Posted on: November 19, 2011 11:28 pm

USC stuns No. 4 Oregon

EUGENE, Ore. -- This was their bowl, complete with no ocean, no sun and no lavish gifts. And hate, don’t forget that. Plenty of hate from a hostile crowd.

But this was USC’s bowl because they can’t go to a real one. So why not another stunner on the national landscape? Oregon kicker Alejandro Maldonado's 37-yard field goal missed at the gun, allowing the Trojans to hang on, 38-35.

Iowa State wasn’t ranked when it upset Oklahoma State Friday night. USC couldn’t be ranked, at least in the coaches’ poll, when it knocked off No. 4 Oregon at Autzen Stadium. The difference? Your level of shock. Suddenly, they looked like the Trojans of old. The shame of it is, this was their bowl, the high point of the season. In November. It really doesn’t get any better than this.

But they played like it was January with everything on the line. Oregon, a 16 ½-point favorite, didn’t. And so now we have even more BCS chaos.

But before we go there, let’s credit these Trojans. Officially, they have nothing to play for this season. Seventeen months ago the NCAA slapped a two-year bowl ban on the program. Unofficially, they might be the best team you won’t see in the postseason.

They were led by Matt Barkley, who could be in the NFL right now, but chose to tough it out through the bowl ban. He threw four touchdown passes. Receiver Marqise Lee is a freshman All-American if there ever was one. Sophomore Robert Woods was nicked up this week but caught two touchdown passes.

Safety T.J. McDonald has been accused of playing over the line. It was a straight line he took to block an Oregon punt in the third quarter.

The shame of it is, these current Trojans have nothing to do with the wrongdoing. The coach, AD and principal rulebreaker are gone. It’s been so long that Reggie Bush is closer to retirement than the goal line.

For Oregon, it could be emptiest division title in the short 20-year history of division titles. The Ducks needed one win in their last two to wrap up the Pac-12 North Division. Now they’ve have to get it next week against Oregon State.



Category: NCAAF
Posted on: November 19, 2011 7:43 pm

Bellotti's name surfaces at Arizona

EUGENE, Ore. – Former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti’s name has surfaced in the Arizona search. reported Friday that “things could move very quickly” between the school and the 60-year-old now analyst for ESPN.  It has long been known that Bellotti wanted to get back into coaching at some point. He stepped down here after 14 seasons in 2009.

“Mike wants to get back into coaching,” one source close to Bellotti told on Saturday. “Mike’s anxious.”

Arizona was the first major job to open up this season after Mike Stoops was fired Oct. 10. Arizona AD Greg Byrne already has one major hire on his resume. He was responsible for bringing Dan Mullen to Mississippi State while AD at that school.

Bellotti may have his pick of jobs in the Pac-12 if Arizona State and/or UCLA open up as well. 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: November 19, 2011 1:03 am
Edited on: November 19, 2011 7:53 am

BCS chaos kicks off in Eugene; I'm buying

EUGENE, Ore. – This could be the best two weeks of football in BCS history, and I’m at the kickoff party.  

They’re going about two shades of crazy here Friday night at Hop Valley Brewing Co. out near I-5 in Duckland. A guy just walked in and yelled, "How about Iowa State?" It’s a brew pub that just turned into a staging area for the national championship push.

How about the Cyclones indeed? By beating Oklahoma State in overtime Friday night, they made it about football again. We can care again. Maybe we can forget tragedy and scandal -- for a little while.

Maybe for a long while. Two weeks from Sunday, two teams will be matched up to play for the 14th  BCS title. It is more than wonderful that we have no idea who they are going to be. There are six teams in the running -- LSU, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Alabama and Oregon. Oregon and Arkansas gained the most. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State the least.

But that’s just me, right now. The Hefeweizen is going down really smooth.

BCS chaos reigns. It reigns because a team whose uniforms look strangely like USC (Iowa State) just took down the nation’s No. 2. I’m here to see Oregon play the real USC on Saturday in a game that just got a lot bigger.

The Ducks are in that conga line with a bunch of one-loss teams, all of them with their hands up saying, "Pick me!"

Let the arguments begin: Do you want a rematch? LSU-Oregon awaits. So does LSU-Alabama. But shouldn’t you have to win your conference? Alabama potentially won’t. Don’t forget Arkansas, which is suddenly in the conversation.

Is Oklahoma State entirely out? Does Oklahoma deserve to be in the discussion? It lost at home to Texas Tech, which lost by 34 to Iowa State, which beat Oklahoma State. The Sooners have a chance, a small one unless …

Unless chaos continues. Who knows how OU will be perceived in two weeks? If Oregon wins on Saturday it most likely will jump to No. 2 in the BCS. Alabama plays Georgia Southern. Nothing, though, is permanent. Call it the BCS' Kardashian Moment.

