Tag:Mike Sherman
Posted on: August 29, 2011 5:38 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 5:45 pm
 

SEC talk not a distraction at Texas A&M

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Have you heard? It's the opening week of the college football and that means the return of actual football. Yep, players between the lines, bone-jarring hits, 100-yard returns called back by flags and touchdowns galore.

Perhaps no coach is welcoming an actual game more than Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman, who has had to deal with the Aggies-to-the-SEC sideshow around his program for most of fall camp. Speaking on the Big 12 conference call on Monday however, he told reporters that the chatter about conference realignment isn't creeping into his players' minds.

"Those distractions only come if you allow them to become distractions," Sherman said. "They have not been a distraction for us because I told them a couple of times that things happen, we can only control what can control: how we prepare for this season. All that outside stuff, we let other people take care of that."

Entering his fourth year at the helm in College Station, Sherman did drop a bit of a hint as to where the program would be playing college football in the future though - in a roundabout way.

"We have a bunch of seniors on this team that will never play in that conference," he said. "They, at this point, could care less. They're concerned with winning this season."

Note that Sherman only mentioned seniors not playing in the SEC. It might be reading into his comments some but from all indications, the Aggies are as good as gone and their head coach is well aware of where his underclassmen will be playing next year. Still, it sounds as though the team is indeed focused more on running routes than running East.

"We've developed a mentality of where we just live in the present and don't worry about that stuff," Sherman added. "I don't think it's just coach-speak, if you talk to one of the players, they'll tell you the same thing. They're going to class today for the first time, they've got girlfriends, they have lives and they have football. Those distractions are made by people on the outside."

"When it's settled, it's settled. I'm not really worried about it. That whole schedule, in football years, is 10 years down the road.  I'm not even concerned about it."

The A&M is ranked 8th in the country and will host SMU on September 4.


Posted on: August 14, 2011 4:05 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:44 pm
 

SEC finishes meeting, doesn't invite Texas A&M

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The SEC has just finished its scheduled meeting of its presidents and chancellors, and unfortunately for secession-minded Texas A&M fans, the conference is staying put at 12 teams -- for now. Here's the full statement released by presidents and chancellors chair (and Florida president) Bernie Machen:

“The SEC Presidents and Chancellors met today and reaffirmed our satisfaction with the present 12 institutional alignment. We recognize, however, that future conditions may make it advantageous to expand the number of institutions in the league. We discussed criteria and process associated with expansion. No action was taken with respect to any institution including Texas A&M.”

What Machen didn't say is that Texas A&M won't be invited to the SEC; if the chancellors and presidents didn't want the Aggies to come, the statement would likely have been worded with a bit more finality. As it stands, the conference is clearly leaving the door open to expansion.

It's also worth pointing out that the Texas A&M Board of Regents has yet to authorize school president R. Bowen Loftin (who did not attend the SEC's meeting) to negotiate its conference standing; that action is set to take place Monday. Texas A&M is still a member of the Big 12, and it might not even be legal for the SEC to invite the Aggies at this point.  In other words, the "future conditions" Machen talks about may be as simple as Texas A&M applying to the SEC, or at the very least setting an end date to its affiliation to the Big 12. Either way, the metaphorical ball likely wasn't in the SEC's court to begin with.

Moreover, Texas state Rep. Dan Branch has called for a hearing before his Committee on Higher Education on Tuesday, with officials from the Big 12, SEC and Texas A&M invited. The Texas state legislation has been active in conference affiliation matters in the past; it pushed for Baylor's inclusion alongside Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech in the "Pac-16" plan that eventually fell through, for example. Branch has said it would be "inappropriate" for Texas A&M to go to the SEC before the Tuesday meeting, and Loftin said that he would be present at that meeting, and that the Regents.

Arkansas chancellor Dave Gearheart attended the meeting, and said that while no action was taken on Texas A&M, the school was certainly one of the topics of discussion. "It was really an open discussion, not just about A&M but about the future of the conference and the future of other conferences," Gearhart said. "We did talk about Texas A&M. It's a great university, a great place. But I think the decision was to make no decision at this particular time."

