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      Only Time and Touches Can Stop Fournette (We Already Know EMU Can't)

      Week five of the college football season is shaping up to be the best so far. There are so many marquee matchups. More on that below, because one game stands head and shoulders above ANYTHING the rest of the country can conjure. Eastern Michigan at Louisiana State University. Wait. What? Let us explain: Earlier this week, Herschel Walker said that he thinks Leonard Fournette is a better running back in college than he was. Walker is regarded as one of the top college players of all time, and a winner of the Heisman trophy. For him to say Fournette is better makes us think HARD about it. And you know what? Walker might have a point.

        Fournette is averaging over 200 yards a game so far. He is so good, he has many people saying he should sit out next year to not hurt his draft stock *cough cough Marcus Lattimore*. There are a few worthy candidates for the Heisman this season, including RB Nick Chubb of Georgia, QB Jared Goff of Cal, and any given Ohio State Buckeye skill player. Fournette needs to keep his torrid pace to be the first non QB to win the award since Mark Ingram in 2009. We aren’t talking another 200-yard, 2 TD game here. No. We want to see Fournette go off for 400 yards and 6 TD. Just absolutely demolish that Eastern Michigan defense. Against weaker competition, he needs to be the dean of Ball-So-Hard University. Come Saturday night, we fully expect Fournette to run wild and take even more of strangle hold on the Heisman. Apparently, EMU's defense sucks. Like, really sucks. So, his biggest competition Saturday night could very well be his playing time and touches. Just give him the damn ball, LSU. Just let him do him. Oh, as we mentioned, there are a FEW other things to watch besides Fournette’s assault on the college football history book. Here’s a quick look at the games we’ll be watching: No. 23 West Virginia at No. 15 Oklahoma: They battle to see who will finish behind TCU and Baylor. No. 1 Ohio State at Indiana: This will be Cardele Jones’s first true road game, and if this was Indiana basketball, he might have to worry. IU football? Not so much. Probably. No. 3 Ole Miss at No. 25 Florida: The Rebs bring their championship hopes to Gainesville, where the Gators might have to rely on another fourth-quarter meltdown in order to win. No. 13 Alabama at No. 8 Georgia: This will be the first time Bama is an underdog (+1.5) in five years. Let the panic ensue! No. 6 Notre Dame at No. 12 Clemson: Hopefully no ND more players get injured before the game or they might have to forfeit. Feeling lucky? Want to prove your prognostication prowess? Play the Smack Apparel weekly picks contest. You could win Smack Apparel t-shirts and bragging rights.    

      The Parcells Effect

      [caption id="attachment_1209" align="alignright" width="300"]Parcells Little-known fact: In 1978, Bill Parcells helped shape young military minds as the head coach of the falconing team at the Air Force Academy.[/caption] By Erez Ladetzky, Smack Zone Contributor The Giants meet the Bills Sunday in Buffalo. Twenty-five years ago, these two teams squared off in Tampa for an epic Super Bowl XXV. We hear Scott Norwood still can’t find a house anywhere in Buffalo. With the game this weekend, we thought it would be fun to stroll down memory lane and take a look at the career of Bill Parcells and his historical impact on pro football.

      1. The Big Tuna -- if this isn’t the best nickname in football, we don’t know what is. He received this name while he was on the staff with the Patriots, because, well ... he had the shape of a tuna. The nickname has stuck ever since, and has become a household name over the years.
      2. Gatorade bath -- when a team wins a big game, either a championship or a massive come from behind win, the players usually dump the Gatorade cooler all over their coach. Bill Parcells was the very first coach to have that happen (yes, we know some claim that Mike Ditka was first in 1984, but we choose to believe that Parcells got it first a few weeks before that. Besides, Harry Carson made it famous two years later, so Tuna owns it). Clearly, Parcells is the ultimate trend setter for coaches. [youtube] 3. Legendary coaching tree -- Parcells recruited so many great coaches under him, many are now head coaches in the NFL. The tree includes Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin, Sean Payton, Todd Bowles and Mike Zimmer. Belichick, Coughlin and Payton have all won Super Bowls as head coaches. If it weren’t for Parcells, Belichick might not even know how to spy or oversee the proper deflation of footballs. [caption id="attachment_1213" align="alignleft" width="283"]Parcells celebrates victory in Tampa at Super Bowl XXV. Parcells celebrates victory in Tampa at Super Bowl XXV.[/caption] 4. Impact of a team he never coached -- we all know the effect he had on the Giants, Patriots, Jets and Cowboys. But what about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? He had an agreement to become their coach in 1992, but then decided it wasn’t right for him. Although Tampa has won a Super Bowl since, this franchise has mostly been at the bottom of the league. Who knows where they would be right now if the Big Tuna decided to make landfall in the Bay area? (Oh, and bonus what if: Remember when Payton was suspended for that whole Saints season after Bountygate? Guess who he wanted to coach the team in his absence. Yep. Tuna.)

