Tag:Pittsburgh
Posted on: August 29, 2011 8:37 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 9:05 pm
 

As long Big 12 has OU & UT, it has options

Let's look at this current conference alignment thing a different way. No commissioner wants to be seen as the one to cause Alignment Armageddon. But if it has to be the Big 12, who could blame Dan Beebe? His embattled league has suffered enough. Suddenly it has options, good ones, with or without Texas A&M.

We all pretty much agree that we're headed sooner or later toward the age of the super conference with four 16-team (or whatever number) conferences. The question is how or when. Right now, we stand on the precipice with Texas A&M wanting to go to the SEC, but the SEC still thinking about whether to take the Aggies.

That's because the SEC doesn't have to expand. It's fine how it is with 18 years to run on a $3 billion contract with CBS and ESPN. If A&M goes then sooner or later, the SEC is going to have to get a 14th member. Commissioner Mike Slive seemingly loves A&M but he -- and his presidents -- don't necessarily want to be that guy, responsible for breaking up another league.

The question is whether Beebe has such reservations. And as long as he has Oklahoma and Texas, he has leverage.

As mentioned, it's looking suddenly like the Big 12 is dealing from a position of strength. It could lose Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC and still be able to lure two teams (or more) to stay viable. Why? As long as the Texas/Oklahoma axis remains solid, so is the league. Fox invested $1.17 billion over 13 years just for the secondary rights. The Big 12 is going to hit another big financial home run in a couple of years when it goes out to bid. (The assumption is that ESPN will re-up for the primary rights.)

To this point, Oklahoma has shown a willingness to stay with Texas. While the schools are rivals on the field, ADs Joe Castiglione and DeLoss Dodds are close. They know that the fortunes of the two superpowers are mutually beneficial.

If Texas and Oklahoma stay bonded, the Big 12 is in somewhat of a position of power. It could raid the Big East and go to 12 or 16. Why not go get Pittsburgh and Louisville? Sure, Big East basketball great but think of a hoops league with Kansas, Kansas State, Texas, Pittsburgh and Louisville.

BIG POINT NO. 1: Even though the Big East is due for a windfall rights fee of its own in a few years I'm told that the pending primary rights deal for the Big 12 would be bigger than the Big East's entire deal. 

Would that possibility pry Notre Dame loose? Not likely. ND AD Jack Swarbrick reiterated for the millionth time on Monday that his school is happy with independence. ND probably would need eight home games to make the deal work in the Big 12 because of its deal with NBC, at least one of those being a neutral site game. The school makes a reported $15 million a year from that deal. The Big 12 wouldn't say no then ND also reaping $20 million from the Big 12 deal. Heck, it's Notre Dame.

Texas AD DeLoss Dodds said publicly last year that the Big 12 would be an attractive place for Notre Dame's minor sports. The schools do start a four-game football series in 2015.

While we're at it, let's also forget the talk of Arkansas, SMU and Houston to the Big 12. Arkansas would be taking a pay cut. The Big 12 is already in the Dallas, Houston and state of Texas markets. SMU is making its case in part because it has been to back-to-back bowls. Is that all it takes these days?

In this age don't think of conference affiliations, think of which schools assembled together make for the most lucrative media rights deals. Remember, geography matters little. When TCU enters the Big East in 2012 that will be its fifth conference since 1995.

That's why the pool of candidates for the SEC's No. 14 has to include Missouri, North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia Tech. That's not the list, it's a best-guess list if you believe that the SEC isn't going to expand inside its footprint. That means no Georgia Tech, no Louisville, no Clemson, no Florida State.

Whether the Big 12 loses Missouri or not, BYU has emerged as an attractive replacement for Texas A&M. That's not news. BYU has a loyal and large following. The question is whether BYU would give up its long-range plan for independence after only one year. One source last week went as far as to say BYU would be "excited" about the prospect of joining the Big 12.

AD Tom Holmoe told Brett McMurphy this month that his school was happy at the moment

While the Cougars have ESPN as a scheduling partner, it has to become apparent to the school sooner or later that it is all but out of BCS contention in most seasons. By going independent, it has the essentially the same BCS status as Army and Navy. That is to say, the only automatic berth would be if BYU finishes No. 1 or No. 2.

