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Tag:Missouri
Posted on: November 23, 2008 10:09 am
Edited on: November 23, 2008 4:02 pm
 

The BCS and Big 12 South breakdown

The BCS doesn't come out until after 7 p.m. ET on Sunday but here's a best guess of how the top five will look.

1. Alabama

2. Texas

3. Oklahoma

4. Florida

5. Utah

6. USC

7. Texas Tech

Both human polls (Harris and coaches) have put Oklahoma ahead of Texas which should cause some consternation in certain quarters. The Longhorns beat the Sooners but OU obviously is playing better than anyone in the country with the possible exception of Florida.

"Hopefully they (voters) forget about that," Oklahoma linebacker Austin Box when reminded that his team lost to Texas.

For now, they have.

--Now the skinny on the three-way tie in the Big 12 South ... Who would you pick right now?

Texas


Why they're in this position:  Blake Gideon, Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree.

Texas had Tech beat in Lubbock until it gave the ball back with 1:29 left in the Nov. 1 game. Harrell was able to drive the team down for the game-winning touchdown with one second left. But that was only after Gideon, a Texas defensive back, dropped a tipped pass that would have ended Tech's drive.

Crabtree made an amazing catch against double coverage and tight-roped the sidelines into the end zone for a 39-33 victory.

Ranked teams beaten (ranking at time of kickoff): No. 1 Oklahoma 45-35; No. 11 Missouri 56-31; No. 7 Oklahoma State 28-24.

Common opponent with other two teams: Defeated Kansas 35-7.

Schedule strength (Sagarin): No. 5 (up from No. 7 last week)

BCS ranking going into Sunday: No. 3

Argument for:  Defeated three teams ranked in the top 11, including No. 1 Oklahoma. Colt McCoy is this year's version of Tim Tebow leading the Horns in rushing and passing. Will Muschamp's defense might not be impressive statistically but it is a big play group and is coming off its best performance of the season against Kansas.

Argument against: Not much of one except that it didn't play on Saturday while Oklahoma got all the national love. If Texas doesn't get to the Big 12 title game it will be because of a six-point loss on the road with one second left against Texas Tech.

Regular-season game remaining: Thursday vs. Texas A&M

 

Texas Tech


Why they're in this position: Worst game of the season came at the worst possible time.

Ranked teams beaten (ranking at time of kickoff): No. 19 Kansas 63-21; No. 1 Texas 39-33; No. 8 Oklahoma State 56-20.

Common opponent with other two teams:  Defeated Kansas 63-21.

Schedule strength (Sagarin): No. 19 (up from No. 50 last week)

BCS ranking going into Sunday: No. 2

Argument for: Defeated No. 1 (Texas), last week's Heisman frontrunner (Harrell) and the nation's best receiver (Crabtree). But there's more than this high-flying offense. Texas Tech has been well -rounded most of the season with a serviceable running game and effective defense. Until Saturday.

Suddenly Tech has the best schedule strength of the three jumping from No. 50 to No. 19. Until Saturday, Utah State has played a tougher overall schedule than Texas Tech.

Argument against: You can't lose by 44 on national television on Nov. 22 and expect to play for a national championship, much less a Big 12 title.

But both are still a possibility.

Regular-season game remaining: Saturday vs. Baylor

Oklahoma

Why they're in this position:  Colt McCoy. Texas' quarterback had a career day on Oct. 11. The Sooners led by five with 12 minutes but were outscored 15-0 down the stretch the day in beating Oklahoma.

Other than that, Kansas (14) has been the only team to get within 22 points of OU.

Ranked teams beaten (ranked at the time of kickoff): No. 24 TCU, 35-10; No. 2 Texas Tech, 65-21.

Common opponent with other two teams: Defeated Kansas 45-31.

Schedule strength (Sagarin): No. 26 (up from No. 42 last week)

BCS ranking going into Sunday: No. 5

Argument for: Playing the best right now. OU has laid waste to its opponents since losing to Texas. It has won successive games by 14, 23, 34, 38 and 44 points.

Sam Bradford leads the country in touchdown passes and seems to be the new Heisman leader.

Argument against: Beat Tech which beat Texas which beat Oklahoma. Oh no, here we go again.

Regular-season game remaining: Saturday at Oklahoma State

Posted on: November 20, 2008 5:56 pm
 

This week's BCS Armageddon scenario

Two teams from the Big 12 playing for the national championship? Absolutely. Three teams from the Big 12 in the BCS? You bet.  Only one team from the SEC? It could happen.

