Posted on: July 26, 2011 2:55 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Several non-AQ conferences have held their preseason media days and polls, and it won't surprise anyone to learn that the Mountain West's edition has anointed newcomers Boise State the league favorites in their first MWC campaign.
The Broncos earned 28 out of a possible 31 first-place votes, with reigning champion TCU picking up three nods to finish second in their final MWC preseason poll before 2012's jump to the Big East. Air Force placed third, followed by San Diego State.
Personally, we'd have slid the Aztecs into the third slot* thanks in large part to Ronnie Hillman, the explosive sophomore running back who was named to the MWC's preseason all-conference team, also announced Tuesday. But it was the Broncos who predictbably dominated the list of honorees, earning a conference-high seven selections. In addition to Kellen Moore (who was named the preseason MWC Offensive Player of the Year), the Broncos were also saw less-household names like safety George Iloka, defensive end Shea McLellin and offensive tackle Nate Potter.
TCU picked up four selections, including preseason Defesnive Player of the Year Tank Carder. No doubt the MWC itself is hoping the media have their predictions right; having the Broncos oust the Frogs in the two teams' only shared conference season would be a feather in the league's cap as TCU departs (and the MWC fights for a BCS automatic berth.
But as mentioned, the MWC isn't the only league that's been busy issuing its preseason polls. Checking in on two of their non-AQ brethren:
MAC: The Mid-American Conference held its Media Day Tuesday and announced the league's press had selected up-and-coming Toledo the league favorite for 2011. The Rockets return a league-high 18 starters in the third season of Tim Beckman's tenure, including dynamic receiver/returner Eric Page, a Biletnikoff Award Watch list member.
But the Rockets were far from a slam dunk choice, gaining only five of the 13 votes cast for MAC champion. Reigning divisional champions Northern Illinois and Miami (Ohio) each picked up three nods, with Ohio and Western Michigan each picking up a token vote. All in all, seven different teams earned votes as champions of one division or the other--promising a well-heated MAC race this fall.
SUN BELT: The SBC doesn't issue a media vote, but last week the league's coaches released their own picks for the 2011 Sun Belt standings, with an unfamiliar name at the top: FIU.
Behind co-preseason Offensive Player of the Year (and CBSSports.com College Football 100 member) T.Y. Hilton, the Golden Panthers usurped usual league overloards Troy, receiving five of the nine votes in the poll. And in maybe the quirkiest single vote in any of those polls mentioned in this post, someone is very high on Western Kentucky; despite going 2-10 last year (and 2-22 the past two seasons), the Hilltoppers received one first-place vote.
*Yes, despite the devastation in the SDSU receiving corps. Between a veteran line, Hillman, and senior QB Ryan Lindley, they'll be fine.
Tags: Air Force, Eric Page, FIU, George Iloka, Jerry Hinnen, Kellen Moore, Miami (Ohio), Mountain West Conference, Nate Potter, non-AQ, Norhtern Illinois, Ohio, Ryan Lindley, San Diego State, Shea McLellin, Sun Belt, T.Y. Hilton, Tank Carder, Tim Beckman, Toledo, Troy, Western Kentucky, Western Michigan
Posted on: July 14, 2011 12:20 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 12:45 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
After getting my new copy of EA Sports' NCAA Football 12 on Tuesday, I took the time to simulate the entire 2012 season to see what the video game thinks is going to happen this year. In order to make things realistic, I even went through all the trouble of updating rosters to reflect what they currently look like.
That meant moving Russell Wilson from NC State to Wisconsin, removing Terrelle Pryor -- not to mention benching the suspended Buckeyes for the first five games of the season -- removing WaShaun Ealey and Caleb King from Georgia's backfield and so on and so forth.
No need to thank me, it was a labor of love.
So how did things turn out?
Well, it looks as if we'll once again have a non-BCS school finish the year undefeated -- the only school to do so -- but it's not Boise State or TCU. In fact, Boise State finally got its shot at a national title, but it couldn't come through.
Let's find out. First we'll start with the conference champions (Records don't include conference championships or bowl games).