The six BCS conference champions are guaranteed a bid. A champion from one of the five non-BCS leagues get a bid if it finishes in the top 12 or top 16 if it is ranked higher in the final BCS standings than a BCS conference champion. Notre Dame (because it's Notre Dame) gets an automatic bid if it finishes in the top eight of the BCS.

Army, Navy and BYU? Guaranteed only in the top two. BIG POINT NO. 2: Essentially that means BYU could finish 10-2 (or even 11-1) and have nothing guaranteed in the BCS.

Earlier this year, I wrote that BYU's independence was more about faith that most people thought. I'm starting to think all it would take is one year of being left out of the BCS (and a call from the Big 12) for the school's fans and officials to change their minds about independence.

Meanwhile, the "composition language" in the SEC contract is probably similar to that of the Big 12's. That means ESPN would most likely try to renegotiate downward its current deal with the Big 12. Say that is 10 percent of the contract given that A&M represents 10 percent of the Big 12. At that point it becomes like rearranging deck chairs. ESPN could tell the SEC, the money it is taking away from the Big 12 goes to the SEC. In essence, A&M's money would follow it to the SEC.

It isn't that easy. The SEC would most likely negotiate for more saying it is gaining huge viewership in the state of Texas. BIG POINT NO. 3: What's forgotten is the SEC isn't starting from a zero position. In case you haven't noticed, ESPN is already in Texas. SMU AD Steve Orsini told me last week that the ratings for Big 12 and SEC games in Dallas are "even." Whether that's true or not, there is already a big following for the SEC in the Lone Star State because there is a big following for the SEC everywhere. That's why the league already gets the big bucks.

A further hang-up on this A&M thing: It's better for everyone if the SEC expands by two all at once. That's one negotiation, rather than two. But if Texas A&M is one, what's the other?

It might not matter to the Big 12.
Posted on: April 11, 2011 4:32 pm
Edited on: April 11, 2011 5:40 pm
 

My first-round Stanley Cup playoff predictions

First, hearty congratulations are in order to the Chicago Blackhawks who, on Sunday, choked less than the Dallas Stars.

You know by now that, faced with a win-and-they're-in scenario, the Stars coughed up a hair ball, losing to Minny 5-3 on Sunday. That was after Chicago had all but handed them a playoff berth by losing at home to Detroit. Dallas not only lost but flamed out spectacularly. The Stars were up 2-1 after one period, tied 3-3 after two. The playoffs were 20 minutes away -- and the tame Wild won an utterly meaningless game, for them. 

Minnesota was so giddy it immediately fired its coach. Good luck in the offseason, Stars. You need a) at least one top four defenseman; b) an owner and; c) some heart.

Only one of those is available through free agency. Now, on to the greatest tournament in sports. Over the next three months, brave-hearted warriors will play for the ultimate prize. (Hopefully, one of them is Sidney Crosby.) They will do it without getting paid a cent. That's right. Since assumptions can't be made about the playoffs before the playoffs, the checks come during the regular season. 

While we're in the congratulatory mode, Canada gets a pat on the back -- or maybe an elbow to the cheekbone. America's Hat has fewer teams in the playoffs (two) than the state of California (three). Meanwhile, the last subject anyone is talking about in these playoffs is those Hawks defending their Stanley Cup title. There is Ringless Roberto, the Strangers, the Caps who spent the season putting a cap on their offense, all set against the backdrop of the league waiting for the next debilitating concussion. Speaking of EMTs, that reminds me of another subject no one is talking about: Montreal-Boston in the first round!


Let the gamesmanship begin. These are my first-round predictions only. I've ranked the entertainment value of each series with an (EV).

East

No. 1 seed Washington vs. No. 8 New York Rangers (No. 2 in EV)

So far, it has worked -- Caps' coach Bruce Boudreau's philosophical overhaul. Washington could always score goals. As the last couple of seasons have shown, it didn't have the defensive grit in the playoffs. Boudreau's job and Alex Ovechkin's legacy could be on the line. Rangers in six.