Here's how:

Alabama loses to Auburn, then rebounds to beat Florida in the SEC title game.

Missouri beats Texas Tech in the Big 12 championship game.

That leaves a top four in the BCS that would look like this:
1. Texas
2. Oklahoma
3. Alabama 
4. USC

The BCS championship game would be Texas-Oklahoma but a spot would have to be reserved for Missouri, the Big 12 champion. Rules state that only two teams from a conference can go to the BCS bowl. Oops. They would have to make room for three.

Assume that Oregon State wins the Pac-10 and goes to the Rose Bowl. That would guarantee USC a spot as an at-large because it finished in the top four. It also means only one SEC team (Alabama) would be in the BCS.

Florida would be shut out because the at-large spots would go to Utah, USC, Texas and Oklahoma. That's right, two at-large teams would be playing for the national championship!

Posted on: November 19, 2008 12:28 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2008 1:16 pm
 

National notes

The golden era of Buffalo football was 50 years ago. That's what makes this week so special.

Beat Bowling Green on Friday and the Bulls clinch the MAC East and play for the MAC title, which would guarantee them their first bowl game. They are led by an African-American coach (Turner Gill) and an African-American athletic director (Warde Manuel).

 Fifty years ago, the Bulls had an invite to play in their first bowl game, the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando, Fla. One stipulation: The game was being in a stadium controlled by a local school district that didn't allow integrated games.

There wasn't even a vote. The Bulls refused the invitation standing solidly behind their black teammates -- Willie Evans and Mike Wilson.

"They insulted two of our teammates," former quarterback Joe Oliverio told the Associated Press, "and we were going to hit them back between the ears by refusing to go without our teammates."

Fifty years later, Syracuse has a wonderful opportunity to carry on that legacy. Not necessarily because Gill is an African-American but, yes, that is part of it. Much higher on the list is the chance to turn around a moribund program. Gill has done what few thought was impossible, transforming a fledgling I-A program into being competitive.

That's all Buffalo was asking when it hired him three years ago. But this is above and beyond. The Bulls (6-4) already are bowl eligible. A victory Friday puts them in that first MAC title game.

A year ago Gill was mentioned in the Nebraska coaching search if for no other reason than to appease the Big Red masses. The former Nebraska option quarterback ran one of the highest scoring offenses in the game's history. In becoming a 1983 Heisman Trophy finalist, Gill guided Nebraska to within a missed two-point conversion of the national championship.

That was a quarter-century ago. Fast forward to 2007 and a change of career paths. Gill wasn't ready for Nebraska and not with a 7-17 career record.

But Gill is perfect, now -- right now! -- for Syracuse. The program that desperately needs to hit a home run with its next hire has one sitting right down the interstate. Gill is young, enough (46) and energetic enough to undertake the massive rebuilding job it's going to take to resurrect the program.

Think about this: Syracuse probably is in no position to be grabbing big-name coaches. It desperately needs one who is hungry. What Gill has done at Buffalo in only three seasons is one of the most underrated stories this season.

Of course, it didn't become a big story until the Bulls beat Akron in overtime on Saturday. That meant bowl eligibility and a chance at the conference title.
I just amazed myself typing those words.

Getting Buffalo to win anything is like transforming elephant into an Olympic sprinter. It has been in I-A only nine years. 
Gill's career record is a modest 13-21 but consider where Buffalo had been before this point. The program has consecutive five-win seasons for the first time since 1981. The program was 10-69 in seven previous seasons before moving to Division I-A in 1999.

"How come it can't happen?" Gill said. "That's what I told this football team when I first came in here. I said to them, 'We will be successful here and I will not be ashamed of being the head football coach at the University at Buffalo.'"

Far from it. Oh, and Gill can recruit.

 Senior quarterback Drew Willy drew interest from Pittsburgh, Syracuse and UConn but those schools weren't exactly knocking down his door. Syracuse got rid of Paul Pasqualoni which soured Willy on the Orange. Gill them proved himself as a quarterback maker. Willy has thrown 45 career touchdowns and is currently third in MAC passing.

 

 Kicker A.J. Principe was a player no one wanted out of Columbus, Ohio. Gill gave him a chance to walk on. The sophomore has 25 career field goals making 73 percent of his kicks. And a scholarship.

 

 Receiver Naaman Roosevelt was the New York state co-player. His only offer was from I-AA New Hampshire. Now he leads the MAC in receiving yards.

