Tag:Big Ten
Posted on: September 23, 2009 10:19 am
 

Flu outbreak policies of I-A conferences

[The policies of the Pac-10 and Sun Belt are listed in Wednesday's story]


ACC: A policy might be determined Oct. 7 at the fall meetings.

Big 12:
No conference-wide policy. Institutions should work with local and state health agencies.

SEC: Currently working with schools on handling outbreaks.

Big Ten: Ongoing discussions regarding contingency plans.

Conference USA: In the process of developing a policy. Could have specific language on the issue within a week.

Big East: Has taken out an “event cancellation” insurance policy that protects against several elements including swine flu.

WAC: (Regular season)

1.   In the event the visiting institution is unable to arrive at the site of a contest for any reason in order for it to be played at its regularly scheduled time, it shall notify the home director of athletics, home head coach and the Conference office as soon as possible.

2.   In the event either the visiting institution is unable to arrive at the site of a contest in order for the contest to be played and completed on the day it was scheduled or if the home institution is unable to participate for any reason:

a.   The contest shall be rescheduled only upon the mutual consent of the involved Directors of Athletics and the approval of the Commissioner.

b.  If the contest is unable to be rescheduled, it shall be declared no contest and shall not be included in the regular season standings.


Mountain West: The conference's planned approach is to address each situation on a case-by-case basis in the context of the unique circumstances of that particular outbreak. These would include, but not be limited to, the location of competition, the sport involved, the host institution’s policies/emergency management plan, state and local guidelines, etc.  After gathering all the pertinent information and consulting with all necessary constituents/agencies, we would make a determination how best to proceed.
 
As an example, while it did not affect competition, the United States Air Force Academy recently had an outbreak among the incoming freshman cadets and quarantined a significant number of individuals as a result.  This was done in accordance with USAFA guidelines and other pertinent jurisdictions.  Had there been institutional and/or MWC competition involved, we would have consulted with the appropriate parties at USAFA and developed a plan of action.

Note: The Mid-American Conference did not respond.




Other flu outbreaks regarding college football:
(Others are mentioned in Wednesday's story. Source: Cleveland Plain-Dealer)

 
Duke: One confirmed case in August. Upwards of three dozen players had flu symptoms that lasted approximately 10 days.

Tulane: Twenty seven players had mild symptoms and returned to practice in early September.

Washington State: Sixteen players got sic shortly before the Sept. 5 home opener against Stanford (a loss).

Kentucky:
Defensive tackle Antwane Glenn has been isolated due to flu symptoms.

Wisconsin: Several players developed symptoms the week of the Sept. 12 game against Fresno State. Whether it was because of the flu or not, several Fresno State receivers were able to get behind the Wisconsin secodary during an overtime win by the Badgers.

Posted on: June 9, 2009 9:19 am
Edited on: June 9, 2009 4:21 pm
 

Picking the independents

When senior citizens complain, they tend to whine about wanting their juice, maybe turning up the heat, or, for gosh sakes, somebody find the remote. Jeopardy's on. 

Joe Paterno is one of those senior citizens. He also tends to whine. Recently he chose the Big Ten as his target. Late in life other 82-year-olds want their favorite chair, pillow or blanket. The Penn State coach prefers Big Ten expansion. Syracuse, Rutgers and Pittsburgh are his favorites. Pretty much anyone but Notre Dame.

The fact that no one of consequence even commented on JoePa's ramblings confirmed that they were just that -- ramblings. Paterno might want it his way but he's got it all wrong.

The only way Big Ten expansion works is if Notre Dame is the pick. Ten years ago, the conference (Big 11, really) walked down the aisle hand-in-hand with ND. A marriage seemed imminent. Then the engagement was abruptly broken off when the Notre Dame's board of trustees reiterated its preference to stay independent.

Since then, the former lovers' prospects have dimmed. Big Ten football has regressed recently. Despite two BCS bowls this decade, Notre Dame has seen some of its darkest days since its last appearance in 2006. Coach Charlie Weis' job hangs by a thread. He is the program's fifth coach since '96. The last national championship was 21 years ago.

Still, ND retains favored status in the BCS. The public at large didn't know about ND's almost special dispensation when it came to the BCS. It had arguably the easiest entry into a major bowl -- basically win nine and finish in the top 12.