No. 2 Philadelphia vs. No. 7 Buffalo (5 EV)

The best thing about the Sabres are the goals calls of play-by-play guy Rick Jeanneret ("Top shelf, where mama hides the cookies!"). When Buffalo scores it sounds like a cross between an Irish wolfhound being neutered and poachers killing an infant elephant in front of its mother. Flyers in five.


No. 3 Boston vs. No. 6 Montreal (1 EV)

Expect lots of scrums, neck braces and inquiries by local authorities. And that's just getting Zdeno Chara from the team bus to the lockerroom. Seriously, this series could be better than the final. With apologies to Bon Jovi, Canadiens-Bruins give blood a bad name. Bruins in six.


No. 4 Pittsburgh vs. No. 5 Tampa Bay (3 EV)

In this year of the Bays -- the Green version won the Super Bowl. Tranformers director Michael is working on another sequel -- Tampa needs to show it is about more than Martin St. Louis and Steve Stamkos. The gutty, little Penguins should rule this series minus Crosby (maybe), Evgeny Malkin (definitely) and Matt Cookie (temporarily, suspended for the first round). Biggest difference in most series: Special teams. Pittsburgh in No. 1 in penalty kill. Flightless birds in five.


West

No. 1 Vancouver vs. No. 8 Chicago (4 EV)

These are not the Hawks who are defending champions. They are not the Hawks who have bothered the Canucks in the postseason the past few years. These also aren't the Canucks who are expected to win the Stanley Cup, until they do it. Vancouver has all the elements for a Cup run. It just has to prove it. Vancouver in six.


No. 2 San Jose vs. No. 7 Los Angeles (7 EV)

Wait, what? Stanley Cup? For the Los Tiburones? Dude, whatever you’re smoking, it's good. In NorCal they know spring as the time when the Sharks annually beach themselves in the playoffs. There is no reason to think this team is any different. L.A. is missing leading scorer Anze Kopitar. The Penguins have proven they can thrive without Crosby. The Kings aren't as deep. San Jose in six.


No. 3 Detroit vs. No. 6 Phoenix (6 EV)

The sooner the Coyotes lose, the better for Winnipeg which is jonesing for its old team so bad there is a methadone clinic set up in city hall. The Red Wings have slogged through the final few games. They hope to get Henrik Zetterberg back from a knee injury. Not that they need him to beat the 'Yotes. Hold on, Winnipeg. Your boys are coming, soon. Red Wings in five.


No. 4 Anaheim vs. No. 5 Nashville (8 EV)

The league's No. 1 goal scorer (Corey Perry) vs. what might be the league's best goalie (Nashville's Pekka Rinne). This series is the equivalent of your average suburban housing track. They all look the same. In this case, it's hard to find a difference in these two teams. Go with the Ducks in six because Nashville has never won a playoff series. That and Barry Trotz scares the hell out of me
Posted on: April 11, 2011 4:32 pm
Edited on: April 11, 2011 5:40 pm
 

My first-round Stanley Cup playoff predictions

First, hearty congratulations are in order to the Chicago Blackhawks who, on Sunday, choked less than the Dallas Stars.

You know by now that, faced with a win-and-they're-in scenario, the Stars coughed up a hair ball, losing to Minny 5-3 on Sunday. That was after Chicago had all but handed them a playoff berth by losing at home to Detroit. Dallas not only lost but flamed out spectacularly. The Stars were up 2-1 after one period, tied 3-3 after two. The playoffs were 20 minutes away -- and the tame Wild won an utterly meaningless game, for them. 

Minnesota was so giddy it immediately fired its coach. Good luck in the offseason, Stars. You need a) at least one top four defenseman; b) an owner and; c) some heart.

Only one of those is available through free agency. Now, on to the greatest tournament in sports. Over the next three months, brave-hearted warriors will play for the ultimate prize. (Hopefully, one of them is Sidney Crosby.) They will do it without getting paid a cent. That's right. Since assumptions can't be made about the playoffs before the playoffs, the checks come during the regular season. 

