Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football (thiccer kicker burgers formerly sold separately in Columbia, Mo., in honor of game-winning hero Harrison Mevis, but sadly are now off the menu):
First Quarter: Deion’s Great Expectations
Second Quarter: Coaches as instigators
Trailing Florida (11) by 13 points with nine seconds left Saturday night, Tennessee coach Josh Heupel (12) called a timeout. He said after the game that he was hoping “to try and push one into the end zone.” That was extremely unlikely since Florida had the ball for one more down, and pushing one into the end zone still wouldn’t alter the outcome of a two-score game. More likely, this was a sore loser timeout.
Heupel’s display of petulance set the stage for what happened next: Gators quarterback Graham Mertz went back to take a knee, stalling for a few seconds to run more clock; when he did kneel down, ending the play, Tennessee lineman Omari Thomas decked him with a late hit and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. That instigated a near brawl, with a Gator and a Vol squaring off like they were in the Octagon. It could have gotten much worse.
Heupel called a timeout with nine seconds left while trailing Florida by 13 points.
Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel/USA TODAY Network
If the Southeastern Conference dispenses discipline to any of the involved players, that’s on Heupel. Ending the game in an orderly fashion and not giving his frustrated players a chance to lash out on a throwaway down would have been the mature thing to do. But as we’ve seen lately, maturity isn’t always flowing from the seven-figure leaders in college football.
North Carolina’s Mack Brown (13) led a multi-stage, melodramatic public crusade against the NCAA for not granting an eligibility waiver to transfer receiver Tez Walker, with the public backlash leading to harassment of members of the committee who made the decision. The NCAA itself finally pushed back with a statement divulging that committee members had been threatened.
And Colorado State coach Jay Norvell (14) strangely went out of his way to take a shot at Deion Sanders before the Rams played Colorado last week, saying, “When I talk to grown-ups, I take my hat off and my glasses off.” Sanders, who can elevate any perceived slight or doubt to a federal offense, did not miss the opportunity here. On Friday, Norvell attempted to clarify the intent of his comment via social media, saying, “I wanted to send a message to our players and how we run our program.”
The message his team apparently received: play dirty, play cheap, get penalized until you lose. The Rams were beaten 43–35 in double overtime, with a huge upset slipping away in no small part because they were penalized a school-record 17 times for a school-record 182 yards. That’s the most penalty yards for any team this season by a whopping 51, and more than any team recorded last year as well.
Colorado State’s flag parade included three unsportsmanlike conduct calls, a blatant targeting penalty that earned defensive lineman Mohamed Kamara an ejection and the atrocious shot that defensive back Henry Blackburn (15) put on Colorado’s Travis Hunter (16) that ultimately sent Hunter to the hospital. Hunter is expected to be out three weeks with an internal injury, Sanders said Monday, while Blackburn is still playing.
That’s wrong. Norvell was asked about the play after the game and offered a weak response: “I mean, I don’t know. He hit him on the sideline. It was hard for me to see over there. I can’t answer that.”
The Buffaloes had their low moments as well, most notably when quarterback Shedeur Sanders seemed to go after the eyes of Kamara. An entertaining, dramatic game that kept much of America riveted until after midnight had a lot of nasty side drama.
Norvell made his hat-and-sunglasses comment before a live audience at his radio show, making him the third notable figure in the sport to succumb to the allure of a live microphone in a rah-rah setting.
Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark (17) dropped the verbal equivalent of Horns down while speaking to Texas Tech’s Red Raider Club in Lubbock in August. Addressing Tech coach Joey McGuire, Yormark said, “I’m not going to put any pressure on you, but I’m going to be in Austin for Thanksgiving, O.K.? And you’d better take care of business like you did right here in Lubbock last year.” Texas, of course, is exiting the conference after this season. Yormark had been the picture of diplomacy at Big 12 media days in July, wishing the Longhorns and Oklahoma well this season and in the future in the SEC, but that remark revealed his true feelings.
And LSU coach Brian Kelly (18) declared on his radio show before the season opener that “we’re going to go beat the heck out of Florida State.” Then, after the heck was instead beaten out of LSU, Kelly denied having said it. Tape don’t lie. Coaches do.
Drive for 325 update
Each week The Dash is updating the progress of Iowa offensive coordinator and nepo baby Brian Ferentz (19) toward fulfilling contractual obligations that call for the Hawkeyes to average 25 points per game—a total of 325 points across 13 games. After last year’s offensively challenged team wheezed its way 17.7 points per game, improvement was mandated—and put in writing. The update through three games:Last week: Iowa defeated Western Michigan to go 3–0.Points scored: 41, the Hawkeyes’ most since Oct. 1, 2021, with two of those coming courtesy of special teams on a blocked punt for a safety.Percentage of Iowa points this season that are not attributable to the Iowa offense but still countable toward Ferentz’s contract: 10.6.Average points through three games: 28.3, soaring above the Mendoza Line for the first time.Average points attributable to the offense: 25.3.Number of points needed the rest of the way to reach the target: 240. The Hawks need to average 24 per game the rest of the way.Next up: Penn State (20), which is allowing only 11.7 points thus far.
First Quarter: Deion’s Great Expectations