 Notre Dame also happened to keep all the bowl money itself (minus expenses, of course). Why join a conference? It gets $4.5 million for playing in a BCS bowl. Even in years when ND doesn't go to the BCS bowl, it receives a $1.4 million check just for participating in the system. The deal with NBC pays it another $8 million per year. At least. 

That's why Notre Dame is the only school that makes sense for Big Ten expansion. The conference could use the money. Notre Dame is a ratings winner whether it is 7-1 or 1-7. People watch the same way they watch dogs fighting in the middle of the street.

It interests us.

It's easy to see why the trustees want to stay independent. Why split all that money 12 ways? Of course, if Notre Dame joined the Big Ten it could dictate some favorable terms. For example, it is assumed the school wouldn't be sharing any of that NBC money.

You can also see why Notre Dame expansion makes sense to the Big Ten. Adding the Irish would boost the Big Ten's TV ratings, its bowl coffers (at some point) and its profile. Think how the fledgling Big Ten Network could benefit. There would be a central location to catch up on everything Notre Dame.

Big Ten expansion into South Bend would be easier on both ends to recruiters. For existing Big Ten coaches who could tell prospects, "Come play against Notre Dame," and for Notre Dame which could tell prospects, "Come win the Big Ten."

None of this is going to happen soon. Commissioner Jim Delany recently called Big Ten expansion a "back burner issue." While the conference's football prospects might be down, things are always cyclical in college football. Notre Dame, as you will read below, is expected by some to get back to a BCS bowl this season.

For now, a 12-team Big Ten with Notre Dame is a conversation piece. It might never happen. The economy might worsen and it might be inevitable. There is one thing conclusion when it comes to the subject:

Please don't listen to JoePa.

Picking the independents...

1. Notre Dame -- It's all in place -- the schedule, the front-line talent, the network, the hype. Forget all that. ND goes nowhere this season unless Jimmy Clausen makes the next logical step in his progression. The junior improved last season adding 18 pounds and throwing for 25 touchdowns. It all came together in the bowl game when his only four incompletions against Hawaii were drops. With better protection, a better running game, better receivers and a better outlook, Clausen should begin to fulfill the promise he brought to South Bend three years ago. Whether it's enough to save Charlie Weis' job is another issue. It's BCS bowl or bust for The Big Guy. Weis will ride as far as Clausen can take him. The kid will benefit from the return of four starters on the offensive line. Experts have fallen in love with receivers Michael Floyd and Golden Tate. The running game (No. 100 nationally) has to get better with the arrival of freshman Cierre Wood. Clausen can give Wood a few pointers on how to approach that freshman season. The quarterback had his ego knocked back to The Stone Age in 2007-2008. But, seemingly, Clausen has lived and learned. With his body still intact from all those sacks, Clausen should thrive. But will it be enough to win at least nine games?

2. Navy -- It was hard to place Navy second behind ND. If everything goes right for the Middies, they could be the best of the independents. They won one more than Notre Dame last season. The last two seasons they've been competitive with Notre Dame which is important after four decades of losses. The prospects are bright for '09. In his first full season as head coach, Ken Niumatalolo won eight games, a sixth consecutive Commander-In-Chief's Trophy and got Navy to a bowl. The best thing to happen to Navy, in a weird way, might have been an injury to dangerous quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada. That allowed budding talent Ricky Dobbs to start four games in '08. Dobbs wants to be president someday (after his Navy commitment, of course). His moves could make the triple option even more dangerous. The front seven is the strength of the defense. Remember that you read it here first -- in June: Look out Ohio State and Pittsburgh. Navy visits both in the first three weeks of the season. Dobbs and the option are coming.

3. Army -- Good things are being said and written about new coach Rich Ellerson. If he can transfer his magic to this run-down program, then ... well let's wait and see. There have been 12 consecutive losing seasons. The Army brass has made bad decision after bad decision. There is no reason that the Black Knights shouldn't at least be on a par with Air Force and Navy, but somehow Army has sunk to the depths of Division I-A. Ellerson comes from I-AA Cal Poly bringing the triple option on offense and double-eagle flex formation on defense (think Arizona's "Desert Swarm"). Army won't go to a bowl but it needs to build enough momentum to give Navy a game on Dec. 12.

 


Posted on: November 14, 2008 11:18 am
Edited on: November 14, 2008 11:23 am
 

Latest on coaching searches

One source says that Air Force's Troy Calhoun has emerged as a favorite at Tennessee followed by UConn's Randy Edsall and Brian Kelly of Cincinnati. Remember, I said a favorite, not the favorite. Calhoun also has been mentioned at Washington.

