Posted on: October 29, 2010 12:00 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
It's always one of the first factoids cited whenever the ACC 's lack of strength is a topic of discussion, even ahead of "Wake Forest won the league championship within the past decade": the ACC has never earned an at-large bid to the Bowl Championship Series . 12 years, 12 whiffs, 12 missed paychecks worth millions of dollars and 12 missed opportunities to grab some kind of foothold of respect within the sport.
The talking points in the immediate wake of N.C. State 's dramatic 28-24 win over Florida State last night were that the Wolfpack had stolen away control of the ACC Atlantic and that Russell Wilson 's sudden return to form means they just might keep it. But what shouldn't be missed is that the loss all but guarantees the ACC will go yet another season without an at-large BCS bid.
That's because the Seminoles were the conference's only halfway viable candidate. Virginia Tech has taken two losses already, one to FCS James Madison in the season's biggest upset to-date. Neither Maryland nor the Wolfpack have the kind of cachet to pull in TV ratings over similar programs from other conferences (not to mention their pair of losses each). Miami was embarrassed in defeats to Ohio State and the 'Noles. Etc.
After their early-season thumping at Oklahoma , you wouldn't have said the Seminoles were a favorite to land a BCS at-large berth, but as long as they kept winning, they would be in the mix. They still have name-brand recognition dating back to the Bobby Bowden glory days. They play an exciting brand of balanced offensive football led by a high-profile star in Christian Ponder . Most importantly, they had just the one loss and the remaining schedule (home against North Carolina and Clemson , at Maryland , home to Florida in what could be a key ACC-SEC triumph) to make the leap into the BCS top 10, even the top 5. If the 'Noles ran the table but lost in the ACC title game to, say, the Hokies, they would have received a long look from bowls like the Sugar and Fiesta .
But a hypothetical three -loss FSU team? With non-AQ bid snatchers like Boise State and TCU around, not to mention the likes of Ohio State, the Auburn-Alabama loser, or a Big 12 team like Nebraska or Oklahoma ? Forget it. This isn't the year, either, and every one that passes with the BCS millions going places other than the ACC makes it that much harder for the conference to break through next year.
It's fair to say the ACC powers-that-be weren't begrudging N.C. State their raucous celebration after the victory last night. But if any Wolfpack fans happened to stumble onto a sour and depressed-looking ACC official in the aftermath, here's to hoping they weren't begrudging that official his bitterness and disappointment, either.
Posted on: October 28, 2010 1:33 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Why the delicious nougaty candy-related reference to lead off this post? Because Nevada and Fresno State are, as the tagline goes, not going anywhere for a while . Their move into the Mountain West and out of the ever-wobbly WAC has been delayed by a year, until 2012, as part of the resolution of a WAC lawsuit that asked the Wolf Pack and Bulldogs to either wait it out one extra season or fork over a cool $5 million each.
That kind of money doesn't grow on non-AQ trees, so both schools will pay a meager $900,000 (though they'll also forfeit their 2011-2012 league distribtuion check , making the true price tag a bit heftier) and spend another year lining up against the remnants of the WAC. That conference and commisioner Karl Benson came out the clear losers in this latest round of west coast conference expansion, but this is a major win that will give Benson a desperately-needed extra year in which to cobble together a strategy for keeping the 48-year-old conference afloat.
Everyone else involved in the MWC-WAC-BYU expansion brouhaha, though, comes out a loser in the short-term of today's decision. Let's count the ways:
Nevada and Fresno : Not that either program will likely be looking at a BCS berth in 2011, but nonetheless that goal will be all-but-impossible playing in a watered-down, Boise State -less WAC that will rank with the Sun Belt and MAC as the FBS's worst. Maybe more practically, a MWC schedule would be substantially more appealing to ticket-holders than going another round with San Jose State and Idaho . (The proud Pack men's hoops program would have been much more likely to earn an NCAA Tournament at-large berth out of the MWC, too.)
