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Tag:Pittsburgh
Posted on: June 7, 2010 11:24 am
Edited on: June 7, 2010 12:40 pm
 

Latest from Expansion Central. Syracuse?

The latest scuttlebutt Monday morning has to do with Syracuse being the key to prying Notre Dame loose for the Big Ten.

If Missouri and Nebraska say yes to the Big Ten, I'm hearing that then either Pittsburgh or Rutgers would be paired with Syracuse to form an expanded eastern boundary of the new league. The key, apparently, is taking The 'Cuse into the Big Ten. The fit already looks good. Syracuse chancellor Nancy Cantor is a former chancellor at Illinois and provost at Michigan.

In this scenario, the addition of Syracuse collapses the Big East and potentially forces Notre Dame to find a conference home for its minor sports. Not to mention a conference home for football.

In other words, Notre Dame needs a compelling reason to join a league in football. I reported yesterday that if Notre Dame came to the Big Ten, that league's expansion might be capped at 12. That might not be the case now. The two biggest words to remember in this entire process is that it is always a "fluid situation."

Adding to the intrigue is that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said Sunday that expansion could happen in stages

If all of the above comes to pass, we'd be looking at two 16-team leagues (Pac-10, Big Ten), the collapse of the Big 12 and Big East and a whole lot of chaos. Does the SEC react?

 
Posted on: April 19, 2010 11:35 am
 

Rating the Big Ten expansion candidates

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany travels to the Arizona desert this week which is kind of fitting. For some unlucky schools, there is going to be a college football wasteland once the Big Ten gets done expanding. The BCS meetings this week in Phoenix could be where it all starts. Out of public view, mind you, but it could start. Delany could begin the process of notifying affected conferences that he is about to raid them.

With that in mind, it's time to rating the Big Ten expansion candidates in terms of relevance:

1. Notre Dame: If the Big 16 (or whatever) is able to lure/coerce ND into joining, the other schools don't really matter. Notre Dame brings everything -- class, quality football, eyeballs to the Big Ten Network. The two parties will have to figure out how to do deal with the NBC contract. That's really just a detail once the school decides to join, though. At issue: ND must decide that after 22 years without a national championship, it's better chasing a Rose Bowl every year than hoping for a BCS bowl in some years.

2. Connecticut: A UConn/Syracuse/Rutgers triumvirate maybe makes New York care enough about the Big Ten for the region's big cable carriers to start putting the Big Ten Network on the basic tier. Theoretically, you get New Jersey, New England and, maybe, New York. Taking UConn would be a big of a departure for the Big Ten because it is not an AAU school.

3. Missouri: Outside of getting Notre Dame and turning on New York, Missouri is the next biggest "get" for the Big Ten. It is virgin territory from which the BTN could reap a big profit. Kansas City is a Kansas town (followed closely by Missouri), but St. Louis is a Big Ten/Illinois/Mizzou town. With the likes of Ohio State and Michigan coming to Columbia on a regular basis, cable carriers would have to consider  featuring the BTN on the basic tier. If it's five teams, then count Missouri in. Delany could boast of having markets from the Great Plains to the Atlantic Ocean to New England.

4. Rutgers: By itself, Rutgers does little in the New York market. If the Big Ten took just Rutgers, it could be taking it on the come. We all remember how the region got turned on 3 1/2 years ago. It could happen again. Most likely, Rutgers needs a partner or partners in expansion.

5. Syracuse:  Almost a tag-along at this point. The 'Cuse by itself doesn't make sense because it doesn't bring a market or consistent football. Basketball is great, but that's not what this expansion is about at all. 'Cuse football is going to be better. We all know that. But does the Big Ten expand hoping Syracuse will get good? No, the school would be  a throw-in with Rutgers and UConn if Delany chooses to influence New York (see No. 1) 

6. Pittsburgh: There is little buzz about Pittsburgh at this point. The Big Ten is already in Pennsylvania with Penn State. When Joe Paterno talks about adding another school in the East, that kind of eliminates Western Pennsylvania.

Posted on: March 2, 2010 11:20 am
Edited on: March 3, 2010 11:04 am
 

Big Ten expansion at the speed of light ...

If this were a child birth, the head would be showing.

Big Ten expansion is moving along faster than Joy Behar's mouth. The Chicago Tribune is reporting that it makes financial sense for the league to add any one of at least five candidates -- Notre Dame, Missouri, Rutgers, Syracuse or Pittsburgh.

The story goes on to say those are only the "obvious" candidates. There could be others. In a sidebar, Rutgers is identified as the favorite! Missouri is second and Pittsburgh is third.

