Saturday, January 3, 2009


Utah owned SECW champs Alabama last night in the Superdome. As in it was never really close. The 31-17 drubbing finished a perfect 13-0 season for the Mountain West team, and thrusts them squarely into yet another brewing challenge to the BCS system's validity. If the Utes can go 13-0, beating Alabama, Oregon State, and Boise State, then how can a one loss Florida or Oklahoma claim to be the champs? I'll let others argue that one. Honestly, short of an NFL style playoff system that drags out for another month, there is no perfect answer. I'll leave it at that.

But back to Utah.

This is a team that has recruited exactly four 4* players in the last five years. Not in EACH of the last five years. In the last five years COMBINED. Their average star rating for the last five recruiting classes is 2.4. The highest their recruiting classes have ranked since 2004 is 55th. The only SEC team they favorably compare to from a recruiting standpoint is Vanderbilt (funny, that). Their starting QB is a fifth-year 2*. He made John Parker Wilson look like a scout team QB by comparison last night.

Bama, on the other hand, signed as many 4* and 5* offensive linemen in 2006 alone (4) than Utah signed in all positions in the combined years of 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. Bama's average star rating over that period is 3.3. The lowest they ranked was near #20, and the highest was last year's #1 rated class.

Saban makes over $4 million a year. Whittingham was making $4 million over SIX years before signing a recent raise to $6 million over 5 years.

Of course, any team can have a great day and beat any other team, right?

Yet this is the Sugar Bowl - against the great and historic Alabama Crimson Tide, resurgent under the recruiting prowess and coaching genius of Nick Saban. Surely there's no way Bama was overlooking this team. Surely they weren't unprepared.

No, I think Utah was a better team. How is that possible, considering the serious disparity in recruiting and coaching salaries between the two teams?

Well, it's impossible to know for sure. Here are my two educated guesses.

1. Salaries define past coaching performance mixed with hope and sprinkled with incentive for good measure. Salaries do not define ACTUAL coaching performance.

2. Recruiting is like mining. You generally get raw material of varying quality and it's the coaches' job to make it shiny and profitable. Sometimes, an up-and-coming operation will be able to get more out of lesser known raw product than a well-established, "elite" operation, where too much inertia and internal chaos get in the way of processing the very finest raw material available. It's called efficiency and waste.

The vast majority of Bama fans won't like those answers. Most Bama fans won't like any answers this morning. And I would be the same way. But to me, Bama was outcoached. Not just this year. But outcoached as a program by Utah. You can't put it all on Saban. This loss is about Utah being a much more solid football program - in total - than Alabama. First Urban Meyer, then Whittingham. The Utah athletic director knows how to pick coaches, apparently.

Would Utah have beaten LSU or Florida or Georgia?

Well, with that passing game, I think LSU could've been in serious trouble. I can't speak for the Gators or the Dawgs.

I'm impressed with what Whittingham and Utah have done.

Alabama has some big holes to fill for next year, but they have to remain the favorite in the West. And I'm cool with that, too. I prefer Les Miles and LSU to be slightly under estimated.

As for Utah, they graduate a TON of seniors this year. And that's a program that rebuilds, not reloads. They'll be remembering 2008 for a long, long time!


  1. I disagree. I think Bama totally overlooked them. No excuses. They got their ass beat. But this isn't the first time a big time school has lost to a team they probably shouldn't have. If point #1 is meant to belittle Saban's coaching ability, its completely stupid. He did a phenomenal job this year with the team he had. And in just two years, its night and day the direction that the program is headed and the culture surronding it. Whittingham has also done an outstanding job. But remember, he's just carrying on what Meyer established (undefeated in his last season).

  2. Not belittling Saban, who is a great coach. My point - which I think I make in the post pretty clearly - is that Whittingham is also a great coach even though his salary is a lot lower.

    It's hard to understand how Bama could've been looking past Utah. Looking towards what? Seems to me tht this Utah team was pretty exceptional considering thei lineage.

  3. he never said "looking past" utah, he said "overlooking" utah. as in, "given 3 weeks ago we were 1 quarter away from playing in the bcs championship game, i don't really have to bring my a-game against fucking utah do i??"

    bama was playing for a couple spots in the final poll...utah was playing the biggest game in program history.

    utah is good...but not exceptional.

  4. Overlooked...looking past...same thing.

    I can see "overlooking" causing a team to come out flat and fall behind at first.

