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Posted on: February 17, 2012 3:52 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 5:34 pm
 

Conference champs only in the postseason

Former SEC commissioner Roy Kramer advocated taking only conference champions for any kind of postseason structure starting in 2014.

Just for giggles I went back and used only conference champions (or BCS automatic qualifier in the case of ties) in figuring both the current 1 vs. 2 game and a Plus One. Three times in 14 years, the 1 vs. 2 BCS title game would have been different. In 10 of 14 years, at least one team in the top four would have had to be replaced. In 2011, there would have been two – Alabama and Stanford.

Here’s how BCS title games and a Plus One would have looked if only conference champions were allowed, 1998-2011:

 

1998 championship: No. 1 Tennessee vs. No. 2 Florida State (same)

1998 Plus One: No. 1 Tennessee vs. No. 5 UCLA; No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 4 Ohio State

Not included: No. 3 Kansas State.

 

1999 championship: No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 2 Virginia Tech (same)

1999 Plus One: No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 4 Alabama; No. 2 Virginia Tech vs. No. 3 Nebraska

 

2000 championship: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 2 Florida State (same)

2000 Plus One: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. Washington; No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 3 Miami

 

2001 championship:  No. 1 Miami vs. No. 3 Colorado

2001 Plus One: No. 1 Miami vs. No. 8 Illinois; No. 3 Colorado vs. No. 4 Oregon

Not included: No. 2 Nebraska, No. 5 Florida, No. 6 Tennessee, No. 7 Texas

 

2002 championship: No. 1 Miami vs. No. 2 Ohio State (same)

2002 Plus One: No. 1 Miami vs. No. 6 Washington State;  No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Georgia

Not included: No. 4 USC, No. 5 Iowa

 

2003 championship: No. 2 LSU vs. No. 3 USC

2003 Plus One: No. 2 LSU vs. No. 7 Florida State; No. 3 USC vs. No. 4 Michigan

Not included: No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 5 Ohio State, No. 6 Texas

 

2004 championship: No. 1 USC vs. No. 2 Oklahoma (same)

2004 Plus One: No. 1 USC vs. No. 6 Utah;  No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Auburn

Not included:  No. 4 Texas, No. 5 California

 

2005 championship:  No. 1 USC vs. No. 2 Texas (same)

2005 Plus One: No. 1 USC vs. No. 7 Georgia; No. 2 Texas vs. No. 3 Penn State

Not included: No. 4 Ohio State, No. 5 Oregon, No. 6 Notre Dame

 

2006 championship: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Florida (same)

2006 Plus One:  No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 6 Louisville; No. 2 Florida vs. No. 5 USC

Not included: No 3. Michigan, No. 4 LSU

 

2007 championship: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 2 LSU (same)

2007 Plus One: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Oklahoma; No. 2 LSU vs. No. 3 Virginia Tech

 

2008 championship: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 2 Florida (same)

2008 Plus One: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 6 Utah; No. 2 Florida vs. No. 5 USC

Not included: No. 3 Texas, No. 4 Alabama

 

2009 championship:  No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 2 Texas (same)

2009 Plus One: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 TCU; No. 2 Texas vs. No. 3 Cincinnati

 

2010 championship: No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 2 Oregon (same)

2010 Plus One: No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 5 Wisconsin; No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 TCU

Not included: No. 4 Stanford

 

 

2011 championship: No. 1 LSU vs. No. 3 Oklahoma State

2011 Plus One: No. 1 LSU vs. No. 10 Wisconsin; No. 3 Oklahoma State vs. No. 5 Oregon

Not included: No. 2 Alabama, No. 4 Stanford,  No. 6 Arkansas, No. 7 Boise State, N. 8 Kansas State, No. 9 South Carolina

 

Posted on: February 17, 2012 3:52 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 5:34 pm
 

Conference champs only in the postseason

Former SEC commissioner Roy Kramer advocated taking only conference champions for any kind of postseason structure starting in 2014.

Just for giggles I went back and used only conference champions (or BCS automatic qualifier in the case of ties) in figuring both the current 1 vs. 2 game and a Plus One. Three times in 14 years, the 1 vs. 2 BCS title game would have been different. In 10 of 14 years, at least one team in the top four would have had to be replaced. In 2011, there would have been two – Alabama and Stanford.

Here’s how BCS title games and a Plus One would have looked if only conference champions were allowed, 1998-2011:

 

1998 championship: No. 1 Tennessee vs. No. 2 Florida State (same)

1998 Plus One: No. 1 Tennessee vs. No. 5 UCLA; No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 4 Ohio State

Not included: No. 3 Kansas State.

 

1999 championship: No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 2 Virginia Tech (same)

1999 Plus One: No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 4 Alabama; No. 2 Virginia Tech vs. No. 3 Nebraska

 

2000 championship: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 2 Florida State (same)

2000 Plus One: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. Washington; No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 3 Miami

 

2001 championship:  No. 1 Miami vs. No. 3 Colorado

2001 Plus One: No. 1 Miami vs. No. 8 Illinois; No. 3 Colorado vs. No. 4 Oregon

Not included: No. 2 Nebraska, No. 5 Florida, No. 6 Tennessee, No. 7 Texas

 

2002 championship: No. 1 Miami vs. No. 2 Ohio State (same)

2002 Plus One: No. 1 Miami vs. No. 6 Washington State;  No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Georgia

Not included: No. 4 USC, No. 5 Iowa

 

2003 championship: No. 2 LSU vs. No. 3 USC

2003 Plus One: No. 2 LSU vs. No. 7 Florida State; No. 3 USC vs. No. 4 Michigan

Not included: No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 5 Ohio State, No. 6 Texas

 

2004 championship: No. 1 USC vs. No. 2 Oklahoma (same)

2004 Plus One: No. 1 USC vs. No. 6 Utah;  No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Auburn

Not included:  No. 4 Texas, No. 5 California

 

2005 championship:  No. 1 USC vs. No. 2 Texas (same)