The name of Lousiana Tech coach Derek Dooley has emerged at Clemson. We already know the school is interested in Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables and Lane Kiffin and will speak to Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster.

Coaching headhunter Chuck Neinas has been employed by Syracuse, Toledo and Tennessee for their searches.


 There is a way for Boise State to get to a BCS bowl, even if Utah wins out.

Broncos fans are busying themselves with that possibility with their team stuck at No. 10 in the BCS and heading to Idaho this week. Boise State's (lack of) schedule strength won't be enough to leap over Utah, No. 8 in the BCS, if the teams keep winning.

Only one non-BCS team is guaranteed an automatic spot if it qualifies. A second team would have to make it as an at-large. The odds are slim of two non-BCS teams making it to BCS bowls but here's how it happens:

 Six of the 10 spots go to the BCS conference champions. Boise must then hope that the four at-large spots are filled by teams from different conferences. Think Big 12, SEC, Utah (Mountain West) and Boise (WAC). In that scenario, there would be no other team to pick but the Broncos.

 An at-large team must have at least nine victories and finish in the top 14. Ohio State must get beat to drop out of the top 14. Oregon State must get beat to keep the Pac-10 from getting two teams in the BCS. A Beavers loss would vault USC into an automatic spot as the Pac-10 champion. Penn State would have to win out to clinch the Big Ten.

 Of course, Utah could take care of things for Boise by losing at least one of its final two games. If not, no BCS bowl is going to pick Boise over, say, Ohio State to fill one of its spots.

 "Has it taken longer than expected (to win at South Carolina)?" asked Steve Spurrier who is in his fourth season with the Gamecocks. "No, not really. Our big recruiting class came two years ago. We've got 26 players of those players on campus. We've got a pretty good nucleus of players for the next three or four years."

 Spurrier laughed when asked about denying interest in the Tennessee job recently.

"They weren't going to come after me anyway," he said. "I'm on my last gig. I'm on my last job. They want to hire a guy who is going to be there 15 years."

 Great quote gathered by our Craig Barnes who covered the Virginia Tech-Miami game on Thursday night:

 "The U is back," Virginia Tech cornerback Victor "Macho" Harris said. "The swagger is back. The teams that we played last year and tonight were completely different. Their team has confident that they can win."

If Macho says Miami is back, that's good enough for me.

Posted on: November 9, 2008 7:52 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2008 8:50 pm
 

Random thoughts on a football Saturday

The BCS question of the week: If Oklahoma beats Texas Tech in two weeks ,which Big 12 team wins the South and could ultimately get to the BCS title game?

The national championship chase is basically down to six teams if you make a reach and include No. 6 (in the BCS) USC. As of this moment, it's pretty much assured that the Big 12 and SEC will meet in South Florida.

Alabama and Texas Tech remained 1-2 in the BCS standings released on Sunday. Now the intrigue: Texas moved up to No. 3, followed by Florida and Oklahoma. All three Big 12 teams in the top five have a chance to win the Big 12 South.

An Oklahoma win in two weeks would create a three-way tie for the division. (Oklahoma still has still has to go to Oklahoma State on Nov. 29) That tie would be broken by the highest-ranked BCS team at the end of the regular season.

So who gets it?

"Can't say," Jerry Palm told me Sunday afternoon.

This much we do know: Texas has a huge advantage over Oklahoma in the computers, .920-.820. Palm says, in theory, all OU would have to do is pass Texas in the computers. That's possible considering Oklahoma's stronger schedule than Texas down the stretch.

There's also a huge variable -- the human polls. Texas jumped over Oklahoma on Sunday in the Harris poll.

The outrage in all this -- at least for Texas -- is that Oklahoma lost to the Longhorns and could be playing for the Big 12 title instead of Texas.

Another scenario. Texas Tech could lose in two weeks and still win the South if Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma. In that case, Texas and Texas Tech would be tied but the Red Raiders hold the head-to-head tiebreaker.

 After watching the quality of play in the LSU-Alabama game -- folks, it was not good -- I don't want to hear anything about how the Big 12 somehow takes a back seat to the SEC.

 

Example: In the 19 games since Ruffin McNeil took over as Texas Tech's defensive coordinator, the Red Raiders are giving up an average of 22 points and 330 yards having forced 35 turnovers.

