Posted on: June 4, 2009 1:05 pm
Edited on: June 5, 2009 1:36 pm
The Mountain West needs to focus, look closer. Capitol Hill's favorite conference spent the offseason pitching its case to Congress and challenging the BCS.
But let's be clear. It was the coaches poll -- the prove-it-on-the-field guys -- that hit Utah with a lead pipe with its final regular-season poll.
The Utes finished No. 7. Seventh, for what turned out to be the nation's only undefeated major-college team. Utah's chances were dead before it got that Sugar Bowl bid. Great result and all that in New Orleans but let's analyze why the Utes couldn't play for it all.
There's a bias, all right. It comes from the coaches. The Harris poll also voted Utah seventh before the bowls but it almost gets a pass. The Harris voters aren't in the business, lining their pockets with bowl money, at the same time denying two major-college teams (Boise was undefeated in the regular season too) a better bowl fate.
The coaches, dear Mountain West, are the ones who have drawn the line -- and it clearly doesn't include teams from below the BCS level. Is that about to change? We'll see with the Mountain West sporting three possible BCS busters again this season (Utah, BYU, TCU).
Only the top two teams in the BCS play in the national championship. The winner gets the coaches poll automatic No. 1 vote (or is supposed to).
Heck, Utah was only able to make it up to No. 4 in the coaches after beating Alabama by two touchdowns in the Sugar Bowl.
The BCS might be unfair to the great unwashed non-BCS school but it is unfair mostly because the voting coaches -- by and large -- don't take those schools seriously. (Remember, Utah finished second in the Associated Press media poll. It was fifth among the computers.)
Guess who had the majority of the coaches votes last season? Thirty-seven of the 61 voting coaches came from BCS conferences (61 percent). The power conference schools make up only 55 percent of Division I-A.
The Mountain West voters were New Mexico's Rocky Long (Utah, No. 7 before the bowls); TCU's Gary Patterson (No. 7) and Utah's Kyle Whittingham (No. 5). Whittingham voted his Utes No. 1 after the Sugar Bowl.
The Mountain West has done its best to make all of this clear. Unfortunately, it will be another five seasons, at least, before any kind of playoff can be staged.
Until then, there is a hope. Short of a playoff, we learned in January that the Mountain West could gain automatic BCS access by 2012.
The noble fight goes on in 2009 with Utah expected to repeat as conference champions. Don't tell TCU and BYU, though.
Picking the Mountain West ...
1. Utah -- Give Whittingham credit. He didn't mope around after getting shafted. He didn't skip town for a bright, shiny new job. He stuck to the task. Losing quarterback Brian Johnson, kicker/punter Louie Sakoda and defensive end Paul Kruger won't be hard with 24 redshirt freshmen returning, not including three players back from missions. Remember the name Corbin Louks at quarterback.
2. BYU -- Along the Wasatch Range they're talking about the Cougars the way the rest of the nation is talking about Utah. Coach Bronco Mendenhall has won 32 games the past three seasons while winning two Mountain West titles. This year's team is loaded and gets the Utes at home to finish the regular season. Best sign? The last four times BYU has had a senior quarterback, it has won the league. Senior Max Hall is the Mountain West's best at his position. Defensive end Jan Jorgensen is the league's career sack leader.
3. TCU -- Coach Gary Patterson specializes in taking high school running backs and turning them into defensive terrors. Get ready, then, for All-American defensive end Jerry Hughes to cause more damage. Hughes was handed a defensive number when he got to Fort Worth and went to work. Last year he led the nation with 15 sacks. TCU's unit as a whole led the nation giving up only 47 rushing yards. If the Frogs are going to jump over Utah, they can't get bogged down offensively. Last year's 13-10 loss in Salt Lake City was a killer.
4. Air Force -- It has been a seamless transition from Fisher DeBerry to Troy Calhoun who has won 17 games in his first two seasons in Colorado Springs. The option offense continues to be the great equalizer. The Falcons should win the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy. Beyond that, we're wondering if Air Force is the team that started 8-2 in '08 or the one that lost its last three.
5. UNLV -- Mike Sanford likely saved his job by winning five games last season. Bowl eligibility is a definite possibility this season. That's saying a lot for a program that has had one winning season in the last 14. Ryan Wolfe is the leading returning receiver in the league (88 catches, six touchdowns).
6. New Mexico -- First-time, first-year coach Mike Locksley has made his share of waves since arriving in the high desert. He injected some energy in what had become a lazy program. He used his recruiting prowess to snatch a few players from the Washington, D.C. area. Above all else, Locksley, the former Illinois OC, needs a Juice Williams-like presence at quarterback. Recruit Emmanuel Yeager left school recently to go back to D.C. That might have set the position back considering incumbent Donovan Porterie was recruited by Rocky Long to run the option.
