Tag:Andy Staples
Posted on: October 31, 2011 12:19 pm
Edited on: October 31, 2011 1:01 pm
 

Surveying the Field: Reviewing Week 9



Posted by Bryan Fischer


As much as Saturday's classic battle between Stanford and USC was about Andrew Luck's Heisman hopes and the Cardinal's national title dreams, it was hugely important for the man pacing the home sideline with a laminated playcard.

Yes, USC lost, there's no denying what really matters and what the game will represent in the media guide years for now. But, when combined with the way the Trojans beat Notre Dame last week and their inspired-but-not-quite-good-enough play against Stanford, I think we can finally come to one conclusion about Lane Kiffin that we couldn't beforehand: he can coach. We're still not sure if he can win quite yet, but the question marks about his coaching abilities have been answered.

Given his record, 12-21 with the Oakland Raiders and at Tennessee, it was easy to be skeptical about Kiffin. His resume had an impressive collection of jobs before he turned 34 but he still couldn't shake the label that he was riding on the coattails of his father Monte and Pete Carroll. The NCAA violations and brash nature while with the Vols only enhanced negativity. Last season's 8-5, 5-4 in the Pac-10, record didn't answer any questions. He was blown out by Oregon at home and lost to a lowly Oregon State team in Corvallis on top of three losses by seven points. His offensive unit was good but struggled at times. Jokes about him firing his father for the Trojans' defensive woes had some truth behind them.

2011 wasn't a make or break year but it was important to Kiffin and the USC program as a whole to take another step back to where they were under Carroll despite being under the cloud of NCAA sanctions. The disrespect was evident when the Trojans were a nine point underdog in South Bend despite the Irish's penchant for turning the ball over in big games.

As celebrated as Brian Kelly was in his first season, he came into the game with a 12-7 record while Kiffin was one game better at 13-6 at USC. The tone was set early last week with an impressive opening drive to quiet the Notre Dame crowd and the Irish were never really back in the game after that.

Afterward, Kiffin was elated in the locker room and was extra happy to ruin a game Kelly had built up to be the Super Bowl for his team. He acknowledged it was the biggest win since he arrived in Los Angeles and he was right, in his second season he finally had a marquee victory.

Coaches and players vehemently dislike the term 'moral victory' because they understand the bottom line: you still lost. Still, there are plenty of positives in defeat and we learned a few about USC this week after the three overtime loss to Luck and the Cardinal.

The defense is not terrible like we thought it was. It's not great by any stretch but the defensive line can put pressure on the quarterback, the linebackers are quick enough to make plays in space and the secondary is young but rounding into form. On offense, Matt Barkley and Robert Woods have something special going on, the offensive line has exceeded expectations and the running game has come into its own the past few weeks.

USC didn't win on Saturday but they came close and that counts for something against a team that had reeled off 10 straight wins by 25 or more points. Luck, the best quarterback in the country by far, looked human at times and the USC offense looked like it was on the cusp of being great.

Lane Kiffin will still be thought of negatively, especially in the South, but he's answered a few of his critics' questions this season. He can coach and he can coach offenses that put up points. Now is the time to win the big, big game that his predecessor was known for. Kiffin's insistence after the game about calling out the referees for the final play of regulation - "They lied to me," he said Sunday - knowing that a reprimand from the Pac-12 was coming was taken by some to be whiny but I saw what some of his players did - that he'd fight for them until the battle could no longer be won, and even a little more. Even in retrospect, his play call of a tunnel screen to Woods doesn't look as terrible as it was when you consider he had two timeouts and the play was designed to go up field.

The last time USC lost a triple overtime game to a Bay area team they went on a historic run. No one is saying the same will happen under Kiffin, especially as the program begins scholarship reductions this season, but it's a good omen.

Last Saturday the Coliseum was rocking, the team was playing well and the coach wasn't a question mark. Kiffin can coach, now it's time to see if he can win big games.

Stat of the week

Via the Associated Press, Texas Tech is second team since 1989 (when the AP Poll expanded to 25), to go from no votes to ranked to no votes in three weeks. The other was Washington after they beat USC in 2009.

Stats of the week

- Five Big 12 teams are ranked 90th or worse in total defense, complete with Kansas being the worst in the country giving up 555 yards and 49.5 points per game. That might explain why three of the top five passers in the country are from the conference. The Jayhawks also only had 46 yards of total offense this week.

