Category:NCAAF
Posted on: June 24, 2008 12:56 pm
 

Choking on bowls

OMAHA, Neb. -- NCAA Managing Director of Football and Baseball Dennis Poppe confirmed for me Monday what I've been wondering about the proliferation of bowl games.

When it comes to new bowls, it's promoter beware.

The NCAA in April approved two more bowl games, the Congressional Bowl in Washington D.C. and the St. Petersburg  Bowl in -- guess where? -- St. Petersburg, Fla.. That brings the total to 34 bowls. Do the quick math and that means 68 bowl slots. There were only 71 bowl-eligible teams last season.

Poppe, here for the College World Series, calls that a safe "margin of error." Three teams? (Actually, the number  varies from year to year but it's still close. In 2006, there were 73 bowl-eligible teams.)

 The pressure is not on the NCAA, which does little more than certify new bowls, but on the bowls themselves. If there aren't enough bowl eligible teams, there simply won't be bowls.

"The only option right now is that the bowl wouldn't have a game," said Poppe, a former lineman for Missouri's 1970 Orange Bowl team. "That's what it always has been (but) we reaffirmed that. The association's position is that granting a license doesn't necessarily guarantee a game."

If there was a possible shortage, why did the NCAA certify the two new bowls? Legally, it doesn't have much choice.  It might be surprising to know that the NCAA has little to do with the postseason. It certifies bowls, assigns officials and sets rules. Other than that, cities, promoters, schools and conferences stage the games.

If there is a glut of games, the public loves it. Average attendance at the 32 bowl games in 2007-08 was the highest in eight years. That would suggest that although seven bowl eligible teams didn't make the postseason last year, there are fans out there willing to watch the likes of Troy, Ohio and Louisiana-Monroe. (The other four bowl eligible teams that did it get invites were South Carolina, Northwestern, Iowa and Louisville.)

The next hurdle for bowl executives could be the dreaded Academic Progress Rate. Beginning in 2009, teams that have posted a sub-900 APR three consecutive season could be banned from postseason competition.

"We are in an area where the margin is pretty thin," Poppe said. "I still think we should have enough teams ... The theory is to provide as much opportunity as possible."

 You might have noticed that the newspaper industry is in shambles. This is not gloating. While we Internet hacks seem to be the lucky ones, our hearts go out to colleagues who are being downsized because of corporate mismanagement.

Two good friends left their jobs recently. Wendell Barnhouse of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram took a buyout after more than three decades in the business. The Star-Telegram has decided to do away with its national college football beat as part of its downsizing.  Also, Howard Richman was let go at the Kansas City Star after a quarter century with the paper. He was covering Kansas State, nailing every breaking story on the beat.


These guys are two examples of how the reader is losing. Newspapers still haven't figured out to make their product  work in a changing media environment. Sure, the Internet is a threat but you would have thought by now that someone would have figured how to reconfigure newspapers.

The major problem is papers being run by corporations instead of journalists. This guy Zell who owns Tribune Co. literally scares me.

It used to be about putting out a good product. Now it's more about profit margin. This bastardization of a vocation causes good people like Wendell and Howard to leave the profession. Courage, guys. We're thinking about you.

 

Posted on: May 29, 2008 3:12 pm
Edited on: May 29, 2008 3:24 pm
 

Speed Inc.

Notes on the speed series that concluded on Thursday:

Mike Golden knows speed. However, you probably don't know Mike Golden. He is East Carolina's strength coach which in the college football world doesn't open many doors.

Golden quietly tutored one of the fastest players in the country the past three years. Chris Johnson led the country in all-purpose yardage last season, including a bowl record 408 yards in the Hawaii Bowl. Johnson was taken last month in the first round of the NFL draft by the Tennessee Titans.

"When we first got here, it was his sophomore year and he ran a 4.33 and (vertical jumped) 38 inches," Golden said. "When we got him he was down to 4.24 and jumped 43 1/2 inches."

Golden is not the only "speed" guy across the nation. Miami set the standard with speed coach Andrew Swayze. Ohio State has been using former Olympic sprinter Butch Reynolds. Every time you hear the designation "speed coach" it raises the age old question: Is it possible to teach speed. Swayze has helped develop a load of first-round draft choices. Reynolds says it's a combination of speed plus balance. Ohio State has been criticized for being slow when it comes to BCS title games.

