Do not check your calendar. It is still 2006.
Fine, so you're still wondering why CBS SportsLine.com's preseason magazine has decided to assemble an All-Decade Team, more or less halfway through the decade.
The question should be, why not?
|Pete Carroll coached three members of the CBS SportsLine.com All-Decade Team. (Getty Images)|
A legitimate national championship: As much as you might dislike the BCS, it has accomplished what it set out to do -- most of the time. That is, match the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in a winner-take-all national championship game. In the 69-year history of the Associated Press poll, No. 1 and No. 2 have met in a bowl game only 16 times. Five of those have come in the eight-year history of the BCS title game. Four of those five have been played this decade.
Offensive explosion: Since the beginning of the 2000 season, all-time highs have been established in 10 of the 14 offensive categories tracked annually by the NCAA. In that period, the Division I-A records for average passing yards in a game ('03, '05) and cumulative completion percentage ('04, '05) have been broken twice.
Technology: What used to take days now takes seconds. There is no more game "film." Game plans can be assembled on a laptop. Players are given DVDs to take home to study.
Don't call them kids: What was once taboo in the sport, playing raw freshman, is now a must. Because of modern nutrition and weight training, freshmen are more able physically to compete at an early age.
Southern California coach Pete Carroll estimated he used 40 freshmen over a three-year period. A 19-year-old (Adrian Peterson in 2004) finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting before his first spring practice. Players from the same school (USC) won back-to-back trophies for only the fourth time.
Excellence: The sixth-longest winning streak in history has been tied twice since 2003. Miami (2000-03) and USC (2003-06) each won 34 games in a row. The last time two teams had major winning streaks that close together was Miami (29) and Alabama (28). Both streaks ended in 1993.
The trends have reflected society. In this digital age, everybody wants it now. For that, you can thank Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and Ohio State's Jim Tressel. Each won a national championship in his second year on the job.
"Stoops basically got John Cooper and several other coaches fired," CBS college football analyst Spencer Tillman said. "The standard became: If you couldn't get it done in that time frame then it was, 'Why could Oklahoma do it?' It was three years, see ya. Everything changed."
Things certainly changed at Notre Dame. The school went against its age-old habit of allowing a coach to finish out his contract. Whether you agree or not with Tyrone Willingham being let go in 2004, it was a symptom of the digital age.
Since the end of the 1999 season, 82 schools (69 percent of I-A) have changed coaches at least once. In the hyper-competitive SEC, nine of the 12 schools have changed coaches in that period. In a sport known for its conservatism and glacial change, recruiting visits are now recorded on the Internet literally within seconds of a coach leaving a prospect's home.
|QB||Matt Leinart, USC|
|RB||Reggie Bush, USC|
|RB||LaDainian Tomlinson, TCU|
|WR||Larry Fitzgerald, Pitt|
|WR||Mike Williams, USC|
|TE||Kellen Winslow, Miami (Fla.)|
|OL||Shawn Andrews, Arkansas|
|OL||Jammal Brown, Oklahoma|
|OL||Robert Gallery, Iowa|
|OL||Bryant McKinnie, Miami (Fla.)|
|C||Jake Grove, Va. Tech|
|DL||Dwight Freeney, Syracuse|
|DL||Mathias Kiwanuka, B. College|
|DL||Julius Peppers, N. Carolina|
|DL||Terrell Suggs, Arizona St.|
|LB||Rocky Calmus, Oklahoma|
|LB||A.J. Hawk, Ohio State|
|LB||Dan Morgan, Miami (Fla.)|
|DB||Quentin Jammer, Texas|
|DB||Terence Newman, Kansas St.|
|DB||Ed Reed, Miami (Fla.)|
|DB||Roy Williams, Oklahoma|
|P||Daniel Sepulveda, Baylor|
|PK||Mike Nugent, Ohio State|
|RET||Antonio Perkins, Oklahoma|
|Coach||Pete Carroll, USC|
|QB||Jason White, Oklahoma|
|RB||Larry Johnson, Penn State|
|RB||Willis McGahee, Miami (Fla.)|
|WR||Braylon Edwards, Mich.|
|WR||Charles Rogers, Mich. St.|
|TE||Heath Miller, Virginia|
|OL||Alex Barron, Florida St.|
|OL||Steve Hutchinson, Michi.|
|OL||Stephen Peterman, LSU|
|OL||Alex Stepanovich, Ohio St.|
|C||Greg Eslinger, Minnesota|
|DL||Elvis Dumervil, Louisville|
|DL||Tamba Hali, Penn State|
|DL||Tommie Harris, Oklahoma|
|DL||David Pollack, Georgia|
|LB||Karlos Dansby, Auburn|
|LB||Derrick Johnson, Texas|
|LB||Jonathan Vilma, Miami (Fla.)|
|DB||Jamar Fletcher, Wisconsin|
|DB||Carlos Rogers, Auburn|
|DB||Derrick Strait, Oklahoma|
|DB||Sean Taylor, Miami (Fla.)|
|P||Ryan Plackemeier, Wake|
|PK||Nate Kaeding, Iowa|
|RET||Maurice Drew, UCLA|
|Coach||Bob Stoops, Oklahoma|
|Voters: Dennis Dodd, CBS SportsLine Senior Writer; J. Darin Darst, CBS SportsLine College Producer; Dan Dobish, CBS SportsLine Senior Fantasy Writer; Spencer Tillman, CBS Sports; David Cohen, CSTV.com Senior Editor|
Those coaches get around NCAA phone call limitations by wearing out their thumbs text messaging. With PDAs, cell phones and private planes, coaches are never out of touch. In one not-so-rare week in the spring, Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville says he made 24 recruiting stops.