Get ready for a fashion show with shoulder pads, built-in programming for sports radio. Someone give Jerry Palm a raise. Now.

You can hear the sound of Boise State kicking itself all the way from here.

Please don’t say “kicking” around the Broncos. They not only would have been in line for the BCS national championship game, they would have had to beat only San Diego State, Wyoming and New Mexico to get there. But a kid named Dan Goodale pulled a Brotzman last week, missing the game-winning field goal. That was only after TCU’s Gary Patterson proved he had more stones that Boise State had field goals.

The old missed kick seems to be an epidemic. Dan Goodale meet Oklahoma State’s Quinn Sharp, who wasn’t. Sharp missed a 37-yarder with 77 seconds left that could have beaten the Cyclones.

Nothing is permanent. Ask Kim, or give Sharp a Hefeweizen. He needs one right about now. 

How about the Cyclones indeed? By beating Oklahoma State in overtime Friday night, they made it about football again. We can care again. Maybe we can forget tragedy and scandal -- for a little while. 

Posted on: November 18, 2011 1:48 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2011 9:46 am

Delany makes postseason proposal

The source of one college football postseason idea pitched this week shouldn’t be surprising.

According to a person in the room at Monday’s BCS meeting, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany pitched a model whereby only the No. 1 and No. 2 teams would be matched in the postseason. That would basically eliminate the other BCS bowl tie-ins in the 14-year-old system.

The proposal essentially is a roll back to the old Bowl Alliance that was in effect from 1995-97. On its face, the proposal seemingly benefits the Big Ten, SEC, Big 12 and Pac-12 the most.

The Big Ten could not immediately confirm Delany as the source of the idea since the commissioner was traveling on Friday. However, another source in the room at the San Francisco meeting said the idea stood out among several that day because it was “new.” The source would not confirm the model came from Delany.

Using Delany’s idea, the relationship with the current BCS bowls – Orange, Fiesta, Sugar and Rose – would end. At the beginning of the season all schools would have an equal chance to get into the championship game. Supposedly, some kind of rating system would be used to rank teams.

Below that championship game, schools and bowls would be free to arrange their own deals. In the old Bowl Alliance, the champions of the ACC, Big East, Big Eight, SEC and Southwest conferences, along with an at-large team, were matched in the Fiesta, Sugar and Orange bowls. The Rose, Big Ten and Pac-10 did not participate at the time.  The uniqueness of the Alliance was that there were no conference tie-ins to particular bowls.

BCS commissioners began saying in December that they might go back to the old bowl system if pushed by non-BCS schools.  

There were other ideas Monday during what was termed a preliminary meeting meant for informal proposals. Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson weighed in. Thompson was already on record with his 16-team playoff proposal. reported last week there was growing support to get rid of automatic qualifiers in the BCS. One result of that could be a top 10, 12, or 14 ranking that would have to be attained to get into a BCS bowl.

Delany’s idea would reflect the elimination of automatic qualifiers. The so-called “AQs” are the champions of the Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, SEC, Pac-12 and SEC. Notre Dame and champions of lesser conferences can currently qualifier for BCS bowls if they meet a set of benchmarks.

Delany’s particular model doesn’t address an age-old BCS problem: What about No. 3 and below, the teams that get left out? The commissioners discussed legal concerns that could emerge from that situation according to a source.

Also, if automatic qualifiers are eliminated, it would seem there would have to be some kind of access for non-AQs. Teams from non-BCS leagues – MAC, WAC, Conference USA, Sun Belt, Mountain West – have enjoyed improved access to BCS bowls since 2003. During that time the success of schools such as Boise State, Utah and TCU developed into David-vs.-Goliath stories that captured the nation’s attention.

There is also the significant issue of revenue distribution. 

It’s a good bet that under Delany’s plan, the Rose Bowl would be “protected”. In other words, the bowl would have access to the champions of the Big Ten and Pac-12 each year unless one or both schools were involved in the championship game.

Because the ACC and Big East have struggled to be nationally relevant in recent years, Delany’s proposal would directly benefit the Pac-12, SEC, Big Ten and Big 12. Teams from those four conferences have played in some combination in the last eight BCS title games.

It can’t be stressed enough the preliminary nature of Monday’s meeting. After discussing various models at the 1 ½-hour meeting, commissioners were to go back to their conferences to present them with their schools.  One source called it “process and procedure.”

The commissioners meet again in person Jan. 10 in New Orleans, the day after the BCS title game. It is at that meeting and subsequent ones that a clearer view of college football’s postseason going forward will begin to emerge. The commissioners must develop a postseason model to present to ESPN during its exclusive negotiating window that begins in October. If ESPN passes during those negotiations, then the model would go out to bid.

The current BCS model is in effect through the 2014 bowls. 

