Tag:SEC
Posted on: October 15, 2008 10:56 am
 

National notes at the halfway point

One of the best measures for an improved program is the games ahead/behind method. Look at baseball standings for an example. The NCAA includes a section in its statistics book each year that tracks the most improved teams from one year to the next. In 2007, it was Illinois which went from 2-10 in 2006 to 9-4 last season. That's an improvement of 6 1/2 games.

Hawaii holds the record improving by 8 1/2 games in 1999. Ironically, the Warriors might be on the opposite side of that stat this season.

At the halfway point, I thought it would be a good idea to figure the biggest improvements and biggest declines of the 2008 season. Remember, some of the numbers might be skewed because we've played only half a season. But this might be a good measuring stick for coach of the year candidates and provide a short list of coaches about to be fired.

Most improved

1. Minnesota +7 1/2 games (from 1-11 to 6-1)
2. Duke +5 1/2
3. North Carolina +4
4. Pittsburgh +3 1/2
5. several tied at +3

Biggest decline

1. Hawaii -5 1/2 games (from 12-1 to 3-3)
2. Central Florida, Tennessee -4
4. LSU, Arizona State, Florida Atlantic, Michigan, West Virginia, Rutgers, Kansas - 3 1/2

Most improved by conference: Baylor, +3; ACC, Duke +5 1/2; Big East, Pittsburgh, +3 1/2; Conference USA, Rice/Marshall, +3; Mountain West, Colorado  State/UNLV, +3; MAC, Ball State/Northern Illinois, +3; SEC, Vanderbilt/Ole Miss, +3; WAC, New Mexico State, +3: Independents, Notre Dame, +3; Big Ten,  Minnesota, +7 1/2; Sun Belt, Florida International/Louisiana-Lafayette, +3; Pac-10, Stanford, +2 1/2.

Biggest decline by conference: ACC, Boston College/Clemson/Virginia, -2 1/2; Big 12, Kansas, -3 1/2; Big East, West Virginia/Rutgers, -3 1/2; Big Ten, Michigan, -3 1/2;  Independents, Western Kentucky, -2 1/2; Conference USA, Central Florida -4; MAC, Bowling Green/Ohio/Miami (Ohio), -1 1/2; Mountain West, New Mexico, -3; SEC, Tennessee, -4; Pac-10, Arizona State -3 1/2; WAC, Hawaii -5 1/2; Sun Belt, Florida Atlantic, -3 1/2.

Storylines for the second half

Will anyone go unbeaten?: It looks like the SEC and Big 12 will cannibalize each other. That leaves a bunch of one-loss powers that also could include Ohio State, Penn State, USC and Utah or Brigham Young.

Heisman race: Tim Tebow won't repeat and the Big 12 looks like it has a lock on the 2008 winner. But which player?

JoePa In the Sky With A Headset: Can Penn State's venerable coach win a Big Ten title and national championship without setting foot on the field the rest of  the way? Physical problems continue to keep JoePa in the press box. When asked Tuesday if he needed a hip replacement, Paterno answered cryptically, "I don't  know." It isn't exactly Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds but anything Joe does the rest of the season is going to be followed closely.

The non-BCS challengers: TCU, BYU and Utah are all in the mix. If Tulsa can win at Arkansas on Nov. 1 the Golden Hurricane will be a factor. The MAC is  simply too tough for Ball State (7-0) to go undefeated but you have to root for the Cardinals. Their best receiver's career is over (Dante Love) and their quarterback (Nate Davis) wears gloves.

Biggest looming controversy: If a one-loss team from the SEC, Big Ten or Big 12 is edged out of the BCS title game by an undefeated non-BCS school.

Next coach to be fired: Given the swiftly declining situation at Auburn it might be Tommy Tuberville. Other than that, Washington's Tyrone Willingham and  Syracuse's Greg Robinson are locks. Keep an eye also on San Diego State's Chuck Long and Central Florida's George O'Leary.

