The 'Book is not casting an eye ahead to its bowl scenarios just yet. Here at The 'Book, we like to let the season play out one cliche at a time. Charlie Strong's future, comparing Alabama to the top national title contenders and a look at IU's surprising success are all on this week's menu. Pull up a chair . . .
PIPING UP: WORRIED ABOUT LOSING CHARLIE STRONG? PAY THE MAN
The ‘Book loves to talk to former University of Louisville football coach (and University of Kentucky alum) Howard Schnellenberger. Although this is the first season that Schnellenberger has not been working the sidelines in more than five decades, he said that he watches at least six college football games every weekend – including U of L whenever the Cards are on TV.
Schnellenberger, 78, doesn't miss much, even though he is retired and living in Boca Raton, Fla. He saw the news that U of L basketball coach Rick Pitino had five years added to his contract Tuesday. So when The ‘Book told Schnellenberger that some U of L fans are fearful that the more Charlie Strong wins, the more likely it is that Strong will be tempted by an offer to leave, he had a crisp response:
"If they can pay Rick Pitino what they're paying him, they can pay Charlie Strong enough to keep Charlie Strong. It's real easy to solve that problem. Offer him so much money that he can't afford to leave."
Schnellenberger, for the record, said that he came to Louisville before the 1985 season for $250,000 per year. He said that when he left Louisville for Oklahoma after the 1994 season he was making $400,000 per year.
"But I didn't leave because of money," Schnellenberger said. "I wasn't looking to go anywhere until that president (Dr. Donald Swain) pulled that baloney and put us in that conference (Conference USA) that I didn't want to be in. I wasn't going to coach in a conference where I didn't have a chance to compete for the national championship."
HONORING MARCUS LATTIMORE
The saddest, and most poignant, moment of the season came last Saturday when South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore suffered his second devastating knee injury in two seasons.
Lattimore suffered multiple torn ligaments and might not play again until 2014. Players from South Carolina and Tennessee surrounded him to pray and then applaud when he left the field in tears last Saturday.
Now, at least one other player in the Southeastern Conference wants to continue to honor Lattimore's competitive spirit. Louisiana State defensive lineman Sam Montgomery, a native of South Carolina, has asked his coach, Les Miles, if he can wear a piece of tape with Lattimore's number (21) on his arm for the remainder of the season. Miles has approved the idea. Montgomery has also battled back from a serious knee injury.
"He's a guy that has a perspective that's widespread," Miles said on the SEC coaches' teleconference Wednesday.
"Sam had a very serious injury in a game early in his career and battled back. He's been fortunate to this point not to have a re-occurrence. He knows to some extent what Marcus is going through."
WHO'S A CONTENDER FOR THE BIG TEN TITLE GAME? WHO? WHO?
Penn State and Ohio State are not eligible to win the Leaders Division and play in the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis. Purdue and Illinois have both failed to win a league game.
Wisconsin is 3-2. The Badgers are off this week before visiting Indiana next week and then finishing against Ohio State and Penn State.
And then there is Kevin Wilson's Indiana team, which won its first league game last week at Illinois and is favored over visiting Iowa Saturday. The Hoosiers are 1-3 in the league and 3-5 overall, but four of the losses have been by a combined margin of 10 points.
If the Hoosiers beat the Hawkeyes and then beat Wisconsin the following week … well, never mind. The Notebook will stop right there – at least for now.
IF ALABAMA PLAYED AN NFL TEAM, THE SPREAD WOULD BE WHAT?
RJ Bell of Pregame.com consistently sends The 'Book some of its best insights into college football pointspreads. This week's contribution is a strong one.
After talking to numerous bookmakers to come up with a latest Vegas consensus, Bell says Oregon played Alabama on a neutral field, the Ducks would be a dog -- 6 points.
If Kansas State played Alabama on a neutral field, the Wildcats would be 10-point underdogs.
And if Notre Dame played Alabama on a neutral field, the Irish would be a 13-point underdog.
As for the perennial question of how the best college team would fare against the worst NFL team, Bell says if Alabama played the worst NFL team (currently Jacksonville) on a neutral field, the Crimson Tide would be a 24-point underdog.
NCAA HAMMER TIME? BRING IT, BIG TEN COACHES SAY
Word was delivered by the NCAA this week about tougher penalties for rule-breakers as well as greater responsibilities being demanded from head coaches even if their assistants are the ones violating rules.
The NCAA will get no complaint from Big Ten football coaches – at least not the ones that Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune questioned on the changes.
"Throughout history," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said, "the only way to keep civilization and to keep things in order is to have very strong rules and enforce them."
"The way coaches act when they are on the road (recruiting) is a direct reflection of the head coach," Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald said. "At the end of the day, the buck stops with the head coach."
Bret Bielema of Wisconsin also said that he agreed. So does The ‘Book, not that The ‘Book believes any of this rhetoric will change anything.
OHIO STATE DOES ANOTHER HOME-AND-HOME
The 'Book knows U of L fans like to follow the scheduling goings-on from around the nation. The latest major non-conference series to fire up comes out of Boston, where Boston College was looking for a new series with Notre Dame taking up regular games against ACC competition.
The Eagles landed a big one. Boston College announced this week it has agreed to a two-game series with Ohio State in 2020 and '21.
WKU'S ANDREWS GETS NATIONAL DISTINCTION
We're always hesitant to reference Bleacher Report at The 'Book -- except when we agree with one of their writers. And this week, Jordan Ball of Bleacher Report called WKU's Antonio Andrews "The most underrated player in college football."
Whether he's THE most underrated or not, he's certainly high on the list, and among the most versatile.
Andrews has rushed for 917 yards despite seeing limited action in the season's first two games, and has caught 23 passes for 260 yards. He not only catches passes out of the backfield, but will also split wide in motion and basically play like a wideout when needed.
In addition to that, he's averaging just better than 30 yards per kickoff return, 14 yards per punt return and is fifth in the nation in all-purpose yards at 197.5 per game.
ONE MORE WKU SHOUT-OUT
The 'Book would be remiss if it did not note Quanterus Smith's accomplishment for the Hilltoppers last week. He had five sacks in a victory over FIU, breaking the Sun Belt Conference record and coming one short of match Elvis Dumervil's NCAA single game record of 6.
As it is, Smith now leads the nation in sacks per game and is tied in total sacks with 11.5 -- and all of those sacks came in three games.
When you're hot, you're hot. And when you're not, you're Rick Bozich. Eric Crawford added another game to the gap between himself and Dr. Bo last week with another fine performance predicting games, especially Indiana's victory at Illinois.
Eric has a splendid opportunity to add two more games to his lead this week.
Eric Crawford 4-1 last week, 35-10 for the season.
This is one of the biggest weekends of the season, with intriguing games packed on the calendar. They inspired The ‘Book to take a trip to StubHub.com to discover what the top ticket prices are for five of this weekend's top matchups.
1. Pittsburgh at Notre Dame, $5,000 each for seats in row 18 at Notre Dame Stadium. 2. Oregon at Southern California, $2,500 each for seats in row 6 of Memorial Coliseum. 3. Alabama at Louisiana State, $2,000 each for seats in row 25 of Tiger Stadium. 4. Texas at Texas Tech, $800 for seats in row 23 at Jones ATT Stadium. 5. Oklahoma State at Kansas State, $171.60 each for seats in row 31 in Bill Snyder Memorial Stadium.