ACC -- North Carolina 9-3 (6-2)
Big 12 -- Texas A&M 10-2 (8-1)
Big East -- South Florida 9-3 (6-1)
Big Ten -- Wisconsin 11-1 (7-1)
C-USA -- Houston 12-0 (8-0)
MAC -- Western Michigan 10-2 (7-1)
MWC -- Boise State 12-0 (7-0)
Pac 12 -- Oregon 9-3 (7-2)
SEC -- South Carolina 11-1 (7-1)
Sun Belt -- Troy 10-2 (8-0)
WAC -- Fresno State 8-4 (7-0)
And how about those BCS bowl games? Well I'm glad you asked.
Rose Bowl -- Wisconsin 49, Oregon 46 OT
Fiesta Bowl -- Texas A&M 38, Ohio State 17
Orange Bowl -- North Carolina 28, Alabama 20
Sugar Bowl -- Houston 48, South Florida 13
BCS National Championship -- South Carolina 24, Boise State 22
Yes, that's right, the Ol' Ball Coach has added another national title to his resume. Boise State did have a chance to topple the BCS machine, but couldn't pull through. Trailing 24-16, Kellen Moore hit Kyle Efaw on a 16-yard touchdown with 3 minutes left, but the Broncos couldn't convert the two-point conversion. The Gamecocks ran out the clock and celebrated a national title. Oh, and Stephen Garcia was the game's MVP. Let that marinate in your brain for a minute or two.
As for awards, I hope Houston quarterback Case Keenum used all that time off last season to build himself a trophy case because it looks as if he's going to need one. Keenum not only won the Heisman Trophy, but the Maxwell, Walter Camp and Davey O'Brien trophies to boot. That's what happens when you lead Houston to a 14-0 record yet still finish second in both polls.
Now, if that's not enough info for you, let's take a look at some of the season storylines by conference.
-- Jimbo Fisher hits the sophomore slump. Florida State doesn't even qualify for a bowl berth after finishing the year 5-7 with a 3-5 mark within the ACC. FSU loses to Oklahoma, Wake Forest, Maryland, NC State, Boston College, Miami and Florida. And of those losses, only the loss to Florida was by less than 10 points.
-- Al Golden has Miami on the right track. Sure, the Canes only went 8-5 during the season, but they did finish 6-2 in ACC play, just missing the ACC title game thanks to a 27-17 loss to North Carolina
-- Duke goes bowling! That's right, Duke finishes the year 7-6 with a 4-4 mark in the ACC, including a two-point win over UNC. Though the Dukies do lose to Florida in the Music City Bowl. I have no idea who Steve Spurrier was rooting for while watching.
-- Boston College is the "best" team in the Atlantic Division. The Eagles finish the year 8-6 with a 5-3 mark in the conference. They even nearly beat UNC in the title game, losing 29-27.
-- Oklahoma can't handle the pressure. The Sooners started out the year 7-0 before getting shocked by Kansas State on the road -- where else? -- 24-21. They also lost at Oklahoma State 38-24 to end the regular season and kill their hopes of a BCS berth.
-- Texas won't be terrible two years in a row. The Longhorns finish the season 11-2 with a 7-2 mark in the Big 12. Though they do lose to Oklahoma and Texas A&M, which stings a bit.
-- Where have you gone, Blaine Gabbert? Missouri needs you. The Tigers finished the season 4-8 with a 2-7 mark in the conference. Seems they're going to miss Colorado, Nebraska and the North Division.
-- The Big East is respectable. While no team in the conference finished the season with less than three losses (Pitt being the only with three), seven of the eight Big East schools won at least seven games, with Rutgers holding the only losing record.
-- Louisville can't finish. The Cardinals led the Big East most of the season before losing four of their last five games to finish 3-4 in the conference.
-- Casino or football field, Dana Holgorsen has a tough time winning anywhere this year. The Mountaineers went 2-5 in the Big East during his inaugural campaign.
-- Who needs Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor? Ohio State went 4-1 in its first five games of the season while so many of its playmakers sat out, and though the Buckeyes struggled in Big Ten play, they still finished the year 9-4 and got an at-large berth to the Fiesta Bowl. Oh, and they still beat Michigan.
