Blog Entry

National notes

Posted on: November 19, 2008 12:28 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2008 1:16 pm

The golden era of Buffalo football was 50 years ago. That's what makes this week so special.

Beat Bowling Green on Friday and the Bulls clinch the MAC East and play for the MAC title, which would guarantee them their first bowl game. They are led by an African-American coach (Turner Gill) and an African-American athletic director (Warde Manuel).

 Fifty years ago, the Bulls had an invite to play in their first bowl game, the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando, Fla. One stipulation: The game was being in a stadium controlled by a local school district that didn't allow integrated games.

There wasn't even a vote. The Bulls refused the invitation standing solidly behind their black teammates -- Willie Evans and Mike Wilson.

"They insulted two of our teammates," former quarterback Joe Oliverio told the Associated Press, "and we were going to hit them back between the ears by refusing to go without our teammates."

Fifty years later, Syracuse has a wonderful opportunity to carry on that legacy. Not necessarily because Gill is an African-American but, yes, that is part of it. Much higher on the list is the chance to turn around a moribund program. Gill has done what few thought was impossible, transforming a fledgling I-A program into being competitive.

That's all Buffalo was asking when it hired him three years ago. But this is above and beyond. The Bulls (6-4) already are bowl eligible. A victory Friday puts them in that first MAC title game.

A year ago Gill was mentioned in the Nebraska coaching search if for no other reason than to appease the Big Red masses. The former Nebraska option quarterback ran one of the highest scoring offenses in the game's history. In becoming a 1983 Heisman Trophy finalist, Gill guided Nebraska to within a missed two-point conversion of the national championship.

That was a quarter-century ago. Fast forward to 2007 and a change of career paths. Gill wasn't ready for Nebraska and not with a 7-17 career record.

But Gill is perfect, now -- right now! -- for Syracuse. The program that desperately needs to hit a home run with its next hire has one sitting right down the interstate. Gill is young, enough (46) and energetic enough to undertake the massive rebuilding job it's going to take to resurrect the program.

Think about this: Syracuse probably is in no position to be grabbing big-name coaches. It desperately needs one who is hungry. What Gill has done at Buffalo in only three seasons is one of the most underrated stories this season.

Of course, it didn't become a big story until the Bulls beat Akron in overtime on Saturday. That meant bowl eligibility and a chance at the conference title.
I just amazed myself typing those words.

Getting Buffalo to win anything is like transforming elephant into an Olympic sprinter. It has been in I-A only nine years. 
Gill's career record is a modest 13-21 but consider where Buffalo had been before this point. The program has consecutive five-win seasons for the first time since 1981. The program was 10-69 in seven previous seasons before moving to Division I-A in 1999.

"How come it can't happen?" Gill said. "That's what I told this football team when I first came in here. I said to them, 'We will be successful here and I will not be ashamed of being the head football coach at the University at Buffalo.'"

Far from it. Oh, and Gill can recruit.

 Senior quarterback Drew Willy drew interest from Pittsburgh, Syracuse and UConn but those schools weren't exactly knocking down his door. Syracuse got rid of Paul Pasqualoni which soured Willy on the Orange. Gill them proved himself as a quarterback maker. Willy has thrown 45 career touchdowns and is currently third in MAC passing.


 Kicker A.J. Principe was a player no one wanted out of Columbus, Ohio. Gill gave him a chance to walk on. The sophomore has 25 career field goals making 73 percent of his kicks. And a scholarship.


 Receiver Naaman Roosevelt was the New York state co-player. His only offer was from I-AA New Hampshire. Now he leads the MAC in receiving yards.


A couple of years ago, Buffalo played Bowling Green in a game that lasted more than five hours because of lightning delays. When the teams meet Friday, it could mark the fastest three hours in Buffalo football history. Win, and the Bulls are in. is reporting that Michigan tailback Sam McGuffie is transferring.



