Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Has it really been ten years since we've done this?

Has it really been ten years since we have done this? Fire the coach at Tulane? No wonder everyone seems out of practice. The Forums are still filled with angry fans- didn’t you people get what you wanted?

Spare me this sort of platitude- you can’t sit and call incessantly for a man’s job and that all concerned about the ramifications. Weak.

I have postulated on here before that a Tulane coach has to do four things to keep his job: win 4-8 games a year (no one win disasters- and a winning season more than just here and there), a bowl game every four year class, graduate tons of players and zero off-field embarrassments. Since 2003 (and the review), Chris Scelfo was failing items one and two. So on paper, you can make an argument for dismissal. No way can you argue positively this was the wrong decision.

But I would have given him another “win or else” year. He was only a single win away from keeping his job. Replace at Auburn on this year’s slate with SE Louisiana and he probably gets it. The on-field product is simply not a Teevens' level disaster. And with LSU, Mississippi State and SE Louisiana coming to the Dome next year, the attendance woes sort of fix themselves for a year.

It just felt like a narrow thing to me. Ultimately, I think he was an average coach doing an average football job that displayed great class the three occasions the situation demanded it: when Bowden abandoned the program, the aforementioned review and Katrina. So, if it was a close call, Tulane owed the guy a “win or else” year.

But again, the Green Wave hasn’t been good since 2002. So I’m not going crazy.

There is something to be said for change for change’s sake. Coach Scelfo had been here for eight years- what problems he could fix, he had fixed. The nagging ones that remain- well, maybe they were beyond his capacity.

Hopefully a fresh coaching start is what the program needs! But, I doubt it. I never thought Scelfo was the problem- again, he was just a guy doing an average job, getting what could be expected from t he resources at hand. So, if you could bet an over/under for “Tulane football wins over the next five years”- and it was 22 or so under Scelfo, I imagine that number would be unchanged today.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

My Ballot This Week

My ballot for the BlogPoll this week. Oh, how I hate to punish Notre Dame!

1Ohio State--
3Southern Cal 2
4Michigan 1
5LSU 2
6Wisconsin 2
7Arkansas 3
8Notre Dame 2
9Boise State 2
10Auburn 1
11Oklahoma 2
12Tennessee 4
13Virginia Tech 4
14Texas 4
15Louisville 3
16Brigham Young 3
17Rutgers 3
18Wake Forest 5
19Nebraska 3
20West Virginia 8
21Georgia Tech 6
22Boston College 8
23California 1
24Houston 1
25Georgia 1

Dropped Out: Clemson (#21).

Monday, November 27, 2006


Think this had anything to do with frustration over the Eagles?:
It was clear to John Lee that the four guys who came into his East Germantown deli Saturday night would not be paying customers.

"They all had their hoodies pulled tight, and it wasn't a cold night," said Lee, 48, owner of the Chelten Market. "I said, 'You need to take off your hoodies,' then one of them came around the counter with his gun drawn, so I shot them."

Lee fired five rounds from his .38-caliber revolver, striking three of the bandits and rupturing a water line, police said. Lee found a fourth would-be robber - who had not been shot - hiding in the rear of the store. "He had a BB gun on him, so I took it," Lee said. "Then I beat him up and took his boots and called police."
Everything is kinda crazy. For example, after yesterday’s results, the Eagles are probably closer to making the play-offs than at anytime since they lost to Jacksonville. The Indianapolis game that has hung like a lodestone since the season’s inception is off their necks- without costing them any ground. They are still only a game out from the number five seed- while the entire second tier of the NFC surprisingly seems to be declining at a faster pace than ever. Most importantly, someone is getting in the NFC play-offs at 9-7, maybe 8-8.

Yes, the Colts certainly smoked Philly last night. Without McNabb, the Eagles are a six win team- or more accurately, just not in Indianapolis’ league on the road. You know you have a problem when you roll your nickel out there on first down- and still can’t stop the pass at all. Teams are going to rush for a big number if all you do is play extra defensive backs.

Honestly though, was Sunday night a real relevant test for this group, this year? Any candid pre-season assessment was an 8-8 team looking for reasons to believe its young talent can play. A more germane question concerns whether the Eagles have enough to get this rebuilding unit a sniff of important December games.

