Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow
Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football (artificial hip  sold separately in State College, Pa.):
Here's Snow In Your EyeThe only thing more amazing than Notre Dame's (2) coughing up a 13-point second-half lead at home and losing to S-S-S-Syracuse (3) (Syracuse?!?!) is the snowball bombardment from the Notre Dame student section. At the Fighting Irish players.
From Rockne to rock bottom, Notre Dame football has arrived at its nadir.
Losing the game is bad. Really bad. A potentially fireable offense.
Losing the students is worse.
When the most ardent, enthusiastic and faithful student section in America uses its football team for in-game target practice, something has gone seriously wrong in South Bend. Yeah, this could have simply been a few drunken louts making the entire student body look bad -- but why pelt your own players? By all reports The Dash has read, few if any snowballs were thrown at the Syracuse guys -- and while it's nice to extend good manners to the visitors, what about extending the same courtesy to the guys you're allegedly cheering for?
Lord knows, this Notre Dame team has made it hard to stay behind. But the snow was flying well before the Irish had reached the breaking point by losing on Senior Day to the Orange -- it was flying in the first quarter. The Dash knows this much: Booing certainly would be preferable to projectiles.
The Dash's immediate reaction Saturday night was that the university should issue the entire student body a one-game suspension for next year's opener against Nevada -- no student tickets. Sell those seats to the general public. But that would only serve to rob the team of much of the spark and noise that constitutes home-field advantage, so that's not an ideal solution.
The Dash's Heisman List
1. Colt McCoy, Texas. He didn't leave the most recent big impression, but the Heisman isn't awarded on what you've done lately. It's for an entire season of work, and no single player has been more vital to his team's success than McCoy.
2. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma. Bradford was brilliant in the showcase game against Texas Tech, and his school-record 42 touchdowns/six interceptions ratio is just silly.
3. Tim Tebow, Florida. This spot remains oipen to debate between Tebow, Graham Harrell and even Missouri all-purpose threat Jeremy Maclin. But give the edge for now to Tebow for propelling his red-hot team to the forefront of the national title race.• ESPN.com's Heisman Watch | Vote!
Just a couple of weeks ago, The Dash opined that canning Weis after this season would only lock Notre Dame into a hire-fire spin cycle that robs a program of its continuity. But that was before the Irish did the unimaginable, losing at home to a school that already has fired coach Greg Robinson (5) for four years of breathtaking ineptitude.
So now Notre Dame has a decision to make. It can continue to celebrate its place in the recruiting rankings while remaining well outside the rankings that matter, or it can change coaches again.
A Weis firing might be justified, but it also would be a monumental embarrassment. Four years after bringing home an alum who embraced the Notre Dame Experience, and just more than three years after giving him a 10-year contract worth more than $30 million, the school would have to admit it made a colossal, costly error.
Notre Dame fans have piously and pugnaciously insisted for four years that their school dealt with Ty Willingham fairly in firing him after three seasons. Well, it's time for deeds to back up words, and for Weis to be treated to the same fairness Willingham was.
After all, heading into what appears to be another slaughter against USC (6) Saturday (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET), Weis' winning percentage in South Bend is .583. Exactly the same as Willingham's.
Channeling Will FerrellInspired by those rogue Notre Dame students, The Dash is going Buddy the Elf (7) on college football and rapid-firing snowballs at all the underachievers and bad actors of 2008:
The BCS (8). Big shock there, huh? But the complaint today is not with the entire flawed mechanism, it's with this week's nuts and bolts. Specifically, the Sagarin Ratings that put train-wrecked Texas Tech ahead of the Oklahoma team that just beat it by approximately a million points in Norman. But before anyone serves a mental inquest warrant on Jeff Sagarin, understand this: The BCS insists on minimizing margin of victory, so it uses a different version of Sagarin's numbers (the "ELO chess" figures) than his main set. The primary numbers rank Oklahoma second and Texas Tech fourth.
