NCAA football's USC, NFL's Steelers on rocky road

Sep 10, 2013 3:00 AM

Football takes shape quickly. The leaves haven’t even begun to turn color yet, but some college teams are already seemingly out of the national title picture.

Texas fans have been steadily abandoning the Mack Brown ship for the past few years. The fact that he has a title under his belt already doesn’t mean a thing now. Brown fired his defensive coordinator Manny Diaz after an abysmal performance against BYU. Greg Robinson, who was on staff as a consultant, was named the coordinator.

If you think the game has passed Mack by, just wait to see what’s in store for a defense led by Robinson. The one time respected defensive mind hasn’t had success for a decade. Somehow the Texas brain trust felt the answers were sitting in a consultant’s office all this time. I wonder why they thought he wasn’t sharing those secrets with the staff before now. I’m not looking for much improvement.

The way Lane Kiffin was ousted from the Raiders made the young, personable coach a sympathetic figure. After a year at Tennessee, where he burned so many bridges he became the envy of every pyromaniac in SEC country, he abandoned the Vols to become head coach at USC. Even then he evoked some compassion for entering into a mess created by former coach Pete Carroll and athletic director Mike Garrett.

Kiffin dealt reasonably well with the sanction-filled program for two years. USC entered last season with Matt Barkley, a quarterback favored to win the Heisman Trophy along with becoming the first overall draft choice. His team also had a number one ranking in the polls. Kiffin led them to a consolation bowl where their behavior embarrassed the university before the game, then their performance embarrassed themselves on the football field.

Take a picture of Lane in his USC paraphernalia. There might not be many opportunities left to do so.

One game into the NFL season and the Steelers’ Super Bowl odds have doubled. I can’t argue with that. In the past few seasons the Steelers have had offensive line and running back problems. They have also had some of the worst luck with injuries in the league.

They have tried to address those issues in the draft, but corrections have not yet resulted. LaVeon Bell was a second round choice and looked like the answer at running back during an impressive preseason. An injury took him away for at least a month. Center Maurkice Pouncey, the stabilizing force on the woeful offensive line, got hurt early in the first game. He’s out for the season.

The Steelers are in a suddenly poor division. Their defense might actually keep them in the race. They have a great organization, a solid coach, and a few Pro Bowl players.

Texas has had years of success. They still have some of the top high school talent in the country right in their backyard.

My point is every year, some team that looks absolutely horrible in the early going, comes on to make a BCS bowl, win a conference, make the playoffs, or make a championship run. Keep your eyes open for that team. I promise it will happen.

Chris Andrews has over 30 years of experience as a bookmaker in Nevada. Check out his new website at www.againstthenumber.com and www.sharpssports.comYou can follow him on Twitter@AndrewsSports. Contact Chris at [email protected].

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