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Tag:LSU
Posted on: June 30, 2009 12:05 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2009 12:34 pm
 

Picking the SEC

You're tired. We're all tired.

Of the SEC.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't believe the hype. Since it expanded in 1992, the SEC has won seven national championships in 17 years, four of the last six and three in a row. It generally sends the most players to the NFL, approximately 36 a year since 1990. How many leagues can narrow the national championship race to one game? Since 2006, the winner of the LSU-Florida game has been the national champion.

Nowhere else does one agent (Jimmy Sexton) represent half the league's coaches. The SEC produces the most draft picks, the most talent, the best stories. Open a browser. You'll find something about Lane Kiffin somewhere.

This season, Florida opens the season as the consensus No. 1 chasing a third national championship in four years. Only two other schools have accomplished that feat in the wire service era: Notre Dame (1946-47, 49), Nebraska (1994-95, 1997).

Let's not forget those lucrative new TV contracts from CBS and ESPN. In the SEC, money flows downhill -- into league coffers.

Tired of the SEC? Too bad. You'll have to pay attention. Once again, the winner of the league will probably be in contention for the BCS title game.

Picking the SEC ...


West Division

1. Alabama -- They've dismissed the Sugar Bowl as a fluke in Tuscaloosa long ago. They'd rather remember how Bama went undefeated in the regular season and was No. 1 for several weeks. Nine returning starters on defense is a good place to start. New quarterback Greg McElroy better find Julio Jones often. A rebuilt offensive line will try to spring Mark Ingram (12 touchdowns as a freshman). The magic of St. Nick gets the nod in this packed division.

2. LSU -- Don't agonize over Jordan Jefferson at quarterback. LSU has won two national championships with, shall we say, less than dynamic quarterbacks. Crazy Les has the SEC's best running back (Charles Scott) and at least one NFL draft pick (Ciron Black) on the offensive line. After the co-coordinator thing failed on defense, Miles went out and got the best player on the board -- John Chavis, formerly of Tennessee.
 
3. Ole Miss
-- Until Ole Miss actually does it, they can't be the pick in the West. I know Jevan Snead might be the league's best pro prospect at quarterback. I know Greg Hardy can beat anyone off the edge. I know that Alabama and LSU come to Oxford. I know that Houston Nutt is underrated as a coach.  I just can't get over the fact that after beating Florida, Ole Miss lost at home to South Carolina. There's a clunker out there somewhere that will keep the Rebels from winning the West.
 
4. Arkansas -- Bobby Petrino has himself a quarterback. That's a good start. Ryan Mallett has the best pure arm in the SEC. The problem is defense and special teams. Petrino has never been known for his defensive prowess. The D surrendered more than 31 per game last season. Until that gets corrected, the Hogs won't compete in the West. Petrino wisely hired old buddy John L. Smith to run the special teams. Mallett punted in the spring. Hopefully, that won't have to be the case in the fall.
 
5. Auburn -- Let's see, Tony Franklin was fired because players had a hard time picking up his offense. His replacement at offensive coordinator is Gus Malzahn, basically runs the same offense. Let's hope Malzahn is a better communicator because his offenses might play faster than anyone in the country. Gene "5-19" Chizik has a lot to prove after coming over from Iowa State. It won't be this year.

6. Mississippi State -- All the buzz is coming from Oxford. For good reason. Dan Mullen tried to install his version of the spread in the spring with fewer than five receivers on the roster. That will change in a hurry as Mullen says he wants at least a dozen receivers to get playing time. But as his old boss found out, the passing game comes second. Mullen better be able to run the ball first and find some defensive linemen who can come off the edge.


East Division

1. Florida -- How's the view from the top? It is Florida's division, conference and national championship to lose. Every starter is back on defense. A guy named Tebow seems to have won the quarterback job. Now the question is, who replaces Percy Harvin? Meyer says he won't do it by committee. Watch for Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey and incoming recruit Andre Debose to take their shots. After two titles in three years, the further motivation is Florida's first undefeated season.