- Two candidates for most disappointing team of they year, Texas A&M and Notre Dame, are 110th and 118th respectively in turnover margin.

- Despite running so much, Georgia Tech is a third-down machine. They have the fifth-most third down attempts in the country yet are converting on 57.6% of them, best mark in the country by nearly 2%.

- The much maligned Michigan defense has taken a leap in several categories under Greg Matison but perhaps the most important: they lead the country in red zone defense. The Wolverines have only allowed 13 scores all year from inside the 20.

- If you had to guess who leads the country in time of possession, you'd probably start with a Georgia Tech or an Army. It's actually Texas, who holds onto the ball for over 35 minutes per game.

- After facing Oklahoma State, Baylor's defense dropped from 97th in total defense and 101st in scoring defense to 108th and 115th. Missouri went from 29th and 25th in the two categories to 51st and 46th. Texas went from 24th and 47th to 30th and 56th. Bottom line, your defense won't look too good in the stats after facing the Cowboys.

- Auburn is 289-4 all time when scoring 30-plus points. One reason why Gus Malzahn is being paid $1.3 million a year.

- This is the first time Georgia has beaten Florida and Tennessee in the same year since 1988. There are only three players on the Bulldogs' roster that were born before then. The Gators' four game skid is the first of any kind at the school since 1988 and first in the SEC since 1979, when head coach Will Muschamp was eight.

Yard-by-yard

- It was only a matter of time before the Manhattan Miracle came to an end. Oklahoma had been shocked the week before by Texas Tech and Kansas State was the unwitting opponent they took it out on. Landry Jones threw for a school-record 505 yards and five touchdowns, impressive considering the quarterbacks that have been churned out under Bob Stoops recently. His favorite target, Ryan Broyles, also moved into first place on the Big 12 career receiving list. Not all was crimson Saturday however, as running back Dominique Whaley fractured his ankle on the very first play of the game. Though overwhelmingly a passing team, the balance that the running game had with Whaley will be missed unless the Sooners find someone to step up. Kansas State will have to regroup after the Big 12's previously top-ranked defense was shredded by Jones. They rallied in the second quarter but that was about the only time the Wildcats could get something going.

- Say what you want about Oklahoma State's 111th ranked defense but they bottled up Robert Griffin III, shutting Baylor out in the first half and allowing just one score in the red zone all game. The 622 yards allowed is concerning but they allowed a good chuck of the yards when the game was well out of hand. It seemed like the Cowboys were going to be locked in a tough one once the Bears drove down to the one-yard line on their first drive but the defense held and the offense drove 99-yards for a touchdown to set the tone early. After that, it was like Mike Gundy's squad was shot out of a cannon. Particularly impressive was running back Joseph Randle, who had 152 yards and four touchdowns to lead a rushing attack that rolled up over 300 yards for the first time in over two years. It's hard to look at the Cowboys and see anybody but Oklahoma stopping them from booking a trip to New Orleans.

- It seems to happen every game but it does seem concerning that Oregon led Washington State by only five points before taking care of business in the second half in a 43-28 win. The big news was the return of LaMichael James and Darron Thomas, who both started. James ran for 53 yards and wore a brace after dislocating his elbow a few weeks ago. Thomas was a little shakier, tossing two interceptions before being pulled for backup Bryan Bennett. Was it rust? Hard to say but you can't say it wasn't a factor after being limited in practices the week before. There's likely not much of a quarterback controversy but there's no question the Ducks need Thomas at 100% if they want to beat Washington, Stanford or USC. Freshman De'Anthony Thomas was a bright spot, perhaps extra bright in Oregon's yellow "bumblebee" uniforms, taking a kickoff 93-yards for a touchdown and scoring on a 45-yard pass.

- People joke about Case Keenum putting up video game numbers in Houston's offense but that's exactly what he did Thursday, throwing NINE touchdown passes as the Cougars routed Rice 73-34 despite the rainy conditions. It wasn't the start Keenum and the offense wanted, with an interception and having a fumble returned for a touchdown to put themselves in an early hole. But then the rain seemed to lighten up and the record-setting quarterback took over from there. His fifth touchdown toss moved him past former Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell to set the FBS-record for career TD passes and he proceeded to throw four more just for good measure. "Those are video game numbers, something we couldn't get stopped," Rice linebacker Justin Allen said. "The rain slowed down a little bit ... I wished it would have rained all game. It stopped, and they got things cranked up. There was no looking back for them." Keenum should set another record next week with 267 yards to become the FBS leader in career passing yards. Undefeated and somewhat untested, it looks like Houston is on their way to a special season. They have serious issues on defense but the offense will continue to put up eye-popping numbers.

