Tag:Five Things
Posted on: August 2, 2010 9:38 am
Edited on: August 2, 2010 4:37 pm
 

Five things about the Big Ten

Sizing up the Big Ten going into the Big Ten media days in Chicago...

Divisional set up. Conference officials will begin talking this week about how to split the Big Ten in two beginning in 2011. That would be two six-team divisions and staging a championship, which is all but a certainty as league officials meet this week in Chicago. In a league that believes Dockers are a fashion statement, expansion to 12 teams is a radical step. Traditional rivalries are at stake. What do with the Old Oaken Bucket (Indiana-Purdue)? More importantly, what to do with Ohio State-Michigan? Competitive balance is first on commissioner Jim Delany’s list of priorities. But today’s slug (Michigan) could be tomorrow’s power. Don’t screw this one up, fellas. You’ve got a good thing going as it is. We don’t want too many Iowa-Northwestern championship games.

Joe goes for 400. No one is talking about it, but Joe Paterno is six victories away from 400 career victories. Only two other college coaches have made it to that number (Eddie Robinson, 408 and John Gagliardi, 471). The way the profession is structured today, it’s doubtful anyone will ever get to 400 again. Incredibly, JoePa has gotten better with age. His teams go to BCS bowls. He keeps recruiting with fervor. His staff stays mostly intact. We’re talking a modern miracle here, folks. Joe has been under the weather during the offseason with an intestinal disorder so it will be interesting to see how he looks at the media days. The Lions become the first team ever to play three teams that won BCS bowls the previous year. Alabama, Ohio State and Iowa are all on the road. Penn State hasn’t won in Iowa City since 1999 and has lost six of the last eight to Ohio State. Still, save the date: The way the schedule shapes up, win No. 400 will come on or around Oct. 30 against Michigan.

Malaise and blue. This is either the last year of the Rich Rodriguez era or the takeoff point for Michigan getting back on track. There is no in-between with a new athletic director in place and pending NCAA penalties on the horizon. Rich Rod is going to have to win – big, it says here -- to save his job. With the school trotting out a $225 million refurbishment of the Big House this season, another losing season won’t be tolerated. The angst starts Sept. 4 against UConn.

Define “pause.” That’s the term Delany used on June 11 to describe the current state of Big Ten expansion.  That was also the day Nebraska formally announced it had joined the league. That means college athletics still is sitting with a tack on its chair. There’s this uncomfortable feeling that things aren’t settled. Notre Dame could decide tomorrow it wanted in and we’d be in for another round of expansion turmoil. Texas could spend two years in the 10-team Big 12 and decide it doesn’t want to go to Waco and Ames anymore. Those two scenarios aren’t likely but Delany isn’t closing the book on expansion either. Going into Monday’s media days, he hasn’t quite defined what hitting the pause button means. For now, the Big Ten, which has an 11 in its logo, will expand to 12 beginning in 2011. 

Ohio Statement. After winning its first Rose Bowl in 10 years, the Big Ten is on a roll. It beat four top 15 teams in bowls last season. Even in losing, it proved its worth. Northwestern gave Auburn a tussle in the Outback Bowl.  Iowa’s Adrian Clayborn may be this season’s Ndamukong Suh. Wisconsin seems to have the running thing down (a 1,000-yard rusher in 15 of the last 17 seasons). It’s up to Ohio State, though, to complete the comeback. The Buckeyes won their first Rose Bowl in 14 years, have a Heisman candidate in Terrelle Pryor and most probably will start the season ranked No. 2.  This season is a success in Columbus and around the Big Ten only if Ohio State plays for in a third national championship game in nine years.
 

Posted on: July 27, 2010 1:27 am
Edited on: July 27, 2010 1:29 am
 

Five things about the Big 12

Five things about the Big 12

1. Coach of the year. For now, it has to be Tommy Tuberville. Texas Tech's new coach was reprimanded for saying what we were all thinking: The Big 12 is not long for this world. On the field, Tubs has to clean up the mess left by Leach. There is plenty of talent -- including Craig James' son who is still on the roster. Tuberville plans to play more defense, tweak the offense and grab the first decent job in the SEC. OK, I added that last one myself. The prediction here is that Tuberville will upset Texas at home, finish second in the South and play in the Cotton Bowl. Reprimand that!

2. Sexiest opening. It might soon be at Oklahoma State where Mike Gundy is feeling a bit of heat. The season ended horribly with a 27-0 loss to Oklahoma and a listless 21-7 bummer against Ole Miss in the Cotton Bowl. A Big 12-low eight starters return. Six of the top seven tacklers are gone too. Mike Leach was seen around the team helping old friend, and new offensive coordinator, Dana Holgorsen install the offense. If Leach ever gets his lawsuit against Texas Tech settled, he would actually make a nice fit in Stillwater. Think of that: A billionaire (Boone Pickens) and a pirate.

