Posted on: September 6, 2011 11:46 am
Edited on: September 6, 2011 11:49 am
Since I didn't get around to predicting the BCS bowls before the season actually started, let's just call this a BCS bowl preview (after one week).
BCS championship in New Orleans: Alabama* vs. Oklahoma*
Did nothing in Week 1 to change my opinion of the two best teams in the country.
Rose Bowl: Oregon* vs. Wisconsin*
Oregon suddenly not a prohibitive favorite in the Pac-12.
Fiesta: Texas A&M vs. Stanford
Fiesta gets supposed Heisman winner (Andrew Luck) against Big 12 runner-up.
Sugar: LSU vs. Florida State
Tigers make it back to Sugar, but not the big one.
Orange: West Virginia* vs. Virginia Tech*
Tech makes a return trip to South. Mountaineers giddy over return to BCS bowl.
--One reason why we saw all those games delayed or postponed by weather:
Lawyers, or the threat of them if even one person was injured, never mind or killed. Our society is so litigious that even one person slipping on a staircase could cost a school millions. That's why you saw 80,000 people evacuated from stadiums in a short period of time. It's obvious by the speed at which these teams were cleared that schools have prepared for this occurrence.
I can remember seasons when we didn't see this many weather-related delays. Now schools are erring on the side of safety. Who can blame Notre Dame for clearing the stadium twice after it lost a student videographer last season?
--Give Miami's Al Golden credit for not whining about his predicament at Miami.
"Eight of the 110 kids on our team had a significant issue for something they did three years ago?" Golden said. "We're moving on right now. I've been to the deepest depths in the NCAA."
Those depths would have been inheriting a roster with 54 scholarship players at Temple as well as NCAA and APR problems. The difference, as Golden has pointed out, Temple was shooting for a winning record. Miami wants to win championships.
--Yes, it's early and it probably means nothing but here's where you'll find last year's returning Heisman finalists in the current NCAA stats after one week.
Andrew Luck, Stanford: The Heisman runner-up threw for a modest 171 yards against San Jose State in a 57-3 blowout. He is 39th overall in pass efficiency.
LaMichael James, Oregon: Not listed in the top 100 after rushing for 54 yards in 18 carries against LSU. In his last two games, both against SEC superpowers, James has rushed for 103 yards on 31 carries.
Kellen Moore, Boise State: 21st in passing efficiency after completing 28 of 34 against Georgia. How does that get him to 21st after one of the biggest wins in Boise State history? Think of it this way: Moore is first on that list among quarterbacks who played a BCS-conference opponent in the first week.
--Weird stat of the week: Of Oregon's 83 scoring drives last season, it was forced to go more than 11 plays only five times. Oregon had to go 79 yards in 19 plays to score its first touchdown of the season against LSU. What looked at the time like a turning of the tide against the Tigers, turns out to be another reason to like LSU's defense.
--Baylor isn't likely to lose in the month of September. After this week's bye, the Bears have Stephen F. Austin and Rice at home. The conference opener is Oct. 1 at Kansas State and that's looking easier by the moment.
Look for more deserved Baylor hype. The Bears could be 5-0 heading into Texas A&M on Oct. 15.
--Way too early Heisman ballot:
1. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor: Best quarterback in the Big 12 after beating TCU. Felt like Friday Night Lights in Waco.
2. Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU: It's good to have a playmaker. It's great to have a playmaker on defense. It's almost impossible to have a game changer in the secondary.
3. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State: Now, only the NFL has to take notice.
Posted on: August 29, 2011 8:37 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 9:05 pm
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: February 25, 2011 1:07 pm
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: February 8, 2011 12:43 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2011 4:11 pm
Gil Brandt loves to analyze the draft. At times, Gil Brandt is the draft. The former vice president of player personnel for the Cowboys (1960-89) was responsible for evaluating and drafting several hall of famers in his career.
For the last eight years he has been a draft expert and personnel guru for NFL.com. For the purposes of Tuesday's ACC story, he shared with us some exclusive statistics regarding the conference's strength in NFL war rooms. Since 2000, the ACC is second only to the SEC in total number of players drafted. Highlighting that is a stat Brandt calls a "value index". He assigns a number for each player drafted. For example ...
Schools get 10 points for each player drafted in the top 10; 11 through 30, eight points; 31-60, six points; 61-100, four points; 101-150, two points; 150-plus, one point. Here is the ACC's individual players drafted and value index from 2001-2010 ...
Miami, 62 players drafted/215 VI; Florida State, 51/149; Virginia Tech, 47/106; Virginia, 29/73; Maryland, 26/73; North Carolina State, 27/72; Clemson, 29/70; North Carolina 27/63; BC, 19/58; Georgia Tech, 22/55; Wake Forest, 16/36; Duke, 1/1.
Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Florida State and Maryland won ACC titles in those 10 years.
This is where it gets even more interesting for the ACC in the butt-kicking draft department ...
--From 2001-2010, seven current ACC teams are in the top 26 in Brandt's value index: 1. Miami; 6. Florida State; 12. Virginia Tech; T22. Virginia; Maryland; 24. NC State; 25. Clemson.
The top three probably aren't a surprise but certainly Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina State and Clemson being in the mix raises some eyebrows. During that time Virginia produced the likes of Heath Miller (30th overall, 2005), D'Brickashaw Ferguson (fourth overall, 2006), Chris Long (second overall, 2008) and Eugene Moore (eighth overall, 2009). Maryland notables included E.J. Henderson (second round, 2003), Shawne Merriman (12th overall, 2005), Vernon Davis (sixth overall, 2006) and Darius Heyward-Bey (seventh overall, 2009). NC State draft highlights include Philip Rivers (fourth overall, 2004) and Mario Williams (first overall, 2006). In 2006, the Pack had three total first-round picks. Clemson had Gaines Adams (fourth overall, 2007) and C.J. Spiller (ninth overall, 2010).
--From 2000-2009, 31 schools have produced 50.8 percent of all selections, essentially a quarter of Division I-A. ACC schools finished second (Miami), fourth (Florida State), ninth (Virginia Tech) and 26th (Virginia) in total picks.
--In that same span, 14 schools produced 56 percent of the top 10 picks. Miami, Florida State, Virginia and NC State are among that group.
--Nineteen schools produced 61 percent of the top 30 draftees. The ACC finished first (Miami), fourth (Florida State) and 16th (Boston College).
--Twenty schools produced 53.3 percent of the top 60 draftees. The ACC finished first (Miami), fourth (Florida State), 14th (Virginia Tech) and 15th (BC).
--Twenty-two schools produced more than half (50.7 percent) of the top 100 picks. The ACC finished first (Miami), fourth (Florida State), 15th (Virginia Tech) and 17th (Maryland).
What does all this mean? The three newest ACC members (Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech) haven't added much in terms in pro talent compared to their previous accomplishments. A large portion of Miami's numbers above came before it joined the ACC in 2004. From 2005 through 2010, Miami has averaged 4.5 draftees per year and has only six first-rounders (none since 2008). From 1999-2004, Miami averaged 7.18 draftees and had a staggering 21 first-rounders. Boston College post-expansion: 1.83 draftees per year; pre-expansion, 2.33. Virginia Tech, has seen its NFL production increase only slightly since joining the league -- 29 drafted from 2005-2010, 25 drafted from 1999-2004.
--Another strange stat courtesy of the ACC. Through 2010, the conference leads the NFL in linebackers (including those on injured reserve, practice squads and physically unable to perform lists.)
1. ACC, 53; 2. Big Ten, 49; 3. SEC, 46; 4. Big 12, 35; 5. Pac-10, 31; 6. Mountain West, 20; 7. Big East, 17; 8. WAC, 8; 9. Sun Belt, 7; 10. MAC, 6; 11. Conference USA, 5.
Posted on: January 24, 2011 6:33 pm
Art Kehoe called me out. In the middle of the Miami lockerroom. In front of the entire team. On deadline. A student manager or SID type quietly came up to me in the lockerroom after Miami's 2005 win at Virginia Tech.
"Art wants to see you."
I knew what was coming. If you know Art Kehoe, you know he doesn't let any slight pass. It's part of the reason why he had built great offensive lines at Miami. They played like the man lived -- with a chip on their shoulder -- every snap.
I had written the week of the game that Virginia Tech had passed Miami as a program -- basically saying the Miami dynasty was over.
In front of God, man and the Hurricanes he lit into me. I was expecting nothing less. Kehoe is a passionate man, a great coach and a hell of a motivator. That's why I was so happy Monday when he was hired back at Miami. Al Golden will be the sixth Hurricanes coach Art has worked for. Golden couldn't have made a better hire. When you're trying to get a program back on track you should always have a link to the past.
Kehoe is that link. Boy, is he that link. There aren't many men walking the earth with five national championship rings -- from one school. Yes, Art Kehoe has been around for all five of the titles in the Miami dynasty.
The man started at The U (way before it was called The U, by the way) as a juco transfer playing for Howard Schnellenberger in the late 1970s. In 1981, two years before the dynasty started, he began as a student manager. Over 27 years he has coached seven All-Americans on the offensive line, 20 pros and 19 all-conference players as well as an Outland Trophy and Rimington Award winner.