2005 Plus One: No. 1 USC vs. No. 7 Georgia; No. 2 Texas vs. No. 3 Penn State

Not included: No. 4 Ohio State, No. 5 Oregon, No. 6 Notre Dame

 

2006 championship: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Florida (same)

2006 Plus One:  No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 6 Louisville; No. 2 Florida vs. No. 5 USC

Not included: No 3. Michigan, No. 4 LSU

 

2007 championship: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 2 LSU (same)

2007 Plus One: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Oklahoma; No. 2 LSU vs. No. 3 Virginia Tech

 

2008 championship: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 2 Florida (same)

2008 Plus One: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 6 Utah; No. 2 Florida vs. No. 5 USC

Not included: No. 3 Texas, No. 4 Alabama

 

2009 championship:  No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 2 Texas (same)

2009 Plus One: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 TCU; No. 2 Texas vs. No. 3 Cincinnati

 

2010 championship: No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 2 Oregon (same)

2010 Plus One: No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 5 Wisconsin; No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 TCU

Not included: No. 4 Stanford

 

 

2011 championship: No. 1 LSU vs. No. 3 Oklahoma State

2011 Plus One: No. 1 LSU vs. No. 10 Wisconsin; No. 3 Oklahoma State vs. No. 5 Oregon

Not included: No. 2 Alabama, No. 4 Stanford,  No. 6 Arkansas, No. 7 Boise State, N. 8 Kansas State, No. 9 South Carolina

 

Posted on: January 19, 2012 12:27 pm
 

A plus-one playoff through the years: 2003-2007

In the second installment of our plus-one lookback (2003-2007), USC takes over from Miami to forge a dynasty before the SEC begins to go reticulated python on college football.  Oh, and sorry Texas. That 2005 title never happened.

(All plus-one games played on neutral fields. Here’s how things looked from 1998-2002.)

 

2003

BCS champion: LSU 21, Oklahoma 14

The setup:  By now, epic BCS fails were becoming commonplace. This time Oklahoma blew through the first 12 games of the season winning by an average of more than 32 points. That was before a four-touchdown loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 title game.

So much for the dangers of losing late.  Not only didn’t No. 1 OU fall out of the top two, it didn’t fall from the top spot! (It dropped from No. 1 to No. 3 in the human polls.) That was the first problem.  The second, more significant issue, is that USC was a consensus No. 1 in the human polls but No. 3 in the BCS.

Complicating matters, if that was possible, was three major-college, one-loss teams occupying the top three spots in the final BCS (OU, LSU, USC). One of them didn’t win its conference. The BCS commissioners swallowed hard, averted their eyes and tried to explain an LSU-Oklahoma championship game. The final absurdity: That meant the coaches poll would not even be considering its No. 1 team (USC) for the national championship.

Thank goodness for the AP poll.  After USC beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl, AP gave its final No. 1 ranking to the Trojans. For the first time in the BCS era, there was a split national championship. While that was OK with most folks, certain LSU fans couldn’t stomach sharing anything with anyone. Two things wrong with that: Like five other teams prior to the bowls that year, LSU was a one-loss team. By now it was becoming clear that if you lose a game in the BCS system, you lose the right to argue.

Isn’t it enough that national championships are forever? I still get emails from angry Tiger fans who claim they are the true national champs. Who cares?

How a four-team playoff would have changed things:  No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 4 Michigan, No. 2 LSU vs. No. 3 USC. OU would have easily mauled Michigan. The Rose Bowl that season proved it. USC outclassed the slower Wolverines by two touchdowns in Pasadena. Oklahoma 35, Michigan 17.

Many would have considered LSU-USC the real championship game. This was the year LSU freshman sensation Justin Vincent ran for 1,000 yards. Defensive tackle Chad Lavalais was the SEC defensive player of the year. USC had Reggie Bush as a freshman, Matt Leinart as a sophomore throwing to the  fantastic Mike Williams. This was the beginning of a Troy dynasty with the Trojans at least playing for three consecutive national championships in the real world. In this alternative universe it would have been a thriller, USC 27, LSU 20.

Championship game: Heisman winner Jason White was beat up for the Sooners at this point in the season. He hung in gamely against LSU but the Tigers defense and the Superdome crowd were too much. USC would have brought a similar kind of hurt. USC 23, Oklahoma 14.

Fantasy quote: “Sure we deserve a championship berth. It wasn’t like we lost to K-State by five touchdowns.” –Bob Stoops.

Who got screwed: Obviously USC, but AP was there to bail it out. That would change after the 2004 season, though, as the news organization rethought its influence on the national championship race and the money that went with it.

 

2004

BCS champion: USC 55, Oklahoma 19

The setup: For the first time in the BCS era, three undefeated teams stood atop the polls at the end. The BCS quickly realized that three don’t fit into two championship berths. Auburn eventually “lost”. There is still the lasting image of Tommy Tuberville working the press box for AP votes at the Orange Bowl after the BCS had kept the undefeated SEC champions out of the BCS title game. While the Trojans and Sooners played, Auburn’s coach was literally glad-handing media, hoping against hope.

It didn’t happen for Auburn which finished third in the BCS and second in the final human polls. SEC types were outraged that their undefeated champion wasn’t worthy of playing for it all. As you might have noticed, things would change quickly for the SEC.

The difference was Auburn’s non-conference schedule and perhaps an Oklahoma-friendly Bowling Green AD.  Elsewhere, both the Trojans and Sooners were in the middle of historic runs. OU played in its third championship game since 2000. USC was in the middle of its own 34-game winning streak. Only Stanford, Cal and UCLA came within a touchdown of the Trojans that season.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 USC vs. No. 4 Texas, No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Auburn.  Texas wasn’t quite there yet despite 1,000-yard rushing seasons from both Cedric Benson and Vince Young. Meanwhile, USC sported a Heisman winner (Leinart) as well as three other consensus All-Americans. This was arguably the best Trojan team of the Pete Carroll era. USC 37, Texas 24.