Biggest upset looming out there: Not in terms of David and Goliath but watch the Texas at Texas Tech game on Nov. 1. If both teams keep winning you're looking at No. 1 Texas vs. a Red Raiders team that should be in the BCS top five. If Texas Tech wins try to wrap your mind around Mike Leach and his Pirate  Love jumping up to No. 1.

Get out your swords and Johnny Depp movies.

BCS bowl predictions at the halfway point

BCS title game: Penn State* vs. Oklahoma*
Fiesta Bowl: Texas vs. Alabama
Sugar Bowl: Florida* vs. South Florida*
Orange Bowl: BYU^ vs. Virginia Tech*
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. USC*

*-conference champ
^-non-BCS automatic qualifier

  Remember last week when Washington State held open tryouts to find a scout team quarterback? The winner of that competition, Peter Roberts, suddenly finds himself a viable backup option with the Cougars headed into the USC game.

 Speaking of injuries, it's a shame that two stars at Kentucky and North Carolina recently saw their careers end. Carolina's Brandon Tate, the I-A career  leader in kick return yards, is finished because of a knee injury. Exciting Kentucky receiver Dicky Lyons is done because of a knee ligament tear.

 

 Don't say I didn't warn you. I know what I said about Texas and Texas Tech above but indulge me: The way things are shaking out, a Kansas-Oklahoma State Big 12 title game isn't out of the question. If Texas beats Missouri on Saturday then it becomes more likely. Kansas is playing better and has Texas at home later in the season. KU and Missouri meet in Kansas City on Nov. 29.

 

Oklahoma State is playing better than anyone in the conference (that includes Texas). That head-to-head game is Oct. 25.

 Remember this when you watch BYU and TCU on Thursday night. BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall allows each special teams unit to name a captain. The captain then  names starters and backups for each unit. Wonder if that ever happens in the SEC?

 

 


Posted on: October 12, 2008 3:39 pm
Edited on: October 15, 2008 5:05 pm
 

Random thoughts on a football Saturday

Is Tommy Tuberville coaching for his job?

 A week away from the release of the first BCS standings there are 10 undefeated I-A teams, half of them from non-BCS conferences. The most undefeated teams we can have at the end of the season now is seven because of head-to-head matchups among the 10. Only three of the six BCS leagues are represented -- Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC.

 

The breakdown:

Three of the teams are from the Big 12 -- Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech.

Penn State is 7-0 for the first time since 1999.

Utah and BYU are still headed for a Nov. 22 showdown in Salt Lake City. The Mountain West rivals gave up a combined one touchdown on Saturday. Utah beat Wyoming 40-7 and BYU dominated New Mexico 21-3.

Ball State is hanging around at 7-0, although end-of-the-season battles against Central Michigan and Western Michigan are looming.

The next big SEC games are coming up with Florida-Georgia on Nov. 1 and undefeated Alabama, 6-0, going to LSU on Nov. 8.

 Halfway through the season how about these surprise conference leaders?

 

Pac-10: Cal, at 2-0 still has the bulk of its schedule left but still an impressive bounce back from last season at 4-1.

Big Ten: Michigan State is tied with Penn State and Ohio State at 3-0. The Buckeyes come to East Lansing this week. Michigan State ends the season with a trip to Penn State.

WAC: San Jose State is 2-0 (4-2) overall after beating Utah State.

Sun Belt: Florida International is one of four teams tied at the top at 2-0.

Mountain West: It's showdown Thursday when the BYU visits TCU. The teams are undefeated in conference play.

 

 Who would have known that halfway through the season that two teams from Oklahoma would be undefeated (Tulsa, Oklahoma State) and one of them wouldn't be Oklahoma?

 

 The last time Nebraska opened conference play with two losses was 1968. It fell at Texas Tech 37-31 in overtime. That was the Huskers' eighth consecutive loss to a ranked opponent.
 
 Georgia Tech tipped the game-tying field goal attempt with three seconds left to survive against Gardner-Webb 10-7. Coach Paul Johnson was down to his third-string quarterback Calvin Booker who was largely ineffective.

 

The defensive line combo of Michael Johnson combined for five sacks, 17 solo tackles and 51 yards in lost yardage.