First-year coaches (9). Snowballs for no fewer than six new coaches who have seen the honeymoon end rather abruptly. Bust of the busts: Rich Rodriguez at Michigan, which plummeted from 9-4 to an all-time worst 3-9. But don't forget Bobby Petrino at Arkansas (4-7 after the Razorbacks went 8-5 last year). And Mike Sherman (taking Texas A&M from 7-6 last year to 4-7). And Paul Wulff at Washington State (from 5-7 last year to 2-10). And Bill Stewart (West Virginia going from 11-2 to 7-3). And Larry Fedora, who is 5-6 at Southern Miss after replacing Jeff Bower, who rolled out 14 straight winning seasons.
The big first-year success is Houston Nutt, 7-4 at Mississippi after the Rebels were 3-9 last year. Nutt is followed by: Paul Johnson, 8-3 at Georgia Tech, which went 7-6 last season; Bo Pelini, 7-4 at Nebraska, while blessed with eight home games, after 5-7 last year; David Cutcliffe (4-7 at Duke, upgrading from 1-11); Steve Fairchild (6-6 Colorado State after Sonny Lubick bowed out with a 3-9); and Jerry Kill (6-5 at Northern Illinois after a 2-10 debacle last year).
Carbon-neutral coaches: Rick Neuheisel at UCLA, Art Briles at Baylor, Kevin Sumlin at Houston, Ken Niumatalolo at Navy and June Jones at SMU.
San Diego State (10). In late October, athletic director Jeff Schemmel declared that Chuck Long would be back for a fourth season in 2009. This week, the Aztecs issued an Emily Litella update: Never mind. They canned Long, with the San Diego Union-Tribune reporting that boosters raised money over the past couple of weeks to buy out his contract. Which basically means the school did a 180 on that decision to retain Long in a matter of about two weeks. The snowball wouldn't last long in San Diego, so throw it quickly.
The bottom of the Mountain West (11). San Diego State joins Wyoming and New Mexico in coach shopping. Despite blowing the chance against SDSU to collect its first .500 season and bowl eligibility under Mike Sanford, UNLV is making no overt moves to end his tenure after four years. While the top half of the league was excellent this season, the bottom half was rife with turmoil and will be rife with turnover. (The Dash knows that John L. Smith and Missouri offensive coordinator Dave Christensen are involved at Wyoming -- and have been since before Joe Glenn was fired this week.)
Illinois (12), Indiana (13) and Minnesota (14). Nice finish, boys. The Illini lost their last three games to finish 5-7, effectively gutting any carryover from last year's fluke Rose Bowl season. The Zooker's four-year record at Illinois now stands at 18-30. That deserves a snowball in the back.
The Hoosiers utterly collapsed, following their own bowl season with a 3-9 debacle that included six losses by three touchdowns or more. The coup de (dis)grace was a 62-10 crushing from rival Purdue. Coach Bill Lynch might remain employed only because the school is paying basketball coach Tom Crean a mint to clean up the expensive (buyout, legal fees, etc.) end of the Kelvin Sampson Era. Oh, and because the school produces meager football revenue, too.
And the Gophers? They plummeted from Flavor of the Month in October to Bust of the Month in November, losing their last four games. The final defeat, a 55-0 humiliation in the Floyd Bowl against Iowa, should have been enough to remove Tim Brewster's name from the Hot Coach list. In retrospect, Minnesota's 7-5 record is a house of cards. Best victory: over Illinois, No. 57 in the Sagarin Ratings.
Kansas State (15). The fresh alternative to fired Ron Prince? Sixty-nine-year-old Bill Snyder, out of coaching since 2005. If this translates to success (defined as a return to winning records and Big 12 North championships), The Dash personally will eat yellow snow in Manhattan.
Iowa State (16). Year 2 under Gene Chizik ends with a 10-game losing streak, second-longest in FBS behind ...