Would have loved to see the nation’s No. 1 scoring defense (Auburn) against No. 8 in total offense (Oklahoma). Using LSU’s D in 2003 as evidence, OU doesn’t show up offensively in a plus-one against a quality SEC defense. Auburn 25, Oklahoma 21.

Championship game: Auburn gets its title shot but just can’t overcome perhaps the team of the decade. USC 26, Auburn 13.

Fantasy quote: “How many voters does a commissioner have to bribe for the SEC to get to the championship game?” – Mike Slive

Real quote: “Where’s Your God Now?” – sign taunting BYU fans at Rice-Eccles Stadium in the final seconds of Utah’s 52-21 win over the Cougars that clinched the Utes’ first BCS berth.

Who got screwed: Cal. With one BCS bowl berth left, the No. 5 Bears lost a propaganda war with No. 4 Texas. Both were 10-1 on pick ‘em day. Knowing that finishing at No. 4 guaranteed his team a BCS bowl, Mack Brown had no problem campaigning for his Longhorns while Cal’s Jeff Tedford pretty much refused to engage.

Cal would have been the obvious Pac-10 replacement in the Rose Bowl with USC playing for the national championship. But Texas’ bum rush created feelings that what Bevo wants, Bevo gets long before the Longhorn Network.

“"I guess we didn't run up the score at the end, or beg for votes after the game," Cal’s Aaron Rodgers said. "I thought it was [wrong] for coach Brown to beg for votes.”

AP withdrew its poll from the BCS after the controversy.



2005

BCS champion: Texas 41, USC 38

The setup: On paper USC never won a game this season. On the field, it ravaged the field. We would find out years later that Bush competed the entire 2005 season while ineligible having taken cash and benefits from two would-be agents.

Dismiss that from your mind considering how these Trojans were completing that 34-game winning streak. They failed to score less than 34 in any game. They scored at least 50 in seven games. They scored 60 twice and 70 once. This was the team that couldn’t be outscored -- until it was, by Vince Young.

On the night of Jan. 5, 2006 Texas’ quarterback proved himself to be the best player in the school’s glorious history. Completing a game in which he had almost 500 yards in total offense, Young pulled it down and scored the winning touchdown with 19 seconds left.

USC was denied a third straight national championship. Texas won its first in 35 years because of a singular talent.

"Without question that was the best [performance] by one guy [I've seen]," Pete Carroll said.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 USC vs. No. 4 Ohio State, No. 2 Texas vs. No. 3 Penn State. Anyone else have a letdown here? Ohio State was a year away in 2005 having lost to Texas and Penn State in the regular season. JoePa rebounded from downturn to begin the century to grab a share of the Big Ten. It is interesting that two Big Ten teams would have been in a plus-one. Does it matter, though, given the greatness at the top?

USC 42, Ohio State 20. Texas 44, Penn State 17.

Championship game: With his defense gassed and resting on the sidelines, this time Carroll decides to use Bush on fourth down. In the real game he didn’t. That allowed Texas to stop LenDale White on fourth down which led to the Horns’ winning drive. USC 38, Texas 35.

Fantasy quote: “I’m predicting two Super Bowls for Vince Young.” – Beano Cook

Who got screwed:  USC players who gave their heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears for the program only to have the season ripped away in disgrace because of Bush’s selfishness. In case you forgot, the NCAA vacated USC’s 2005 season as part of the Bush penalties.

 

2006

BCS champion: Florida 41, Ohio State 14

In the latest BCS game ever played (Jan. 9), the system began to take different turns. Double-hosting debuted. A few days before the Gators swamped the Buckeyes, Boise beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl in one of the sport’s greatest upsets. A player proposed to a cheerleader. The Broncos proved they could play with the big boys, a cry that still is ringing in our ears today.

Oh yeah, and the SEC started a streak for the ages. The first of six consecutive titles by the Strength Everywhere Conference began with Florida thrashing Ohio State.

That year the immortal Chris Leak was backed up at Florida by some kid named Tebow. During the season we were treated to the jump pass, winning a game by a fingernail and first of two national championships by Urban Meyer.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 4 LSU, No. 2 Florida vs. No. 3 Michigan. The Buckeyes blitzed through the regular season setting up Jim Tressel for his second national championship in five years. Les Miles was just getting going, posting his second straight 11-2 season. We were going to see LSU-Ohio State in 2007 anyway. In a playoff, the Buckeyes arrived a year early with Troy Smith, Ted Ginn Jr. and company winning a close one. Ohio State 31, LSU 27.

Denied a rematch with Ohio State by the pollsters and computers, Michigan would have welcomed a playoff. Coming off one of the most emotional games in Michigan history (losing to Ohio State the day after Bo Schembechler’s passing), there was a chance to sneak in the back door for a national championship. Florida’s D would have denied it. Florida 37, Michigan 21.

Championship: We’re assuming that Ginn Jr. doesn’t injure his foot celebrating a kickoff return. We still can’t assume Ohio State would have an answer for Florida’s team speed. Florida 31, Ohio State 21.

Fantasy quote: “We got tattooed.” – Tressel.

Who gagged: USC. Needing only to win over sliding UCLA to play for another title, the Trojans coughed up one of the program’s largest hairballs. The 13-9 loss to the Bruins on the last day of the regular season remains inexplicable to this day except to then-UCLA defensive  coordinator DeWayne Walker. He helped hold the Trojans to less than 20 points for the first time in 64 games

 


2007

BCS champion: LSU 38, Ohio State 24

Let’s see … LSU in New Orleans? Again? Call it another unintended consequence of the BCS. The commissioners probably never imagined the Tigers being good at the exact same time the Superdome was hosting the big game. Call it purple and gold serendipity.