- Tom O'Brien's hot seat status is fiery hot right now after losing to Florida State 34-0. The Wolfpack managed only 166 yards on offense and were shutout for the first time in three years. They weren't just beat by FSU, they were pushed around like they were Duke. T.J. Graham, one of the few bright spots for N.C. State this year, was bottled up and held to just 116 all-purpose yards. Given the way he handled the Russell Wilson situation and the way the season has gone, don't be surprised when there's a second coaching search going on in the triangle during the offseason (UNC being the other).

- It's time to give JoePa props for coaching Penn State to an 8-1 record. The defense, of course, is the story and the backbone of the team, shutting out Illinois for three quarters but the Nittany Lions had just enough on offense to get by with a 10-7 win. It was a sloppy affair for both teams but Joe Paterno picked up win No. 409 to move become the winningest coach in Division I. They are the ultimate Rodney Dangerfield "No respect" team right now.

- Is there a team more bipolar than Syracuse? A week after throttling West Virginia at home, the Orangemen looked terrible against Louisville, losing 27-10. They beat Toledo thanks to an officiating error, barely lost to Rutgers and barely beat Tulane, then have alternated between great and horrible the last two weeks. They certainly look like they're going to another bowl game this year but if you're Doug Marrone, you have to be concerned with the lack of consistency. On the other side, Louisville posted back-to-back Big East wins for the first time since 2006 and are still in the thick of things in the muddled conference race. Teddy Bridgewater continues to progress and this young team is making steady progress.

- As a few people joked on Twitter, Missouri proved that an SEC East team can beat an SEC West team with the Tigers 38-31 overtime win against Texas A&M. Any joy Aggie fans have over the move to a new conference is being ruined by their team's play on the field, blowing a 14 point lead at home this time around after doing the same against Arkansas and Oklahoma State. Missouri is better than their .500 record suggests and Henry Josey has been a revelation at the running back spot - so much so that he looks like the all-Big 12 pick at his position. James Franklin still makes a bone-headed play from time to time but the offense is still better than expected with the first-time starter running the show. Still, what once was a season of promise for Texas A&M has been anything but and doesn't get better with a trip to Norman.

- Impressive game by the Blackshirts as Nebraska muzzled Michigan State's offense in a 24-3 win in Lincoln. NU defensive backs turned in their best game of the season, being physical off of the line and forcing Kirk Cousins into missing all but four of his first 16 passes. He finished the day with just 86 yards a week after a 290 yard, three TD performance. Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead paced the Cornhuskers' offense and looked like they are finally earning their ranking with a dominating win.

- Iowa, really? Minnesota is one of the worst teams in the country and you lose 22-21? There's not much to explain really. The same goes for Texas Tech, getting trounced at home by Iowa State. CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman was in a state of disbelief everytime he checked the score of either game and that pretty much sums up what everybody else was thinking.

- Late in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party (which the politically correct will know is Georgia-Florida), SI.com's Andy Staples and I both turned to each other and said that the Bulldog's four point lead would be insurmountable for the Gators offense to overcome. Special teams was another story but the offense? It just couldn't move the ball for their life. The personnel just isn't there to give them any schematic advantage. Hats off to Mark Richt though, who has won six straight and certainly helped his cause.

- Was shocked to see that Texas ended a FIVE game losing streak at home against Kansas this week. It's not saying much against that Jayhawks defense but the Longhorns still rushed for an impressive 441 yards in a game that few people saw on the Longhorn Network.

- Welcome to the Pac-12 win column Utah, who beat Oregon State at home 27-8.

- Clemson finally pulled a Clemson against Georgia Tech. Tevin Washington, after a string of bad games, rushed for 176 yards and was the triggerman for the option offense that jumped out to a 24-3 lead thanks to several Tigers turnovers. It was an impressive showing by Georgia Tech's defense against the explosive Clemson offense, which had come into the game scoring points at will. Considering how shaky the Yellow Jackets had looked on that side of the ball coming in, only a few believed they could pull off the upset which ended any hope of the ACC putting a team in the BCS championship game.

