Bama (Natl Champ)
Alabama Crimson Tide (National Championship)
L, 23-26

     Last week Mark Sanchez held his press conference to announce that he would be entering the 2009 NFL draft, forfeiting a remaining year of college eligibility. The press conference shouldn't have been much, if any, different than the one held in Athens the previous week where Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno announced their intentions to bolt to the NFL early. It shouldn't have been different, but ended up being nothing alike.
     Pete Carroll has a machine rolling in southern California. USC practically recruits itself being in LA, but Carroll's winning ways has made it a black hole, sucking in 5 star recruits from all regions of the country. LA is practically the only place in college football where 5 star recruits go to redshirt and bide their time behind other 5 star recruits. Carroll has looked perfect for quite a while (especially if you conveniently ignore trips to Corvalis), but Sanchez's press conference could prove to be the turning point in the USC dynasty.
     I may well be overstating this event, but you can be assured recruiters going head-to-head with Carroll will be pointing to this in every recruit's home. Carroll acted like a spoiled brat being told that he needed to finish his veggies. It doesn't matter that he is absolutely right in his argument that Sanchez is not ready for the NFL. He couldn't be more accurate when pointing out the staggering lack of success experienced by underclassmen entering the draft in the quarterback position. But once the decision was made, he should have stood by his quarterback, not scorned him and stormed out of the room. What a JERK!! I actually agree with Sanchez's decision to leave early. He is not ready, but he will have much more competition atop the 2010 draft with Bradford, McCoy and Tebow headlining that QB class.
     The week before, Mark Richt provided the blueprint for how to handle such a situation. Richt has not made it a secret that he believed Stafford needed another year in college and he wanted Stafford to return. However, when the decision had been made, Richt stood by Stafford, saying that he will forever be a Bulldog. Now that is class. That is how a recruit can know that he's not being fed a line of crap at his dinner table. You can be sure that Richt presented a case just as compelling to Stafford as the case Carroll presented to Sanchez. But only one coach was able to swallow hard, shake his quarterback's hand and wish him all the best.
     Coach Richt has made me a damn proud Dawg and Pete Carroll may well have started USC's fall from grace.