      NFL Coaching Hot Seat: Why Wait? Fire Them All NOW

      The Monday after the final regular season games in the NFL is known as “Black Monday.” It’s the day owners decide to fire coaches and go in a different direction. We are three weeks into the season, but we can already tell which coaches are on the hot seat and might face the dreaded Black Monday conversation unless they get their crap together soon. Here is our list:

      1. Joe Philbin, Miami Dolphins – the Dolphins made the biggest splash in free agency this year, signing Ndamukong Suh and had many believing they would get over the hump after back to back 8-8 seasons. Man we are so dumb! Miami has looked lackluster to say the least so far and are starring 1-3 in the face after they take on the Jets in London this Sunday. Miami is choking at the beginning of the season rather than the end but Philbin’s fate might already be sealed. If Miami continues to look so unprepared, there will be a change in South Beach.
      2. Mike McCoy, San Diego Chargers – San Diego hasn’t made the playoffs since 2009, which is a surprise because they have a roster that is capable of a playoff run, led by franchise QB Philip Rivers. The Chargers are off to another slow start at 1-2, and if they miss out on the playoffs in a weak AFC so far, McCoy could be on his way out.
      3. Chip Kelly, Philadelphia Eagles – Kelly requested full control of the roster and was granted that in the off-season. All he has done since he got to town is get rid of star players such as DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy and Trent Cole. What could possibly go wrong with that? Philly hasn’t looked good so far this season and if it doesn’t turn around quickly in a very winnable NFC East, this roster could be blown up and start from scratch without Kelly leading the way. Kelly is learning the hard way this is a player’s league, not a coach’s.
      4. Mike Pettine, Cleveland Browns – Pettine is only in his second year in Cleveland, but there have been numerous controversies surrounding the team since he took over. Most people know about “text gate” when front office executives were texting coaches what to do during games. Because if anyone knows what play to call it’s a Cleveland front office suit. Pettine has chosen to stick with Josh McCown at QB instead of fan favorite Johnny Football. Maybe he is taking a page out of Tampa’s book and starting McCown to get the No. 1 pick and select Jeff Goff? If Cleveland doesn’t show improvement this year, a new coaching staff could come in and try and right the ship.
      5. Gus Bradley, Jacksonville Jaguars – Bradley is in his third season in Jacksonville, and has won a combined eight games so far. That’s right, eight games including one this year in over two seasons! They have made solid FA signings and drafted very well, including franchise QB Blake Bortles and stud WR Allen Robinson. However, if they can’t win more than four games what good is that? Bradley might need to win at least seven games this year to save his job.