- Go ahead Braxton Miller, take a bow. The true freshman sparked a last-second win that gives Ohio State some life after upsetting Wisconsin. According to reporters after the game, Miller apparently winked at head coach Luke Fickell before the final drive and said "We're all right." That's special. Coming out of high school, Miller showed he had enough talent and moxie that many people compared him to former Heisman winner Troy Smith. The 40 yard pass to Devin Smith with 20 seconds left had to be the play of the year for a Buckeyes team that had been through so much. One has to wonder if they had held on against Nebraska what our view of this team would be.

Tweet of the week

"How impressive was Texas vs. KU? UT had more total yards (590) than current subscribers to Longhorn Network."

- CBSSports.com Senior Writer Brett McMurphy.

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Dennis Dodd Dennis Dodd
Sooners kick it into high gear a week too late.
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Awaiting the LSU-Alabama showdown, Clemson and Kansas State drop out of the top 10. Read >
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Related links
Video
Fisch's Finest

1. LSU

2. Alabama

3. Oklahoma State

4. Stanford

5. Boise State

6. Oklahoma

7. Oregon

8. Clemson

9. Arkansas

10. Nebraska

Where we'll be this week

Brett McMurphy will be in Stillwater to see BCS contender Oklahoma State host previously undefeated Kansas State. Dennis Dodd and Bruce Feldman will both be in Tuscaloosa for the game of the season, LSU-Alabama.

Leaning this way

Kansas State at Oklahoma State

It's almost unfair for one of the great stories in the first half of the season, Bill Snyder's Wildcats, to face the Big 12's two best teams on back-to-back weeks so all we'll say is good luck trying to stop the Cowboys offense. We have a feeling that Kansas State, which dropped 31 spots in total defense after facing Oklahoma, will struggle unless the offense plays keep away and doesn't turn the ball over.

South Carolina at Arkansas

On paper this is a top 10 match up but in reality both teams a bit overrated. Arkansas' defensive issues, especially in the first half, have contributed to closer than expected wins over Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. South Carolina has a good defense but the offense has struggled to score for six week outside of the Kentucky game. It's at home so the edge goes to the Hogs unless Alshon Jeffrey (finally) has a breakout game.

LSU at Alabama (CBS, 8 PM ET)

The showdown of the season is what everybody will have their eyes on Saturday night. The strength of both teams is clearly their defenses so this will come down to who can break open a big play on offense or special teams. There are more home run threats on the Tide and it's in Tuscaloosa but anybody picking against LSU has to know that doing so means going against Les Miles. Should be a great one.

Posted on: October 10, 2011 5:55 pm
 

The Poll Attacks: Week 6

Posted by Bryan Fischer

The latest college football polls are out and now it's time to rip them to shreds. Senior college basketball writer Gary Parrish has been calling out voters in the major hoops polls for thinking a little bit too far outside of the box when it comes to their AP ballots every week.

With the football season starting, I thought I'd steal take the baton on the idea from my colleague and keep all of the writers across the country who vote honest. I've come to know a good number of these people through time and twitter but relationships do not matter, bad votes do.

AP Poll           Coaches Poll           Harris Poll

(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com)

Poll reactions: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC

Rodney Dangerfield "No respect" team of the week: Kansas State

  You would think that the coaches (or sports information directors) that vote in the Coaches Poll would appreciate what Bill Snyder has done at Kansas State this year. The Wildcats are undefeated so far this season with wins at Miami and against Baylor and Missouri. They don't have much of a passing game (115th in the country) but do have a good ground game, even without the services of former former five-star running back Bryce Brown. Not sure then why the coaches have Kansas State 18th then, one spot below where they are underrated in the AP Poll. They're below South Carolina and Nebraska, both of whom are one-loss teams that have more issues. This is the ultimate "don't get no respect" program but Snyder has them playing hard and playing tough this season.

Overrated: Auburn

  First of all, no one expected Auburn to be sitting 3rd in the SEC West with only two total loses approaching the halfway mark in the season. They're one of only two teams to play three teams that are currently ranked in the top 25. They are, however, not supposed to be one of them. The Tigers are just barely in the top 25, ranked 24th in the AP Poll and unranked in the Coaches. Once again, some kudos for the latter for keeping them out. Gene Chizik's group has gotten lucky in most of their wins - they're 80th in total offense and 105th in total defense - and really only the South Carolina one is notable. That's why it's funny to see Jon Wilner put them 12th and Andy Staples to rank them 17th. Too high gentlemen, act more like Brett McMurphy who has Auburn unranked.