Whoa, slow down. I thought we were only in the discussion stage. Based on what has broken in the last few days, we're going to know a 12th Big Ten/11 team by the summer. Maybe more. The league isn't going to necessarily stop at one. If the Big 12 and Big East weren't on alert before, they are now.

This report answers a key question I had about this whole thing: Which of those schools bring enough to the table financially to guarantee a minimum $22 million payout per year. This tells me that the Big Ten TV partners -- Big Ten Network, CBS and ABC/ESPN -- have signed off on expansion as a profit center.

The Big Ten has hired an investment firm to analyze candidates. Last week Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez was quoted as saying the league had hired a research firm to look at 15 potential candidates. Alvarez the right school or schools would have to "buy their way in" to the Big Ten.

At least he was being honest about it.

I talked to a source familiar with the Pac-10 who said he isn't sure that league will do anything. Unlike the Big Ten, there aren't the slam dunk candidates out there. Utah and Colorado, for example, don't deliver that much to a 12-team league even with the addition of a championship game. He reminded me that Pac-10 fans, in general, don't travel well. What if you have, say, an Arizona-Stanford championship game?

Here's my overview from last month.

Keep those seat belts fastened. There's going to be turbulence. For sure.

 

Posted on: February 25, 2010 9:21 am
 

Big East schedule breakdown

Remember the Big East. Remember it well, because it may not be long for this earth.

OK, maybe that's an exaggeration but with expansion winds blowing throughout college football, maybe it isn't. Once again, the conference is on notice with the Big Ten looking to improve its television profile. If the Large Eleven picks off Connecticut, Syracuse, Rutgers or Pittsburgh, then the Big East has to stay viable.

That's getting ahead of the carnage, er, story. For now, the Big East will continue with new coaches (Cincinnati, Louisville, South Florida) and the same old story in places like Syracuse. The conference will continue to promote itself with 14 weeknight games (six on Thursday).

Cincinnati and Pittsburgh once again look like the class of the league. UConn is one of the quietest success stories in football. Charlie Strong finally gets his chance at Louisville. The Skip Holtz era begins at South Florida. West Virginia hasn't gone away under Bill Stewart.

Their schedules are finalized except for Syracuse which is still looking for a non-conference game. Might we suggest a Big Ten opponent? Could count in both leagues' standings.

Just kidding.


Game of the year:  (non-conference)  Miami at Pittsburgh, Sept. 23. These old Big East rivals are both standing at the altar of BCS bowl contention.  Neither current coach has broken through. Dave Wannstedt still hasn't won that conference title after a heart-breaking end to last season. Randy Shannon is still in rebuilding mode. It doesn't help that Jacory Harris (hand) and Graig Cooper (knee) will miss spring practice. That doesn't tell us much about seven months from now.

This game will go a long way toward proving if Wanny and the Panthers are worthy of that BCS bowl.  Same for Shannon who is 7-9 on the road.

There is a bit of history for those of us who can remember all the way back to 2003. In the regular-season finale at Heinz, Miami won an Orange-Bowl-or-bust game 28-14. That was the Canes' last Big East game.

Game of the year: (conference) Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, Dec. 4. Three in a row for the Bearcats? Brian Kelly has left enough talent for Butch Jones to get to a third consecutive BCS bowl. Last year's snowy matchup in Pittsburgh was a classic decided by a botched extra point.

This season's game will be impacted by a couple of high-profile replacements. Pat Bostick and Tino Sunseri will battle it out in the spring to replace Bill Stull as Pittsburgh quarterback. The mouthy Mardy Gilyard will be missed at Cincinnati but only until one-time USC five-star recruit Vidal Hazelton takes over as Zach Collaros top target.

Team on the spot: Rutgers. Whatever happened to Greg Schiano's magic? The Scarlet Knights have finished above third only once since the 11-win season in 2006. That was a three-way tie for second in 2008. Are we expecting too much? This is, after all, Rutgers but the '06 ride was such a tease.

The offensive line underachieved last season even though tackle Anthony Davis could be a high draft choice. Quarterback Tom Savage showed flashes as a freshman but needs to make that leap to difference maker as a sophomore. The most exciting player in the conference might be Mohamed Sanu who was effective out of the Wildcat and at receiver.

Toughest non-conference schedule: Hard one because the schedules are so balanced in the Big East and Syracuse is still looking for a  game, but Pittsburgh seems to be in the most peril. It opens at Utah, then gets I-AA power New Hampshire nine days later. The Miami game comes to Pittsburgh after an open date. The Miami and Notre Dame games are sandwiched around a home game against Florida International.

