Tag:Cal
Posted on: July 29, 2010 11:16 pm
 

Five things about the Pac-10

The latest from my preseason media day tour...

USC’s long road back. How long will it take? How painful will it be? USC is just beginning what promises to be one of the darkest periods in its history. It might get through the crippling NCAA penalties in as few as five years. We’re talking 2015 being the first year to be able to have enough talent to compete for a Pac-10 title again. But it won’t be easy. Oklahoma suffered similar penalties and was dead for 10 years. It took Alabama eight years to win a national championship after similar penalties in 2002. Watching Lane and the boys negotiate the loss of 30 scholarships and two postseasons will be the key thing. I’m sure Kiffin has a plan – he always does – but the program has to bottom out first. The embarrassment isn’t over in regards to Bush’s Heisman and the 2004 title. Both might still be taken away. After that, the 2010 Trojans could win the league have to watch the Rose Bowl on TV. It was one of the best dynasties in the history of college football and now it’s gone. For how long, we don’t know.

The winner. Oregon might have been the favorite to defend its title until Jeremiah Masoli got stupid. USC might have been the favorite until Reggie Bush was stupid. What about Arizona, a program that has never been to the Rose Bowl? It has five of the nine conference games at home, including USC, Washington and Cal. Mike Stoops has to break through at some point. After consecutive eight-win seasons, it might be time for the Wildcats to break through.

East Coast bias. Don’t blame the media this time. There was an East Coast bias on the part of the players. This is back to being the year of the quarterback in the league. The Pac-10 took its top four quarterbacks to New York for an unprecedented media day on the East Coast – Andrew Luck, Jake Locker, Matt Barkley and Nic Foles. However, only Barkley and Foles made it to L.A. for the traditional Pac-10 media day. I don’t want to hear any griping from Stanford and Washington about national honors for their quarterbacks at the end of the season. Guys, you’ve got to take care of your local media first.

Divisional alignment. It seems to be a conversation piece around here as the league decides how to divide into two six-team divisions in 2011. There is the “zipper” alignment. Example: travel partners Oregon-Oregon State, Cal-Stanford ,USC-UCLA, Arizona-Arizona State and Washington-Washington State are split into separate divisions. There is my North-South alignment: Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, Cal, Stanford vs. Colorado, Utah, USC, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State. Whatever the plan, everyone wants to play in L.A. because of recruiting. And with USC on probation, there are going to be plenty of players available in Southern California.

Hot seat. Paul Wulff at Washington State and Dennis Erickson at Arizona State. It's almost a hopeless case at Wazoo. Erickson has to win seven just to go to a bowl. ASU is playing two I-AAs. The wolves will be out if there is not significant improvement at each school.

Posted on: March 30, 2010 10:37 pm
Edited on: March 31, 2010 12:20 pm
 

How the UTEP hire helps USC

USC has to feel good about Texas-El Paso's hiring of Tim Floyd. Maybe better than UTEP.

The hiring indicates that Floyd will not be penalized in connection with the NCAA's investigation of USC. You've seen the headlines: Floyd allegedly paid an associate of former Trojan O.J. Mayo $1,000. He resigned two months later and said in January his departure had to do with a deteriorating relationship with AD Mike Garrett. Floyd has maintained his innocence throughout.

Half the battle, then, might be won for Garrett with his two major sports staring down an NCAA gun barrel.

Don't be surprised if UTEP checked with the NCAA infractions committee through channels to determine if Floyd was going to be involved in USC penalties. It's interesting to note that Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky is on the committee.

Still, UTEP is still in a unique position. The USC case is still open. What if a show-cause order is attached to Floyd by the NCAA?  Show-cause means if a school hiring a coach who has been slapped with such a designation must appear before the NCAA to explain why it shouldn't face penalties.

A show-case usually can be a career killer for a coach wanting to work in college again. Former Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson is currently under a five-year show cause. Dave Bliss, formerly of Baylor, has a 10-year show-cause. Current Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman was given an eight-year penalty after his issues at Cal. 

But none of those coaches had taken another college job before his show-cause. I person familiar with the NCAA process told me that such a penalty would follow Floyd to UTEP. That's potentially a messy situation.