And luck. In the fastest and more furious finish of the BCS era, both No. 1 (Missouri) and No. 2 (West Virginia) lost on the last day of the season allowing  the Buckeyes and Tigers to move up. A week earlier, LSU had lost at home, giving up 50 to Arkansas. After beating Tennessee in the SEC championship game, the Tigers moved from No. 7 to No. 2.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Oklahoma. No. 2 LSU vs. No. 3 Virginia Tech. This was an unspectacular Oklahoma team that lost to Colorado and Texas Tech before being smoked by West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl. Ohio State 31, Oklahoma 23.

In a plus-one, the ACC champion would have played for a national championship in a rematch we didn’t need to see. In the second week of the season, the Tigers smoked the Hokies 48-7 in Baton Rouge. Play it again, Les? LSU 33, Virginia Tech 14.

Championship game: What hurt Buckeye pride is that LSU was the last comic standing in 2007 in a wild finish to the season. The Tigers were the first two-loss team to win a national championship in 47 years. And still, LSU was able to score 31 unanswered to bury the Bucks. By now, the jokes and labels associated with Ohio State were beginning to leave a mark.

“Yeah, and that hurts," said Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis, "just because the media really builds it up like we are slow and all that stuff."

The Bucks football reputation was in tatters after two straight championship losses. In a few years, that rep was about to get a whole lost worse. LSU 42, Ohio State 17.

 Fantasy quote: “Next?” – SEC

Who got screwed: The fans. Hawaii was non-competitive against Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. The Rose Bowl got three-loss Illinois to match against USC. West Virginia lost Rich Rod, then promoted Bill Stewart before a rout of Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. The average margin of victory in the five BCS bowls (20 points) was second only to 2002 (22.5 points).

Plus-one champions, 2003-2007: USC, USC, USC, Florida, LSU.

Tomorrow: A plus-one from 2008 to 2011.   

Posted on: January 18, 2012 11:45 am
Edited on: January 19, 2012 10:35 am
 

A plus-one playoff through the years: 1998-2002

Who exactly is against a plus-one playoff at this point?

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany is willing to consider it. SEC commissioner Mike Slive is predicting major changes to the current system. NCAA president Mark Emmert would support a four-team playoff.

OK, there a few. But it’s clear, the times they are a-changin’. While a four-team playoff isn’t a panacea, the idea has become as trendy as skinny jeans lately. No. 1 vs. No. 4, No. 2 vs. No. 3 in the BCS standings facing off in two national semifinals. The two winners meet for all the Tostitos.  Or whatever corporate sponsor wins the rights.

Emmert even used the term “Final Four approach.” Think of the possibilities. Even more corporate sponsors.

We digress. Nothing actually changes until the 2014 season. The BCS commissioners will hash things out over the next six months. Before we get there, we’ve got a chance to look back at what would have been. Using the BCS standings as a template, CBSSports.com went back and matched up the top four teams in each of the 14 years of the BCS.

Some years it was wonderful. Some years it wasn’t needed. Every year it was fun to fantasize. We kick off today with the first five years of the BCS (1998-2002). What emerged, at least in this space, was an extension of the Miami dynasty.

 

1998

BCS champion: Tennessee, 23-16 over Florida State.

The setup: Back when the BCS was young and it made sense there was little controversy over Florida State and Tennessee meeting in the first championship game. FSU was on a 10-game winning streak since losing the second game of the season to N.C. State. No opponent had come within of the Noles 11 points during the streak.

Tennessee was a no-brainer as the other half of the first BCS title game. The undefeated SEC champs were a foreshadowing of how college football’s postseason would be dominated. The difference was Bobby Bowden having to rely on backup quarterback Marcus “Rooster” Outzen because of a neck injury to Chris Weinke.  Rooster, a former high school option quarterback, completed only nine of 22 while throwing two picks. The formerly explosive FSU offense was held to 253 yards by a great Tennessee defense led by Dwayne Goodrich (54-yard interception for a touchdown).

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 Tennessee vs. No. 4 Ohio State, No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 3 Kansas State. Ohio State’s John Cooper was on a run of four straight seasons with at least 10 wins. The Buckeyes only loss was to a Nick Saban-coached Michigan State team that finished 6-6. Tennessee’s superior defense would have ruled the day. Tennessee 20, Ohio State 16.

A four-team playoff would have saved Kansas State which was coming off the most devastating loss in program history. Like UCLA that season, the Wildcats were a win away from a national championship berth. They led Texas A&M by 15 in the fourth quarter in the Big 12 championship game. K-State lost in double overtime dropping from the title game to the Alamo Bowl after suffering its first loss.

The collapse was so sudden and complete that Bill Snyder called it the worst of his career. “The pain that comes from this,” he said, “is obvious.” The guy who scored the winning touchdown for A&M, Sirr Parker, had a movie made about him.

It is still considered by some the best K-State team ever. Given a second chance, Michael Bishop and the Wildcats would have rebounded against FSU. Kansas State 27, Florida State 20.

Championship game: Kansas State vs. Tennessee. Because of FSU’s injuries, K-State would have been a much better opponent for the Vols. Watching Bishop and receiver Darnell McDonald try to break down the Tennessee defense would have been a treat. In the end, Bishop, prone to turnovers, would have given the Vols at least one short field. Plus, he wasn’t the best thrower. Tennessee defensive coordinator John Chavis would have attacked those two weaknesses all night. Tennessee 30, Kansas State 23.

Fantasy quote:
 "We'd play 'em again tomorrow in a parking lot in shorts and T-shirts. That would be Indiana State, not Tennessee." -- Bill Snyder

Who got screwed: UCLA found out it’s when you lose, not if you lose. A lot of the blame goes on coach Bob Toledo. With a berth in the title game hanging in the balance, Toledo chose to travel to Miami the day before the final regular-season game in early December. The Bruins weren’t acclimated to the South Florida heat and lost a shootout, 49-45. UCLA dropped from second to fifth in the final BCS standings meaning the Bruins wouldn’t even have made a four-team playoff.

The “consolation” for the Bruins was the Rose Bowl, won by Wisconsin 38-31.