This issue isn't put to bed by any stretch. An unnamed SEC official told the New York Times' Pete Thamel that the meeting was to let Texas A&M "get its house in order." But for now, Texas A&M is stuck with the Big 12. Saturday, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe issued a statement that the conference had "unanimous desires" for Texas A&M to remain a member, and that the conference "took actions [...] to adequately address those concerns" that Texas A&M had raised.

Texas A&M's main problem revolved around the upcoming Longhorn Network, the Texas-affiliated sports channel set to launch this fall. In particular, Texas A&M was among many Big 12 members who objected to the channel's plans to air an in-conference football game and high school games involving high-profile recruits. Both of those options have since been taken off the table, with the NCAA issuing a moratorium on all collegiate networks airing high school games.

Still, the mere suggestion that these ideas were planned by the network may have been enough to sour Texas A&M on the Big 12 for good, regardless of what the Longhorn Network actually does, and it probably didn't help matters when Beebe told the conference that it can survive without Texas A&M and speculated on candidates to replace the Aggies, namely Houston and Notre Dame

Members of the Texas A&M coaching staff and its players declined any comment that indicated any interest in the potential move. Head coach Mike Sherman said "I don't pay a lot of attention to [the SEC issue]" after an afternoon practice on Sunday. Senior safety Trent Hunter agreed, saying "it's not anything that's going to affect us playing SMU in that first week."

Loftin issued a statement through Texas A&M on Sunday on the issue.

"As we have seen over the past several days, there has been a considerable amount of misinformation regarding these discussions and any associated timelines. The chairman of our board has indicated that the regents will proceed with tomorrow's agenda item, which authorizes the president of Texas A&M to take all actions related to athletic conference alignment. I will also accept Chairman Branch's invitation to participate in his committee's hearing on Tuesday. These are extremely complex issues, and it is imperative that we proceed methodically and in the best interests of Texas A&M." 


RapidReporter Brent Zwenerman and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
Posted on: August 10, 2011 1:27 pm
 

A&M official: Big 12 members 'tired of Texas'

Posted by Tom Fornelli

There has been a lot of attention paid to Texas A&M over the last few months. Some of that attention has to do with the way the Aggies finished the 2010 season and whether or not Mike Sherman's program is ready to take that next jump to becoming one of the elite programs in the country. Still, even the preseason hype about A&M in 2011 pales in comparison to all the rumors and speculation about the school in 2012 and beyond.

Specifically, where will the Aggies be playing football? Will they still be a member of the Big 12, or will they be joining the SEC? The rumors ran rampant on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon that Texas A&M is considering a move, but according to Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle, that's not exactly the case.

Of course, just because the move isn't imminent, that doesn't mean Texas A&M is ruling it out either, and one school official said that Texas A&M isn't the only member of the Big 12 conference that is annoyed with that big burnt orange program in Austin.
But a high-ranking A&M official said Tuesday there were no "precipitating events that led to (Tuesday's) rumors and speculations," adding that there would be "no imminent announcement or anything of that matter" concerning the SEC.

The official, however, did cite A&M's general unhappiness with the Big 12 - thanks primarily to the ESPN-backed Longhorn Network of rival Texas - but stayed mum on whether a shift to the SEC might occur at some point. Another A&M official recently described the Aggies and other Big 12 members as simply being "tired of Texas" - primarily the Longhorn Network's pushing to air key high school games.
The Big 12 recently made the decision to table the decision of whether or not the Longhorn Network can broadcast high school games for a year. A decision that won't do anything to help put out the fires that many people seem to believe are burning within the Big 12 conference. Simply choosing to not talk about a problem for a year doesn't mean it isn't there, and if you ignore the elephant in the room long enough, eventually he's going to defecate all over the place.