If there was anybody who was going to jump into my jock, it was Kehoe. I had touched a nerve with the column. That night my respect for him jumped through the roof. Miami won 27-7. The Canes eviscerated the Hokies. At least for a night, it was like old-time Miami. When Kehoe got to me, he didn't use any profanity. He didn't get personal. He just yelled, asking something like, "Do we look like we're dead now?"
The answer, of course, was no. I deserved it. Every word of it. Sometimes in this business you eat crow. Sometimes you want to hug a guy when you are doing it. I love how Kehoe was speaking to his team that night -- through me. He was using a hack to show the Canes, they should not back down. Kehoe has passed on that personality to his offensive linemen over the years. Brett Romberg, that Rimington winner, was as bright and brutal of a person/lineman as you can imagine. The gigantic Bryant McKinnie, that Outland winner, finished eighth in the Heisman voting in 2001.
It's 10 years and counting since Miami last won a national championship and, yes, something has slipped in Coral Gables. But if Kehoe's hire is any indication, Golden knows what he is doing. A little bit of the old Miami returned on Monday. I wouldn't be surprised if someday soon, a sixth championship followed. That's how much I think of Art Kehoe.
Posted on: December 30, 2010 11:46 am
Edited on: December 30, 2010 4:15 pm
Jan. 8 -- I'll never forget a crushed Mack Brown in the Rose Bowl hallway leading to the Texas lockerroom after losing to Alabama. I ask him, "Would Colt [McCoy] have made a difference?" Mack: "It wouldn't have been close."
Feb. 1 -- What's so special about Cretin-Derham Hall High in St. Paul, Minn. No. 1 recruit Seantrel Henderson? A lot. But the kid's nationally televised commitment to USC turns out to be a mockery of the system.
March 17 -- Before Butler bounces a ball in the NCAA Tournament I was there to chronicle what was then a stepping-stone job.
Also in May -- Haley Dodd graduates from high school, commits to the University of Missouri.
June 1 -- Big 12 spring meetings begin in Kansas City with all hell breaking loose.
June 3 -- Big 12 schools are so spooked by impending conference realignment that an ultimatum is issued: Declare loyalty or else. Nebraska won't commit, having been in talks with Big Ten since January.
June 9 -- Colorado announces it is joining the Pac-10.
June 11 -- Nebraska trashes Texas on the way to announcing its departure for the Big Ten in 2011. The Longhorns take their worst beating in seven years.
A portion of the remaining Big 12 have nots (Missouri, Iowa State, etc.) agree that Texas should get an increased share of conference revenue just because it's Texas. There is no Big 12 with it. The Horns spend the rest of the year establishing its own network, reportedly with ESPN for $15 million per year.
June 16 -- Troy is burned to the ground.
July 21 -- Nick Saban goes there with the p-word.
August 15 -- Haley moves into her University of Missouri dorm 30 years after her dad moved out of Columbia. Yes, a few sentimental tears were shed.
August 27 -- It's the Year of the Comeback.
September 7 -- Boise State launches itself into a season-long national conversation with a 33-30 win over Virginia Tech.
October 9 -- It's officially a national race again as defending national champ Alabama loses to South Carolina.
October 12 -- Turns out, South Carolina's win was a bigger deal than we thought. The Gamecocks become only the 45th team ever (in wire service era) to a beat a No. 1 team.
November 4 -- Story breaks of Cam Newton's dad soliciting $180,000 from Mississippi State.
November 6 -- Matt Hayes of the Sporting News and I get trapped in the LSU postgame celebration after an amazing win over Alabama. We get a behind-the-scenes look at the LSU's coach's "Lesticles."
Non-BCS story of the year: While covering that Boise-Nevada game on a bitterly cold night in Reno, a window in the press box has to be cracked so the clock crew "can hear the whistle." We're not exactly in Columbus, folks. Haven't heard a line like that since the Class 4-A state title game in 1984.
November 27 -- Miami's Randy Shannon is fired after an uninspired loss to South Florida. Jon Gruden gets his name in the search, as he always does, but in the first major hire of his career, AD Kirby Hocutt eventually picks Temple's Al Golden.
December 1 -- The best guy to talk about Kyle Brotzman's disappointment happens to be Boise resident and fan Bill Buckner.
December 5 -- Told you it was the Year of the Comeback.
December 19 -- Jack and dad enjoy the Chiefs and Rams in St. Louis during Christmas break. It's nice watching a game without a deadline to meet or a petulant coach to question. It's even better doing it with my wingman.
It was a great year. May 2011 be even better.