A few years ago Joe Paterno was chasing Big Ten officials out of Beaver Stadium. That started the drumbeat, first in the Big Ten and now nationally, for instant replay. Closer to the NFL, but thankfully, not there yet.
The all-time victory record will be retired before Paterno and Bobby Bowden will. The sport still holds enough charm that two senior citizens can coach against each other near Miami Beach while their peers are retiring on it.
It is fitting that in the year of the 100th anniversary of the NCAA we have gone retro. The hot offense -- the spread -- incorporates elements that are decades old. Old timers could easily watch Vince Young last year and envision Dave Nelson's old Wing-T at Delaware.
Nelson last coached in 1966 and died in 1991, but his legacy remains. Utah broke the BCS stranglehold in 2004 with Alex Smith running a variation of Nelson's old offense. West Virginia finished in the top five in rushing last year running the zone-read option. No Mountaineers offensive lineman weighed more than 290 pounds.
Nelson got his master's degree from Michigan in 1946. Sixty years later can it be that Lloyd Carr -- builder of beasts and brawn -- is channeling the legendary coach? Carr actually wanted his offensive linemen to lose weight in the offseason.
The game has never been more popular.
The Texas-USC Rose Bowl drew a 21.7 rating, the highest for a college football game in 18 years. The ratings for the four BCS bowls were up 30 percent over the previous season.
The argument was that the BCS would devalue the second-tier bowls. What's that you say? The NCAA approved four new bowls for 2006, bringing the total to a postseason-record 31 (32 if the Houston Bowl is approved by Sept. 1).
Somebody is watching this stuff, mostly in the SEC, where the league pulls the most fans and most revenue.
Elsewhere this decade, the game survived the latest conference upheaval. The Big East got winged but looks like it will survive.
The expanded ACC, that basketball league, is pushing not only for football respect but its own members. Florida State and Miami are no longer grandfathered conference titles, largely because they are now conference rivals.
Don't forget about the players who have brought us to this point. No matter what the Houston Texans might think, Reggie Bush was/is a back for the ages. Is there a bigger dichotomy than Hawkeyes all-timer Robert Gallery coming off an Iowa farm to go to the Raiders?
Miami's Kellen Winslow had a game that matched his mouth. Well, almost. Matt Leinart and the Trojans brought Hollywood into our living rooms. Please, Matt, just leave Paris out of it.
What's next? Charlie Weis coaching his 13th career game armed with a 10-year contract. The next Utah. The first TCU. Better weather, hopefully, for the Gulf. More of USC? Maybe a playoff?
After this six-year decade, how can it get any better?
Here is the All-Decade Team:
Matt Leinart, USC: An easy choice, especially since all he did was throw for 10,693 yards and 99 touchdowns, win two national titles (2003 and '04) and a Heisman ('04) and lead USC to a 37-2 record as a starter, the second-best career mark in NCAA history.
Reggie Bush, USC: Some people consider Bush the most exciting player in college history. He racked up 6,617 career all-purpose yards, averaging an astonishing 10.4 yards every time he touched the ball. He finished with 3,169 career yards rushing (7.3 avg) and 42 touchdowns. Oh yeah, he also won the Heisman in '05 after rushing for 1,740 yards (8.7 avg.) with 16 TDs.
LaDainian Tomlinson, TCU: Before he started running wild with the Chargers, Tomlinson was an excellent college player. In his final two years of college, he rushed for a combined 4,008 yards, including 2,158 yards as a senior. He also scored 54 career touchdowns and earned the Doak Walker Award in 2000.
Larry Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh: He only played two seasons at Pitt, but what a career. He caught 161 passes for 2,677 yards and 34 TDs in just 26 games. In '03, he had one of the best seasons ever by a wide receiver, catching 87 passes for 1,595 yards and 22 TDs. He still holds the NCAA record with at least one touchdown reception in 18 straight games.
Mike Williams, USC: He only played two seasons (2002-03) and if not for Fitzgerald, would have been the best receiver. He racked up 176 catches for 2,579 yards and 27 TDs. During his sophomore season he recorded 95 receptions with 17 TDs.