-- Not that Michigan minded all that much, because Brady Hoke made believers out of the faithful in his first year. That Michigan loss to Ohio State? That was the Wolverines only Big Ten loss of the regular season, as they went 7-1 to win the Legends Division.
-- Wisconsin loves Russell Wilson. Wilson and the Badgers tore up the Big Ten all year long until the final week of the regular season. Then, after being 11-0 and ranked #1 for the majority of the regular season, the Badgers fell at home to Penn State 42-28. Though I guess beating Michigan 34-13 in the first Big Ten Championship Game and then Oregon in the Rose Bowl took some of the sting out of it.
-- New kid Nebraska gets picked on. The Huskers went 3-5 in Big Ten play, even losing to Minnesota. Though that wasn't as embarrassing as the 13-7 loss to Ohio -- University, not State -- in the Texas Bowl.
-- USC isn't on probation in virtual reality. So the Trojans were able to win the Pac-12 South division, even if they did lose to Oregon 35-14 in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship.
-- Utah enjoyed their move more than Colorado. The Utes finished the season 5-4 in conference play while Colorado went 3-6.
-- Andrew Luck should have gone pro. Stanford and Luck were off to a very nice start to the season, opening 7-0. Then Luck broke his arm, missed the rest of the year and Stanford finished 10-3.
-- The East still stinks. Sure, South Carolina wins the national title, but no other SEC East team managed to win more than four games in the conference. Meanwhile, in the West, LSU had the worst season of anyone, going 7-6 with a 3-5 mark in the SEC. Les Miles needs to eat more grass.
-- Will Muschamp did OK. Florida finished the season 9-4 with a 4-4 mark in the SEC, though Charlie Weis' offense needs some work. The Gators never scored more than 21 points against a SEC opponent not named Vanderbilt.
-- Alabama needs to fire Nick Saban, PAAAAWWWWWWWL. Oh the indignity of Alabama's 2012 season. Not only did the Tide lose the SEC title game to South Carolina, but then they went and lost to North Carolina in the Orange Bowl. Since when does Alabama play in the Orange Bowl, PAAWWWWL? NICK SABAN HAS GOT TO GO.
-- Auburn doesn't miss Cam Newton as much as you'd think. Even without their Heisman winning quarterback, the Tigers still manage to go 8-5 with a 4-4 mark in the conference. Not great, but not terrible either.
-- TCU would like to get to the Big East ASAP. The Horned Frogs lose twice in 2012, and not just to Boise State. Unlike 2011, TCU wasn't able to escape San Diego State, losing 33-30 at Qualcomm Stadium.
-- Notre Dame is back! The Irish finish the year 10-3, and feature one of the most potent offenses in college football. Why they're painting Brian Kelly over Touchdown Jesus as you read this.
-- BYU finds independence to be constricting. The Cougars first season free of the shackles of conferencedom does not work out very well, as BYU finishes the year 4-8 and even loses to Utah State along the way.
-- While I already went over the disrespect Houston received, what about conference mate Southern Miss? The Golden Eagles finished the regular season 11-1 before losing to Houston in the C-USA title game, and they couldn't even sniff the Top 25.
And that's it. There's the entire 2011 season right there according to a video game. I suppose at this point there's no point in even watching any of the games. Now, if you don't mind me, I'm going to go try and wrap my head around Stephen Garcia leading South Carolina to a national championship.
Can you imagine that party?