I spoke to UTEP AD Bob Stull on Tuesday who said the school had done its "due diligence" in vetting out Floyd. Stull is proud of the fact that there have been no major violations on his watch and called Floyd, "a man of integrity." 

" We weren’t the only one out there talking to him [to coach]," Stull said. "As much as Tim loves El Paso, the situation at USC made him available to us. We feel like we have a guy who is an icon in the community. He's a good fit for us."


Floyd is a good fit particularly at UTEP because he was one of Don Haskins' lead assistants in the 1970s and 1980s. Given his recent past, he's not going to use UTEP as a steppingstone. That also makes Stull feel good. Three of his last four hires -- Tony Barbee, Billy Gillispie and Doc Sadler -- took the Miners to the NCAA Tournament.

Floyd should do the same.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Baylor, Cal, Oklahoma, USC, UTEP
 
Posted on: March 8, 2010 9:37 pm
 

Big 12 schedule analysis

(This is next installment of a continuing series analyzing the 2010 schedules of the BCS conferences)

You thought the Big 12 has been good lately? Year 15 of the conference kicks off with three familiar names at the top. At least two of the three are familiar.

Even with the loss of Colt McCoy, Texas never rebuilds (or is never allowed to). Oklahoma is over the loss of Sam Bradford as Landry Jones begins his first full season as starter. Nebraska is a fallen power making the long, slow slog back to the top. It hopes. But the Huskers are all the buzz coming off a 10-win season and sporting one of the nation's defenses -- even without a boy named Suh.

Elsewhere, there is depth throughout the Big 12. Missouri has established itself as a top 25 team every year. Texas Tech can only get better under Tommy Tuberville after Mike Leach's conduct going out the door almost ripped the program apart. Oklahoma State isn't going away with the Boone Pickens pipeline still running and Texas A&M is making strides, at least offensively. Baylor gets Robert Griffin back trying to end that pesky 15-year bowl-less streak.

Expect another national championship run, by some league team or another. A Big 12 team has been in five of the last seven BCS title games.

Game of the year: (non-conference) Florida State at Oklahoma, Sept. 11. In a sense, the suspense has been building for a decade. These teams last met in the 2000 BCS title game. Florida State is a shell of itself. Oklahoma not quite as strong as in the past. Watch for a rare Stoops vs. Stoops matchup. This time it's Oklahoma's Bob against FSU's Mark, the Seminoles new defensive coordinator. But there's so much more at stake here. This is essentially Jimbo Fisher's first real test (the opener is against Samford). It comes on the road in one of the game's most revered temples. We know FSU can score with Christian Ponder and other significant weapons. But for the Seminoles to get back to the top, it must start stopping people. God bless Mickey Andrews, but his final defense stunk. It's up to you, Mark.

Game of the year: (conference) Oklahoma vs. Texas, Oct. 16. As goes the Red River Shootout, so goes the Big 12. Or so it seems. The winner of this game usually has the inside track to the Big 12 South and national championship contention. Texas is a roll having won four of the last five. Included in that streak is two Big 12 titles, two national championship berths, one national championship. Or as they call it in Austin, "Doing pretty good lately."

Team on the spot: Nebraska. After a 10-win, Holiday Bowl-winning season in Bo Pelini's second year, we're all wondering if the Huskers are truly back. The Flying Pelinis will go into 2010 as favorites to win the North. At least. The next step is to win the Big 12 for the first time since 1999. Nebraska was one playmaker on offense -- one -- away from beating Texas last season. Armed with a fearsome defense, the only question for Pelini is whether his offense can score enough to make 10-2 a reality. Nebraska almost pulled off the upset last year. The toughest games (Texas, Missouri) are at home. Oklahoma is off the regular-season schedule.

