Tag:BCS
Posted on: September 12, 2011 9:41 am
Edited on: September 12, 2011 10:03 am
 

Surveying the Field: Reviewing Week 2

Posted by Bryan Fischer

College football's encore weekend not only lived up to expectations, but beat them.

It also caused at least few hearts to skip a beat or two around the country. It seemed like every channel you were on, there was a game coming down to the wire or ready to head to overtime. From the noon games to the night games, last Saturday was one big, drama-filled day.

Notre Dame-Michigan, USC-Utah, Cal-Colorado, Washington-Hawaii, North Carolina-Rutgers, Auburn-Mississippi State, Ohio State-Toledo, Texas-BYU, Iowa State-Iowa, Vanderbilt-UConn and several others left everyone on the edge of their seats. There weren't a ton of great defenses among the group but that didn't hamper the fun as teams either came back or fell just short. Heck, the first night game in Ann Arbor had as much drama as any of them in just 72 seconds.

One game I was really looking forward to going into Saturday was between the Hedges and that game more than lived up to expectations and put one coach in even hotter water.

The game seemed to be South Carolina personified. It's why everybody's hand trembled writing them in to win the SEC East this year. Not only was it the Gamecocks' history but they had a quarterback who frustrated fans and Old Ball Coaches alike in Stephen Garcia. When he threw his first interception of the game, it was simply Garcia being Garcia. The ESPN director, as if he understood perfectly, cut to a shot of Garcia with his hands on his hips, staring down his mistake while clinching his lips and a coach yelling at him. Later in the game he rolled out of the pocket and threw a beautiful pass that reminded everybody of his talent. Again, just Garcia being Garcia.

This is a good and very talented Gamecocks team that can beat anybody on any given Saturday if they don't wind up beating themselves first.

“Georgia outplayed us, give them credit, they outplayed us but somehow or another we won the game,” Steve Spurrier said post game. “Somehow it happens like that. Somebody was looking out for us tonight.”

Running back Marcus Lattimore broke out for 176 yards and a touchdown as the team rode him for 27 carries. USC will have to be wearing of overusing Lattimore because he's the key to their success but at least he had 10 fewer carries than he did against the Bulldogs a year ago. His ability to find just a little hole and take off is special and he certainly can run very hard between the tackles.

On the other side of the ball, how scary is the Gamecocks' defensive line? We knew it was going to be good but maybe not quite this nasty. Melvin Ingram was superb, taking a fake punt 68 yards for a touchdown and scooping up a fumble for a touchdown after fellow end Jadeveon Clowney nearly took off the head of UGA quarterback Aaron Murray. Only in the SEC do 275-pound defensive ends score twice in a game and run 68 yards while doing so.

The thing about Clowney, the nation's consensus number one recruit out of high school, is how he stands out on every snap just due to his size. Then, as soon as the ball is snapped, he stands out for his explosiveness and physicality - making you drop your job and say 'Wow' a couple of times a game. Heck, Murray might want to leave school early just to get away from him. Clowney still isn't up to speed mentally but it's coming and coming quickly. If you're an SEC quarterback with South Carolina on the schedule, prepare your ice bath in advance.

For Mark Richt, he might have to go bang his head against the wall a few times after every game. He's had injuries and suspensions and even NCAA issues thrown his way but there's still no getting around the fact that this is a good group of players who haven't lived up to expectations. Just when it seemed like Georgia was about to break through, they'd commit a big error. The good news is it looked like freshman running back Isaiah Crowell got going, rushing for 118 yards and a touchdown after breaking a few nice runs into the open field. But even as he took two steps forward, his fumble at midfield that Stephon Gilmore returned to the red zone was a step back. He's still a little behind in pass protection but the flashes he showed reminded everybody, coaches included, why he was so highly recruited out of high school.

The biggest thing that Richt can do next week is get his team to have fun against Coastal Carolina. There will be no avoiding hearing about his job status as the heat was turned up even higher after the loss - he has to get his team refocused before starting the heart of their SEC schedule. Get everybody involved, call some trick plays, something - anything - to get his team focused on having fun playing football instead of worrying about him. He can't eliminate all the distractions but he can get his team to buy back in week-by-week. The schedule is manageable enough that they could conceivably go 10-2 this year - more than enough to quiet critics for a few more months. The Bulldogs are talented but lost to two teams they should have to fall to 0-2 for the first time since 1996.