      Welcome to Cristiano World: the Most Ludicrous Place on Earth

      OK, it’s soccer. It’s the MLS. WHO CARES, right? Well, if Orlando City owner Flavio Augusto Da Silva has his way, a great many humans will care a great deal soon. A very great many humans. And a very great deal. Mr. Da Silva told the Spanish-language, Real Madrid-focused publication Marca that … (Hang on. Bear with us. This is tough to even think about, let alone write. It’s so damn ludicrous.) Da Silva, who already signed Brazilian semi-retiree Kaka this past season, now has his sights set on … (No, really. We thought this was from Onion Sports when we saw it. It’s THAT freaking ridiculous.) Cristiano Ronaldo. [caption id="attachment_1195" align="aligncenter" width="474"]I am Cristiano. Everybody who is not Cristiano sucks. That is right. You, too. Yes, you. You suck. Because you are not Cristiano. I am Cristiano. Everybody who is not Cristiano sucks. That is right. You, too. Yes, you. You suck. Because you are not Cristiano. Only I am Cristiano.[/caption] “Hopefully, we can sign him for this upcoming season,” Da Silva told Marca. “We’ve always heard that he’d like to come to the United States to play.” In other transfer news, we’re hearing the Laredo Lemurs, defending champions of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, are trying to work a deal for Mike Trout. [caption id="attachment_1196" align="alignleft" width="261"]Where else are you going to see a Laredo Lemurs logo today? And it's on a post about Cristiano Ronaldo. Life, man. You just never know. Where else are you going to see a Laredo Lemurs logo today? And it's on a post about Cristiano Ronaldo. Life, man. You just never know.[/caption] Also? The CFL’s Montreal Alouettes are all hot-n-bothered with Tom Brady and will submit a transfer bid to New England in January. Oh, and the Manchester Magic of the English Professional Basketball League? Yep. They want Lebron. All right. Let’s say Da Silva isn’t living in a dream world. After all, David Beckham came to America and blah blah blah. It’s SOCCER! WHO CARES?? WHY ARE WE EVEN WRITING THIS?? Still, though. What if Da Silva really believes what he’s saying and he’s not just having a go at the good people of Madrid? Let’s figure out what it might take to get the best soccer player of the 21st century into Orlando City purple next season. A cash bid would start – start – at $100 million. That’s just to buy the right to negotiate a contract with Ronaldo. That’s pocket change for Real Madrid, which splashed out far more than that for former Tottenham Hotspur winger Gareth Bale two years ago. But, as we say, $100 million is just a start. We’re thinking Da Silva will need to sweeten the deal. Let’s throw in, we don’t know … lifetime passes to Walt Disney World for every Real Madrid season ticket holder? Oh, and instead of Orlando City, the team will now be called Ronaldo City. In fact, the city of Orlando will now be called the city of Ronaldo. OK, that’s the transfer fee settled. Now, about Cristiano’s salary … NOPE. That’s all we’re writing about soccer for today. What time do Pittsburgh and Baltimore kick off?

      Steelers-Ravens: a History of Hatred

      [caption id="attachment_1132" align="alignright" width="289"]Before Steelers fans hated the Ravens, they hated the Browns. They left Cleveland long ago, but the hatred runs deeper than ever. Before Steelers fans hated the Ravens, they hated the Browns. They left Cleveland long ago, but the hatred runs deeper than ever.[/caption] By Bob D'Angelo, Smack Zone Contributor You know sparks will fly when the Steelers and Ravens meet tonight at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. It’s a tradition between these AFC North rivals. Sure, some players and teams talk smack, but these two teams back it up. Hard-hitting, tough and intense. Plus, the Steelers and Ravens clearly don’t like each other. “It's just pure hatred – just like two old-fashioned bullies meeting in an alley,” former Steelers receiver Hines Ward told USA Today. There may be hatred, but there is plenty of respect. “It’s the best rivalry in football,” Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs told USA Today in the same article. “Hatred is a very strong word, but it seems fitting. “But there’s a lot of respect going there. Because the two teams are so similar.” [caption id="attachment_1188" align="alignleft" width="296"]The Ravens carved their own identity in Baltimore when they bolted from Cleveland. But tradition and history run deep, and hatred of Pittsburgh remains a franchise constant. The Ravens carved their own identity in Baltimore when they bolted from Cleveland. But tradition and history run deep, and hatred of Pittsburgh remains a franchise constant.[/caption] Since 2000, the Ravens have won two Super Bowls and reached the playoffs 10 times. The Steelers have won two Super Bowls and have made nine playoff appearances. In their own division, the two rivals have combined to win the AFC North 10 times in the 13 years since the NFL established its current alignment. Pittsburgh and Baltimore have met four times in the postseason, with the Steelers winning three times. The Ravens finally broke through in January 2015, winning 30-17. Here are some of the greatest hits from this intense rivalry: In the AFC Championship Game on January 18, 2009, Steelers safety Ryan Clark put a crunching, legal hit on Willis McGahee. The Ravens’ running back had just caught a pass from quarterback Joe Flacco, but Clark knocked McGahee unconscious. The Steelers punched a ticket to the Super Bowl in Tampa with a 23-14 victory.