Toughest non-conference schedule: Colorado. No surprise here. The Buffs haven't backed off in the non-con since the Bill McCartney days. Good for building a program, not good for keeping your job. Dan Hawkins starts a win-or-else season with Colorado State, Cal, Hawaii and Georgia outside of the Big 12. That's a blood rival, a Pac-10 team that tied USC for third in the Pac-10 and a Georgia team on the rebound. The only game you'd feel confident of putting in the win column is Hawaii and even that might be a stretch. CSU has split the last four meetings. CU has split the last four against the Pac-10 on the road but hasn't won in a Pac-10 stadium since 2004. Georgia is an SEC powerhouse coming off a down year but will be favored in Boulder. A 3-1 start is recommended. A 2-2 beginning might not be enough for Hawkins who has to play Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska on the road.

Easiest non-conference schedule: Missouri. The Tigers have beaten Illinois five consecutive times. McNeese State has never beaten a team from a current BCS conference. San Diego State last beat a team from a current BCS conference in 1999. Miami (Ohio) has lost 23 of its last 26. Throw in a home game against Colorado after that and the Tigers don't have to leave the state of Missouri to start 5-0.

 

 

Posted on: March 4, 2010 4:49 pm
 

Texas tidbits from visit this week

Here are some leftovers from my visit this week to Texas. Subject matter included the ascension of sophomore Garrett Gilbert to starting quarterback, replacing Colt McCoy.

MACK BROWN

On the spring quarterback race:

"The real question mark is we've done a good job here of running an offense here with Major Applewhite and Chris Simms and then changing it to Vince [Young] and then tweaking it for Colt.  Our two question marks this spring are how do we tweak the offense toward the upcoming quarterbacks for the future? Where does [fifth-year senior] Sherrod Harris fit?"


On halftime at the national championship game:

"We thought Colt might come back. We were conservative in the second quarter. Colt wanted to play. That's great, that's valiant but you can't play. You're the spirit of this team, get your jersey, get your pads on and you get out there and get Garrett right in the middle of that team and pick them all up."

On the bad luck of losing Colt McCoy to injury:

"Where everything happened right in '05 against a great USC team, not much happened right in the first half [against Alabama]. We thought the teams were at least equal."

On expectations at Texas:

"The expectations of these kids and our current fans and therefore our current coaches is we need to get to that [championship] game every year. We're out of the win nine, win 10, out of win the South [Division]. We're out of just winning the conference, we'd like to do it all every year."

On developing a more diverse offense while transitioning from Colt:

"We've gotten pretty simple with our formations and therefore outexecuted people. We will not change our philosophy. We are going to be more stubborn because we have to get back to that [more balanced offense]."


On chasing the dream:

"Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno said, 'After you win a national championship, your goals change. You expect and want to win it every year. The second one is harder than the first one.'

"That's why I was so disappointed. We missed by hundredths of a point last year [2008]. Then we miss this year with some [injury] circumstances.

"Texas has won 3 championships in 112 years. We've been in the mix three of the last five years."

On early commitments (Texas has 17 commits for 2011):

"By and large it's not like everybody else. We're recruiting four states but we're at a point now that a lot of them want to have their kids come here. They're not going to tell them to come, they're going to tell them to come look.

"When we were at North Carolina; Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Penn State started the [early] camp deal in the summer to lock up all the in-state players and then recruit out of state. When we got here, Texas was new to [junior] camps. What we were trying to do is have juniors come to camp. Then we would offer them before their senior years ... Now they're starting off in their sophomore year. That part is out of control.

"Most of the kids that come to our junior day have 15 offers. If we don't offer then, by the time they walk out the door they have 15 e-mails from coaches: "Did Texas offer you? If you don't you have 15 offers. If they didn't, they're fools.' If we don't offer him while he's on camps we probably lose him." 

"We're lucky we know a lot about the kids because we've been around them. You've still got three semesters left in their academics. Very few have taken the SAT or ACT. You have to look at core and class rank."

GALE GILBERT, father of Garrett

On Colt McCoy's injury:

"That's got to be the earliest in the national championship or the Super Bowl that the starting quarterback had gone out. You know there's a lot of football to play but you can't give up too many opportunities."

On what it was like afterward with Garrett:

"Really more disappointment of being in that situation and not getting it done."