Now the trick is winning out using their own talented roster. No easy task but one that can certainly happen.

Stat of the week

If I had to take someone to Vegas with me, I just might select Gene Chizik. All he seems to do is give heart attack to the Auburn faithful and win last second games. The Tigers pulled off the upset this week against Mississippi State thanks to a goal line stand that kept quarterback Chris Relf out of the end zone by inches to preserve a 41-34 win at home.

"We'd prefer to win football games a lot different than we are, but there's something to be said when you can fight down to the end when it doesn't look good and still win the game," Chizik said after the game.

While the head coach certainly would prefer a less stressful ending to games, he might need to get used to them if his team is to keep winning. After taking nearly two hours just to play the first half against the Bulldogs, I was digging around looking for the total game time but managed to find an even more eye-popping stat.

Auburn's offense has averaged 56.5 plays during their first two games while the defense has averaged 90.5 snaps per game. Yes, the defense is almost literally on the field twice as long the offense. For a young team with issues on both sides of the ball, that's an uh-oh.

For comparison's sake, Arkansas has averaged 74.5 plays on offense and 57.5 on defense during their light non-conference schedule. Only two SEC teams have average more than 70 snaps on defense, and just six teams nationally have their defense on the field for more than 80 plays a game. No one even approaches 90 defensive plays a game. The national average for number of plays on defense is 67.3 and 68.8 on offense.

Up against that little issue, it's almost shocking Auburn's 2-0 but they are thanks to some late game heroics. Whether this is a serious flaw of just the byproduct of two crazy games remains to be seen but, bottom-line, Chizik needs to make some adjustments.

Other stats of note

- Michigan's Denard Robinson thrilled the country against Notre Dame and became the first UM quarterback to beat the Irish twice since Jim Harbaugh did so back in the late 1980's. He also has accounted for an astounding 96% of the offense the last two games between the schools.

- Texas has outscored its opponents 35-6 in the second half while USC outscored their opponent in the 4th quarter for just the fourth time in 15 games this weekend.

- Tyler Bray's 405 yards are the most for a Tennessee quarterback since the legend himself, Peyton Manning, wore orange. Bray finished 34-of-41 and tossed four touchdowns. Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers both had 10 catches for over 100 yards and the pair combined for three TD receptions.

- In the last 11 years, the Georgia-South Carolina series has only been decided by nine points or less eight times. Since 2004, the winner has had fewer than 20 points every year but 2009 and 2011.

- Alabama has not allowed a touchdown in the first quarter for seven straight games.

- Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly is a tackling machine once again this year. He has a nation's-best 35 total tackles while the next closest player has 27.

Yard-by-yard

- What an impressive, almost surgical attack led by Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden. The Cowboys' offense came out and pretty much blew away the Arizona secondary on Thursday en route to a 37-14 win in Stillwater. Weeden connected on his 13 passes and finished up with a ho-hum 397 yards after slowing down in the second half. He's flown under the radar a little bit (even in his own state) but in 15 starts, he has only two losses by a total of 16 points. It's sometime easy to say a lot of his success is due to receiver Justin Blackmon but Weeden is the triggerman for what the team does. This team can also run the ball pretty well - Joseph Randle is 15th in the country in rushing - and should make for a fun Big 12 regular season when they play fellow top 15 teams Oklahoma and Texas A&M.

- Senior writer Bruce Feldman touched on FIU in his Sunday column but what a win for Mario Cristobal's program. Their win over Louisville was the first win ever for the program over BCS team and showed that the Golden Panthers are more than just the dynamic all-purpose superstar T.Y. Hilton. They take on another rising in-state program in UCF this week and if they can pull off the upset, a run at going undefeated isn't out of the question. It will be tough to stop the Knights but FIU has the athletes and coaches to make it a game.

