(Ed. Note - Nice work by Nick. That is all...)
So I've been planning a couple of retrospective posts for the 2010 Big East Season, and I didn't want to do a full, dry recap for every post. So instead I decided to do the cliched, "Power Rankings of Teams using albums/songs/artists to express quality." Without further ado, lets get started.
1. West Virginia, 9-4 (23-7 Loss in Champs Sports Bowl)
Yeah, screw UConn. At least West Virginia would have had a chance to win that bowl game. This team has underperformed for years, ever since the encouragement of Rich Rodriguez's Josh Groban CD's were taken away. Of course I'm sure that Bill Stewart's insistence on a clean, Christian football team helped to make up for the deficiency of lovelorn ballads and create an abundance of conservative values at the head coaching position. Moving on from WVU's goofy coaches, this team. Geno Smith had a perfectly adequate season, passing for 2700+ yards, 24 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, and a whopping 2 yards per carry. Apparently West Virginia, being the forward thinking state that they are, assumed that just because your quarterback has a dark complexion, you can run the spread option, even though Geno runs as if he's wading through waist deep water. Noel Devine had an adequate season, rushing for 936 yards. Jock Sanders was adequate with 728 yards. On defense, Keith Tandy and Bruce Irvin jump out, and as a team they averaged only 11.8 pts/against, but nothing really stood out. All in all, adequate production. Except that Devine is supposed to be one of the most dynamic players in the nation, many of these players were highly touted recruits, yet no one stands out and is a playmaker. 9-3 is good, great for this conference, but for this team is very disappointing. We'll see if the Dana Holgorsen (Whom I picture raiding commerce routes on the Great Lakes in the spring when the ice thaws, commanding his own longboat) era can rectify visible cracks in Morgantown.
Album: Gimme Back My Bullets - Lynyrd Skynyrd
A very solid record, but nothing really stands out. Gimme Back My Bullets the song was supposed to lead off the record in a way that Sweet Home Alabama and Saturday Night Special had, but didn't. I'm also sure the album name is a sentiment that many West Virginia fans share. Gimme back my Pat White and Steve Slaton.
Bonus: West Virginia Players and Coaches as Band Members.
Steve Gaines - Dana Holgorsen. Much like Steve Gaines he was not in the band yet, but was around the band when this album came out. However, he showed he was supremely talented, and by the next album was the lead guitarist, displacing Allen Collins. It remains to be seen if Holgorsen's tenure will be cut short by a Corsair crash.
Allen Collins - Bill Stewart. The guitarist who took a back seat to Gaines on Street Survivors, he is credited with helping write many of Skynyrd's greatest hits, much as Bill Stewart helped create some of those amazing West Virginia offenses in the middle of the decade.
Ronnie Van Zant - No one on this team is good enough to be Ronnie Van Zant.
Gary Rossington - Noel Devine, who played a supporting role to Slaton when West Virgina was great, much as Rossington played a supporting role to Collins on Free Bird and Simple Man. Sure, he may have one big lead guitar hit in Tuesday's Gone, but he could never support as much weight as Allen Collins did. Much like Devine can't support the running game on his own.
Billy Powell - The WVU Defense. Much like Billy Powell, not enough people paid attention to the quality that the WVU defense had, except when Tuesday's Gone plays.
Leon Wilkenson - Geno Smith. No one listened to Lynyrd Skynyrd to listen to the bassist, it was about the guitars man. Much like no one watches West Virginia to watch Geno Smith move like Donovan McNabb (At 32) but not even be half the passer.
Artimus Pyle - Jock Sanders. Purely because both have awesome names.