 


1999

BCS champion: Florida State 46, Virginia Tech 29

The setup: No controversy here. Florida State and Virginia Tech were the only two undefeated major-college programs. Tech had a team for the ages – at least in Blacksburg -- in Michael Vick’s first year as a starter. The only thing that slowed FSU’s Peter Warrick’s that season was the receiver’s suspension for getting a significant discount from a friendly clerk at a local department store. The Noles went wire-to-wire at No. 1 in AP.

In the championship game, Tech rebounded from 21 down to take a 29-28 lead going into the fourth quarter. Vick accounted for 322 yards in total offense but couldn’t play defense. FSU scored 18 unanswered in the final 15 minutes, winning 46-29.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 4 Alabama, No. 2 Virginia Tech vs. No. 3 Nebraska: This was probably a year when a plus-o
ne would have been worthless. Virginia Tech and FSU had nothing to prove except to play each other. A playoff would have allowed Nebraska (11-1) and Alabama (10-2) in. The Huskers would have earned a semifinal spot with what is now their last team to win a conference title. Nebraska got even for its only regular-season loss by beating Texas in the Big 12 title game.

Even though Nebraska posted two shutouts that year, Vick was a force of nature that season. Virginia Tech 29, Nebraska 22.

Meanwhile, it was hard to believe a Mike Dubose-coached team that lost to Louisiana Tech would have been able to play for a national championship. Despite winning the SEC that year, Bama wasn’t national championship caliber. Florida State 32, Alabama 20.

Championship game: Little would have changed. Noles 35, Virginia Tech 24.
 
Fantasy quote:  "When's the Miami game next year?" -- Bobby Bowden.

Who got screwed: Really, no one. For the second straight year, No. 6 Kansas State lost only once in the regular season but didn’t get close to a BCS bowl after Nebraska won the Big 12. No. 5 Tennessee actually beat Alabama during the season but finished second in the SEC East. But as we would see in a couple of years, winning your division was no prerequisite to playing for the national championship.

 


2000

BCS champion: Oklahoma 13, Florida State 2

The setup: plus-one matchups would have addressed one of the great BCS injustices. No. 2 Florida State played No. 1 Oklahoma for the title despite losing to No. 3 Miami by three in Wide Right III. FSU eventually got the No. 2 spot over the Canes by .32 of a point.

While Miami was in the process of kicking off a 34-game winning streak that season, FSU was at the end of an incredible 14-year run in which it finished in the top four. Despite Weinke winning the Heisman that year, the Noles were dominated in a defensive snoozer of a championship game.

While the season felt unfulfilling in South Florida, Oklahoma had a season for the ages. Juco quarterback Josh Heupel made a run at the Heisman running something called the zone-read option. Bob Stoops’ defense was suffocating, allowing 14 or fewer points nine times. With its championship, the Sooners finally crawled out of bomb crater caused by crippling NCAA penalties 11 years earlier.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 4 Washington, No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 3 Miami. A Florida State-Miami rematch would have been a championship game in itself. The issue was further complicated because the Canes only loss that season came to Washington in the second week of the season.

It’s hard to beat a team twice in a season but by the end of the 2000, Miami might have been the best team in the country. Miami 28, Florida State 24.

In the other semifinal, Oklahoma was a much more complete team. The Huskies won six of their games by a touchdown or less. Quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo was the spark on a team not loaded with a ton of NFL talent. Oklahoma 38, Washington 25.

Championship game: Miami vs. Oklahoma. A matchup for the ages. Two programs, full of swagger, reborn before our eyes. Think of the talent on that field – Jeremy Shockey, Santana Moss, Bryant McKinnie, Ed Reed, Rocky Calmus, Heupel, J.T. Thatcher, Torrance Marshall, Quentin Griffin.

In what would have been Butch Davis' final game, the Canes have bit more speed and athleticism. Miami 27, Oklahoma 23.

Fantasy quote:  
"Someone from the Cleveland Browns on Line 1, coach." --Davis' secretary 

Who got screwed: In the real world, it was Miami. With a plus-one it would have been Virginia Tech. In Vick’s last season, the Hokies went 10-1 in the regular season, losing only to Miami, but were nosed out for the No. 4 spot by  Washington. Tech was actually better than the Huskies in the computers but was hurt by its schedule strength.

 

 

2001

BCS championship game: Miami 37, Nebraska 14

The setup: If there was ever a year for a four-team playoff,  2001 screamed for it. The Miami-Nebraska game was one of the great BCS traveshamockeries. The Huskers played for the championship despite failing to win the Big 12 North and getting blown out in the final regular-season game by Colorado.

It was considered a further scandal when the Big 12 champion Buffs finished at No. 3, .05 of a point behind Nebraska. And you thought the Rematch of the Century was controversial? Oregon also had a beef, finishing No. 4 in the BCS but was consensus No. 2 in both human polls.

Two outsiders to the Pasadena tradition – Huskers and Canes -- were made to feel like they had to wipe their feet before stepping foot on the hallowed Rose Bowl turf.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things:  No. 1 Miami vs. No. 4 Oregon, No. 2 Nebraska vs. Colorado.  Miami would have easily handled Oregon. This was one of the best UM teams of all time. Miami 34, Oregon 16.

A Nebraska-Colorado rematch would have been tasty. The 62-36 regular-season CU win signaled the beginning of a long, slow decline for Nebraska football. Would the Huskers have had to suffer the same indignity again? Yes. Colorado 32, Nebraska 30.

Championship game:  This season kicked off a streak in which CU’s Gary Barnett got to the Big 12 championship game in four of five years. Nothing, though, would have stopped Miami which won the national championship in Larry Coker’s first season after taking over for Davis. Miami 30, Colorado 17.
 

Fantasy quote: "How hard can this be?" -- Larry Coker
 
Who got screwed: College football? The more BCS fathers think about the 2001 season, the more they want to induce vomiting. Colorado beat Nebraska, played a tougher schedule and won the conference yet still didn’t get to play for it all. The thing is, no one in Nebraska would have said a word if the Huskers would have been left out.