- Speaking of Louisville, their game against Kentucky might be downright unwatchable. Louisville is a mess offensively and their defense is suspect. Luckily for Charlie Strong, they'll face a Kentucky team that has serious issues with both lines. It's going to really be rough once the Wildcats get into SEC play this year if they continue to play as sloppy as they have been during their first two games. Fans from both schools are probably counting down the days until basketball season already.

- If there's one thing that might be different under Luke Fickell at Ohio State, it's the offense is involving the tight end more. Senior Jake Stoneburner came into the season with 22 catches for 252 yards and two touchdowns. Through two games this season he has eight catches for 93 yards and four TD's and seems to be one of quarterback Joe Bauserman's favorite targets. The Buckeyes haven't look completely in rhythm on offense but that's not Stoneburner's fault.

- Not sure what to make of Texas' win over BYU other than it's a baby step back to respectability. Garrett Gilbert's not who Mack Brown wanted him to be coming out of camp, looking shaky again with some bad decisions before being pulled for David Ash and Case McCoy. Using Ash in some zone read situations was a good change of pace and was a productive play with their speed at running back - a group that finally got going, including freshman Malcolm Brown. The defense still is a concern, as BYU seemed to pick apart the middle of the field. Might take awhile for everybody to get comfortable with Manny Diaz' system but there's some talent on the team. Baby steps.

- Two quarterbacks in the Northwest were rolling this weekend. In Oregon, Darron Thomas and the Ducks offense seemed to be back in their normal sixth-gear against Nevada. Thomas had just 13 attempts - after throwing for 54 against LSU - but six of them were for touchdowns on Saturday. Freshman De'Anthony Thomas had over 200 all-purpose yards and scored two touchdowns. He's a small but tough back who has speed to burn, should be fun to see what Chip Kelly does with him as he learns more of the playbook.

At Washington, Keith Price got the Huskies off to a 2-0 start by throwing for 315 yards and four touchdowns. He connected on his first eight throws and has spread the ball around to a good receiving group well. Things got a little tight against Hawaii but Price and running back Chris Polk kept the Huskies moving. This team may not be a top 15-caliber squad but they're certainly going to give others fits if they can stop playing down to their competition at times.

- I was a bit shocked to see that Clemson opened up as a favorite against Auburn this week, their own issues aside. Dabo Swinney's club struggled against Wafford and things are not going to get any easier. The offense is productive in the stat sheet but in they're still struggling to adjust to Chad Morris' system. The rush defense in particular is very concerning, ranking 107th in the country after two games against a Sun Belt and an FCS opponent.

- Several people in the Alabama program told me that the Crimson Tide defense might be the best ever under Nick Saban. After watching two games, I think they're close to being right. The score was a bit closer than expected against Penn State at 27-11 but this is a very good group. They look faster and deeper than the national championship squad a couple of years ago and are not the opposing quarterback's best friend, to say the least.

Pulling Rank

My top 10 after week 2:

1. Oklahoma

2. LSU

3. Alabama

4. Boise State

5. Texas A&M

6. Stanford

7. Wisconsin

8. Florida State

9. Oklahoma State

10. South Carolina

Where we'll be this week

I'll be out at the Ineligible Bowl, Ohio State at Miami on Saturday. Senior writer Brett McMurphy is in Tallahassee for the top five showdown of Oklahoma and Florida State.

Across the goal line

There were a series of firsts in the USC-Utah game I was at this weekend. Trojans kicker Andre Heidari recorded the first points in Pac-12 conference history while teammate Marc Tyler will be in the record books for scoring the first touchdown. Thanks to their 17-14 win over the Utes, USC won the final Pac-10 game and the very first Pac-12 game.

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Wait, excuse me, thanks to their 23-14 victory.

In many ways, the first ever Pac-12 conference game - which wasn't really true because Colorado and Cal played earlier that day in an overtime "non-conference" game - featured many of the same elements of its Pac-10 predecessors. There were big plays on offense, a close game, USC on national (cable) television at night and, oh yeah, an officiating controversy.

As I walked down the steps of the Coliseum toward the field right before their drive, I kept thinking this was a welcome to the conference moment for Utah. Boy was it ever.

