Commentary

Dixon's injury, Notre Dame's inept offense among the disappointments

Updated: January 15, 2008, 5:17 PM ET
By Bruce Feldman | ESPN The Magazine

This week's list topic is the biggest disappointments and most dubious moments of 2007.

[+] EnlargeDennis Dixon
AP Photo/John MillerOregon's season took a turn when Dennis Dixon was lost with a knee injury.

1. Dennis Dixon's knee: Oregon's senior quarterback was the country's most improved player and was not only racing to the Heisman, but also had the Ducks on a collision course with the BCS title game. His school had begun to crank up the hype machine, and Dixon had a nationally televised Thursday night spotlight game against Arizona. Then, his left knee gave out, and just like that, his season was over. And so were the Ducks' title hopes.

2. The FSU academic scandal: When some said things would get worse before they would get better as the Bobby Bowden era winds down in Tallahassee, maybe this was what they meant. The Noles had a whopping 21 players suspended for their bowl game against Kentucky. FSU will go into 2008 with a ton of uncertainty and those returning suspended players will be sidelined for three more games.

3. The Notre Dame offense: Starting with the failed spread experiment against Georgia Tech, the Irish O was shockingly inept. Despite having an All-American-caliber tight end (John Carlson) and a couple of returning starters on the O-line -- including a three-year starter at center (John Sullivan) -- to go with a host of hyped young skill talent, ND ranked dead last in Division I-A in total offense, 116th in scoring offense, 115th in rushing offense and 110th in passing. The 3-9 Irish also lost to Navy for the first time in 44 games.

4. Down go the Trojans: Give credit to Stanford, a 41-point underdog, for going into the L.A. Coliseum and ending USC's 35-game home winning streak. Stanford made the big play when it needed it on a fourth-and-goal as Mark Bradford made an acrobatic reception with 49 seconds remaining (although USC's offense helped keep the Cardinal in the game, turning the ball over five times).

5. Chaz Ramsey's chop block on Glenn Dorsey: Over the course of a season, there are probably dozens of brutal high-lows, in which one offensive lineman engages a defender while a teammate goes low and cuts the guy down. None, though, were more vicious than the shot the Auburn freshman guard delivered to the LSU All-American's right knee. The block, which didn't draw a penalty, left Dorsey hobbled for the rest of the regular season.

6. Miami's final performance in the Orange Bowl: The Canes had a lot of magical nights in that stadium. Nov. 10 certainly wasn't one of them. With dozens of former UM stars watching from the sidelines, the 2007 team completely went into the tank as No. 19 Virginia, hardly an offensive juggernaut, stuck the Canes with their biggest shutout loss in Orange Bowl history, 48-0. Miami was outgained 418 yards to 189 yards.

7. Missouri not being in the BCS: The Tigers had a wonderful season, including reaching No. 1 in the country. Among the highlights were wins against Illinois and Kansas. Too bad the BCS folks weren't impressed, since they opted to take the Illini and Jayhawks for their bowl games and left the Tigers for the Cotton Bowl, where they pounded Arkansas.

8. A messy break: Ben Moffitt was one of the best linebackers in the country. The USF standout also was seen as a symbol of the rising Bulls program, a blue-collar guy who commuted every day, driving more than 100 miles round-trip in his Toyota Yaris from the home he shared with his wife, Shauna, and their two children. But in January, things got ugly for the couple. Newspaper reports said Moffitt left his wife and was filing for a divorce, which prompted Shauna Moffitt to come back with some hefty charges that her husband didn't do his work to earn his grades, saying, "Ben Moffitt has never written a paper. Never. Ever. I love him, but he doesn't know how to spell. He cheats."

Shauna Moffitt's sister told the Tampa Tribune that she also wrote papers for Ben. Their mother then said that she knew both of them were doing it. Both sisters e-mailed the Tampa Tribune copies of the papers they said they wrote for Ben. Worse still, Shauna said that a South Florida graduate assistant, Patrick St. Louis, told her when she visited the South Florida football offices on Dec. 3: "I know your name should be on that diploma. I know you did all the work."

9. So long, Sonny! Sonny Lubick took over a Colorado State program that was a mess, and all he did was lead the Rams to nine bowl games, while winning or sharing six conference titles. He did everything the right way. But after his program struggled, the new CSU brass wanted him to fire some of his assistants. Lubick was too loyal for that. Instead, he got forced out, leaving behind a home turf that still will bear his name, Sonny Lubick Field.

10. The "VIP Connection": To some, it might sound more like a gentlemen's club, but it really was an e-mail newsletter sent out to a dozen elite Texas A&M boosters who subscribed for the past three years for $1,200 annually. It offered then-coach Dennis Franchione's candid assessments of players and specific injury information, details Franchione routinely declined to publicly discuss because, he would say, it was not "our policy" to disclose injuries. Franchione even made subscribers sign a confidentiality agreement.

Bruce Feldman is a senior writer with ESPN The Magazine. His new book, "Meat Market: Inside the Smash-Mouth World of College Football Recruiting," is on sale now.