Posted on: November 18, 2011 11:49 am

Similar tragedy hits Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State has suffered another incredible, unimaginable tragedy and some of my first thoughts were for Bill and Nicki Hancock.

They’ve already lived this -- this horrible loss of life. Bill, as you might know, is the executive director of the BCS. He has been called by many, without hesitation, the nicest man on the planet. Nicki is his wife, a loving traveling and life partner. They seem to be inseparable.

I can’t imagine what they’re going through today. Bill and Nicki are from small-town Hobart, Okla. Bill went to Oklahoma and worked for the Big Eight and the NCAA in his wondrous career. Their lives will never be the same.

Two Oklahoma State coaches were killed Thursday in yet another small plane crash that will strike again to the soul of the friendly university in small-town Stillwater. Bill and Nicki are forever part of that soul.

All the pain will come flooding back. It was 10 years and 10 months ago that 10 persons from the Oklahoma State family were killed on the way back from a men’s basketball game. Players, staff, loved ones. In a snowy Colorado field, their small private plane went down.

On Thursday it was Cowboys women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna as well as two others. They were on a recruiting trip. The plane went down in central Arkansas. In the days and weeks ahead, we will hopefully find out how one school can suffer the same tragedy the same way. Probably not. We thought we would have closure at some point after 2001. This is a wound that will never heal.

That’s why I thought immediately of the Hancocks. A lot of us in the profession knew Will Hancock well. As a sports information guy at Oklahoma State, his career track was paralleling his father’s. Bill oversaw the Final Four for the NCAA for more than a decade. Will was a younger, just as friendly version of his dad who made Cowboys basketball pop with his knowledge, story ideas and stats.

The Hancocks’ bright, wonderful son was among those killed in that first crash. It hurts so much now to have to differentiate between the two tragedies.

One impacted the Hancocks directly, the latest no doubt will add to the bottomless sadness they feel each day. Now the pain is back in real time.

There is plenty of sympathy to go around today – to the families of Budke and Serna, to Oklahoma State. But somewhere a saddened, loving couple will be reliving a tragedy that will never leave them.

Pray for them too when you pray for the latest to perish at Oklahoma State.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: November 17, 2011 11:07 pm

Recent coaching drunk-driving scandals

In terms of severity, Gary Pinkel’s DWI falls somewhere between Lance Guidry and Bob Huggins on a scale of recent drunk-driving scandals.

Lance Guidry: The Western Kentucky defensive coordinator was cited Saturday in Baton Rouge, the morning of the WKU-LSU game. Not only wasn’t Guidry suspended, he coached in the game.

Coach Willie Taggart said discipline would be handled internally.

Frank Solich: In late 2005 the former Nebraska coach, then at Ohio, was found asleep in his car and charged with drunk driving. Solich contended that he couldn’t have been that hammered compared to the moderate amount of alcohol he consumed.

The Bobcats coach later claimed he was slipped the “date rape” drug GHB. A hair sample tested positive for the substance. Solich later attempted to remove his no contest plea but a wise-ass judge declined saying, “"Fourth-and-goal decisions are difficult and sometimes regretted but usually final nonetheless."

The coach was fined $250, lost his license for six months and was required to participate in an alcohol-education program.

The biggest victim of Solich’s conviction seemed to be assistant wrestling coach Kyle Hansen. In October 2006, Hansen was charged with OVI (Operating a Vehicle Impaired) and wreckless driving. He was fined $1,000 and had his license revoked. Hansen was also suspended by the school. He later appealed the suspension.

Then-AD Kirby Hocutt said at the time that Hansen was not singled out. Hocutt was the AD at Miami when booster Nevin Shapiro was running wild. He left in March, about the same time the NCAA began its investigation, to take the Texas Tech job.

Bob Huggins: On June 12, 2004, the legendary Cincinnati basketball coach was suspended with pay after a spectacular drunk-driving bust. (Check out the video if you can find it).

Huggins was reinstated in August of that year but in May 2005, he was told his contract would not be extended. Later that year he parted ways with the school for a reported $3 million in a going-away compensation package.

Billy Gillispie: Billy Clyde has three priors to his name. He was cited for the third time in August 2009 a few months after being let go at Kentucky. Gillispie is now at Texas Tech.

Posted on: November 17, 2011 6:01 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 10:49 pm

Son of WWL: The Great Big 12 QB Debate

At mid-morning Tuesday, the Big 12 still hadn’t sent out its weekly football press release which was disappointing on several levels.

For the media, absolutely, who use the stats and notes to do their stories, but also for the players who deserve better. Specifically for the quarterbacks who – in these uncertain days of realignment – are the best of any conference in the country.

When the nation’s leading quarterback rusher (Kansas State’s Collin Klein) might be fourth-best at the position, there has to be some serious talent. Big 12 qb overload became an issue this week when the Heisman race suddenly became fluid.

