STOCK DOWN: Hawaii. I’m praying that there is no truth to this whatsoever. And honestly, “the admissions office received an anonymous letter Nov. 3 accusing unnamed players of intentionally playing poorly to affect the final score as part of a gambling scheme” sounds like the product of a message board conspiracy theorist taking himself way too seriously. For the good of the school and the game, let’s hope that’s all this is.
STOCK DOWN: Maryland. The Terps were up 41-14 in the third quarter before giving up FORTY-TWO unanswered points and losing to North Carolina State, 56-41. But hell, that’s just par for the course for Maryland football this year. The actual bad news is that due to budget shortfalls, Maryland will be cutting 8 sports:
The teams are men’s tennis, men’s track and field (indoor, outdoor and cross country), men’s swimming and diving, women’s swimming and diving, women’s water polo and women’s acrobatics and tumbling, formerly called “competitive cheer.”
It’s a blow to AD Kevin Anderson, who built his reputation at Oregon State and Army primarily as a fundraiser. It’s almost certainly what made him attractive to Maryland, whose financial difficulties have been years in the making. The bad decisions that led to this mess aren’t Anderson’s fault, but he certainly could have done more to prevent this outcome. The 20 empty suites at Byrd Stadium are a financial albatross. That didn’t have to be the case. When you’re competing with two NFL franchises, two baseball franchises, an NBA team, and an NHL team for corporate entertainment dollars, you don’t hire a milquetoast guy like Randy Edsall to sell luxury suites and premium seating. You hire someone like Mike Leach. Even if you somehow thought that Edsall gave you the better chance to win, when you’re at the point when you’re about to cut sports, winning isn’t your first consideration. Money is. I’m no fan of Mike Leach, but he clearly would have generated a lot of excitement and sold a lot of tickets. In hindsight, he probably wouldn’t have been 2-10 either.
STOCK UP: Conference USA. If you aren’t excited to watch Houston play Southern Miss in the C-USA championship game, then you don’t like college football.
STOCK DOWN: Clemson. Saturday’s 34-13 blowout against South Carolina capped off a 1-3 stretch that saw the Tigers go from national championship contenders to ACC title game underdogs in about a month. Taking collateral damage from Clemson’s slide is Virginia Tech, who could’ve used a win over a higher-ranked opponent in the ACC title game to boost their outside shot at a national championship.
STOCK UP: The Capital One Bowl. The bowl committee actually live-tweeted their last meeting on Twitter. That’s worth a follow to get an inside look at the sorts of things that bowls consider when they make their selections. And if you aren’t on Twitter, you’re doing it wrong.
STOCK UP. I MEAN DOWN. I MEAN UP. WHAT THE HELL: UCLA. Rick Neuheisel was fired. They’re in the Pac 12 championship game. They lost to USC 50-0. They’re 6-6. They can either go to the Rose Bowl or hope their petition to the NCAA is approved so they can go to any bowl. Well that makes sense.
STOCK UP: Houston. All year long I was certain the Cougars would lose a conference game, and all year long they left me saying, “let’s wait and see what happens next week.” Suffice it to say I had my doubts about Case Keenum and company headed into last Saturday’s matchup at Tulsa (a team that had won 7 straight), but a 48-16 spanking of the Golden Hurricane proves Houston has earned a BCS bowl berth. We talk a ton about Kevin Sumlin’s offense, but given the defense’s play over the last month, I’m wondering if we’re not seeing one of the most dominant non-BCS teams ever. Yes, you read that correctly: ever. I know they still have to get pass Austin Davis and USM, but I think this is Houston’s year.
STOCK DOWN: Maryland. Good God, what can you say? As if representing the very theme of ACC mediocrity all year long, Randy Edsall’s Terps hit a new low on Saturday, allowing 42 unanswered North Carolina State points in 21 minutes of action to somehow blow a 27-point lead. In other news, I’m guessing Tom O’Brien is sleeping a bit easier tonight.
STOCK UP: Mike Leach. Love him or hate him (and personally, I think he’s freaking hilarious – especially as a weatherman) he’s coming back to the gridiron. It could be for Illinois – which fired Ron Zook after a 0-6 finish – or it might be for Washington State or Arizona State, but with the start to the college football firing season off to a bang and sure to fire away for another few weeks, you can bet one Pirate will soon be swinging that sword on a sideline next year. Just make sure your AD doesn’t mess with his parking spot when he gets there.
STOCK DOWN: Florida. As pundits were proclaiming the superiority of SEC teams everywhere this past Saturday, the team just a few years removed from a national title – Florida – was struggling to move the ball in a 21-7 loss to archrival Florida State. All this in the vaunted Charlie Weis offense fully equipped with all that speed. Talk all you want about how good the SEC West is, but has anyone quietly noticed how average the SEC East is this year?
STOCK DOWN: Rob Ianello. The onetime hotshot assistant and recruiter extraordinaire proves that yes, you can in fact be too young and inexperienced to run a college program. Two years and two wins after being hired as Akron’s head coach, Ianello got the can this past weekend. It wasn’t unexpected, but it is significant. We hear so much about the importance of recruiting in today’s game, and while it is important, it has left us with a trend of hires in recent years of ill-suited assistants when it comes to game day management and X and O thinking. My suggestion for non-AQ teams looking to reverse a losing trend? Take a look at the veteran FCS coaches out there. They might just know what they’re doing.
STOCK UP: Gary Andersen. Three words: I love Potatoes.