On Garrett's recruitment:

"He was always with Texas. When offers started coming in, he said we'll go look. I took him out to Cal and Stanford after his sophomore year. It's shut down, nobody's around and he said, 'What are we doing this for?' "


GARRETT GILBERT

On what he was told after the national championship game:

"Coach Brown he was proud of the way our team came out and fought in the second half. I used it as a learning experience. My dad told me he was proud of me.  Obviously, it was such an unfortunate deal with Colt going down. You never ask for something like that to happen.


"At halftime Colt was telling me to keep my head up and keep plugging away. The guys around me did a great job of making plays, stepping up and being leaders."

On taking snaps under center for the first time in years:

"I don't know how much of an issue it is. I'm sure Tim Tebow is working on all that. It's a big enough adjustment to go from college to the NFL."

On things slowing down in the second half of the Alabama game:

"Eventually. Hearing those guys say stay positive and stay with me that was a really comforting feeling. That first touchdown pass to Jordan [Shipley] was a big relief. Being a competitor I had all the confidence in the world in our team."

 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: February 10, 2010 10:30 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2010 2:02 pm
 

More expansion: A proposed new look

The Mountain West is on notice.

The Big East too.

Don’t forget the Big 12 which could be ripped asunder.

One or all of those conferences are going to be impacted if, as expected, the Pac-10 and Big Ten expand in the near future.

After writing about the big picture on Wednesday, we’re here to speculate freely about how other conferences might be impacted.

Mountain West: After leading his league to the brink of BCS automatic qualifying status, commissioner Craig Thompson has to be concerned.

A BYU-Utah defection to the Pac-10 makes a lot of sense. In basketball, the league has travel partners (Washington-Washington State, Arizona-Arizona State). The Utes and Cougars are bitter rivals but would be make ideal additions due to the far-flung nature of the league.

I still don’t know how the Pac-10 views the academic aspect of expansion, so I’m not sure how it views the combination of a state school (Utah) and what amounts to a private school (BYU). If there is a fallback, it could be San Diego State.

If the Big Ten were to take Missouri, that’s a potential three teams ripped from the Mountain West and could mean the end of the league.  The three most likely replacements would be Boise State, Fresno State and Texas-El Paso.

The best non-BCS league could find itself teetering on the edge of existence, or at least relevance.

Big 12: The biggest hit comes if both Colorado (Pac-10) and Missouri (Big Ten) leave.

If Missouri or Colorado leave, the Big 12 would go get TCU from the Mountain West. While that would wound the MWC, the league would most likely then invite Boise State.

If both Colorado and Missouri left, the Big 12 would get TCU and, maybe, Houston? Either way, the Big 12’s TV stature would shrink.

Big East: The league was almost wiped out when the ACC expanded five years ago. What happens if Pittsburgh, Syracuse or Rutgers is taken by the Big Ten?

Most likely the Big East would raid Conference USA for Central Florida. That would get the league further into Florida. UCF is third-largest school in the country (53,000) behind Ohio State and Arizona State. There's got to be some football players in there somewhere. Plus, the school has made a huge commitment to facilities.

Sooner or later doesn’t Big East football and basketball have to split? The unwieldy existence between the two sides (16 teams in basketball, only eight of which play football).

After the wounds caused by the ACC, another hit could cause the end of the Big East in football.

My latest look on how the Big Ten, Pac-10, Big 12 and MWC might look in the future.

BIG TEN 
Schembechler Division

Iowa
Missouri
Michigan
Michigan State
Minnesota
Northwestern

Grange Division
Illinois
Indiana
Ohio State
Penn State
Purdue
Wisconsin

BIG 12
North Division
Nebraska
Colorado
Kansas
Kansas State
Iowa State
TCU

South Division
Texas
Texas Tech
Texas A&M
Oklahoma
Baylor
Oklahoma State

 

PAC-10
North Division
Oregon
Oregon State
Washington State
Cal
Stanford
Washington

South Division
BYU
Utah
Arizona
Arizona State
USC
UCLA

MOUNTAIN WEST
Fresno State
Boise State
Texas-El Paso
Air Force
Wyoming
UNLV
San Diego State
New Mexico
Colorado State

 

 

Posted on: February 3, 2010 3:20 pm
 

Signing day notes

Before we begin, the recruiting “get” of the day goes to CBSSports.com’s J. Darin Darst. He was able to find Alabama’s “fax cam.”