2. Connecticut, 8-5 (48-20 Loss in Fiesta Bowl)
UConn played at their usual level. Good, not great. They were almost like the USF teams that constantly threatened to win the division, only without the national ranking and anything resembling a competent offensive strategy that would actually put points on the board. This also looks like the end of the line for UConn, as Edsall broke some kind of landspeed record for how fast he tried to get out of the program for a move with no increase in prestige and a nominal pay increase. Edsall may have more lateral speed than Pat White. Regardless, you have to give credit where credit is due. UConn, good job on managing to remember that no matter how god awful you play out of conference, you can still grind and drag your way through Big East play, making sure to not fuck up as much as you know everyone else is going to, and manage to get a BCS bid. Thank you for revealing the crippling flaw in everyone else's plan to win the Big East: Trying to win and be exciting in this league (West Virginia) is much like trying to win and be exciting (and be Dutch) and win the World Cup. In other words, playing blindingly boring offense will ensure that you win a majority of your games in a league where most teams can't score, but try to and turn the ball over (UConn ranked in the Top 15 in Turnover Margin with +12, their biggest competition WVU had -5).
So congratulations for playing mistake free, boring football, still losing 4 games, and still needing the chips to fall just right for the strategy to pay off. If you're only going to pass 40% of the time, and throw more INT's than TD's, at least make your offense interesting and nostalgic, use the Wishbone, and have a built in excuse for why your offense is boring, because you had a boring base formation.
Album: Breakfast in America - Supertramp
A decent band, peaking at the right time. After showing some early success with singles "Dreamer" and "Bloody Well Right" they pulled it all together and released an album with 4 strong singles, and had their biggest success, finally concentrating their efforts on one solid, some might say great, album. However, Supertramp peaked with this album, and slid backwards into obscurity after this strong effort to reach the top of the album charts. Much like the UConn Huskies are about to do.
Bonus: UConn Players and Coaches as Singles from the Album.
Goodbye Stranger - Randy Edsall. No comment necessary.
Take the Long Way Home - Jordan Todman. UConn pounded the ball with Todman all season long, taking the long, arduous way to the end zone. And it worked. Funny also, that lyrics from this song seem to describe the Edsall move for UConn as well.
Does it feel that your life's become a catastrophe?
Oooohh, it has to be for you to grow, boy.
When you look through the years and see what you could
have been oh, what might have been,
if you would have more time.
Though I doubt that UConn will be doing much growing.
Breakfast in America - Zach Frazier. Frazier has had breakfast all over America (well half of it). Moving from Pennsylvania, to South Bend, to Storrs. And he's been underwhelming at pretty much every stop as well, much like this song compared to the other 3 singles.
The Logical Song - Going for it on 4th down 3 times against Oklahoma. Except this isn't Pittsburgh. So this wasn't logical. Huh.
3. Syracuse, 8-5 (36-34 Win in Pinstripe Bowl)
A Phoenix rising from the ashes. A rebirth. A Renaissance. There was a lot of hyperbole attached to the 2010 Orange campaign, which we can safely say, in a level headed way, was a step in the right direction. The Orange never set the world on fire, but they managed to win football games, which in this conference is really all you can say about any team if they were good. The Orange offense was by no means prolific, and even bordered on anemic. The Orange defense benefited quite a bit from playing teams whose offenses were not much better than the Orange's. Yet, the Orange had, by far, the most impressive performance of any Big East team for the season in the Pinstripe Bowl (I doubt Pittsburgh lights the world on fire on Saturday). The Orange were very flawed, and in a conference that had any decency they likely would have been punished a lot more for playing like shit down the back stretch, as they secured bowl eligibility and then lost all momentum. The Orange had the chance to run through the Big East, and failed in spectacular fashion. However, with the state of the Big East at the current moment, no team right now has better positioning to become the dominant team for the conference than Syracuse. With a stable coach and impressive recruiting, as well as an established ability to now get players to play above their heads, Syracuse provided a glimpse this season that they could be what they once were. It's too bad they waited until their bowl game to do it, rather than show that glimpse in an ability to close out the Big East at the end of the season. They started the season with a quiet, small preview of the future that was to come. They ended the season with a raucous, distorted, incredibly good vision of the future to come.