2. Georgia -- Strange, but the Bulldogs seem like they're going to be OK. Joe Cox doesn't have to light it up in replacing Matt Stafford, just manage the game. Receiver A.J. Green is a year older and bigger. There are two stars on defense -- defensive tackle Geno Atkins and linebacker Rennie Curran. The last time the expectations were this low, 2005, Georgia won the SEC East. It's going to take a win over Florida to do it, so a division title isn't likely. But 10 wins out of this group isn't out of the question.

3. South Carolina -- Steve Spurrier's greatest trait is his honesty. When asked at the SEC spring meetings if quarterback Stephen Garcia was ready to take over he didn't hesitate. Still needs some work, Spur Dog said. If Spurrier can't get the quarterback thing right, what hope is there for the rest of the Gamecocks? They have faded late in each of the last two seasons. Spurrier has averaged seven wins in his four seasons and has produced just one bowl win. At 64, Spurrier is committed. Is his quarterback, who has had legal problems?

4. Kentucky -- UK's run of three consecutive bowl wins might be in danger. Mike Hartline must show he can become a solid SEC quarterback. Randall Cobb remains a wild card, in a good way, as a quarterback, punt returner and receiver. Rich Brooks has his best defensive line since coming to Kentucky. He wants to get the Cats into the top 25 on a regular basis before turning things over to coach-in-waiting Joker Phillips.

5. Tennessee -- Behind the bluster, is this: Tennessee isn't particularly good. The offense is going to be painful to watch -- again. Lane Kiffin has yet to sign the quarterback who will define his success in Knoxville. His best hope at the position might be All-American safety Eric Berry who should get some snaps behind center. If the offensive line holds up, maybe super freshman Bryce Brown can keep the Vols in the hunt. Guru Monte Kiffin gets a head start with athletes on his side of the ball. Defense wasn't the problem last season.

6. Vanderbilt -- After going 26 years between bowls, Vandy just might be getting started. Coach Bobby Johnson gets all five offensive line starters back. The defense that allowed less than 20 points per game is stout as well. It will be typical Commodores in that they will struggle to score but hang in with defense. The Nov. 21 regular-season finale at Tennessee could have a lot on the line.

 

 

Posted on: June 5, 2009 3:36 pm
 

Predicting the bling ...

We're all Heisman candidates in June. Mom, dad, the plumber, the cat. Well, maybe not the cat.

This is the time of year to salute every swinging hick who dares to dream of a trip to New York. With that in mind, here are my Heisman rankings.

1. Colt McCoy, Texas -- It's his time. Among the Three Amigos, it's his turn.
2. Tim Tebow, Florida -- Voters will be wary of making Superman a two-time winner. There has only been one.
3. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma -- Back-to-back ain't happenin' either.
4. Jevan Snead. Ole Miss -- This year's Matt Stafford.
5. Jahvid Best, Cal -- No. 3 rusher last season, should be the nation's leading rusher in 2009.
6. Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech -- The hoss in Paul Johson's option offense.
7. Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State -- Cowboy No. 1
8. Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State -- Cowboy No. 2
9. Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State --  Cowboy No. 3
10. Case Keenum, Houston -- 5,000-yard passer.

The others -- Arrelious Benn, Illinois; Eric Berry, Tennessee; Dezmon Briscoe, Kansas; Daryll Clark, Penn State; Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame; Aaron Corp, USC; Noel Devine, West Virginia; A.J. Green, Georgia; Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma; Max Hall, BYU; Greg Hardy, Ole Miss; Tim Hiller, Western Michigan; Jerry Hughes, TCU; Colin Kaepernick, Nevada; Julio Jones, Alabama; Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan; MiQuale Lewis, Ball State; Jake Locker, Washington; Taylor Mays, USC; Kellen Moore, Boise State; DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma; Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State; Todd Reesing, Kansas; Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State;  Charles Scott, LSU; Brandon Spikes, Florida; Triumph the Insult Comic Dog; The Kobe and LeBron puppets; Zach Galifianakis; Conan O'Brien; Lassie; David Letterman; Iron Man; Alex Trebek, Tina Fey, shall I go on?

