarterback. At front and center in the news is the situation with his father and the payments. But I want to beg everyone to look aside for a minute on that. No, I am not playing the role of the judge and declaring him innocent. I am simply saying let's talk only football on this for a couple of paragraphs.
Those that really do watch all the games - not just games of their own team - have been able to see Cam (we will use his more popular name here) on TV about five or six times this year. And if you were noticing that when Auburn had the ball, this 6'6" giant of a quarterback was shredding defenses. Not just with his gliding runs, but also with some tight spirals. The dude was hand-baked in a divine oven to run an offfense.
Late in the season is when I started to notice his arm more. His passing games were pretty balanced throughout the season yardage-wise, but he did have a bit more yards through the air in the second half. We all knew he could run like a gazelle, but now we all know that he can sling it with the best of them, too. His height gives him the ability to get his passes over linemen that might bat down a smaller quarterbacks throws.
His height also allows him to run the offense with ease as these same vision paths apply to reading defenses. He isn't just a freak of a talent physically, but he also has outstanding game-awareness, knowing when to throw, when to dish it off to a running back, and when to just take off running himself. Those are basically his three options on each play, and he has gotten as close as as is reasonably possible to perfecting what to do.
He also leads. I know I will probably get some kind of comment below about how I shouldn't refer to Cam as a "leader," but that is fine. He is a big, loud, charismatic person that is so good at what he does on the field, that his team cannot help but rally behind him. He has a big, likable smile (unless you are a Bama fan), and he must tower and dominate any room he is in. He is not a quiet guy. He is a guy that likes the spotlight. He likes to be front and center. He likes to lead. The fact is, he seems to be damn good at it, too. With all of this going on around him in the news, he has cooly led his Tigers to the number one ranking and one more win from a national title.
So Cam is our 2010 Heisman winner, and I feel the choice is correct. He was clearly - without question - the best player on the field in 2010. I thought Andrew Luck of Stanford had a sensational year, but Cam is the man here in 2010. Who knows what will shake down with these investigations. Maybe nothing. Who knows. But the fact is that the trophy needed to be given to the best player in college football, and it was.
* Will Muschamp - For many seasons now, whenever a high-profile job would come open, Texas defensive mastermind Will Mushcamp's name would surface in the speculations of who might be the replacement. Muschamp has been thought of as head coaching material for quite some time, and now he will get his shot with one of the top programs in the nation in Florida. The Gators' Urban Meyer stepped down this past week.
Though he has been away from the SEC area out in Texas since 2007, Mushcamp is an SEC man. He grew up in Florida and says he was a Gator and SEC fan growing up - with many of those memories happening right in Gainesville. He also coached at Auburn (twice) and LSU.
Muschamp was Texas' coach-in-waiting. But with Mack Brown clearly having some work to do (which indicates to me he will be around UT at least a few more years), Muschamp was ready to pounce. At 39 years old, Muschamp is young and could spend more time in Austin, but the Florida job was just too prestigious not to take. Any coach would be a fool not to take such a job at such a school resting in such fertile recruiting soil.
With this hire, I think UF has signified that they plan to be real good in the coming years. Muschamp was reportedly their only target on the board, and they landed him. The Gators have stockpiles of talent to work with, and now let's see what this young, highly-regarded, up and coming head coach can do with it.
* SMU - The timing of ESPN's 30-for-30 story on SMU football is quite interesting considering the Heisman situation with Cam Newton. I watched nearly all of this latest version of the series last night (immediately following the Heisman ceremony), and my overall perception of the point being made was that every major school in the country was paying players in the 70's and 80's. That is straight from the mouth of Eric Dickerson, who said this nearly verbatim near the shows end. Of course, Dickerson was an SMU grad, but many other highly recruited players from that time seemed to agree.
For those of you who didn't see it, I won't say how this documentary unfolds exactly. But basically the old Southwest Confernce was a huge mess, anchored by the actions of SMU and a few of their wild boosters. This is a sad story, and SMU still today - 23 years after their death penalty - have not fully recovered from what they put on themselves.
One thing that caught my attention early in the documentary was a former SMU player that when interviewed said, "we were clearly the best team in the country in 1981." I don't think so, buddy!
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