Fire(d) Lane (Kiffin): Lessons from Week 5

If getting fired after being pulled off the team bus from LAX to campus isn’t the most Hollywood thing ever, please give me another example. This felt like a seedy termination. A scene, not unlike the one in Dog Day Afternoon, where the main character fails, and the repercussions involve a swift execution. Lane Kiffin didn’t even step foot on the USC’s campus before Haden uttered the words that put Kiffin out of job and Ed Orgeron in control of a faltering program. Now, the hunt begins anew for the Trojans, who have slowly started to slide into irrelevancy as the Pac-12 has started to gain notoriety as the second-best conference in America. Gone are the days of USC and everybody else. USC can’t compete with Arizona State, or even downtrodden Washington State. The whole country says “adieu” to Kiffykins, the man responsible for Tennessee fever dreams and the underdevelopment of all-around awesome Marqise Lee.

While your favorite team’s coach may not have been fired as soon as he exited the plane, his days as head man may be numbered. Look at UConn. Now Earl Campbell’s taking shots at Mack Brown? The coaching carousel may be fired up sooner than expected.

Aside from learning that, yes, the world of college football is on fiiiiiireeeeee, what else did we take away from this marvelous weekend?

We learned that the SEC is slowly becoming the Pac 12 with a premium on defense. This was evident in Athens and Fayetteville this past weekend where the score totals amounted to 85 and 78, respectively. The mass departure of key defensive components across the conference to the NFL has led to this ground swell of high scoring, exciting games. It’s crazy to fathom that we are almost two years removed from the 9-6 punt, pass, and kick competition of LSU-Alabama in 2011. These are new, strange times for a league that was so defensively sound and seemed to reload with each ensuing year but, hey, I’m just being nit picky as hell at this point. Give me a 44-41 showdown any day of the week over watching Brad Wing punt the ball about fifty ‘leven times.

The program that is slowly forming an identity within the conference is Alabama, which finally hit its stride against an Ole Miss team that made a reputation early in the season for their offensive firepower. The Tide held Ole Miss to zilch and squeezed the life force out out of the Rebels. Dr. Bo Wallace, in a twist of fate, was placed on the operating table and examined by Messrs. Saban and Smart. What keeps Dr. Bo ticking? A beating heart and playing teams like Texas in the year 2013. Alabama was able to hold the Rebels offense to a paltry 205 yards of total offense with only 11 first downs.

The fun, fast paced play that was seen in College Station two weeks ago by the Tide was discarded for the slow, boa constrictor-like play that Saban has been known to coach with his team holding onto the ball for 38:29. If this is Alabama returning to 2012 form, the death march is inevitable and a third championship will surely be in the clutches of America’s favorite grumpy uncle.

If good Midwestern crash football is more of your thing, you saw Wisconsin crash into the brick wall of Ohio State’s defensive line held down by Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington. The Buckeyes held the prolific running game of the Badgers to a total of 104 rushing yards. Gary Andersen had to rely on the arm of Joel Stave due Ohio State’s ability to stop the run. While many Stave to Abbrederis completions provided Wisconsin plenty of reason to have hope, it seemed like Ohio State was in control the entire game. The defense (with some exceptions for the secondary) and the quickness of Braxton Miller allowed for the Buckeyes to keep their Leaders division rival within arms reach.

Speaking of arms reach, why did you let South Carolina come back like that, UCF? After Connor Shaw sprained his shoulder on the opening drive, the Gamecocks stalled significantly on offense. This allowed for UCF, behind Blake Bortles, to keep the score at 10-0 until the half. Gamecock Nation looked in disbelief as the halftime score before Mike Davis emerged from halftime and recorded 167 yards and three touchdowns. South Carolina won by a margin of three by not giving up everything to Black Bortles, with the final score at 28-25.

Giving up everything is reserved for teams like Notre Dame which had three turnovers by way of Tommy Rees’ aversion to throwing to his own team mates. It’s a disease he’s been plagued with since 2011, guys and it doesn’t look like there has been any cure thus far. Oklahoma used the turnovers to their advantage with the Belldozer putting up 232 yards of offense with two touchdowns. Oklahoma wins a revenge game in South Bend, where they went to their local watering hole only to find out that people in Morgantown are bat shit crazy about some football.

West Virginia, a team that was shutout to the tune of 37 points by Maryland (!), beat eleventh ranked Oklahoma State that now has the biggest clusterfuck of transitive property wins. So, let’s start shall we: Oklahoma State’s biggest win came against Mississippi State, West Virginia loses the will to play football against Maryland (!), Clint Trickett leads West Virginia to a win over Oklahoma State, and in the world of transitive property – you have Maryland (!) beating an SEC team. Spunky little league, indeed!*

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the spunky little league out west that keeps getting better with each weekend. Maybe it’s because Washington has become my new favorite team, or that Stanford has become the west coast’s Alabama clone built in a Palo Alto laboratory, or that Oregon is a beast that runs on a high potent mix of nitrous oxide and Mountain Dew. It’s going to be interesting to watch these teams as each one looks to take the division title. The Huskies have the toughest stretch in front of them facing Stanford this weekend followed by Oregon the next and then a trip down to Los Angeles to take on a tough UCLA team. With Stanford and Oregon each hanging 55 on lesser conference foes, it’s a little tough to choose anyone to win the Pac 12 over either one of the two heavy favorites.

*Transitive property wins are hilarious to think about but are not accurate of how good a team actually is, in case you didn’t know.
IN OTHER NEWS: Florida States almost Florida States against Boston College – I said almost. SHOCK THE WORLD TOUR is still rolling and why does Jim Grobe still have a job? Miami displayed on national television that USF is really bad and it is all Skip Holtz’s fault. Florida rolled over Kentucky and held them to a touchdown. Fresno State beat Hawaii by five points and continues to be ranked in the AP Top 25. Virginia Tech outlasted Georgia Tech in an ugly game of football that would make any fan of the wishbone formation cry. East Carolina pummeled North Carolina and every good feeling I had about Tar Heel football is now swirling down a toilet bowl. Northern Illinois smacked Purdue in the mouth without much of a fight from anyone in West Lafayette. One more time for emphasis, Arizona State beat USC by twenty one points to ensure that Kiffin would be fired and man of the bayou, Ed Orgeron, would be installed as the interim head coach.

WHILE YOU WERE BEING A SPORTS SHUT-IN: BREAKING BAD FINALE. The trailer for the new girl on Girls. Lauren Mayberry (and everyone else who is a decent human being) would like you to be respectful of women. I am a millennial and I am a lazy, self-centered, waste of space. Kanye and Charlie Wilson performing “Bound 2” because that’s not going to make me have a heart attack of joy.

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