After three games in college football, and two weeks of NFL football, is generally when things begin to get interesting on and off the gridiron. Fans begin to settle into the not-so-new season and both college and NFL teams just can't help themselves from making questionable decisions.
There is a coaching controversy brewing in Austin, Texas. Nick Saban, Alabama's reigning national title maker was contacted by Longhorn regents in January on a high stakes fishing expedition to potentially replace current head coach Mack Brown. Saban makes $5.6- million per year in Tuscaloosa, Texas and its regents want to increase that payday for Saban. Will Saban become the Longhorns' $6-million man?
In the NFL, news came out of Cleveland on Wednesday that the team will once again be in rebuilding mode for 2013, shocking. The team announced its third string signal caller, Brian Hoyer, was given the nod to replace injured starter Brandon Weeden. A few hours later the Browns' brass traded star running back Trent Richardson to the Colts for a first round draft pick in 2014.
In Lincoln, Nebraska, Husker head coach Bo Pelini was apologizing this week for a profanity laced rant about his fan base in 2011. Pelini believes he has enough points with the fan base to overcome an obvious no-no for any head coach. The biggest no-no for Pelini is his Cornhusker defense may not keep opponents from scoring enough points this season to allow the fan base time to forget.
Behind all that front page hype West Virginia University head football coach Dana Holgorsen is preparing his team to play the Maryland Terrapins this Saturday. Last year it was Holgorsen that was in many of those big stories of 2012. First for the Mountaineers 5-0 start and then for his team's collapse in an 0-5 losing streak.
Holgorsen's team counters those national stories with story-lines about the amount of hair the WVU players possess. From Nick O'Toole's boom-stache, Pat Eger's blonde mane, Ford Childress' slicked back locks, to Kevin White and Will Clarke's dreadlocks it is the year of the hair in Morgantown.
Holgorsen doesn't seem to mind the anonymity or the slight from the national spotlight. A win on Saturday might begin to turn that spotlight back to Morgantown. After Saturday's game, it is all about the Big-12 and conference opponents for Holgorsen. Maryland is Holgorsen's last chance to fine tune his offense before conference play begins.
As any member of Mountaineer Nation knows, to compete in the Big-12 you must be able to score points.
The Terrapins enter the game 3-0 for the first time in over a decade and also boast the high powered offense that Holgorsen is so well known for producing. Depending on the service, Maryland is a five point favorite to beat Holgorsen's team this weekend.
Maryland and WVU have met 49 times with the Mountaineers owning the series record at 26-21-2. However, the last time the Terrapins beat WVU was a neutral site game at an NFL stadium in the 2004 Gator Bowl. The game this Saturday is at Ravens' Stadium, a neutral site, though Maryland is claiming it as a home game.
There is no doubt the Maryland offense is full of talent from starting quarterback C.J. Brown, wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, to running back Brandon Ross. The Terrapins will score points against Mountaineer defensive coordinator Keith Patterson's defense.
To counter those points the Maryland offense will produce is a Mountaineer offense that has yet to hit on all cylinders this season. There have been flashes of potential, and just as many flashes of futility. Consistency has alluded WVU offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson and his offense. There is no doubt speed and ability to match that of Maryland on the Mountaineer roster, that is what potential is all about.
Against Georgia State first time starting quarterback Ford Childress completed passes to nine different receivers. Four different WVU players accumulated rushing stats for the Mountaineers last week. That is a lot of moving parts, and a good deal of players, for an offense to establish and maintain rhythm in a game.
Add in a quarterback battle that wasn't decided until just over a week ago and it becomes evident that the consistency absent in the Mountaineer offense is about the number of moving parts. Depth is a wonderful thing for a football team unless all those players are new to a system and need to learn to play as a cohesive unit. It takes time for the various players to learn and become accustomed to their rolls, precisely what Dawson and Holgorsen have been preaching.
The Terrapins enter the game attempting to reverse their roll in the series. Head coach Randy Edsall has accumulated a bunch of hares to represent the Terrapin faithful. Ironically, it is the team with the hair that will derail Edsall's hares. Childress and the Mountaineer offense will smooth out the rough edges and all that potential will begin to pay dividends.
Mountaineer Nation will feast on Turtle Soup Saturday, Terrapin fans will be left wanting and watching the hair.