Will the Big 12 survive all of this? I honestly couldn't tell you. The conference seemed to be at death's door last year before recovering and getting a new television deal. Still, that hasn't seemed to do anything to change how the nine remaining schools in the conference feel about the preferential treatment Texas seems to get.
Posted on: August 8, 2011 12:44 pm
Edited on: August 8, 2011 12:45 pm
 

Texas A&M's Mangan arrested for fighting

Posted by Tom Fornelli

With camps beginning all over the country this week -- with some getting under way last week -- college football players all over the country are counting down their final days of freedom before full-time football mode. This means that there were probably a lot of players going out over the weekend looking for one final blowout before getting down to business, and anytime that happens, you can expect at least one or two players to find themselves in trouble.

Enter Texas A&M linebacker Kyle Mangan.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Mangan was arrested early Sunday morning for disorderly conduct (fighting) by the College Station police in the Northgate bar district. Details of the fight are not known, but Mangan was one of three people arrested. The 21-year old linebacker was released on bond on Sunday.

“I have been made aware and it is an unfortunate incident,” said Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman in a statement. “Seems like some people have too much free time on their hands. That will be addressed shortly, as well as facing the consequences for this untimely and avoidable incident.” 

Mangan started 10 games for the Aggies during his freshman season in College Station, but has spent the last two years dealing with a shoulder injury. He had been expected to compete for a starting job this fall, but odds are this incident will have a significant impact on exactly how much he'll be able to compete for the job.
Posted on: July 22, 2011 4:04 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 4:08 pm
 

Mike Sherman gets a contract extension

Posted by Tom Fornelli

While we don't really know what to think of the future of the Texas A&M football program as far as where it will be playing its football in the coming years, we do know something about what tomorrow holds for the Aggies. Wherever the school ends up playing, it's likely Mike Sherman will be there.

The school announced on Friday that it had given Mike Sherman a contract extension along with a $400,000 pay raise. The extension adds one year to the four years remaining on Sherman's current deal, and bumps his pay up to $2.2 million annually, which makes him the fourth-highest paid coach in the Big 12.

“Coach Sherman has done an outstanding job of directing our football program and is one of the top football coaches in the country,” A&M athletic director Bill Byrne said in a statement. “Not only has our team improved on the field, but under Coach Sherman’s direction the overall football team has embraced the values and virtues of Texas A&M University.” 

Through three seasons in College Station Sherman's record is the epitome of mediocrity, as the Aggies have gone 19-19 in that time, but they are coming off of a 9-4 season and an appearance in the Cotton Bowl. It's also possible that the team will start the season ranked in the top ten, and is considered to be one of the favorites in the Big 12 this season. 

Posted on: June 24, 2011 3:34 pm
 

Hot Seat Ratings: The Big 12 coaches

Posted by Tom Fornelli

CBSSports.com's very own Dennis Dodd went through every head coach in the FBS this week and assigned a hot seat rating for each one, with 0 being the "coolest" seat and 5 meaning that the coach may end up in a hospital burn ward should he sit down. Looking through Dodd's ratings for each coach in the Big 12 this year, while I agree with most of his ratings, there were a couple I didn't feel were accurate.

Here's the list of Big 12 coaches and the Hot Seat Rating Dodd gave them from lowest to highest.

- Bob Stoops, Oklahoma: 0.0

- Bill Snyder, Kansas State: 0.5

- Paul Rhoads, Iowa State: 1.0

- Gary Pinkel, Missouri: 1.0

- Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State: 1.0

- Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech: 1.5

- Art Briles, Baylor: 2.0

- Mack Brown, Texas: 2.0

- Mike Sherman, Texas A&M: 2.0

- Turner Gill, Kansas: 3.5

Again, for the most part, I agree with Dennis' rankings, but there are a few of the coaches who I have some nitpicks about. So instead of just writing Dodd an email to let him know, why not publicize it?

Mack Brown - Dodd gives Brown a 2.0 ranking, which according to his system means "Safe--solid position." I do not agree. Honestly, if these were my rankings, I'd bump Brown up to a 4.0. Which Dodd describes as "Warm seat--feeling the pressure." Which is exactly where I think Brown sits at the moment. Coming off of a 5-7 season Brown had to let go of his offensive coordinator Greg Davis and brought in Bryan Harsin. He also saw Will Muschamp leave for Florida. Which means that he was already feeling pressure. You don't go firing your offensive coordinator, and essentially lay the blame at his feet in the process, if you aren't a bit worried about what might come your way.