 How bad is Washington State? The Cougars intercepted Oregon State's Lyle Moevao four times but lost 66-13. Wazzoo had more penalty yards (170) than offensive yards (132).

 

 Georgia's Matthew Stafford surpassed 300 yards passing for the first time in his career (310) against Tennessee. The Vols are 0-3 in the SEC for the first time in 20 years.

 

 North Carolina (5-1) is off to its best start in since Mack Brown's last season in 1997.

 

 USC's Fili Moala tied an NCAA record by blocking two field goals in one quarter against Arizona State.

 

 Wyoming used four quarterbacks in that loss to Utah.

 

 Is it ironic or just karma? Rich Rodriguez negotiated his Michigan contract in Toledo during the offseason. He lost to the school that represents that city on Saturday. Some called Toledo's 13-10 "stunning". After Appalachian State there is nothing that compares to stunning. The Rockets had been 1-4. Michigan had been 24-0 against MAC teams.

 

“I feel that we’re at a crossroads where we could either go downhill or we can hang tough and weather this storm,” said linebacker Obi Ezeh. “Hopefully, this will pass and things will start going our way. We’ve just got to be tough.”

 Texas is one game into playing four ranked opponents in a row. It's No. 11 Missouri this week after the big win over Oklahoma. Mack Brown is 10-0 in the game immediately following Oklahoma, four of those opponents have been ranked.

 

 Florida's Tim Tebow is two rushing touchdowns shy of Emmitt Smith's school record of 34.

 

 Texas and Oklahoma combined to score each of the 11 times they were in the red zone on Saturday. For the season, OU has cashed in all 28 red-zone visits. Texas is 32 of 33.

 

 Forget about Gary Pinkel going to Washington. The Missouri coach's next job is the hot gossip in the industry considering the Tigers are a national title contender and the Washington job will be open. Pinkel coached for 12 years at U-Dub under mentor Don James.

 

"I don't know why he'd even want to consider coming out here, with the facilities he's got and the way he's got it going," James told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I wouldn't know why anybody would want to leave Missouri now. It would be a tough, long haul."

 Tis the season. First Tony Franklin at Auburn, now Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper. Harper was demoted last week after a 12-7 loss to Wake Forest on Thursday. Hot-shot recruit Willy Korn will take over for the preseason ACC player of the year.

 

 The weird things you see at the Texas State Fair...

 

Spam quesadillas ... Wine coolers. Who the hell drinks wine coolers anymore? ... Sign outside the Cotton Bowl: Pass Out Only At Halftime ... Fried ice cream ... Fried Avocado Chunks ... Gregg Doyel's cousin.

 

Posted on: September 18, 2008 4:51 pm
 

You want SEC defense, you GOT SEC defense

(direct from the SEC office)


Southeastern Conference defenses, in 32 games this season, have allowed just 12.5 points and 260.9 total yards per game this season.  Since conference expansion, the lowest average number of points allowed per game by SEC defenses in a season was in 1992, when the conferences' defenses gave up 18.8 points per game.  The lowest average total yards per game since 1992 was in 2006 - 315.0 yards per game. 
 
This season, SEC defenses have allowed just 76.75 rushing yards per game and 184.1 passing yards per game.
 
The SEC leads the nation in scoring defense (12.5 points per game) and in total yards allowed (260.9 yards per game) this season.  The next closest conferences are the Big Ten, giving up an average of 16.16 points per game, and the Mountain West, giving up an average of 301.65 yards per game,
 
Per attempt, the SEC defenses are allowing just 2.57 yards per rush (962 carries for 2,456 yards) and 5.33 yards per pass attempt (590 of 1105 for 5,892 yards).  Overall, the SEC is allowing just 4.04 yards per offensive play (8348 yards on 2067 plays), which also leads the nation.  The next closest conference is the Big 12, which averages 4.58 yards allowed per play (10236 yards on 2231 plays).
 