      On November 5, 2007, the Steelers romped to a 38-7 victory. Ward leveled Ed Reed with a huge block, knocking the Ravens safety out of the game. Ward also flattened linebacker Bart Scott, who said after the game that he wanted to “kill” the Steelers’ receiver.


      [caption id="attachment_1189" align="alignright" width="230"]In Pittsburgh, everything purple is anathema. In fact, purple is outlawed. (Or should be.) In Pittsburgh, everything purple is anathema. In fact, purple is outlawed. (Or should be.)[/caption] Suggs has sacked Steelers quarterback Ben Roethisberger 16½ times, more than any other player in the league. Days before the Ravens beat the Steelers 23-20 on November 6, 2011, Suggs conceded that Roethlisberger was a great quarterback. But … “God can have his soul,” Suggs said. “But his (butt) belongs to me.”


      During the Steelers’ 13-10 victory on December 5, 2010, Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata broke Roethlisberger’s nose during a sack. Big Ben had to walk off the field, using a towel to stop the bleeding.


      During the Steelers’ 23-20 overtime win on September 29, 2008, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis hit Rashard Mendenhall so hard, the rookie running back suffered a season-ending broken shoulder. A few weeks later on Atlanta’s “2 Live Stews” radio show, Suggs suggested the Ravens had a bounty on Ward and Mendenhall. But he backed off that boast, claiming it was a joke.


      Even the coaches have gotten into the act. The Steelers’ Mike Tomlin was fined $100,000 for his actions in a November 2013 game. Tomlin drifted onto the field during Jacoby Jones’ kickoff return that had touchdown written all over it.  Jones had to slow down and veer away from the sideline and was tackled. But the Ravens won 22-20, thwarting a Steelers’ two-point conversion in the final minute.


      Harbaugh didn't endear himself to Tomlin in the 2011 season opener. Baltimore scored 21 seconds into the second half to take a 27-7 lead, then ran a fake on the extra point. Holder Sam Koch scored on the two-point conversion to make it 29-7. The Ravens went on to win, 35-7.


      There was a contentious handshake that was captured on video in 2012, with Baltimore’s John Harbaugh trying to congratulate his counterpart. Tomlin tried to brush it off, but Harbaugh grabbed his hand and tugged hard, bringing him back to say something face to face. Tomlin then walked away. The back story on that was a locker room clip of Harbaugh praising his team after its 13-10 win at Heinz Field on November 18, 2012. “The toughest team won that football game. The mentally tough team won that football game,” Harbaugh said. “The better team won the football game. “The team that knows how to win won that football game.” Typical locker room stuff, but Tomlin didn’t like it. So when the Steelers ended the Ravens’ 15-game home winning streak a few weeks later, he was in no mood for handshakes and pats on the shoulder. Both coaches have insisted there is nothing personal between them. [caption id="attachment_1190" align="alignleft" width="252"]This pretty much sums it up for Baltimore re. the Steelers. This pretty much sums it up for Baltimore re. the Steelers.[/caption] “Not personally, but professionally, he wants the same things that I want,” Tomlin said in January before the teams’ last playoff game. “He appears to be similarly as committed to it as I am, so we’re going to have problems. “He’s a good guy, but when we step into the stadium, we’ve got business, and that business is not the same.” Harbaugh agreed. “We have a little fun together,” Harbaugh told NBC’s Bob Costas. “We go to the owners meetings and laugh a little bit, but in the end we do want the same thing.” Both coaches preach hard-nosed football, and neither team will back down. With Roethlisberger out for several weeks after suffering a sprained MCL in his left knee last Sunday, he will be replaced by Michael Vick. That will create an interesting twist for tonight’s game -- Vick's mobility against an aggressive Ravens defense. It's likely to create a new chapter in the rivalry, particularly if Vick shines.