In a sensible world, Mack Brown should be at 2.0. He should be safe. But this isn't a sensible world, this is Texas Longhorns football where a 5-7 season just isn't acceptable at anytime under anybody. Brown may have a national title to his name, but if Texas goes through another season like the one it went through in 2010, I don't care who Mack Brown is. He'll likely find himself out of a job.

Mike Sherman - Much like Mack Brown, Dodd sets Sherman at a 2.0, and much like Mack Brown, I feel this number is a bit too low. After all, last October when Texas A&M was 3-3 on the year and 0-3 in the Big 12, there were plenty of people who felt Sherman wouldn't be around College Station much longer. Sherman then made the move he had to make by benching Jerrod Johnson for Ryan Tannehill and Tannehill rewarded him by saving his job and helping lead the Aggies on a six-game win streak and berth in the Cotton Bowl.

Still, even with that 9-4 season, the Aggies are still only 19-19 in Sherman's three seasons with the school. The Aggies may not be the power that they once were these days, but I don't think a .500 record is ever going to sit well with a fan base that wants to rule the state of Texas year in and year out. Now, after such a positive finish to the season, expectations are raised at A&M. Should the Aggies and Sherman stumble out of the gate again this season -- and with a stretch of games against Oklahoma State, Arkansas and Missouri early, another 3-3 start isn't out of the question -- then Sherman's pants may be literally on fire before the year is done.

Art Briles - Dennis has Baylor's Art Briles at a 2.0, but I feel that's a bit too high. I'd put Briles at more of a 1.0 or a 1.5 because I just don't see a situation where he's going to be fired this year. In his first two seasons in Waco, Baylor had 4-8 campaigns under Briles, but there was improvement in the team that was evident in anyone who watched. Improvement that led to a 7-6 season in 2010 and Baylor's first trip to a bowl game since 1994.

At a school like Baylor, where football success isn't exactly a common theme, nor is it that big of a deal, I don't see any way in which Briles is going to be fired after leading the program to its first bowl game in 17 years. The only way I can envision Briles not coaching at Baylor in 2012 is if he gets a job somewhere else.

Bob Stoops - Dodd lists Bob Stoops as a 0.0, the safest coach in the Big 12. Dennis is right, Stoops is the safest coach in the conference, but I just don't feel that 0.0 is low enough. I'd put it at a -5.0 because the only way I see Bob Stoops getting fired is if he goes on some cross-country killing spree, and even then he might survive. 

Posted on: June 6, 2011 2:45 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 9:43 am
 

CBSSports.com College Football 100: 30-21

By the Eye on College Football bloggers

To celebrate the (now fewer than) 100 days remaining until the first Saturday of the new college football season, this is the CBSSports.com College Football 100: our countdown of the 2011 season's 100 most influential players, coaches, administrators, venues, or any other related
things in college football. It's like that other "most influential" list, but, you know, more important. Also: it's supposed to be fun. Enjoy.

30. LAMICHAEL JAMES, running back, Oregon. Granted, it was just Oregon's spring game. But Duck fans had to like the fact that LaMichael James had only three carries (lest he gets hurt) and that one of them went for a touchdown--your simple, run-of-the-mill, back-and-forth 67-yard "scamper" as the Oregon media described it. The run was almost par-for-the-course for the reigning Doak Walker Award winner, but that's the thing about James: when you're a threat to score just about every time you touch the ball, 67-yard touchdowns happen sometimes.

