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Tag:Texas
Posted on: September 3, 2011 8:16 pm
Edited on: September 3, 2011 9:57 pm
 

Schools have called Pac-12; Big 12 days numbered?

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott admitted for the first time during this latest round of conference upheaval that his league has been contacted by prospective members.

"I will say schools have reached out to us," Scott said Saturday shortly before the start of the LSU-Oregon game here. "We are not doing anything proactively."

Scott was speaking approximately 90 minutes after an Oklahoma source was quoted as saying the school's "sole focus" was moving to the Pac-12. The story broke Saturday in the The Oklahoman and stated that Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State could also be part of the move to the Pac-12.

The commissioner said he was not aware of the report but reiterated that, "schools have called us. We certainly are going to listen."

Cut through the language and it seems that the Big 12's days are numbered. Texas A&M is expected to be formally invited to the SEC next week. Oklahoma has been leaning toward the Pac-12. It's doubtful that the 15-year-old league could survive with the loss Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M.

"If you can't fix Big 12, you might as well go west," Boone Pickens, Oklahoma State's billionaire benefactor, told an Oklahoma City reporter.


 Events of the last 36 hours may have put college athletics at the brink of one of the most significant points in its history. Oklahoma president David Boren said Friday his school would not be a "wallflower" as it surveys conference membership. Boren added that Oklahoma's future could be clearer by as early as Monday. At no time during those comments did he pledge loyalty to the Big 12. A Pac-12 expansion to 16 teams could usher in the era of the super conference in college athletics.

The Pac-12 locking up Texas and Oklahoma, two of the most famous brands, in college sports would almost assure it. There already has been speculation that the combination of the new Pac-12 agreement ($3 billion, 12 years with ESPN/Fox) and the new Pac-12 Network could mean an annual $30 million to each member school.

Other conferences -- notably the SEC and Big Ten -- would almost have to react to the Pac-12's move.

"I've also been clear," Scott reminded, "that there will probably be further expansion at some stage."

The Pac-12 controls the option to reopen that lucrative contract for negotiations if membership changes, Scott said. He added that he and the Pac-12 won't be the guys who alter the current college conference structure.

"If there is any suggestion whatsoever that our conference is being predatory that's just wrong," he said. "We've not had expansion as an initiative, as an agenda, for us at all. If there were any conversations going on, you can be sure there are not any we initiated."

That's likely legalese for staying with the process. Three weeks ago SEC presidents met to discuss Texas A&M's move to the conference. They were reminded by lawyers during that meeting the conference could not appear to be pursuing the Aggies at the expense of collapsing the Big 12.

The then-Pac-10 was definitely proactive last year when it pursued six Big 12 schools last year in a bold attempt to move up to 16 teams in preparations for negotiating a new TV deal. It settled on Utah and Colorado to expand to 14. That deal is now in place.

The biggest complication seems to be folding Texas and its network into the Pac-12. Texas and ESPN have an exclusive $300 million deal with the Longhorn Network. Scott said any such deal would have to be folded into the Pac-12 distribution model. The Pac-12 Network consists of six regional networks.

Texas mostly likely would have to renegotiate its deal and possibly share money with Pac-12 members were it to join the Pac-12.


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: 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: August 25, 2011 4:14 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2011 4:24 pm
 

Texas A&M begins Big 12 divorce proceedings

Sometimes the spouse is the last to know.

As obvious as Texas A&M's shameless affair with the SEC has been, it was still a bit disconcerting to see it admitted in writing Thursday afternoon. A&M president R. Bowen Loftin officially notified the Big 12 that his school is "exploring our options." 

If you need to be hit over the head, we'll go ahead and say it: A&M wants a divorce and marry into the SEC, but it wants to keep things civil. There are children involved -- eight of them if you don't count Texas which is an otherworldly mega-force


We've known for weeks that Aggies everywhere would rather change into formalwear, than stay in the Big 12. It's a University of Texas thing and you're not expected to understand it fully but a multi-million deal with ESPN to launch a network has something to do with it.