Washington (17). Only a winless team could lose to horrific Washington State the way the Huskies did Saturday. They possessed the ball inside the Cougars' 40-yard line with a three-point lead against a punchless opponent with 64 seconds left and somehow blew it -- punting the ball into the end zone for a touchback and then surrendering a game-tying field goal drive to a team that couldn't drive downfield on air much of the season. Then the Huskies lost in overtime, undone by an inept kicking game. Of all the embarrassing things that have happened to Washington football this decade, losing to this team in that fashion had to be the worst. No snow job can cover that up.
Louisville (18). The Cardinals have their first four-game losing streak since 1997, watching a promising 5-2 start dwindle into a 5-6 record that (again) has the fan base screaming about second-year coach Steve Kragthorpe. Athletic director Tom Jurich has sworn that Kragthorpe isn't going anywhere -- and unlike the guy at San Diego State, Jurich has the clout to back that up.
Conference USA (19). The league's striver status was terminated earlier in the season when Tulsa lost to the worst team in the SEC (Arkansas) and when East Carolina lost to the Nos. 10 and 11 teams in the ACC (Virginia and NC State). And those two are at the top of the league's divisions.
LSU (20). Every time Jarrett Lee drops back and throws an errant pass -- 110 incompletions, 16 interceptions, if you're scoring at home -- Tigers fans have to feel renewed anger toward talented knucklehead quarterback Ryan Perrilloux. If Perrilloux hadn't been booted off the team in the offseason, they wouldn't have to witness Lee's struggles -- and LSU wouldn't be caught up in one of the worst year-after-title seasons in recent memory.
Texas Tech (21). Only once has a team ranked in the top two lost worse than the Red Raiders' 44-point mauling at Oklahoma. If it hadn't been for Tech's TD with 11 seconds left, it would have been a record loss. As it stands, that ignominy still belongs to the 1945 Army team, which beat to top-ranked Notre Dame 48-0.
For the record, The Dash would never throw snowballs at Dashette Jessica Gomes (22).
Snow Cones for The WinnersThe Dash doesn't want to go totally negative. Let's dish out syrupy praise where it's due:
Brian Kelly (23). The Cincinnati coach is sitting in a great spot. He's the hot name at Tennessee, while simultaneously becoming the coach the Big East cannot afford to lose. After seeing Rodriguez and Petrino bolt (both to potential buyer's remorse), the league has only one school that is tickled pink with its coach right now -- Cincy. At Rutgers, they're coming back around to Greg Schiano -- but that 1-5 start was ugly. At UConn, they're waiting to see whether Randy Edsall will remain uninterested in returning to Syracuse. Everyone else is grumbling to one degree or another.
The ACC (24). The Dash has bashed the league plenty and doesn't apologize for that. But it's time to point out that the ACC has achieved a true rarity: zero terrible teams. The flip side is zero excellent teams, but at least everyone ranks in Sagarin's top 55. This is the Lake Woebegone League: everyone is above average. And, it should be noted, the league has the four national leaders in strength of schedule. In order: Virginia, Duke, Wake Forest, NC State.
Pat White (25). After flowing through Louisville for an even 200 running yards, White has become the all-time leading rushing quarterback in FBS history. He doesn't translate at all to the NFL as a quarterback, but there has to be a place in that league for a runner of White's speed and elusiveness.
Eric Berry (26). There will be no NFL translation problem for Berry, once he becomes eligible for the draft in 2010. Tennessee's sophomore safety returned his 12th career interception 45 yards Saturday, furthering his SEC-record interception return yardage to 265 yards. Dead ahead is the NCAA record of 302. Special Dash correspondent Gene Wojciechowski watched Tennessee beat Vanderbilt on Saturday and reported that outgoing coach Phil Fulmer gave Berry a game ball, which was promptly returned to sender. "I'm a proud owner of a game ball we gave to Eric," Fulmer said. "He gave it back to me."
Hawaii (27). Congrats to the school that lost its Heisman candidate quarterback and was jilted by its coach and is sitting at 6-5. Don't think they aren't hula-ing with glee at Jones' 1-10 record at SMU.
Turner Gill (28). If you reach bowl eligibility at Buffalo, you're one heck of a coach. Period.
