We should have surmised that college football was trying a new marketing campaign when Cal -- sad, downtrodden, debt-savaged Cal – beat North Carolina in Chapel Hill as a 13-point underdog.
Then Howard, a sub-average FCS team with three winning records in this century, became the largest underdog in history to win outright by beating UNLV at Vegas, 43-40.
And finally, UCLA parlayed a deft 44-10 late third-quarter deficit to Texas A&M into a 45-44 win, with the winning touchdown drive featuring a fake spike by Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen, all of which inspired an A&M regent to demand the immediate firing of head coach Kevin Sumlin.
And that new marketing scheme?
Easy. “We Play Drunk; We Coach Drunk/We Vent Drunk.”
Now with a 92-game inventory (and that’s just the bowl eligible games; don’t even ask me about St. John’s beating St. Scholastica, 98-0), you ought to have a few clangers here and there. I mean, Liberty (plus-33) beat Baylor, 48-45, making karma 1-0 this season.
But this is the part of college football that is riveting – the early-season piefights and coach-killers. You don’t typically get Howards and Libertys and Roy Buzbees (the A&M regent with the itchy trigger finger) right off the bat, but you absolutely never get them later.
And Cal? Justin Wilcox may be on to something, and if so, we can stop calling them downtrodden and debt-riddled. I mean, we don’t have to, but if this is the new Cal, we may as well fit this into the sport’s new paradigm:
Playing drunk, and for a precious few, being really good at it. And now that regents are in play on Labor Day, this could be the best season ever.
Until, as is always the case, Alabama fun-kills the whole thing like it always does.