Tom Dienhart Rivals.com College Football Senior Writer
Here is this week's "Three And Out," a weekly feature that will provide a quick but opinionated take from Tom Dienhart on three hot topics.
1. Can Butch Davis survive? Now it's North Carolina's turn to face the NCAA's hammer of justice. Earlier this week, the Tar Heels received a notice of allegations from the NCAA that outlines myriad "potential major violations." Former assistant John Blake is at the center of most of the allegations. Not named is North Carolina coach Butch Davis. But I don't know if that means his job is safe. The NCAA noted that there was a "failure to adequately monitor the conduct of ... former and current players." Some of that has to fall on Davis, as does Blake's conduct. Bottom line: Davis is the boss and it's his job to know what is going on with his assistants and current players. Pleading ignorance isn't an alibi. In fact, not knowing what is going on in your program is as damning as knowing about wrongdoing and doing nothing about it. With all that is alleged to have gone on in Chapel Hill, I find it difficult to believe Davis had no inkling of any wrongdoing. That's why I think that, in the end, Davis may lose his job.
2. Texas in better shape than Florida. Perhaps the two most-watched programs this season will be Texas and Florida. With both coming off disappointing seasons, which school will bounce back the strongest in 2011? The Longhorns finished 5-7 last season, the school's first losing record since going 4-7 under John Mackovic in 1997. The Gators went 8-5, their most losses since Ron Zook-coached teams posted five losses in 2002 and '03. In the end, I think Texas will have a better record. Unlike the Gators, the Longhorns didn't undergo a coaching change. Yes, Texas changed coordinators on both sides of the ball, but the schemes won't change radically. Mack Brown is motivated to get Texas back on track, and he has his players' undivided attention coming off a last-place finish in the Big 12 South that featured home losses to Baylor and Iowa State. I think the result will be a run for the Big 12 title and a BCS bid. Conversely, new Florida coach Will Muschamp is an unproven commodity. Muschamp's defense will be good. But new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis is running a pro-style attack that seems ill-suited for the personnel in Gainesville. I think the result will be a four- or five-loss season.
3. Calling the Hogs - and the Aggies. When it comes to discussing the top non-conference games of 2011, most of the discussion centers on the LSU-Oregon game on Sept. 3 in Arlington, Texas, and the Florida State-Oklahoma game in Tallahassee on Sept. 17. But the best non-conference game no one is talking about is Arkansas-Texas A&M in Arlington, Texas, on Oct. 1. The former Southwest Conference rivals are flying under the radar in their respective leagues; the Aggies are primed to make a run at the Big 12 title, while the Razorbacks are lurking in the weeds in the SEC West. If the Hogs played in the SEC East, they would win the division. The winner of the A&M-Arkansas will solidify itself as a team with legit BCS aspirations. But the loser still will remain a dark-horse title contender in its league.