LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- An eventful weekend of football is in the books, and the Monday Morning Meeting reassesses what went down, and what's coming up. Also remember to catch us on our SportsPage Live webcast Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., and all week on demand at WDRB.com.
1. Losing to Western Kentucky was not on Joker Phillips' list of Things to Do. But it happened. Now what does Phillips do?
RICK: Beat Florida. Beat Florida? OK, forget I said that. How about don't get blown out by Florida?
Kentucky comes home for two games after the trip to Gainesville -- Mississippi State and South Carolina. Split those two and then go to Arkansas and win. Seriously. The Hogs are in disarray. They could have a coaching change before UK gets to Fayetteville. Even their own quarterback accused them of quitting against Alabama.
Split the next four -- and we'll talk again in mid-October. I'll have a plan by then. Promise.
ERIC: Start packing up the office now. If you wait till the last minute, it's a real pain. I know.
Seriously, all Phillips can do is put his head down and keep working. He'll take the high road, keep sending positive messages to his players, and do the right things to try to win football games. But it's hard to envision him winning back enough support to avoid an unpleasant end.
2. Willie Taggart has now led Western Kentucky to nine wins in the Hilltoppers' last 11 games. What's his secret for success?
RICK: The secret is that he doesn't have a secret. He's just Willie Taggart, a poised, personable leader who communicates confidence to his players. Western won on a trick play, but there was nothing tricky about what the Hilltoppers did. WKU attacked with a sound, relentless scheme.
They lined up and took the action to Kentucky -- just as they did last season in Nashville. They ran the ball between the tackles. Maxwell Smith had zero interceptions in UK's first two games. WKU picked off four of his throws. WKU did all the basic things good football teams do.
ERIC: Another little talked-about secret is that WKU didn't take short cuts when the program made the move to the Football Bowl Subdivision. It recruited the best players it could, redshirted many of them, and took its lumps early.
WKU also has not shied away from playing the big boys. At Florida. At LSU. At Alabama. They used those games for more than paying the bills. They were also laying a foundation.
Taggart built on what he found, but has added his own attitude and toughness to the equation. The great thing about WKU's story is that it wasn't written overnight, or on the back of any one player (though Bobby Rainey carried a lot of the water for a long time). WKU built it the old-fashioned way.
3. The Big East went three for three against the ACC over the weekend. How come nobody squawks about how dreadful ACC football is?
RICK: The ACC isn't wearing any shoulder pads, but its leaders don't know that. Or at least they don't admit it. The ACC is that guy who walks into a party without a ticket, but acts like he belongs. Never gets questioned, but should. That's the ACC.
The ACC gets a pass because it has been the aggressor in the conference realignment game, stealing five teams (plus Notre Dame) in less than a decade. Going to the ACC has done little for Miami, Boston College or Virginia Tech, but the ACC hype machine overlooks that. The ACC always promises a brighter future.
The Big East has become a convenient target because of several losses that have occurred on the field. But it has become the rage to kick the league because of all the teams that have left.
ERIC: I'll give you 3.6 billion reasons you're not going to hear ESPN talking about how woeful the ACC is -- that's how many dollars the four-letter network paid for the three-letter conference. They're not going to run down the investment.
Another reason is that the ACC does legitimately have a great deal of talent. It just doesn't win. And it doesn't win on the biggest stages. This was supposed to be a breakout year of sorts, with some younger teams coming of age. There were the five teams in the preseason Top 25. And now there are two -- Florida State and Clemson.
Florida State is a big-time team. Clemson? Please. I can't take any team seriously that got waxed as badly as it did in last year's Orange Bowl. We'll see how good they are Saturday when the two teams meet in Tallahassee.
Hey, at least they're getting Pittsburgh, right? Let's get this straight, Pitt gets drilled by Youngstown State, loses by 24 in its Big East opener to Cincinnati, then gets healthy by playing one of the supposed ACC big dogs, Virginia Tech? I'm beginning to understand why Notre Dame wants to play five football games a year against the ACC.
The ACC could have a dog in the national title hunt with the Seminoles, which will help the league, though few around the conference will likely notice after switching into basketball mode in 3, 2, 1 . . .
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