A periodic look at where former Florida Gators and Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier might land next year.
With Spurrier set to replace Lou Holtz at South Carolina, you can bet the Gamecocks will become one of the country's most closely watched - and hated - programs. When Spurrier arrived in Gainesville in 1990 the Gators were considered classic underachievers, a program with Michigan-like expectations and Mississippi State-like tradition. He left with six conference titles and a national championship. The South Carolina program he inherits is a mirror image of what Florida was 15 seasons ago. In Spurrier, the Gamecocks get a coach who can win and create excitement. In South Carolina, Spurrier gets a fanbase ready to worship a conquering hero. Stevie Wonder is a lot of things, but stupid isn't one of them so don't think for a second he would have taken this job if he didn't think winning big was possible. With Florida in transition, Georgia losing the bulk of its playmakers to graduation and Tennessee apparently not what it used to be, we might see the Gamecocks battle for an SEC title next year.
- KEITH NIEBUHR, Times staff writer
Some notable items on today's grudge matches:
In preparation for the Apple Cup matchup between Washington State and Washington, Yakima Valley farmer Randy Valicoff ripened the likenesses of Cougars and Huskies onto his apples. Valicoff told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer it takes about six weeks to develop the image on the apple's skin, using carefully pasted stickers to block the sun's rays from a portion of the apple. As the apple matures, the logo appears where the sticker kept the skin from ripening. "We all like them," said Michael Burrington, a produce buyer told the paper. "We are a little curious to see if a $6 apple will sell. If we get some serious fans in there, we shouldn't have a problem." Kansas and Missouri changed the name of their game from "The Border War" to "Border Showdown" out of respect for troops in Iraq. "In my opinion, war has nothing to do with what happens on an athletic field," said former KU athletic director Lew Perkins, who urged the change.
So far, football is working out just fine for Joe Anoai. He's starting at Georgia Tech as a sophomore. His team will likely get an invitation to its eighth straight bowl game.
But Anoai knows he's got a backup sport - using the term loosely - if this one doesn't pan out.
His father and uncle were the "Wild Samoans," a championship tag team. His older brother competes in World Wrestling Entertainment (one of his recent schticks: "Superhero in Training"). Two cousins were stars in the ring. "The Rock" is considered family.
Anoai (an-uh-WHY-ee) has even pondered some character ideas - how about "The Ramblin' Samoan" since he plays for the Ramblin' Wreck? - and some fashion no-no's should he ever climb through the ropes to fulfill his legacy.
"I know I wouldn't wear a thong like my cousin," Anoai said, referring to the hefty grappler known as Rikishi. "I would wear the more standard suit, like The Rock. The high boots and bigger underwear, at least."
As for names, "Rosey" is already taken. That's his brother's ring moniker, which he uses while fighting at the side of the WWE's resident superhero, "The Hurricane." Apparently, Rosey learned his lessons well.
"I graduated," said the man also known as Matt Anoai. "I'm a full-fledged superhero now." BCS RESUMES
The Oklahoma City Daily Oklahoman breaks down the contenders:
SCHEDULE RANK: 36th
BEST WIN: 23-17 at home vs. California.
CLOSE CALL: 31-28 at Stanford.
ROAD FOES: Virginia Tech (24-13) in Landover, Md., BYU (42-10), Stanford, Washington State (42-12), Oregon State (28-20).
POLL RISE: No. 1 all season in both polls.
STILL TO COME: Notre Dame at home, at UCLA.
THE CASE FOR: The Pac-10 annually is underrated. Going unbeaten in Pac-10 play is one of the hardest feats in college football. It has happened thrice since the league expanded in 1978: USC in '88, Washington in '91 and UCLA in '98. Plus, USC plays a dangerous and varied non-conference schedule.
THE CASE AGAINST: USC has played few pushovers but few heavyweights. Traditionally strong programs like Oregon, Washington, Notre Dame, UCLA and BYU are having down years. And USC has had more squeakers than OU or Auburn, winning thrice by eight points or fewer.
SCHEDULE RANK: 10th.
BEST WIN: 12-0 over Texas at Dallas.
CLOSE CALL: 38-35 at Oklahoma State.
ROAD FOES: Kansas State (31-21), Okla. State, Texas A&M (42-35).
POLL RISE: No. 2 all season in both polls.
STILL TO COME: at Baylor, Big 12 title game.
THE CASE FOR: Beat a BCS contender, Texas, on a neutral field. USC (Cal) and Auburn (Georgia) beat BCS contenders at home. All of OU's toughest foes have come away from Owen Field. OU has played as many ranked teams (Texas, OSU, A&M) away from home as Auburn and USC have played anywhere.
THE CASE AGAINST: OU's strength of schedule advantage will slip in the coming weeks, with Baylor and maybe Iowa State awaiting. The Sooners have not been dominant, winning only two of seven Big 12 games by more than 15 points. OU is strongest in the computer polls. The computers aren't always right.
SCHEDULE RANK: 21st.
BEST WIN: 34-10 at Tennessee.
CLOSE CALL: 10-9 at home vs. LSU.
ROAD FOES: Mississippi State (43-14), Tennessee, Ole Miss (35-14).
POLL RISE: Preseason 17th in AP, 18th in coaches. Moved up steadily before tying Oklahoma in the AP this week.
STILL TO COME: at Alabama, SEC title game.
THE CASE FOR: Of all the contenders, Auburn has the most impressive win, the rout at Tennessee. Auburn has played only one close game, LSU, winning every other outing by at least 18 points. And going unbeaten in the SEC is stout; since 1996, only eventual national champion Tennessee (1998) has gone 8-0 in the league.
THE CASE AGAINST: The SEC annually is overrated. The SEC's only non-conference victory over a BCS-league team this season is Oregon State, which lost in overtime at LSU. Auburn's non-conference schedule was weak: Louisiana-Monroe, The Citadel and Louisiana Tech.
QUOTES ON COACHES
"Aw, they don't have to wear sweaters like this in Florida." - Utah defensive lineman Steve Fifita to coach Urban Meyer at a cold, rainy recent practice. "He's ours next year!" - Chant by Washington fans about Cal coach Jeff Tedford, whose Bears beat the Huskies 42-12. "I have a job." - Tedford in response to links of his name to other jobs.
Rap artist Snoop Dogg donned football gloves and a red Southern California sweat suit to run through drills with the top-ranked Trojans.
Snoop Dogg, whose real name is Calvin Broadus, had a 40-yard pass from quarterback Matt Leinart hit him in the hands Tuesday, but he couldn't hold the ball.
"Ain't nobody sticking me, that's why I dropped it," the rapper jokingly told players who teased him.
Snoop Dogg also participated in a few drills, knocking down dummies and running over obstacles.
The rap artist has coached his son's youth football team and is a former player himself. Sources: Information from the Associated Press, Denver Post, Kansas City Star, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Seattle Post-Intelligencer was used in this report.