While we're in the congratulatory mode, Canada gets a pat on the back -- or maybe an elbow to the cheekbone. America's Hat has fewer teams in the playoffs (two) than the state of California (three). Meanwhile, the last subject anyone is talking about in these playoffs is those Hawks defending their Stanley Cup title. There is Ringless Roberto, the Strangers, the Caps who spent the season putting a cap on their offense, all set against the backdrop of the league waiting for the next debilitating concussion. Speaking of EMTs, that reminds me of another subject no one is talking about: Montreal-Boston in the first round!


Let the gamesmanship begin. These are my first-round predictions only. I've ranked the entertainment value of each series with an (EV).

East

No. 1 seed Washington vs. No. 8 New York Rangers (No. 2 in EV)

So far, it has worked -- Caps' coach Bruce Boudreau's philosophical overhaul. Washington could always score goals. As the last couple of seasons have shown, it didn't have the defensive grit in the playoffs. Boudreau's job and Alex Ovechkin's legacy could be on the line. Rangers in six.


No. 2 Philadelphia vs. No. 7 Buffalo (5 EV)

The best thing about the Sabres are the goals calls of play-by-play guy Rick Jeanneret ("Top shelf, where mama hides the cookies!"). When Buffalo scores it sounds like a cross between an Irish wolfhound being neutered and poachers killing an infant elephant in front of its mother. Flyers in five.


No. 3 Boston vs. No. 6 Montreal (1 EV)

Expect lots of scrums, neck braces and inquiries by local authorities. And that's just getting Zdeno Chara from the team bus to the lockerroom. Seriously, this series could be better than the final. With apologies to Bon Jovi, Canadiens-Bruins give blood a bad name. Bruins in six.


No. 4 Pittsburgh vs. No. 5 Tampa Bay (3 EV)

In this year of the Bays -- the Green version won the Super Bowl. Tranformers director Michael is working on another sequel -- Tampa needs to show it is about more than Martin St. Louis and Steve Stamkos. The gutty, little Penguins should rule this series minus Crosby (maybe), Evgeny Malkin (definitely) and Matt Cookie (temporarily, suspended for the first round). Biggest difference in most series: Special teams. Pittsburgh in No. 1 in penalty kill. Flightless birds in five.


West

No. 1 Vancouver vs. No. 8 Chicago (4 EV)

These are not the Hawks who are defending champions. They are not the Hawks who have bothered the Canucks in the postseason the past few years. These also aren't the Canucks who are expected to win the Stanley Cup, until they do it. Vancouver has all the elements for a Cup run. It just has to prove it. Vancouver in six.


No. 2 San Jose vs. No. 7 Los Angeles (7 EV)

Wait, what? Stanley Cup? For the Los Tiburones? Dude, whatever you’re smoking, it's good. In NorCal they know spring as the time when the Sharks annually beach themselves in the playoffs. There is no reason to think this team is any different. L.A. is missing leading scorer Anze Kopitar. The Penguins have proven they can thrive without Crosby. The Kings aren't as deep. San Jose in six.


No. 3 Detroit vs. No. 6 Phoenix (6 EV)

The sooner the Coyotes lose, the better for Winnipeg which is jonesing for its old team so bad there is a methadone clinic set up in city hall. The Red Wings have slogged through the final few games. They hope to get Henrik Zetterberg back from a knee injury. Not that they need him to beat the 'Yotes. Hold on, Winnipeg. Your boys are coming, soon. Red Wings in five.


No. 4 Anaheim vs. No. 5 Nashville (8 EV)

The league's No. 1 goal scorer (Corey Perry) vs. what might be the league's best goalie (Nashville's Pekka Rinne). This series is the equivalent of your average suburban housing track. They all look the same. In this case, it's hard to find a difference in these two teams. Go with the Ducks in six because Nashville has never won a playoff series. That and Barry Trotz scares the hell out of me
Posted on: February 25, 2011 1:07 pm
 

Call it Super Saturday (Dec. 3)!

For the moment I'm going to name it Super Saturday. Even that seems a bit modest.

