I. Pat Hayden’s dilemma
USC athletic director Pat Hayden fired head coach Lane Kiffin mid-season after a 3-2 start and replaced him with interim coach Ed Orgeron, who was just supposed to navigate the sinking Trojan ship through the season without getting embarrassed before Hayden could find the next head man. But Orgeron has not gone quietly into the night. Instead, he has won five of the six games he has been head coach, including last week’s upset of Stanford. Orgeron is gritty, dynamic, the players love him, and let’s face it, he’s on fire right now. That’s causing some to say he should get the job next year. But Hayden needs to see this long-term. Yes, the players love him, but most of them will be gone in the next two or three years. Yes, he’s had a great run, but win streaks and momentum die out. Just ask Charlie Weis, who looked like the second coming of Knute Rockne for a bit before he puttered out at Notre Dame. I still think a candidate like Kevin Sumlin, who has a history as a great recruiter at this level, and Jack Del Rio, who has more head-coaching experience and played at USC, are both likely better answers in the long run. No question Hayden will feel the pressure to hire Orgeron, but he cannot fall for the flavor of the month.
II. Northwestern’s uniforms last week
So another week, another complete and utter betrayal of a team’s traditional colors and uniform in the name of a cause. This past weekend, it was Northwestern who wore the red, white, and blue uniforms (no Widcat-purple in sight) in the name of “awareness.” There were no names on the jerseys, instead were military words like “Honor”, “Pride”, Sacrifice” done to honor our troops. Now before everyone freaks out, just know that I am one of the most patriotic guys out there and truly appreciate the sacrifice the men and women in uniform have given. However, this is getting out of hand. It is my same gripe as how the pink for breast cancer awareness has gotten out of hand and become just ridiculous. When does this stop? The uniform is worn so that every player, coach, student, and fan is “uniform” and united as one. I can just imagine some PR guy at the university thinking he is both genius and patriotic for this, but I couldn’t disagree more. At some point when the “honor” or “awareness” overtakes the center stage it becomes a mockery. So please, in the future, wear the flag on the jersey, honor the troops at the game and have the jets fly over, but have the courage to leave it at that, so it can be a true honor.
III. Pac-12 South showdown: Arizona State at UCLA
Biggest game of the weekend as ASU can win the Pac-12 South with a win, while if UCLA can get the victory, they set themselves up for the title with a win next week versus rival USC. These teams are very evenly matched with top-tier talent throughout both rosters, but the current play of ASU’s defense has me giving them the edge. In the past five weeks, the Sun Devils have been attacking, turnover-causing machines and have also held opponents rushing attacks to just 59 yards per game. The X-factor in this one will be UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley, who during the course of this season has looked at times like a top NFL-ready talent and at times a guy who is uncomfortable in the pocket and too quick to scramble for yards. I like Arizona State in this one unless Hundley steps up on the national stage and shows the world he is ready to be the man.
IV. Big SEC matchup: Texas A&M versus LSU
Pretty much the only team Johnny Manziel hasn’t looked good against has been LSU in a game last year where the Tigers frustrated Manziel with pressure and denied him scrambling lanes by having a controlled rush. This season, LSU’s defense is not loaded with the weapons it had last year, with five players leaving to the NFL draft. I am declaring right now, if Manziel can put up crazy good numbers and shred the Tigers tomorrow, he is your Heisman winner.
V. The other big SEC matchup
Missouri has had a Cinderella season thus far, missing perfection via a missed field goal doinked off the upright against South Carolina. However, give this team credit, instead of tanking, they came out the next week and took out their frustrations by crushing Tennessee then doing the same to Kentucky the following week. However, Ole Miss is red hot as the winners of four straight. The key in this game is the return of Mizzou quarterback James Franklin, who has missed the last few games with injury. Will he be his former, dynamic, dual-threat self? Or will he be rusty from the time off? The answer determines who wins this game.
– Rocky Boiman
Rocky Boiman is an analyst for WestwoodOne’s coverage of NCAA Football. Each week in “Rocky’s V,” the former Notre Dame captain and Super Bowl champion writes about five topics that have captured his interest from around college football. You can also follow Rocky on Twitter. This weekend, he’ll be alongside John Tautges for the call as UCLA hosts Arizona State. Coverage begins Saturday at 6:30 PM Eastern.