As we inch closer to Christmas, now only two days away, Santa Claus is reportedly desperately seeking some late-season guidance on the behavior of some of college football's more well-known characters. It's so difficult for Santa to have a grasp on the behavior of, not only the millions of youngsters around the world, but also the adults who set the example of how to behave, and sometimes, how not to behave. So, in an effort to help out everybody's favorite jolly ol' elf, I've taken the initiative to offer my advice on who's deserving of kudos, and who's deserving of just desserts, for their comportment during the 2010 college football season.
After all, the college football season saw some surprises -- Alabama, the preseason No. 1, losing three games -- some major upsets -- Nevada besting unbeaten and top five ranked Boise State -- some electrifying individual performances -- Auburn's Cam Newton singlehandedly carrying the Tigers to the BCS Championship game -- and some implosions -- The Florida Gators never got on-track without Tim Tebow at quarterback, finishing an unceremonious 7-5. So here you go, Santa, the good, the bad, the naughty and the nice.
Naughty -- Former Southern Cal athletic director Mike Garrett: Garrett, faced with the biggest college football scandal in at least two weeks (get the sarcasm?), and an angry NCAA, defiantly suggested ... well, he didn't so much suggest, as he unapologetically stated, that the reason the NCAA was dropping the hammer of probation on SC is because they were jealous, because they (the NCAA), weren't Trojans. If it weren't so sad, and pathetic, it would be funny. On the other hand ... not so funny -- Garrett was rightfully shown the door by Southern Cal administrators.
Retroactive Naughty -- Former USC running back Reggie Bush for completely ignoring all tenets of amateurism, and putting his "beloved" university under the microscope of the NCAA. Selfishness and self-serving are Bush's calling cards ... naughty indeed.
Naughty -- Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley: For not granting a release to ace running back Bryce Brown who transferred to Kansas State. This is a great example of why the NCAA should allow an athlete to transfer, without having to sit out a year, if the head coach who brought him to the school leaves, for whatever reason. Derek Dooley, grow up!
Nice -- Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley: With UT's 2-6 season swerving out of control, Dooley opted to sit his starting quarterback, the ineffective Matt Simms, in favor of true freshman Tyler Bray. The move saved the Volunteer season, resulted in four straight season-ending victories for the Vols, and a Music City Bowl game appearance versus North Carolina.
Nice -- Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn: Five years ago Malzahn was coaching in high school ball in Arkansas, now, he's the hottest OC in all the land, and playing for a national title with the Auburn offensive machine he constructed.
Naughty -- Cecil Newton, father of Cam, for nearly derailing an historic season for his son. Attempting to pimp-out Cam's services, under the guise of being a minister, makes father Newton all the more despicable. And continuing to deny the allegations? ... the fun just never stops with this loser.
Nice -- Auburn uber-athlete masquerading as quarterback, Cam Newton: What can one say -- Newton is electric as a leader (the Tigers are 12-0), elusive as a runner (1,409 rush yards; 20 TD's), and has a howitzer up his sleeve (2,589 pass yards; 28 TD's). Heisman Trophy ceremony? The Downtown Athletic Club should have shipped the trophy to The Plains and saved everybody air fare and the per diem.
Naughty -- The BCS for giving us a system that allows a team the caliber of UConn to play in a BCS Bowl game. While Santa should appreciate the yeoman's job UConn head coach Randy Edsall has done in his time at Storrs (50-26 since becoming a DI school seven years ago), but elevating an 8-4 Huskie squad that lost to Michigan (7-5), Temple (8-4 in the MAC), Rutgers (4-8 in the weak Big East), and Louisville (6-6 in a weak Big East), to BCS Bowl game status is beyond understanding.
Nice -- Chip Kelly, University of Oregon coach: Kelly, in only his second year at OU, has the Ducks playing in the BCS Championship game against Auburn. Since taking over for Mike Bellotti last season, Kelly has enjoyed tremendous success, going 22-3. Kelly also displayed some brass "ones" by kicking star quarterback Jeremiah Masoli off the team for a myriad of mistakes and indiscretions.
Nice -- Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh: Harbaugh, a former volunteer assistant at WKU for his father Jack, has wasted no time in bringing joy to Palo Alto. Stanford, with all its academic demands is now showing Notre Dame how to wildly succeed with a team full of smart guys. The five years prior to Harbaugh's arrival, The Cardinal posted a 19-40 gridiron record. Since Harbaugh took over the football program four years ago, Stanford has posted a 28-21 record, 19-6 over the last two seasons, capped off by an upcoming Orange Bowl appearance.
Nice -- TCU coach Gary Patterson: This season, Patterson completed his second consecutive undefeated regular season, and has been rewarded with a No. 3 ranking, and a BCS bowl appearance. Since taking over TCU in 2000, Patterson has compiled a 97-28 record, and has led the nation's top ranked defense four times: 2000, 2002, 2008, and 2009. He's won a number of coach-of-the-year honors, and has won at least 10 games in seven of his years at the Horned Frog helm. Even though TCU plays in the Mountain West, not exactly a hot bed of football talent, the Horned Frogs pass the eyeball test as a sound, hard hitting, football team.
Extra Nice -- Lifetime Achievement Award to Penn State head coach Joe Paterno. Having turned 84 on December 21, Paterno has spent over 60 years at Penn State, either as an assistant or head coach (since 1966). He has won 401 games, and a record 24 bowl game victories (out of 37 appearances). Paterno can boast two national titles, five undefeated, untied seasons, and five more one-loss years. Loyalty, don't tell Paterno about loyalty -- In 1969 he turned down the Pittsburgh Steelers head coaching job, also, that same year, he turned down overtures from the University of Michigan. Again in 1972, he turned down the New England Patriots head coaching position. He's a man who has followed the rules, and won, along with teaching his players how to be men. What more can any institution ask of its head football coach? College football is all the more richer for having Paterno as a part of the coaching fraternity, and will be much poorer for it, when he decides to hang up his spikes.
Happy Holidays Big Blue Nation. And have a safe and Happy New Year!
Thanks for reading, and Go 'Cats!