Wanny and AD Steve Pederson are putting the program out there playing two BCS teams and a team that is in a de facto BCS league (Utah). That could be a season killer. It also could lift the Panthers into that BCS bowl.

Easiest non-conference schedule: Rutgers. As much as the Knights need to get back on national scene, they've got the schedule to do it. Norfolk State, Florida International, Tulane and Army don't exactly strike fear into hearts. The only sweat-breaker is North Carolina which comes to New Jersey on Sept. 25. Win that and Rutgers should start 6-0 before going to Pittsburgh on Oct. 23.
Check back in November, though. Beginning Nov. 3, Rutgers plays at South Florida, Cincinnati and West Virginia in its final five games.

 

Posted on: February 23, 2010 11:13 am
 

Breaking down the ACC's 2010 schedule

(This is the first of an irregular offseason series breaking down the schedules of the BCS leagues.)

The ACC enters Year No. 7 since expansion still looking for an identity.

The league has won only two BCS bowl games sporting the worst winning percentage (.166) of any BCS league in those major bowls. Miami and Florida State haven't stepped up. In fact, each has shrunk from superpower status. Virginia Tech, an afterthought in the original expansion, has won the most titles (three) since 2004. While Clemson and Florida State are rebuilding, Maryland and Virginia have slipped.

Butch Davis has all the coaching chops but North Carolina hasn't made a dramatic move under him yet. The best stories will be Year One at FSU A.B. (After Bobby). Jimbo Fisher enters his first season as head coach with mounds of pressure on him.

Virginia Tech has the best program. Georgia Tech had last season's best team. Coach Paul Johnson is making everyone adjust to his option offense. In his second season, the Jackets broke through their first ACC title since 1998.

Game of the year:  (non-conference) Miami at Ohio State, Sept. 11. In a rematch of the 2002 national championship game, Miami puts its renovation project on  display against a national championship contender. Figure on this one being at night with 105,000 lubed up Buckeyes wanting blood. Why not? Ohio State has won 50 of its last 52 non-conference games at The Shoe. The winning team's quarterback could come out of this as one the Heisman frontrunner.

The Canes don't want to be pushed around by a second consecutive brawny Big Ten team. (see: the Champs Sports Bowl).

Game of the year: (conference) Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech, Nov. 4. Does the new boss meet the old boss? Johnson has split his two meetings with Frank Beamer. Virginia Tech has played in four conference title games and won three ACC championships since expansion in 2004.  After winning the ACC in 2009, Johnson isn't going to stand still. Beamerball and PJ will likely come into 2010 with teams projected 1-2 in the league.

Team on the spot: Florida State. Fisher has to start producing right away. Recruiting was good. The defense needs to be overhauled. There isn't much room for error, not with Oklahoma and BYU back-to-back after a season opener against Samford.

If FSU negotiates that mine field, there are back-to-back road games at Virginia and Miami in October. Will a 3-3 start be tolerated?

Toughest non-conference schedule: Once again, Miami has doused itself with kerosene and is hoping no one lights a match. It worked, sort of, last season with a 5-1 start after opening with Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma. But that ambitious start might have had something to do with a 4-3 finish.
This season, after an opening yawner against Florida A&M, the Canes go to Ohio State AND Pittsburgh before heading to Clemson. That's three potentially-ranked teams from three BCS conferences in 21 days. Oh, and if that isn't enough, Florida State comes to Miami on Oct. 9. South Florida comes to Land Shark/Dolphin/Sun Life/Joe Robbie for the season finale on Nov. 27. Try to find a tougher non-con in the ACC.

Easiest non-conference schedule: Virginia Tech. In a league where five teams are playing at least one SEC opponent, the Hokies follow a neutral-site opener against Boise State with home games against James Madison and East Carolina. The other non-con is a homer against significantly diminished Central Michigan. There are no true non-conference road games on the schedule and only two road games at all after Oct. 2.

Posted on: February 1, 2010 11:27 am
Edited on: February 1, 2010 11:28 am
 

Why don't more schools do this?

Miami (Ohio) is streaming much of signing day on its website.

Great idea. Mike Haywoood's program needs the attention and six hours of live signing day is never a bad thing for the recruitniks. Miami is calling it, "what is believed to be the first worldwide webcast of its kind."