The Indy game is irrelevant- losing badly out there says nothing whether you are an NFC wild card team. Accordingly, I have little analysis to offer. Watching your young players get tortured all over the field means, at the very least, you are playing a lot of young players. Frankly, I’m not sure any team in the NFL was staying within two scores of the Colts last night- so who cares?

The immediate slate is more interesting. The Eagles’ defense isn’t good- but they’re not as bad as last night would indicate. Neither Carolina nor Washington is going to put an unmanageable point totals up there. And Garcia really wasn’t bad; he gives them a chance. So maybe the Eagles are really imperfect right now- but this team has a fighting shot to handle a .500 team at home (Panthers). Fortune smiles right after that, as the Redskins are a mess. They could win two here in spite of themselves; I bet Vegas picks them both times.

Certainly, these past two years have not been Reid’s best. But the guy has one singular strength. Reid’s got a plan and a purpose- and each Sunday he moves closer to its implementation.

I killed them last week- and it is even easier to kill the team today. But bottom line: this was a bad, aging team in 2005. Now it is much younger and improved in 2006. Isn’t that what the Eagles are supposed to be doing? So why all the frustration? Rebuilding isn’t winning.

Since last season was officially declared a disaster, the goal has been about turning over the roster- particularly on defense and both lines- and getting from six wins to sniffing the play-offs. Reid has stuck to the plan and to his new crew, every single Sunday. And despite brutal luck at the quarterback position, he’s just a decent home game Monday Night away not only from wild card relevance, but controlling his destiny.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Unlike Tulane, I am Bowl eligible!

Unlike Tulane, I am Bowl eligible! And tomorrow, "Frank Helps You Think It All Out" is looking for nine wins. But for the final Prediction "Thursday" of the year, the New York Post is forlorn- offering Tulsa -16.5 over the Green Wave. Yes, that is the same Tulsa that couldn’t beat either SMU or Rice in the past two successive weekends.

Here in Manhattan, I went to see Brian Wilson perform "Pet Sounds" the other night. In the literature, he describes his stillborn album “Smile” as a “teenage symphony to God”. I kinda think Tulane needs that sort of effort here. Mind you, I usually like Tulane in these spots where they get a big number- if just because the Wave normally can score the ball. Get 17-20 points- and the big cover gets real problematic real quick. It is hard to contentedly take a game knowing you need five touchdowns to get your points back.

Unfortunately, the Wave has sort of forgotten how to score. With Boudreaux banged up, you can downgrade the tailback situation from “bad” to “could be worst in I-A”. In his last start as a Tulane player, I doubt Ricard is going finally going to solve the riddle of how to play well for whole halves. They just been regressing on offense, haven’t really looked like they could hurt you regularly since Army.

True, Tulsa is coming off a horrid loss- and frankly, a pretty bad three week stretch. But, prior to their slide, they were getting votes for the Top 25 in some polls- and somehow looking at each loss individually seems better than looking at them as a collective: we know Houston can smoke people, Rice has got a lot going their way, and that SMU quarterback is a special kind of death.

And the Golden Hurricanes can score the ball. They scored 62 points in their last two losses- hard to believe they won’t get well into the 30s here- maybe 40s. I know the Tulane defense played real well last week- but be honest: this doesn’t really feel like “home versus bad UCF”, more like “far away at pretty good UTEP”.

Despite their recent frustrations, watching the season slip away from a championship to what passes for the New Orleans Bowl or something, I imagine Tulsa won’t be down on themselves either- home for senior day. The Golden Hurricanes should score a ton of points- and I don’t know if Tulane can get many at all. So I’ll give the 16.5 here, take Tulsa.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Comfort ye my people.

Gosh, for pro-football's best fans, it has been a rough time at the Linc lately. It is hard to order the amaranthine debilitating home losses: the Monday Night wipeout versus Seattle, the choke job against Dallas last year, the choke job versus the Giants this year. Now this mess. Gosh guys, couldn’t we save one of these disasters for the road?

