Posted on: August 7, 2008 8:04 pm
Edited on: August 7, 2008 8:04 pm

Five things you should know about the MWC


1. LaVell Edwards would be proud. Bronco Mendenhall has BYU humming at the level set by the old coach. Mendenhall has won 22 combined games the past two years. The offense averaged 30 points per game to lead the Mountain West. The defense, Mendenhall's specialty, gave up less than 100 yards rushing per game. The schedule sets up for an Orange Bowl run. The toughest road game is the finale at Utah. The winner might get a BCS berth.

2. Urban Meyer would be proud too. Since Meyer left his replacement Kyle Whittingham has won run three bowls and averaged eight victories a season at Utah. If not BYU, then the Utes could make a BCS run. Whittingham is loaded with 16 returning starters. If the Utes win at transitioning Michigan to start the season watch out.

3. Hot Seat Central. If things don't improve at UNLV and San Diego State quick, Mike Sanford (6-29 for the Rebels) and Chuck Long (7-17 for the Aztecs) are going to be out of a job. The prospects aren't good. San Diego State has to go to Notre Dame, TCU, New Mexico and BYU. UNLV plays Utah, Arizona State and BYU on the road. 

4.The Mtn. is climbing. The folly that once was the conference's own network now seems to be gaining traction. The Mtn. will be getting more exposure on cable systems. Will anyone be watching?

5.They're not Horned Frauds. TCU always seems to be hanging around, threatening to break through to a BCS bowl. Three years ago they won at Oklahoma. Two years ago it was Texas Tech. This year Stanford and Oklahoma are on the schedule before the BYU game on Oct. 16.

Posted on: August 6, 2008 10:38 pm

Five things you should know about Conference USA

Five things you should know about Conference USA

1. Central Florida's off-field problems: What happened to coach George O'Leary and the defending Conference USA champs shouldn't be wished on anyone. The fallout from the tragic death of player Ereck Plancher is just beginning. 

There has been criticism from outside the program. O'Leary refused to talk to an Orlando Sentinel reporter at the conference media days. Plancher's family has said it will file a wrongful death suit.

How will any of this impact the Knights? It remains to be seen but Central Florida is favored by many to win the East Division again.

2. New coaches: The league got a boost in name recognition when Southern Miss hired Larry Fedora, Houston got Oklahoma's Kevin Sumlin and SMU was lucky enough to sign June Jones. Combine those talents with Mike Price (UTEP),  Bob Toledo (Tulane), Skip Holtz (East Carolina) and O'Leary and you've got a Library of Congress full of football knowledge.

3. It's possible to make Warriors out of the Ponies: SMU didn't hire Jones for his blitz schemes. The Mustangs haven't been to a bowl since the rocks cooled but the hiring of the former Hawaii coach is meant to at least get people excited about the program again. Balls will be flying. We'll see if SMU takes off.

4. There is a dark horse Orange Bowl candidate: In this age of offense-first, why not Tulsa? Crazy-go-nuts coach Todd Graham is one of the leading purveyors of the spread option. He needs to find a replacement for quarterback Paul Smith but the schedule sets up for the Golden Hurricane to possible go 11-1.

5. There is hope for everyone: There have been seven Conference USA champions in the last six seasons. How is that possible? TCU and Cincinnati shared the 2002 crown followed by Southern Miss (2003), Louisville (2004), Tulsa (2005), Houston (2006) and Central Florida (2007).

Posted on: August 6, 2008 2:00 pm
Edited on: August 6, 2008 4:28 pm

Five things you should know about the MAC

Five things you should know about the MAC

1. Yes, Nate Davis is wearing gloves ... which is strange if you're a quarterback. Ball State's Davis was the MAC's top passer last season throwing for a conference-most 3,667 yards. No. 1 in MAC pass efficiency, Davis leads a return of the conference's top seven passers.

Ball State offensive coordinator Stan Parrish calls Davis one of the best he's ever had. That means something considering Parrish has both Super Bowl (Tampa Bay) and national championship (Michigan) rings. He worked with some guy named Brady while at Michigan.

