BOZICH | Monday Muse: Petrino, Stoops, Allen, Sanford worthy of 25 Most Intriguing?
Bobby Petrino, Mark Stoops, Tom Allen and Mike Sanford did not make Pat Forde's list of the 25 Most Intriguing coaches in college football. Did they deserve to crack the Top 25?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports teased the Kentuckiana area with his annual list of the 25 Most Intriguing Coaches in College Football. (The link.)
Former Western Kentucky coaches Willie Taggart (Oregon) and Jeff Brohm (Purdue) made the list as they begin their new assignments. So did former University of Louisville coach Charlie Strong, who plans to use South Florida to rebuild the considerable credibility he lost at Texas.
But Forde did not touch down in the local area. Kentuckiana went 0-for-4 on the 25 coach list, something that would never happen in college basketball.
Reasonable? Misfire? Debatable? Tough competition?
I’m here with the Monday Muse to make the case — and a ruling on all four locals for their worthiness for the Top 25 Most Intriguing.
1. Bobby Petrino
Before Lamar Jackson soared, spun and slashed to the Heisman Trophy, the University of Louisville football team won with defense. Todd Grantham’s defense — and a healthy serving of Charlie Strong’s defensive players during Petrino’s first two seasons. Grantham is gone — and so are nearly all of Strong’s recruits. In 2017, Petrino must show he made the right hire in defensive coordinator Peter Sirmons and that his staff has recruited the next batch of Keith Kelseys, DeAngelo Browns, Sheldon Rankins and Calvin Pryors. Plus, what can he do for an encore with Lamar Jackson while stopping the Cards’ current three-game losing streak?
25 Most Intriguing Worthy: Yes, especially if the Cardinals topple Clemson Sept. 16.
2. Mark Stoops
Along with Mike Leach of Washington State, Kirby Smart of Georgia and others, Stoops made the Just Missed the Cut list. That seems to be the right side of the line. He pushed off the Hot Seat by winning seven games and beating Louisville last season. Wise guys like Paul Finebaum of the SEC Network are saying the Wildcats could be a surprise team in the SEC East. He’s recruited and developed more players who look like they can run and tackle like SEC players. But unless the Wildcats win their first two SEC games at South Carolina and at home with Florida, Stoops will remain less intriguing than Will Muschamp (South Carolina), Jim McElwaine (Florida) and Smart.
25 Most Intriguing Worthy: Check back in October.
3. Tom Allen, Indiana
His boosters argue he coached the best defense the Hoosiers have played since Bill Mallory ran the show three decades ago. His skeptics have tagged him a high school coach miscast in the Big Ten East shark tank. Allen must take the modest, erratic momentum Kevin Wilson built in Bloomington and avoid getting roll-blocked by four East Division programs that aspire to play for the national championship. After fixing the Hoosiers’ defense, he has work to do on offense with his interception-prone quarterback.
25 Most Intriguing Worthy: Only if IU beats Ohio State or Michigan.
4. Mike Sanford Western Kentucky
You know the WKU DNA: Everybody the Hilltoppers hire, wins. Everybody who wins, leaves.
WKU fans have become conditioned to scoring and winning like crazy, an entertaining cocktail that has made the Hilltoppers the toast of Conference USA. Sanford is younger (35) and less experienced than Petrino. But with a dozen years in the college game, Sanford actually has one more season of college coaching experience than Brohm or Taggart had when they took over at WKU. But Brohm left him a better quarterback (certainly as a thrower) than Sanford left at Notre Dame as well as other winning tools. Toss in two winnable road games at Power Five venues and Sanford can start with a big splash.
25 Most Intriguing Worthy: Yes.
5. Poll Result I
Las Vegas set the over/under win total for Louisville football at 9.5 What’s your pick?
Over — 55.3 percent
Under — 44.7 percent.
6. First Coach Fired
The Most Intriguing List is a more comfortable place to be than this list from USA Today — First Coach to be Fired. (The link.)
None of the locals drew any mention here, which is not surprising considering Allen and Sanford are first-year guys, Stoops is building off his best season and Petrino has been to three straight bowl games and beat Florida State by 43 points last season.
USA Today leads with a trio of Pac-12 coaches — Jim Mora of UCLA; Todd Graham of Arizona State and Rich Rodriguez of Arizona (who should have never left West Virginia).
I question the names. The Pac-12 is a wonderful football league, but it does not inhale coaches the way the SEC and Big Ten inhale them.
You’ll never convince me the pressure Mora will face at UCLA is as unrelenting as the grumbling Butch Jones will hear at Tennessee, Gus Malzahn faces at Auburn or Bret Bielama gets at Arkansas. At Texas A&M, even the athletic director has questioned the future of coach Kevin Sumlin.
I’ll take any of those four over anybody from the Pac-12.
7. Poll Result II
Las Vegas set the over/under win total for Kentucky football at 7, What’s your pick?
Over — 36.6 percent
Under — 63.4 percent
8. The End of Pete Rose
Unless it’s the Cubs in the World Series, nobody watches more baseball than me. Nobody.
After years of watching Fox refuse to move on from Tim McCarver, I was encouraged when the network settled on John Smoltz as its primary analyst — and later energized its pre- and post-game shows with the lively work of Pete Rose, Alex Rodriguez, Frank Thomas and host Kevin Burkhardt.
Ratings were up more than 40 percent during the 2016 post-season and critics compared the conversational dynamic to the winning work done by Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal with the NBA.
Those days are likely over — and they should be. (The link from Sports Illustrated.)
Fox has yet to confirm the news but speculation grows that Rose won’t return to Fox this season. Rose’s admission that he had a relationship with a 16-year-old girl as a 30-something MLB player might have been acceptable in big-league clubhouses but expect it to signal the end for Rose as a national TV voice.
As part of a lawsuit, Rose has admitted having a sexual relationship with the woman but said she was 16 and he was 34 (and married) when it began. That could help Rose in a legal court, but won’t in the court of public opinion.
John Dowd, one of the attorneys who successfully ended Rose’s managerial career by investigating his gambling habits, has said the girl was younger than 16.
Either way, don’t look for Rose to be discussing any of this on Fox. Or in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
9. Final Stop for JaQuan Lyle
Four years ago JaQuan Lyle of Evansville Bosse was one of the Must Have recruits in the state of Indiana, ranked just below Trey Lyles of Indianapolis and right there with James Blackmon Jr. of Marion.
Lyle had offers from nearly everybody who was anybody. He orally committed to Louisville, de-committed, considered offers from Oregon, Indiana and others and finally signed with Ohio State after finishing work at a prep school.
Lyle played two mostly unsatisfying seasons at Ohio State. He was the signature member of the Buckeyes’ five-player recruiting class in 2015 — a group that has completely disappeared from Columbus and taken down Thad Matta’s career with them. Many believe Lyle is a player the NCAA interviewed during its investigation of the prostitution and stripper scandal that has resulted in NCAA penalties for U of L.
After an unfortunate encounter with hometown police in Evansville, Lyle is back for one more push to fulfill his considerable basketball potential.
He’s bound for New Mexico, which has a new coach (Paul Weir) who evidently believes in second chances. (The link.). Let's see what he does with the opportunity.
10. Poll Result III
Las Vegas set the over/under win total for WKU football at 9.5. What’s your pick?
Over — 59.2 percent
Under 40.8 percent.
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