If you didn’t believe it before, recruiting is officially out of control.

Winners

Tennessee: Never mind Derek Dooley’s closing job. The recruiting class just became that much better. A Boise television station reported Tuesday night and ESPN said Wednesday that Boise defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox is headed to Tennessee.

Wilcox is one of the young up and comers. He was a short timer at Boise after his unit shut down Oregon and TCU on national television. The 33-year-old has coordinated the Broncos D for the last four seasons. Boise led the WAC in scoring defense and total defense in each of those four seasons.

The Oregon grad also worked at Cal before for three years as linebackers coach before coming to Boise for the second time in 2006.

Urban Meyer: A life-changing health problem. Rival recruiters running him into the ground. A revamped coaching staff. It is amazing that Florida has still been able to assemble the nation’s No. 1 class.

Auburn: Formal apologies to Gene Chizik who was largely derided in this space after his hiring from Iowa State. Chizik won eight in his first season, almost beat Alabama, and then actually beat the Crimson Tide – in recruiting. Auburn was listed above Bama in the top five midway through Wednesday.  Chizik and offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn are fired up about national juco player of the year and former Gator quarterback Cameron Newton.

Texas: Let’s stow any speculation that Mack Brown is retiring anytime soon. This class showed that he still has the hunger to chase championships.  Texas finished with what was largely considered to be the nation’s No. 2 class. Most notable – West Chester, Ohio linebacker Jordan Hicks and Plano, Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat.

Missouri: Finished with what is believed to be its highest ranked class ever (top 20). Gary Pinkel continues to aggressively recruit Texas and lock up the best players in Missouri. The Tigers aren’t going away as an annual bowl team and factor in the Big 12 North. The Big Ten has to be happy.

Notre Dame: A respectable top 15 class that’s a good sign for Brian Kelly in 2011 when he has a whole year to recruit. Kelly completed revamped the coaching staff and didn’t get blown out of the water.

Cal: Jeff Tedford continues to solidify his spot as second-best coach in Bear’s history. (Hard to argue with Pappy Waldorf.) Tedford recruited aggressively landing a top 15 class with prospects from seven states. Typical of the far flung recruiting philosophy was getting five-star defensive back Keenan Allen to drop Alabama and come all the way from Greensboro, NC

Non-winners (Can’t bring myself to say ‘losers’ when no one knows how these kids will turn out):

Miami: The locals are grumbling about the lack of five-star recruits (none) and abundance of two and three-star prospects (19). Howard Schnellenberger might not approve. Nine players came from outside the “State of Miami”, including prospects from Buffalo, NY; New Berlin, NY and Evanston, Ill.

Kansas: Turner Gill got a late start, completely changed the coaching staff and had a hard time luring top recruits. Potosi, Mo. running back Brandon Bourbon should ease the pain.

Indiana: Rivals.com’s lowest ranked BCS conference school (No. 90). Let’s hope rankings mean little. Bill Lynch (7-17 the past two seasons) still deserves a chance to get the Hoosiers turned around.

Arkansas: The Razorbacks are one of the “it” teams in the SEC for 2010. Maybe. A class ranked in the 50s might have impressed in Fayetteville but not elsewhere.
 
Ed Orgeron: Coach O’s reported poaching of Tennessee recruits on his way out the door to USC didn’t get the proper attention. “It’s been done before,” Tom Lemming said. “It’s not illegal, it’s unethical.” Maybe it should be illegal.

 
Best names:

MarKeith Ambles, USC.  Scoured from Twitter: Keith Ambles didn’t want to name his son after himself, so naturally he added a “Mar”

Emmanuel Beavers, San Diego State. How did he get away from Oregon State?

Furious Bradley, Southern Miss. Let’s hope he’s fast too.

Shaban Dika, Iowa State

Steele Divitto, Boston College

Pep Konokalafi, Hawaii

Munchie Legaux, Cincinnati. Please, God, make this be a nickname. Can’t imagine a parent who would name their child “Munchie.”