Boise State : Speaking of the Broncos, the 2011 MWC will likely offer a better strength-of-schedule quotient than the 2011 WAC, thanks to the likes of TCU , Air Force , and a rejuvenated San Digeo State . But without the Pack and the Bulldogs (or, of course, deserters BYU or Utah ), the sad-sack bottom half of the MWC still projects to be so weak that there won't be that much difference. If the Broncos do mount another undefeated charge at the national title game, tilts against known quantities like Nevada and Fresno would have come very much in handy.
The Mountain West: The MWC keeps trying to push the rock that is automatic qualification up the hill that is the BCS , and it keeps rolling downhill. A league with Boise added to the Utah-BYU-TCU axis was a lock, but the Utes and Cougars jumped ship. A league with Nevada and Fresno adding depth to the TCU-Boise axis also stands a good shot given the Big East 's current woes, but now that league won't start play until 2012, by which time it's possible a bigger fish picks off the geographically-distant Horned Frogs. (There's already rumors about TCU being offered a spot in the Big East.)
After today, the league seems more than ever to be merely running to stand still.
Posted on: October 27, 2010 7:44 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2010 9:25 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Yesterday, we ran down the list of potential Big Ten champions and what it'll take for each of them to punch their ticket to the Rose Bowl. Now, let's look at the other half of the Granddaddy. Of course, if the Ducks win out, they're probably headed to the BCS Championship instead of Pasadena, but they'll still be the Pac-10 champions. It's worth mentioning, however, that in the event that Oregon finishes undefeated and goes to the title game (likewise with Michigan State and the Big Ten), the second-place team will, in all likelihood, not be taking its place in the Rose Bowl; this is the first season that the new BCS rules require an unused Rose Bowl berth go to a a BCS-eligible team from a non-AQ conference. Being that Boise State, TCU, and Utah are all in the Top 10, it's pretty safe to assume one will be available to crash the party in Pasadena. That said, the Pac-10's nine-game, round-robin schedule and its lengthy tie-breaking procedure mean we've still got a wide-open conference race unfolding.
Oregon can go to the Rose Bowl (or BCS Championship Game) if...
Stanford can go to the Rose Bowl if...
Arizona can go to the Rose Bowl if...
Oregon State can go to the Rose Bowl if...
USC can go to the Rose Bowl if...
The Pac-10 has some awfully complicated multi-team tiebreaker rules that, with five or six games left in the conference season, render a full accounting of what each team needs for a Rose Bowl berth nearly impossible. Enjoy:
(1) When three or more teams are tied in Conference play, if one has defeated all others, it shall be the Rose Bowl representative. If that is not the case, a comparison of the tied teams' records against the other tied teams shall be made and the team having the best record against the other tied teams shall be the Rose Bowl representative. If two or more teams are still tied after this comparison, the appropriate two-team or multiple-team tie-breaking procedures shall be repeated among those teams still under consideration. (2) If more than two teams are still tied after the process above is completed, each remaining tied team's record against the team occupying the highest position in the final regular season standings shall be compared, with the procedure continuing down through the standings until one team gains an advantage. When arriving at another group of tied teams while comparing records, each team's collective record against the tied teams as a group shall be used. If at any point in the process the multiple-team tie is reduced to two teams, the two-team tie-breaking procedure shall be applied. If more than two teams are still tied after comparing their records all the way through the Conference standings, the team among the tied teams with the highest ranking in the final BCS standings shall be the Rose Bowl representative. If a tie remains, the teams most recently earning Rose Bowl or Bowl Championship Series automatic selection shall be eliminated.
Yeah. So until we see a couple more weeks' worth of results suss themselves out, a potential 3-way or 4-way tie scenario won't be in great focus yet. As a general rule, though, the more winning a team does, the less help they need to claim the league title. But you probably knew that already.
Posted on: October 27, 2010 12:21 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2010 12:22 pm
Former Heisman trophy winner Doug Flutie joined Adam Aizer and J. Darin Darst yesterday to talk about many of the hot topics in college football.
Flutie is promoting the Capital One Cup, which is awarded annually to each of the top men's and women's Division I college athletics programs in the country, but he had time to discuss the college football season, Boise State, the Heisman and of course, a playoff system.
Flutie thinks a playoff will eventually come, but feels the Rose Bowl is the "thorn in the side" to the playoff talk. He also feels if Boise State is undefeated it deserves a shot in the national title game.