 More from Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe on Obama's playoff talk:


"Look at our league, you talk about turning up the pressure. In our league those that have annual expectations -- Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas.  Let's say one of them isn't in (a playoff) for three or four years, their coaches aren't going to make it, the season ticket sales may go down, the bowls aren't going to be satisfied if they're not in it. An eight-team playoff is not going to accommodate more than two teams from a conference. You're going to put the pressure on."


 Part of the Mountain West's success includes complete domination of the Pac-10 and the best record of any conference against BCS conference teams (9-5). The conference is so good, though, that it me shopping for a bowl.


It is contracted to four bowls but the nine-team league could have six bowl eligible teams if Colorado State and UNLV (both 5-6) win this week.

Utah could relieve some of the pressure by beating BYU. That would push the Utes up to a BCS bowl. However, if BYU wins that could mean four bowl spots for six teams.


 By the way look for Utah's Kyle Whittingham to get a contract extension after the season He is in the fourth year of a six-year deal.



 It's interesting to look back at the first Power Poll on August 31. Here's the top 10 from back then. Five of the 
10 are still in the mix.


1. Ohio State -- Beat Michigan and it shares the Big Ten title.
2. Oklahoma -- The Texas loss probably keeps OU from being No. 1 at this point.
3. USC -- Ever hear of Jacquizz Rodgers?
4. Missouri -- Another victim of the Big 12 South.
5. Georgia -- Wasn't Knowshon Moreno supposed to be a Heisman candidate?
6. Florida -- Forget Tebow, Brandon Spikes for Heisman.
7. LSU -- Jarrett Lee has legally changed his name to "Pick Six".
8. West Virginia -- You're kidding, right?
9. Texas -- One loss, on the road, on the last offensive play of the game to No. 2 Texas Tech.
10. Auburn -- Wheeze, cough, cough. Don't wait for me to catch up. Go on ahead. The wolves will end my misery.

 Question: The day Will Muschamp becomes Texas head coach, will he be one of the few head coaches who calls his own defensive plays? I can only think of two at the moment, TCU's Gary Patterson and Western Kentucky's Dave Elson.



Since: Apr 15, 2008
Posted on: November 20, 2008 5:35 pm

National notes

I think Greg Schiano may call his own defensive plays as well.

Since: Sep 9, 2008
Posted on: November 20, 2008 2:51 pm
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Since: Jan 20, 2007
Posted on: November 20, 2008 2:30 pm

National notes

What makes March Madness in college basketball so appealing? Upsets! People like to see underdogs fight their darndest to beat teams that they should not be able to beat. For this reason, I think a playoff which allows more than just the top few favored teams to compete for a national championship. Just like college basketball, the regular season would be used to see who would make the playoff and what seed they would receive.

However, I don't think that bowl games should be eliminated all together. Smaller schools who do not win their conference should still be allowed to play in bowl games along with teams that don't quite make the cut.

So what am I proposing?

I propose a 24 team playoff, with the top 8 seeds receiving first round byes.The 11 conference champions would be automatically taken (a new tiebreaker system would need to be arranged), along with 13 at large teams. The playoffs would last for 5 weeks, for example this year the first round would be Saturday, December 13, the second round would be a week later on the 20th...the championship game would be held on Saturday, January 10.

But lets not forget about the other games, there would still be about 20 other bowl games (considering there are 32? now) that would need to be played. Those would be dispersed throughout the weekdays between the Saturday playoff games. 4 weeks*5 days per week=20 games, with no games to be played the week before the championship game.

 I think that this would be the ultimate setup. It would have all the excitement of March Madness while allowing bowl games to still be played. There'd be midmajors making runs to the "elite 8," brackets being filled out, etc. This, to me, would make college football the most exciting to watch of any sport.

But hey, that's just me. Thoughts?

Since: Dec 4, 2007
Posted on: November 20, 2008 1:53 pm

National notes

I have been touting Gill for the Syracuse job all season, and not because he's black.  He would be a perfect fit and understands what it takes to recruit for a school in that region.  It is much tougher than 10 years ago for Syracuse because Rutgers and Connecticut have made serious inroads into the areas previously dominated by the Orange. 