 

Bednarik/Nagurski Award (best defensive player): Jerry Hughes, TCU

Biletnikoff Award (best receiver): Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State

Broyles Award (best assistant coach):  John Chavis, LSU defensive coordinator

Groza Award (best kicker): Kai Forbath, UCLA

Ray Guy Award (best punter): Derek Epperson, Baylor

Lombardi Award (best lineman): Greg Hardy, Ole Miss

Mackey Award (best tight end): Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma

Davey O'Brien Award (best quarterback): Colt McCoy, Texas.

Butkus Award (best linebacker):  Brandon Spikes, Florida

Outland Trophy (best interior lineman):  Ciron Black, LSU

Rimington Trophy (best center): Kristofer O'Dowd, USC

Eddie Robinson Award (coach of the year):  Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech

Thorpe Award (best defensive back): Eric Berry, Tennessee

Doak Walker Award (best running back):  Jahvid Best, Cal

 

 

Posted on: March 9, 2009 4:39 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2009 4:48 pm
 

Countdown for Bryce Brown

They are fasting by now, drinking only liquids.

The strategy worked last year when Arthur Brown Jr., his father, brother and advisor Brian Butler fasted for a week before the highly-touted linebacker made his college decision.  The story goes that the entire group was hit with a revelation that Arthur, a Wichita, Kan. prospect, should attend Miami.

The group is trying to enter the same physical and mental state as Brown's younger brother Bryce is less than a week away from making his college decision. Bryce's long anticipated announcement will come at a Monday press conference at the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in Wichita.

Yes, it will probably be overdone. Yes, it will probably be faux dramatic. (Please, Bryce don't play us with the "hat tease".)  But we still can't stay away. No doubt there will be media there from all over the region and around the country. At least four schools -- Tennessee, Oregon, LSU and Kansas State -- will be hanging onto the kid's every word. It will be a recruiting website's wet dream.

But the story of Bryce's recruitment might not come to a flashy climax on Monday. Butler, the celebrated mentor, is under investigation by the NCAA. The association's assistant director of amateurism certification has been to Wichita to question a high school player who formerly trained under Butler.

Read between the lines and it seems the NCAA is trying to see if Butler has compromised the amateur status of any of the high school players he has trained.  That, or it might decide Butler should be disassociated from certain athletes. Fourteen months ago Butler quit his job at a T-Mobile call center to pursue training prospects full time.

Butler, 33, usually charges to train athletes $75 a month for one day a week and up to $200 a month for three days a week. On the surface, it's hard to see how Butler could be making a killing.

"Trust me, I can take you to my house right now and show you a stack of bills and show you my bank account," Butler told me in late January. "I wonder how they're going to get paid."


One question seems to be whether Bryce Brown, or any other player, was given a price break. That could constitute an extra benefit in the NCAA's eyes. Two specific NCAA bylaws come into play here:

 12.1.2.1.6 has to do with "preferential treatment" given to a prospect based on his "reputation or skill or pay-back potential as a professional athlete."

 13.02.13, defines a "representative of athletics interests"

In Butler's case, 13.02.13 would mean he would be steering kids to a certain school. Butler said that the most former players he has at a single school is two at both Kansas and Kansas State. That hardly constitutes a pattern especially since former K-State coach Ron Prince had been critical of Butler.

Butler says that if Prince were still at the school Bryce probably wouldn't be considering the Wildcats. With new/old coach Bill Snyder back in charge, K-State is one of Bryce's finalists.

However, one person with knowledge of the NCAA process told me, "You can turn a ham sandwich into a representative (of athletics interests) if you want to."

"Mr. Brown (Bryce's father Arthur Sr.) pays me more than most people," Butler told me  when informed of the "preferential treatment" bylaw.

"My goal," Butler added, "is to be a millionaire before they (players) are."

On the up and up, of course.