Posted on: October 26, 2010 6:19 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2010 6:20 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
It's an excellent Tuesday night to be a college football fan, since hey, there's college football to watch. Boise State is playing host to Lousiana Tech in the program's first-ever Tuesday night appearance, and the style-points-conscious Broncos will need to come out with all guns blazing to impress the national TV audience.
Of course, since that audience will be watching a different network, the CBS College Football Blog totally understands if you want to watch two (awesome) hours of NCIS and the (just as awesome) The Good Wife . Besides, that would make BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall a happier man, since he said today views the WAC 's television deal with that network -- and the lack of the Mountain West 's deal with the same -- as the reason the Broncos have received more recognition than his conference-mates at TCU :
The coach had an interesting reply to a question about why Boise State is ranked ahead of TCU in the national polls, and why the Broncos seem to be a national media darling as opposed to the Horned Frogs.Mendenhall may have something of an argument in the big picture, since it's true that TCU's appearances on the Mountain West network the mtn , Versus , and (the seriously awesome) CBS College Sports can't quite reach as many potential viewers as those on the other network ... yet . (CBSCS is totally working on that.)
But Mendenhall isn't acknowledging all the factors in play here. For one, both the Broncos and the Horned Frogs have made the exact same number of appearances on ESPN's networks this season, two. Whether fair or not, the polls are likely reflecting the fact that the two programs (and nearly all the same key players) met at the Fiesta Bowl just last January, with Boise coming out on top. It's also worth recalling that BYU's disappointment in the MWC's television arrangments were what spurred the Cougars' move towards independence in the offseason; even if Mendenhall is arguing on TCU's behalf, it's his own team's ax that he's grinding.
The litmus test will come when TCU squares off with Utah on CBSCS; the same high-profile matchup airing on the same network in 2009 proved enough to propel TCU to the highest ranking for any non-AQ team, Boise included, entering the postseason. Until then, we'll all have to watch and wait to see what happens, both on the field and in the polls. And if what happens tonight is that Boise struggles with a Bulldog team pollsters will expect them to crush, the exposure Mendenhall sees as a blessing may in fact be a curse.
Posted on: October 25, 2010 6:57 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:11 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
The Davey O'Brien Award, given annually to the nation's top quarterback, announced its 16 semifinalists for the award today. The list is as follows, in alphabetical order:
All in all, this is a pretty thorough list of the quarterbacks who might end up being the top quarterback in the nation once December rolls around, but it certainly does seem as if there was one glaring omission: Northwestern sophomore Dan Persa . Persa currently leads the nation in completion percentage, is eighth in passing efficiency and is fifth in total offense . Oh, and Persa also leads his team in rushing yards (341) and rushing touchdowns (six) -- each by pretty substantial margins over the nearest teammate.
Of course, it certainly merits mention that Northwestern is currently on a two-game losing streak, and that the Wildcats hadn't really beaten anyone of merit before the streak either. But in the Wildcats' losses to Michigan State and Purdue -- neither of whom have lost a Big Ten game yet, for what it's worth -- Persa was hardly "at fault" for the losses; he averaged 281 yards of total offense in the two games and scored four touchdowns to just one turnover.
It's hard to say who should be bumped for Persa's sake, though; every one of the top 16 semifinalists has a legitimate claim to deserving some sort of accolade. It's also worth pointing out, however, that until Missouri and Oklahoma faced each other this past weekend, Dalton, Gabbert, and Jones were all quarterbacking undefeated teams, and that's probably the only reason they're on the list; Jones and Gabbert, in particular, aren't even close to the top 16 of passing efficiency in the nation (34th and 39th, respectively). None of the three are terribly gifted runners, either, while Persa's been forced to anchor the woeful Northwestern ground game.
Of course, the O'Brien Award probably wants to avoid the embarrassment of not being able to even nominate a title contender's quarterback as a finalist, and with two conference losses, it's extremely unlikely that Northwestern will represent the Big Ten in Pasadena, much less make a run at a spot in the Top 10. Persa and his Wildcats aren't high-profile, and that's enough to leave him off this list. Inclusion's academic either way, since this is clearly Cam Newton's to lose, but it'd be nice to see a quarterback like Persa rewarded for putting together one hell of a season so far even when he doesn't have the supporting cast to win 11 games in a season.
