Thu Oct 22 10:01am EDT
• Hanging in there. Long before the sky began to fall on his team's season, Bobby Bowden was hinting that he planned to turn over the reins to coach-in-waiting Jimbo Fisher at the end of the 2010 season and said last week he was still "leaning toward coming back" next year despite Florida State's three-game losing streak and the subsequent campaign to shuffle him off the stage at the end of this season (and to formalize and publicly announce that timeline ASAP). On a radio interview Thursday in Raleigh, Bowden effectively confirmed his plan to exit at the end of 2010 in even less ambiguous terms (emphasis added):
"I know I am in the last years - I say plural - of my career. My days are numbered. I did not want to say, 'Well I’m going to leave at this time.' I already know when I’m going to leave. And Jimbo Fisher knows when I’m going to leave. He and I have talked about it.
"But I didn't want to announce it because I didn’t want people counting the days. 'Well this is the last game in Chapel Hill, this is the last game here, this is the least one here. 'I was hoping I could just come up and say 'Hey, I'm through,' and walk out."
The first question is whether Bowden's return next year is even still up to Bowden; FSU president T.K. Wetherell's firefighting statement two weeks ago only guaranteed Bowden's job through the end of this year, followed by some possible rearranging that could include a golden parachute, or at least a formal ceding of most duties to Fisher. And along those lines, the second question: If Bowden is back, will he even maintain the facade of authority over the program he built almost from the ground up?
• Weary nation revitalized by injection of Buckram! His team down 24-13 and seemingly out in the fourth quarter, UTEP running back Donald Buckram -- already the owner of the top single-game rushing performance of the season in the Miners' upset over Houston -- confirmed his rising star Wednesday night by accounting for 76 total yards and both scores on two late UTEP touchdown drives to beat Tulsa, 28-24. Buckram finished with 191 total yards on the night.
The win also confirmed El Paso as the team no C-USA favorite wants to play on the road: The Miners are only 3-4 with a double-digit loss at Memphis, but two of their three wins are rousing upsets over the runaway favorites in the West Division, Houston and Tulsa, leaving UTEP in good standing at 2-1 in-conference and, incredibly, SMU alone in first place in the West at 2-0 after last year's 1-11 catastrophe (and this year's loss to Washington State). I think we can declare that division up for grabs.
• Another one bites the dust? While waiting on Sam Bradford to make up his mind about his immediate future, the Sooners are also crossing their fingers for running back DeMarco Murray, who'se iffy for Saturday's trip to Kansas due to a sprained ankle. Murray returned from injury after missing a couple plays against Texas, but finished with –3 yards rushing for the game and was a nonfactor, along with the rest of the OU offense, after hobbling to the sideline. Oklahoma also missed Murray's versatility against Florida last January, the Sooners' lowest-scoring game of last season by three touchdowns; largely without Bradford, OU has failed to reach its number in that game (14) twice already this season, in the losses to BYU and Texas.
• Accepting all clean-cut quarterbacks. The nascent Heisman race took a clear turn for Mark Ingram after the Alabama back tore through South Carolina for his third straight 100-plus-yard game, but the field remains wide enough that cases are still being made for the likes of Oklahoma State's Zac Robinson and, somewhat ludicrously, USC freshman Matt Barkley, who showed up among the also-rans of one poll this week that raised a few local eyebrows in L.A.:
The pool is so shallow there is absurd talk about USC's Matt Barkley, a first-year freshman who has five touchdowns and three interceptions in five starts, being a contender.
Barkley has been impressive, but he isn't even the top-rated freshman quarterback in the Pacific 10 Conference. Stanford's Andrew Luck ranks second in league pass efficiency, having thrown for 1,589 yards with nine touchdown passes and three interceptions. The Pac-10 efficiency leader is another first-year starter, Arizona's Foles, a sophomore who has completed 74% of his passes for 1,152 yards with nine touchdowns and two interceptions.
Barkley ranks a very respectable third.
The L.A. Times seems to be missing the point: This is the Heisman. There are rules. Have Andrew Luck or Nick Foles played on national television? Do they play for teams with defenses and running games capable of propping up their record and keeping them out of predictable/must-throw situations? Are they hyped blonde golden children who have been photographed with poor black children in one of the godforsaken nations of the world? No, no and no? Then screw them.
Quickly ... Bill Martin is stepping down as athletic director at one of the nation's great cash cows, Michigan. Lloyd Carr is not a candidate for the seat. ... West Virginia defensive lineman Scooter Berry was suspended indefinitely following an arrest for public intoxication outside a Morgantown bar. ... Penn State lineman Sean Lee expects to play against Michigan after missing the Lions' last three games with a sprained knee. ... No official word from Texas Tech, but quarterback Steven Sheffield is expected to be out two to three weeks with a foot injury. ... Hawaii athletic director Jim Donovan said he's "frustrated" with the Warriors' 2-4 start. ... One Notre Dame receiver, Robby Parris, is "questionable" for Saturday's game with Boston College. Another, Michael Floyd is ready to go, if he can get permission. ... In addition to Tapegate, Alabama was also piping in illicit AC/DC during South Carolina's offensive possessions last Saturday. The scandal! ... And Goldy Gopher has officially apologized for his/her insensitivity to Jerome Hayes' conversation with the supreme spiritual concept of his choice last Saturday at Penn State.