Two things: Ohio State was good enough to get to the BCS title game and it hurts when your fastest player goes down. The Bucks lost Ted Ginn Jr. early in the 2007 BCS title game against Florida. It was downhill from there.

"A lot of people miss the fact that you've got to be strong to be fast," Golden said. "All they're worried about is stride length and stride frequency. We teach them how to run. We have a speed school. We show them from ground zero."

Golden says he "scours different things" -- DVDs, journals, articles -- for speed technique.

"I'm a good thief," he said.

Pirates coach Skip Holtz first hired Golden in 1998 at Connecticut, and then hired him away from South Carolina after coming to East Carolina in December 2004. While it's hard to quantify the results of speed, there is a basic indicator: Holtz' record the past two seasons (15-11) is the best for East Carolina since 1999-2000.

"Our first year and a half here we couldn't work on speed because we weren't strong enough," he said. "We would have blown hamstrings all over the place."

 Now he's crediting some of that speed training for the Pirates' Hawaii Bowl win over Boise State.

"When we went to that first bowl game (in 2006) we fell flat on our face," Golden said of a 24-7 loss to South Florida in the Papajohns.com Bowl. "It took us 18 hours to get to Hawaii, then we ran their guts off. We let them know we're on a business trip. That got their attention real quick. They thought we were going right to the hotel."

There are times Golden can determine in warm-ups if an opponent does speed work.

"I can tell how guys bend how fluid guys move," he said. "It's definitely an edge. Our kids will come to the sideline and say, 'These guys can't run.'

No one player will take Johnson's place this season. Junior running back J.R. Rogers will be part of a committee. He is the fastest Pirate at 4.32. Defensive end C.J. Wilson (6-foot-4, 271) ran a 4.55 at the program's recent NFL timing day. That would have been one of the fastest times at February's NFL combine.

  We only included 20 players on the fastest list on Tuesday. Here are a few others to consider (alphabetical):

Cam Baker, WR, Memphis, 4.35 40

Tim Brown, WR, Rutgers, 4.25

Rashard Carmichael, CB, Virginia Tech, 4.38

Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia, 4.30

Dorin Dickerson, TE, Pittsburgh, 4.38

Brandon Dillard, WR, Virginia Tech, 4.28

Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland, 4.23

Correy Earls, WR, Georgia Tech, 4.36

Patrick George, CB, Northern Illinois, 10.4 100 (high school)

Dante Lamar, DB, Memphis, 4.35

Emani Lee-Odai, WR, Maryland, 4.29

Scott Long, WR, Louisville, 4.24

Wopamo Osaisai, CB, Stanford, 10.39 100

Jock Sanders, WR, West Virginia, 4.33

Carlos Singleton, WR, Memphis, 4.37

Woodney Turenne, CB, Louisville, 4.33

Pat White, QB, West Virginia, 4.45

 

Posted on: May 29, 2008 11:42 am
 

OCDeep doo doo with Perrilloux

I bite my nails. I have a late relative who was an alcoholic. Does that mean me/him have/had obsessive compulsive disorder?

No.

That's why I'm having a real hard time with Ryan Perrilloux playing the OCD card in this Yahoo Sports story. To his credit Perrilloux doesn't blame his OCD for all the shenanigans that went on at LSU but it's still out there as kind of an excuse. It's pretty hard to pinpoint a mental disorder as a cause for trying to pass a fake I.D. at a casino.

I hate having to put a label on everything. Maybe Perrilloux is just an irresponsible bad guy, not afflicted by some disorder. The OCD sure didn't hurt him when he helped LSU win a national championship.  

We find out in the story that Perrilloux isn't exactly an upstanding citizen. (You knew that) He missed a post-bowl team meeting because he overslept. (How does that happen?) He has a child out of wedlock who was born prematurely. Best wishes to the child and mother but the father's future can't be good.

It sounded to me like Les Miles went to the absolute last mile with his quarterback. OCD or no OCD, he had to finally let him go.

There have to be all kinds of red flags for the NFL ... if, IF Perrilloux ever gets that far.

 

Category: NCAAF
Tags: LSU
 
Posted on: May 22, 2008 9:57 am
Edited on: May 24, 2008 7:35 pm
 

Q & A with Tyrone Willingham

Leftovers from Ty from the hot seat story:

D&E: You recently offered a scholarship to a high-school freshman. What happens, for example, if the kid breaks his leg between now and then?