In NCAA team statistical rankings, nine SEC teams are in the top 40 in rushing defense, five in the top 40 in pass defense, nine in the top 40 in total defense and 10 in the top 40 in scoring defense.
 
This weekend, two of the top four teams in total defense in the SEC matchup when Auburn (#3 in the SEC / #10 in the NCAA) hosts LSU (#4 in the SEC / #12 in the NCAA). 
 
In team statistical categories, Alabama leads the SEC and the nation in rushing defense (42.7 yards allowed per game), Florida leads the SEC and #3 in the nation in total defense (190.5 yards per game), South Carolina leads the SEC and the nation in passing defense (95.0 yards per game) and Auburn leads the SEC and is third in the nation in scoring defense (5.0 points allowed per game).

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: September 11, 2008 12:09 pm
Edited on: July 31, 2011 10:43 pm
 

Memories of 9/11

I was feeling maudlin today about 9/11. The seventh anniversary of the tragedy no doubt is striking everyone different. 

I remember that day I was jogging, listening to Don Imus on my headphones. The I-Man got word that a "small plane" had crashed into the World Trade Center. From then on, everyone's life changed. My mind was swirling so much I immediately went into work mode, checking to see if conferences would cancel games.

Sadly, the SEC was the last conference to cancel its schedule. Then-commissioner Roy Kramer finally put out a verbose statement on honoring the dead, etc. That was on a Thursday less than 48 hours before games were supposed to kick. I clearly remember calling the Gainesville, Fla. hotel where Tennessee was going to play that week. A ballroom had been set up for a meal. Disgusting, I thought.

Nine days later we started playing football again. Nebraska and Mississippi State hosted games, kicking off almost simultaneously in the first games played since 9/11. I remember going into David Wade Stadium in Starksville having my bag searched for the first time. Guards were everywhere with loaded weapons. That was the mood of the day.

A couple of days later, I covered the Alabama-Birmingham-Army game for obvious reasons. The Black Knights were clearly distracted, knowing that a lot of them were about to head into battle. UAB won 55-3. But what I remember most was the class and heart Army had that day. Army's Dave McCracken was a Ranger about head off to war. Current defensive line coach Clarence Holmes was a player on that team.

Coach Todd Berry was fired a few years later but he will always be one of my favorites for his courage and leadership in those frightening days.

This is how I remembered it a year after in 2002.

This is how I remembered it two years ago on the fifth anniversary of 9/11.

 

Posted on: August 14, 2008 11:11 pm
 

More "Things"

If 25 wasn't enough, here are three more "things" to watch in '08 ...

FutureSex/LoveSounds/PaternoBowden

No, this isn't a new Justin Timberlake disc. Remember when Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden used to be about who was going to retire the all-time victories record?

Now it's about which exit is going to be more ugly. Paterno is going Wallenda this season, working without a net, er, contract. Bowden has a succession plan in place but there is little buzz about his program this season.

Why do I get the feeling that both guys will still be coaching in 2009?


Overrated, underrated

Overrated:  Spring. Spring games are now televised.  Some whack marketer tried to conduct a series of concerts/pep rallies leading up to the games at several schools. Note to fans: These are practices. By the time the season rolls around you will have learned nothing. Sitting in the sun on a lawn chair sipping Michelob Ultra isn't bad, though.

Underrated:  These coaches who will soon have big-time jobs -- Al Golden (Temple); Brian Kelly (Cincinnati); Bronco Mendenhall (BYU); Mark Dantonio (Michigan State).


Just rated

Here's how the conferences stack up for 2008, 1-11

1. SEC
2. Big 12
3. Big Ten
4. Pac-10
5. Big East
6. ACC
7. Mountain West
8. Conference USA
9. WAC
10. MAC
11. Sun Belt

Posted on: August 14, 2008 1:26 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2008 7:16 pm
 

Don't forget to keep watching the SEC on CBS


Good news for me. CBS and SEC have hooked up for the next 15 years.

Bad news for Fox. To my knowledge, there are no major-conference TV contracts up there for renewal. The Fox mothership remains in a somewhat awkward position of televising five college games a year -- the BCS games minus the Rose and the Cotton Bowl. When I talked to Fox Sports president Ed Goren in April he reiterated that the network was still looking for a regular-season piece.

