BOZICH | Monday Muse: Trusting the AP football poll; Archie Miller delivers; Loving Saban
The AP college football poll was released Monday. How accurate was the 2016 pre-season poll? Archie Miller flexes his recruiting muscle. Nick Saban is a gem. Monday Muse.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Rare is the week when anything can eclipse the Monday Muse. This is one of those days.
The Associated Press released its pre-season college football poll Monday at noon.
I predicted Louisville would be ranked 18th (one spot lower than the Cardinals’ position in the USA Today coaches poll). The Cards start the season ranked 16th.
I thought Kentucky and Western Kentucky would not be ignored the way they were by the coaches’ poll. I was correct on the Wildcats, who earned three votes and wrong on the Hilltoppers, who should not have been snubbed.
When you’re finished using your WDRB eclipse glasses and enjoy the Monday Muse, which is crackling with energy after a week of vacation.
1. Trusting The Pre-Season AP Poll
Before we take another look forward into the 2017 college football season, let’s take one final look back at 2016, especially on the day the AP pre-season Top 25 was released.
How accurate was the pre-season poll last season?
I’d give it a C.
Alabama and Clemson, the teams that met in the national championship game, were ranked in the top 2, but in the wrong order. Alabama was on top in August. The Tigers finished on top in January.
Only three other teams that started the season in the Top 10 finished in the Top 10 — Oklahoma, which slid from third to fifth; Ohio State, correctly forecast at 6 and Florida State, which dropped from fourth to eighth.
The biggest gainers?
Penn State, which soared from unranked to No. 7 and Wisconsin, which moved from unranked to ninth.
The biggest losers?
Notre Dame (pre-season No. 10), Ole Miss (No. 11), Michigan State (No. 12) and TCU (No. 13). All four finished the season unranked.
You have been warned.
2. Why I Love Nick Saban, Part 37
I suspect that Nick Saban would not be a joy to cover on a daily basis. Limited access. Occasionally combative with the simplest questions. Shows considerable favoritism toward national media types (like you, Kirk Herbstreit).
But as a consumer of college football news, I confess I consider Saban a guilty pleasure.
Sometimes he delivers the most honest and scalding takes, the way he did several days ago when he was asked about the eclipse. (Apparently, I should have sent Coach Saban a pair of WDRB glasses.)
What are the chances that Nick Saban would be more interested in the eclipse than in Florida State?
You’ll have your answer if you watch the clip at this link.
3. Archie Miller Flexes His Recruiting Muscle
One reason Indiana University summoned Archie Miller from Dayton as the Hoosiers’ new basketball coach was IU’s recruiting had become inconsistent and choppy in recent years under Tom Crean, especially with in-state players.
Miller described his recruiting philosophy during his introductory press conference, committing his staff to the pursuit of Indiana high school players with a strategy he called “Inside Out.”
In less than five months, Miller and his staff have executed that strategy with gusto.
With the Saturday commitment by Robert Phinisee, a Top 100 point guard from McCutcheon (Ind). High, Miller has secured four players, two Hoosiers and two more from Big Ten territory.
Make note of this: All four of Miller’s commitments are kids who grew up considerably closer to other substantial college basketball programs than they did to Assembly Hall.
Phinisee is less than 15 minutes from Purdue, which had recruited him for more than two years. Damezi Anderson is from South Bend, home of Notre Dame. Jerome Hunter is a Top 50 forward from Pickerington, Ohio, prime Ohio State country.
Power forward Race Thompson, who started classes at IU Monday, grew up in Plymouth, Minn. He is also the son of Darrell Thompson, former star running back at Minnesota.
Miller could offer one or two more scholarships in the 2018 class. Should be interesting.
4.Why I Love Mark Richt, Part 38
Unlike Nick Saban, Mark Richt would be enjoyable to cover. He was pleasant to deal with at the Belk Bowl, patiently and thoughtfully answering questions.
Richt loves football but it does not rule his life. He’s competitive without being vindictive. He did solid work at Georgia and gracefully dealt with the criticism that comes the coach at a program that has been starved for another national championship since Herschel Walker left town.
While preparing his second team at Miami, Mark Richt revealed his character by posting this Tweet:
The season will start in a couple of weeks. I'm excited about our team. But I would also like to wish the Dawgs the very best! U Family!— Mark Richt (@MarkRicht) August 20, 2017
Bravo, coach Richt.