T.W.: "I had that happen with a (high school) senior. A running back committed in July some years ago. I can't say what university. What happens is about two weeks into his (senior) season, he tears his knee up. We don't know anything about it. He doesn't tell us anything about it until much later.
 

"You've made an offer, you're committed. Some people would walk away, snatch the scholarship away. If you're building a program of integrity ... when that young man says yes to you he should be committed to those words and those parents should be committed.

"The difference is the fact that things become formal today that never became formal in the past, because of the Internet. Before when you had them in camp. (Former Michigan State coach) Duffy Daughtery had all those kids from Detroit in camp, he'd offer this one, this one, this one. It was simply word of mouth.

"As soon as you got wind that a kid was good enough, you wanted to put a bug in his ear. What is a bug in his ear?  An offer for a scholarship."


D&E: Do you feel any urgency to win?


T.W.: A football coach is only concerned about one game, it's the next one. If you win enough nexts, guess what happens? You're right where you want to be.

"It's impossible to put pressure on someone whose expectation is greater than those who seek to apply pressure. Is there anyone who wants to win more than Coach Willingham?"
 
D&E:
What did you think of the Seattle Times series on the 2000 Rose Bowl team?

T.W.: "I was embarassed. I was embarrassed for all of football. Football has long carried a black eye for that type of behavior. It was embarrassing for the university.

D&E: Did you wonder why they ran it less than a week before signing day?

T.W.: "I asked all those same questions.

"Why would someone not have trust for the media? Whoa, pretty easy. But if you've been around long enough you've seen all these things. I qualify my statement in saying I understand the media. I understand your job is to sell papers, mine is to coach our football team."

"I will repsect your job, please respect mine. I've never dodged one question that's never been aksed of me."
 

D&E: But there's never a good time to run something like that.

T.W.: "I'm still puzzled at what it accomplished. It did not help any of indiviuals.

"One of the stories that came out of that was never quite looked at was the one about Curtis Williams. Curtis Williams has a little girl that had to read that story. Nobody ever told her that her that her father was a (a bad guy).

"There were some things in there that weren't quite right. No one ever ran a correction. Yet, coaches are supposed to be open and accessible and spill their souls to people."

D&E: It was a window on a period of time in that program that was pretty compelling. Just as a reader I enjoyed it.

T.W.: "My living with it is pretty easy. I know very clearly what I stand for. I know very clearly what we're going to do. In my 115 guys, I've got a little bit of everything this world has to offer. I've probably got a thief in there. Probalby got a few honest guys. Probably got somebody that's deranged. No different than society."

D&E: How is U-Dub going to be this year?

"We're going to win the next game. That's an awful big one because that's Oregon. We've got to get some things in place. I think we have maybe the best quarterback in the country.  He's a great leader, a great person, a great player."

D&E: I like to call him a West Coast Tim Tebow?


"Tim Tebow has a Heisman. Our young man is one heck of a quarterback. I have had good ones at Stanford that set records. I had Brady Quinn at Notre Dame. I think this young man can be as good or better than any of them."

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: May 18, 2008 11:39 pm
Edited on: May 19, 2008 7:27 am
 

A look into a college president's mind

I'm beginning to understand why Florida State is in the middle of an academic fraud scandal. Its president is clueless on a lot of issues. T.K. Wetherell showed a sometimes stunning lack of knowledge during a college football forum last week in Dallas.

The lowlights ...

T.K. to reporters: "The press, and I've dealt with them in politics, I've dealt with them now as a university president, in the five years I've been at Florida State, I have never seen anyone in the press say, "Oops, I'm sorry, I missed that one," or "I got it wrong."

 I have a list in my office of about 36 issues that have been written relative to Florida State University that are factually incorrect. They have been printed, put on the TV or in the newspaper, and I can show you from an impartial standpoint, that is not a true

statement that was made. I have taken that to the given editor and shown it to him. Not one time has anybody stood up and said, "You know, you're right."

D&E: You're wrong about that one, T.K. Every newspaper that I know of prints corrections on a regular basis. You could stoke a fire with the newsprint devoted to corrections in USA Today on a daily basis. This is not to rip the four-color. It's merely to point out that we do police ourselves.

"Impartial standpoint"? You're anything but impartial. You played ball at Florida State for an assistant named Bowden. You've been president at FSU since 2003. Perhaps the editors you're approaching are the impartial ones and don't consider your gripes necessarily to be corrections.

