Saturday’s stunner, of course, was Alabama’s loss at home to Texas A&M. The fact that the Tide dug itself a 20-0 hole before almost rallying to win would indicate that Nick Saban didn’t get the message across to his team about the dangers of facing a talented upstart one week after an emotional road win over an archrival.
It now appears the SEC may be locked out of the national championship game, which would mean the end of its six-year run of national titles.
Oh well, weep not for Alabama — or Saban — who was quick to point out that “two of my three national championship teams had a loss.”
While Alabama’s loss was built to some degree on self-destruction, it was also partly the result of the play of A&M redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel, whose legend as “Johnny Football” has grown so quickly that his family and the school are already engaged in a legal battle with a local investment firm in College Station over the trademarking of the nickname.
All the attention on Manziel has deflected attention from the job first-year coach Kevin Sumlin has done at A&M. Even though the Aggies blew a chance to beat Florida early in the season, his presence has clearly made a difference in College Station, a place where football is only a little more important than whether the sun rises in the morning.
Sumlin isn’t going to get any serious consideration for national coach of the year. That award is going to go to either Kansas State’s Bill Snyder or Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly. No one expected either one of their teams to be undefeated this deep into the season and each is coaching a Heisman Trophy candidate: Collin Klein, the quarterback at K-State, who played hurt Saturday night and was still effective, and Notre Dame linebacker Manti T’eo, who has been the heart and soul of a defense that is the reason the Irish are 10-0.
Of course, this is the time of year when people speculate on which coaches are going to be fired at season’s end. It appears likely now that three jobs will open in the SEC: Arkansas Coach John L. Smith probably needed to win at least 10 games to have the interim tag removed after he replaced the disgraced Bobby Petrino in the spring. The Razorbacks are 4-6. Tennessee’s four-overtime loss at Missouri on Saturday may have sealed Derek Dooley’s fate, even though it is only his third season in Knoxville. The most stunning fall is that of Auburn’s Gene Chizik, who won the national title two years ago and is currently 2-8 without an SEC win. Unless Chizik can convince people at Auburn that he’s figured out a way to bring Cam Newton back, he’s probably gone. Patience is not an oft-used word in SEC country.
Amazingly, amidst the remarkable mediocrity in the ACC, the only coach likely to lose his job is Boston College’s Frank Spaziani, whose team has two wins — one over Maine, an FCS team and the other over Maryland, which was fielding an FCS offense when it played the Eagles.