Tags: ACC, Al Golden, Alabama, Andrew Luck, Auburn, BCS National Championship, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Blaine Gabbert, Boise State, Boston College, Brady Hoke, Brian Kelly, BYU, C-USA, Caleb King, Cam Newton, Case Keenum, Charlie Weis, Colorado, Dana Holgorsen, Duke, Fiesta Bowl, Florida, Florida State, Fresno State, Georgia, Heisman Trophy, Houston, Jim Tressel, Jimbo Fisher, Kansas State, Kellen Moore, Kyle Efaw, Les Miles, Louisville, LSU, MAC, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, MWC, NC State, NCAA Football 12, Nebraska, Nick Saban, Non-BCS, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Orange Bowl, Oregon, Pac-12, Penn State, Pitt, Rose Bowl, Russell Wilson, Rutgers, San Diego State, SEC, Simulations, South Carolina, South Florida, Southern Miss, Stanford, Stephen Garcia, Steve Spurrier, Sugar Bowl, Sun Belt, TCU, Terrelle Pryor, Texas, Texas A&M, Troy, USC, USF, Utah, Utah State, Vanderbilt, Video Games, WAC, Wake Forest, WaShaun Ealey, West Virginia, Western Michigan, Will Muschamp, Wisconsin
Posted on: January 18, 2011 4:44 pm
Edited on: January 18, 2011 6:24 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
UPDATE: It would seem that they're no longer just talks, considering that Baltimore has now promoted Chuck Pagano to replace Mattison.
It's not exactly a secret that Rich Rodriguez's downfall at Michigan -- aside from that whole Michigan Man malarkey -- was the team's defense in his tenure. More specifically, the lack of defense. It doesn't matter much that your offense can score 30 points a game when it's allowing 35. So one of the first things that new head coach Brady Hoke has to fix if he wants to avoid Rodriguez's fate is the Michigan defense.
And all indications are that he's looking to the NFL to find the man to do it. Several reports on Monday say that current Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Greg Mattison has had talks with Michigan about taking the same role there.
Mattison has ties to both Hoke and Michigan, as both have worked together under Jack Harbaugh at Western Michigan, and at Michigan under Lloyd Carr. In his two seasons as Baltimore's defensive coordinator, where he replaced current Jets head coach Rex Ryan, Mattison's defenses finished third and tenth in the NFL.
If he can bring that kind of success to Ann Arbor, then it may not be long until Michigan is once again competing for Big Ten titles. Though if he has any stuffed animals that he uses as motivational tools, he should probably leave them behind in Baltimore. Maybe bring Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs instead.
Posted on: November 22, 2010 10:00 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
When the MAC opens its football season in 2011, it'll do so without its current longest-serving head coach. According to a statement by Kent State last night, head coach Doug Martin will step down after the end of this season. Martin is 47 years old and has spent all of seven years at the helm of the Golden Flashes; in the MAC, that qualifies for longest-tenured. Next season, that title will belong to Frank Solich of Ohio and Bill Cubit at Western Michigan.
This serial instability is pretty much par for the course in the MAC, though; even if no other MAC coaches leave their post between now and the end of August -- always a dicey proposition -- there'll be only three coaches in the 12-team conference with more than three years atop their programs in 2011: Solich, Cubit, and Northern Illinois coach Jerry Kill. That means that a substantial amount of players on MAC football teams have been at their schools longer than their coaches have. And it's not as if this is a new development; the last coaches at each school were only there for an average of 6.2 years, and nine either resigned, retired, or got fired. It's really, really hard to build a program in an environment that basically ensures such a high failure rate.
In a minor football conference, though, there's a fine line between stability and stagnation, and that's certainly the case in the MAC. It's hard to get fans (and boosters) excited if the team just went through a sub-.500 season and didn't make any wholesale changes, after all. But administrators routinely underestimate the destructive effects of a coaching change on a program, and that appears to be the case here again. Yes, Martin resigned, but it's hard to imagine he could have the Kent State job back if he had asked for it.
Kent State has announced that it is beginning a national search for Martin's successor immediately. And so the gears of abject mediocrity grind on, endlessly greased with the entrails of careers that barely stand a chance.
