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Washington leads this week's Misery Index after a 35-30 loss to Arizona State. Here are the others that made the index, a weekly measurement of knee-jerk reactions based on what each fan base just watched:
Four more in misery
Florida: No, Dan Mullen, you do not get to celebrate a 70-52 win over Samford like you won an SEC title. You do not get to pretend like all is well with your underachieving program. You do not get to live in a world of denial after your team trailed 42-28 late in the first half against a 4-6 opponent from the FCS. “Calling a win a disappointment is disrespectful to the game,” Mullen told reporters.
No, Dan, sometimes it’s just reality and what’s actually disrespectful is trying to tell people they’re not seeing what they’re seeing. Look, it’s perfectly understandable that after the last month of chaos and criticism around the Florida program that there’s a moment of pressure release in the locker room after a win. There’s no point in being too harsh on the players who were shown on video dancing and having fun.
But Mullen’s words — not just Saturday but for several weeks now — suggest he’s derelict in his duty to make sure everyone in the program understands that 5-5 at Florida is not O.K. That failing to land a boatload of high-profile recruits from the state while Georgia cleans up isn’t O.K. That giving up 530 yards to Samford isn’t O.K.
Not everybody in coaching has to be Nick Saban. But do you really think Saban would come in after a performance like that and rationalize it with ridiculous excuses like, “They score a ton of points?”
Maybe Mullen doesn’t think that ranting and raving about it will solve the fundamental issues, and that’s totally fair. And to be fair, Florida did fire two assistants last week including defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. But when you're spiraling into mediocrity, tone matters, and you can’t be dismissive or act like everyone else is crazy for bringing up obvious issues.
A large segment, and perhaps the majority of the Florida fan base has already checked out on Mullen despite making New Year’s Six bowl games in his first three seasons. The Gators’ last two games against Missouri and Florida State could say a lot about whether Mullen gets a fifth year in Gainesville.
COACHES POLL PREDICTIONS: How far will Oklahoma fall?
COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Winners & losers from Week 11
Texas: The year was 1956, and Ed Price was on his way to resigning as the head coach at Texas. Who, exactly, was Ed Price? Well, he was a former Texas athlete in football, basketball and baseball who viewed college sports in the most pure terms imaginable. In his obituary, he was quoted as saying, “I want to win, but we don’t teach our boys that’s the most important thing. I firmly believe the effort in striving to win is the thing that counts."
Unfortunately for Price — and for pretty much every Texas coach who came after him — the fans disagreed with that notion. In fact, according to the Associated Press, Price was “hung in effigy three times within a week” in the middle of a five-game losing streak.
Though our sports culture has deteriorated in many ways over the last 65 years, let’s hope Austin will spare Steve Sarkisian that now that Texas has finally lost five games in a row again.
Indeed, Kansas’ successful two-point conversion in overtime to give the lowly Jayhawks a 57-56 win in Austin represents a new rock bottom for the modern-era Texas program.
Despite entering the game as 31.5-point favorites against a team that hadn’t won on the road in the Big 12 since 2008, Texas turned it over four times and got outplayed for significant stretches of the game. Though Texas did well to rally and get to overtime after trailing by two touchdowns with 8:36 remaining, that is absolutely no salve for what this season has turned into.
At 4-6, Texas is hanging onto bowl eligibility by the thinnest of threads after blowing three straight double-digit leads, getting easily disposed of by Iowa State and losing fair and square to the league’s worst program. Moreover, Texas has seen special teams coach Jeff Banks’ cohabitation with a former exotic dancer and her pet monkey become the butt of endless jokes. And it has seen a player videotape and then leak an expletive-filled tirade from defensive line coach Bo Davis.
All in all, it’s hard to come up with a more ridiculous set of circumstances around Sarkisian’s first season. He was hired as an antidote to the chaos and conflict around Tom Herman. Instead, Texas so far is just getting a different version of the same song.
North Carolina: It’s apparently not enough for the Tar Heels to be one of the nation’s most disappointing teams. They’re also pretty unlucky. At least they were in a 30-23 loss at Pitt when a monsoon-like rainstorm descended on Heinz Field right when North Carolina was about to start its overtime possession. Though Pitt had to deal with rain, too, the conditions became impossibly bad just seconds after the Panthers scored. Predictably, the preseason top-10 ranked Tar Heels did nothing on four straight plays to end the game and fall to 5-5.