Why the gloves? Davis, a shotgun quarterback in high school, had trouble taking the snap under center when he arrived at Ball State. Parrish suggested gloves for traction. Davis never took them off, playing some of his best games against BCS schools. Two years ago Davis threw for 250 yards against Michigan in an eight-point loss. Last season he threw for 422 yards and three scores in a one-point loss to Nebraska.

2. Postseason embarrassment. There's no doubt the MAC is better but it needs to get it going in bowls. In the last four years the league is 4-10. It lost all three bowl games, two by embarrassing scores: Rutgers beat Ball State 52-30 in the International Bowl and Tulsa laid an epic 63-7 whipping on Bowling Green in the GMAC Bowl.

3. Temple is no longer a joke. Al Golden went 4-8 in his second year with the Owls. The program hadn't won more than two games since 2002. Temple is believed to be the only I-A team with all 22 starters returning.

4. Ditto for Buffalo. In two short years, Turner Gill has led Buffalo to respectability. The Bulls were 5-7 last season, the program's best record this decade. Gill will be Nebraska's coach some day if the success continues.  He's just not ready yet. In the offseason his name came up for the Huskers vacancy.

5. Play up. It would be nice for the MAC to start winning some of these non-conference games against BCS schools. The conference went 5-37 against BCS-conference programs last season. Maybe the news is that Bowling Green, Western Michigan, Miami (Ohio), Toledo and Kent State each actually beat one of the big boys.

Last year there were embarrassments like MAC champion Central Michigan's 52-7 loss at Kansas and Western Michigan's 38-point loss at West Virginia. Toledo did beat Iowa State but it also lost to Purdue and Kansas by a combined 60 points.

This season MAC teams play 10 games against teams currently ranked in the coaches' poll. Games to watch this season: Akron at Wisconsin, Aug. 30; Central Michigan at Georgia, Sept. 6; Western Michigan at Nebraska, Aug. 30; Northern Illinois at Minnesota, Aug. 30; Toledo at Arizona, Sept. 6; Bowling Green at Pittsburgh, Aug. 30; Vanderbilt at Miami (Ohio) on Aug. 28 followed by the RedHawks' trip to Michigan on Sept. 6; Boston College plays Kent State in Cleveland on Aug. 30.

There is hope: Five years ago MAC teams beat five ranked teams.

Posted on: August 5, 2008 3:10 pm
Edited on: August 5, 2008 3:11 pm

An armed escort for Coach Fran?

At least the game is at a neutral site. Check out where former Alabama coach Dennis Franchione is going to make his debut for four-letter radio.
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: August 5, 2008 12:16 pm

Five things you should know about the Sun Belt

1. Is it possible to be at the top your game at age 74? Howard Schnellenberger is doing it again, having led Florida Atlantic to the conference's first win over a Big Ten team (Minnesota) the Sun Belt title and New Orleans Bowl victory. It's the same formula Schnellie used at Miami, scour the state for fast Florida talent. Why not extend him through 2010?

2. Better times ahead. The Sun Belt is usually whipped with a belt by I-A powers in gurantee game. But for the second consecutive year at least three of the league's eight teams finished .500 or better.

3. The best program is ... Troy. Coach Larry Blakeney is entering his 18th year with the Trojans. Troy is competing for bowl games and producing NFL talent on a regular basis. Blakeney has won eight each of the last two years and has one losing season since 2002.

4. Bouncing back from the Alabama hangover. In a season of upsets the Louisiana-Monroe's stunning win at Alabama was one of the biggest. Journeyman coach Charlie Weatherbie was in charge of a team that had lost its first four games by 18, 23, 40 and 17 points. The 24-point underdogs hung in against an uninterested Crimson Tide and perhaps turned around the program.

5. The Sun Belt is the home of the best spread option offense in the country. Unfortunately, North Texas coach Todd Dodge ran it in high school. The transition of the offense to I-A was not pretty as the Mean Green finished 2-10 allowing 45 points per game. Something is wrong when you score 62 -- and lost by 12 to Navy. Better days are ahead for Dodge but the conference is getting tougher too.


Posted on: August 3, 2008 12:10 pm

Someone please tell me my math is wrong...

I'm scared. I'm more than scared. I just watched an NCAA video explaining the new timing rules and I'm concerned, confused, hungry and tired. Among other things.

