He’s not going to win the Heisman. Let’s get that out in the open right from the get-go.
Playing for an unranked, underachieving team that has gone south faster than “snow birds” trek to Florida the first sign of sub-50 temps in their native Northeast abode, Marqise Lee has that inoperable obstacle in his path to college football’s highest individual honor as is.
In a true testament to irony, the Southern California receiver/return man has become the marquee attraction to one of the nation’s most recognized programs and that connection only serves to hurt – heck, kill – his chances.
The video-game numbers Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel puts up every week in proving the Aggies-will-bomb doomsayers wrong during an initial foray into SEC play hasn’t helped, either. Nor has skill and leadership displayed by Braxton Miller and Manti Te’o in spearheading unbeaten seasons at Ohio State and Notre Dame, either.
But, push comes to shove, do you really want to argue who the best player in the sport happens to be?
Biases, allegiances and affiliations aside, anyone would be hard pressed to trump a case for Lee holding that title.
It’s reached the point of some street game in New York City. Flip a card here, show its match over there. Have a cup with a ball in it, mix with two cups that don’t, shuffle ’em around and then have your, um, patron pick up where it is.
Pretty soon, the nation’s college sports fan base will be about as clueless as a hoodwinked tourist with knowing where the ball is.
Just when it seems the landscape of conference affiliations has settled somewhat, another continental shift kicks in.
This has gone beyond ridiculous. It has surpassed sublime. At this point, it defies description … if not sanity.
OK, we get it. Maryland felt like an outsider in a circuit it helped to create, so university regents voted Monday to jump off the ACC wagon and hitch itself to the Big Ten. Not that it will have any more cachet with its new companions in the Midwest, but at least that bigger paycheck will help sooth any hurt, or left-out, feelings now.
Maybe it’s just time. After 23 years of change and craziness, with schools switching conferences at the drop of a hat, the likes of Boise State gaining national acclaim and the BCS system becoming the bane of major college football’s existence, maybe it’s just time.
Time for Notre Dame to rise to the top of the heap, time for the Irish to play for a championship, time for a little old-school normalcy, if not familiarity, to return … maybe, just maybe, it is.
How else do we explain the 2012 season, especially after this past weekend’s results that saw No. 1 Kansas State and No. 2 Oregon both go down? The fact that those two programs constituted the best in the sport midway through November says it all with how things are different from the last time the Irish were in the process of grabbing an 11th national title in 1988.
Lou Holtz patrolled the ND sideline like a raving lunatic back then instead of the ESPN studios as he does now.
USC vs. UCLA: Brett Hundley Hopes To Complete UCLA's Return To Relevancy Against Matt Barkley's Trojans
They meet again, this time in the Rose Bowl on Saturday afternoon. It’ll be the 82nd edition between the two. Unfortunately, it’s been a decade since the Southern California-UCLA college football matchup started drifting away rivalry to one-sided domination.
Following a couple relatively competitive contests won by the Trojans to bridge millenniums, Pete Carroll’s arrival in 2001 as USC head coach signaled the end of any competition between the two, on the field or off. From blowout victories to Heisman Trophy winners to enticing fans and blue-chip recruits alike, the Cardinal-colored cross-town rival has had it all over the Bruins.
UCLA managed to scratch out a 13-9 decision in 2006, but that’s the only “gotcha” it can claim against USC since the 1990s. In the interim, the Trojans re-emerged as a national power and made Los Angeles pretty much all its own.
Not even the energy, enthusiasm and verbal challenges by Rick Neuheisel upon his return to UCLA as coach of his alma mater managed to register a blip on the relevance screen.
It’s amazing. The top dog in the Southeastern Conference – heck, the top dog in the entire country – gets its comeuppance one week and suddenly a nation of college football followers receives a reprieve from getting hit over the head with the reality that the SEC is helmet and shoulders above every other circuit.
In short, the best league this side of Sunday play won’t be taking centerstage for a weekend. It’s slate is pretty paltry. In its top-billing place, well, it ain’t much more than paltry, either.
But at least a pair of Pac-12 powerhouses will square off Saturday night in Eugene, Ore., when No. 2 Oregon (10-0, 7-0 conference) hosts No. 13 Stanford (8-2, 6-1). That, clearly, is the highlight game of Week 12 in the 2012 campaign.
It may, however, not be the best contest between quality opponents. Look for that “honor” to fall to Big East frontrunner Rutgers – hey, the 22nd-ranked Scarlet Knights are 8-1, 4-0 in the conference, and tough as nails across the board – facing underrated and unranked, but dangerous Cincinnati. The host Bearcats are 7-2 (3-1 Big East) and very easily could be unbeaten at this point, if not for some sloppy ballhanding.