Afterward, coach Mack Brown admitted that he should have gone for a touchdown from the 3-yard line with 57 seconds left instead of kicking a tying field goal, saying he “got talked out of" playing for the win in regulation. That’s the kind of losers’ lament you’re always going to hear from a team that underachieves: Shoulda, woulda, coulda. The truth is, North Carolina started the game terribly, trailing 23-7, but had all the momentum in the second half and should have won easily. If not for two missed two scoring opportunities inside Pitt’s 40-yard line, the weather wouldn’t have even been a factor.
But it’s been that kind of season for the Tar Heels, which means the serious conversations aren't too far off about whether Brown’s second stint in Chapel Hill is still in ascent or ready to collapse.
Oklahoma: Nobody likes the enforcer of unwritten rules or the guy whining about sportsmanship after getting his rear end handed to him. But after suffering their first loss of the season at Baylor, 27-14, Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley leaned into the accusation that Baylor’s Dave Aranda did something wrong by calling timeout to kick a 32-yard field goal as time expired despite the game being long since decided.
Though Riley characterized it as a safety issue with fans rushing the field — typically both teams would prefer to just let the game end and get out of that situation as quickly as possible — he also seemed a bit salty about tacking on the three points. Aranda justified it by pointing to the Big 12’s tiebreaking procedures, which could include point differential in some circumstances.
“I know why Dave tried to kick the field goal,” Riley said. “I don’t agree with it. I still think above all else there’s a code of sportsmanship that I believe in. I wouldn’t have done it, but that's his decision, his football team.”
Perhaps Riley was so eager to delve into this topic because his offense generated just 260 yards and has not been overwhelmingly good all season regardless of whether it’s Caleb Williams (10-for-19, 146 yards, two interceptions) or Spencer Rattler under center. As it turns out, the struggles against Tulane, Nebraska, West Virginia, Kansas State, Texas and Kansas weren’t a fluke but rather a reflection of real weaknesses that Oklahoma just hasn’t fixed well enough from week to week.
Though you can’t count out Oklahoma’s playoff chances completely, the Sooners on Saturday justified all the skepticism from fans and the committee about whether they truly belongs in the Playoff.
Trending toward misery
Auburn: Nobody has ever seen a normal Auburn season. We know this because of history. Auburn's great years are going to be filled with off-field controversies or football miracles, and their bad years are going to be so spectacularly bad that they’ll do crazy things like secretly fly Bobby Petrino in on a plane for a secret interview before firing Tommy Tuberville, fire Gene Chizik two years after winning a national title or pay Gus Malzahn $21 million after having him on and off the hot seat on a weekly basis. Enduring these ups and downs is part of the Auburn fan contract. You just accept it and move on.
But constant chaos might actually be preferable to the garden variety bore that Bryan Harsin’s first season has become. What is Auburn this year? It’s a team that has won the games it should win and lost the games it should lose — that is, until Saturday when the Tigers blew a 28-3 lead against Mississippi State and lost 43-34.
It was the first time since 1967 that Auburn had lost a game it led by so much, with Mississippi State scoring 40 consecutive points to take control. The crazy part is that had Auburn won this game, it would have likely set up an Iron Bowl Nov. 27 with the winner advancing to the SEC championship game.
West Virginia: There haven’t been many coaching hires in the last few cycles that were as universally praised as Neal Brown going to West Virginia after leading Troy to a 31-8 record in his last three seasons there. Brown checked pretty much every box from his track record, to his youth, his offensive pedigree and his regional ties being from nearby Kentucky. But it’s safe to say Brown’s tenure so far has been… underwhelming? Not terrible or fireable, but more or less stuck in neutral — kind of like the program itself. After Saturday’s 34-17 loss to Kansas State, Brown is 15-17 with a couple more games left in his third season.
At 4-6, West Virginia badly needs to beat Texas next weekend to avoid its second losing season under Brown. The days of Dana Holgorsen going 8-4 and losing bowl games suddenly aren’t looking so bad.
Totally real and irrational message-board threads
“We can have Sark back at a discount” - dawgman.com (Washington)
“Where are those U-Hauls?” - swamp247.com (Florida)
“I’m going to drink a lot of whiskey and smoke a lot of weed” - orangebloods.com (Texas)
“Would the playoffs even be good for us?” - ouinsider.com (Oklahoma)
“The O line is a bunch of sissies” - auburnundercover.com
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Misery Index notes: Florida not OK; Texas' loss to KU new rock-bottom