There is no clear front-runner in the Big 12 or nationally. Andrew Luck got beat and had a mediocre game against Oregon. Houston’s Case Keenum has astronomical numbers against what some consider sub-par talent in Conference USA. The nation’s leading rusher, Oregon’s LaMichael James, has missed two games.

When informed that the last Heisman Trophy winner to miss a game was Florida State’s Charlie Ward, Ducks coach Chip Kelly quipped, “Does that mean LaMichael is going to play for the Knicks?”

Meanwhile, no one is talking about Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson. The nation’s best free agent bears absolutely no responsibility for his team’s two losses – to Michigan State and Ohio State on last-second Hail Marys. Wilson continues to lead the country in pass efficiency. He quietly threw for four touchdowns and missed on one of his 17 attempts against Purdue.

Wisconsin, including coach Bret Bielema, mounted a quiet media blitz this week to make some of those facts known.

As of Tuesday morning, that’s better than the Big 12 had done for its quarterbacks. Start with who gets the conference’s offensive player of the year award. Is it Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden who might win a conference title, and more, as a 28-year-old? Is it Baylor’s Robert Griffin III, a one-man team for the Bears who are No. 110 nationally in total defense? Is it Oklahoma’s Landry Jones, probably the league’s best pro prospect at the position?

Add them up and you’ve got three guys accounting for more than one-fifth of the Big 12 touchdowns scored this season (95 of 441). That doesn’t include Klein who has become somewhat of folk hero at Kansas State. The school sent out emails this week calling him “College Football’s Most Valuable Player”.

The senior from Colorado has accounted for 70 percent of the Wildcats’ offense and is second nationally with 34 total touchdowns (24 rushing, 10 passing). Klein recently passed Michigan’s Denard Robinson as the nation’s leading quarterback runner this season and is the only quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards so far. He is already assured of becoming one of only a handful of quarterbacks to both run and pass for 1,000 yards in a season.

In Saturday’s 53-50 four-overtime win over Texas A&M, Klein was, well, everything – five rushing touchdown, one passing while accounting for all but 27 of the Wildcats’ total yards.

Sound a bit old school? It is. Klein’s numbers compare favorably to Nebraska’s Eric Crouch, the 2001 Heisman winner. Crouch accounted for only 25 touchdowns the entire season (17 rushing, 7 passing, 1 receiving).

Sometimes it seems like the league doesn’t know how good it is. If Klein played at, say, Ohio State his Heisman candidacy would be in full swing. If he was at Nebraska, there would be comparisons to Crouch and Turner Gill.

At Kansas State, reporters aren’t allowed to speak to assistants. While Bill Snyder has his hand in every aspect of the program, co-offensive coordinators Del Miller and Dana Dimel deserve some credit. They have combined 56 years of experience and are doing this with their eyes wide open. Both are in their second go-around with their notorious slave-driving Snyder.

While Klein isn’t channeling Tim Tebow quite yet, he is only three rushing touchdowns away from tying Texas’ Ricky Williams Big 12 season record in that category (27). Klein needs four more rushing touchdowns to pass Navy’s Ricky Dobbs for the single-season quarterback record (also 27).

Still, it will be tough for Klein to make even honorable mention all-Big 12 in the quarterback-laden conference.

One prediction on how the Big 12’s cradle of quarterbacks will shake out:

1. Weeden, Heisman finalist, all-Big 12, Davey O’Brien finalist.
2. Jones, second-team all-Big 12
3. Griffin, honorable mention all-Big 12
4. Klein, a hearty handshake.

Posted on: November 17, 2011 10:37 am
Edited on: November 17, 2011 1:40 pm

Missouri's Pinkel reportedly gets DUI

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel reportedly got a DUI last night and it barely registers with me.

I barely care in these scandal-ridden days. There will be all kinds of questions raised about accountability and hypocrisy -- two of Pinkel's players were suspended for two games because of DUIs -- but I'm having a hard time being outraged. Sorry.

Pinkel has enough moral equity stored up at Missouri that he gets a pass from me on this. He's a good coach, a good guy and as far as I know a good father and husband. Mistakes are made. Let me qualify that: I do care in the sense that no one should get in a car and drive while impaired by alcohol. That's dangerous and thoughtless. Thank God he did no damage to property, himself or others.

If he is found guilty, Pinkel made a huge mistake. How, you might ask, does he discipline his players now that he has been cited? Good question, but he and the football program will figure it out. They will get over this. Pinkel will keep his job. He will be humbled. Life will go on at Missouri.

Once again, sorry. That's the way I feel. It's hard to have any sort of outrage left in the tank after what has gone on in college athletics this year. Maybe that's more sad, than wrong. 

Category: NCAAF
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