A pro team’s season isn’t “over” until the seventh loss- but with "quarterback" Jeff Garcia, at Indianapolis and a Monday Night with Carolina suggest that terminus is coming, and coming right quick. Look, with McNabb they were a .500 team- maybe nine wins. Maybe. And, even say, the Colts, without Peyton Manning, aren't seven win good. So any sort of renaissance is very problematic. Oh well, at least this isn’t Washington- and Joe Gibbs is not picking up his prescriptions here. And looking at the New York Post this morning, I’m not exactly sure the Giants are convinced they might be better if their quarterback got hurt.

To be honest, I am a little at a loss. Last year, it was straightforward. Even with Donovan, the Eagles were amiss. His injury gave the franchise an excuse to play what young players that they had stockpiled. They certainly had a lot to fix: d-tackle, outside LBs, strong safety, o-tackle, center, wide out. Some of the guys they plugged in either could play or showed a little promise. Consequently, the Eagles replaced eight players in the rotation with guys in their first contracts. And they were undoubtedly a little better- up from six wins, say .500 probably - and a whole lot younger than 2005.

Unlike 2005, the Eagles entered this year as a rebuilding year. Whatever young players the Eagles think can play are already playing. So, post-injury 2005 was straightforward: bench vets, play youth, be hopeful. Post-injury 2006: well, the youth is already playing- so you keep playing said youth and keep evaluating their ability to help the franchise rebuild the product.

McNabb getting hurt makes the rebuilding season less interesting- and yes, it would have been nice to sneak “a team a year away” into the play-offs this year.

But aren't the Eagles doing what they should do? Shouldn't they have moved eight guys out- particularly on both lines for younger guys? Aren't both lines better- and project to improve more? Aren't the Eagles better & clearly younger now than 2005? This is what rebuilding looks like- some of its bitter.

Two things for the off-season are apparent though. First, the back-up quarterback role around here changed Sunday. Prior to this injury, it was an emergency guy- a player to get you through a handful of games. Now McNabb has missed significant time three of five years now- and he's never going to make 25 straight starts ever again. So that second quarterback has to be expected to play 25-30% of the snaps over the next four years. And he has to be affordable because of the money the quarterback position already ties up. Cheap and can play? That means first day draft pick.

Second, I get this feeling the Eagles are more than a little stale, mawkish perhaps, in their thinking. A lot of their advantages in the early 2000 NFC East- managing the cap, where to take what type of positions in the draft, developing a young quarterback, etc.- have closed up. No one has brought a new thought on capitalzing on Donovan, plying this roster of defenders, etc. in like forever. They can’t fire or demote Banner or Reid- or add a new mind to the power structure. So I bet the coordinators are changed this winter, and game-day power restructured. There is just too much vapidness, and things are a little too jejune for my taste.

Monday, November 20, 2006

That's Four!

Gosh, reading the Tulane boards this morning, I seem a little contrarian. I actually was kind of glad the Green Wave won Saturday afternoon. Sometimes the Tulane fans' blind Scelfo anger causes us to forget: no matter what your larger agenda is for the program, it always helps to win. (photo credit)

So, 10-9 over UCF is not a huge win- but it helps. The Wave has played nine games this season against programs outside of huge state football factories, and while 4-5 is not good and certainly not a goal- it isn’t terrible either. It is simply not a disgrace.

For example, and I am not putting forth as any sort of brilliant pronunciamento- but CBS has got Tulane out of the “very bad” zone to something like “could embarrass you if you don’t bring your jock” range. So, I felt good about it. Well, until McNabb went down yesterday. Then I wanted to vomit. Try to remember my grief if you choose to disagree with my post.

That being said, Hosea 10:12-13 reminds us that there is a consummation for everything, and things must “pay-off”- and man, I love Lester to death, he is the greatest narrative going (literally pathos before your eyes), but it is so very hard to watch him play quarterback anymore.

I’ve never understood the frantic calls for Lester to be allowed to run a full spread offense. I mean, what needs to happen to run the spread successfully?

-the qb has to complete nearly 60% of his passes
-the qb must execute basic throws over and over and over
-the qb must read two/three/four options quickly- and react mistake free again and again
-the qb must make a high number of throws- which means a low interception to pass ratio, particularly in the red zone, is a must

Be honest, is that really Lester?