T.K.: "You tell me you treat my athletes like students and make them abide by the same rules, et cetera. They're held to a totally different standard. It's absolutely different when you're an athlete, and probably ifyou're an athlete ... you're probably held to a different standard than you are at some other school, some other place.

"It doesn't make it right. I know it's a fact, but I think the press ought to think long and hard before they write some of those stories. It's amazing to me that I see an athlete rung up for a DUI when it's on the front page of the Tallahassee

Democrat. Two pages over, three people get murdered, and it doesn't really seem to matter."

D&E: Wow, where to start on this one?

T.K. you've got to be kidding if you don't understand that every play on your football team is a public figure. That happens the moment he signs that letter of intent, whether you like it or not. Players should be held to a higher standard. They're players, the highest profile representatives of a university in many cases.

Classy of your to use the murder analogy but it doesn't fit. "Doesn't seem to matter?" Show me a paper that doesn't properly cover a triple murder. If it wasn't for a diligent media, those murders wouldn't be covered. Neither would your misbehaving Seminoles when they step out of line. It's up to the media to be a public watchdog not "cut them some slack," as you said, when players get in trouble.

T.K: (on his school's academic scandal that broke last year) Hell's bells, they (media) had it so screwed up, they couldn't even figure it out. They had people ineligible that were walk-ons that were graduating and just didn't want to go, so they didn't go. They decided, well, they had done something in some class. We couldn't say you're wrong, and we sure as hell couldn't say you're right.

"So the press' obsession with scooping one another to find out the names, to me the press

should have controlled themselves in that case. They were the ones that were creating the feeding

frenzy, not the students, not the university."

D&E: Yeah, those tutors writing papers for football players were completely blameless. So was the academic climate at FSU that allowed it to happen.

T.K.:  "I think you'd treat the athlete just like you would treat a music major or whatever. Why differentiate? Why differentiate between them?"

D&E: Because the athletes are using taxpayers money for their scholarships. Because they have to be accountable. Because they play in front of millions of people each week. Because the music major doesn't make money for the university. Because ... wait, is this guy serious?

<o:p> </o:p>

T.K.:  "Let me suggest two things the media could do ...

"I think you ought to get out of the blog business in your newspaper, because it's severely hampering your reputations, and it's become a thing to do. If y'all want to set up a blog page over here, then blog to your heart's content, but when you do it under the name of the stpetetimes.com or whatever, people assume that you believe that and that's part of your paper. And whether you like it or not, that is you. You are accepting, I think, liability, quite frankly. But that's another issue.

"The second thing you need to do ... you call one of the coaches and you want to do a nice fluff piece on a player,

and you do your fluff piece on the player, and somewhere in there the kid said, yeah, I did something wrong in my youth, I drank a beer, I smoked dope, whatever. Well, you go write that. Maybe just one sentence in there, but you turn that in to your editor, and you know what, you don't write the headline, somebody else writes the headline. "Reformed drug dealer making a name for himself at Ohio State" is what the damn thing says. The article is really pretty good, but the headline is a killer."

D&E: Let me suggest two things you can do with those opinions ...

Seriously, blogs are here to stay. Look, I don't particular enjoy having to blog about the crazy uncle at this college football forum. Blogs aren't perfect and they're still evolving. I can't define what a blog is but at least with us you get a name attached to it. If you have a problem with something I write, you know where to complain.

I think what you're upset about, T.K., are the guys sitting at the keyboard in their underwear in their parents' basement. That's not us, at least it's not me. I'm actually wearing a tank top and sipping a glass of Orvieto at this moment.

Point 2: Thank God, writers don't write their own headlines. Every story needs at least one other set of eyes on it. That's why there are copy editors who know what a headline count is. Headline writing is a craft. Kind of like institutional control, T.K. Look into it.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: May 16, 2008 10:28 am
 

Charlie Weis pulled into Spygate, sort of

Charlie Weis' name was pulled into the Spygate scandal for the first time in Thursday's New York Times.

Weis was among a small circle of people who knew about the taping of opponents' signals, former Patriots videographer Matt Walsh told the paper. Walsh said that other than Weis and Bill Belichick, the group included Walsh's supervisor Jimmy Dee, video department employee Fernando Neto, Ernie Adams (described as a "mysterious" assistant) and the Patriots' quarterbacks.