Album: Rust Never Sleeps - Neil Young
While the Orange finished 3rd in these rankings, they have by far the highest quality album to represent them. Why? Simply put, Neil Young was sliding into obscurity. After an outstanding early career, including a great first few albums (Schwartzwalder Years), membership in a veritable folk rock super group (The Big East. The SEC may be rock and roll, the Big 12 country. Big East is definitely folk rock), and solid years after (Harvest) before everything after that, as he devolved into drugs and writing too much about break ups/Greg Robinson. He was washed up. Rock was dead. Neil Young was done. Then, he reformed Crazy Horse (Got Marrone) and began to build back to where he was. After a couple good efforts, then came Rust Never Sleeps. It started much like Syracuse, with quiet quality. Then it began to build up, maybe not as good as the beginning of the year/album, until it reached its last song/game. Then, it reiterated the first game/song (Out of the Blue), but with fury and power and complete and utter dominance. I may have been gone, and I may have begun to fade into obscurity. But I'm not going to do that, because that is not who I am. I never left, and I will never die. If we're going to go away, we're burning out in a blaze of glory, not a mediocre whimper.
Bonus: Events of the past several years as Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black) lyrics.
Rock and Roll is Here to Stay - Doug Marrone's recruiting. Success at Syracuse is not just a flash in the pan, it is coming back and sticking around.
It's better to burn out, than to fade away - Pinstripe Bowl. Rather than continuing the theme of the second half of the season, and fading away from success, Marrone decided that if we're going to go away, we're burning out with some good football and using every god damn page of that playbook.
They give you this, but you paid for that - Greg Robinson. We didn't pay for 1-10 seasons.
The king is gone, but he's not forgotten - Dick MacPherson. Much like Elvis, MacPherson may be long removed from the game, but his success and days aren't forgotten.
4. Louisville, 7-6 (31-28 Win in Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl)
Charlie Strong is the best coach in the conference. I know I should be hung for saying that on an Orange site, but I'm sorry, while Doug Marrone is himself excellent, and exactly what Syracuse needs, Charlie Strong will be one of the best coaches in the nation, sometime in the next several years. He came right in to a distraught Louisville program and turned what was a bunch of crap under Kragthorpe and got them to 6-6 and a bowl win. He turned Bilal Powell into the second most dynamic (not best, that would be Delone) running back in the conference, and made Froman halfway decent. Not to mention, my god is he the undisputed recruiting champion of the conference. His (too) long years as a coordinator in the big conferences made him into a recruiting stud, and Louisville is reloading fast. Doug Marrone may have the edge in the X's and O's, but Strong definitely has the edge on recruiting. Back to this Louisville team, they were never out of any game the entire season, and to be honest every one of their losses could easily have been a win for them. This Louisville team probably brought to the game every Saturday the most consistent play in the conference, and I'll reward them for that given that Strong was working with what had essentially been pieces of string for the past couple years and turning into some kind of intricate dream catcher (that caught the dreams of Louisville fans). Mid level finish this year, expect conference championship contention next year.
Album: Ummagumma - Pink Floyd
Honestly, I'm so proud of this pairing, because it works so well. Ummagumma was Pink Floyd's first album without the destructive, yet brilliant Syd Barrett. Much like this season was Louisville's first season without the brilliant (He made Tulsa actually relevant), but destructive (He motivated Louisville players by putting mousetraps around the locker room and carrying a baseball bat around with him) Kragthorpe. Really, Kragthorpe is pretty much Barrett. After moderate success and buzz he probably flamed out of coaching with the Louisville job, and will show up 30 years later dead and fat. However, his replacement? An up and coming rock guitar god, and amazing creative influence, David Gilmour/Charlie Strong. And while Strong's first season with Louisville wasn't completely brilliant (Much like Ummagumma for Pink Floyd) it's obvious there can and will be amazing successes in his future (Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here).
Bonus: The Louisville Equivalent of Astronomy Domine
Part 2 Coming Monday...