I’m just not sure moving Ricard from a 30-attempts to a 45-attempts a game guy makes a whole lot of sense. What would those extra fifteen throws give you? Well, it would take 17-18 snaps to get there, ‘cause he’d take some sacks. He’d miss seven of the fifteen throws- so now that’s now ten total zero or negative plays. What about Tulane’s offense makes you think they could survive nearly 60% of their snaps going for zero or negative yards?

And there would be turnovers; Ricard catagorically fumbles and throws killer picks.

All this to complete a handful of ball control passes? Give up eighteen snaps in exchange for 8-of-15, 60-90 yards, one interception- and an extra punt (or two) for the probable consequence of sacks & first down incompletions? I don’t get it.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Public Service Note

Some guys- I assume guys because no woman would ever waste as much time as we do on this sort of nonsense- have set-up a new chatboard for all things Tulane. The link for the "The Other Green Wave Forum" is a little unwieldy- so just click here.

This board arises from a sort of bizarre feud with the folks over at yogwf. It is boring and silly- so I won't rehash the particulars. Apparently, yogwf has sent out e-mails to their regulars telling them they "must choose sides". I won't myself- I think Tulane football needs all the interest drives it can get- so kudos to both groups.

So visit both: "yogwf" is your source for how simply wonderful a three win season can really be and "togwf" for an in-depth, repetitive look by dozens of people on the joys of canning Chris Scelfo ad nauseum.

I'll stick with the boys at nola though. It is the best and certainly most fun site.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Golden Knights

Well, after Punting Monday and Scelfo Tuesday, Prediction Thursday loses a little of its luster this week. The New York Post- as well as the Golden Nugget in Vegas- have taken this game right off the board. With no one sure which quarterback or what running back on either team will play and for how much, no one wants to put a number up there. So I’m stuck at 7-3 ATS- after totally missing the game against USM.

To me, this game sort of harkens back to the Mississippi State game- which was the stone lay up of the year. Going in, Mississippi State was clearly terrible- while the Wave looked horrible against Houston. Consequently, terrible (the Bulldogs) was an eleven point favorite over horrible (the Wave). But we also knew Houston was designed to make Tulane look about as bad as they could be, that there was hope the Wave was merely terrible- and "terrible versus terrible" was not only a more like characterization of that match up but also that big number for MSU was misguided and unwarranted. Tulane = easy cover.

Same thing this week. Both UCF and Tulane are pretty bad- and there is no reason to believe UCF won’t be pretty bad again this week. It took a miracle performance from Steven Moffett, the senior quarterback, to beat Memphis by a mere two points. They stink.

Now, Tulane ain’t good either- so I imagine under normal circumstances you have to like them at home- particularly after getting just blown out. Terrible versus terrible, take the home squad, right? Plus, UCF doesn’t travel well at all- and you'd have to pick Tulane, even pay the field goal maybe.

I wonder though- I wonder if after last week Tulane has regressed back to horrible? Forte is the most overrated player in recent Tulane history- but he normally plays well against these outfits featuring a half-dozen guys playing regularly on defense who might not start at Tennessee-Martin (like Army for example). So he’ll be missed.

Ricard faces some real duress, some pressure this weekend, as he’ll have to “do it all himself”- a week after he failed spectacularly in a similar “have to do it all” spot. And we all know how Ricard responds to angst and vexations: head-shaking turnovers! Frankly, Tulane has got to score- as the defense probably cannot keep UCF in the teens. Throw in a special teams' disaster...

Against any other team in the country, I’d say the Wave is dead meat here. But UCF has really, really slipped since Marshall in early October. The quarterback is back- but they are battling injuries like crazy on defense and at running back. Tulane is healthier and at home. Any kind of day from Ricard, and I mean any kind, and the Wave scores 30 points here.

They’ll try for the seniors; and something tells me they get this one. At 7-3, maybe I get a free pick, and I’ll use it to take Tulane straight up to win the game.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I Am So Glad Joe Gibbs Is In Our Division

Heavens, but what a desultory afternoon at the Linc. Sixty-five dollars to sit in the driving rain and watch the Eagles devour a shabby, forlorn Redskins’ team. You couldn’t even put your beer down to applaud things- or it would fill with tepid rain sluicing in buckets off the roof.

