The Villains

Been to a movie this week? Is so, you probably got a healthy dose of villains along with your popcorn. Bad guys (and girls) are run amok on the big screen right now.

Gone Girl, Dracula, Annabelle, The Maze Runner, Left Behind … these movies feature more villains than the last time Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin sat down to lunch together.

Nick Saban probably ranks as the foremost villain in college football these days. He’s won four national titles overall (three at Alabama and one at LSU), yet seems perpetually perturbed and sports a fuse shorter than a fifteen cent firecracker (he blew up last week when complaining about the expectations put on his Crimson Tide). His Bama teams, winners of three out of the past five national championships, are the closest program to a national nemesis since the old glory days of Notre Dame when everybody either loved or hated the Irish.

Former Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin might be seen simply as overmatched and petulant by many college football fans, but to the elephant-memory faithful in Knoxville this weekend, he will be about as popular as the Ebola virus. Keep in mind Kiffin is still loathed among Vols for bailing on Big Orange country several years ago. This Saturday he makes his first trip back to Neyland Stadium since jilting the Volunteers. It will not be a pretty homecoming.

Other villains anger other fan bases. Down in Florida, if head coach Will Muschamp still has a job by the time you read this, Gator fans may drain the Swamp. Florida got mashed 42-13 at home by Missouri just one week after the Tigers got shut out 34-0 (at home) by Georgia. Things are ugly in Gainesville and Muschamp is public enemy number 1. It is difficult to see him survive.

Up in the panhandle of the Sunshine State, Florida State continues on a path to a perfect season after escaping with a thrilling 31-27 victory over Notre Dame, but the Seminoles do so with a questionable character at quarterback and a head coach and administration employing enough denials to make Bill Clinton proud. From the outside, it seems head coach Jimbo Fisher and FSU higher ups are doing whatever it takes to keep Jameis Winston eligible until January. Winston would be suspended at many schools (see Georgia and Todd Gurley for example).

Of course if you think these guys are villains, just wait until the college football playoff selection committee announces the four teams and the major bowl lineup in early December. The first rankings from the committee come out October 28, and the gnashing of teeth shall commence.

Enjoy your villains this week on the big screen or the gridiron … I’ll take my popcorn buttered, salted, and served with an icy cold coke.

Around the Nation

It is a relatively tame week. The ACC offers a nice Thursday night game between Miami and Virginia Tech. The SEC has several solid pairings, including the two Mississippi schools attempting to keep their unbeaten seasons intact. Ole Miss travels to LSU in a huge test, while State plays at Kentucky.

In Big Ten country, Michigan State is very much in the playoff picture and the Spartans welcome in-state rival Michigan to East Lansing. Ohio State plays at Penn State in a prime time game.

Heading west, BYU and Boise on the blue field is good Friday night viewing.

Note – this column originally appeared in The Blitz (Volume 4 Issue 9; Oct 21-25 2014)

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