This starts the official process of A&M leaving its not-exactly-life partners in the Big 12. Now comes the potentially ugly legal part. According to Big 12 bylaws (these are dated but still relevant), departing schools must give two years' notice.

Short answer: That probably ain't happenin' with A&M. If the school gives less than a year's notice, which seems likely here, it must forfeit 90 percent of two years' worth of payouts. That comes to approximately $30 million. Consider that a starting point for negotiations between the school and league.

By the way, Nebraska paid $9.2 million to move to the Big Ten, basically 50 percent of a year's payout. Colorado paid approximately $6 million.

Then there is the question of whether the Big 12 wants to claim tortuous interference on the part of the SEC. Street term: Poaching. That's what that SEC presidents meeting was about a couple of weeks ago. I was told the presidents huddled with SEC lawyers to determine the best legal path.

Texas A&M has to extricate itself legally from the Big 12 before it jumps into, ahem, bed with the SEC.

Loftin wrote " ... If Texas A&M withdraws ... we want to do so in a way that complies with the bylaws and is supportive of your efforts to seek a new member ..."

That made the letter seem official and legal but was it final? Remember, "If Texas A&M withdraws ..."

Doesn't anybody care about the kids?




Category: NCAAF
Posted on: August 11, 2011 11:57 pm
 

Texas to the Pac-12 makes sense

Don't look at this Texas A&M thing as conference realignment. Look at it through the stakeholders' eyes.

The stakeholders being ESPN, Oklahoma, A&M and Texas. It's likely that ESPN CEO John Skipper is evaluating at this moment how to maximize his profits through Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Texas if there is another round of conference shuffling.

Where those schools end up is less important than how the three current Big 12 schools can be profitable for ESPN (and Fox).

Whether or not A&M ends up in the SEC, watch for the Pac-12 to sooner or later take another run at Texas. The Big 12's instability dictates it. Commissioner Larry Scott told the Austin American-Statesman last month after the formation of the Pac-12 network one could "imply" that the Longhorn Network would be a "huge impediment" to Texas joining his league.

How quickly things change -- or possibly change. In a strange way, the Pac-12 could now make it more likely that Texas make the jump if it deems the Big 12 not worth the effort.

"At this point I don't think Larry does anything," one source close to the situation said, "He's got to let it come to him. He's the one who is sitting there with all the firepower. There is no one in a better position to monetize expansion than Larry Scott is. Not the SEC, not the Big East, not the ACC, not the Big 12. He's sitting in the catbird seat."

Why? Because he can. Remember, Scott was the guy who had invited six Big 12 teams, including Texas, last year. Consider it a still-open invitation. One that Texas would have to seriously consider.

One source painted it this way: The new Pac-12 Network is made up of six regional networks. Why couldn't the Longhorn Network be folded into the Pac-12 as a seventh regional network?

The source emphasized that ESPN is desperate to make TLN profitable. It has sunk hundreds of millions into the venture and there is no certainty whether it will work. To date, only the Big Ten Network has been profitable among collegiate networks.

It didn't help Thursday that the NCAA ruled against the televising of high school games on school/conference networks.

There are a few hurdles. Texas supposedly would have to surrender its third-party rights (re: archival, historic properties). But if Texas shows interest, that's nothing more that details. The new Pac-12 shares revenue more or less equally. Again, that can be worked out because it's, well, Texas.

Pac-12 schools would have consider working around those barriers to get the No. 1 revenue-producing athletic department into its conference.

That takes care of Texas. Oklahoma? If A&M bolts, it is seemingly a swing team between the Pac-12 and SEC.

Here's why ESPN would like A&M in the SEC: The Aggies would make ESPN's (and CBS') 15-year, $3 billion deal with the league more profitable. Some at A&M obviously see it as a more stable home.

If the Big 12 crumbles, the Longhorns most likely aren't going to the SEC or Big Ten. Texas has always looked down its nose at the SEC. Texas AD DeLoss Dodds is on record as saying he is against independence.