7. Colorado State -- Steve Fairchild took the Rams from 3-9 to 7-6 (and a bowl win) in his first season. That tied for the most wins since 2002. The defense must get better after giving up 30 points per game. A veteran offensive line could spring junior tailback John Mosure for a big year.
8. Wyoming -- Dave Christensen, his Hog and his spread offense blew into Laramie from Missouri promising more appealing football. Christensen was the OC at Missouri for Chase Daniel and the Tigers' record-setting offense. Last season Wyoming's offense averaged less than 13 points per game. There's no one on the roster close to resembling Daniel. Let's hope that Christensen's motorcycle isn't the program's most entertaining feature.
9. San Diego State -- Still trying to figure out why Brady Hoke made this lateral move from Ball State to take this job. Sure, Ball State wouldn't bump up salaries for Hoke's assistants. Is that a reason to go to the worst program in the Mountain West? Brady, your career is at risk here.
Posted on: May 11, 2009 12:19 pm
Edited on: May 11, 2009 12:32 pm
In 1993, I covered the first home game in Colorado Rockies history. Really, it was a chance to drive out to Colorado Springs and see my friend Tim Mimick.
"Tim not only was the best of the best among sports writers, he was the nicest person I've ever met," said Mike Burrows, a 1975 graduate of Columbus High School who worked with Mimick in Colorado Springs and now is with The Post sports department. "He displayed extraordinary courage during the last year of his life. Not once did he complain about being seriously ill. Not once. I'll never forget that, and I'll never forget Tim. Knowing him truly was a blessing."
Mimick's work for the Colorado Springs newspaper took him to many high-profile events, including the Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl and Fiesta Bowl, the Final Four of the NCAA basketball tournament and the NFL and NBA playoffs. One of the big thrills of his journalism career in Colorado Springs was covering Air Force's stunning 23-11 upset of Ohio State in the 1990 Liberty Bowl, where a Buckeyes senior safety named Bo Pelini, now Nebraska's football coach, played the last game of his college career.
"Talent alone didn't make Tim a special sports writer," said DeBerry, the winningest coach in the history of military academy football. "Tim was a special sports writer also because he was a special person. And it showed in his work. Every time Tim walked into my office, I knew my day would be better because of him being there. He was a great man. His family had every reason to be proud of him.
"Please keep Tim and his family in your prayers," DeBerry said.
Posted on: November 14, 2008 11:18 am
Edited on: November 14, 2008 11:23 am
One source says that Air Force's Troy Calhoun has emerged as a favorite at Tennessee followed by UConn's Randy Edsall and Brian Kelly of Cincinnati. Remember, I said a favorite, not the favorite. Calhoun also has been mentioned at Washington.
The name of Lousiana Tech coach Derek Dooley has emerged at Clemson. We already know the school is interested in Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables and Lane Kiffin and will speak to Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster.
Coaching headhunter Chuck Neinas has been employed by Syracuse, Toledo and Tennessee for their searches.
Broncos fans are busying themselves with that possibility with their team stuck at No. 10 in the BCS and heading to Idaho this week. Boise State's (lack of) schedule strength won't be enough to leap over Utah, No. 8 in the BCS, if the teams keep winning.
Only one non-BCS team is guaranteed an automatic spot if it qualifies. A second team would have to make it as an at-large. The odds are slim of two non-BCS teams making it to BCS bowls but here's how it happens:
• Six of the 10 spots go to the BCS conference champions. Boise must then hope that the four at-large spots are filled by teams from different conferences. Think Big 12, SEC, Utah (Mountain West) and Boise (WAC). In that scenario, there would be no other team to pick but the Broncos.• An at-large team must have at least nine victories and finish in the top 14. Ohio State must get beat to drop out of the top 14. Oregon State must get beat to keep the Pac-10 from getting two teams in the BCS. A Beavers loss would vault USC into an automatic spot as the Pac-10 champion. Penn State would have to win out to clinch the Big Ten.
Of course, Utah could take care of things for Boise by losing at least one of its final two games. If not, no BCS bowl is going to pick Boise over, say, Ohio State to fill one of its spots.• "Has it taken longer than expected (to win at South Carolina)?" asked Steve Spurrier who is in his fourth season with the Gamecocks. "No, not really. Our big recruiting class came two years ago. We've got 26 players of those players on campus. We've got a pretty good nucleus of players for the next three or four years."
Spurrier laughed when asked about denying interest in the Tennessee job recently.