I was about 10 yards away when, on 4th down, DeVonte Christopher caught an in-route that seemed to fall just short of the first down marker. It seemed like a bad spot but the refs said it was a turnover on downs. Then they reviewed it, remarked the spot and gave Utah a first down. Saved by Pac-10… er, -12 replay officials.

Then there was the pass interference call on the next play. That set up the Utes' field goal attempt. I couldn't quite see the holder but was looking at the middle of the line in case the kick was blocked. Next thing I know the ball is bouncing right into the hands of USC corner Torin Harris and he's off to the end zone. The crowd and sidelines were going crazy as he raced to the end zone. I turned to talk to a colleague and saw a few players run out to get a better angle on the return. Seconds later I saw the flag, then the announcement that the game was over. The touchdown didn't count, but the game was over.

What just happened I wondered. Duty, however, called as I tried to grab a few players to talk about the win (or, in the case of the Utes, loss). I kept thinking how close Utah had gotten and, in their first conference game, they had played like they belonged despite coming up short in the win column. They came into a storied venue and almost knocked off the conference's most storied program. Utah is a good team that was well coached but wasn't quite good enough on a beautiful Saturday night in Los Angeles.

Then there was a tweet that popped up as I got back to the press box to begin transcribing. Hold your horses, the score was in question. The Pac-12 was reviewing what happened at the end of the game. As Michael Lev of the O.C. Register noted down on the field, the touchdown had huge implications for bettors across the country with USC favored by 8-8.5 points.

That's when the story changed from Utah being not quite good enough to, apparently, the Pac-12 officials "miss-communicating" and they were actually nine points from being good enough.

It was an unusual ending that I'm still trying to get my head around because the score itself changed after the fact - regardless what the conference says. The Caesars, MGM and Wynn sports books apparently stayed with the 17-14 result. The Hilton, Cantor, South Point sports books switched to 23-14. Some honored both. If you threw away a winning ticket, that is a bad beat that will be with you for a long time.

A finish that was wild, unbelievable and involved money. In a roundabout way, the first ever Pac-12 game got me very prepared for the Ineligible Bowl next week.

I knew you were good Larry Scott, didn't know you were this good.

Posted on: September 7, 2011 3:53 pm
Edited on: September 7, 2011 3:57 pm
 

What if the BCS ran the spelling bee?

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Sit around, ladies and gentlemen, as I prepare to tell you a story from my youth. You see, when I was in the sixth grade, I was my school's sixth grade spelling bee champion. Looking back on it now, it just wasn't an accomplishment that I was ready for at the time. The fame, money and women were just too much for an innocent 11-year old like me to handle.

The notoriety went to my head, and instead of preparing for the district spelling bee, I rested on my laurels. Who needs to prepare when you have the talent that I had? Unfortunately, this attitude is what led me to misspell the word "coincidence" toward the end of the district spelling be. I spelled it "coincedence," and the rest is just a blur of what could have been.

I could have been a champion that day, but instead I fell to the wayside with all the other also-rans. I'm still haunted to this day, often waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat screaming "IT'S C-I-D YOU FOOL!! C-I-D!!"

Hopefully one day I'll be able to get over it, but I can't be sure. It's just unfortunate for me that the imaginary scenario that Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician thought up is just that: imaginary. Oh the glory I could have achieved if only the BCS ran the spelling bee.



If only it had been me destroying that poor little girl's faith in humanity!
Posted on: August 13, 2011 12:41 pm
 

Jim Delany is here to crush your dreams

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Lost in the madness that is conference realignment talk was a report on Friday night that the athletic directors of the Pac-12 and Big Ten took a straw poll and were in favor of the BCS adopting a plus one system. The proposed system would add a fifth BCS bowl, and the top four teams in the BCS rankings would partake in a mini-playoff to determine the national champion.

Well, before you playoff supporters go about throwing a party in the streets, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany wanted to make sure he showed up at your little shindig to dump a bucket of cold water over your heads. Delany told the Chicago Tribune on Saturday morning that any reports of the Big Ten being in favor of a plus one system is "erroneus."

“To describe the ADs as supportive, I would call that erroneous,” Delany told the Chicago Tribune.

“I’m not going to go into the guts of the meeting and where our ADs are or are not. I can just tell you they are happy with the Rose Bowl and happy with the status quo.”