Tags: Alabama, Ascension Catholic School, Auburn, Baylor, BCS, Big Ten, Big Ten, Boise State, Butler, Cardinals, Chiefs, Colorado, Cretin-Derham Hall High, CYO football, ESPN, Final Four, Frozen Four, Haley Dodd, Heisman, Iowa State, Jack Dodd, Janet Dodd, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Magic Johnson, Mexico, Miami, Mississippi State, Missouri, NCAA Tournament, Nebraska, Newport Beach, North Carolina, Northern Iowa, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Oregon State, Pac-10, Padres, Rams, South Carolina, Texas, Texas, USC, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, World Cup
Posted on: November 23, 2010 6:14 pm
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.
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
Tags: ACC, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Auburn, BCS, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Boise, Florida State, LSU, Michigan State, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Pac-10, Pac-10, Pittsburgh, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, Syracuse, TCU, Texas A&M, UConn, Utah, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Posted on: November 21, 2010 8:28 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2010 11:14 pm
TCU's chances of making a BCS bowl just improved with Sunday's release of the latest BCS standings.
The Horned Frogs are teetering on the brink of being excluded from a BCS bowl and coach Gary Patterson knows it. That's the reason he went through the ESPN "car wash" over the weekend, flying to Bristol, Conn. for appearances on various ESPN platforms. Patterson was low key and stated his case to the point that he even made it to Chicago Saturday to be on the set of GameDay.
What even Patterson probably doesn't know is, as of Sunday night, that a spot looks like it is opening up for his team in the Orange Bowl. TCU's case was helped by the Nebraska's loss to Texas A&M. The Huskers could have been a potential at-large team. That possibility probably no longer exists with Nebraska having dropped to 9-2.
TCU's plight is affected by a BCS rule that allows a berth to only one automatically qualifying non-BCS school. After that, it's up to the bowls' discretion. That was the scenario last season when Boise and TCU played in the Fiesta Bowl. This year it's likely they both get in again if you assume that the top eight in the BCS win out. Here's why:
1. An Oregon-Auburn championship game creates an opening in the Rose Bowl that this year, per BCS rules, allows for the highest-ranked qualifying non-A.Q. (automatic BCS qualifier) to go to Pasadena. Given the numbers posted Sunday that is most likely Boise State. The Broncos -- fourth in the BCS -- moved within .0135 of No. 3 TCU. With two games remaining, Boise State seems destined to move into that No. 3 position.
2. Assuming Boise is in the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin (winner in a three-team Big Ten tie), then it's easy to slot these teams:
Oklahoma/Oklahoma State/Nebraska or Missouri vs. the Big East champ in the Fiesta.
LSU (SEC at-large) vs. Ohio State (Big Ten at-large) in the Sugar.
3. This is where it gets interesting in the Orange Bowl. There simply isn't that large of an eligible pool to match against the ACC champion (Virginia Tech, Florida State or NC State). At that point only Oklahoma State (11-2 coming off a Big 12 title game loss), Missouri (10-2 if it beats Kansas), Stanford (11-1 if it wins out) and TCU (12-0 if it beats New Mexico) would likely be eligible for a BCS berth. Every other team would have at least three losses or, like Michigan State, be shut out because its conference already had the limit of two BCS teams.
Remember that the Orange is very sensitive to attendance. It needs two teams who can guarantee a sellout (or come close to guaranteeing) a sellout. That seemingly eliminates Stanford and Missouri. Stanford would be traveling across the country. Only one Pac-10 team (USC in 2003) has played in the Orange Bowl in a non-championship BCS year since 1985. Missouri has a notoriously mediocre fan following in bowls.
That leaves only TCU, not exactly an attendance draw but a better team than any of the other candidates. Virginia Tech-TCU doesn't quite stir the blood the same way that, say, LSU-TCU does but in my scenario the Sugar is not going to pass up a chance for a rematch of the 2008 BCS title game (LSU-Ohio State).
In my scenario, everyone is happy -- TCU, the BCS -- which doesn't have to take a load of ---- for leaving out the Horned Frogs -- and my man Patterson. Once again, the biggest development of Saturday was Nebraska being eliminated. If the Huskers had won that created the unsavory scenario involving the Orange Bowl. The bowl possibly would have had to choose between a two-loss Nebraska and an undefeated TCU. Isn't it great how things work out?
Once again, recapping why TCU fans should be happy if the top four win out:
BCS championship game: Oregon-Auburn
Rose: Boise State-Wisconsin (assuming Badgers win three-way tiebreaker)
Fiesta: Big 12 (Oklahoma/Oklahoma State/Nebraska/Missouri) vs. Big East (too many possibilities even to post on the Internet)
Sugar: LSU-Ohio State
Orange: ACC (Virginia Tech/Florida State/NC State)-TCU
Top eight in the BCS as of Sunday: