LITTLE ROCK — Normally uttered on the heels of a double bogey, "I’ve lost interest" is a familiar refrain to regulars in the Sunday golf group who know the words as an empty threat.
On a rare Saturday at home during the fall, boring football pushed me over the edge before 9 p.m. Unexpected routs in Gainesville and Morgantown, Alabama’s perfunctory dusting of Tennessee and a Texas defense that has given up 161 points in three games was too much.
The escape was tuning to a premium channel offering a free weekend of programming just in time to see Will Farrell lead his trident-wielding, grenade-carrying comrades into a free-for-all with four other news teams prefaced by the rule of combat: "No touching of the hand or face." The battle was more competitive than the games and much more entertaining.
It’s probably just as well that Kansas State-West Virginia was 38-7 when I bailed and 52-7 when I checked back to see if Geno Smith had done something positive for his Heisman Trophy hopes. If football had continued deep into the night, the memories of LSU’s defense might have faded.
The Tigers can run and they can tackle and they did a job on Johnny Manziel, both containing and chasing.
And, they kept competing, again raising doubt about momentum. That was the angle the announcers pounced on after LSU ran the ball eight straight times to the A&M 9, completed a pass for a loss, settled for a field goal, and the Aggies returned the kickoff 76 yards to the LSU 16. In front of 87,429, A&M had mo, they said.
The Aggies failed to score.
Turnovers, the most pivotal category in football, did in both A&M and South Carolina. At halftime, Florida had 29 yards, two first downs, and a 21-6 lead. Twice, the Gators took over inside the South Carolina 5. A&M had five turnovers, including three Manziel interceptions. On the other side, Zach Mettenberger kept missing receivers behind the defense, but he never threw one to the other team.
When it comes to hiring the next Arkansas football coach, athletic director Jeff Long won’t be influenced by the week-to-week results, but there were some head-scratching scores on Saturday involving men who have been mentioned for the UA job.
Arkansas fans and media who were clamoring for Dana Holgorsen have retreated after West Virginia lost to Texas Tech and Kansas State by a combined 104-28 in games that weren’t that close. Giving up 108 in victories over Baylor and Texas should have been the tip-off on Holgorsen’s philosophy.
Like Holgorsen, TCU coach Gary Patterson is considered a long shot for the Arkansas job. His Horned Frogs are 2-2 in the Big 12 after a triple overtime loss to Texas Tech.
The worst loss registered by a coach considered to be a legitimate candidate was Toledo 29, previously unbeaten Cincinnati 23. Toledo won with five field goals, a 75-yard interception return, and a 91-yard kickoff return.
In Stillwater, Paul Rhoads’ No. 24 Iowa State gave up 625 yards to Oklahoma State and lost by 21. Iowa State has won three Big 12 games in each of Rhoads’ three years, but is 1-3 this year with Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia in November.
Among the supposed candidates, this week’s winners were Louisiana Tech’s Sonny Dykes and Vanderbilt’s James Franklin.
If Rhoads and Jones are on Long’s list, he did not scratch them because of Saturday’s results. Winning the press conference that Long hopes to have by mid-December is not his top priority. Still, selling a coach who is 3-6 or worse in the Big 12 or one who finishes in the middle of the Big East will not precipitate a run on season tickets.
Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.