What this means for the report, I'm not entirely sure. I have a hard time believing that it came from no where, but it should be pointed out that there were no Big Ten athletic directors quoted in the original story. Still, there's also a quote from Bill Hancock, the executive director of the BCS, in the story where he says that the topic was discussed.

Which leads me to question whether or not Delany is being completely forthright in his quote. 
Posted on: August 12, 2011 11:00 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2011 11:04 pm
 

Could the BCS add a "plus one?"

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Over the last few days rumblings of great change in the world of college football have spread throughout the country as we are once again on the precipice of conference-ageddon. However, the big changes that may be in store for the future aren't limited to the alignment of conferences.

A report in the Seattle Times on Friday says that the athletic directors of the schools in the Big Ten and Pac-12 took a straw poll, and they would be in favor of altering the current BCS system.

Those alterations?

Bringing in a fifth BCS bowl game -- likely the Cotton Bowl -- and then moving to a "plus one" format in which the top four teams in the BCS rankings would partake in a mini-playoff of sorts.

The semifinals would take place in two of the BCS bowl games on a rotating basis with the winners moving on to the national championship game.

"They just haven't talked about the future as a group" BCS executive director Bill Hancock told The Seattle Times. "The intent is to do that after they (conference commissioners) evaluate the feelings on campus.

"My sense is that they're going to be open to anything that will make it better, short of an NFL-style playoff, as long as they stick with their principles — maintaining the bowl system and remembering that these are college athletes." 

Now this isn't the first time that such a plan has been hatched, as both the ACC and SEC proposed a similar format in 2008 and didn't get much support from the other four BCS conferences. Still, considering that the Big Ten and Pac-12 are now on board with the idea, unless the ACC and SEC have changed their minds, this idea may have more traction this time around.

Of course, going to a plus one would not solve every problem in the college football postseason, and it would likely create new ones. Travel concerns for the teams advancing to the title game and lengthening the season are just some of the concerns that will be brought up. Still, the fact that it seems like both sides of the playoff debate seem to be working on a compromise is a good indication for all involved.

Even if it does just mean that the argument will turn from "this team deserved to be ranked in the top two" to "this team deserved to be ranked in the top four."
Posted on: August 12, 2011 1:08 pm
 

Ohio State to give back money from Sugar Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

While Ohio State has had to make a number of sacrifices thanks to the whole tattoo fiasco, sacrifices that have included head coach Jim Tressel and quarterback Terrelle Pryor, and vacating the 2010 season, it seems the school feels it's not done making amends for the mistakes it has made. The Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas that we're all supposed to pretend never actually happened? Well, Ohio State is going to give back the money it got from that too.



Well that's a pretty noble move by Ohio State, if I do say so myself. If you're going to pretend you never won the game, then you shouldn't keep the money you got from "not" appearing in the game. It only makes sense. 

The total amount that Ohio State will be refunding is $338,811, which may seem a bit low to you at first. What is important to remember, though, is that since Ohio State was the second Big Ten team to qualify for a BCS Bowl game last season, its payout from the BCS was significantly lower than what the Big Ten received for Wisconsin's Rose Bowl appearance. Then once you divide that number by the eleven schools in the Big Ten conference, Ohio State's actual payout is reduced quite a bit.
Posted on: August 11, 2011 7:50 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2011 7:51 pm
 

Playoff not discussed at NCAA meetings

Posted by Bryan Fischer

NCAA leaders announced sweeping reforms on Wednesday following two days worth of meetings with university presidents at the association's headquarters in Indianapolis.

Everything from full cost of attendance scholarships to overhauling the enforcement structure was discussed but there was one topic that failed to make the agenda: a college football playoff.

Oregon State president Ed Ray, who is the chairman of the NCAA's Executive Committee, told CBSSports.com Thursday that the idea of an NCAA-run playoff was mostly idle chatter for a select few presidents between sessions.

"That may have been a side conversation but it wasn't part of the formal conversation at all," Ray said. "It just never came up."