 

2002

BCS champion: Ohio State 31, Miami 24, 2 OT

The setup: No need to even discuss a playoff this year. What was left to determine after one of the best games in history? Ohio State’s double-overtime title game win over Miami had everything – dozens of future pros, points, penalties and Porter. Actually, Terry Porter, the official who made the infamous call in the end zone that turned a Miami celebration into more overtime.

You know what happened next. A molecular biology major named Craig Krenzel studiously led the Buckeyes to a come-from-behind win. In the end the Canes couldn’t believe they lost. Somewhere beneath the Fiesta Bowl stands that night Miami’s Kellen Winslow II muttered, “The best team didn’t win.”

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 Miami vs. No. 4 USC, No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Georgia. A Miami-USC semifinal would have had plenty of brand-name value. Carson Palmer won the Heisman that year but his Trojans lost twice before the second week of October and couldn’t recover in the rankings. Miami 24, USC 23.

An argument could be made that Georgia was one of the great one-loss teams in BCS history. In Mark Richt’s second season, the Dawgs went 13-1, losing only to Florida. A Georgia team that included Jon Stinchcomb, Boss Bailey and David Greene would have been a fine semifinal opponent for the Buckeyes. But based on nothing more than mojo, Ohio State would have won because it was a team of destiny winning half of its 14 games by a touchdown or less. Ohio State 23, Georgia 19.

Championship game:  Miami, an 11 ½-point favorite, blew the real meeting to Ohio State because it took the Buckeyes lightly and committed five turnovers. In a playoff, it's hard imagining the 2002 Canes being that bad. Miami 24, Ohio State 17.

Fantasy quote:  
"Beers in my room after the game. Media invited." -- Terry Porter 

Who got screwed: In a four-team playoff, perhaps it would have been No. 5 Iowa. Brad Banks led the nation in pass efficiency that year. The defense was fifth against the run. The scoring offense was top 10. The Hawkeyes finished .28 of a point behind No. 4 USC.

Iowa finished third in both human polls. But the Trojans – fifth in both polls – at least won their conference while playing the toughest schedule in the country.

 

Plus-one champions, 1998-2002: Tennessee, Florida State, Miami, Miami, Miami.

Tomorrow: A plus-one from 2003 to 2007. 

Posted on: November 28, 2011 3:30 pm
Edited on: November 28, 2011 3:30 pm
 

Coaches' realignment in Pac-12

At this rate, Washington State's head of football operations will be the dean of Pac-12 coaches.

Just kidding, a little.

Black Sunday turned into Black Monday when two more Pac-12 coaches were reportedly fired. UCLA’s Rick Neuheisel and Arizona State’s Dennis Erickson are done. That brings the total number of conference coaches to depart in the last year to five. (Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA, Stanford)

This isn’t a changing of a guard, it’s a purge. It’s almost as if someone decided that with the conference about to launch it’s own network, it needed a new “look”.

Out: Erickson at Arizona State. In: Mike Bellotti?

Out: Dan Hawkins in 2010 at Colorado. In: Jon Embree

Out: Mike Stoops at Arizona. In: Rich Rodriguez.

Out: Jim Harbaugh, from Stanford to the 49ers. In: David Shaw.

Out: Neuheisel four days before the Pac-12 title game. In: ?

Next out: Paul Wulff at Washington State. Next in: Mike Leach?

Half the league has changed or is in the process of changing coaches, which led a lot of us to check our media guides. Who exactly IS the dean of Pac-12 coaches at this point? With apologies to the Wazzu ops guys, that would be Oregon State’s Mike Riley who just completed his 11<sup>th</sup> season in his second head coaching stop at the school. Cal’s Jeff Tedford is next at 10 years. Utah’s Kyle Whittingham is third who just completed his seventh season. (But only his first in the conference.)

Neuheisel might be the first fired coach to participate in a conference championship game conference call. Give Slick Rick credit for manning up. His team is in the game only because USC is ineligible. The Bruins are prohibitive underdogs to Oregon a week after losing to the Trojans 50-0. Among the highlights from Monday:

On giving thought to even appearing on the conference call: “We all know what we’re getting into when we get into the profession … I’m just thankful for the opportunity to help bring it back to a place where I would be proud. [Positive things happened] they don’t always make it to the front pages of the newspaper. There was a lot of effort, good work done when I was here. It won’t be a bitter memory at all.”

On leaving: “Certainly when you’re the UCLA coach you’d like to play better against USC. When you lose in the fashion that we did, that’s a difficult pill to swallow.”

On the future:  “This has kind of hit me between the eyes a little bit. We’ll  make any decision about which course to take [in the future]. I love coaching, I know that. I’d have to take some time to figure all that out.  

On Friday’s championship game: “I hope like heck I’m not a distraction.”

This is a spectacular fall from grace for a favorite-son alum. At least another fall from grace. Don’t forget he left Washington after the NCAA tournament pool scandal that eventually led to him suing the NCAA – and winning.

Arizona State and UCLA are arguably the two best jobs in the league after USC. I’ve always wondered why 85 spectacularly talented kids wouldn’t want scholarships at Arizona State. The new coach will inherit a senior quarterback (Brock Osweiler), a good place to start in the Pac-12. Sun Devil Stadium is being remodeled.

UCLA should never be this far down. Big city. Access to big-time recruits. Rose Bowl. I’ve said it before but Neuheisel’s biggest mistake was that UCLA became boring. In L.A., the one thing you cannot be is boring. 

Posted on: November 27, 2011 11:38 am
Edited on: November 27, 2011 12:16 pm
 

The farce that has become the Pac-12 title game

Look what the NCAA has done. Look what the Pac-12 done. Look what Rick Neuheisel has done.

Actually, UCLA’s coach-for-now might be the least culpable in the farce that has turned into the first Pac-12 championship game.  Start with the fact that there is every reason to believe the best team might not be playing in it. And that one of the league’s worst is playing in it.