For now, the SEC was the last, most lucrative piece, available.

 

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Fox, Rose Bowl, SEC
 
Posted on: August 11, 2008 11:02 am
 

Five things you should know about the WAC

1. Don't expect Fresno State to imitate the baseball team: That would be winning a national championship. Football 
Fresno would settle for a BCS bowl. Again, not likely. Fresno gets orange juice only if it can win at Rutgers and 
UCLA and beat Wisconsin at home. That's for starters. The Bulldogs also have to go to Toledo and Boise State.

They start the season ranked on the fringes of the top 25. It's hard to believe Fresno hasn't won an outright 
conference title since 1989. This is Pat Hill's best team in years and the Bulldogs will be favored to win the WAC. 
But it won't be good enough to get to the Orange Bowl.

2. The team formerly known as Hawaii will drop off your radar: Colt Brennan and all his best receivers are gone. So 
is the coach (June Jones) who made it all happen. Quarterback Tyler Graunke faced academic problems early on. Oh 
yeah, and the Warriors start the season like they ended it -- in the belly of the SEC beast (August 30 at Florida).
 

3. Dead: That's what San Jose State football was before Dick Tomey took over in 2005. Since then the program has won 17 games and gone to a bowl. Three BCS conference transfers will help the Spartans challenge for a second bowl in 
four years. Cal transfer Kyle Reed will be in the fight at quarterback. Former Parade All-American and USC player 
Jeff Schweiger will do the same at defensive end. Corner Koye Francies comes over from Oregon State.

 
4. Vanderbilt is no New Mexico State: If you think the Commodores are having a tough time going to a bowl (its last 
was in 1982), check out the Aggies who haven't been to the postseason since 1960. That's the longest bowl drought in the country. Hal Mumme -- remember him? -- has 16 returning starters including productive quarterback Chase 
Holbrook.


5. The Louisiana Tech coach would have to fire himself: That's theoretically the case in Ruston, La. where coach 
Derek Dooley is also the AD. Vince Dooley's son raised hopes in his first season guiding the Bulldogs to a 5-7 
record. The quarterback situation is especially interesting with Auburn transfer Steve Ensminger and Georgia Tech 
transfer Taylor Bennett battling with holdover Ross Martin.

Posted on: July 23, 2008 3:33 pm
 

Five things you need to know about the SEC

Five things you need to know about the SEC...

1. The East is a toss-up between Georgia and Florida: It's always a problem when the two best SEC teams are from the same division. The conference title and national championship could come down to the Nov. 1 Cocktail Party in Jacksonville.

2. So why is Georgia No. 1? A seven-game winning streak helps. So does having the quarterback that the NFL might consider the best in next year's draft, Matthew Stafford. Throw in tailback Knowshon Moreno and a stout defense and Bulldogs are having an easy time getting over the death of UGA VI.

3. There's absolutely nothing wrong with Tim Tebow. Really. The kid was the first sophomore to win a Heisman. He helped perform circumcision during a missionary trip to the Phillipines. During a trip to Europe some guy who couldn't speak English recognized him. The kid has never so much as sneaked a cigarette in high school. Believe me, someone asked him at the media days.

"There are a lot of leaders out there," Tebow said. "Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of good ones."

4. Fail and you die. There's pressure and then there's SEC pressure. Change is a constant. There are two new head coaches (Ole Miss, Arkansas), but almost half of the league's 24 coordinators (11) have been replaced.

5. The national champion formerly known as LSU is alive and well, kind of.: The Tigers figure to drop a notch or two after being the lucky recipients of a national championship berth despite a two-loss regular season. Quarterback Ryan Perrilloux is gone (thank goodness). Consider it addition by subtraction. There's no way LSU can defend the West, much less the national championship, while breaking in either redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee or Harvard transfer Andrew Hatch.

But the Tigers will make another run at it in '09.

Category: NCAAF
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com