NCAA President Mark Emmert has said in the past that the NCAA does a fine job of running championships but, in the case of Football Bowl Subdivision, the general membership has not shown any interest in moving towards that format in the near future. Emmert responded to a Department of Justice inquiry in May by saying that there was no direction from the membership to do so. Ray confirmed that there was no sense that the organization was moving towards a playoff based on conversations this week.

"We weren't even focusing on it," he said. "There were obviously issues that were more germane to some than others. It really was a general discussion about what are the financial realities, how can we manage our costs more effectively and how can we make sure, within our budgets, we can do everything we can to be supportive of the student-athletes. They were the most important thing to us."

When the longtime administrator was asked if there was at least a building consensus behind the idea of exploring a playoff, he reiterated that the presidents were focused on more pressing matters in college athletics this week.

"I didn't hear any discussion of that," Ray said. "I couldn't even begin to guess where that (issue) is. It just didn't come up."

Posted on: August 4, 2011 2:28 pm
 

Preseason Coaches Poll Reactions: Pac-12

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Ahh, a true tradition unlike any other and the surest sign the season is nearby: the preseason USA Today Coaches Poll has been released. Fresh off of sending two teams to BCS bowl games, including the national championship, it's no surprise to see a few Pac-12 teams right at the top. And only the top. Here are the conference teams the coaches ranked:

3. Oregon

6. Stanford

Yep, that's it. Just two teams from the Pac-12 made it into the poll, which, let's be honest, is mostly done by sports information directors and the occasional football operations guy, not the coaches themselves. It's hard to argue against either the Cardinal or the Ducks being in the top ten when you consider each returns a Heisman finalist this year. Oregon plays 4th-ranked LSU in the opener so they'll move up or down pretty quickly from the three spot.

ALSO RECEIVING VOTES

26. Arizona State

28. Utah

32. Arizona

46. Oregon State

48. Washington

Let's face it, the Pac-12 is pretty heavy at the top this year and there's a bunch of solid but maybe not spectacular teams behind them. Arizona State probably has the biggest gripe about being left out of the top 25. The Sun Devils return 20 starters and are the favorites to represent the South in the first league title game. USC is ineligible for the poll but had they been, they probably would have snuck in the bottom five given the talent they have on the roster.

The other teams receiving votes all have a few questions that need to be answered before they're ready to move up in the college football world. Utah in particular, if Jordan Wynn is truly healthy and the offense is humming under new coordinator Norm Chow, could be a dangerous team and they also have a favorable schedule because they miss the two ranked teams.

At the end of the day, this is a preseason poll so it's bound to change once that little old thing called the season actually arrives. It's something to talk about and interesting to debate but unless you are a Stanford or Oregon fan, don't be too worried about where your team falls on the list.
Posted on: July 4, 2011 2:52 pm
Edited on: July 4, 2011 6:21 pm
 

Declaring some football independents on July 4

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Happy Independence Day everyone. It's been a remarkable 235 years but America is still going strong despite plenty of ups and downs. On the gridiron, it seems like Notre Dame, Navy and others have been independent of conference overlords for just as long. With BYU joining their ranks last week and in honor of the holiday, it's a perfect time to look at what programs could follow their lead and go out on their own.

While it's doubtful that any of these programs will actually pursue going independence in the near future, perhaps they could/would/should on second thought. Feel free to bring up some other programs that could go out on their own in the comments below.

Boise State

The Broncos have made quite the run the past few years, winning two BCS bowls and posting a remarkable three undefeated seasons. Boise State was originally a junior college who has, rather quickly, risen in the ranks from an independent in Division II to their current place in the Mountain West. Their wide-open style of play and ability to beat more talented teams has certainly earned them a national reputation and with that comes eyeballs. For example, last season's game against Virginia Tech earned a 6.8 overnight rating, making it the highest rated Labor Day night game since 1990.

From the Blue Turf to the trick plays, a lot of what has made Boise State football a national brand is due to the exposure they get on ESPN. For years they had several featured games on the network and, even if they were on late at night on the East Coast, people were at least able to see the games. Boise State is losing a lot of that exposure with the move to the Mountain West (with games on The Mtn. and Versus) in exchange for an increase in television revenue, which is expected to be around $800,000 a year based on the current conference agreements. If Boise State gets unhappy with the arrangement and decides to go independent, they could follow the lead of BYU. The Cougars recently signed a deal with ESPN to televise several football games with estimates putting the value of the deal at between $800,000 and $1.2 million per home game. As a program with a love-them-or-hate-them reputation that causes people to tune in, going independent might make sense down the road.