USC has the same record as and has beaten North Division champion Oregon (both 10-2). The Ducks will be the prohibitive favorite in the conference’s first championship game that looks more like a September conference opener. It’s hard to argue against the Trojans playing the best Pac-12 football at the moment. Actually, some of the best football in the country.

The Trojans all but shouted that from the top of the Coliseum Saturday night routing UCLA, 50-0. That would be the UCLA that is the South Division “champion” facing Oregon Friday in Eugene. There may not be a worse league title game in history. And, yes, I’m counting the MAC and Conference USA.

At least teams from those conferences had earned their way to their championship games. UCLA is the back-up date to the prom after the head cheerleader said no. Take away the divisions and UCLA finished in a tie for fourth. But in this age of divisional formats, paper heroes can be created. UCLA was that Back-Up Plan because, well, you might have read somewhere that USC is ineligible for postseason play. The Trojans, Pac-12 and NCAA went into this season knowing that was the case.

What they didn’t know is that the second-place team in the South would be 6-6 UCLA, coming off a skunking by the Trojans. What they didn’t know is that UCLA would “clinch” the South when Colorado, a team that had lost 23 straight road games, would win at Utah.

They couldn’t have conceived that only that championship game is keeping Neuheisel from being fired right now. Should be quite a celebration in Eugene, and a funeral dirge in Westwood once the plane lands. Among other sins, UCLA’s coach actually had the temerity to suggest that UCLA had “closed the gap” on USC in the last four years. Bad move, Slick Rick. That probably explains why Matt Barkley was still in the game in the fourth quarter chucking his sixth touchdown pass.

USC got hammered with the one of the worst penalties in NCAA history. In terms of closing that gap, UCLA couldn’t even kick down a door that was left wide open.

Neuheisel being fired after Friday’s Eugene beating is a given. AD Dan Guerrero can’t tap dance fast enough around the issue. If the Bruins somehow won and got to – wait for it – another home game in the Rose Bowl, that would only heighten the urgency. The Bruins would be playing in the Rose Bowl but they’re not nearly a Rose Bowl team

Call it one of the unintended consequences of a postseason ban. Surely, the NCAA infractions committee couldn’t have conceived of these circumstances when it banned USC: A team ineligible for a bowl would be replaced by a team about to be ineligible for a bowl.

An explanation: A UCLA loss would drop the Bruins to 6-7, making the Pac-12 South Division “champions” (love using those quotes) ineligible for a bowl. The Bruins could then could seek a bowl waiver from the NCAA if the Pac-12 can’t fill its seven bowl slots.

Great. Nothing says “bowl experience” than a team with a losing record. Though, using that logic, if Ohio State is going to be allowed in the Sugar Bowl because of some unknown rule, UCLA at least has played by the rules to get to 6-7. Those rules being set by the NCAA when it banned USC.

You’re way ahead of me if you’re thinking that Alabama can play for a national championship without winning its division, but UCLA can’t play in a bowl after “winning” its division. (Check the standings. USC is two games better than UCLA.)

 

 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: October 30, 2011 1:40 pm
Edited on: October 30, 2011 6:10 pm
 

Thoughts On A Football Saturday: West Virginia

This is on Don Nehlen. Major Harris too. Don’t forget Bobby Bowden. Rich Rodriguez gets credit. Even Bill Stewart.

West Virginia joined Big 12 on Friday (beginning in 2012) because of all those folks. Nehlen, the gritty, veteran coach who put the school on the map. Major Harris, the dual threat sensation before there were dual threat sensations leading the Mountaineers to the brink of a national championship. Rich Rod, the homeboy, and his basketball-on-grass offense. And all Coach Stew did was beat Oklahoma and average nine wins a year.

You can thank Gordon Gee too. Gee was West Virginia’s president during a key time (1981-85) in the school’s history. If not for the school’s admission into the old College Football Association, it might not be here today. West Virginia was among a group of about 15 independents in that initial CFA group of 63 schools.

The CFA gained power out of the Supreme Court’s de-regulation of college football in 1984. It was the television negotiating arm for those top 63 football-playing schools.

“They [West Virginia] met all the criteria,” said former CFA executive director Chuck Neinas. “They routinely get 60,000, their stadium size, strength of schedule, certain academic commitments.”

The qualifications for the old CFA have faded into history. But they are essentially why West Virginia is in a BCS league going forward and the Big East is in trouble. West Virginia has been selected to move on as a big-time football program.

That, and cold, hard numbers. You want to know why West Virginia is in the Big 12 and Louisville isn’t? 500,000 homes. That’s the difference in the half-rating point for television that separates the two schools.     

It comes down to West Virginia’s average 2.6 television rating over the past five years as opposed to 2.1 for Louisville. That half-rating point equals half a million television homes. That’s according to an industry source who had the numbers in front of him for all 120 FBS schools.

The FBS average rating is 2.2 In other words, Louisville is an average TV draw. West Virginia is an above average draw.

Big 12 inventory becomes more valuable because of  West Virginia-Texas and West Virginia-Oklahoma Louisville doesn’t move the needle as much. According the industry source, that 2.1 Louisville rating was boosted significantly by a pair of two five-year-old results – games in 2006 against West Virginia and Rutgers.

Neinas, currently interim Big 12 commissioner, was CFA executive director for the 20 years of existence. It disbanded in 1997. The Mountaineers move to the Big 12 can be traced back to Neinas’ time when he guided college football through a treacherous period. West Virginia made the cut Friday because of all those things – Nehlen’s leadership, that national championship run, ratings points. But it goes back to West Virginia being leading Eastern independent when the CFA was formed.

The CFA was a precursor the current BCS (membership: 66).

So West Virginia has its nose under the tent and the Big East moves on with uncertainty. Even if it does reconstitute itself and expand to 12 teams, there is no guarantee the Big East will retain its BCS status. That issue will at least be discussed when the BCS holds its next scheduled meeting Nov. 14 in San Francisco.