 

A couple of years ago, Buffalo played Bowling Green in a game that lasted more than five hours because of lightning delays. When the teams meet Friday, it could mark the fastest three hours in Buffalo football history. Win, and the Bulls are in.

 

 mgoblog.com is reporting that Michigan tailback Sam McGuffie is transferring.

 

 

 More from Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe on Obama's playoff talk:

 

"Look at our league, you talk about turning up the pressure. In our league those that have annual expectations -- Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas.  Let's say one of them isn't in (a playoff) for three or four years, their coaches aren't going to make it, the season ticket sales may go down, the bowls aren't going to be satisfied if they're not in it. An eight-team playoff is not going to accommodate more than two teams from a conference. You're going to put the pressure on."

 

 Part of the Mountain West's success includes complete domination of the Pac-10 and the best record of any conference against BCS conference teams (9-5). The conference is so good, though, that it me shopping for a bowl.

 

It is contracted to four bowls but the nine-team league could have six bowl eligible teams if Colorado State and UNLV (both 5-6) win this week.

Utah could relieve some of the pressure by beating BYU. That would push the Utes up to a BCS bowl. However, if BYU wins that could mean four bowl spots for six teams.

 

 By the way look for Utah's Kyle Whittingham to get a contract extension after the season He is in the fourth year of a six-year deal.

 

 

 It's interesting to look back at the first Power Poll on August 31. Here's the top 10 from back then. Five of the 
10 are still in the mix.

 

1. Ohio State -- Beat Michigan and it shares the Big Ten title.
2. Oklahoma -- The Texas loss probably keeps OU from being No. 1 at this point.
3. USC -- Ever hear of Jacquizz Rodgers?
4. Missouri -- Another victim of the Big 12 South.
5. Georgia -- Wasn't Knowshon Moreno supposed to be a Heisman candidate?
6. Florida -- Forget Tebow, Brandon Spikes for Heisman.
7. LSU -- Jarrett Lee has legally changed his name to "Pick Six".
8. West Virginia -- You're kidding, right?
9. Texas -- One loss, on the road, on the last offensive play of the game to No. 2 Texas Tech.
10. Auburn -- Wheeze, cough, cough. Don't wait for me to catch up. Go on ahead. The wolves will end my misery.

 Question: The day Will Muschamp becomes Texas head coach, will he be one of the few head coaches who calls his own defensive plays? I can only think of two at the moment, TCU's Gary Patterson and Western Kentucky's Dave Elson.

 

Posted on: November 12, 2008 11:49 am
 

National notes

The BCS bowls right now ...

BCS title game: Alabama/Florida vs. Texas/Texas Tech/Oklahoma
 
Orange: ACC vs. Utah/Boise
 
Fiesta: Texas/Texas Tech/Oklahoma vs. Ohio State
 
Sugar: Alabama/Florida loser vs. Big East
 
Rose: Penn State vs. USC
 
 
Notes: The SEC, Big 12 and Big Ten get two teams ... The Fiesta Bowl gets the first and third picks in this scenario ... That leaves the Sugar with the Big East chumps, er, champs ... Orange definitely gets the non-BCS team because it picks last. No one is going to take Utah or Boise ahead of it because those schools just aren't new stories.
 
 
 Your official ACC tiebreaker scenarios direct from the ACC office.

First, 10 of 12 teams are still alive for the ACC title including Duke, in last place in the Coastal Division at 4-5 and 1-4. Other than that, take a couple of Advil and read on.

Atlantic Division


Florida State (7-2, 4-2) -- beat Boston College and Maryland to finish the season and hope someone beats Wake Forest. FSU currently loses a tiebreaker to the Deacons.

Wake Forest (6-3, 4-2) -- needs to beat N.C. State and Boston College and hope someone defeats Maryland.

Maryland (6-3, 3-2) -- controls its own destiny. Beat North Carolina, Florida State and Boston College and it is in.

Boston College (6-3, 2-3) -- controls its own destiny. Needs to win at Florida State, at Wake Forest and at home against Maryland to win the division.

Clemson (4-5, 2-4) -- Can't win the division.

N.C. State (3-6, 1-4) -- Can't win the division.

Coastal Division

North Carolina (7-2, 3-2) -- win out against Maryland, N.C. State and Duke and hope someone beats Virginia Tech.

Miami (6-3, 3-2) -- win out against Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and N.C. State and hope North Carolina loses one more game.