At one time the NCAA had in place a "big brother/big sister" program in which investigators would take a region of the country and speak to the top three to five prospects in that area. I'm not sure if that program is still in place but Butler did tell me that the NCAA plans on talking to the nation's No. 1 recruit.

A best guess is that Bryce has narrowed his choices to Oregon and Tennessee. Based on conversations I've had, the kid is very interested in how he will be promoted. Oregon has at its disposal the Nike marketing machine. That's not to say the kid would be hidden playing in the SEC at Tennessee (on CBS).

Oregon can further sell the nation's No. 2 rushing offense and a somewhat stable quarterback situation. Tennessee can sell the charismatic Lane Kiffin, his superstar staff and a program about to take off .

Stay tuned, the circus is about to end with Monday's announcement. Or, with the NCAA sniffing around, it might just be beginning.

 

 

 

 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: February 27, 2009 9:38 am
 

National notes

Florida president Bernie Machen was weighing in on the BCS issue long before it heated up again recently. The former Utah president has been in both arenas -- overseeing of the one of the richest athletic departments in the country and looking up at the big boys from the Mountain West Conference.

Here are some leftovers from an interview last season that are still relevant today:

"There's no difference in my mind between the Mountain West and -- I won't name them -- a couple of the BCS conferences. So we have to find a way to allow those conferences to get some security. They don't have to have the season of all seasons to get in there.

"They deserve to be in there. They're working their ass off. They got budgets that are half of the BCS (schools) because they don't have the money.

"I'd probably put some of the weaker BCS conferences where they had to compete against the non-BCS guys. Every year there are teams -- BYU, Utah, Boise State or Fresno State -- those teams are damn close to a lot of the teams that are in the BCS.

"I don't begrudge us because we earn it. But there are teams in our conference that aren't as good as Utah. Yet, they get the BCS revenue which gives them an unfair advantage. We have to let these high-achieving non-BCS teams get an easy shot. "

 If you're worried about hard economic times for athletic departments, consider that the problems come from the bottom up. Orange County, which encompasses, Orlando, Fla., is considering cutting some freshman and junior-varsity sports, including football, to save money.

Imagine a hotbed of Florida football without a feeder system to develop football talent. Here's a look at an Armageddon scenario in 2019.

 One former player verbalizes what we've all been thinking. Joe Paterno is going to die on the field.

 Don't sweat the Oklahoma offensive line, which loses four starters from one of the best units in the country. "The Clean Team" was responsible for keeping Heisman winner Sam Bradford from washing his uniform last season. Things are not as bad as you think going into the spring.

Six-foot-seven LSU transfer Jarvis Jones should slide into the right tackle spot. Jones played on the 2007 LSU national championship team but was dismissed for a violation of team rules.

Trent Williams, considered by the staff to be the best overall offensive lineman last year, will move from right tackle to left tackle. Right guard Brian Simmons was overcome a couple of surgeries for clubfoot.

 In these tough economic times it scrambles the brain to see so many schools adding football, the largest expenditure there is in college athletics. I wrote about Georgia State recently.

Texas-San Antonio is ramping for football in 2011 and is considering for coach former Miami coach Larry Coker and Northwest Missouri coach Mel Tjeerdsma. Now that Terry Bowden has a job Coker has joined Dennis Franchione as the most accomplished coaches without a job.

 As the Bryce Brown saga marches on, the Wichita tailback's father recently admitted the recruiting odyssey had taken its toll.

"This thing has turned into something we never anticipated," Arthur Brown Sr. said.

The kid's long-awaited announcement is still scheduled for March 16.

Posted on: February 11, 2009 11:59 pm
 

Bryce Brown looking at LSU

The nation's No. 1 remaining recruit is looking at becoming part of the nation's No. 1 recruiting class. (That depends on what ranking you're looking at, but we're getting off the subject)

Wichita's Bryce Brown apparently was smitten by call Monday from LSU coach Les Miles. The talented tailback has two visits left -- one to Tennessee this weekend. USC, and now maybe LSU, is in the running for the other visit. Brown plays to announce his choice on March 12.

