Five things we learned this weekend

1) For all the folks caterwauling about how “the spread offense won’t work in the SEC,” why don’t those people use that argument with Texas A & M? They were second in yards and fourth in points per game in the whole nation this season, and they run a spread. Auburn ran a spread, won the SEC and won the BCS Championship two years ago. Florida did it with Chris Leak and Tim Tebow.

As D’Marco Farr is fond of saying, “it’s not about the X’s and the O’s; it’s about the Johnny’s and the Joe’s.” Gene Stallings, who won a title with Alabama 20 years ago, often said “this game is about players making plays.” A & M has two NFL first round tackles in Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews. They have great receivers in Mike Evans and Ryan Swope. And, they have Johnny Manzeil at quarterback. Yes, you can run the spread effectively in the SEC. You simply have to have the right players to do it.

2) Even consistently strong programs have down years. Yes, Mizzou had an awful inauguration to the SEC. But they weren’t alone. Auburn didn’t win a game in the conference. Virginia Tech needed a dramatic last second win to qualify for a 20th consecutive bowl game. Boston College went to twelve straight bowls before missing last season and this year. Iowa has been in bowls in 11 of the last 12 seasons, but went 4-8 this year. It happens. If it becomes a trend, the coach gets fired (Auburn and B.C. jettisoned theirs on Sunday). For Mizzou, missing bowls is not a trend. If next year is similar, then they should look at the coach. Not now.

3) We have a polarizing quarterback in St. Louis in Sam Bradford, who some people believe should be farther along than he is at this stage of his career. A similar situation in New York has caused the famed Fireman Ed to retire from being a cheerleading fan of the Jets. They’re a little more aggressive in New York, and when Ed Anzalone wore his Mark Sanchez jersey to games this year, it caused confrontation. “The stadium has become divided because of the quarterback controversy,” he wrote in a guest column for Metro New York. “The fact that I chose to wear a Mark Sanchez jersey this year, and that fans think I am on the payroll — which is an outright lie — have made these confrontations more frequent. Whether it’s in the stands, the bathroom or the parking lot, these confrontations are happening on a consistent basis.” It’s really sad that such a loyal fan can be driven away by the negativity of other fans. But that’s the nature of the time in which we live.

4) Speaking of Bradford, I got a Facebook message from a fan wanting confidence that he isn’t a bust. For me, it’s too early to tell. Here’s my response; “Steve Young’s last game as a Buc was here in STL. 13-34/157 yd. /1 TD/2 INT. Then they traded him. Thought HE was the problem, not the surrounding cast. Got with a surrounding cast and became a HOFer in SF. Drew Brees’ last game of his third season-15-28/97 yd./1 TD. Chargers thought HE was the problem, not the talent around him. SD had the first pick in the draft, took Manning and then traded him for Rivers. Jettisoned Brees two years later. Last game of Terry Bradshaw’s 3rd season, 12-23/152/1 TD/1 INT. 47.7 for the season, 12 TD, 12 INT. As the surrounding cast around him improved, so did he. Steelers spent two more years jerking him in and out of the lineup before he took off and won the Super Bowl in his fifth year. Dan Fouts wasn’t a 50% passer till his 3rd season, didn’t lead a team to a winning record till his sixth. As the cast around him improved. While it IS a QB driven league, a QB can’t and doesn’t do it all himself. Bradford needs to get better, but he hardly turns the ball over, is accurate, smart and competitive. I’ll be interested to see what he does if the cast around him improves. Unless, of course, someone thinks this is a Super Bowl cast that he’s holding back.” And there apparently ARE people that think with a different quarterback, the Rams are a Super Bowl cast.

5) The Dodgers are on the verge of signing a 25 year, $6.5 billion TV deal with FOX. That’s $260 million a year. If they spend wisely, there’s only one team in baseball that can play in that financial ballpark, and that’s the Yankees. L.A. can afford to have Carl Crawford, who’s owed $102.5 million over five years, do nothing for them, and they won’t be dented. If the Dodgers are smart, the rest of the National League is in trouble. And, that $2.1 billion purchase price looks like a pretty good deal now.