Virginia Tech (6-3, 3-2) -- Controls its own destiny by beating Miami, Duke and Virginia.

Georgia Tech (7-3, 4-3) -- needs to beat Miami and have North Carolina lose twice, Virginia lose to Clemson and Virginia Tech lost two of its remaining three games (one to Virginia).

Virginia (5-5, 3-3) -- needs to beat Clemson and Virginia Tech and have someone beat both Miami and North Carolina

Duke (4-5, 1-4) -- beat Clemson, Virginia Tech and North Carolina to finish 4-4 in the division. Then, have Virginia lose to Clemson and beat Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech beat Miami and lose to Duke and Virginia. Georgia Tech lose to Miami and have Miami lose to Virginia Tech, beat Georgia Tech and lose to N.C. State. In addition, have North Carolina beat Maryland, but lose to N.C. State and Duke.

Got all that?

 

 All is not lost for Penn State.

 

There is a convoluted way that Joe Paterno can get to the national championship game.

1. Penn State wins out to go 11-1
2. Alabama loses to at least two of the three: Mississippi State, Auburn and Florida.
3. Texas Tech loses to Oklahoma and Baylor.
4. Oklahoma State defeats Oklahoma.
5. Missouri defeats Texas in the Big 12 title game.
6. USC loses once more to either Stanford, Notre Dame or UCLA.
7. Utah loses to San Diego State or BYU.

That would leave Florida No. 1 at 12-1. Bama, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Texas and USC would each have at least two losses. An undefeated Utah might not be a threat anyway but a loss to BYU ends the Utes' hope for making a miraculous run to the national championship game.
 
The only possible No. 2 would be Penn State. Hey, I told you it was convoluted.

 That got me thinking. How DOES Utah get to the national championship game?

 

1. Penn State loses to either Indiana or Michigan State.
2. through 4. above.
5. USC loses once more.
6. At that point, it probably wouldn't matter which team won the Big 12, Texas or Missouri. It would be close with Texas having one loss and Utah being undefeated.
7. All Utah would have to do is beat San Diego State and BYU to advance to the title game.

 No matter what the standings say, it's still all about Texas in the Big 12.

 

The university is in talks to launch its own TV network. Horns TV sounds a bit inappropriate in a cable universe populated with the likes of Playboy TV, but I'm sure the school will come up with something.

Texas has the nation's largest athletic budget, somewhere north of $120 million. It made non-qualifiers a deal breaker when the conference was formed 12 years ago. Nebraska and Kansas State complained loudly but went along. Look where those programs went shortly thereafter without the benefit of non-qualifiers.

Now Texas is bidding to take over the cable universe. Makes me wonder how Michael Crabtree ever got into the end zone a couple of weeks ago.

 Tim Tebow got away with it. John Parker Wilson didn't.

 

Wilson, Alabama's quarterback, said he regretted pantomiming a cell phone call to the LSU fans following a first-quarter touchdown at Death Valley. Unlike Tebow last year at LSU, Wilson was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. Tebow wasn't. Guess it depends on how innovativeness of your taunt.

"Whether it should have been a penalty or not, it doesn’t really matter," Wilson said. "It was just a bad decision, something I really shouldn’t have done."

The quarterback turned his cellie off on Thursday and didn't turn it on again until after the game on Saturday.

 They're talking contract extension for Randy Shannon at Miami. That's good news for a guy who started 2-3 after a 5-7 first season. The Canes are in contention for the ACC title (who isn't?) and should start 2009 in the top 25.

 

 Bo Pelini has waited until the week of the 11th game to break out the coveted "Blackshirts" for 11 of his best defenders.

 

Makes sense to reward the Huskers for their defense. They're 81st in total defense giving up 380 yards per game and 89th in scoring defense giving up 29.1 points.

 ESPN is in negotiations with the BCS to move all five BCS games to the cable side. I don't have a problem with all the games being on one network.  But this does allow the Worldwide Leader to increase its fees to cable companies which will be passed on to us, the consumer.

 

Posted on: November 5, 2008 5:54 pm
 

Don't rule out Bill Snyder returning at K-State

The old Kansas State is close to returning.

The old Kansas State led the country in losses.  The old K-State was barely a Division I-A program before it made a lucky, once-in-a-millennium hire that just happened to pan out.

The old K-State became the new K-State when Bill Snyder arrived in 1989.

What's old could be new again.

When coach Ron Prince was dumped on Wednesday, Snyder's name immediately came to mind as a short-term savior. After Prince's purple reign, K-State is fragile, wounded, about to fall back into that deep, dark hole from whence it crawled out of 20 years ago.