In other news, there was a weak rumor on Monday morning that Pittsburgh was going to join the Big Ten. Like, now. I know Pittsburgh was aware of it and tried to shoot it down. Pittsburgh might eventually join the Large Eleven, but it won't be anytime soon. If we're lucky, we might know who the expansion teams are by the beginning of the 2011 season.
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: November 16, 2009 12:43 pm
 

How Cincinnati becomes USC

One of the knocks on USC this week is that it got eviscerated by Stanford and still remained in the polls (No. 21 in coaches, No. 22 in AP). Had it been a Clemson or a Missouri, they would have been dropped so far out of the polls they would have needed the Hubble telescope to see No. 25.

But the Trojans are still ranked and still have a slight chance to go to the Rose Bowl through a series of tiebreakers.  How Cincinnati takes on the USC disguise is if it passes TCU in the BCS rankings down the stretch.  Cincy probably has a weaker schedule than TCU but will get a big push from playing Illinois – yes, Illinois – and Pittsburgh in the final two games.

TCU has Wyoming and New Mexico. A jump by Cincinnati could make a huge difference if two of the top three lose. While that’s not likely, imagine the screams you would hear from Fort Worth if Cincinnati played for a national championship over the Frogs.

Think about that: Cincinnati getting to the championship because it has more "name brand" value than ... anyone!

Cincinnati signature victories: Rutgers, Oregon State

TCU signature victories: at Clemson (possible ACC champion), at Virginia, at BYU, Utah. That’s three ranked teams and as many or more ACC wins than four ACC teams.

Posted on: November 15, 2009 9:44 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2009 10:21 pm
 

Thoughts on a football Saturday

Here’s why Rich Rodriguez is an odd fit for Michigan and Jim Harbaugh is an odder fit for Stanford … 

Because Harbaugh and Michigan could be close to being engaged to be married right now if it weren’t for those niggling things like contracts.

The same reason that Notre Dame needs to reach out to Brian Kelly right now is the same reason Harbaugh should be playing footsie with his alma mater. But it can't happen for Harbaugh right now. As painful as the transition has been at Michigan, Rodriguez deserves another year. He has only 71 scholarship players (for a variety of reasons), the offense shows promise and, well, Harbaugh isn’t available.

It’s just not a good time. After the second-biggest victory Saturday in his short three years on The Farm – remember USC in 2007? – Harbaugh is hotter than July.  Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby is hurrying to complete a contract extension that would tie up Harbaugh through 2014 at $1.25 million per year.

“Tie up” is a relative term these days. Because of the awkward timing, Michigan/Stanford could lose Harbaugh to another college or NFL team by the time it is ready to make a change after next season. The $1.25 million salary makes Harbaugh one of the highest paid coaches ever at Stanford. It’s also about half of what Harbaugh is currently worth on the open market.

What makes the Cardinal so interesting is that Harbaugh has installed a toughness gene. He talked before the season about playing physical. Sorry, but the words “toughness” and “Stanford football” seldom appeared in the same sentence ever. Until now.

Tailback Toby Gerhart has run for 401 yards the last two games. If he isn’t on the top of every Heisman list this week something is wrong. Owen Marecic started at linebacker and fullback on Saturday. Marecic already has broken a couple of helmets this year.

All of it sounds sooo like Michigan and sooo unlike Stanford that you’d figure that Harbaugh would be in Ann Arbor soon. But it’s too early for Michigan pull the trap door on Rich Rod and too early for Harbaugh to leave.

Here's why USC isn't done: At some point next month, the Trojans will wake up in El Paso and wonder how the hell they got there. It’s called the Sun Bowl, fellas, and it this rate you’re going to be playing in it.

The popular thing this week will be to bash USC and say that Troy has crumbled before our eyes. That would be true if some other team were out there to take control. Oregon leads the Pac-10 for now but still has to go to Arizona and beat Oregon State in the Civil War.

Arizona botched a great opportunity Saturday, losing at Cal which without Jahvid Best.  Stanford, the hottest team in the league, has lost three times, one of them to Wake Forest. Suddenly Oregon State is in the mix.

This is not to say it isn’t bad. It’s real bad at USC right now.

“You could see that everything was not there,” Stanford’s Richard Sherman told the L.A. Times. “They didn’t run as hard. They didn’t play as hard.”

Ouch.

The 55 points were the most given up in the 121-year history of USC football. You never thought you’d see the day where a Pete Carroll team would lose that toughness groove. When you’re bitching about a run-it-up two-point conversion, which the Trojans were in the fourth quarter, that’s just deflecting bigger problems.

The quarterback (Matt Barkley) is a freshman and playing like it.  The defense, led (?) by senior two-time All-American Taylor Mays, has been embarrassed. Turnovers are coming in bunches.