Last season Texas Tech gave up 610 yards and 49 points to Oklahoma State. After the game Setenich resigned and was replaced by McNeil. On Saturday, Texas Tech gave up only 368 yards and 20 points.

"Our defense is never mentioned in the same breath with our offense," McNeil said. "Our offense is so consistent. That's where we're trying to get."

 Texas Tech became the second team since 1965 to beat a top 10 team the week after beating No. 1. The last team to accomplish what was Oklahoma in 1984. The Sooners beat No. 1 Nebraska, then beat No. 3 Oklahoma State.

 

 There was word circulating that the Rose Bowl would break its cast-in-stone (and broken only by the BCS) tradition of matching the Pac-10 and Big Ten.

 

There were some in the Rose administration -- just like us -- who simply did not want to see Ohio State and USC play again. Who wants to see a re-run of also-rans?

After Saturday, it looks like the Rose will be juuuuust fine. If you consider Oregon State vs. Penn State "fine." That would be a rematch of Penn State's Sept. 6 rout of the Beavers but any major bowl with Joe Paterno in it would be better than Trojans-Buckeyes.

The Nittany Lions' one-point loss to Iowa just about dropped the Big Ten out of the national championship picture. Penn State can still win out (against Indiana and Michigan State) and still capture the Big Ten.

The looming surprise is that with four weeks to go, Oregon State still controls its own destiny in the Pac-10. The Beavers stayed on track with an impressive 34-6 victory over UCLA. The pesky Beavers have Cal and Oregon at home before going to Arizona for the season-finale on Nov. 29.

That's not exactly a daunting schedule considering the Pac-10 is going to have to hustle to fill its six bowl slots. Only five teams are above .500.

Oregon State would be making its first Rose Bowl appearance since 1965.

 Nothing like sacking up for your lame duck coach.

 

Hard to tell who should be more embarrassed -- Tennessee's players for laying down to punchless Wyoming or Fulmer who couldn't squeeze a win-one-for-the skipper game out of the Vols.

Incredibly, Wyoming coach Joe Glenn, almost a certainty to be fired himself, is 3-1 against the SEC.

 The ACC is the only I-A conference with at least two conference losses by every member school.

 

 How bad is the Pac-10? It is basically down to Stanford (5-5) to fill all six of its bowls. Only five teams to this point are bowl eligible. The Cardinal have to beat USC at home or win at Cal to become bowl eligible. 

 

 Happy 79th to Bobby Bowden who celebrated his birthday with a victory over Clemson that put Florida State in a tie with Wake Forest for a tie in the ACC Atlantic.

 

Posted on: November 5, 2008 10:32 am
 

National notes

What is the immediate future of Tennessee football?

I'm talking two, three years down the road. I have a nagging feeling that Tennessee could become the new Nebraska. A fallen power. Nebraska will never win three national championships in five years. Those days are over.
I'm wondering when the Huskers will challenge for the Big 12 North again. As recently as early this decade, Nebraska was still dominating the division.

Tennessee has won three SEC East titles in the past seven years. That's not bad, folks. Will the next coach do that? The school has the facilities and interest and budget to win big. How does it get that back in one of the most competitive atmospheres in the country?

 Good to see that Steve Spurrier has officially declined interest in tap-dancing on Phil Fulmer's grave, er, in the vacancy. After all, you can't spell Steve Spurrier without UT.

 Before that the Old Ball Coach took a few final jabs at his favorite target. After South Carolina beat the Vols 27-6, Steve Spurrier said: "I'm used to hearing 'Rocky Top' about 10 times. Did they play it at all? I can't remember any of it. Usually you hear that song -- maybe they only play it after they score." Ouch.

 

 USC has become a victim of its own excellence. The Trojans dropped from fifth to seventh this week in the BCS standings despite shutting out Washington 56-0. Apparently the pollsters and computers aren't impressed with the Pac-10 conference.

 

Since the BCS standings debuted, USC is 3-0 having outscored Washington State, Arizona and Washington by a combined 142-10. In that time USC has lost 7.5 percent of its BCS average (.8165 to .7551).

Three of the six BCS computers have the Pac-10 ranked no higher than fourth (Billingsley, fourth; Sagarin, sixth; Colley, seventh behind the Mountain West).

"The more we win, the worse we get," Pete Carroll said.

