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August 15, 2007

Notebook: Being No. 2 not always a bad thing

Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He will be working all summer to get you ready for the start of Fall practice.
Previous notebooks
Aug. 8: New tradition

Every year at this time questions of "Who's No. 1?" and claims that "We're No. 1!" begin to echo from coast to coast.

But what about who's No. 2?

Too often college football No. 2's are erroneously viewed as second rate, but one should think twice before jumping to that conclusion.

Therefore, here's a second look at some of the great runners-up, No. 2's, second guesses, second stringers, second years and second chances in seasons of yore:

Deion Sanders, perhaps the best cornerback ever, wore No. 2 at Florida State.

The greatest second running back was Oklahoma State's Barry Sanders, who sat behind Thurman Thomas for two seasons. When Sanders finally became a starter he won the Heisman Trophy after recording the best rushing season in Division I history with 2,628 yards.

O.J Simpson won the Heisman Trophy in 1968, which was his second year at Southern California. By the way, he was USC's first two-time All-American and its second Heisman recipient.

Speaking of USC, Trojans coach Pete Carroll may always be second-guessed for his decision to give the ball to LenDale White instead of Heisman recipient Reggie Bush on fourth-and-1 in the waning moments in the 2005 national championship game. White came up short and Texas responded with a game-winning drive.

Ohio State appeared to have lost the 2002 national championship to Miami when Craig Krenzel's fourth down pass in fell incomplete. But a late flag for pass interference gave the Buckeyes a second chance and they went on to post a 31-24 upset victory in the second overtime.

Nebraska's Brook Berringer is my choice as greatest second-string quarterback. He replaced an injured Tommie Frazier in 1994 and led the Cornhuskers to seven consecutive victories on the way to the national championship.

Wake Forest's Riley Skinner, who last year replaced injured Ben Mauk and led the Deacons to their first ACC championship, would be my second choice.

Looking back is always a fun, but now is the time to look forward to the college football season. Here are some No. 2's that are pertinent for this year.

Last year Florida coach Urban Meyer became the third coach in seven years to win the national championship in his second year on the job, joining Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and Ohio State's Jim Tressel. Beware Wisconsin's Bret Bielema who is in his second year as head coach and led the Badgers to a 12-1 record last season.

Florida is seeking to win its second consecutive undisputed national championship, a feat no team has accomplished since Nebraska in 1994-95. USC is credited with back-to-back championships in 2003-04, but LSU won the '03 crown while the Trojans were voted champions by the Associated Press.

USC is the consensus No. 1 team this year, but the last time the Trojans entered the season ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll (in 2005) they lost the national championship to Texas, which was ranked second.

The last two seasons the second seeded team has beaten the top seed in the national championship game. Since 2000, the second seeded team holds a 4-3 advantage.

Since 2000 only one team that opened the year No. 1 (USC in 2004) went on to win the national championship. Two teams that began No. 2 (Texas in 2005, Miami in 2001) won the championship.

Arkansas running back Darren McFadden is hoping to become the fourth player and first since Herschel Walker in 1982 to win the Heisman Trophy the year after finishing as the runner-up. Others to accomplish the feat are USC's O.J. Simpson (1968), Army's Glenn Davis (1946) and Michigan's Tom Harmon (1940).

As far as the best players wearing No. 2 this year? Alabama cornerback Simeon Castille probably gets the edge over USC running back C.J. Gable and Michigan linebacker Shawn Crable.

Trivia question

It's common knowledge that Ohio State's Archie Griffin is the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner. Can you name either of the two players who were twice Heisman runners-up. (Hint: One of them eventually won it).

Q&A: Kirk Herbstreit

Here's a conversation with former Ohio State quarterback and current ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit, who is doing several preseason interviews to promote the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award (one each at the Division I-A, I-AA, II and III level):

Q: What do you think about the situation Michigan coach Lloyd Carr faces in Ann Arbor?

KH: "I know since Jim Tressel took over at Ohio State (in 2001), I think Ohio State is 5-1 and I can't remember the last time Michigan won a bowl game (2002). When you're not winning your rivalry game and not winning your bowl game, no matter how much success you have the rest of the season is overshadowed. If it happens over a period of time people remember that. Despite winning a national championship in 1997, which is something Bo (Schembechler) never did, people are remembering the last five or six years of not winning the Ohio State game and the bowl game. It's a culmination of wear and tear that has a lot of Michigan fans quick to judge him."

Q: You played for John Cooper, who was fired and reviled for his inability to beat Michigan. How do you feel about the way he is perceived in Ohio?

KH: "If you go back to the foundation of the Liberty Mutual Award it talks about not only coaches that win on and off the field the right way, but how they impact young people. I learned a lot from Coach Cooper over the years. I was blown away by some of the nasty treatment he got, and I assumed - based on the way he was treated - he would move as soon as he was let go.

Instead of moving, he decided he liked Columbus and said, 'We're going to make this our home.' He didn't do it with any resentment. He did it with a smile on his face. That's amazing strength and leadership for his family. Even to this day as (Ohio State coach) Jim Tressel continues to receive numerous accolades, John Cooper is right there in the community. He doesn't hide. I think people have grown to love him now because of that attitude."

Q: You were a starting quarterback at Ohio State. What is it like to be the starting quarterback at Ohio State? What are Todd Boeckman or Rob Schoenhoft in for that maybe they do not expect?