5. Can Charlie Strong Go 12-0?
If you’re looking for a super duper long-shot in the College Football Playoff scrum, consider this team that returns a dynamic veteran quarterback as well as a dazzling list of returning starters.
The South Florida Bulls.
Coached by former Louisville (and Texas) coach Charlie Strong. (Sports Illustrated is on the Charlie Strong train.)
Not only are the Bulls talented and experienced, they’re also scheduled for success with seven home games and five road games.
Strong’s team kicks off Saturday at San Jose State. The Bulls’ four other road games are also manageable — UConn, East Carolina, Tulane and UCF.
Those five teams all posted losing records last season, combining to lose 41 of 61 games.
Ready, set, go, Charlie.
6. Book Recommendation
Nick Saban has separated himself from Urban Meyer, Jimbo Fisher and other contenders as the Best Coach in college football. I believe we can all agree Saban has eclipsed the field
Some skeptics shrug at Saban’s achievements, crediting his success to Alabama. Sure Saban won a national title at LSU, but only one. What did he do at Michigan State, Toledo or with the Miami Dolphins?
Those people don’t remember the way Mike Shula, Mike DuBose, Bill Curry and others struggled at Alabama.
How does Saban make it work?
Let me recommend this book: “4th and Goal Every Day,” written by Phil Savage and Ray Glier.
Savage worked with Saban in Cleveland and serves on the Crimson Tide Radio Network. He has access to the Alabama program that is denied to most outsiders and he shares his insights in this book. It’s a perfect warm-up for this college football season.
7. Keep an Eye on Lane Kiffin
Somehow I expect Saban and Alabama to keep grinding forward without the play-calling skills of Lane Kiffin, Bama’s departed offensive coordinator.
Kiffin’s failures at Oakland, Tennessee and USC did not stop Florida Atlantic from hiring him as the head man at the program that Howard Schnellenberger created.
Kiffin is an attention addict. His latest gimmick is opening the doors at the FAU program to a string of top players who have bounced out of other programs. On is defensive lineman Tim Bonner, who left Louisville with more hype than production.
Kiffin has not been shy about embracing guys who need another chance. In fact, he loves it so much that he has started calling his FAU team “Last Strike U.”
Lane Kiffin says FAU isn't Second Chance U -- it's LSU. "Last Strike U," Kiffin said.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) August 20, 2017
Funny (and lucky) guy, Kiffin.
8. Mitchell Robinson Still Sitting
Louisiana State, Kansas and European professional leagues topped the list of speculated stops for Mitchell Robinson, the McDonalds all-American who U-turned on his signed commitment to the Western Kentucky basketball program earlier this summer.
Everybody said that Robinson has NBA talent because he is a 7-foot center with solid footwork, sure hands and a quality touch.
But Jon Rothstein of FanRagSports says Robinson might have a new strategy: Sit the entire season.
That’s a plan that worked for Thon Maker two years ago before he was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks.
Let other prospects in the 2018 NBA Draft play their way into creating more questions. Live in the weight room and on the practice court. Minimize opportunities for injuries. Limit chances of having bad games.
Welcome to the new world of basketball. Here’s to you, Mr. Robinson.
9. Whatever happened to Paul Byrd?
When you’re making a list of the most productive major league baseball players who played high school ball in Louisville, never forget Paul Byrd of St. Xavier.
He worked 14 seasons in the big leagues, pitching for the Mets, Braves, Phillies, Royals, Angels, Indians and Red Sox, winning 109 games while throwing nearly 1,700 innings. Impressive.
Byrd retired in 2009 after pitching in seven games for Boston.
But Byrd, 46, has not left baseball. He works as an analyst on Atlanta Braves’ games for Fox Sports Southeast, which isn’t surprising because Byrd was always a terrific interview.
10. Poll Results
Which local coach was most deserving to make Pat Forde's list of the 25 Most Intriguing coaches in college football at Yahoo! Sports?
Bobby Petrino, Louisville 56.9 percent
Tom Allen, Indiana 18.8 percent
Mark Stoops, Kentucky 12.6 percent
Mike Sanford, WKU 11.7 percent.
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