Tags: Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Big 12, Big Ten, Blaine Gabbert, Boise State, Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, Dan Persa, Darron, Davey O'Brien Semifinalists, Denard Robinson, Iowa, Kellen Moore, Kirk Cousins, Landry Jones, Matt Barkley, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Mountain West, Nebraska, Nevada, Northwestern, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pac-10, Purdue, Ricky Stanzi, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Mallett, SEC, Stanford, Taylor Martinez, TCU, Terrelle Pryor, USC, WAC
Posted on: October 25, 2010 11:51 am
Edited on: October 25, 2010 1:47 pm
Editor's note: NFL Blogger Andy Benoit shares his stories about Boise State's rise over the last 20+ years. The Broncos will be going for their 59th consecutive regular-season home victory on Tuesday night against Louisiana Tech. Boise State actually lost the Humanitarian Bowl to Boston College 27-21 in 2005, but it doesn't count in the regular-season winning streak. The University of Miami had a 58-game home winning streak in the Orange Bowl that included wins over nine Top 10 teams, four No. 1 teams and three bowl games.
By Andy Benoit
Whenever I come across a word I don’t know, I’ll write it on an index card and put it in my weekly pile of vocabulary flash cards. (Cute, right?) Last week, one of my vocab words was parvenu. Definition: a person who, having risen socially or economically, is considered to be an upstart or to lack the appropriate refinement for his or her new position.
This being a Boise State story, you can probably guess where we’re going here. But this story isn’t another addition to the debate about the BCS or strength of schedule or polls or any of the other things people love and hate about college football. Rather, this is about the fans of Boise.
For the past 24 years, I’ve been part of a Boise community that has seen its hometown team go from the Big Sky Conference (Division I-AA), to the Big West, to the WAC, to, in 2011, the Mountain West. It’s the classic path of growth for a mid-major college football program. Except, in this case, along the way, that mid-major program erupted into a perennial power and national title contender.
The city’s reaction to Boise State success has been not unlike how you might react if, say, on your way to an Oscar party, you suddenly got invited to the actual Oscars. There’s the quick moment of disbelief. Then, the rush to go get the proper attire (you wouldn’t believe the number of orange and blue shirts sold in this city). Then, the quick spreading of the word (guess what just happened!). Finally, there’s the emotional mixture of nervousness and excitement. Except, in Boise State fans’ case, take 90 percent from nervousness and pour it into excitement.
Actually, excitement might be the wrong word. You have to be somewhat knowledgeable about something in order to be excited for it. Enthusiasm is essentially blind excitement. I’d say many – certainly not all – but many of the Boise State fans are enthusiastic these days. People who never followed football outside of watching a Super Bowl pregame show are suddenly living the life of a hardcore fan (or at least mimicking all their behaviors). These "enthusiastic fans" are the ones building the hype. (If you haven’t heard, there’s a Bronco Nation now.)
Certainly, having "enthusiastic fans" is better than not having fans at all. And, though I haven’t been part of the hardcore Boise State fan base since my junior high days (early 2000s, when the team was a few years away from first cracking the Top 25), I’d imagine the longtime hardcore Bronco fans don’t mind the enthusiastic fans coming aboard. Even if the enthusiastic fans have caused ticket prices to skyrocket.
Boise State does not actually have a lot of longtime hardcore fans. The uncomfortable truth is, Boise State is a commuter school. It's littered with non-traditional students and a bunch of kids looking to simply accumulate miscellaneous college credits. (I myself racked up six BSU credits my freshman fall semester when a book tour prevented me from beginning college in earnest at Washington State until spring.) Everyone in this state knows that if you want a classic college experience – lively campus, Greek life, that sense of community – you go up north to Moscow, at the University of Idaho.
In fairness to Boise State, the school is gradually morphing from a commuter school to more of a classic university. But it’s not there yet, which is why its current fan base consists primarily not of alumni but Boise residents. (And most of the alumni actually think of themselves as "Boise residents" first.) The fan base demographic is more like that of a professional sports team.