The Pac-12 makes the most sense for Texas almost because of TLN. It would increase the value of Pac-12 Network as well as increase the value of TLN.

"Something is wrong with your conference," a source said. "when Washington State is getting more from its conference than the University of Texas."

The source was referring to the fact that some Pac-12 projections have the league making $30 million per school once its network gets up and running. Even when the Big 12 renegotiates its primary rights in a couple of years, it is expected to top out at $20 million per year. That was with A&M.

So where does that leave us? Scott and SEC commissioner Mike Slive declined to comment through spokesmen. Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe did not return phone and text messages.

But I learned last year during the conference merry-go-round to start with the stakeholders. Last year, it was Texas and Notre Dame. Both stayed in place, minimizing conference realignment.

This year the main players are Oklahoma, Texas and A&M. The question seems to be whether the Big 12 will hold together (with nine schools, or more with new expansion) if A&M leaves. That decision is up to Texas and ESPN (and Fox).

That combination kept the Big 12 together last year. Is the negativity such that the league couldn't go on after the loss of A&M? Is an enhanced SEC and Pac-12 worth more to ESPN than a damaged or non-existent Big 12?

The answers, seemingly, are coming soon. Despite reports that A&M-to-the-SEC was a done deal, it's likely that nothing will be officially decided until the Aug. 22 A&M regents meeting.

While Nebraska was a slam dunk to go to the Big Ten last spring, it wasn't official until AD Tom Osborne and chancellor Harvey Perlman made their official presentation to the regents.

Through an A&M spokesman I was able to determine this much about the process:

--A conference call among the regents is scheduled for Aug. 22. The fiscal year budgets for the entire A&M system will be discussed.

--An agenda has not been published beyond the budget discussions. An official agenda for the meeting will be available 72 hours prior.

--The spokesman would say whether conference membership would be discussed.
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: August 11, 2011 3:48 pm
 

High school games cannot be on school networks

The NCAA is not allowing the televising of high school games on school or conference networks, the association ruled on Thursday.

For the moment, that seems to relieve some of the pressure created by the Longhorn Network's intention to televise such games. That was considered a main reason why Texas A&M is reportedly looking to move to the SEC.

The ruling has to be considered a blow to the Longhorn Network which forged a partnership with ESPN, based in some small part on the belief that Texas would be able to telecast high school games. An Aug. 22 NCAA summit had been scheduled to discuss the issue. The summit remains scheduled, NCAA president Mark Emmert said.

Emmert added that NCAA staff had made the interpretation and board of directors had approved it. Texas A&M had lobbied the NCAA hard for such an interpretation. It's unclear whether this changes A&M's reported intentions.

TLN and ESPN officials said previously they would be comfortable with whatever the NCAA decided. But clearly ESPN/TLN had ambitious plans. TLN chief Dave Brown said in June that the network had planned to televise up to 18 games per season. He also said there were plans to fly to different states to televise the games of players who had committed to Texas.

This does not affect the televising of high school games on networks not affiliated with a conference or school. 
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: August 11, 2011 12:45 am
Edited on: August 11, 2011 9:28 am
 

Looks like Texas A&M to SEC could happen

Gene Stallings foretold the current upheaval a year ago.

The Aggies former coach and regent said all the right things about staying in the Big 12. But in the same breath Stallings said that if things did break up he'd rather see the school join the SEC rather than the then-Pac-10. Don't forget that Stallings has extensive experience in the SEC as a national championship coach at Alabama.

Obviously, things have progressed -- or degenerated -- since then. Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said Wednesday night he is taking "very seriously" reports that A&M is in conversations about joining the SEC. There were indications at the Big 12 media days last month that the school was close to joining the SEC in 2010 before it decided to stay with the reconstituted Big 12.

The Aggies continue to lean eastward toward the SEC and away from the Big 12. It's a given that the school feels a certain independence and a desire to break away from Texas' influence. The recent rancor over the Longhorn Network was merely a symptom of that rancor. It still believes the SEC could be a long-term home because ...

