Forde-Yard Dash: These coaches are taking things way too seriously

Pat Forde

Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football (“Texas Is Back” T-shirts sold separately in Austin, at reduced rates):

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It’s October. We have entered the heat of conference play. And the intensity is rising accordingly, starting with the coaches.

Mark Ivey (31), Louisville. The defensive line coach for the Cardinals appears to have transformed into a cage fighter during pregame warmups, judging from the video the ACC Network released on its Twitter feed. Ivey, who had a bloodied face, is seen yanking one player’s jersey and another’s facemask — the latter of which looked as much like an altercation as coaching. Then Ivey gets into it with another Louisville staffer. But it’s all good, said Cardinals head coach Scott Satterfield on Monday:

“Coach Ivey has been doing that his whole coaching career. He’s down there with his defensive line and getting those guys going and getting them hyped up pregame. He just happened to get hit in the lip and got some blood on that one. He doesn’t have a helmet on. He’s just interactive and passionate about what he does. … It’s a different world when you put your hand down on the ground, offensive or defensive line. … But they are just trying to get their guys fired up and ready to play. Everybody is different in how they do that. That’s just the way they do it.”

Ed Orgeron (32), LSU. Saturday night before kickoff against Florida, Orgeron looked like a middle schooler reciting a line in a play to ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi. Rinaldi asked him about taking advantage of Gators quarterback Kyle Trask’s big-game inexperience, and Orgeron responded with, “Welcome to Death Valley, where opponents’ dreams come to die. Go Tigahs.” Score one for Coach O and Death Valley.

LSU head coach Ed Orgeron, center, congratulates running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (22) after Edwards-Helaire scored a touchdown against Vanderbiltin the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
LSU head coach Ed Orgeron, center, congratulates running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (22) after Edwards-Helaire scored a touchdown against Vanderbiltin the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Dan Mullen (33), Florida. Trask wasn’t the only Gator feeling a little stress in Tiger Stadium on Saturday night. At one point Mullen was coaching with his headset damn near sideways on his noggin, almost covering his left eye.

Dabo Swinney (34), Clemson. Few guys work harder to project a player’s coach persona than Dabo, but he can snap at times with the best of them. Saturday against Florida State, Swinney launched on kicker B.T. Potter, after the sophomore missed his fourth field goal in nine attempts this season. Swinney subsequently benched Potter in the game against the Seminoles, and announced this week that senior Steven Sawicki would be the starting kicker at Louisville on Saturday.

Nick Saban (35), Alabama. The best coach in college football dropped another “Rat Poison” alert on the media after beating Texas A&M. Saban was asked about his record-smashing quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, and said some nice things — but then he pulled out a line from two years ago. “This is the very seat where ‘Rat Poison’ was born,” Saban said, referring to his description of complimentary media coverage that has a toxic effect on his players. Basically, too much praise can warp a mind. Saban first delivered that line after another beating of the Aggies in 2017. And after watching Tagovailoa throw his first interception of the season, he figured it was a good time to sound the alarm again. Saban wasn’t angry when he said it, but his message was clear.


The annual Dash staple, the Last Interception Pool (36), makes its triumphant return this week. A lot of quarterbacks were eliminated over the weekend, throwing their first interception(s) of the season and leaving us with just three FBS QBs who are pick-free in more than 100 passing attempts this season. One of the three will take home the coveted award, which this year is a gently used 2008 Phil Steele preview magazine and a press credential from the 2002 GMAC Bowl.

The contenders:

Tyler Huntley, Utah. Zero interceptions in 131 attempts. Next up: Arizona State on Saturday. The Sun Devils have intercepted just two of their opponents’ 235 passes on the season.

Max Duggan, TCU. Zero interceptions in 113 attempts. Next up: at Kansas State on Saturday. The Wildcats have intercepted five of their opponents’ 118 passes.

Dustin Crum, Kent State. Zero interceptions in 115 attempts. Next up: at Ohio on Saturday. The Bobcats have intercepted only two of their opponents’ 200 passes.

Duggan is the most at-risk heading into the weekend. Stay tuned for updates on the dramatic conclusion of the LIP.


Dabo Swinney probably wishes his kicker were Nevada’s Brandon Talton (37), who might be the most valuable freshman (former) walk-on in the country thus far this season. Talton made a name for himself — and earned himself a scholarship — by winning the Wolf Pack’s season opener over Purdue with a mythic blast, a walk-off, 56-yard bomb. That was the Kick of the Year in the college game.

But here's the update: He still hasn’t missed a field goal in college, and now he’s added another walk-off winner.

Talton drilled one from 40 yards out as time expired Saturday to beat San Jose State, which had rallied from 21 down to tie the game. He’s now 12-for-12 in his college career, and Nevada is 4-2 on the season in no small part because of his clutchitude.


Will Muschamp (38), South Carolina. Prior to Saturday, it had not been a good year for Muschamp. His Gamecocks had started 1-3, then pieced together a win over Kentucky — but then came the big payday between the hedges, a stunning upset of Georgia. This was Muschamp’s biggest win in 7½ years as a college head coach, at either Florida or South Carolina. And it came at the right time, with fan dissatisfaction simmering over what has been a mediocre tenure in Columbia. The Gamecocks get another opportunity to do damage to a ranked team Saturday, hosting Muschamp’s former squad, Florida.


Bronco Mendenhall (39), Virginia. The Cavaliers were the trendy pick to win the ACC Coastal, and perhaps they still will given the miserable state of the division. But they have been a mounting disappointment as the season goes along.

After an impressive opening win at Pittsburgh and a 35-point beating of William & Mary, Virginia nearly blew a home game against Florida State before making a stop in the red zone. Then the Cavaliers needed a 14-point fourth quarter to rally past Old Dominion. That was followed by a 15-point loss to Notre Dame, in which Virginia gave up eight sacks. And then the Cavs produced a nine-point clunker in a loss to Miami on Friday, butchering clock management and bungling possessions in scoring territory. Total rushing yards the last three games: 147.


When hungry in the Bay Area, The Dash has a seaside gem for you in Half Moon Bay: Sam’s Chowder House (40). Try the crispy artichoke and a bowl of the excellent clam chowder, accompanied with a Dayglow IPA from Seattle-based Elysian Brewing Company. Be sure to take your beer out onto the patio to watch the sunset over the bay — just don't leave your sunglasses there, necessitating a drive back on the windy coastal road to retrieve them — then thank The Dash later.

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