3. Once more with feeling. Nebraska is playing its final year in the Big 12 trying to win the league for the first time since 1999. Just as the Huskers are getting back on top, they are departing for the Big Ten. Wonder how that will affect their comeback attempt? Best guess: The competition in the Big Ten will be about even with the Big 12. The absolute best finish for the Huskers would be to play Oklahoma, one last time, in the Big 12 title game. After this season, that conference rivalry goes away. Forever.

4. Oklahoma is OK again. The media picked Oklahoma to win the Big South. More than that, Phil Steele picked Oklahoma to win the national championship in his magazine annual. Strange. Texas just came off playing for the national championship and, at least, has been dominating OU lately. Meanwhile, the Sooners just had seven guys drafted, four in the first round. That, off a team that lost five games. OU No. 1 in the South? Not outrageous but strange.

5. The perfect media gift. The Insight Bowl hat handed out to the media summed up current state of the conference. Upheaval! One side of the hat is adorned with a Big Ten logo (hello, Nebraska!). The other side has a Big 12 logo which, of course, doesn't add up to 12. There is still debate whether to keep the name despite the league having only 10 members. Nebraska and Colorado left this summer.  As for the Insight Bowl itself, it is one of the reasons Missouri felt slighted and started making noise about the Big Ten. Mizzou was supposedly "passed over" by the Insight and played in the Texas Bowl last year where it stunk up the joint losing to Navy.

Posted on: July 25, 2010 5:30 pm
 

Five things about the ACC

As my annual swing through preseason media days continues I’ll be updating you on the current state of the conferences I’m covering …

1. It’s just not the same with Bobby. One of the highlights of the ACC media days is the annual sit down with Bobby Bowden. Around a circular table in a resort conference room we would jam ourselves close to Bobby to hear his dad-gum pearls of wisdom. A couple of “How ya doin’ buddy,”s and away we would go. Something was missing this year and it will never be back. Enjoy retirement, Papa Bowden.

2. Uncertainty at North Carolina. This had the looks of Butch Davis’ breakout season in Chapel Hill. Coming off a second consecutive eight-win season and armed with perhaps the nation’s best defense, Davis was overdue for that big turnaround. Sadly, Carolina is wrapped up in an NCAA agent investigation which may bring down the program for 2010 and short circuit Davis’ rebuilding. “Guys are smart to know what to do and what not to do,” said quarterback T.J. Yates. “You don’t have to read the NCAA rulebook to know the basics of it.” Apparently a few NCAA manuals are just what Carolina needs.

3. Dark horse national champion. Virginia Tech.  This wasn’t the plan when expansion plans were being made but the Hokies have become the reigning power of the new (and not-so-improved) ACC. While Georgia Tech is the defending champion and an up-and-comer, Tech has been the most consistent ACC team of the expansion era. Both its overall (41-13) and conference records (24-8) are three games better than everyone else over the past four years. The offense sports one of the deepest backfields in the country with quarterback Tyrod Taylor and tailbacks Darren Evans and Ryan Williams. The defense is being questioned but shouldn’t, not as long as Bud Foster is running the show. This year’s hopes center around the Labor Day opener against Boise State. Win that and the Hokies could enter November undefeated. Then it’s a question of whether they can get past Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Miami, the last two on the road.

4. BC never seems to go away. Eleven consecutive bowls. Two out of the last three Atlantic Division titles. BC is hard to shake. Despite the loss of its best player (linebacker Mark Herzlich) to cancer and breaking in a 26-year-old rookie at quarterback (Dave Shinskie), the Eagles were still competing for the division title into November. This season they get back the inspirational Herzlich, ACC defensive rookie of the year Luke Kuechly as well as tailback Montel Harris (1,457 yards). Don’t be surprised to see the Eagles hanging around the division race again in November on their way to a 12th consecutive bowl.

5. Florida State is back, right? It’s up to the defense which was horrid in 2009. Jimbo Fisher has brought a new energy to the Seminoles who, despite the loveable Bowden, could use it. Quarterback Christian Ponder is back from a separated shoulder. The entire offensive line returns intact. If the defense plays just average, FSU will win 10. If not, retired d-coordinator Mickey Andrews will have handed his problems off to new DC Mark Stoops. We’ll know about the Noles by the second week of October. By that time, they will have played Oklahoma, BYU and Miami.

 
 
 
 
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