Shaquille Richardson, UCLA. And you thought there was only one.

 Another cautionary recruiting tale: It was announced this week that Miami linebacker Arthur Brown is leaving the program. The one-time five-star prospect made 17 tackles in two seasons. Speculation is that Brown and his brother Bryce, a tailback at Tennessee, could transfer to Kansas State.

 Good to know that top defensive end J.R. Ferguson has his head screwed on straight. His nickname is “Ego” (dad is actually Ego Sr.). Friends and family wear clothing labeled “Team Ego.” Let’s hope that LSU, his college choice, feeds his ego.
Posted on: November 8, 2009 4:07 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2009 12:14 pm
 

Thoughts on a football Saturday

After watching that replay again from Alabama, how can a reasonable person rule that wasn’t an interception? I’m expecting something out of the SEC office in the next couple of days.

Why I like Alabama on game day … “Sweet Home Alabama” comes on and immediately everyone on University Ave. starts jukin’ and yellin’. Ever see 10,000 folks do the Bama version of the River Dance?

Why I like Alabama on game day II … The houndstooth 1) skirts and 2) beer coozies.

Why I like Alabama on game day III … Yes, they were taking pictures of me as I was in makeup prior to my appearance on CBS College Sports’ SEC Tailgate. You people must find some meaning in your lives.

Get ready for a noisy Boise: The way things are sorting out, an undefeated Boise State is going to be beaten out for a BCS bowl by a two-loss team from one of the power conferences, p.r. firm or not.

The BCS bowl matchups began to get into sharper focus when Iowa lost and Alabama won. Here’s out it works:

The automatic qualifiers are down these teams …

Big Ten: Iowa/Ohio State. The teams plays this week in Columbus so that will sort itself out. Both teams have lost once. Saturday's winner most likely goes to the Rose Bowl.

Big 12: Texas will play either Kansas State or Nebraska from the North Division. K-State controls its own destiny after beating Kansas. Texas might be cruising but could get some blowback at Texas A&M on Thanksgiving or from Nebraska or K-State in the Big 12 title game.

SEC: Alabama vs. Florida in the SEC title game. If they teams stay undefeated before Dec. 5, the winner plays for the national championship. The loser most likely goes to the Sugar Bowl.

ACC: Still a mess but Georgia Tech is the conference’s only one loss team and leads the Coastal Division. Clemson controls its fate in the Atlantic Division. The ACC winner most likely goes to the Orange Bowl.

Big East: Cincinnati is undefeated but still has tough games left against West Virginia and Pittsburgh. With no conference championship game to hinder it, the Bearcats could be headed to the Sugar Bowl to face the Alabama-Florida loser.

Pac-10: It looks as if Oregon, Arizona or Stanford will go to the Rose. The Wildcats and Ducks meet Nov. 21 in Tucson. Despite the letdown loss at Stanford, Oregon still seems to have the advantage. Arizona still has its toughest games to play (Cal, USC, Arizona State). Stanford has to get past USC and Cal before meeting Notre Dame in the regular-season finale,

That leaves four at-large berths. Notre Dame is out after losing to Navy. If TCU stays undefeated and ahead of Boise State in the BCS, it will go, most likely, to the Fiesta Bowl. As mentioned, the Florida-Alabama loser should gobble up a Sugar Bowl spot.  If USC wins out it could get the other Fiesta Berth at 10-2.

That leaves an undefeated Boise having to fight off a two-loss team from a major conference in order to get to the BCS. Things being what they are, which is the same for the past 50 years in this situation, the Orange Bowl most likely would pick a 10-2 Penn State to play the ACC champion.

Sorry Broncos.

Name this team: Its last conference championship came in 2003. Since then it has been a mixed bag. This program has changed coaches twice, beaten Texas twice and produced a quarterback drafted in the first round. This year alone it has given up 66 points to Texas Tech, lost to Louisiana-Lafayette and, amazingly,  is in first place in its division.