Posted on: November 16, 2010 5:01 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Linemen, defenders, running backs, and quarterbacks have all had their day in the "award announces smaller list of potential winners from larger list" sun, so now it's time for the guys that catch the ball. First, the 10 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award , given to the nation's outstanding wide receiver:
Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
Randall Cobb, Kentucky
Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M
A.J. Green, Georgia
Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina
Julio Jones, Alabama
Aldrick Robinson, SMU
Greg Salas, Hawaii
Jordan White, Western Michigan
And the eight semifinalists for the Mackey Award , due the nation's top tight end:
George Bryan (Jr., North Carolina State)
Michael Egnew (Jr., Missouri)
Ladarius Green (Jr., Louisiana)
Daniel Hardy (Sr., Idaho)
Lance Kendricks (Sr., Wisconsin)
Allen Reisner (Sr., Iowa)
Luke Stocker (Sr., Tennessee)
D.J. Williams (Sr., Arkansas)
What's interesting about contrasting the two lists in how many names pop off the firts list and don't pop off the second one. Of course, of course, the first is wide receivers and the second is tight ends. But whereas Green, Jefferey, and Jones are all universally considered first-round talents and players like Blackmon, Broyles, Salas, and White are all putting together flatly ridiculous statistical seasons (oh, and Cobb is only leading the nation in all-purpose yardage, and incredible talents like Michael Floyd and Jeff Maehl didn't make it), the tight ends are ... well, they're around. The No. 1 TE in receiving yardage is Egnew, followed by Green, and neither is exactly a household name. The early draft projections don't feature any of the tight ends listed above ... or any at all.
It's probably a one-year fluke. But as with the lack of workhorse running backs among the nation's top offensive skill players , it also speaks to how dominant the spread offense has become in college football. There just aren't as many traditional tight ends playing college football ... and it appears to be having an impact on the quality of the position overall.
Tags: A.J. Green, Alabama, Aldrick Robinson, Allen Reisner, Alshon Jeffery, Arkansas, Biletnikoff Award, D.J. Williams, Daniel Hardy, George Bryan, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Jeff Fuller, Jordan White, Julio Jones, Justin Blackmon, Kentucky, Ladarius Green, Lance Kendricks, Louisiana, Luke Stocker, Mackey Award, Michael Egnew, Missouri, North Carolina State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Randall Cobb, Ryan Broyles, SMU. Greg Salas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Western Michigan, Wisconsin
Posted on: October 23, 2010 8:01 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
It won't make the kind of headlines that Cam Newton 's run or Iowa State 's big upset or Wisconsin 's thrilling win will. But we should nonetheless take a moment to recognize that enough precincts have reported in that we can declare Western Kentucky a winner in their matchup with Lousiana-Lafayette. The Hilltoppers, losers of 26 straight, are up 54-14 over the not-so-Ragin' Cajuns with only two minutes and change remaining. The win is Western Kentucky's first as a full member of the FBS.
The win must be especially sweet for the Hilltoppers after blowing a 24-7 fourth-quarter lead a week ago against UL-Monroe. But rather than let it "beat them twice," as the saying goes, they clearly used it as fuel for a performance that left no doubt this week. No one must feel more redeemed than quarterback Kawaun Jakes , who threw a critical pick-six in the Monroe collapse but has gone 18-of-22 today.
With WKU off the schneid, only two winless teams remain in the FBS: New Mexico , who faces San Digeo State tonight, and Akron , 56-10 losers to Western Michigan today.
Posted on: October 22, 2010 10:27 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Many people have been able to gain their 15 minutes of fame thanks to the unstoppable locomotive that is the internet. That fame is fleeting, though, because this wonderful series of tubes that Al Gore was kind enough to give all of us always has its eye out for the newest star to make. Though that doesn't mean some of those lucky few break through.
Like Antoine Dodson, a Alabama man who was just trying to warn the another man who climbed into his sister's window that he was going to find him, and that he better watch out. Dodson was immortalized on the internet thanks to the Gregory Brothers and their "Auto-tune the News" phenomenon, eventually getting to sing the song he never intended to be a song at the BET Awards and see that same song climb the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
Hell, I have "The Bed Intruder Song" as my ringtone right now. You tend to answer your phone a lot quicker when it's trying to warn you that "they're raping everybody out here." Still, as big as that song and Dodson have become, you haven't truly made it until college marching bands start playing your song at college football games.
Thanks to Western Michigan, Dodson has now truly made it.
Even Touchdown Jesus could be seen bobbing his head that day.
And since this post just wouldn't be complete without the original, here you go.
Hat tip: SportsByBrooks