Sunday, January 2, 2011

Great Lakes F-Ball Massacres

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

When my best friend Gus Pantelides won the Tom Selleck look-a-like contest several years ago at the Clearwater Mall after receiving a rousing applause, I told him he it was a no-brainer that he emerged as the clear cut winner. His response was the old Yogi Berra saying, "It's not over until it's over." As it turned out, Pantelides did win the contest handily and the Selleck contest was over early.

But I'm sure that Pantelides was sick to his stomach on New Years Day as the Alabama Crimson Tide thrashed his Michigan State Spartans 49-7 in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando.

Unfortunately, this contest was over quickly as former Spartans Coach Nick Saban's Alabama team cruised to a 28-0 first half lead and never looked back. Alabama scored five touchdowns on its first five possessions of the game and set the Capital One Bowl mark for largest victory.

But Pantelides can at least be thankful that his Spartans did have an excellent 11-2 mark even if the last game's result will sting MSU for awhile.

Regardless, Pantelides had to wish the Spartans early ending, resembled his win at the Clearwater Mall. However, that wasn't meant to be.

But knowing Gus, he just spent the rest of the day with his beautiful family and would scoreboard watch to see how his rival the Michigan Wolverines were doing.

Pantelides has never been shy about his dislike for the Wolverines but it looked like the Mississippi State Bulldogs weren't phased by being on the same field with the winningest program in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

The Bulldogs blasted the Wolverines 52-14 in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida. Michigan set a school bowl record by allowing 52 points in what appears to be Coach Rich Rodriguez' final game. It's inevitable there is going to be a major shakeup at Michigan. Even if Rodriguez is retained, his Defensive Coordinator Greg Robinson will be terminated.

But now the question is, who will lead U-M?

The natural choice is former U-M quarterback Jim Harbaugh, who has led the #4 Stanford Cardinal (11-1) to the Orange Bowl. But Harbaugh has shown a desire to stay at Stanford and who knows, there is talk that the San Francisco 49'ers might be interested in him.

The wild card candidate is San Diego State Coach Brady Hoke, who guided the Aztecs to their first bowl win since 1969, a triumph over Boston University in the Pasadena Bowl.

In two seasons with the Aztecs, Hoke is 13-12 but his team's impressive 35-14 win over Navy on December 23, 2010, in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, sealed a 9-4 season.

The last time San Diego State appeared in a bowl was in the 1998 Las Vegas Bowl, a loss to the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Where did Michigan go wrong with the hiring of Rodriguez? I only have one explanation for this. They didn't hire a "Michigan Man" that understands Wolverines football. He wasn't a good fit.

Harbaugh played there and Hoke was the defensive lines coach for Lloyd Carr from 1995-2002.

There was talk during the Aztec's win over Navy that Hoke would be a good fit and take this job if it were offered. We'll know soon enough.

But even if Rodriguez does get fired, I have a feeling he won't be unemployed long.

Despite his 15-22 record with Michigan, he was 60-26 with West Virginia. He led West Virginia to six bowl games and won two.

The Pittsburgh Panthers fired their new football coach Mike Haywood, 2 1/2 weeks after being hired, when he was charged with felony domestic battery in the presence of a minor.

Why would Rodriguez be a good fit for the Panthers? The Big East knows him real well with his body of work with West Virginia and I'm sure the Mountaineers would be sick if he returns to their conference.

Besides, if Rodriguez lands another job quickly, it wouldn't surprise me if he makes an attempt to take his quarterback Denard Robinson with him. The signal caller from Deerfield Beach, Florida, is the first quarterback in NCAA History to rush and pass for over 1,500 yards in the same season.

It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out.

But for those Rodriguez critics, they'll have a field day when the #6 Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1) face the #8 Arkansas Razorbacks in the Sugar Bowl Tuesday Night.

Arkansas Quarterback Ryan Mallett transferred because his drop back pocket-quarterback skills weren't a good fit for the spread offense that Rodriquez was bringing to Ann Arbor.

Mallett finished seventh in voting for the 2010 Heisman Trophy and has guided Arkansas to a 10-2 record.

Have to wonder how Wolverines fans will feel if Mallett does have better results against a Buckeyes team that whipped U-M 37-7 at Ohio Stadium on November 27, 2010.

Let the intrigue begin at 8:30 PM on Tuesday Night on ESPN. Hopefully, this game will be competitive unlike the Spartans and Wolverines New Years Day Massacres where these games were over before lunch.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com.

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