Why March 12? Who knows. Maybe he wants to be free to watch Selection Sunday.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: LSU, USC
 
Posted on: February 11, 2009 1:04 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2009 4:06 pm
 

The future of Mike Leach and other items

The feeling seems to be that Mike Leach will let the deadline expire for signing a new contract on Tuesday. I wrote about the situation on Wednesday.

That leaves him only two years left on a deal that is paid him $1.75 million in 2008, eighth-highest in the Big 12. More important, Texas Tech could be assured that Leach would be on his way out. Allowing him to walk after the 2010 season would not only hurt recruiting but probably distract Leach who would be looking for a new job.

That's not to say a new agreement couldn't be worked out at some future date, but giving a sitting coach a deadline to sign a deal is unique.

Here is a copy of what is believed to be Leach's current contract

 A look at the 2009 Pac-10 non-conference schedule: (Thanks to the San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner who rounded up the skeds)

Once again the Pac-10 is showing it isn't shy about playing out of conference. The league plays few I-AA opponents and is willing (maybe because of its geography) to travel to play high-profile opponents.

Best 2009 Pac-10 non-conference games:

1. USC at Ohio State, Sept. 12 -- Game of the Century No. 1,317. Will this be Terrelle Pryor's coming out party?

2. Utah at Oregon, Sept. 19 -- By this point in the schedule the Ducks will have played Boise, Purdue and Utah. Three BCS league opponents. Combined record from 2008: 29-9. Please, stop the madness. Even if the Ducks win all three, what condition will they be in for the Pac-10 schedule?

3. USC at Notre Dame, Oct. 17 -- Seven in a row and counting for the Trojans ...

4. Oregon at Boise State, Sept. 5 -- Can't understand why Oregon (and Oregon State) keep playing the Broncos. In this case, the loser might be out of a BCS bowl.

5. UCLA at Tennessee, Sept. 12 -- Rick Neuheisel won't be leading any postgame pep rallies in Neyland. When was the last time the Bruins and Vols were each this desperate for a quarterback?

6. Arizona State at Georgia, Sept. 26 -- The Devils were embarrassed by the Bulldogs last season in the middle of a six-game losing streak. In this return game, both teams are rebuilding.

7. Cincinnati at Oregon State, Sept. 19 -- Jacquizz Rodgers vs. the defending Big East champions.

8. LSU at Washington, Sept. 5 -- What is the Washington AD smoking? That brutal non-con schedule helped get Tyrone Willingham fired. Steve Sarkisian starts his career against an SEC monster.

9. Notre Dame at Stanford, Nov. 28 -- Irish season finale. Will it be Charlie Weis' finale?

10. Kansas State at UCLA, Sept. 19 -- Wait, Bill Snyder is actually getting on a plane to play a non-con road game?

11. Arizona at Iowa, Sept. 19 -- The Wildcats are on the rise but Iowa still start the season ranked despite the loss of tailback Shonn Greene.

12. Stanford at Wake Forest, Sept. 12 -- The I.Q. Bowl. Jim Harbaugh's scheduling instincts have to be questioned. His team is starting with consecutive roadies to Pullman (Washington State) and Winston-Salem.

13. Cal at Minnesota, Sept. 19 -- Gophers have almost everyone back in this season that will be a referendum on Tim Brewster's future. (started 7-1, finished 0-5). Hope the Bears have a secondary. Adam Decker could be a preseason All-American.

14. Maryland at Cal, Sept. 5 -- Plenty of revenge motive here for the Bears. Cal was down 28-6 after three quarters last season at Maryland before waking up. After winning nine in '08, the Bears have set their sights higher.

 How the economy will handle the glut of bowls -- natural selection.

 The president is a recruitnik too.

It is the responsibility of this space to keep alive the printed word whenever possible. To that end, let me recommend two excellent, recently-released books.

"KU Basketball Vault, The History Of The Jayhawks," is a unique look at one the most decorated programs in hoops by veteran college basketball scribe Ken Davis. Unique? When was the last time you got souvenirs with your coffee table book?