On top of setting his sights on a host of Oregon and Pac-12 rushing records this season, James hopes to help lead Oregon back to the BCS championship game and finish what the team came so close to doing last year. The Ducks have to replace several offensive linemen, but that might not be a big issue for James, who can hit the tiniest of holes in split-seconds. Speed is the 5-foot-9, 190-pound back's greatest asset, considering he moonlights on Oregon's track team and anchors the 4x100 relay team (among other things). James will leave the track behind soon though, moving on to playing a game of "catch me if you can" and blowing past defenses come fall. A second trip to New York as a Heisman finalist -- and possibly more -- seems likely. -- BF

29. LUKE KUECHLY, linebacker, Boston College. The ACC has produced several dominating defenders in the last couple of years, but few have demanded the attention from day one like Kuechly. Tapped to replace Mark Herzlich in the BC linebacking unit in 2009, Kuechly stepped in and set an NCAA freshman record with 158 tackles on the season. When the two were on the field together in 2010, Kuechly led the nation with 183 tackles and was named a unanimous All-American by pretty much anyone with a publication.

Entering his junior year the expectations are as high as ever for Kuechly. He is widely considered a first-round draft pick in 2012, but will need another impressive season to cement that status. The good news for Eagles fans is that head coach Frank Spaziani and the rest of the staff believe that Kuechly has done nothing but improve. But with a much younger defense alongside him in the huddle in 2011, Kuechly will need to provide more than individual statistics to help Boston College get back to the postseason. The good news is the mere presence of the 6-foot-3, 235-pound playmaker on the field is a tactical advantage, with the opposition always having to keep an eye on No. 40. Considering the potential for Kuechly in 2011, it won't just be the opposition--we'll all have our eyes on No. 40 this fall. -- CP

28. BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP GAME, title tilt, Indianapolis. For years and years, the Big Ten stood apart from the rest of FBS college football in one very unfortunate aspect: it was the only conference that did not employ either a full round-robin conference schedule or a conference championship game. In other words, only in the Big Ten could two teams potentially go undefeated in conference play (or otherwise tie for the conference championship) and have no way to break the tie on the field. In fact, that's not just a pointless what-if; it actually happened in 2002, when Iowa and Ohio State both ran the table in Big Ten play. Iowa had one blemish on its non-conference record and OSU didn't, so the Buckeyes went to the BCS Title Game and won. But Big Ten fans had (and still have) the right to feel cheated out of what would have been an excellent conference championship game.

No more, no more, as the Big Ten is going to be invading Indianapolis and the Lucas Oil Dome every December from now until 2015, settling the age-old controversy on whether being a Legend or Leader is better (more on that in a little bit). Purists are understandably chafed that the Big Ten--the conference that couldn't get more arctic or physical without literally employing polar bears as offensive linemen--is deciding its conference championship in a dome, but watching a game in horrible weather is miserable, and misery in the name of purity is still misery. It's good to see Jim Delany's still got something of a heart. -- AJ

27. THE SMURF TURF, home field, Boise State. It's rare for the actual field to be a school's most recognizable feature, but that's certainly the case for the love-it-or-hate-it blue turf at Boise State's Bronco Stadium. The only blue artificial turf in the world, it's rumored (though not confirmed, alas) that migrating birds sometimes mistake it for a giant lake and try to land on it. Like the birds that may or may not land flat on their face, opposing teams seem to nose-dive when they play on the turf, going 2-77 against the Broncos there since 1999.

Perhaps most impressive is the fact that the home team is perfect in conference games, going 40-0 on the Smurf Turf during WAC play. This is Boise State's first year in the Mountain West and they aim to keep that mark going, but it won't be easy. Looming large on the schedule is a game against departing MWC power TCU in the middle of November. The Horned Frogs aren't expected to be quite as good as they were last year (or in the teams' 2009 Fiesta Bowl meeting) but they do figure to be the Broncos' biggest road block to another BCS game -- and possibly even the national title game -- if they get by Georgia in their opener. With plenty of returning starters back from last year's 12-1 squad, don't be surprised if Boise proves unbeatable on the blue turf once again. -- BF

26. MIKE SHERMAN, head coach, Texas A&M. When Sherman was hired at College Station before the 2008 season, replacing Dennis Franchione, it wasn't exactly the kind of move that had Aggie fans celebrating impending national championships. A 10-15 mark through his first two seasons didn't help matters, and Sherman found himself on the hot seat even after signing a seven-year deal. That seat only got warmer when the Aggies started off the 2010 season 3-3 ... and then a funny thing happened. Sherman finally pulled the plug on Jerrod Johnson and went with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback, and after that all Texas A&M could do was win. The team finished the year 9-4 after losing to LSU in the Cotton Bowl, but by then the Aggies had already picked up their first share of the Big 12 South title since 1998.