Walsh was the center of Spygate scandal that seemingly ended this week after his meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

"If someone questioned why Walsh was filming an opposing sideline," the Times stated, "he was told to say he was shooting the chains and the down-and-distance marker. If a team asked why the Patriots needed a third videographer, Walsh was instructed to say the coaches wanted two end-zone shots or tight footage."

Walsh asked a Patriots' quarterback (not identified) if the filming helped:

Walsh quoted the quarterback as saying: “Actually, probably about 75 percent of the time, Tampa Bay ran the defense we thought they were going to run. If not more.”

Drew Bledsoe and Tom Brady were among the four quarterbacks on the roster back in 2000.

"I know that we had a quarterback learning the signals and then relaying that information to Charlie (Weis)," Walsh told the Times, "and Charlie would then call it in to the quarterback on the field, through the coach-to-quarterback communication system in the helmet. As far as whether the quarterback on the field was actually told what defense was being run, or the coach, Charlie, just simply used that information in his play-calling that he called in, I’m not sure."

 

 

 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: May 16, 2008 10:25 am
 

Charlie Weis pulled into Spygate, sort of ...

Charlie Weis' name was pulled into the Spygate scandal for the first time in Thursday's New York Times.

Weis was among a small circle of people who knew about the taping of opponents' signals, former Patriots videographer Matt Walsh told the paper. Walsh said that other than Weis and Bill Belichick, the group included Walsh's supervisor Jimmy Dee, video department employee Fernando Neto, Ernie Adams (described as a "mysterious" assistant) and the Patriots' quarterbacks.

Walsh was the center of Spygate scandal that seemingly ended this week after his meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

"If someone questioned why Walsh was filming an opposing sideline," the Times stated, "he was told to say he was shooting the chains and the down-and-distance marker. If a team asked why the Patriots needed a third videographer, Walsh was instructed to say the coaches wanted two end-zone shots or tight footage."

Walsh asked a Patriots' quarterback (not identified) if the filming helped:

Walsh quoted the quarterback as saying: “Actually, probably about 75 percent of the time, Tampa Bay ran the defense we thought they were going to run. If not more.”

Drew Bledsoe and Tom Brady were among the four quarterbacks on the roster back in 2000.

"I know that we had a quarterback learning the signals and then relaying that information to Charlie (Weis)," Walsh told the Times, "and Charlie would then call it in to the quarterback on the field, through the coach-to-quarterback communication system in the helmet. As far as whether the quarterback on the field was actually told what defense was being run, or the coach, Charlie, just simply used that information in his play-calling that he called in, I’m not sure."

 

 

 

 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: May 15, 2008 10:33 am
 

USC you later?

USC's situation is not as bad as it is made out to be. Don't be a lemming -- or an Obama supporter. Think for yourself on this issue.

USC has a problem with agents -- mostly the two major sports seem to attract those with hygiene problems. In other words they're greasy. The NCAA is looking into the, ahem, pasts of O.J. Mayo and Reggie Bush. But death penalty? Whoa, there. Let's operate from the premise that USC didn't know about either case of extra benefits. A source with broad knowledge of the NCAA investigative process, says the NCAA is actually slightly more forgiving when it comes to agents giving extra benefits than it is with boosters. The language in the NCAA Manual deals specifically with boosters, the thinking being that schools have an ability and a duty to control them.

Not so much with agents. This isn't to absolve USC. Bush-Mayo looks bad. Real bad. But unless the NCAA can prove that USC knew or should have known about each situation, the school is likely to skate. Is it fair? Probably not, but as Gary Parrish pointed earlier this week there are Mayo situations going on all over the country. USC being USC, it got caught in the headlights. Do you think "Outside the Lines" does a piece with a jilted agent runner outing, say, Seton Hall?

We'll find out soon enough about Bush. Depositions will be taken next month in the lawsuit against him. The trial is scheduled for March. If it gets that far, I'll be shocked. Bush should have settled with Lloyd Lake by now. I don't know why he hasn't. The negative publicity from the case already has cost him dearly in endorsements.

"Hummer, lost them all, except for adidas," one source told me.

Since both these guys are out of school it will come down to the NCAA deciding if the school knew about the agents. At worst USC is guilty of negligence, not complicity. Did USC want to know? Of course not. It was in the school's best interest to get Bush and Mayo on campus win games. Should USC have known? That's the NCAA's (and the Pac-10's) task.