Since: Nov 3, 2007
Posted on: November 20, 2008 11:11 am

National notes

Dodd What is the importance of pointing out that Turner Gill is black? 99.9 percent of the people who post on here know the color of his skin and 99.9 percent of the people who post on here don't care what color he is. He's a great coach-period! Why inject race into the story? I don't know if Syracuse is a good enough program for him now after what  Greg Robinson did to it. Gill should jump Syracuse and get a look from Kansas State. By the way Buffalo could not have won five games in 1981 since they did not have a team.

Since: Apr 4, 2007
Posted on: November 20, 2008 11:00 am

National notes

Let's cut out the Division 1 powerhouse vs 1 AA games and start the conference schedules earlier. You could start a nice playoff system with as many as 16 teams (altough I think 8 would be perfect), in early December and still have it done in plenty of time.

Since: Jan 17, 2008
Posted on: November 20, 2008 10:23 am

National notes

Only 4 teams are necessary. I'd play the #4 BCS team at #1 and #3 at #2 early in December. Winners go to the championship and the losers could be thrown back into the bowl pool or meet in a consolation bowl. Too many teams makes the regular season meaningless much like NCAA basketball.

I appreciate what you are saying here, Scarlet91.  However, basketball has a completely different dynamic than football.  They play 3 times more games, and a few losses are not all that damaging.  Not to mention, conferences do not have post season tournaments in football.  Even with a full 16 game football playoff format, I really doubt that many schools would "let down" for a conference title game, or any games for that matter.  They would be too motivated to strive for a high seed to assure they have home games in the first 2 rounds.

I do agree with killer nut though.  In reality, a 4 team playoff with a Plus One game for the NCG is the only viable alternative in the forseeable future.  I just think a 16 team playoff would be more fair to everyone, especially mid-major programs.  Plus it would put a stop to a whole lot of bitching by teams that did not get in (as in the chances of #5 winning it all is pretty decent, but not so great for #17).

Since: Jan 17, 2008
Posted on: November 20, 2008 9:57 am

National notes

I think the only thing missing is a 4 team playoff to end the year. The major rule addition needed is that you must win your conference and you must have no more than 2 losses to play in the playoff. So teams like Texas, Oklahoma, USC and the loser of Bama vs. Florida shouldn't even be invited. This year, it would shake out to be let's say Bama versus Utah and Texas Tech versus Penn State.

What if BYU beats Utah and MSU beats Penn St?  Then OSU and MSU would be 10-2 co-champs in the Big Ten and eligible for your 4 team playoff.  Then it might be Bama vs MSU and TTU vs OSU, and result in an All-Big Ten NC Game...and outrage throughout America.

OK, I'm being facetious...but you get the point.  The BCS conferences that don't have CCG's would have an advantage over potentially more worthy teams like Texas or Oklahoma.  And you can't mandate conferences to add schools just to have a CCG...that would upset an awful lot of people unfairly. 

Not to mention, a 4-Game Playoff would completely ignore any non-BCS conference teams.  I know you slipped Utah into your scenario, but reality check!!!  There's probably no way an undefeated Utah would be selected before a 1-loss USC.

Since: Nov 30, 2006
Posted on: November 20, 2008 8:01 am

Beebe is a joke

His concern is protecting Oklahoma, Texas and Nebraska in the Big 12.  Presumably fans of Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma State and even Texas Tech should just sit at the back of Beebe's bus, because he needs to protect the expectations of the Big 12 teams he decides are worthy.  Like last year, when Beebe pulled a backroom deal to push Kansas to the Orange Bowl, this guy prefers manipulating the BCS rather than letting teams decide a championship on the field.   

Since: May 6, 2008
Posted on: November 20, 2008 3:13 am

National notes

i can name u one more coach that calls his own plays on O.. try mike leach.. texas tech.. everyone is jumping on the ban wagan all of a sudden and u guys talk about him like u have followed him for years.. .but u cant even remember to name him as a coach who calls his own plays..??

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