So it's safe to say that Sherman's seat has cooled considerably in 2011. Of course, while he may not have come to College Station with the highest of expectations, now that Aggie fans have a taste for winning again, Sherman's biggest task will be to keep that momentum going. To do that he's going to have to make sure his defense continues to improve. After finishing dead last in 2008 and 2009 in the Big 12 in points-against, the Aggies rocketed up to second in the conference last season, allowing only 20.3 points per-game. If Sherman can continue leading the Aggies to improvement on both sides of the ball, as he did last season, the Longhorns won't be the only team from Texas to worry about in the Big 12 championship race. -- TF

25. MANTI TE'O, linebacker, Notre Dame. During his time in South Bend, Charlie Weis seemed to have a lot of success recruiting offensive players. On the defensive side of the ball, while Weis brought in some solid players, the game-changing playmakers you need to win were never seemed to be among them. That is, until Weis went to Hawai'i and landed Manti Te'o. Weis may be gone, but the "Hawaiian Hitman" remains and Brian Kelly is thrilled to have him. The biggest factor in Notre Dame's strong finish in 2010 was a defense that shut down opposing offenses, and Te'o was the driving force in that unit.

Through his first two seasons Te'o has racked up 192 tackles (129 of them in 2010) and 14 tackles-for-loss. Te'o can be counted on to fly to the ball on every play, and while he's not as polished in pass coverage, he can stuff the run with the best linebackers in the country. What should scare offensive coordinators this year is that with the stockpile of talent Notre Dame has built on its defensive line the last few years, Te'o should be free to seek and destroy all season long. And if that's the case, it may not be long until Notre Dame is back on a BCS stage -- with Te'o the face of its success -- and college football fans are forced to hate the Irish again instead of just laughing at them. -- TF

24. LES MILES'S COJONES, coaching decision-makers, LSU. Since Les Miles took over for Nick Saban at the Bayou Bengal helm in 2005, it's no secret that LSU has won its fair share of thrillers. But it's not just the selective memory of the charmed 2007 run talking; over Miles's six seasons, LSU has gone a stunning 22-9 in games decided by seven points or less. Since we're talking about games potentially decided by a single bounce of the ball, most teams' records in these situations naturally yo-yo back and forth year-to-year--look at Iowa's rise-and-fall over the past few seasons, for instance. But not LSU. Aside from a 2-2 mark in 2008, Miles has finished above .500 in this category ever year of his Baton Rouge tenure.

The majority of observers (including many within his own LSU fanbase) have chalked this up to blind luck, and sometimes--as in Tennessee's 13-players-on-the-field penalty that saved the Tigers from themselves last season--they're right. But Miles also hasn't gotten nearly enough credit for the ballsy, go-for-broke, correct decisions that have often turned the tide in such games. While it's easy to note how fortunate Miles was when last year's botched fake field goal pitch against Florida bounced straight into his kicker's arms, it overlooks the fact that playing for a game-winning touchdown is by far the superior choice to settling for a long-distance field goal that would only tie the game even if good. If Miles ignores the criticism and continues to let his cojones do his thinking for him, expect another year of success for the Tigers in the dying minutes--and given how much talent his team will wield, potentially another run at a crystal football. -- JH

23. TODD MONKEN, offensive coordinator, Oklahoma State. Last season the Cowboy offense averaged 44.9 points and 537.6 yards per game. That, to keep the superlatives to a minimum, is rather good. Then Dana Holgorsen left Stillwater to become the head coach-in-waiting at West Virginia, and Monken was hired to replace him. Those are some high-octane shoes for Monken to fill, especially considering he hasn't been a play-caller since 2004, when he was working a previous stint in Stillwater for Les Miles. Since then, Monken followed Miles to LSU for a couple of years and then went on to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