This would be cause for bigger alarm if USC couldn’t get it back, quickly. They can in the same way Carroll began storming the conference in 2002, by playing some of the best defense in the country. It seems laughable to think that now, but the recruiting isn’t going away and, until further notice, the conference isn’t exactly slipping away.

Carroll has lost one game -- one -- in November while at USC (28-1). Barkley is going to get getter. The defense can’t get any worse.  If an 82-year-old man can lead Penn State within sniffing distance of its third BCS bowl in five years, if a small, private school in Fort Worth that doesn’t sell out its games can go undefeated, believe me, USC can get it back.

A lot of fingers will be pointed this week – at coaches and players. Remember this whole thing started with a wake up call in Sin City in 2001 at the Las Vegas Bowl for USC. Waking up in El Paso might be the shock to the system the Trojans need. 

Yes, that’s SMU in first place in Conference USA’s West Division: The Mustangs beat Texas-El Paso becoming bowl eligible for only the third time since their last bowl in 1984. You might remember that the little thing called the death penalty that intervened.

The scuttlebutt is that the Ponies will play in the Hawaii Bowl. June Jones will triumphantly return to the scene of his greatest glories, this time to boost attendance at the Hawaii-less bowl.

Congratulations Ohio State but …:
Until the Luckeyes backed into that Iowa win, an interesting note was developing. Had the Bucks lost, consider that in the games that decided the Rose Bowl berth each of the last two seasons, Terrelle Pryor (and Ohio State) would have been beaten by two backup quarterback – Penn State’s Pat Devlin and Iowa’s James Vandenberg. Devlin came in for Daryll Clark and directed the game-winning drive last year for Penn State. He is now at Delaware.

Vandenberg, a freshman subbing for the injured Ricky Stanzi, led the Hawks back from a 24-10 deficit only to lose in overtime, 27-24.

Not another one!: SEC officials blew another one in the third quarter of the Florida-South Carolina game. Florida’s Brandon James clearly went to knee to field a punt near midfield. It didn’t matter as block in the back nullified James’ long return. Caleb Sturgis eventually missed a 54-yard field goal.

More incredible was the replay official in the Notre Dame-Pittsburgh game. Notre Dame had its final possession cut short when Jimmy Clausen was ruled to have fumbled while trying to throw. The replay clearly showed Clausen’s arm going forward as he was it. The ball came out at an odd angle, but it still came out while he was throwing.  That was one of the more egregious rulings this season.

Stingy Blackshirts: Nebraska allowed its first rushing touchdown allowed in 14 quarters. Big deal. The Huskers rebounded to beat Kansas 31-17 and take the lead in the Big 12 North.

BCS trivia: In case you’re wondering, in the BCS era no unbeaten team from one of the power conferences has been knocked out of the BCS title game by a team with one loss. That possibility still exists for Cincinnati if Texas, Alabama or Florida lose.

Heisman hit: Going to be hard to justify Heisman mention now for Case Keenum. Houston’s two losses have come to Texas-El Paso and Central Florida. Can’t remember the last Heisman winner to lose to two directional schools. Keenum threw for 371 yards and three touchdowns in the 37-32 loss to Central Florida.


Philly excellence: Temple, Villanova and Penn are a combined 24-5. The last time all three had a winning record was 1986 then they finished a combined 24-6. Temple, though, had to forfeit six victories for using an ineligible player (Paul Palmer). Not counting that year, you have to go back to 1951 when the Philly Three finished a combined 16-11.

Heroism: Rowan (Division III) defensive end Matt Hoffman missed his team’s season-finale against The College of New Jersey. On Thursday, Hoffman began donating blood marrow to a 52-year-old man who is dying of lymphoma. Hoffman was one of seven matches found through a search of the national registry.

Dog of the day: Louisville beat Syracuse 10-9 in the dog game of the day. Somehow we’ve missed the fact that the once mighty Cardinals had lost nine Big East games in a row.

The no B.S., up-to-the-minute, not-what-they-did-last year, right now Heisman list

Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford: Hottest skill player in the country. Gerhart has Stanford in the Rose Bowl conversation after running for 178 yards against USC.

Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama: Stayed consistent running for more than 140 yards against Mississippi State.

Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State: Best quarterback in the country right now.

Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh: Ran for 152 yards including the game-winning 50-yard touchdown run.

C.J. Spiller, AP, Clemson: The most dangerous player in the ACC. Heisman voters usually don’t recognize all-purpose players but Spiller deserves mention especially after adding to his accomplishments with a 17-yard touchdown pass against NC State.

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