Ladies and gentlemen, let us introduce you to Kansas State, 6-4 overall and 4-2 in the Big 12 North after beating Kansas 17-10. In Bill Snyder’s second term as coach, the Wildcats need only beat Nebraska in its final two games to clinch a spot in the Big 12 title game.

Snyder is getting some run for Big 12 coach of the year. We’re fairly sure no COY has lost to Texas Tech by 54 and lost to a fourth-place Sun Belt team in the same season.


USC decline: Before Saturday’s 14-9 victory over Arizona State, USC had allowed 110 points in its last three games. That’s the most in a three-game stretch ever. The Trojans had allowed 113 points combined in the previous 14 games.


Breaking down the big boys: Now that a Florida-Alabama rematch is assured, here’s the three-minute eval of the SEC title game slightly less than a month away.

Advantage Alabama: A better running game (I think) and the revenge motive for last year’s classic loss in Atlanta.

Advantage Florida: Tebow, Tebow, Tebow. As long as he’s taking snaps, Florida has a chance.

Advantage Florida: Defense. By a hair. This is going to be another matchup of the ages. Charlie Strong vs. Nick Saban/Kirby Smart. At this point Florida’s unit seems a bit more active.

Advantage Alabama: Special teams. With Javier Arenas returning kicks and Terrence Cody blocking them, give the Crimson Tide the edge. Kicker Leigh Tiffin is more than reliable. If you’re looking for an edge, this is it. Games like this tend to turn on special teams.

Stuff: SMU needed three blocked kicks to beat Rice and move to within one win of bowl eligibility. The Ponies last went bowling pre-death penalty in 1984 … Alabama hasn’t been 9-0 in consecutive seasons since 1973-74 … In its last 39 home games, Cal is 0-7 against Oregon State and USC, 32-0 against everyone else … My God, did you see Cal’s Jahvid Best suffer that concussion while diving into the end zone? Coach Jeff Tedford actually said his guy was “OK.” No, coach, he’s not OK. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Best’s season is over … Who knew UCLA had lost seven conference games in a row before beating  Washington?

The right now, no B.S., up to the moment Heisman Watch

1. Case Keenum, Houston. Another last-second win, this time over Tulsa. In his last two games Keenum has thrown for 1,081 yards and eight touchdowns. Any questions? My goal in life is to get this kid a trip to New York. He’s earned it. In a perfect world, he’d win the Stiff Arm but because he plays at a Conference USA school it probably isn’t going to happen.

2. Mark Ingram, Alabama. It’s the KIIS system – Keep It Ingram, Stupid. After throwing 25 passes in the first half, Nick Saban changed tactics and had Ingram carry it 16 games in the second half against LSU. The result was 144 yards.

3. Colt McCoy, Texas. It was only Central Florida but McCoy continued a recent uptick with 469 passing yards. McCoy was removed from the game with nine minutes left four yards shy of the school passing record (Major Applewhite, 473 yards in the 2001 Holiday Bowl).

Funny thing, Applewhite might have the school record but because the NCAA didn’t recognize bowl stats back then it officially doesn’t exist. What makes things more annoying is that a few years ago the NCAA started counting bowl stats. I still contend that an intern at each school in the country could go back and add in all the bowl numbers.

The NCAA explains that current record holders would have their names expunged if records were updated. Tough! You count all the numbers, not just some of them.

4. Toby Gerhart, Stanford. Coach Jim Harbaugh is preaching physicality. Gerhart pounded Oregon for a school-record 223 yards and three touchdowns in a 51-42 win.

5. C.J. Spiller, Clemson. If the Tigers are going to win their first ACC title in 18 years, Spiller is going to be the reason. He went for a school-record 312 all-purpose yards against Florida State.

Posted on: September 30, 2009 11:14 am
Edited on: September 30, 2009 8:10 pm
 

National notes 1/4 of the way through the season

The best of September

Who would have thought by the end of the month …: USC would lose to Washington a week after a heart-stopping, game-winning drive at Ohio State? [Ok, maybe by now there are a few of you.] … Unranked the preseason, the Big East would have two marquee teams – Cincinnati and South Florida … Houston would have the best Big 12 record [2-0 after beating Oklahoma State and Texas Tech] … Two Heisman winners would be knocked out of games … NC State’s Russell Wilson would have a career touchdown-to-interception ratio of 29-1 … Auburn’s Chris Todd would lead the SEC in touchdown passes [11] … Not that the SEC would have three teams in the top 10 in total defense but the Pac-10 would have two … The only three teams yet to allow a touchdown pass would be winless Eastern Michigan, undefeated South Florida and USC [3-1].