"They weren't going to come after me anyway," he said. "I'm on my last gig. I'm on my last job. They want to hire a guy who is going to be there 15 years."• Great quote gathered by our Craig Barnes who covered the Virginia Tech-Miami game on Thursday night:
"The U is back," Virginia Tech cornerback Victor "Macho" Harris said. "The swagger is back. The teams that we played last year and tonight were completely different. Their team has confident that they can win."
If Macho says Miami is back, that's good enough for me.
Posted on: October 8, 2008 10:39 am
Edited on: October 8, 2008 11:11 pm
One day closer to the ultimate comeback by Mitch Mustain.
If you've forgotten him, get in line. Mustain was the uber-recruit from Springdale, Ark. who signed with the
At one point this season, Mustain dropped to fourth on the depth chart. Now with Sanchez nursing an injured knee
The latest from Tuesday's practice: Sanchez threw lightly but did not practice. With three days to go before the
This is news because 1) the Penn State coach broke his leg two years at Wisconsin, the same place Penn State will
The story, often repeated, is that Paterno injured his knee attempting an onside kick during a drill. However, after
"We're a little worried," quarterback Daryll Clark said after the 20-6 victory. "His leg's been bothering him for a
Joe being Joe, he shot down speculation that he is anywhere near the end of his career.
"I can't walk like I used to walk all the time," he said. "I used to love to get up and walk five, six miles. But I
There is an increasing vibe that when Penn State eventually makes a change that the new coach might now come from
Just to be clear, I'm not saying Joe is going anywhere. A Big Ten title or national championship run will give him
South Carolina, 31-24. That leaves them 1-2 in the SEC West with a bye week before going to Alabama on Oct. 18.
I spoke to Houston Nutt recently.
Was there any temptation to shove it in Arkansas' face after that Florida win?
Nutt: I really deep down inside haven't thought about that (like) 'Look at us now.' "
OK, so how sweet was it?
Nutt: It was very sweet. We played Florida in the championship game in Atlanta (while with Arkansas). I thought we
After beating Georgia, Nick Saban mentioned the day-by-day grind that it takes to win at this level. You have to
Nutt: "The constant grind, that's why you need three weeks of the summer to get totally away from it"
How close are you guys to turning it around?
Nutt: "The disappointing thing is, we're still sitting at 73 scholarships. A lot of names you heard the last three
D&E told you earlier this week that No. 3 Missouri had not had a three-and-out this season with Chase Daniel at
in Black Saturday. The South Florida linebacker was among the three who each suffered serious spinal or back
As mentioned in today's main story, Ball State's Dante Love will never play football again after being injured against
Mompremier's got back on the practice field on a limited basis on Tuesday. His injury has been defined as
• Georgia Tech freshman Jaybo Shaw completed nine of 13 passes in his first career start against Duke, all to
• Big week for punt blocks involving guys named Carter: North Carolina's Bruce Carter blocked three punts against
• Rutgers has dropped to 1-4 leading coach Greg Schiano to say he might have overestimated his talent. Maybe his
• Texas' Mack Brown on the Big (Scoring) 12: "Every time we look up, the most phenomenal thing is to see 50 points
• Seeing the scoring explosion a different way: The nation's top scoring team is Tulsa. Factor in time of possession and
• How important is Oklahoma-Texas this week? Eight times in the previous 12 games during the existence of the Big 12
• Oklahoma is the only team in the country not to lose a fumble this season.
• Washington is 0-5 for the first time in 39 years and one of only two winless teams in I-A. North Texas is the other.
• Name the 12 teams averaging both 200 yards passing and rushing and you win a sucker. Answer below.
• More about Ball State:
It is located in Muncie, Ind. where basketball is king. The 1990 Ball State team went to the Sweet 16 before losing
When radio voice Morry Mannies went to school there in the 1950s tuition was $150 and enrollment was 4,000. Today
The last MAC team to be ranked was Bowling Green in November 2004.
The school was shut down three times before 1917. At that point it was bought out of foreclosure by the Ball family.
The famous "Boom, goes the dynamite" guy, Brian Collins, is from Ball State.• The 12 incredibly balanced teams referred to above: Oklahoma State, Nevada, Oregon, Penn State, Tulsa, Arkansas
State, Louisville, Illinois, Indiana, Fresno State, LSU and Southern Miss.
Tags: Air Force, Alabama, Arizona State, Arkansas State, Ball State, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Fresno State, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Indiana, Louisville, LSU, Mississippi, Missouri, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico State, North Carolina, North Texas, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Oregon, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers, South Carolina, South Florida, Southern Miss, Texas A&M, Tulsa, Tulsa, USC, Washington