Traditionally, the last weekend of the regular season was already a monster -- the Conference USA, Big 12, SEC and ACC championship games along with your random Civil War thrown in. It was, and is,  usually a one-day play-in for the BCS championship bowl and other major bowls. Last year alone we got Oregon's coronation at Oregon State, Auburn's major, final statement against South Carolina and Virginia Tech winning the ACC (again).

That final weekend could be about to get a lot bigger. First, consider we've got a new configuration with the Big 12 dropping its championship game and the Big Ten and Pac-12 adding title games. Suddenly, the Big 12 is without a presence on that last day (Dec. 3 this year). Turns out there are serious talks underway about moving Oklahoma-Oklahoma State and/or Texas-Texas A&M to that day.  

That could make Saturday truly Super considering the blockbuster implications for this season. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State most likely are both going to start the season in the top 10. The game could end up being the Big 12's first "championship game" in the new 10-team alignment. Texas and A&M could also be moved off its traditional Thanksgiving week home.   

"The leader in the clubhouse would be either UT-AM or OU-OSU,” a source told the Tulsa World. “ABC wants a blockbuster weekend on championship Saturday, but doesn’t want to blow up Thanksgiving, so it’s a tricky situation."


The odds of all four of those Big 12 teams being out of the title race on the final day are minimal. Even if they are, those games are sure to deliver the key Texas demographic (Dallas, Houston, San Antonio etc.) That cannot be underestimated. The source added that a Texas-A&M, OU-OSU doubleheader is a possibility.

"That (doubleheader) is on the table and being discussed," the source said. "It is by no means a 'done deal,' but it is certainly possible."

Don't forget that the Pac-12 will play its first championship game that day at the stadium of the school with the best record. The Big Ten is already slotted to play its title game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. In other Super Saturday news, the Big East -- which just released its schedule -- will have two games that day -- Connecticut at Cincinnati and Syracuse at Pittsburgh. 


The next question: How to schedule all those games so they don't all bump into each other. 
Posted on: December 7, 2010 4:07 pm
 

Wannstedt out at Pittsburgh

Dave Wannstedt has been fired at Pittsburgh according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

A year after winning 10 games, Pittsburgh stumbled to a 7-5 finish after starting the season ranked No. 15. Wanny's legacy will be one of never quite getting over the top. He had some great individual players but that talent never turned into consistent success.

The Panthers won their seventh game Saturday with one of those talents, tailback Dion Lewis, going for 261 yards against Cincinnati. Pittsburgh will play Kentucky Jan. 8 in the BBVA Compass Bowl.

Pittsburgh remains a plum job for the right coach. Is it too wacky to think Rich Rodriguez might pursue the opening if he is canned at Michigan? He'd only have to go to West Virginia once every two years.
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: November 29, 2010 7:56 pm
 

Dixon: Hawaii to Big East was first thought

Jamie Dixon first thought wasn't TCU to the Big East. It was Hawaii.

The Pittsburgh basketball coach started the discussions between TCU and the conference that led the school to joining the Big East. The announcement was made Monday. You can read more about it here

But Dixon also said his first inclination was to add Hawaii as a football-only member to the Big East. He originally had the thought while in Hawaii in August. Dixon is a former assistant for the Warriors.

"They were having realignment issues out there," Dixon told me. "When you think about that, you're going there once every two years [to play in football]. There was a real clamoring by our league not only for one more team for scheduling purposes, but at the same time a quality team too. Hawaii offered the possibility of football only."

Ironically, Hawaii is studying whether to leave the WAC for a football-only membership in the Mountain West.

Dixon also said all 17 basketball teams could play in the Big East basketball tournament. Since 2009, all 16 teams have competed in conference tournament at Madison Square Garden.

"From what I understand, we can have five games the first day and have all 17 teams there," Dixon said. "It's doable to have the teams there. If you really think about it, it's just one more game on that first day."

Other Dixon insights:

--''I know initially you think, 'Texas?' I said, 'Hear me out and keep an open mind, it does make sense.' For us, we're adding the best football team. Who really improved themselves football-wise? Really only the Big East did with all the conference changes."