--Stability. The SEC has it. The Big 12 doesn’t.

--Money is no object. The payouts in both conferences are essentially going to be equal when the Big 12 goes to market for its primary rights in a couple of years.

--Arkansas is a natural rival from the old Southwest Conference.

--If the SEC were to balance things out at 14 teams (for now), Missouri would be an obvious candidate. That would given the Aggies two travel partners in a league that would stretch from South Carolina to Houston.

As for the SEC, it would love to have recruiting access to Texas. Texas -- and the rest of the surviving Big 12 -- would then have to battle SEC schools coming into the Lone Star State for recruits.

Remember, if this happens it won't be portrayed as a predatory move by the SEC in any way. This will be A&M trying to get away from Texas and strike out on its own. Whether the SEC then chooses to go to 14 or 16 will be the next issue. You can bet the Big Ten and Pac-12 commissioners aren't going to sit on their hands and lose traction in the marketplace.

As far as those long-term deals signed by conferences? They can all be adjusted. I'm told they all include periodic "look-in" clauses that would allow for adjustment due to change in membership.

As crazy as the summer of 2010 was, it's hard to believe that the Big 12 might not make it to the 2011 kickoff with a solid 10 going forward.
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: August 4, 2011 1:16 pm
Edited on: August 5, 2011 9:59 am
 

Breaking down the coaches' top 25

A drive-by reaction to the preseason coaches poll released Thursday. If nothing else, it is another sign that we are closer to actual football.

 Oklahoma is No. 1 in a preseason poll for only the second time in the BCS era (2003 was the other). The Sooners got 42 first-place votes. Alabama is a distant second with 13 first-place votes but is only 40 points away from No. 1 (1,454-1,414). That 1-2 slotting probably will last at least to Game 2. In Week 1, Alabama hosts Kent State. Tulsa goes to Oklahoma.

That also means the winner of No. 3 Oregon and No. 4 LSU in the Jerry Dome isn't likely to jump into the top two.

 Speaking of which, still researching the last time two top five teams met on a neutral field in a season opener. Your input is welcome.

 At least seven of the 25 teams are on probation or are being investigated by the NCAA for major violations: Ohio State, Florida State, Alabama, Oregon, LSU, Boise State, Auburn.

 Of the 11 teams to win championships in the BCS era, eight are in the preseason poll: Auburn, Alabama, Florida, LSU, Texas, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Florida State. Missing: Tennessee, Miami, USC (not eligible).

 You want an early opinion on the season? Ask Tulsa's rookie head coach. Bill Blankenship. His Hurricane play three teams in the top eight in the first month -- No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 7 Boise State and No. 8 Oklahoma State.

 Four of the top five teams play each other in the first three weeks. (LSU-Oregon, FSU-Oklahoma).

 Boise State is the only school in the top eight not playing another school in that group. If the Broncos get into championship contention again, you can already hear the haters.

 The SEC has eight teams in the top 25. That's up from six to end last season. What are the odds that the Strength Everywhere Conference will claim a sixth consecutive national championship? Answer: Good. Very good.

 The SEC (eight), Big 12 and Big Ten (five each) account for 18 of the 25 teams.

 To the surprise of no one, 20 of the 25 teams who ended ranked in 2010 are ranked to begin 2011. Missing: Maryland, Utah, North Carolina State, Central Florida, Nevada.

 The dividing line comes at Arizona State. Penn State is No. 25, three points ahead of the Sun Devils, the first of "others receiving votes."

 The Big East was shut out of the top 25. The highest-ranked BE school is West Virginia at No. 27.

 Defending champion Auburn (No. 19) is by far the lowest-ranked defending champion in the preseason coaches poll in at least nine years. LSU was previously the lowest at No. 6 in 2008 during that period. Others: Alabama, 2010 (No. 1), Florida, 2009 (1), Florida, 2007 (3), Texas, 2006 (2), USC, 2004-2005 (1), Ohio State, 2003 (2), Miami, 2002 (1).

 Fifty teams, 42 percent of FBS, received votes.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com