KH: "When you talk about Todd you're talking about a 23-year-old man that's been on the team for four years and through osmosis of being around championship caliber teams has learned from sitting there and watching guys like Craig Krenzel and Troy Smith and he understands the pressure that comes with that job.

"Rob comes from such a prestigious program at St. Xavier High School, where expectations are high. But until they get there you never know how a guy responds to the lights and the big stage. Sometimes guys respond better than you anticipate."

Q: Is there a place that has been the most fun to visit as part of GameDay?

KH: "It is so hard to differentiate between any places in the SEC. I love going to the SEC games. The fans are the most rabid football fans in the country. Whether you're talking Knoxville, Baton Rouge, Athens, Tuscaloosa, Auburn or Gainesville, it's really splitting hairs. They're so emotional and passionate and that's what makes college football the best sport. You can feel the passion all around. A big-time SEC game is most fun for me."

Q: Who are some of the coaches at the Division I-A level that you think will have a big year and could follow Rutgers' Greg Schiano as the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award recipient?

KH: "Everybody in the world loves USC and Pete Carroll. A recent poll asked current players if they could play for any other coach, who would it be. Pete Carroll won in a landslide. That shows the perception people have of him and confirms that he's one of a kind.

"I think Greg Schiano has a great chance again to have a solid year as well as (West Virginia's) Rich Rodriguez, who has a chance to have a great year. After that, you always have (Texas') Mack Brown and (Oklahoma's) Bob Stoops as candidates. The great thing about it is that if you looked at it in August last year and asked, 'Who are the candidates to win it?' one of the last guys people would talk about was Greg Schiano. We'll wait and see."

Quick hitters

Florida State quarterback Xavier Lee this week acknowledged that after last season he was frustrated with his role in the offense and considered transferring. He said he decided to stay after learning of impending changes on the coaching staff, including the hiring of offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher.

Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen remains undecided whether Jordan Steffy, Josh Portis or Chris Turner will start at quarterback. Also, backup quarterback Bobby Sheahin announced his plans to transfer to Division III Salisbury University.

Clemson senior guard Brandon Pilgrim was promoted to the starting lineup ahead of Chris McDuffie, who started six games last season. The move might be an effort to motivate McDuffie.

An MRI exam on Monday showed that Texas redshirt freshman quarterback Sherrod Harris sprained the media collateral ligament in his left knee in a Sunday night practice. There is no timetable on his return to the team.

Missouri got good news and bad news at running back. Backup tailback Marcus Woods appeared to suffer a high ankle sprain in a Monday scrimmage. However, starting tailback Tony Temple, who has been out with a bruised knee, is expected to be back in practice in the next day or two.

Sophomore Todd Reesing has taken the bulk of the snaps with Kansas' first team offense, but Jayhawks coach Mark Mangino hasn't yet named him the starter over Kerry Meier. However, he did say Reesing has taken control.

Oklahoma running back Allen Patrick is on crutches with a sprained ankle suffered last week. He'll be out of action at least another week.

Nebraska's 245-pound freshman running back Quentin Castille has been one of the most impressive Huskers in camp thus far. He's gotten a lot of work while Cody Glenn and Marlon Lucky have been slowed by injuries. Castille has earned a reputation for running over defenders.

Indiana players are wearing "Don't Quit 13" logos on their helmets as a tribute to late head coach Terry Hoeppner, who died earlier this summer. Hoeppner's motto was "play 13" in reference to the Hoosiers' quest of reaching a bowl game.

Michigan sophomore running back Carlos Brown broke a hand in practice and was scheduled to undergo surgery on Tuesday. It's unknown how long he will be sidelined.

University of Houston offensive lineman Jerrod Butler was in stable condition at a Houston hospital after passing out while lifting weights on Monday.

Florida running back Kestahn Moore, criticized for running too passively in '06, has drawn raves in camp. His been named the Gators' starting tailback and he's aiming to become coach Urban Meyer's first 1,000-yard back.

Meyer has set Florida's starting offensive line with redshirt junior Jason Watkins at left tackle, Phil Trautwein at right tackle, Jim Tartt at left guad, Carlton Medder moving from right tackle to right guard and Drew Miller moving from right guard to center.

Georgia coaches are considering redshirting freshman running back Caleb King, a four-star prospect, who is currently fourth on the depth chart.

Alabama sophomore tackle Andre Smith has shed 20 pounds from his 350-pound playing weight of a year ago and says he wants to lose five more. He said he has more stamina at the reduced weight.

Auburn true freshman offensive tackle Lee Ziemba moved ahead of junior Antwoin Daniels on the depth chart, at least for the moment. Tigers coach Tommy Tuberville noted Daniels is improving and that position is not set.

Oregon and Boise State are considering playing in China in 2009. Oregon officials are meeting with Chinese sports and government officials in November to discuss the idea.

Oregon State receiver/kick return specialist Sammie Stroughter missed the first week of practices for personal reasons and coach Mike Riley said the Beavers are preparing to be without him.

Cal coach Jeff Tedford said freshman linebacker D.J. Holt has not reported to camp because of academic issues, but could join the team by the beginning of the fall semester. Also, linebacker Alex Cook, a junior college transfer, probably won't report until next spring.

Trivia answer

The two-time Heisman Trophy runners-up are Army's Glenn Davis and North Carolina's Charlie Justice. Davis finished second to Ohio State's Les Horvath in 1944 and to Army teammate Doc Blanchard in 1945 before eventually winning in 1946.

Justice was the runner-up to SMU's Doak Walker in 1948 and Notre Dame's Leon Hart in 1949.

Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com.



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