"Big Boy Rules, America's Mercenaries Fighting in Iraq" will change your entire view of the war, the government and human nature. Steve Fainaru of the Washington Post provides a deeply personal look at the Bush travesty that is the Iraq war. Steve is a Pulitzer Prize winner who was a former colleague at the Kansas City Star.

I know, I know. I can hear you. That's as close as I'll ever get to a Pulitzer.

 

Posted on: January 5, 2009 7:14 pm
 

BCS title game media day!

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Just when you thought fingernails against a chalkboard were tolerable, a couple of hundred men and women gathered to talk to Gators and Sooners. Yes, there were more than a few stupid questions. Hopefully, none by me ...

Day 2 of the Dom Bomb brought the requisite reaction from Florida.

Oklahoma's Dominique Franks made trash talk news on Sunday when he said Tim Tebow would only be the fourth-best quarterback in the Big 12. Florida receiver Louis Murphy said it would provide more motivation for Tebow. The quarterback himself gave a non-answer. "I'll just try to have fun out there Thursday night."

"I don't have a reaction," Florida coach Urban Meyer said. "I've done this for a long time, and I'm sure that someone jammed a microphone in his face and he was having fun."

Not so much Urban. The kid brought it up on his own. Take my word for it. I was there.

 Bo Pelini didn't seem to be one of the central figures in this championship but he is, having helped both Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables and Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen.

Venables flew to Lincoln in mid-December to break down film and discuss how to beat Florida. Pelini, Nebraska's head coach, offered his help after getting a feel for the Gators during his time at LSU. Venables seemed surprised that I knew the two had met when I talked to him on Monday. He didn't admit to the skull session, saying the two are just "good friends."

Mullen talked to Pelini about juggling two jobs prior to a national championship game. Mullen is balancing his last days at Florida while taking over as head coach at Mississippi State. Pelini did a similar thing last year when he stayed for the BCS title game as defensive coordinator after taking the Nebraska job.

 Redshirt freshman quarterback John Brantley will be taking over for Tebow if the Heisman-winning quarterback leaves for the NFL after this season. Brantley is a five-star prospect from nearby Ocala. If Tebow does stay, Brantley wouldn't see the field as a starter until his fourth season as a redshirt junior in 2010.

 "It doesn't bother me," Brantley said. "Me and Tim are such good friends. I don't have hate against him at all. It would be another year of learning, I guess."

 Meyer was short with a reporter Monday who asked him about his controversial Notre Dame comment last month. Meyer said that Notre Dame remains his "dream job."

 Why, the reporter asked, is Notre Dame so special?

"Next question," Meyer said.

Florida AD Jeremy Foley said that Meyer's ND comment didn't bother him. Meyer seems to be a long-timer at Florida, or least until his nine-year-old son Nate is in college. That would be 10 years. Would you take another decade, Gators?

"I don't think he'll leave," linebacker Brandon Spikes said. "If he goes, I'm pretty sure he'll turn the program around. He did it here at Florida."

  One of the few connections between the two teams is Oklahoma defensive back Brett Bowers and Tebow.

 Bowers was a junior at Trinity Catholic Academy in Jacksonville, Fla. when Tebow was a freshman. Bowers played with Tebow's older brothers at Trinity.

 The redshirt junior "really didn't know who Oklahoma was" until seeing them play on TV against his favorite, Florida State, in 2000.

"I kind of followed Coach Stoops and his career, he beat my favorite team," Bowers said. "At the time, the Florida schools started rebuilding. Oklahoma was one of my offers. My mom is from Oklahoma City. I committed early."
Bowers has played mostly on special teams.

 Murphy recently graduated with his degree in Sports Recreation and Event Management. He will fondly look back at one of his internships on a butterfly farm.

 "I learned the state butterfly is the Zebra Longwing," Murphy said.

So at least there's that.

 

Posted on: December 8, 2008 7:38 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2008 11:22 am
 

Random thoughts on a football Monday

Colt McCoy is the Heisman leader in the prestigious Rocky Mountain News poll. Yours truly voted in it this season.