Because of all this, the truly serious team fans in this town – and, honestly, with this being an outdoorsy town, there might be less than 5,000 true sports fans – are all looking at one another with mutual expressions of trepidation. It’s great what’s happening to this team and city, but we can’t help but wonder if it isn’t wrong. Do Boise fans truly deserve this?
There are no long-suffering Broncos fans. This town never expected such success for Boise State. When the Broncos first cracked the Top 25, we all thought that was it – that that’s as good as it can get. And we were all fine with that. Then when the Broncos started creeping into the Top 15, we thought it was cool. Really cool, in fact. But no one got attached. Then came the BCS bowl bids. Even then, though, there was a palpable sense of "Isn't it great that our hometown boys are doing so well?" It almost didn’t matter if the Broncos won or lost because people knew they were at least trying their best. That’s nice, but as Philadelphians can tell you, that’s not true fandom.
Then the 2007 Fiesta Bowl happened. That put everything over the top. In that game, Boise fans were on the brink of catastrophic disappointment. You know, the type of disappointment that has instilled character in Eagles and Red Sox fans (and fans of countless other teams across the country). But thanks to an unforgettable series of trick plays, Boise fans were treated to magic and invigorated like never before. But they may have also been spoiled.
Because of that game, Boise fans have tasted some of the sweetest flavors of victory without ever having to swallow a bitter defeat. This fits the classic description of a bandwagon fan base. But we can’t call Boiseans bandwagoners yet because they haven’t had an opportunity to hop off. Sure, thousands of people hopped on once this team became a national power. But that’s how most fan bases start. The test will come once the Broncos truly lose.
That, of course, may not happen this season. Boise State has already survived the tough part of it schedule. With the exception of the Nevada and Hawaii games, Boise State has cupcakes remaining. It used to be, you couldn’t talk to fans around here about the questionable strength of schedule. They either didn’t understand the concept (literally) or refused to admit it was a mark against the program.
But this season, people have been at least halfway level-headed about the very legitimate topic. I imagine that will change, though, if Oregon and Boise State both finish undefeated but only the Ducks get to play in for national championship. Boise fans will get defensive about scheduling because, they’ll argue, the Broncos beat the Ducks last year and now they’re getting robbed of a chance for a title. Last year, of course, isn’t relevant, and this argument itself would be mostly illogical, but that won't matter to Boiseans.
At least then Boise fans can start hating another team (Oregon). The Broncos have no rival these days. BSU fans dislike no one. Opposing fan bases come into town, whisper among themselves about how obnoxious the Broncos fans are, but the Bronco fans have no idea because they’re oblivious to all other programs. In fact, after Boise State’s prime time victory over Oregon State a few weeks ago, I actually saw a college-aged girl decked out in full Beavers regalia walk through the jam-packed streets of Boise’s downtown nightlife district. There were gobs and gobs of Broncos fans downtown celebrating the game. You know how many of them heckled – or even playfully teased – the Beaver fan? Zero.
When you get big but continue to face little schools each year, you lose the sense of rivalry. It wasn’t always this way, of course. For the longest time, the biggest day of the sports year in Boise was the day of the Boise State vs. Idaho game. Those two fan bases truly did not like each other.
However, you know that one best friend you had growing up who never changed after high school? And you know how, when you bump into this old friend years later, you’re still shocked by how little they’ve changed (and, consequently, by how much you’ve changed)? The Idaho Vandals have become that friend to Boise State. Yes, the Broncos play in a 33,500-seat stadium, which is tiny. But at least it has new facilities and luxury boxes. And at least ESPN is here every other week. And at least people know about the blue turf. The Vandals still play in the 16,000-seat Kibbie Dome, which is somehow dinkier than it sounds. The Vandals still want to hangout with he Broncos (you know, like old times), but these days, the Broncos only smile and say, It was good to see you, take care of yourself. (By the way, regarding that blue turf – Boiseans hardly think about it. Outsiders love it, but here, it’s incredibly normal. One of the weirdest experiences I ever had was visiting the New York Jets training camp in high school and seeing a synthetic green field in person for the first time.)