For 2012 at least, the Big 12 is a 10-team conference but don’t hold your breath.

“The only thing constant in this world is change,” Neinas said. “Right now we’ve got our house in order. We’re looking forward to a very aggressive conference.”

 

National notage …

 

A closer look at how Wisconsin has blown its last two games to Michigan State and Ohio State:

In the final eight minutes of both those games the teams’ combined score has been even, 21-21. In those fourth quarters, Wisconsin’s pass defense allowed 10 completions on 17 attempts for 155 yards. Take away the two game-winning plays – Michigan State at the gun and Ohio State with 20 seconds left – and the opposition completed only eight of 15 in that span for 74 yards, 4.93 yards per attempt.

But you can’t leave out those two plays. Keith Nichol caught the winner for Michigan State from 44 yards out. Ohio State’s Devin Smith caught that 40-yard touchdown from Braxton Miller with 20 seconds left.

Essentially, Wisconsin hasn’t responded when playing tougher competition. It won its first six games by at least 31 points. Two plays have killed the Badgers. They will likely be the difference in a BCS bowl (Rose?) and perhaps a Big Ten title.

 


Case Keenum has to be the season’s most valuable player to this point.

Houston is in the running for a Big East berth (maybe) and BCS bowl (barely) primarily because of its quarterback’s right arm. The nation’s leading passer has the Cougars ranked and on the periphery of BCS contention. The memory may have faded by now but Houston beat Rice 73-34 Thursday with Keenum throwing nine touchdown passes.  Someday soon he will be the all-time leader in passing yardage.

Yes, a sixth year of eligibility has helped but look at what it has wrought: In conference realignment where your worth can be judged by what you did yesterday, the Cougars are a hot commodity – at least to the Big East. Houston could be included in a batch of teams that would stretch from BYU to Texas and back East just to keep the conference viable.

Basically, Keenum is all Houston has. That’s no disgrace considering what’s at stake. While the defense is improved over last season (from 103<sup>rd</sup> to 86<sup>th</sup>), the Cougars have won games this season allowing 34 (twice) and 42 points. It all comes back to Keenum, already the NCAA’s career total offense leader, having thrown a nation-leading 32 touchdowns.

Without him, Houston is a commuter school in media market where it is the fourth or fifth option. With him, Houston may someday be able to thank Keenum for a berth in a BCS bowl.

That brings us to this week’s top Heisman contenders ...

1. Keenum – 139 career touchdown passes. 
2. Kellen Moore, Boise State – forget his measurables. Should end up in a pro camp somewhere.
3. Andrew Luck, Stanford – Completion percentage, touchdown-to-interception and passer rating all up over last season.
4. Trent Richardson, Alabama – We’ll know more after Saturday.
5. Russell Wilson, Wisconsin – Don’t blame the nation’s most efficient passer for the Ohio State loss.

 


While we’re speculating on coaching turnover, let’s not forget North Carolina State’s Tom O’Brien.

 

After being shut out by Florida State, 34-0, the Wolfpack is 4-4 having beaten only one BCS conference program this season (Virginia). N.C. State was shut out on the road an ACC game for the first time since 1990, not to mention Wilson’s decision to let Russell Wilson become a free agent.

O’Brien is 29-29 in his fifth season, having never finished better than a tie for second in the ACC Atlantic Division.

 

 
This from the Boulder Daily CameraIt seems like it’s already time to question why Colorado was included in the Pac-12’s expansion plans.

So why was CU No. 1 on Larry Scott's expansion list?

"CU just checked all the boxes for us," the forward-thinking Pac-12 commissioner said. "CU was a fit in terms of academic compatibility, being a good geographic fit and sharing a similar philosophy and culture in terms of the role of athletics within the broader mission. And Denver is a very important market."

Colorado dropped to 1-8, 0-6 in the Pac-12 South after a 48-14 loss at Arizona State. Pac-12 newbies CU and Utah are a combined 5-12 overall, 1-10 in the league.

 


Penn State may be the worst 8-1 team you ever saw, but it has a plucky defense and, more importantly, an inside track to the Big Ten title game.

After beating Illinois Saturday, the Nittany Lions have a 2 ½-game lead over Wisconsin, Purdue and Ohio State in the Leaders Division with three games to go. Hold onto your Coke bottle glasses. Those final three games are at home against Nebraska, at Ohio State and at Wisconsin. If JoePa somehow grabs another Big Ten title at age 84 he will have earned it.

 

Posted on: September 22, 2011 10:02 am
 

Neinas interested, expected to be Big 12 interim

Chuck Neinas has applied to the Big 12 and is expected to be formally approved as the league's interim commissioner possibly as soon as Thursday, CBSSports.com has learned.

During an interview early Thursday, Neinas said he had been contacted by Big 12 representatives who inquired about his interest in replacing Dan Beebe. "I responded in the affirmative," said Neinas who then submitted his resume.

Neinas also told CBSSports.com that his employment is an agenda item during the Big 12 presidents' conference call on Thursday. CBSSports.com reported Wednesday night that Beebe was expected to leave the league and be replaced on an interim basis by Neinas. 

His hiring would seem to be formality considering Neinas has conducted employment searches for seven of the current nine members of the Big 12. The former Big Eight commissioner runs Neinas Sports Services, a consulting firm, out of his home in Boulder, Colo. Until Texas A&M, Nebraska and Colorado left the league, Neinas had done work for 10 of the original 12 conference members.

"I've been around the game a while," said Neinas who was assistant executive director of the NCAA from 1961-71. He later was commissioner of the Big Eight from 1971-80.

"I told my wife, I guess it's like Yogi said, 'It's not over until it's over,' " Neinas said.

Neinas should be a unifying force in a fractured league. Texas AD DeLoss Dodds once worked for Neinas as an assistant in the Big Eight. Neinas said he helped current Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt get his first job.

Neinas expects the position to last six months to a year.

 

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