The next hire better be the right hire or the program's death spiral is waiting around the corner. In the best of times, Kansas State football was a porcelain mouse.  It took Snyder five years to get the Wildcats to a minor bowl.  They won one Big 12 title in his 17 seasons.  After that, they should have waived the mandatory waiting period and elected Snyder immediately to the College Football Hall of Fame.


I'm not saying Snyder should go on for 10 more years. His legacy is gold. No coach, ever, will accomplish what Snyder did. I'm saying he should make some deal with administration to get the program back on its feet. Whether that means hand-picking the next coach or becoming the next coach.

There are worse things K-State can do than let Snyder take over for a couple of years. Look what two-plus seasons got them with Prince.

AD Bob Krause said he would like to hire a new coach before the end of the current season. That seemed odd. Krause would not rule out Snyder as candidate saying first Snyder would be used in a "consulting" role. When I asked, "Consulting or consideration (as a new coach)?" Krause said, "Consulting basis, then move on from there."

It is known that Snyder was homesick for coaching after he "retired" after the 2005 season.  It probably didn't help Snyder's jones that president Jon Wefald didn't listen to the coach when the school's CEO hired Prince.

And make no mistake, this is on Wefald. He hired a guy who was tough on his players and tougher on his assistant coaches.  I ran into Prince's former representative a few weeks ago. The man was flying to Kansas to give depositions in a lawsuit against the coach. The figure in question was reportedly $64,000.

What Division I-A, major-college coach goes to court over $64,000?

After a 38-29 loss to Louisville on Sept. 17, the defense reportedly was made to run 50-yard dashes for every point given up upon the team's arrival back in Manhattan.  In the middle of the night.

That Prince lasted less than three years, admits a colossal mistake on Wefald's part.

After going to a bowl in his first season with Snyder's players, Prince was exposed. He beat Texas twice but was winless against the school's three biggest rivals -- Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas.

But something else was at work here. Prince is 16-18 in his third season. Within the Big 12, though, two other successful coaches were in a similar situation and given time to turn things around. Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy was 18-19 in his first three seasons before getting the Cowboys into the top 10 in 2008. Kansas' Mark Mangino, the 2007 national coach of the year, as 12-24 in his first three seasons.

Prince wasn't the first choice of many of the administrators and power brokers when Snyder retired. Snyder might be the only choice now.

Some candidates

Terry Bowden, former Auburn coach -- If Wefald wants the alums energized with a name coach, this is his guy.

Gary Patterson, TCU -- Played at Kansas State. Native Kansan. Has coached TCU to the brink of a BCS bowl.

Brent Venables, Oklahoma defensive coordinator -- Former Snyder assistant at K-State. Didn't get a sniff before Prince was hired.


 

Posted on: October 29, 2008 10:44 am
Edited on: October 29, 2008 2:11 pm
 

National notes

Breaking news out of Happy Valley: You don't have to be a linguist to figure out Joe Paterno said a mouthful this week after getting his ailing hip checked.

"I want to find out from (doctors) what needs to be done," Joe said, "and get it done as soon as I can after the season is over so I can get on the road to recruit."

Recruiting? For, like, 2009? There you have it, in case you're wondering if JoePa is going to hang up the white socks. The Penn State president's office had no comment. (OK, kidding on that last one).

 Minnesota was a national embarrassment in 2007: 1-11, last in total defense. It couldn't get worse.

 

There was whispers that rookie head coach Tim Brewster was a colossal mistake. But the coach had yet to work his 
magic.

"He's the best recruiter I've been around. Period," said Texas' Mack Brown.

The two had worked together for 13 years. There was a reason Brown kept him close. Brewster could charm Warren 
Buffet out of his wallet.

"I'm just surprised he did it so early," Brown said. 

It is more than a surprise that Minnesota 7-1 and ranked 20th. From the dregs of '07, Brewster now has the Gophers 
in contention for the biggest I-A turnaround ever. The current record is an 8 1/2-game improvement. Hawaii improved 
by that margin in 1999 (from 0-12 to 9-4). Minnesota is currently eight games better than last season. If it 
finishes 10-3 it would tie the record; 11-2 and it break it.

The turnaround started, of course, with recruiting. Brewster says he brought in 45 players for official visits. Thirty-one signed, including a couple of jucos who provided immediate help. Defensive backs Traye Simmons, Tramaine Brock and Simoni Lawrence have combined for 7 1/2 tackles for loss, four interceptions, 17 passes broken up and three forced fumbles.

