Croom tops the best of the weekend

Sylvester Croom's debut at Mississippi State was the best thing about an exciting opening weekend in college football.

Originally Published: September 6, 2004
By Trev Alberts | ESPN Insider
Besides the fact that Hurricane Frances impacted some games in Florida, it would be hard to top the opening weekend of this year's college football season. A Florida State-Miami game at the Orange Bowl on Labor Day would have been the perfect ending, like hitting Denny's for a 2 a.m. breakfast after a night out.

Sylvester Croom
APSylvester Croom's team if finally earning some respect for observers.
There was plenty of great stuff out there, starting with Sylvester Croom's debut as Mississippi State's head coach. His team was impressive in a 28-7 win over Tulane, committing no turnovers and only three penalties. Yes, it was only Tulane, but you can tell a lot about a team by the way the players conduct themselves and the Bulldogs were impressive in that regard.

Croom is a great person and watching him get the Gatorade bath after the game, the rookie head coach not even aware it was coming, was terrific. So was the remark after the game by SEC Commissioner Mile Slive, who said he looks forward to the day when hiring an African-American head coach in the SEC is news only in the respect that some school just got a new coach. I look forward to that day, too.

As for last weekend, we also saw the effects of the limited practice and contact teams are now allowed. There isn't a team in the top 10 that doesn't have a long way to go. There is a lot of work to be done and every team in the top 10 has holes to fill.

The cliche is that teams make the biggest strides after Week 1, and it's true. Guys who look like All-Americans in spring practice and fall camp sometimes disappear when game time comes, and special teams are always behind because there is simply too much risk of injury to practice kickoffs, punts and returns at full speed over and over again.

Preparations for Week 2 will be all about correcting those flaws.