This video explains administration of the new 40/25 rule. It is essentially the same rule used in the NFL. The 40/25 keeps every NFL game within that three-hour window so more beer can be sold, more network shows can be promoted. It's called time certainty certainty. Our college game does not need time certainty. If you're like me, you don't want college football packaged into a three-hour window.

According to my math (always a dicey proposition but hang with me, it's only a blog), the average college team ran 72 plays per game last season. Fine, great. The average NFL team ran 62.76 plays per game. That's with the 40/25 rule. That's also a difference of 9.14 plays per game. Multiplied by two teams thats more than 18 plays per game difference.

See why I'm scared? We're talking about 18 less plays per game. Because NCAA teams averaged .397 points per play last season that means we could be losing more than a touchdown per game in scoring (7.26 points). The NFL averaged .345 points per play last season, 13 percent less than Division I-A. I don't want to see it. The college game's popularity is at an all-time high. Part of the reason is that offense is an all-time high.

It looks to me like the NCAA rules committee is about to bastardize the game like it did two years ago when its misguided timing rules slashed something like 13 plays per game. The rules were adjusted last season and once again we had reasonable college football.

There were code words used like "pace of play" in rationalizing the timing rule changes this time. The pace of play was fine with me and with the the fans who set another record attendance record last season. If the committee really wanted to shorten games it would cut out overtime and shorten halftime.

But that would hurt the feelings of band geeks all over the country and actually help keep players healthy.

Who needs that?




Category: NCAAF
Posted on: August 1, 2008 10:03 pm

Georgia, you're on the clock

So now it's on for Georgia, a program that has never been a preseason No. 1.

The Bulldogs debuted at on top of the coaches' poll Friday, which is nice for about 13 seconds in the SEC. Now the pressure builds. The Bulldogs will face something eight coaches this season who have won national championships. The schedule is tougher than breakfast steak. And how weird is this: Florida is ranked No. 5 but was picked over Georgia in the preseason media poll to win the SEC.

Only two teams in the last 10 years have gone wire to wire, USC in 2004 and Florida State in 1999.

 The good news: Five of the last six preseason No. 1s in the coaches' poll have at least played in the BCS championship game. USC broke a streak of five in a row last season.

The breakdown of the last six preseason No. 1s:

2002: Miami lost the BCS championship game to Ohio State

2003: Oklahoma lost the BCS championship game to LSU

2004:  USC beat Oklahoma (preseason No. 2) in the BCS championship game

2005: USC lost the BCS championship game to Texas

2006: Ohio State lost the BCS championship game to Florida

2007: No. 2 LSU beat Ohio State (preseason No. 10) in the BCS championship game. Preseason No. 1 USC finished No. 2 in the coaches poll.


Posted on: July 31, 2008 6:29 pm
Edited on: July 31, 2008 6:30 pm

Pat White speaks but does clarify nor apologize

More than two days after West Virginia quarterback Pat white blasted the WVU baseball coach, the school issued this statement for White on Thursday afternoon:

 "Thinking back on my recent comments at Big East media day, I believe that I may have overstated my feelings on college baseball and the WVU baseball program. I have not played collegiate baseball in the past because I have concentrated on football and building on our success with my football family. I am sorry my comments have caused so many distractions. I am looking forward to putting this behind me and getting on the practice field with my teammates on Saturday."  

That's not exactly an apology. White is sorry his comments have caused so many distractions, but he hasn't backed off the fact that he thinks baseball coach Greg Van Zant is a racist. To me, Van Zant is still hanging out there. How is the guy going to recruit? White said he was troubled by the lack of African-Americans on the baseball team. (There are none) But the fact is there were none on at least six Big East baseball teams this past season.


It is a reflection of a larger problem. The NCAA participation rate for African-Americans is six percent, basically what it has been since the association started keeping such stats in 2000.

I did get these comments from Rutgers' Fred Hill Sr., the dean of Big East baseball coaches:


"My relationship with Greg has always been first class. He's always been a gentleman and acted first class to us. I wouldn't comment on that ... I wouldn't comment on Greg's feelings.

"The inner city kids seem to gravite toward football and basketball. We have some excellent African-American men on our team. I can't speak for anybody else. We're located in a metro area so we may have more access to some (players)."

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