Quarterback Adam Weber matured. Receiver Eric Decker is tied for third nationally with 66 
receptions. Defensive end Willie VanDeSteeg is back healthy from a broken wrist.

There are those who will tell you that for all credit Brewster gets for this season, he must bear some blame for 
last season. The cupboard wasn't exactly bare when Brewster took over Glen Mason's 6-7 team in 2006 before the 
bottom fell out. Six of the 11 losses were by a touchdown or less, two in overtime.

"It was gut-wrenching," Brewster said. "We had a lot of sad Saturday evenings, a lot of hard Sundays. There's been 
nothing given to this team."

Minny has benefitted from a friendly schedule -- it misses Penn State and Michigan State -- but, hey, things were so bad last season that it isn't fair to put qualifiers on this turnaround. The defense is No. 1 in takeaways with 24.

"It's really different, especially from last year," defensive back Kyle Theret said. "We weren't even close to 
shutting down people to six points, no touchdowns."

That was the result last week in a 17-6 over slumping Purdue. Northwestern is up this week and once again the 
schedule is friendly. Wildcats quarterback C.J. Bacher is questionable with a hammy. Tailback Tyrell Sutton is out  for the season.
With games left against Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa (combined record 11-13), the Gophers could pull a complete 
turnaround and finish 11-1. A Jan. 1 bowl is not out of the question for a program that hasn't been to one since the 1962 Rose Bowl.

Brewster is one of those worker bees who finally got his shot. There were a lot of raised eyebrows when the Denver 
Broncos tight ends coach got a Big Ten job. But Brewster came well recommended. He lists his biggest influences as 
Brown, Mike Shanahan and Marty Schottenheimer. His son Nolan plays at Texas.

Armed with momentum, Brewster can't let it slip. TCF Bank Stadium, the result of a long-time Mason crusade, opens 
next season. It will be a palace, the first new Big Ten stadium built in 49 years. Open-air football in Minnesota 
sure beats the Metrodome no matter what the temperature.

"It's just not a collegiate environment. It's a pro environment," Brewster said. "The average game day temperature 
at the University of Minnesota through November 15 is 64 degrees. It's way overplayed. Winter's winter. Cold is cold. You know what? That's a good thing."


 Handicapping the Washington job.

1. Jim Mora, Jr., Seattle Seahawks secondary coach. His head says hang on to replace Mike Holmgren. His heart says 
go to the alma mater. Please, Jim, take the U-Dub job. You are the most passionate candidate available. Mora also 
comes armed with head coaching experience, something this opening desperately needs.

2. Chris Petersen, Boise State. Has to be the No. 1 choice if Mora says no, doesn't he? Petersen can recruit 
California and can't accomplish much more in Boise. It's time for him to take a step up.

3. Gary Patterson, TCU. Defensive master-mind who, with the right offensive coordinator could be perfect for the job. Part of the Mountain West overthrow of the Pac-10. Completely happy at TCU but someday he will listen. Will he take Washington's call? 

4. Pat Hill, Fresno State. Pat would improve the defense and the get the media back but he has never won so much as 
a WAC title. Petersen's younger.

5. Troy Calhoun, Air Force. NFL experience, Pacific Northwest roots. Run-based offense that some Washington loyalists want to see return to Husky Stadium.

6. Lane Kiffin, unemployed. Still having problems identifying what Lane has actually done. The list of failed 
Raiders coaches goes out the door. Supposedly, he can coordinate an offense but this job needs soooo much more.

7. Dave Christensen, Missouri offensive coordinator. Somewhat of a flavor-of-the-month. DC has been there for eight 
years. Missouri's offense has been on the national scene for two. Christensen looks cool riding his motorcycle and 
has U-Dub ties but doesn't this opening deserve a guy with head coaching experience?

8. Mike Leach, Texas Tech.  Leach wants it. Does Washington want him?

9. Gary Pinkel, Missouri. He ain't going so forget it.

 

 The finalists for the Draddy Award, also known as the academic Heisman

 

Andrew Berry, CB, Harvard -- You would expect nothing less from this former Goldman Sachs interim who participated in 
Harvard's first night game last season.

Ryan Berry, QB, South Dakota State -- Pre-med and American Dairy Association basketball clinic participant.

Chase Daniel, QB, Missouri -- Heisman candidate and business administration major who counts Warren Buffet among his close friends.