Anyway, I only share the Boise State-Idaho bit because earlier this year, Boise State’s president, Bob Kustra, said publicly that there is no rivalry between the schools anymore, and that once the Broncos move to the Mountain West, there will be no benefit for them putting the Vandals on their schedule. Kustra’s assessment is 100 percent true, but still, even the Bronco fans cringed when he actually said it aloud.
Kustra’s attitude is the very attitude Boise State has grown to hate from other schools. Big-time programs have never been willing to play against Boise State because if the big-time program wins, it was supposed to win; if it loses, it’s screwed. Boiseans used to wear this as a badge of honor (those arrogant bullies are scared to face us!). Now, Boiseans don’t talk about it too much because Boise State is becoming one of those arrogant bullies.
It’s all a natural part of the process, though. And Boise fans are learning. A few weeks ago, I actually went to a Broncos game for the first time in several years. (The whole ordeal cost about five times more than it used to cost.) I noticed immediately that the tailgaters were far more widespread and sophisticated than before. And so were the fans inside. People used to call out players by their numbers. (Come on 20! Or, Get your head in the game, 97!) Now, they call out players by name. And they clearly understand concepts (noise for the opposing offense, playing field position, clock management, etc.) Plus, these fans are more invested in the team.
Literally. In the past, if you’d had shown someone a photo of a random crowd shot at Bronco Stadium, it would have taken a very shrewd detective to decipher what event the fans were attending. But at Bronco Stadium the other night, I almost felt self-conscious for not wearing orange or blue.
Overall, Boise State has been great for this city. And, this city has rallied around Boise State with a vigor I could have never imagined. But as sports towns go, this one, like the Broncos program it roots for, is still maturing. In fact, it’s just barely approaching the teenage stage. What makes me leery – and, I’d imagine, fans in other towns a little annoyed – is that this teenager has been bestowed with a level of wealth that most people, if they’re lucky, only achieve late in life.
Posted on: October 23, 2010 10:39 pm
J. Darin Darst
2. Circle your calendars for a showdown next weekend of the two best teams in Conference USA next weekend -- East Carolina at UCF. The Pirates have won three in a row and are averaging 38 points per game over that stretch. Meanwhile, UCF has the conferences best defense, which has allowed only 11.6 points over its three-game winning streak. The winner of this game should decide the East Divison in the conference and will be the favorite to win the C-USA crown and that Liberty Bowl berth. It's going to be a great matchup in Orlando. What a weekend you could plan -- watch UCF take on East Carolina and after the game head on over to Universal Studios for Halloween Horror Nights.
3. How good is this Hawaii team? Utah State was supposed to be a sleeper team and hung with Oklahoma, but all Hawaii did was blast them 45-7. Bryant Moniz ... has anybody else outside of Hawaii heard of this guy? He only leads the nation in passing yards and finished Saturday with another 389 yards. The biggest question we all want to know is, can the Warriors (6-2) give Boise State a game? We are going to find out soon enough -- at Boise on Nov. 6.
4. Who is the Sun Belt's second-best team? Since the conference has two bowl bids this year, somebody has to grab that second spot, right? Louisiana-Lafayette looked like it might finally grab a bowl bid, but ended up losing at home to Western Kentucky 54-21. The Hilltoppers hadn't won a game in close to three years. Maybe its Arkansas State? The Red Wolves are now 3-2 in the conference and played Troy really close (Lost 35-28). Big game for Arkansas State on Nov. 2 as it takes on Middle Tennessee. FIU was off this week, but it is 2-0 in Sun Belt play. Will somebody please step up in the coming weeks!
5. Miami (Ohio) isn't all that great and the fade is beginning. Sure the RedHawks were 3-0 in the conference, but just lost to Ohio, a key game in the East Division. They now have three of their final four games on the road, including next week at Buffalo. I'm not sure they are going to be able to win the division. Ohio and Temple are much better teams and with the conference only getting three bowl bids, Miami (Ohio) is most likely going to be left out. Meanwhile, Northern Illinois is making a HUGE statement in the West as it has now won five in a row. Get ready for the game on Nov. 9 against Toledo, which will likely decide who reaches the MAC title game.