The Redskins really, really worked hard to suck out all joy from winning that game. USC would have been 50-50 to beat that Washington outfit yesterday- so I don’t know what positive conclusions the Eagles can take from it. I suppose it was a “must win” game- and the Eagles are thus alive to face another “must win” game next Sunday- so that is good. I suppose. Sigh… couldn’t the Redskins have scored a touchdown, forced a turnover, committed something less than a thousand retarded penalties- something, anything that suggested that at some level they were engaged and trying?

Even the news is designed to frustrate. The Philadelphia papers are agog about the Eagles’ rushing attack. I find that odd (not to mention wrong)- as the Redskins have an absolute fetish about running the football- and they stink. Has anyone noticed? The Eagles have allowed almost 400 yards rushing total the last two games- and just sixteen points. Yesterday, Philadelphia rushed the ball for well over 100 yards- and had nothing to show for it. Their two offensive touchdowns were both the result of singular, giant, big passing plays.

Perhaps those scores were facilitated by the running game. But ultimately, in the NFL the run is only good for three things: setting up the pass, tactically moving the clock and reducing the number of points you score. Most teams waste too many snaps trying to “establish the run”. Put the ball on the thirty- and run four straight “successful” running plays- and you are looking at 2nd and 5 from your 47. Or run two good pass plays coupled with two incompletes- and it is 1st and 10 near field goal territory. Our Precious League is not the Big Ten- 12 plays and 75 yards doesn’t happen here- you gotta throw it (a lot) to score it.

And the Redskins can’t do that. Other than Randel El doing something crazy (ed. that was a helluva option throw he made that Dawkins made a miraculous play on), there is nothing on the Redskins to fear. They have good wide outs, but the quarterback can’t and the coach won’t throw the ball down the field. The ‘skins are so, so easy to play defense against. Make a mistake against the Eagles, it’s a touchdown or a field position flipping play. Make a mistake against Brunell, Portis flops forward for five, or someone catches the ball in flat for six. Either way it brings up a 3rd and 3 that Brunell has little hope of converting the three times in succession required to score.

Worse… look, I know Brunell throws the ball away a lot- but he also looks more than a little gun shy out there. Fifteen minutes into the game, it was obvious the Redskins were not going to be able to run the ball to three touchdowns. But no one did anything about it! Saunders, Gibbs and Brunell were content to run the ball in a sad manner, throw the requisite incomplete pass- and punt the ball.

So holding the Redskins to three points doesn’t mean much. I am glad to see the win- but unless USC is a Wild Card team in this NFL too, the Eagles’ win means little more than they got a chance to win next week and make the season relevant again heading to Indianapolis.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I Want To Sell A Golden Eagle

I'm sorry I have been away- but between and Eagles' bye week and a disappointing Tulane loss- it isn't like we missed all that much. Except this sort of thing. You are not helping my mood #5.

Okay. Back to work. The New York Post- the official source of the line for Prediction Thursday- puts USM -6 over Tulane. What does it tell me? Well, for one thing, USM must have problems that belay its 5-4 mark (i.e. quarterback!).

On my road to 7-2 thus far (not to be smug yogwf-ers!), I picked the Wave as a stone lay-up over Mississippi State. I am not saying Tulane is mortal lock here- but doesn’t it feel a little like that game?

This year, Tulane has been able to score at home during the sixty percent of the time that the Green Wave is sort of “with it” on offense. Even if all Tulane can do here is play well on offense for two-and-a-half quarters, they ought to be able to score 24 points.

Now, I’m not saying you’ll get sixty minutes of Ricard and Forte and boys ripping it up. Please, that is just not Tulane- and it definitely isn’t Lester. But like the Mississippi State game, Tulane probably can score a decent number and insist USM to keep up. I can see Tulane playing pretty well for stretches here, get north of three touchdowns, and oblige USM into the neighborhood of thirty-plus to order to cover.

Even with our specials and defense, that is a lot. To score five touchdowns, you have to have a lot of possessions and throw the ball effectively. QB Jeremy Young is probably the worst passing quarterback in C-USA; 1200 yards passing and nine TDs does not get it done in our League.