Brian Freeman, OT, Carnegie Mellon -- three-time student employee of the year finalist. Rock on, Brian.

Casey Gerald, CB, Yale -- Accepted to Harvard Business School and applying for Rhodes scholarship. Thank goodness 
the football thing hasn't gotten in the way.

Graham Harrrell, QB, Texas Tech -- You can't touch him (4.0 in first semester of graduate work) and you can't touch 
him (sacked only three times this season).

Quin Harris, LB, Louisiana Tech -- Graduated magna cum laude in clinical kinesiology.

Jeff Horinek, LB, Colorado State -- Seems to have mastered in football his areas of post graduate interest: 
nutrition and biomechanics.

Ryan Kees, DE, St. Cloud State -- Pride of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.

Alex Mack, C, Cal -- Pancakes, knockdowns and magna cum laude in legal studies.

Ryan McDonald, OL, Illinois -- Aerospace engineer major. Career should lift off. Thanks, I'll be here all week.

Greg Micheli, QB, Mount Union -- Quite the mathlete. Division II All-American and physics major.

Darryl Richard, DT, Georgia Tech -- If this guy can play for Paul Johnson, he deserves for to be on this list.

Brian Robiskie, WR, Ohio State -- Not everything about Ohio State is overrated.

Louie Sakoda, P/K, Utah -- Laser Foot who can drop punts inside the 20 with the best of them.

Posted on: October 29, 2008 10:44 am
Edited on: October 29, 2008 2:11 pm
 

National notes

Breaking news out of Happy Valley: You don't have to be a linguist to figure out Joe Paterno said a mouthful this week after getting his ailing hip checked.

"I want to find out from (doctors) what needs to be done," Joe said, "and get it done as soon as I can after the season is over so I can get on the road to recruit."

Recruiting? For, like, 2009? There you have it, in case you're wondering if JoePa is going to hang up the white socks. The Penn State president's office had no comment. (OK, kidding on that last one).

 Minnesota was a national embarrassment in 2007: 1-11, last in total defense. It couldn't get worse.

 

There was whispers that rookie head coach Tim Brewster was a colossal mistake. But the coach had yet to work his 
magic.

"He's the best recruiter I've been around. Period," said Texas' Mack Brown.

The two had worked together for 13 years. There was a reason Brown kept him close. Brewster could charm Warren 
Buffet out of his wallet.

"I'm just surprised he did it so early," Brown said. 

It is more than a surprise that Minnesota 7-1 and ranked 20th. From the dregs of '07, Brewster now has the Gophers 
in contention for the biggest I-A turnaround ever. The current record is an 8 1/2-game improvement. Hawaii improved 
by that margin in 1999 (from 0-12 to 9-4). Minnesota is currently eight games better than last season. If it 
finishes 10-3 it would tie the record; 11-2 and it break it.

The turnaround started, of course, with recruiting. Brewster says he brought in 45 players for official visits. Thirty-one signed, including a couple of jucos who provided immediate help. Defensive backs Traye Simmons, Tramaine Brock and Simoni Lawrence have combined for 7 1/2 tackles for loss, four interceptions, 17 passes broken up and three forced fumbles.

Quarterback Adam Weber matured. Receiver Eric Decker is tied for third nationally with 66 
receptions. Defensive end Willie VanDeSteeg is back healthy from a broken wrist.

There are those who will tell you that for all credit Brewster gets for this season, he must bear some blame for 
last season. The cupboard wasn't exactly bare when Brewster took over Glen Mason's 6-7 team in 2006 before the 
bottom fell out. Six of the 11 losses were by a touchdown or less, two in overtime.

"It was gut-wrenching," Brewster said. "We had a lot of sad Saturday evenings, a lot of hard Sundays. There's been 
nothing given to this team."

Minny has benefitted from a friendly schedule -- it misses Penn State and Michigan State -- but, hey, things were so bad last season that it isn't fair to put qualifiers on this turnaround. The defense is No. 1 in takeaways with 24.

"It's really different, especially from last year," defensive back Kyle Theret said. "We weren't even close to 
shutting down people to six points, no touchdowns."

That was the result last week in a 17-6 over slumping Purdue. Northwestern is up this week and once again the 
schedule is friendly. Wildcats quarterback C.J. Bacher is questionable with a hammy. Tailback Tyrell Sutton is out  for the season.
With games left against Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa (combined record 11-13), the Gophers could pull a complete 
turnaround and finish 11-1. A Jan. 1 bowl is not out of the question for a program that hasn't been to one since the 1962 Rose Bowl.

