December 08, 2008
• When all the money goes one way ... Florida opened as a 1.5-point favorite over Oklahoma in the earliest lines Sunday night, and has already been bid up to a three-point favorite in the mythical championship game -- just as well for Bob Stoops, who doesn't need the pressure after losing the last three bowl games OU was favored to win. The smarter bet might be on the over: The line is at just 72 now, down from 73 at opening, for teams that combine to average just shy of 100.
The other games aren't as enticing: USC (-10 over Penn State) and Alabama (-11 over Utah) are double-digit favorites, and Texas (-8 over Ohio State) will probably get there within a few days (it already has on some offshore books). Gambling guru The Wizard of Odds is not happy with this slate, though I suspect everyone is underrating Penn State, a frequent blowout winner, and possibly Utah, too -- the Utes beat three teams in most year-end top 25 polls and definitely are no Hawaii. And look on the bright side: Cincinnati-Virginia Tech is a pick 'em.
• Skippy, my boy, where are we going here? It was a schizophrenic Sunday for the Skip Holtz Watch in Syracuse, with the NFL Network claiming late Saturday that Holtz is in, Holtz denying that report through several television stations in North Carolina, Lou Holtz confirming that his son will meet with Syracuse AD Daryl Gross today at National Football Foundation Hall of Fame proceedings, Skip eventually indicating he would "like the opportunity to talk to Gross," Syracuse contacting Kevin Gilbride in the meantime and 'Cuse media wondering if anyone actually wants this job.
So to be clear: Skip Holtz is not the new coach at Syracuse. But it still seems he probably will be, if premature reports don't scare him away.
• You're a cold one, Mr. Groh. Christmas at the Groh house should be interesting this year, just a few weeks after Virginia boss Al Groh fired his son, Matt Groh, along with two other assistant coaches. You might remember Matt from his star turn in one of the great games of the nineties, UVA's Thursday night upset over Florida State in 1995. Cav fans are more likely to remember him for leading an offense that failed to finish in the top 100 in any of his three years as coordinator.
It's hard to criticize Groh when so many other coaches -- Bobby Bowden, Joe Paterno, Steve Spurrier, even Lou Holtz, when now-sought-after Skip was his offensive coordinator at South Carolina -- promoted and held on to their kids far longer than their performance warranted. If nepotism is the real problem in college coaching ranks, count Al Groh as a progressive reformist.
Quickly ... Steve Sarkisian will call his own plays at Washington, and make about $1.85 million, more than Dennis Erickson, Rick Neusheisel, Mike Riley, Mike Stoops or Jim Harbaugh. ... Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen has spoken with Mississippi State about the MSU opening, and New Mexico has contacted Gator defensive line coach Dan McCarney, late of a head job at Iowa State. ... The outcome of the mythical championship game will have no bearing on Tim Tebow's decision to stay or go from Florida. ... Sam Bradford made it through surgery on his non-throwing hand Sunday morning and was back at Oklahoma's BCS party Sunday night. ... Miami assistant Stephen Field pulls a man from a smoking car, says it's nothing. ... Utah named inside linebackers coach Kalani Sitake its new defensive coordinator. ... Bill Stewart is very pleased, but not satisfied (?) with his first year at West Virginia. ... Tom Osborne says Bo Pelini's first season was fine, just fine. ... Brian Orakpo won the Nagurski Award, which is like that one trophy, but for defense. ... And the Austin American-Statesman knows how you voted, Mike Leach.