Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football (Ouija board sold separately in Knoxville, for seance with Gen. Robert Neyland to find out who Tennessee fans should want most for their next coach):
THE DASHIE AWARDS
Honoring the weirdest, dumbest and most offbeat entertaining happenings of a season that is winding down all too quickly.
Biggest Non-Event: UCLA over Texas A&M (31). On Labor Day weekend we thought it was momentous, but the largest fourth-quarter comeback of all-time augured nothing special. Both coaches wound up getting fired. Both teams wound up being mediocre. Hero Josh Rosen wound up nowhere near the Heisman Trophy discussion. And Texas A&M’s pimp cane disappeared from public view thereafter.
Sideline Talisman of the Year: The Turnover Chain (32). It far outlived the aforementioned pimp cane. It shamed the Tennessee trash can. It rose to greater prominence than the Georgia savage shoulder pads. The Miami Turnover Chain was simultaneously the freshest motivational trinket and the most accurate representation of The U imaginable. And the fact that it was crafted by a jeweler who was disassociated from North Carolina’s football program in 2010 makes it the perfect college sports accessory.
Strangest Career Suicide: Jim McElwain (33). The Florida coach talked himself out of a job with a month left in his third season by vaguely referring to death threats that he would not or could not explain in detail. McElwain’s record at the time Florida began moving to part ways with him, immediately prior to the game against rival Georgia, was 22-11. He had won the SEC East twice and been named SEC Coach of the Year once. It was about as quickly as a coach with a .667 winning percentage can fall out of favor.
Angriest Visiting Coaches: Jim Harbaugh and Urban Meyer (34). Harbaugh ripped the visiting team accommodations at Purdue, touching off a hissing match between schools. Meyer ripped the crowded sidelines at Michigan and demanded an investigation after a mystery cameraman allegedly injured Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett’s knee during pregame warmups.
Greatest Non-Football Soliloquy: Since college football coaches leave all the serious social commentary to their counterparts in the NBA, there is only once choice for this award. It is Mike Leach (35) on being a groom involved in wedding planning.
Most Effective Use of Fire: With his team off to a horrid 1-5 start, Missouri coach Barry Odom (36) had a team meeting that included lighter fluid and matches. Odom doused stat sheets and stories about Mizzou losses with the fluid, tossed them in a cooler and lit the contents on fire, symbolically cremating the first half of the season and starting over. The Tigers have not lost since, are 7-5 and going to their first bowl game since 2014. And Odom has gone from a coach seemingly in great danger of being fired to a potentially extended contract.
Most Dubious Personnel Decision: Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez (37) did not make Khalil Tate his starting quarterback until the fifth game of the season. The Wildcats were 2-2 at that point, with home losses to Houston and Utah. With Tate starting, Arizona went 5-3 the rest of the way against Pac-12 competition and averaged 42 points per game. Tate set the FBS single-game rushing record for a quarterback with 327 yards in his first start of 2017. He could find his way onto some Heisman Trophy ballots — and would be on more if he could have found his way into the starting lineup before October.
Worst School Color: Orange (38). The worst teams in four leagues have orange as a prominent part of their color scheme: Illinois (2-10, 0-9 in the Big Ten); UTEP (0-12, 0-8 in Conference USA and the only winless FBS team in America); Oregon State (1-11, 0-9 in the Pac-12); and Tennessee (4-8, 0-8 in the SEC). Syracuse can give thanks for the powder-blue pushover that is North Carolina, which is the only team worse in the ACC. (The huge, glaring, No. 1-ranked exception: Clemson orange is doing just fine. And so is Miami.)
When hungry in the Loveliest Little Village on the Plains, also known as Auburn, The Dash suggests a stop at the Alabama barbecue staple that is Jim ’N’ Nick’s (39). (Yes, there are multiple locations around the state. Sorry if that offends the Keep It Real Barbecue Crowd.) The meats are all good, but The Dash very much enjoyed the smoked chicken wings, which came with fresh jalapeño slices on top. Pair the wings with a Freckle Belly IPA from Gadsden-based Back Forty Beer Co. (40) and thank The Dash later.
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