Brewster is one of those worker bees who finally got his shot. There were a lot of raised eyebrows when the Denver 
Broncos tight ends coach got a Big Ten job. But Brewster came well recommended. He lists his biggest influences as 
Brown, Mike Shanahan and Marty Schottenheimer. His son Nolan plays at Texas.

Armed with momentum, Brewster can't let it slip. TCF Bank Stadium, the result of a long-time Mason crusade, opens 
next season. It will be a palace, the first new Big Ten stadium built in 49 years. Open-air football in Minnesota 
sure beats the Metrodome no matter what the temperature.

"It's just not a collegiate environment. It's a pro environment," Brewster said. "The average game day temperature 
at the University of Minnesota through November 15 is 64 degrees. It's way overplayed. Winter's winter. Cold is cold. You know what? That's a good thing."


 Handicapping the Washington job.

1. Jim Mora, Jr., Seattle Seahawks secondary coach. His head says hang on to replace Mike Holmgren. His heart says 
go to the alma mater. Please, Jim, take the U-Dub job. You are the most passionate candidate available. Mora also 
comes armed with head coaching experience, something this opening desperately needs.

2. Chris Petersen, Boise State. Has to be the No. 1 choice if Mora says no, doesn't he? Petersen can recruit 
California and can't accomplish much more in Boise. It's time for him to take a step up.

3. Gary Patterson, TCU. Defensive master-mind who, with the right offensive coordinator could be perfect for the job. Part of the Mountain West overthrow of the Pac-10. Completely happy at TCU but someday he will listen. Will he take Washington's call? 

4. Pat Hill, Fresno State. Pat would improve the defense and the get the media back but he has never won so much as 
a WAC title. Petersen's younger.

5. Troy Calhoun, Air Force. NFL experience, Pacific Northwest roots. Run-based offense that some Washington loyalists want to see return to Husky Stadium.

6. Lane Kiffin, unemployed. Still having problems identifying what Lane has actually done. The list of failed 
Raiders coaches goes out the door. Supposedly, he can coordinate an offense but this job needs soooo much more.

7. Dave Christensen, Missouri offensive coordinator. Somewhat of a flavor-of-the-month. DC has been there for eight 
years. Missouri's offense has been on the national scene for two. Christensen looks cool riding his motorcycle and 
has U-Dub ties but doesn't this opening deserve a guy with head coaching experience?

8. Mike Leach, Texas Tech.  Leach wants it. Does Washington want him?

9. Gary Pinkel, Missouri. He ain't going so forget it.

 

 The finalists for the Draddy Award, also known as the academic Heisman

 

Andrew Berry, CB, Harvard -- You would expect nothing less from this former Goldman Sachs interim who participated in 
Harvard's first night game last season.

Ryan Berry, QB, South Dakota State -- Pre-med and American Dairy Association basketball clinic participant.

Chase Daniel, QB, Missouri -- Heisman candidate and business administration major who counts Warren Buffet among his close friends.

Brian Freeman, OT, Carnegie Mellon -- three-time student employee of the year finalist. Rock on, Brian.

Casey Gerald, CB, Yale -- Accepted to Harvard Business School and applying for Rhodes scholarship. Thank goodness 
the football thing hasn't gotten in the way.

Graham Harrrell, QB, Texas Tech -- You can't touch him (4.0 in first semester of graduate work) and you can't touch 
him (sacked only three times this season).

Quin Harris, LB, Louisiana Tech -- Graduated magna cum laude in clinical kinesiology.

Jeff Horinek, LB, Colorado State -- Seems to have mastered in football his areas of post graduate interest: 
nutrition and biomechanics.

Ryan Kees, DE, St. Cloud State -- Pride of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.

Alex Mack, C, Cal -- Pancakes, knockdowns and magna cum laude in legal studies.

Ryan McDonald, OL, Illinois -- Aerospace engineer major. Career should lift off. Thanks, I'll be here all week.

Greg Micheli, QB, Mount Union -- Quite the mathlete. Division II All-American and physics major.

Darryl Richard, DT, Georgia Tech -- If this guy can play for Paul Johnson, he deserves for to be on this list.

Brian Robiskie, WR, Ohio State -- Not everything about Ohio State is overrated.

Louie Sakoda, P/K, Utah -- Laser Foot who can drop punts inside the 20 with the best of them.

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?

 

 


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