 If you playoff proponents want a ray of hope, here it is: Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen is rumored to be stepping down next year. (His choice, by the way) Hansen, along with the Big Ten's Jim Delany, is part of the blockade against a plus-one. The new commissioner might be able to slowly melt some cold presidential hearts within the conference.

Watch for the Mountain West's Craig Thompson to go after the job. That makes sense, but there is another name in the rumor mill that will blow your doors off: Notre Dame AD Kevin White.

Hansen is the longest-tenured major-college commissioner having been in his position since 1983.

 Why didn't someone at the BCS meetings in South Florida last month propose an unseeded plus-one? That model seems much more agreeable to the bowls, presidents and schools. Let all the bowls go back to the natural hookups (Fiesta with the Big 12, Rose with Big Ten-Pac-10, Sugar with the SEC, Orange with ACC and/or Big East). The two highest-ranked teams after the bowls would then meet for the national championship.

There are issues: Because of its agreement with two conferences, the Rose Bowl could face a situation where an 8-4 team could upset an undefeated No. 1 team. That doesn't exactly legitimize a national championship game.

A fifth bowl would have to be added to accommodate the non-BCS schools. There's always the possibility that 1-2 teams could play in a bowl, although not much of one. Between 1936 and 1992 (when the Bowl Coalition was formed) No. 1 played No. 2 in a bowl only eight times.

But the dearth of postseason sizzle was why the BCS was formed.

Choosing among the bowl winners still doesn't clear up the problem of selecting the top two teams. If the system had been in place last season, you would have needed federal troops to clear the streets. The top seven teams in the final BCS standings (prior to the bowls, mind you) finished with at least two losses. The No. 8 team, Kansas, went 12-1.

Best guess on an unseeded plus-one in that scenario: LSU vs. Georgia, USC, Missouri or Kansas. Satisfied?

 A fond farewell to Kansas State president Jon Wefald who is retiring after the 2008-2009 academic year. The Miracle in Manhattan never would have happened had not the energetic president taken big, big chances in turning his football program around.

In the late 1980s, he spent K-State into debt in order to hire a top notch coach, pay his staff and improve facilities. Obviously, it worked. You couldn't help but like the guy. He bounced around the press box like a suit-wearing gnome, a cheerleader without being annoying. Warner Bros. is busy turning a screenplay written by Wefald into a TV movie about the Negro Leagues.

His legacy will be greater than 99 percent of the presidents around today. First, he stayed on the job, 23 years by the time he retires. Most of his peers are academic gigolos, jumping from one job to another.

The school continued to go out of the box with Bill Snyder's replacement, Ron Prince. The hire was great at the time, in part, because Prince was one of the few minority head coaches in I-A football. The hire looks like a gamble now because Prince lost his AD (Tim Weiser) and his president while the program has declined.

Wefald leaves with another gamble on his record. Bob Huggins came and went. So did Michael Beasley. For now it worked. Frank Martin took K-State to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 12 years. Can the basketball success be sustained?

 That Tim Tebow circumcision stuff was worth a laugh but if I'm a self-respecting doctor, I'm pissed. Letting a Heisman Trophy winner snip sutures is a bit like letting a civilian in a press box. That's our office. We're the trained professionals who, like doctors, adhere to a code of ethics.

There has to be a professional organization of doctors in Alachua County, Fla. that will weigh in on this. And what about the head of the University of Florida medical school? If I get a minute I'm going to call them and ask them about Tebow.

 I was sitting around and decided to rate the conferences going into next season. What do you think?

1. SEC -- Three of the last six BCS national champions.

2. Big 12 -- All grown up. The Large Dozen enters its 13th season with at least four top 15 programs (Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas)

3. Pac-10 -- The only league to play nine regular-season conference games continues to chase USC.

4. Big East -- Seven deep in 2008

5. Big Ten -- Big drop off after Ohio State.

6. ACC -- Haven't won a BCS bowl game since 1999.

7. Mountain West -- BYU is back!

8. WAC -- Depth throughout. Boise, Fresno and Hawaii should all go bowling.

9. Conference USA -- Two 10-game winners in 2007.

10. MAC -- The league champion (Central Michigan) lost six games<>

11. Sun Belt -- Finally. Three teams at .500 or above.

-30-

 

 

 

 

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