So there's going to be an adjustment period, but the good news is that Oklahoma State still plans to run the same system it ran under Holgorsen. Unfortunately Monken won't have the same command of the playbook right off the bat that Holgorsen did, but he does at least have Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon to help cover him. Still, if Monken doesn't get the handle of things quick enough, Oklahoma State's top-10 season could already be "over" (and the immense potential of another year of the Weeden-Blackmon connection "wasted") by the time things are firing on all cylinders.-- TF

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22. "LEGENDS" AND "LEADERS," division names, Big Ten. One of the most dramatic changes in college football this year is the realignment of the Big Ten to a 12-team, two-division conference. Not only does that bring the aforementioned Big Ten Championship Game into existence, but it also introduces new and different conference tensions into play. Michigan and Nebraska as hated rivals? It sure could happen. Ohio State being more concerned with Wisconsin than the Wolverines? If a division title's on the line, absolutely.

But good lord, those names. It's one thing to deal with them over the course of an off-season, when they only come up once a month or so or whatever. Imagine what happens when they become part of the daily conversation. The derision will be deafening. Newscasters won't want to use them. Every time there's a slow moment in a football game, odds are pretty good that some bored color commentator is going to roll his eyes and casually call the division names stupid, and fans will laugh along with them. The Big Ten should be celebrating a brand new era and all of everything else that goes along with Nebraska's entry into the conference, and now instead it's going to have to defend the indefensible "LEGENDS" and "LEADERS" constantly. It's not too late to scrap them and just go with an admittedly imperfect-but-close-enough East-West nomenclature, right? Yeah, it's boring, but boring is good. It lets the on-field product speak for itself, and Big Ten football certainly can do that, right, Mr. Delany? Right? -- AJ

21. URBAN MEYER, television analyst/coaching free agent, ESPN. As we knew already and as Meyer spelled out for us just a few days ago, the most successful head coach of college football's previous decade won't be coaching anywhere in 2011. He'll be living the good life as a talking head at the "Worldwide Leader," offering what we hope will be pointed analysis and sharp X's-and-O's from one of the sport's shrewdest coaches.

But the shadow he'll cast over the college football coaching market will reach far longer than anything he does as a TV analyst. By specifically saying he won't be coaching "this fall," Meyer has all but announced he'll be looking for a new gig for next fall--meaning his name will be dropped into every conversation about currently vacant jobs (ahem), jobs that become vacant during the season, and even jobs that seem like they might become vacant if Meyer would show an interest. Like a prized NBA free agent, Meyer's influence is sure to be felt keenly in the narrative of the 2011 season ... even if he's not on the sidelines for a minute of it. -- JH

The 100 will continue here on Eye on CFB tomorrow. Until then, check out Nos. 100-91, 90-81, 80-71, 70-61, 60-51, 50-41 and 40-31. You can also keep up with the 100 by following us on Twitter.



Posted on: April 28, 2011 2:34 pm
 

Eye on CFB Roundtable: Who's No. 1?

By Eye on College Football Bloggers

Each week, the Eye on CFB team convenes Voltron-style to answer a pressing question regarding the wild, wide world of college football. This week's topic:

With a few scattered exceptions, spring practice is in the books. As we enter summer and start looking at the 2011 season in earnest, let's start that looking at the top: who deserves to be the preseason No. 1?

Tom Fornelli: If I were forced to choose a number one team at gunpoint like I am now, I would have to agree with most people and go with Oklahoma. 

The Big 12 just got a little easier to navigate now that Nebraska is gone and there's no longer a conference championship game to get through. Texas is coming off of a down year, and while I think they'll be improved in 2011, I think last year showed that the Longhorns aren't ready to compete for a national title again right away.

Which leaves Oklahoma, returning both Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles on offense, without much resistance in the Big 12. Yes, there's Oklahoma State and Texas A&M, but I don't see Oklahoma State making a key defensive stop when it needs one against the Sooners. As for the Aggies, I just don't trust Mike Sherman yet. So I don't think it's insane to believe that the Sooners are going to get through the season without a loss in 2011. That's enough to make them my extremely premature preseason No. 1.