Worse, USM accordingly will be looking to rush the football at every opportunity- to run the clock out on any “Lester goes for 28 points in a half” type explosion. The Eagles are one of a few teams in C-USA that doesn’t recruit and game plan to score five times to win. Accordingly, the Eagles will be looking to keep the score down- to play a game in the 20s rather than the 30s. An appurtenant strategy, but one which doesn’t help trying to cover a number.

Plus, you know that little mental schedule we all keep in our heads- where we mentally “W” & “L” future contests? You know not a single person in the USM community is carrying this as anything but a “W” underlined five times. Players don’t go to USM to lose to Tulane. Plus, that short week is bad in the NFL- and a killer in college (remember the near disaster against NE Louisiana a few years ago at Gormley?). I can’t believe that USM is dialed in physically or emotionally to bring their “A” effort here.

Last week's game was a shot for Tulane to audition to move out of the bottom quartile of I-A programs. Okay, not too good.

But here is another chance- against a USM team that, this year at least, is in that next quartile up as well. Tulane gets this game- and you can see through to a 5-5 path in the ten games the Wave played on the non-elite level- and for the first time since JP left, optimism toward a winning season for 2007. So there are some stakes here.

And as you can gather from above, this is a spot where Lester plays well for most of the game, Forte is scheduled to go apparently- so Tulane will score.

USM will have to play well for long stretches on offense- something they have not done routinely this year. They are going to have to pass at some point to score a big number- and their quarterback is simply not a good player.

Tulane can win this game. An axiom: if you think you can win the game outright, and you are getting points anyway, take them. I like Tulane- give me the six!- and a decent opportunity to win the game outright.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Herd'em Up!

Don’t laugh when I write this- but from a pure “competitiveness of the program” standpoint- this game is the biggest one Tulane has played since Louisville in 2004. (photo credit)

Tulane spends most of its time in that real bad bottom quartile of college football programs: Troy, Rice, Army, etc. But a win here brings them to 4-3 in the competitive part of their schedule (ex-LSU and ex-Auburn)- and you know?- that isn’t terrible. Not good- but not too bad either. Move the Green Wave closer to quality second tier outfits (Air Force) and bottom BCS schools (North Carolina State and Iowa State)- and away from Temple.

Vegas thinks the Green Wave is in it to win it: Marshall -4.5 over Tulane (a very near toss up at a neutral venue).

This game has sort of an odd feeling about it too. It isn’t often you get two indifferent C-USA teams, playing pretty well for multiple weeks, then facing each other. Marshall has a good win over UAB- and hammered a weak Memphis outfit. Tulane played decent versus Rice, then a respectable outing at Auburn, and further hammered a weak Army team. Hard to like one path over the other.

Consequently, you’d be querulous about both these teams- as asking a bad C-USA team to present an effort that can win three weeks in a row (or four in the case of Tulane) is problematic. But both teams are auditioning to move past real bad to mediocre this week- so maybe some bias toward consistency can be forgiven?

I really want to pick Tulane here. It would be a real, tangible program booster to get this game- put some real meaning in the last quarter of the schedule. And you get 4.5 points in a game where you figure Tulane ought to be able to score. If Memphis can get 27, Tulane can get there too.

But unfortunately, this will take sixty minutes of solid road football- and even the road win at Mississippi State shows, that sort of thing is not Ricard or the Tulane special teams’ strength. I can see Tulane fight its guts out here- but have Ricard be only good for 35-40 minutes of the game and the kicking game allow Marshall an undeserved 10-14 points on fumbles or poor coverages.

Marshall has proved they can play 60 good minutes at home. Tulane hasn’t done sixty good minutes on the road versus competence since they beat TCU in 2004. Irvin that day was 22-37 for 282 yards with one interception against a decent TCU team.

To win this game, they need that sort of four quarter effort from Ricard- an enterprise where every single throw is valuable. And on the road, outside in raw weather, getting some pressure from Marshall adequate defensive front, well, that is categorically not Lester. Add in the requisite disastrous special teams' day... well, the fact that we lack the depth to play quality special teams and the key player on the roster, the star quarterback, is inconsistent goes a long way to explaining why Tulane is a bottom quartile football team- rather than a semi-okay one.

So I gotta take the Thundering Herd here, give Tulane 4.5, and try and run the record to 7-2 ATS.