Erickson has more pros than cons
THERE'S a picture of Dennis Erickson at his introductory press conference, and it's just an unfortunate freeze-frame, but the look on his face is priceless, stunned bewilderment: "I took the Idaho job? Really? Again?" Add to that the fact that the friendly oversized Vandal mascot is looking over his shoulder -- it brings to mind those strange Burger King commercials in which the man wakes up to find the king there offering him a breakfast sandwich.
(And this is not even the best picture in the media guide. There is the photo of the three cheering coeds in the custom tank tops, left to right: The first young lady's shirt reads "I." The next, "DA." And the third -- well, you know how it turns out. She's especially exuberant, by the way. Now that's a media guide picture.)
But don't be fooled, not even by the equivalent of a bad-hair-day driver's license shot. The man knows exactly what he's doing and, likely, where he's going. He's done this going on a half-dozen times now and he knows the drill.
Let's go to the testimonials, the ones from all those pros in the front of the media guide. They tell the story. It's going to be a ride.
Ray Lewis: Erickson "is a true players' coach." He "is a players' coach ..." Jeff Garcia says. He "understands that they're going to make mistakes. He's a guy who's big on second chances," Steven Jackson says.
He "is the only one that knows how to really relate to his players," Nick Barnett says.
What does all this mean? Well, we've seen it at Miami and at Oregon State. It means that they're going to play hard and, um, play hard. There will be yellow flags. It means the "Chad Owens Rule" will probably be in effect.
"I don't just like Coach E, I love him."
The Rock -- who played at Miami -- comes right out and says it (and he does so in parentheses, so you know this is the point in the story when he's giving you the real scoop). He talks about how Erickson emphasizes academics, then ends with "(And we talked A LOT of trash and had A LOT of fun.)"
Erickson will get guys (yes, at Idaho). He will win games (yes, at Idaho). He's already energized the program (yes, at Idaho). It ... is ... alive.
Hawaii is a heavy favorite tonight, and should be. Hawaii is a hot team all the way around.
Hawaii needs to take advantage of that, tonight, because the way T.J. Houshmandzadeh tells it, "I'll guarantee you one thing -- however many games they're used to winning up there, they're going to win more now. Coach E is smart. He's an innovator. Offensively, he'll just cut you up."
It sounds like this series is going to get a whole lot tougher. And fast.