California Craziness

A trio of voters from California (CSN Bay Area/CBSSports.com's Ray Ratto, San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner, LA Daily News' Scott Wolf) are an interesting voting block. Some would call them progressive, others would call them extreme and just about everybody else will call them crazy given their fluctuations in their ballots each week. All three are consistently in Pollspeak's group of "extreme voters" so we'll highlight the most baffling decision(s) out of each.

  Three in a row for Wolf! He pulls into the lead in the race to the top/bottom of the California Craziness derby. Wisconsin is 8th, lowest on any ballot in the country, while West Virginia is right behind them ranked 9th, highest on any ballot. Florida is still a top 15 team according to Wolf, despite quarterbacks that were born in the 1990's who have barely taken any snaps. Undefeated Illinois is 22nd, behind two-loss Notre Dame, while Auburn is 17th. Undefeated Kansas State is 24th (see above) and SMU is on the ballot at 25th. Yeah...

What were you thinking? Ron Higgins, Memphis Commercial Appeal

Ron, I feel for you. You probably have to watch Memphis Tigers football closely and have to do so more often than anyone. That's rough but you still have to vote in the AP Poll. You didn't turn in a ballot this week, causing some angst back in the office for those that coordinate and release the thing we have to rip to shreds every Monday on CBSSports.com. Remember, every vote counts and, unlike the state of Florida, we know how to count them. Thanks! (P.S. if you want me to email a reminder, I'll do so!)

Team bias

Our tech team at CBSSports.com is pretty awesome and came up with this neat tool to take a look at team and region bias in the AP Poll. Check it out below, it's a fun thing to play around with.





Posted on: September 19, 2011 8:12 pm
Edited on: September 19, 2011 8:35 pm
 

The Poll Attacks: Week 4

Posted by Bryan Fischer

The latest college football polls are out and now it's time to rip them to shreds. Senior college basketball writer Gary Parrish has been calling out voters in the major hoops polls for thinking a little bit too far outside of the box when it comes to their AP ballots every week.

With the football season starting, I thought I'd steal take the baton on the idea from my colleague and keep all of the writers across the country who vote honest. I've come to know a good number of these people through time and twitter but relationships do not matter, bad votes do.

AP Poll           Coaches Poll

(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com)

Poll reactions: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC

Rodney Dangerfield "No respect" team of the week: Illinois

The fighting Zookers are 24th in the AP Poll and unranked in the coaches this week after beating a solid Arizona State team that was ranked last week. The Illini have a very favorable schedule, perhaps the easiest in the Big Ten and plenty of solid young players on both sides of the ball. They have two good coaches in offensive coordinator Paul Petrino and defensive coordinator Vic Koenning who have made a world of difference and should be higher based on what they showed against a good team last Saturday.

Overrated: Texas, Florida

Let's face it, there are a lot of voters who want Texas and Florida to be good. They're national powers with big fan bases, they've been very good in the past and it is much easier to rank teams knowing the Longhorns and Gators are somewhere in the top 10. When it comes to Florida, they've really only played one game - a win against a shaky Tennessee team - and have never left the cozy confines of The Swamp. They have a whole new staff and a team full of players we're really not sure of outside of Jeff Demps or Chris Rainey. They're ranked 15th right now which is just ok but for the 10 voters who had them in your top 12, shame on you. And Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer? 8th, really? A Florida team who blew out FAU and beat Tennessee is the 8th best in the country?

Finally, Texas. Kudos for Andy Staples of SI.com for leaving the Longhorns off his ballot completely and justifying it. Of their wins, UCLA is terrible, BYU got killed at home by Utah and Rice is, well, Rice. And that game was on The Longhorn Network so you know something was up. If you look at the ballots you'll also find a familiar name with Texas higher than anyone at 13th: Doug Lesmerises. I know it's not fun to cover Ohio State nowadays but don't punish the rest of the teams around the country by keeping UT and UF ranked high.

California Craziness

A trio of voters from California (CSN Bay Area/CBSSports.com's Ray Ratto, San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner, LA Daily News' Scott Wolf) are an interesting voting block. Some would call them progressive, others would call them extreme and just about everybody else will call them crazy given their fluctuations in their ballots each week. All three are consistently in Pollspeak's group of "extreme voters" so we'll highlight the most baffling decision(s) out of each.