Kellen Winslow, Miami (Fla.): Mr. "Talking about the U" was basically uncoverable at Miami. As a two-year starter, he caught 119 passes for 1,365 yards (11.5 avg) and nine TDs. He had many memorable catches, but none was better than his diving grab over two defenders on a fourth-down play to set up a game-winning field goal to beat West Virginia.
Shawn Andrews, Arkansas: He was a finalist for the Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Award in 2003.
Jammal Brown, Oklahoma: Brown allowed only one sack in two seasons and earned the Outland Trophy in 2004.
Robert Gallery, Iowa: Gallery didn't allow a sack during his college career. He also won the Outland Trophy in 2003.
Bryant McKinnie, Miami (Fla.): He won the Outland Trophy (2001), but the more impressive feat is he finished eighth in the Heisman voting that year.
Jake Grove, Virginia Tech: He was a unanimous All-American his senior year and won the Dave Rimington Trophy.
Dwight Freeney, Syracuse: Before dominating offensive tackles in the NFL, he abused Big East opponents. Freeney recorded 30.5 sacks from 2000-01, leading the nation with 17.5 sacks in 2001. He earned first-team All-Big East twice and was a finalist for the Lombardi, Bednarik and Nagurski awards.
Mathias Kiwanuka, Boston College: Ended his career with 245 career tackles and a school-record 37.5 sacks. He led the Big East in 2002 and '03 in sacks and was named conference defensive player of the year in '04.
Julius Peppers, North Carolina: He was only the second unanimous All-American in the school's history, following -- who else? -- Lawrence Taylor. The former basketball player won the Lombardi and Bednarik awards in '01 after recording 63 tackles with 9.5 sacks. In 2000, he led the nation with 15 sacks and 24 pressures.
Terrell Suggs, Arizona State: A two-time All-American ('01 and '02) shattered school, conference and NCAA season records with 24 sacks in '02. He ended his career with 44 sacks while winning the Nagurski and Lombardi in '02.
Rocky Calmus, Oklahoma: One of the main players who helped Oklahoma return to prominence and guided a defense that won the national title in 2000. He was a two-time All-American (2000-01) and won the Butkus Award in '01 with 117 tackles. In 2000, he was finalist for the Butkus while winning Big 12 defensive player of the year.
A.J. Hawk, Ohio State: For the past few seasons, Hawk was arguably the best linebacker in the game. He was a two-time All-American ('04 and '05), three-time All-Big Ten ('03, '04, and '05) and winner of the Lombardi Award last season. In three seasons, he recorded 368 tackles, including 141 in '04, the most since Chris Spielman had 156 in 1986.
Dan Morgan, Miami (Fla.): Only played one season in the decade, but it was one of the best seasons in college history. He was a consensus All-American, Big East defensive player of the year and became the first player in history to win the Butkus, Bednarik and Nagurski awards. He recorded an outlandish 532 tackles in four seasons.
Quentin Jammer, Texas: The former safety moved to cornerback in 2000, where he became a star. He was a two-time All-Big 12 selection and a unanimous All-American in '01. He was also the first player in school history to be named a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award.
Terence Newman, Kansas State: Played every game in four seasons, but flourished in '01 and '02. He was an All-American in '02 as a defensive back. After being a semifinalist for the Thorpe Award in '01, he won it in '02 with 54 tackles and five interceptions.
Ed Reed, Miami (Fla.): Easily the most feared player on the football field in the past five years. He was a two-time All-American (2000 and '01) and Thorpe Award finalist in '01. He also led the nation in interceptions that year with nine. He was so intimidating he convinced a teammate to give him the ball following a fumble, returning it 80 yards in a win over Boston College.
Roy Williams, Oklahoma: Like Reed, he could take over a game in a heartbeat (remember the leap over the line, forcing Chris Simms to throw an interception in '01?). He was a unanimous All-American in '01, a two-time All-Big 12 selection and winner of the Thorpe and Nagurski awards. He also holds the school record with 47 pass deflections.
Daniel Sepulveda, Baylor: The only active player on the team as he enters his senior season. He won the Ray Guy Award in '04 with an average of 46 yards per punt and also hit 26 of his 62 punts inside the 20-yard line. Last season, he ranked third in the nation with a 46.2-yard average.
Mike Nugent, Ohio State: Whenever the Buckeyes needed a big kick, Nugent was the man. He was a three-time All-American and the 2004 Lou Groza Award winner. In four seasons, he connected on 72-of-88 FG attempts and 140-of-143 extra points. He also hit 24 consecutive field goals (2001-02) and eight beyond 50 yards.
Antonio Perkins, Oklahoma: He was a good defensive back, but an excellent returner. In 47 career games, he set school career records with 113 punt returns for 1,441 yards (12.8 avg) and eight TDs. Nobody will ever forget his 277 punt-return yards against UCLA in '03, setting an NCAA Division I-A record.
Pete Carroll, USC: This really doesn't need any explanation, does it? Carroll is responsible for three of the best players of the decade and guided USC to national titles in '03 and '04, and a national-title game appearance in '05.