 Nagurski Award (best defensive player) went to a Big 12 player? Texas' Brian Orakpo was sixth in sacks and 11th in tackles for loss. Okaaay ....

 

CBSSports.com's All-America team (including our defensive player of the year) will be released on Friday.


 Once again, one person didn't vote in the Harris poll. That made it three times this season someone was missing from the 114-person panel.


 Eighteen coaches voted for their own school in the coaches poll. The individual ballots were released  Monday in USA Today. There were some interesting results.

--Oregon's Mike Bellotti voted for Cal (No. 25) but Cal coach Mike Tedford did not.

--North Carolina finished with six points in the coaches poll. Two of them came from coach Butch Davis who voted the Tar Heels No. 24.

--Mike Leach voted Oklahoma No. 1, Texas Tech No. 2 and Texas No. 5. No. 5? That at least equaled the lowest ranking of the Longhorns among the 61 voters.

--Nebraska got all of five points in the poll. Four of them came from coach Bo Pelini who slotted his Huskers No. 21.

--Most overrated team by a coach: Missouri. Gary Pinkel had his Tigers at No. 18. They barely stayed in both polls.

--Three five-loss teams finished with votes -- Kansas, Rutgers and Buffalo.

 Here are the combined top five of the seven Big 12 coaches who voted in the coaches poll. This is an issue, of course, because Texas finished .01816 of a point out of the BCS title game.

 

1. Oklahoma (five first-place votes)
2. Texas (1)
3. Florida (1)
4. Alabama
5. USC

The seven are: Art Briles, Baylor; Mack Brown, Texas; Dan Hawkins, Colorado; Mike Leach, Texas Tech; Gary Pinkel, Missouri; Gene Chizik, Iowa State; Bo Pelini, Nebraska. Only Chizik and Mack Brown had Texas ahead of Oklahoma on their ballots. Briles, Hawkins, Leach, Pinkel and Pelini voted Oklahoma No. 1.

Four coaches voted Texas No. 1 in the coaches poll. Amazingly, one of them wasn't Mack Brown: Chizik, Todd Dodge, North Texas; Rick Neuhiesel, UCLA; Mike Price, Texas-El Paso.

Chizik worked for Brown. Dodge played at Texas. Price played Texas this year was grateful for the Horns coming and filling his stadium. Neuheisel is the head scratcher but a lot of stuff The Rickster does causes us to scratch our heads.

 How my BIG playoff would have looked in 2006 and 2007:

 


2007

Regular season national champion: Ohio State
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. USC


Playoff bracket

No. 1 LSU vs. No. 8 West Virginia
No. 4 Georgia vs. No. 5 Missouri
No. 2 Virginia Tech vs. No. 7 Kansas
No. 3 Oklahoma vs. No. 6 USC

2006

Regular season national champion: Ohio State
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. USC


Playoff bracket

No. 1 Florida vs. No. 8 Oklahoma
No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 5 Wisconsin
No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 7 Auburn
No. 3 LSU vs. No. 6 Boise State

 The old lady next to us offered us a drink, she was guzzling gin out of a thermos. That much I remember from the last time the Cardinals won a division. Back in 1975 they were the St. Louis Cardinals and I was just out of high school.

 

Friend Jack Scanlan and I somehow scored tickets in the bleachers at old Busch Stadium to what was then the biggest football game in The Loo's history.  On a cold, cold day, Jackie Smith caught a touchdown pass and the Cardinals of Jim Hart, Terry Metcalf and Mel Gray beat the Giants 14-6.

It was a bigger deal then than it was today in Arizona. The Cardinals migrated from Chicago in 1960 and spent 27 mostly-frustrating seasons in my hometown. I still follow the Cards enough to know that the Bidwells are still the Bidwells.  Cheap and clueless.

Good on ya to Arizona, though. The city deserves a team to fit that magnificent stadium.

And, no, take the old lady up on her offer. I was only 18, besides I'm a vodka man.

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