Posted on: September 2, 2008 7:25 pm
Edited on: September 3, 2008 2:18 pm

The pollsters get a conscience

In the old days -- OK, 2006 -- the major pollsters fell in line like those lemming Obama supporters.

If USC was No. 1 -- as it was in AP for 32 consecutive weeks from the end of 2003 to the last regular-season poll of 2005 -- then, well, by God that's where it stayed no matter what. What I'm trying to say here is that there isn't much original thought in the human polls. Check the Harris polls. Instead of voting in the moment, the BCS pollsters who debut in October usually fall in line with what the AP and coaches are spewing at the moment.

That's why Tuesday was somewhat of a big day in the polling business. USC jumped Georgia for the No. 1 in both major polls after one week of play for no apparent reason. The Trojans punched a punchless Virginia. Georgia ripped Georgia Southern. Ohio State, which fell from No. 2 to No. 3 in AP, pimp slapped Youngstown State.

Really, I didn't see much difference in quality in the opponent except that the Trojans traveled across the country to play a real, live BCS team. Call it the frequent flyer advantage. USC picked up nine more first-place votes and 49 points overall in going from third to first in AP. It also picked nine first-place votes in the coaches' poll outpointing Georgia 32-4.

That last time something like this happened, No. 2 LSU lept over No. 1 USC in the AP poll of Sept. 30, 2007. That week the Trojans won at Washington 27-24. Meanwhile, LSU beat Tulane in New Orleans, 34-9.

Maybe the pollsters couldn't stand Georgia getting another injury. Maybe USC looked that good. The latest shift seemed to be a reaction to some of these powers playing body bag games. Suddenly, the pollsters have a concscience. What a concept! This is what poll critics wanted, now they've got it.

Here's the preseason AP top 5 fared

1. Georgia beat I-AA Georgia Southern and fell to second losing two first-place votes and 22 points overall.

2. Ohio State beat I-AA Youngstown State and fell to third losing six first-place votes and nine points overall.

3. USC beat Virginia and went to No. 1 picking up nine first-place votes and 49 points overall.

4. Oklahoma beat I-AA Chattanooga and stayed in fourth losing two first-place votes and 12 points overall.

5. Florida beat Hawaii and stayed in fifth losing one first-place vote. Its point total stayed the same.

--If you were dialing into the George O'Leary's weekly teleconference with reporters at Central Florida on Monday, you got a phone sex hotline.

"Hi sexy you've reached the one-on-one fantasy line."

Insert your punch line containing the words "spread option", "deep coverage" here.


Oh, by the way, it was a mistake. An SID entered the wrong phone number for reporters to dial in on.


--Glad to see Frank Beamer see the light. Dual-threat quarterback Tyrod Taylor will play this week against Furman. Taylor was a candidate for a redshirt until Sean Glennon showed against East Carolina that he wasn't ready to fully lead the Hokies.






Posted on: August 20, 2008 2:35 pm

Virginia muzzles; the Olympics puzzle

First, the Bob Pruett scandal. Now Virginia supresses free speech.

Does anyone else beside me think that this guy is juicing big time. "Cut his personal best by a massive .37"? Why isn't anyone covering these games raising the issue? I'm not talking just track and field either. Who knows what the Chinese are feeding those nine-year-old gymnasts.


Category: General
Posted on: August 20, 2008 11:22 am

Marshall scandal leftovers

You don't expect a guy you're essentially ripping to call you back.

But that was the case Tuesday when Huntington, W.V. businessman Marshall Reynolds returned my call in regards to the latest Marshall jobs' scheme scandal story. I was asking him about his two-month-old deposition that casts him, Marshall, Bobby Pruett and Jim Donnan in a negative light. At stake is another possible NCAA investigation. Pruett, Virginia's defensive coordinator, already has had his ethics put in question.

Reynolds, though, answered all my questions with candor. Here's some leftovers from Tuesday's story.

Do you think there is wrongdoing here on your part?

"Obviously, the answer to that question is no. I'm not sure what it is ... I think (plaintiff Dave Ridpath is) doing this to embarrass Coach Pruett."

What about this e-mail from NCAA investigator LuAnn Humphrey which alleges a "cover-up" at Marshall?

LuAnn Humphrey is a pretty sharp lady. I only talked with her a couple of times. Certainly her elevator went to the top floor. Unfortunately, our president's (Dan Angel) didn't. I don't think there's anything here. I don't think it amounts to a hill of beans."
Do you consider what Donnan allegedly did, getting those three or four non-qualifiers jobs every year, an NCAA violation?

"Absolutely not, neither does the NCAA."

Did they know about it though back in 1990, though?

"Gee, I don't know.

That's the end of it. Probably poor old Dave Ridpath, this is the only time he's been noticed. He's trying to hang out there a little bit ... It will never get to court. Ridpath realized ... he'll lose in court.
"Unfortunately, there's very little justice in America today.  Coach Pruett's been embarrassed once. He shouldn't have been."
 It seems as if the Ridpath trial might be continued now until Dec. 2. There was an original Oct. 21 trial date but one of the lawyers may have a conflict because of kidney transplant surgery.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: August 18, 2008 2:13 pm
Edited on: August 18, 2008 3:54 pm

Bob Pruett responds

Local reporters talked to Bob Pruett on Monday about my story posted on Sunday.

Question: There's a story that appeared on CBS Sports.com that court
documents were filed Friday alleging that you had direct involvement
in academic fraud and overpayment of athletes while at Marshall. Were you aware of that and how to respond to it?

Pruett: I haven't seen the article, wasn't aware of it. That's an
eight-year on-going legal procedure and legal procedures you can't
comment on things like that. Those are accusations; that's the reason
that you're hopefully one day you'll get your day in court and we'll
see what happens.

Back to me: There is a trial date for this thing. The plaintiff is hoping for a November or December date, which could impact Pruett's and Virginia's season. I'm also trying to find out if Virginia knew about the lawsuit and/or they knew these accusations could be coming when they hired Pruett.

Also, the NCAA said Monday afternoon it did not have any comment on the story.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: August 18, 2008 10:40 am

Five things you should know about the Pac-10...

1. The Slickster: He's back and he's here to stir up Westwood, L.A., That School Down The Road and the Pac-10. Rick 
Neuheisel will be the freshest thing to hit the league since, well, Pete Carroll. Get ready for the USC-UCLA rivalry to reignite.

2. Curse of the Trojans: A dislocated knee is one thing (quarterback Mark Sanchez) but it's getting ridiculous at 
USC. Offensive lineman Jeff Byers is being treated for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Running back Joe McKnight 
smashed his fingers in a doorjamb last year (ouch!). Don't forget an outbreak of jock itch.

3. Curse of the Trojans II: USC has developed a nasty habit of a conference loss that defies explanation. Last year, it was Stanford. The year before that it was Oregon State. Put a shotgun (formation) to my head and I'd have to say 
the Oct. 25 game at Arizona qualifies as this season's head scratcher.

4. Intersectionals: Never let it be said the Pac-10 is ducking the competition. It plays that brutal nine-game 
round-robin league schedule. It doesn't fill the non-cons with cream puffs either. The Pac-10 was 5-3 against BCS 
conference schools in non-conference games last season (No. 1 in the country). We'll know a lot about the Pac-10 
(and a lot of other conferences) early on. Consider these intersectional doozies ...

USC at Virginia, Aug. 30
Oregon State at Penn State; BYU at Washington, Sept. 6
Oklahoma at Washington, Ohio State at USC; UCLA at BYU, Sept. 13
Georgia at Arizona State, Sept. 20

A case can be made for the Pac-10 being favored in only two of those games, both USC games (Ohio State, Virginia).

5. The end of an era: Commissioner Tom Hansen ends more than a quarter century of service when he steps down after 
this academic year. An NCAA veteran of 16 years, Hansen joined the league in 1983. Things have been great -- the 
re-emergence of USC -- and embarrassment -- the recent officiating snafus -- but Hansen always added class and dignity to a tough job.

His replacement could signal a small crack in the staunch Pac-10 position against a plus-one depending on who is 
hired. The short list: Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson, WAC commissioner Karl Benson and former 
Pacific/Dartmouth/Stanford AD Ted Leland.

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