Morgan Williams (29). Tough luck for Tulsa running back Tarrion Adams. On the same day Adams ran for 323 yards against Tulane, Williams ran for 330 yards in leading Toledo past Miami (Ohio). The Dash isn't here to say Williams came out of nowhere, but the freshman's name isn't listed anywhere in Phil Steele's exhaustive preview magazine, which names seven other Toledo backs. Prior to going crazy on Miami, Williams had run for 563 career yards in 10 games.
Abilene Christian (30). The Division II school gave up 68 points to West Texas A&M on Saturday -- and still won by 25. Final: 93-68. Not a misprint. It may shock you to find out that Abilene leads the nation in its division in scoring offense and total offense.
Seismic, BCS-Shattering Upset AlertGridworld is ablaze with discussion about the current BCS standings, but past history says very little is written in stone before the calendar flips to December. With that in mind, monitor these five games for upsets that could alter the makeup of the marquee bowl games, listed in order of most-likely to least-likely shocker:
Oregon-Oregon State (31). Home team has won 10 of the past 11, so it's advantage Beavers. But the Ducks have had two weeks to prepare and are coming off a career-best game by quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. And Oregon State has key injury issues to deal with at QB and RB. Chance of an upset: 33 percent.
Florida-Florida State (32). The Gators have been scarily focused, but this will be a next-level challenge playing in Tallahassee with discernible championship pressure on their shoulders. Besides, what if FSU coach Bobby Bowden tells the team he's hanging it up, and the Seminoles play out of their minds? Chance of an upset: 25 percent.
Oklahoma-Oklahoma State (33). The Cowboys should stand a better chance against the Sooners than Texas Tech did, for two reasons: They're at home, and they can run the ball. The availability of shifty back Kendall Hunter is in doubt after his being injured against Colorado, but backup Keith Toston is a quality runner, as well. Maybe the 9-2 Pokes catch the Sooners flat -- but don't count on it. Chance of an upset: 15 percent. Auburn-Alabama (34). Birmingham News columnist Kevin Scarbinsky, who would know, says an Auburn victory would be the biggest upset in Iron Bowl history. The Tigers have won six straight in this rivalry, which seems like such an anomaly that it's a streak much more likely to be broken than continued. Especially since Bama is by far the better team. But, hey, Tommy Tuberville is another coach who could possibly play the win-one-for-the-Tubster card pregame with his players. Chance of an upset: 10 percent.
Syracuse-Cincinnati (35). Perhaps the firing of Robinson unlocked the Orange to play with a previously absent looseness, and they'll be able to turn last week's shocking victory over Notre Dame into a wholly improbable Goodbye Victory Tour for their outgoing coach. Or perhaps not.
Putting Out An APB ForFormer Texas A&M running back Curtis Dickey (36), who in the 1970s did some running against Thanksgiving opponent Texas. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the Aggies' No. 2 all-time rusher, please apprise The Dash.
Meanwhile, The Dash is pleased to report that last week's APB subject, former Florida State kicker Scott Bentley (37), is alive and well and living in his home state of Colorado. Bentley works at All Aboard Toys in Centennial, and instead of getting his kicks kicking footballs, he's now an avid softball player. The Dash thanks all the spies who forwarded info on Bentley.
Point AfterFor the hungry and thirsty in Norman, Okla., The Dash has a slew of recommendations after last week's jaunt to the big game-turned-blowout. First, try the filet with blue cheese at Blu (38). Then you must journey into the center of the campus hangout area and hit O'Connell's (39) -- both the old one and the new one, in that order. The old, traditional bar has been there since Barry Switzer was a pup, but is closing ... sometime. Nobody seems exactly sure when. Some say December, some say they'll keep it open through St. Patrick's Day. But the new O'Connell's is the place to go to get a better beer list and see a younger crowd.
And on game day, you should hit Sooner Legends (40) for barbecue and a side of memorabilia. The stuff on the walls and in cases is worth seeing for anyone who respects a heavyweight football tradition.
Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPN4D@aol.com.
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