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WTF AWARDS, PART TWO

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What we're currently listening to: something so terribly hip you'd die if we told you what it was--or Molly Hatchet, we're actually not sure. In our ongoing review of the events of the 2005 college season, we revisit the most significant What The Fuck® moments of the season, including upsets, poor sportsmanship, and outlandish fan behavior.

WTF Upset: Louisville at USF, September 24th. The Big East's mondo shocker for the year came early: the Bulls swamped Louisville, ranked ninth going into the game in Tampa, and put a brutal halt to the rampant overspeculation in Cardinals stock. Louisville played one of those epochal mathematical outlier games where every play they tried, including outlandish trick passes and reverses, worked to maximum effect, with the key beneficiary being USF wideout Amarri Jackson, who passed and ran for a TD in putting Louisville down 21-0 early in the second quarter. The stage was set for a furious Louisville comeback--in Petrino's lexicon, 21 points=appetizers and drinks--but a kickoff return and USF drive put the Cardinals in a 38-7 pit they could not overcome in the span of a quarter and a half. The oddities continued as Louisville piled on yards but came up short on converting yards to points.

If you saw this coming, you're either drunk or from Tampa-perhaps we're being redundant there...

The game merits mention for a few reasons. First, the Big East's preseason rep as "Louisville and the Seven Gimps" went down the tubes in a single night at Raymond James; the league would be competitive throughout the season, with USF and West Virginia racing for the title over the ultimately overrated Cardinals. The shocker of all four-fingered shockers: Rutgers, long in incubation under Greg Schiano, caught fire and got bowl eligible behind a defense that led the nation in sacks and a veteran offense. WVU in particular earned credit for running a train up in Georgia in the Sugar Bowl to the tune of 300 plus rushing yards and the best fake punt of the season (more on that in a minute.)

Second, the preseason speculation positing that Louisville and Boise were ready to make the quantum leap from micro-tiger to national players and BCS spoilers made nary a whimper in dying a rapid death following this game and Boise's implosion in Athens. Zabransky rose to the occasions by throwing four picks and ending the game for the Broncos before Georgia could, ending dreams of a Smurf Turf rebellion in the national spotlight.

Third, the game should serve as a warning to the dogs of offseason punting: big tends to stay big, and small tends to stay small. The climb to national prominence takes decades, as Pat Hill or Bobby Bowden would be happy to attest to, and Louisville's long climb may suffer a precipitous setback if the ever-flirty Petrino finally puts out for the NFL gig he's been looking at for years now. (With all 32 NFL teams firing their coaches this year, there won't be a shortage of opportunities.) Bet on blue chip programs and, on the whole, you can't lose. That is, unless you put your money and reputation on our second award winner...

WTF Award, Coaching: Phil Fulmer. Perhaps a bit redundant, seeing as how we gave Tennessee the WTF award for team performance, but Phil Fulmer--who is very, very fat--did as thorough a job at cutting off his own legs as any coach in the land this season. Every day became Opposite Day in Knoxville: a running team became a pass-first team, a one-quarterback system became a two-headed Chris Rix, an offensive line of run-blocking bullies became a porous picket fence for blitzers, and a defense known for three-and-outing the opposition was left to die in the fourth quarter. Fulmer displayed zero original thinking in going back to the well for David Cutcliffe as the new OC, which at first seemed like sound decision-making--but then again, wasn't sticking with Fulmer's posse what got the donut-killing machine in trouble in the first place?

Fulmer: At least he got to canoodle with Naomi Watts this year.

WTF Award, Uniform: Oregon. The Ducks really should just buy and stop renting space in this award, since as long as Phil Knight has breath in him, we'll keep seeing atrocity after atrocity foisted on the poor, unpaid athletes of the University of Oregon. This year's variation, just beating out the one-sleeved Florida "Breakin'!" jerseys from the UGA game, went Eastern Bloc on everyone with a pair of crude digital numbers set on a dark green background with a cross-hatch pattern on the sleeves straight from the toolbox of a pickup truck.

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- for ever.

It's hard to adequately state how depressing the uniforms were in motion. Oregon went from looking like a spritely bunch of 'roided out hippies in cleats to leaden Communist robots devoid of name or soul, marked by their robot overlords with oppressive numbers where once their hearts had been. The effect was supposed to be Kraftwerk-chic; the reality was Belorussian knockoff club jersey, or perhaps fall season wear for our favorite villian from The Tick, the Eastern Bloc Robot Cowboy. Either way the uniforms crossed the frontier from butt-ugly to tear-provoking by being both instantly depressing and style-deficient, which gives them the edge over any of the other stomach-churning Nike submissions on the field in 2005.

Yearning for the new Oregon Unis and making evil plots in Minsk, no doubt.

WTF Award, Good Call Meets Bad Planning: West Virginia Fake Punts in the Sugar Bowl. West Virginia spent most of the Sugar Bowl showing its cheeks to Georgia, as in running in front of them unharmed for many, many rushing yards--why not let the punter in on the action, too? With Georgia storming back and making a blowout into a 38-35 squeaker, the 'Eers faced 4th and 6 on the UGA 48 with a fat 1:48 on the game clock for D.J. Shockley, a holy terror in the second half, waiting on the sidelines for a chance to win what was turning out to be the surprise of the major bowl season. Rich Rodriguez, who had already pulled out all the Esperanto the 'Dawgs could hope to see in one game, went for broke and called the best fake punt call of the season. WVU punter Phil Brady ran untouched for an easy first down, turning what looked like opportunity into doomed math and an empty clock for the Bulldogs.

Astounding that Rodriguez called it? No--WVU played like crazed lemurs the whole game, and going for it was fully in character at that point. The WTF award comes both as a result of the timing and because Brady took off on the fake with one rusher on the line for UGA. He could have rolled on the ground for a first, with everyone including Sonny Perdue back on the return for Georgia. A brilliant call + disastrous lack of foresight on UGA's part= iced victory for Moutaineers + we must ignite this couch for WVU fans.

Honorable Mention: Urban Meyer's Fakery in the Outback Bowl, going for it on his own 18. Downright Tuberville-esque. Yes, we just typed that.