- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 5, 2002

You didn't have to work very hard over the Labor Day weekend to find a slew of overrated football frauds. Here are the five programs we'd like to flag for indecent exposure during their holiday performances:

1. Maryland Coming off of last season's 10-2 renaissance, everyone expected more than the Terps displayed in their 22-0 loss to Notre Dame in the Kickoff Classic. Sure, Maryland was without All-American candidate Bruce Perry, but that still doesn't explain Saturday's sub-anemic offensive effort against a middling bunch from South Bend, Ind.

The then-ranked Terps managed a paltry 133 yards of total offense against the Fighting Irish, a performance that puts a significant dent in Ralph Friedgen's reputation as an offensive guru. A honeymoon hasn't ended this abruptly since Michael took Lisa Marie to Neverland. Maryland now ranks dead last in total offense among the 112 Division I-A teams who have played at least one game. How many yards do you think the Terps will manage in two weeks against No.5 Florida State, a team which is clearly superior to Notre Dame in all three phases? We'll put the over-under at a very generous 200 yards.

2. Louisville Before losing at home to perennial SEC bye Kentucky on Sunday, the Cardinals were ranked in both polls, featured a Heisman contender at quarterback in Dave Ragone and boasted a defense expected to rank among the nation's stingiest. Scratch all of the above. Kentucky's other "Tubby," quarterback Jared Lorenzen, completely outplayed Ragone, who finished 14 of 39 passing for 193 yards in the Wildcats' 22-17 upset victory. The Cardinals would just about have to run the table to crawl back into the rankings after such a humiliation.

3. Colorado Big things were expected from the Buffaloes, who returned all the pivotal pieces from last season's Big 12 title team. But the tailback formerly known as a Heisman candidate (Chris Brown) fumbled three times, and Colorado dropped a stunner to instate rival Colorado State, 19-14. Coaching conundrum Gary Barnett continues to amaze with his ability to thrive only in the underdog role.

4. Virginia Wasn't this supposed to be the season in which the Wahoos were going to start to assert themselves as a national power under Al Groh? Building off of last season's closing victory over Penn State and consensus top-10 recruiting class, Virginia was supposed to blossom this season.

Well, after losing their opener at home to Colorado State, the Cavaliers were routed at Florida State last weekend, reducing Groh's two-year mark in Charlottesville to a very unpowerhouse-like 5-9. Somewhere underappreciated George Welsh is smiling.

5. Penn State The Nits' 27-24 win over Central Florida, a team we thought disbanded after Daunte Culpepper graduated. Hey, Joe, where you going with that gun in your hand? Message to 75-year-old Joe Paterno: Coach, that 5-6 debacle last season was no fluke. It's over. Retire before you put a unsightly patina on your platinum resume.

Streak snuffers

Congrats to Duke and Navy, both of whom halted galling losing streaks last week. Navy ended it's 10-game skid by crushing SMU 38-7 in coach Paul Johnson's debut. Duke, meanwhile, stopped its national-leading 23-game skein by dispatching East Carolina 23-16 in Durham. After the Blue Devils won for the first time since beating Wake Forest in November of 1999, coach Carl Franks gushed, "This has to be one of the biggest wins I've ever been involved with."

That's more than a little bit hyperbolic for a coach who was an assistant at Florida for five SEC titles and a national championship (1996).

By the way, Tulsa now owns the nation's longest losing streak at 11 games.

$ign of the times

On Saturday, Washington literally hands a victory to Michigan thanks to a glaring coaching snafu. And so on Tuesday, the university rewards coach Rick Neuheisel for his incompetence by giving him a six-year contract extension and boosting his annual salary to $1.5million.

The cardinal coaching error occurred when the Huskies were flagged for having 12 men on the field with six seconds remaining during Michigan's last-gasp drive in Ann Arbor. After the 15-yard penalty, Michigan kicked a 44-yard field goal as time expired to steal a 31-29 victory.

"We switched substitution groups, which we're going to kick ourselves about for a thousand years," said Neuheisel of the game-defining penalty.

Apparently, they don't kick in Seattle. They snuggle and hand out $1.5million checks as tissues. Is it any wonder we live in a sports world where multimillion dollar baseball players are lauded for not striking?

Shockley is shocking

Watch out for Georgia redshirt freshman quarterback D.J. Shockley. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder relieved starter David Greene last week against Clemson and led the Bulldogs to a 31-28 comeback victory. Shockley was the top-rated quarterback in the prep class of 2000, and he showed why in directing the 'Dawgs to touchdowns in two of his three series behind center. This guy has a much quicker release and a stronger arm than Michael Vick, and he's almost as elusive. Expect him to supplant Greene as the starter by the time Georgia hosts Tennessee on Oct.12.

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