 BYU needs Utah to beat TCU on Thursday to have any chance of winning its third consecutive Mountain West title.

 

Where is BYU quarterback Max Hall going to be?

"Can't miss 'The Office,' Hall said before changing his story. "I don't know. I will probably pay attention to it. I will probably watch it."
 
 
 Greg Robinson has won three Big East games in four seasons at Syracuse. Two of those are over Louisville's Steve Kragthorpe. Might want to add another name to the hot list.

 This week's SEC ill feeling of the week descends upon Baton Rouge where Nick Saban makes his return as a college coach to LSU.

 

"This isn't about me," Bama's coach said.

Uh, yeah it is, Nick. It's all about you walking out on LSU for the NFL. That in and of itself isn't bad. Who among us wouldn't jump at the chance for a huge promotion?

The mistake is coming back into the belly of the beast (Death Valley!) and trying to deflect the attention. Check this comment from the SEC meetings earlier this year. The guy doesn't exactly expect a welcoming committee.

"All I know is when we had a staff meeting about who goes on what bus, who rides where and all that kind of stuff, it was pretty unanimous in our staff that when we go to LSU, nobody's riding on the bus I'm on," Saban said.

 The pandering went down to the last day for Mr. Hope and Change. Barack Obama continued to tell us what we wanted to hear without offering any substance.

 

"I think it is about time that we had playoffs in college football," Obama said during a Monday interview. "I'm fed up with these computer rankings and this and that and the other. Get eight teams -- the top eight teams right at the end. You got a playoff. Decide a national champion."

That will resonate with Joe Six Pack, which is the point of Obama's entire campaign. Hope and change are empty terms. I'm betting Mr. H and C knows as much about college football as the average cricket player.

How are you going to select the eight teams? What about the ninth team? What about the bowls? Where are the games going to be? You might want to check with the Rose Bowl, Pac-10 and Big Ten.

A lifetime of Washington experience counts more than charisma and empty promises. To paraphrase Dennis Miller, John McCain gave us 5 1/2 years in a Vietnamese prison, I believe we owed him at least four in the White House.

 Mystery team of the week. Unbeaten, No. 1 in total defense in a major conference, tied for 54th nationally in total defense. Answer below.

 

 Tyrell Fenroy of Louisiana-Lafayette became the seventh player to rush for 1,000 yards in each of four seasons. He joins a list that includes Tony Dorsett, Cedric Benson and Ron Dayne.

 

 More Tennessee:

 

One of the more striking aspects of Phil Fulmer's firing is the support showed by his players.

“I just feel like I just lost one of my ribs and my kidney or something,” safety Eric Berry said. “I feel like I just lost a family member. Nobody has died, but that’s what it feels like to me right now.”

"That right there wasn't very stand up of Tennessee ... He should go out on his own terms," offensive lineman Ramon Foster said.  "If you're on the other side of the fence we hope you're happy."

 Tennessee AD Mike Hamilton's letter to alumni:

 

Dear friends,


This afternoon, Coach Fulmer announced he will step aside at the conclusion of the football season. I want to express my sincere gratitude for everything he has done for the University and our program.

Coach Fulmer has been, and will continue to be, a great representative of the University and the athletic department. He has dedicated a majority of his life to our program and brought home two SEC championships and a national championship. He has secured his place as the second winningest coach in Tennessee history behind General Neyland. I personally appreciate everything he has done for Tennessee and look forward to him continuing to be a part of our family.

I hope that you will come and show your appreciation for Coach Fulmer at the Wyoming and Vanderbilt games as well as the Kentucky game on Nov. 29 when we celebrate “Phillip Fulmer Day” in Neyland Stadium.

We will begin a national coaching search immediately. We have a great University, world-class student-athletes, a tremendous fans base and first-class facilities. As a result, we will attract some of the nation’s best candidates. We will introduce a new coach to you over the next several weeks.

Thank you for your continued support of Tennessee football.

Sincerely,

Mike Hamilton

 

 Kentucky wishes Randall Cobbs could clone himself. In his first career start, he threw for 56 yards and a touchdown in a 14-13 win over Mississippi State. Cobbs also rushed for 31 yards and a touchdown.

 

He also caught a team-high three passes as a receiver and returned a few punts.

"If I were our field goal kickers, I'd be worried," offensive coordinator Joker Phillips said.

 Texas Tech is your mystery team of the week.

 

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: 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

 
 
 
 
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