My man Wilner finds himself in this space once again as Wolf must be doing just enough to have been the only one of the trio to not make an appearance. He has both USC's ranked higher than anyone with the eastern version fifth and the western version 14th. Georgia and Mississippi State are somehow still on his ballot ahead of Virginia Tech, Baylor and Arkansas. Yes, really. I swear Jon has been working too hard on the realignment mess to actually watch any games. Actually, I hope that's the case because he's a nice guy but a terrible, terrible voter.

What were you thinking? Ohio State

On Saturday, I witnessed first hand how terrible Ohio State was when they played Miami. The Buckeyes looked a step slower than the Hurricanes, turned the ball over, couldn't complete a pass to save their life and never did find a quarterback. Not a bad performance, an awful one. Yet somehow, seven voters decided to put Ohio State ahead of Miami on their ballots despite the head-to-head match up. I understand Ira Schoffel works in Tallahassee but come on.

Team bias

Our tech team at CBSSports.com is pretty awesome and came up with this neat tool to take a look at team and region bias in the AP Poll. Check it out below, it's a fun thing to play around with.




Posted on: September 12, 2011 4:06 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2011 4:23 pm
 

The Poll Attacks: Week 2

Posted by Bryan Fischer

The latest college football polls are out and now it's time to rip them to shreds. Senior college basketball writer Gary Parrish has been calling out voters in the major hoops polls for thinking a little bit too far outside of the box when it comes to their AP ballots every week.

With the football season starting, I thought I'd steal take the baton on the idea from my colleague and keep all of the writers across the country who vote honest. I've come to know a good number of these people through time and twitter but relationships do not matter, bad votes do.

AP Poll           Coaches Poll

(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com)

Poll reactions: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC

Rodney Dangerfield "No respect" team of the week: Baylor

Really coaches? Again? I threw your sports information directors under the bus last week for having Baylor behind a TCU team they beat. Imagine my surprise to see this for the second consecutive week. I know you all believe in Gary Patterson. I do too. But they settled it on the field and he lost. Robert Griffin III will give your defensive coordinator the willies. The only thing I can think of is you're not big fans of schools that threaten others with lawsuits.

Overrated: Nebraska

Both polls have the Cornhuskers sitting in the top 10, behind 9th-ranked Texas A&M and ahead of 11th-ranked South Carolina. Perhaps it's our place to point out that the Taylor Martinez completed just 50% of his passes against Chattanooga in the opener. Or that it was a one point game entering the 4th quarter against Fresno State. But go ahead and rank them fifth Ira Schoffel. Sixth isn't much better Tom Murphy. Things won't get much better if they beat Washington either I'm guessing but at least we'll have a better idea of how good this team is.

California Craziness

A trio of voters from California (CSN Bay Area/CBSSports.com's Ray Ratto, San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner, LA Daily News' Scott Wolf) are an interesting voting block. Some would call them progressive, others would call them extreme and just about everybody else will call them crazy given their fluctuations in their ballots each week. All three are consistently in Pollspeak's group of "extreme voters" so we'll highlight the most baffling decision(s) out of each.

Wilner was in this space last week but even though his ballot was utterly ridiculous again (Texas 14th? Almost as bad as Virginia Tech 23rd or Arkansas 25th), we'll move on to Mr. Ratto. I know he watches a lot of Pac-12 games out in San Francisco so why, then, do you have Oregon 23rd and Washington 14th? Are the Huskies' narrow victories over FCS Eastern Washington and Hawaii make them deserving of being ranked ahead of Baylor? Is losing to your number one ranked team - LSU - the reason for the Ducks being behind Texas? Or 12 spots behind USF? Did you see the Trojans eek out a victory for the second straight week? You certainly were not watching Arizona State beat Missouri. And I'm positive you didn't read Brett McMurphy's column saying Arkansas is talented enough to win the SEC because you fail to include the Razorbacks on your ballot. Craziness indeed.

What were you thinking? USF

Mike Hlas of the Cedar Rapids Gazette was in this spot last week for ranking USF fifth despite Notre Dame doubling their yardage and winning by three. So guess what? USF sits fifth once again. They're in the Big East. They beat an 0-2 Irish team by three. They might be good at the end of the year but in no way are they the fifth best team in the country. Wisconsin, Stanford, Florida State and all of the other teams you have behind them are better and it's not even close. I'm sorry, over-rating Notre Dame and then over-rating a team that beat them should get you kicked off the voting roster.