--"When I threw it out there he [Conte] kind of laughed at first. When we kept talking, he kind of warmed up to the idea ... Your first inclination is to think, 'TCU, Big East?' Then you think about and say, 'Its' pretty good. It's easier to get to than a lot of places.' "

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: November 23, 2010 6:14 pm
 

BCS releases list of at-large candidates

The BCS exclusionary?

Not today with 22.5 percent of Division I-A still eligible for BCS bowls. That's the conclusion after reading a BCS press release Tuesday afternoon. The BCS released its list of teams still under consideration for the five elite bowls. In addition to the 19 teams contending for automatic berths by winning their conference there are still eight teams being considered for at-large berths.

Those are:

No. 11 (in the BCS) Alabama, 9-2. Eliminated from the SEC, the Tide could get in the conversation by beating Auburn.

No. 21 Arizona, 7-3. A longshot even if the Wildcats beat Oregon this week.

No. 12 Arkansas, 9-2. The LSU game is a playoff to stay alive in the BCS.

No. 4 Boise, 10-0. Let's be honest, if the Broncos don't win out they're not going to a BCS bowl.

No. 5 LSU, 10-1. The highest-ranked one-loss team would seem to be in if it beats Arkansas.

No. 19 Nevada, 10-1. Another longshot even with a win over Boise on Friday.

No. 20 Utah, 9-2. Consecutive losses to TCU and Notre Dame doomed the Utes.

No. 3 TCU, 11-0. The Frogs are nervous. If they are passed by Boise for the No. 3 spot, their BCS bowl chances are in jeopardy.

To be eligible for an at-large berth, a team must finish in the top 14 of the BCS standings. For a non-A.Q. (automatic qualifier) conference champion to get into a BCS bowl it must finish in the top 12. (Top 16 if it is ranked higher than a champion from a power conference.) Only the highest-ranked non-A.Q. meeting those parameters is guaranteed a spot in the BCS. 

What's amazing is that there are 19 teams still alive for automatic berths:

ACC: Florida State, North Carolina State, Virginia Tech
Big East: UConn, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, West Virginia
Big Ten: Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin
Big 12: Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M
Pac-10: Oregon, Stanford
SEC: Auburn, South Carolina

Posted on: November 11, 2010 10:40 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2010 2:48 pm
 

Son of Weekend Watch List

Much credit to Bill Livingston of the Cleveland Plain Dealer for the work on these Joe Paterno statistics: As JoePa pursues win No. 401 Saturday at Ohio State , it's worth noting how he won a significant portion of his first 400. For the first 27 years of his head coaching career, Penn State played as an independent. The Nittany Lions regularly faced these six Eastern independents -- West Virginia, Syracuse, Rutgers, Temple, Pittsburgh and Boston College .

The Suspect Six weren't exactly national powers, at least they weren't against Paterno. Penn State was 112-14-1 against those schools before joining the Big Ten. Throw in the service academies -- Army, Navy and Air Force were especially devastated during the Vietnam War -- and Joe was 130-16-1. Those 130 victories before joining the Big Ten account for more than half of his wins as an independent and 32.5 percent of his total victories ...

Who keeps track of this stuff? Michigan can win its 300th all-time game in November against Purdue ... Two backup quarterbacks go at it in Atlanta. Miami freshman Stephen Morris led a last-minute win over Maryland last week. Georgia Tech goes with sophomore Tevin Washington who replaces Josh Nesbitt , out with a broken arm ... With a win over Kent State , Army (5-4) assures that all three service academies are bowl eligible ... Syracuse (6-3 heading to Rutgers) is one of just nine I-A teams with four road wins ...

This is where playing I-AAs becomes a liability. Arizona State (4-5) must win its final three games to become bowl eligible. The Sun Devils played two I-AAs and now must sweep Stanford, UCLA and Arizona ... SEC teams are averaging 31 points per game, the most since expansion in 1992 ... Vanderbilt has attempted four field goals and 72 punts ... The Big East has no bowl eligible teams. At this point last year it had three.


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