Florida State

If there's one team on this list that is actually familiar with football independence, it's Florida State. The Seminoles were conference-less from 1951-1991 prior to joining the ACC. In a curious twist of fate, the school was invited by the ACC to join their conference but were rejected by the SEC. Regardless, Florida State is aware of what it takes to be an independent and what challenges and benefits come with it. While most believe their relationship with the ACC is a good one, one never knows what will happen if another wave of conference realignment hits. The ACC is, mostly, a basketball-centric league and as winners of two somewhat recent national titles, Florida State is much more of a football school than the conference's other members.

Scheduling always gets tricky but Florida State has a long history of playing both Miami and Florida. Both games are usually big ratings winners so, like Boise State, the program would likely do well financially getting a majority of the television money versus splitting it with fellow conference members. Throw in nearby UCF and USF and the Seminoles could have nearly half a schedule from in-state programs alone. Add in a big name program, such as the one against Oklahoma this year, and Florida State could get back to being a much bigger draw nationally like they were in the 1990's. Of course, as with most Florida teams, they'd also have to win to stay relevant.

Oregon

The way things are going with the NCAA investigation into Oregon's football and basketball programs, it's likely more than a few Ducks fans have thought about leaving the NCAA altogether, much less the Pac-12. While the program itself hasn't seen much success on the gridiron outside of the past decade, there's one thing that lands Oregon on this list: Nike. The Beaverton, Ore., based company has already made the Ducks their featured program by ensuring they have the latest Nike gear and well over 160 uniform combinations (feel free to mix and match your own Duck uniform here).

The school already has an affiliate network of television and radio stations and it wouldn't be all that surprising if they teamed with Nike to get an actual cable channel going. Given what Nike has already done in the marketing sphere, the idea of "their" team crisscrossing the country might raise as many eyebrows in Indianapolis as it does in Eugene. At the same time, it's hard not to see the idea floated in Phil Knight's office at some point, is it?

Texas

Go ahead and insert your own Big 12-Texas joke here. If there was one lesson to be learned from last summer's realignment saga, it was that Texas is the major player in college athletics - and for good reason. The football program brought in the most revenue in the country last year with a staggering $94 million take and a nearly $69 million profit. If there's any program that could afford any initial financial hit from going independent, it's the Longhorns.

The program is also uniquely positioned (perhaps more so than anybody on this list) to head out on their own. The Longhorn Network will launch in late August and, with ESPN's backing, figures to expand the Texas brand into households across the country. Like BYU with BYUtv, having their own network already up and running would be a huge advantage over others that would be pondering a similar move. Schedule-wise, they would have no problem scheduling games based on the teams nearby and their draw nationally. Add in the fact that Texas is a large public school with plenty of alumni and fans across the country, and it's possible that football independence actually makes a lot of sense if administrators don't find the arrangement with the Big 12 to be working out.

USC

If you're making a list of things that a school should have if they're considering going independent, USC would have a lot of check marks next to their name. Lots of alumni all over the country? Check. Nationally recognized brand? Check. Traditional college football power? Check. Given the school's connections to Hollywood and Silicon Valley, it wouldn't be all that surprising if they were able to quickly move onto some unique and intriguing media options if they decided to pursue football independence.

The recent NCAA sanctions have certainly hurt the reputation of the school and the football program which might actually be one reason why the school decides to make the jump from the Pac-12 to join the ranks of rival Notre Dame as an independent. Plenty of alumni are not happy with the Pac-10's lack of support in their infractions case (unlike, say the Big Ten with Ohio State) and that cuts into some of the good will Larry Scott has brought with a new media rights package. The Trojans have plenty of history of going around the country and playing teams, why not a little more of that as an independent? The Pac-10 was known as USC and nine others during the run under Pete Carroll, so maybe the idea of separating from the bunch isn't too far-fetched.



 
 
 
 
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