Coach of the month: Oregon’s Chip Kelly. On the night of September 3, his world was falling apart. LeGarrette Blount threw a punch and almost started a riot after Oregon looked punchless losing its season opener to Boise State.

Almost four weeks later, the Ducks might be the team to beat in the Pac-10. They have won three in a row, two over ranked teams and have a new lean-on tailback in redshirt freshman LaMichael James.

Team of the month: Miami. Playing September schedule in the country, the Hurricanes beat two ranked teams [Florida State, Georgia Tech] and showed signs of being its old self. Losing to Oklahoma this week wouldn’t be a disgrace. Coming out its death march 2-2 could be a jumping off point for an ACC title.

Also considered: Texas A&M, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, South Florida, Stanford, UCLA, Idaho.

Player of the month: [tie] You’re gagging on this by now but Florida would not not undefeated with Tim Tebow. His 24 rushes for 76 yards against Tennessee on Sept. 19 were the difference.

LSU safety Chad Jones is this season’s Charles Woodson. Against Mississippi State on Saturday, he single-handedly stopped Tyson Lee on back-to-back plays inches from the goal line. He also provided the eventual game-winning 93-yard punt return for a touchdown.

Worst conference: Based on previous accomplishments, it’s the MAC. The nation’s largest conference [13 teams] has only one team with a winning record coming out of September. [Central Michigan, 3-1]. The league is 13-29 in the non-conference, 7-27 against I-A competition and 3-19 against BCS conferences.

Best conference: SEC by a hair. The Big 12 has six ranked teams vs. the SEC’s four. But the SEC is 23-2 in the non-conference, a national best 6-2 against BCS conferences.

If you think the SEC has padded its schedule with I-AA teams, actually only the Sun Belt and Pac-10 have played fewer games against “inferior” competition. The SEC is 5-0 against I-AAs. The Big 12 is 9-0. Almost a third of its non-cons have come against I-AAs.

Best trend: Smaller offensive linemen. Boise has been doing it for a while but the Broncos are soaring toward a BCS berth with a line that averages 285 pounds. Remember those hog mollies at Michigan? They weigh in at a svelte average of 295 under Rich Rod who likes ‘em lighter and lively.

Worst trend: This month it had to be the coaches’ poll. It went into the season not exactly on the same page with the BCS commissioners. As long as the coaches are going to go completely  underground [hiding all their ballots] beginning in 2010, the possibility exists that the poll will be jettisoned from the BCS process next year.

As for now …

Steve Spurrier gave us a glimpse of his voting habits in July when he admitted that his football ops guy had filled out his preason all-SEC ballot. That caused a huge stir when Spurrier/ops guy didn’t make Tebow a unanimous choice. Spurrier/ops guy picked Ole Miss’ Jevan Snead but was allowed to change to Tebow after it became an issue.

Following convincing wins by No. 3 Alabama and No. 2 Texas on Sept. 19, Florida got all the first-place votes [55] for the first time this season after struggling to beat unranked Tennessee.

Then, there was this week. What a mess. 

No. 12 Oklahoma State is ranked three spots ahead of Houston, which beat the Cowboys by 10.

Cal, which just lost to Oregon by 39, is ranked seven spots ahead of the Ducks.

Penn State had beaten doggies Syracuse, Akron and Temple. After losing at home to Iowa it is No. 13, four spots ahead of the unbeaten Hawkeyes.

Keep it coming, fellas, can’t wait to see how this effects the BCS standings.

Team schizo: Florida State. Do you have to have it explained?

Say goodbye to:  BYU [in the BCS], Al Groh, Ralph Friedgen, Steve Kragthorpe.

 
 
 
 
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