    Getting dominated in the trenches, on both sides of the football, the entire game is a different story.

    From what I can tell, Bama exceeded expectations this year. What you're saying is that Saban couldn't get the second-best team in the SEC fired up enough in three weeks to want to win the Sugar Bowl against a Mountain West team.

    If I were a Bama fan, I'd rather believe that Utah was just a better team. I'd hate to think my $4M a year coach couldn't motivate his players given almost a month to recover from a 1 loss season - actually, an undefeated regular season.

    But I'm not a Bama fan.

    For Utah, this was an exceptional team.

  5. "I can see "overlooking" causing a team to come out flat and fall behind at first.

    Getting dominated in the trenches, on both sides of the football, the entire game is a different story.

    a different story like the one that was told when lsu played florida, uga, and ole miss?? oh well, at least lsu's coach (who makes just as much as saban) got his team motivated for the bowl game. that's the important thing.

  6. Nice "Oh yeah, your Momma" response, Gerry. Very convincing.

    LSU was beaten badly by UF, UGA and Ole Miss this year. I'm making zero excuses for that.

    Unless I'm misreading, we were actually talking about Bama.

  7. No one is dragging you to the blog, Gerry. I'd rather have zero comments. So feel free to follow your previous promise of banishing this blog to the hell of zero comments. I'll pull through.

    And for what it's worth - I agree.

    More Josh.

  8. consider it done. i'm out. you've run off one of your 7 readers, 2 of which are bama fans.

    you know i actually can't believe there aren't more comments on here. i mean you've created such a great environment.

    so the next time you get the urge to post, why don't you put it in a word document, print it out, and wipe your ass with it. it'd be about the same.

  9. Jeff - it happens every year. A big time program shows up unmotivated and tanks. If you really think that Utah is a better team than Bama, you are a complete idiot. The guys who watch every game will agree with that. I heard a national analyst guy say today that Bama still wins 8 out of 10 with Utah. Does it all fall back on the coach? Yeah. Has this happened to the Pete Carrolls and Bob Stoops of the world? Yeah again. Doesn't mean they aren't good coaches or they're overpaid. It happens with college age kids. Hell - it happens in the pros. That's what makes sports so unpredictable.

  10. Gerry - thanks for the memories.

    Dragon - clearly Bama should win 8/10 meetings with Utah. But the bowl game was the one that counted and Bama was never able to make progress towards making it a football game.

    To me, that says more than Utah just had a good game.

    Or, maybe I'm an idiot. Your perception, your call.

  11. Good gosh damn.

    I wrote a wonderful, Ghandi esque appeal for peace last night and I guess I never hit the damned post button. And that was before the last 3 comments from today.

    Shit guys, this is just a college football blog. Calm down. Quit taking everyone's jokes so seriously and just read it for what it is. And that's stuff, some serious, some not so serious, written by guys who are passionate about their love of one team and hate of another.


    okay, I'll run at the mouth a bit more, hopefully encapsulating what I wrote last night. I just searched my history and can't find a trace of it. But trust me, it was nice.

    Anyway, I think what I said was something like:

    I think some read too much into some things that are written here. I know I might read too much into stuff at Uncle Ricos or elsewhere. And taking a step back, I think that it's common for us to read a written word and hear or imagine a tone that can be completely different from the tone it was intended by the author.

    Add to this the fact that what we might be reading might not be what we want to hear in the first place.

    For example, I know when I go to URTM or Red Solo Cup, there aren't going to be glowing happy words written about LSU, Les Miles, LSU fans, the football team and so forth. Same goes for you here and Saban, Bama fans, the Tide and whatever.

    But add in an imagined tone and it can read even more spiky/insulting/mocking/what have you. Consider the author is passionate about both the school they love and the other schools they hate.

    Shit there have been plenty of times I've read something at Uncle Rico's, written something smart mouthed in reply. Read it. And then deleted it. It wouldn't have added anything to the conversation and would've just been childish.

    In short, was Jeff digging at Saban and Bama. You bet. They have it coming for getting soundly beaten by Utah. Do I agree with all of Jeff's comments? No. But he can write whatever he wants. You can comment whatever you want. But I think our two blogs and the community at large aren't served by talk that dissolves into childish bickering and sniping. Shit, that type of stuff just makes me want to walk away.


Don't be rude. Or I will delete your comment. Questions?