Due to last week's bowl game we wisely decided to forgo another Five Wide Fullbacks in favor of therapeutic discussion about the Florida State loss.
That's over with and we're moving on with the second edition of 5WF, and this one is assuredly a special treat.
This week we'll talk about some bowl games, NBC replacing Tom Hammond, Texas A&M's first season in the SEC, Notre Dame's game at USC next year, and incoming freshman sensation Deontay Greenberry.
The five questions and answers after the jump.
Outside of the Champs Sports Bowl did any bowl game make you feel better about the 8-5 Irish? Did any of them make you feel worse?
Well, I'll deal with only Notre Dame's opponents this season because any other games are really stretching it with comparisons to how the Irish played.
Purdue win over Western Michigan-No Feeling
We started slow but eased to a victory over WMU a couple years ago, while Purdue barely won this game. As long as Notre Dame enjoys the current talent advantage and Hope is still the coach in West Lafayette, I'll feel good about this series. We rolled Purdue this year and them beating the Broncos meant nothing.
Toledo win over Air Force-No Feeling
Neither team can play defense and I expected AFA to lose anyway. It felt good to blow them out this year, but they were right up there with Maryland as teams on the 2011 schedule who greatly disappointed this year.
Mississippi State win over Wake Forest-Bad Feeling
Yes, the Bulldogs are in the SEC but they were not very good this year and they barely beat Wake, just like we did. I really wanted to see the Deacons finish strong this year and they limped to the end in terrible fashion.
Michigan State win over Georgia-Good Feeling
This one was big, but still people are trying to dismiss the win over Sparty this year. So we finished 8-5, but when was the last time Notre Dame beat a 11-win BCS team that was legitimately good?
Oklahoma State win over Stanford-Bad Feeling
This wasn't too bad, but it showed that you could really move the ball on Stanford out of the spread offense without a whole lot of playmakers besides one beastly receiver. Sadly, this game proved how much more work we have to do on offense.
Michigan win over Virginia Tech-Bad Feeling
There wasn't an outcome in this game that would have made me feel better about being 8-5 this season. If Michigan had lost, I would have lamented at how winnable that game in week two was and how far from elite the Wolverines still are. With a huge victory I would have just chalked it up to a great matchup against a severely overrated Virginia Tech team, although it would have been nice to have solidly controlled a game for three quarters like we did against another 11-win BCS team.
Sadly, the way in which Michigan won just reinforces to me (along with the past three years) that Notre Dame could have the advantage in every aspect of the game and still not beat the Wolverines. And that makes me feel worse about this past season and the future too.
If you could replace Tom Hammond with any play-by-play guy out there, who would it be & why?
My hate for Hammond has subsided a little bit over the past couple seasons (bless your heart Mike Mayock), but I think it's important to reiterate why Hammond is such a bad play-by-play announcer and that the level of disdain from the general population is based on more than your average unlikable booth man.
He's not a football guy
There's always been this feeling that Hammond is still learning about the game of football. He's robotic and doesn't have a feel for the game at all. Can you imagine Hammond in a room full of other football announcers? How awkward are all of the conversations he partakes in?
He's not a football guy because his main duties for NBC include thoroughbred racing, gymnastics, field & track, and figure skating. It's so embarrassing.
He's not good at his job
This is all we really need to say to close the book on this partnership. Hammond butchers names, constantly get players mixed up, doesn't understand basic terminologies, and has always had terrible on-air chemistry with his color guy.
Worst of all, his level of excitement and ability to draw viewers in with words are about as bad as you can get in the business.
Hammond represents the Monk-era apathy towards football
Is it a coincidence that Notre Dame started sucking when Tom Hammond started calling the games on NBC full-time? I generally like where Jenkins and Swarbrick are taking the program, but Hammond is still one of the last vestiges left of that mid-1990's decision making that didn't care about football.
I mean, we have a horse racing-ice dancing expert as the voice of Notre Dame football on NBC. Why is this still okay?
He's creepy looking
This is television after all.
With all that said, I think it's an easy choice to pick Al Michaels. He combines the best attributes in a play-by-play announcer: He's experienced as almost anyone, yet he still remains hip. His awfully good at his job and keeps his broadcasts fresh every time he's on air.
I want him in the booth for ND games.
Texas A&M enters the SEC next season and will face the following schedule: Florida, Arkansas, at Ole Miss, LSU, at Auburn, at Mississippi State, at Alabama, vs. Missouri. Will the Aggies finish above .500 in conference play in 2012?
Texas A&M is a lot like Notre Dame in the sense that they continually under-perform in relation to their recruiting. And also in the fact that they were a dominant program when the Irish were last on the top of their game, but have since captured just one conference title since 1993.
Even during the up-spike in recruiting and general increase in relevance over the past few seasons, the Aggies managed to be just 22-17 and place no higher than fifth in the Big 12. Now they leave those calmer pastures for the volatile SEC.
Sumlin should do a good job in College Station and there's plenty of talent, but what are they supposed to do with this schedule?
Ole Miss is the only easy game, and even a team like fellow SEC-converts Missouri, the Aggies have lost four out of their last five to.
I'll say they struggle in year one with losses to a better Florida team, a still very dangerous Arkansas, LSU being LSU, a tough road game at Auburn, and a physical battle in Tuscaloosa. That's 3-5 and I honestly think anything better than that would be a big win for Kevin Sumlin.
What should the point spread be for the 2012 Notre Dame vs. USC game? Explain why you set it where you did.
This game is a long ways off, but right now I would set it at Notre Dame (+16) and I think even that is being a little generous to the Fighting Irish.
Here's the scary thing about USC: They played awfully well this year, yet they are still quite young at many positions. They lose left tackle Matt Kalil and defensive end Nick Perry to the NFL, but they return all but a couple starters and 32 of their top 44 players overall.
Of course Heisman favorite Matt Barkley will be back throwing to the nation's best receiving duo in Wood and Lee, while Curtis McNeal returns at running back along with a collection of young and talented runners. Defensively the entire secondary returns and the front seven should be pretty solid.
Add it all up and the Trojans are expected to be the No. 1 team in the country when the 2012 polls come out.
Deontary Greenberry has been lighting up the all-star practices and games and is expected to receive a 5-star from most recruiting services. I'm setting his freshman season stats at 48 receptions, 605 yards and 6 touchdowns. Does he meet any or all of these expectations?
I'm about to heap praise and unrealistic expectations upon Greenberry, so deal with it.
Deontay Greenberry will be the greatest receiver to ever play at Notre Dame.
Is that too bold?
Now I know what you're thinking, there's no way he'll be better than Michael Floyd or Golden Tate or any other receiver in school history. But I'm here to tell you that Greenberry may end up the best receiver statistically in school history (if he ends up staying all four years in South Bend).
Sure Floyd was a 5-star prospect across the board and physically ready to play as a true freshman, but I think Greenberry is more explosive, a bigger playmaker in more areas of the field, and will have the benefit of being in Kelly's system where he should excel from day one.
This prediction is based on Greenberry starting all or most of his games as a freshman (I think he will) and having a competent quarterback to throw the ball to him (let's hope so).
We've seen some school records fall on the offensive side of the ball over the past 5 or 6 years, and it is likely once Kelly gets the right quarterback in place more will tumble.
Greenberry is the type of talent who could push past Floyd-type numbers and register in the Crabtree/Broyles/Blackmon range over the breadth of his career at Notre Dame.
So, I'll take the over on all those stats as Greenberry breaks freshman receiving records at Notre Dame in 2012.