Come on man

Last week, I put my colleague over at SI.com, Andy Staples, in this space for ranking Boise State way too low at No. 13 in his ballot following their win against Georgia. Andy owned up to his mistake and apologized to Bronco Nation (and thus, me) for having them too far down. His week three ballot has the Blue turfers seventh between Florida State and Texas A&M. While Staples' polling has come around, he also gave me some good advice: I'm too nice.

Well, sorry Chadd Cripe of the Idaho Statesman. You're now in the crosshairs thinks to Staples' advice.

I know you're a bit isolated up in Idaho but there has to be television with satellite somewhere in the state, right? You have Florida State as a borderline top 15 team (#13), UCF in the top 20 (highest out of anyone) along with Mississippi State two spots ahead of them. Oregon's still in the top 10 at No. seven and both Auburn and Ohio State are top 20 teams despite each narrowly escaping competition that usually plays on Thursday's.

Hlas' ballot is so terrible he gets an additional mention in this spot. USF, fifth. Seriously?

Also, the AP itself gets a mention for their mistake this week, which you can read more about here.


Posted on: September 6, 2011 11:15 pm
 

The Poll Attacks: Week 1

Posted by Bryan Fischer

The latest college football polls are out and now it's time to rip them to shreds. Senior college basketball writer Gary Parrish has been calling out voters in the major hoops polls for thinking a little bit too far outside of the box when it comes to their AP ballots every week.

With the football season starting, I thought I'd steal take the baton on the idea from my colleague and keep all of the writers across the country who vote honest. I've come to know a good number of these people through time and twitter but relationships do not matter, bad votes do.

AP Poll           Coaches Poll

(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com)

Poll reactions: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC

Rodney Dangerfield "No respect" team of the week: Baylor

Really coaches? Excuse me, really sports information directors voting for the coaches? I understand you might have a few concerns about Baylor after letting TCU back into the game but that's no excuse for keeping the Horned Frogs in the poll (#25) while leaving the Bears out (#26). Would hate to have something to compare the two teams in some way... like say their head-to-head match up last week.

Overrated: Auburn, Texas, Florida

All three won this past weekend but the competition each faced was mediocre and Auburn barely managed to get a win. Each team is in the coaches poll but at least the AP voters got things right and dropped the defending national champs out. Well, some did that is. Fox-1370 Radio's Rob Long and Boulder Daily Camera's Kyle Ringo both put the Tigers at 16th, which makes me want to pull what little hair I have out. 25? Sure. 16? No. And shame on WATE-TV's Jim Wogan who had the Gators as a borderline top 10 team and ahead of Texas A&M and Nebraska.

California Craziness

A trio of voters from California (CSN Bay Area/CBSSports.com's Ray Ratto, San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner, LA Daily News' Scott Wolf) are an interesting voting block. Some would call them progressive, others would call them extreme and just about everybody else will call them crazy given their fluctuations in their ballots each week. All three are consistently in Pollspeak's group of "extreme voters" so we'll highlight the most baffling decision(s) out of each.

Week one and we're going to look at Wilner with an eyebrow raised. First off, Jon is very nice and has been on top of the recent realignment rumors from the Pac-12 angle. But he's got a ballot that is way out there. First off, Virginia Tech and Arkansas are unranked, he has West Virginia, BYU, Georgia, Air Force and Hawaii ranked higher than anyone. No argument with having Texas A&M at #4 but Northwestern at #18 might be a stretch too.

What were you thinking? USF

Mike Hlas of the Cedar Rapids Gazette is a funny guy on twitter (@Hlas) but perhaps he needs to adjust his voting habits. USF was fifth despite Notre Dame doubling their yardage and the win coming by three in a rain-shortened game. And don't forget that the team you ranked sixth, Baylor, allowed 48 points and were flagged 11 times for 116 yards worth of penalties.

#1 in your heart: Boise State

Just four teams received #1 votes this week, Oklahoma, LSU, Alabama and Boise State. Can't attack anybody for that given each's performance this week but it still might be a stretch to put the Broncos on top. Wolf and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Tom Murphy were the two who were championing the team from the blue turf.