Adam Jacobi: I agree with Tom. OU doesn't have everybody back, but they have enough to navigate a pretty lackluster Big 12 Which Is Now Actually 10. Look out for Alabama too, because Trent Richardson is going to have an absolutely monster year. But we'll need to see how the quarterback situation shakes out before tossing out terms like "top-ranked" to describe that team.

Bryan Fischer:  I think it's easy to peg Oklahoma as the pre-season No. 1, but that doesn't mean I'd pencil - and I do mean pencil - them in at the top. The Sooners do return their quarterback in Jones, a dynamic threat at receiver in Broyles and a great defensive leader in linebacker Travis Lewis. Their schedule does set up well for them, outside of a dangerous trip to Tallahassee to take on a Florida State team they beat 47-17 last year. 

That said, I have to go with Alabama. Let's face it: the champion at the end of the year usually comes from the SEC, so that's a good place to start. The Crimson Tide have to break in a new quarterback but I think the schedule will allow them to ease into things, with the big road game at Penn State teaching them to handle a hostile crowd. Plus, either guy gets to hand off to the best running back in the country in Richardson. The defense should be great again and they get both LSU and Arkansas at home.

AJ: I suppose this necessitates the question of by "No. 1," whether we're choosing the best team in Week 1 or the most likely team to run the table. Because I'm feeling OU more for the former and UA for the latter. But it's a good philosophical question regardless. Thoughts?

Chip Patterson:  I think that this far out from the regular season, you have to define "No. 1" as the team most prepared to win the title right now. In my eyes, that is Oklahoma. 

However, I would agree that Alabama - and also LSU - could find themselves in another SEC West dogfight should Florida State knock off Oklahoma in Tallahassee. Florida State is far from the team that got worked in Norman a year ago, returning 18 starters from a team that beat SEC East champion South Carolina in the Chick Fil-A Bowl. If Oklahoma slips to the Seminoles early in the season, then the Bayou Bengals' trip to Tuscaloosa on Nov. 5 becomes another one of those marquee SEC regular season bloodbaths which have become an annual event the last couple seasons. 

But until they slip and fall, the Sooners look most prepared to run the table right now - and they are my No. 1.

Jerry Hinnen: Adam's question is one that it would be nice for the mainstream polls to answer for us with some kind of stated policy, as opposed to their current "Do What You Feel" preseason approach. My take is that it's more fair to start the season with (as Chip says) the best team at the top regardless of schedule, then adjust as the season results pour in.  But it's much more fun to try and predict who'll wind up standing atop the mountain when all is said and done.

So that's what I'll do, and I'll also predict "Alabama." I don't expect the Tide to run the table against the strongest single division in college football (even with Auburn taking a step back, there's still LSU, underrated Arkansas and ever-improving Mississippi State plus an Iron Bowl on the road), but after two years with a BCS national title game matching up undefeated opponents, we're overdue for at least one one-loss team to make the championship tilt. And once an SEC team gets that far, it's been the safest of bets -- to-date -- to take that final step to the crystal football.

Two final points to wrap things up:

1. At the very least, we've got a consensus on who the top two teams are. Our colleague Dennis Dodd named LSU his early-early No. 1,  but after seeing Jordan Jefferson continue to flail in the Tigers' spring game, it's hard to see them coming out of Tuscaloosa with a win. And behind those three, is there anyone else we'd feel comfortable naming as a contender? Oregon has suffered major defensive losses; Ohio State could face the entire season without Jim Tressel; Stanford and Oklahoma State and Nebraska have all undergone substantial offensive coaching overhauls; and at the mid-major level, TCU and Boise State were (probably) both better a year ago.

In fact, it might be Florida State that's better positioned to make a run than any of those teams. Which brings me to my next point:

2. Even if the overall nonconference slate is more cupcake-laden than ever, we have not one but two games in September -- LSU hosting Oregon and the aforementioned Sooners-Seminoles clash -- matching up legitimate top-10 teams with national title aspirations. That's two more than most years, so you won't hear any complaints about 2011's non-league scheduling from me.

 
 
 
 
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