Come on man: Boise State

At the same time we're on some for having Boise State too high, my colleague over at SI.com Andy Staples has State ranked lower than anybody at 12th. You get points back for comparing the Broncos to the fantastic TV show Freaks and Geeks but get on the bus with everybody else Andy! You can probably discuss why the team should be where you ranked them better than anybody in the country but that doesn't mean you won't land on this list for putting the team as low as you did. Perhaps we'll run into each other and can discuss over some barbecue or Chick-Fil-A

Posted on: July 15, 2011 3:11 am
Edited on: July 20, 2011 10:20 pm
 

Report: Feldman suspended for role in Leach book

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Mike Leach's new book, Swing Your Sword, was released Thursday, and Leach's co-author on the book was famed scribe Bruce Feldman (The Meat Market, 'Cane Mutiny). Small problem: Feldman also writes for ESPN.com's Insider section, and that may prove to be something of an issue when Leach's book contains a litany of complaints against ESPN on-air personality Craig James for his role in getting Leach fired from Texas Tech.

And yet, according to reports, Feldman was given the green light to proceed with the book, and he never engaged in any promotion for the book before or after its release. Non-issue, then, right? Well, wait:

ESPN college football writer Bruce Feldman was suspended indefinitely during a conference call with three ESPN officials this morning.

[They] informed Feldman today that he has been banned from writing for any ESPN entity, is forbidden from appearing on any ESPN platform, is not allowed to Tweet from his Twitter account nor participate in any promotion of a recently-released book in which Feldman played a role.

Such is the report from Sports by Brooks, anyway, and thus far there's been nothing to indicate the report isn't accurate. Feldman, who's normally a fairly active tweeter, has been silent since Wednesday on his ESPN-branded Twitter account @BFeldmanESPN, and no other ESPN personalities are commenting on the matter.

Just about everybody else in the world is commenting, however, and "Bruce Feldman" became a trending topic fairly quickly Thursday night on Twitter. Twitterers made use of the #freebruce hashtag early and often, especially after Sports Illustrated writer Andy Staples canceled his ESPN Insider subscription in protest:

Now, since ESPN hasn't released its side of this story yet, and since all we're working on is one report from one media outlet, it would be premature and assumptive to rake ESPN over the coals for this decision at this point. All reports indicate that Feldman was given the go-ahead to help write this book before the ugliness between ESPN and Leach. So if there was some amendment (whether explicit or tacit) to the arrangement after ESPN became directly involved, obviously, that would be relevant information that hasn't been released yet. We're all operating with limited information, and rather than build 1,500-word arguments based on assumptions that could be disproved by a single PR release before sunrise Friday, it's probably best to wait and learn more from the parties involved.

That all said, it's worth noting that, generally speaking, suspensions from organizations (whether sporting, media or otherwise) rarely improve the product being put out. Dez Bryant getting banned by the NCAA for the rest of his senior season didn't make Oklahoma State or the Big 12 any better or more entertaining, for example, to say nothing of what the NCAA lost when it wouldn't let Ohio State RB Maurice Clarett or USC WR Mike Williams get drafted or come back and play after their second seasons out of high school in 2004. Rules are rules, but taking talent off the field makes what happens on the field worse.

Obviously, that's not to say that all suspensions or other disciplinary actions are inherently bad -- discipline is important, and to keep the examples in college football, nobody would argue that Lawrence Phillips didn't spend enough time off the Nebraska squad after his domestic assault charge during the 1995 season. So yes, clearly, suspensions or firings/dismissals serve a well-needed purpose.

Yet, based on what we know now, Feldman didn't do anything wrong. He helped write a book that a whole lot of people really wanted to see written, and it wasn't even that one about ESPN itself that so many past and present ESPN employees gave testimony for -- under their own names, no less.

No, instead, ESPN is apparently degrading its PR standing (to say nothing of its paid Insider product, to which Feldman actually contributes) in order to punish Feldman and push this notion of ESPN as a faultless company that virtually zero of its consumers actually believe. It's extremely difficult to find a benefit to the company itself in this decision. The product is worse. The public perception is worse. The journalistic freedom within is now demonstrably worse. Exactly what is ESPN trying to accomplish here?

The appearance is that Craig James used his position at ESPN to force enough public pressure on Leach to be ousted from Texas Tech, and is now using his position within ESPN to force Feldman from the ranks at Bristol. If either is inaccurate and James would like to see Leach or Feldman restored to their previous statuses, by all means, we'd be glad to document such a statement. If not, it's hard not to think that ESPN is being used as a bully pulpit, and if that means a college football world without heavy involvement from Leach and Feldman, then college football is worse off for it, and that's no role for ESPN or any other major college football media organization to hold.

 
 
 
 
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