Tag:ACC
Posted on: April 24, 2009 1:20 pm
Edited on: April 24, 2009 1:34 pm
 

No downside to cheating to win a BCS title

Leftovers from this week's West Coast swing ...

BCS commissioners might soon have to consider penalizing one of its own. One of the issues that emerged from the recent consolidation of the two USC cases, is a possible lack of institution control violation. Both former basketball star O.J. Mayo and former Heisman winner Reggie Bush are alleged to have taken improper benefits.

The combining of the cases streamlines things and makes it more likely that one or both of the programs could be forced to forfeit or "vacate" games. In the case of USC football, that could include a pair of Pac-10 championships in 2004 and 2005 as well as the 2004 national championship.

That could put the BCS commissioners in the uncomfortable spot of having to remove that national title. Because the NCAA doesn't stage a championship in I-A football, a forfeit would affect Pete Carroll's victory total, Pac-10 titles, the NCAA football records book and the USC media guide. It would be up to the commissioners to actually take away the title.

That isn't going to happen. The commissioners don't want to get into the business of penalizing their own. But it does raise another question: Because a BCS title is essentially immune from NCAA sanctions, does that ratchet up the incentive to cheat to get one?

It's looking more and more like Bush acted on his own. But if a booster (or group of boosters) or even a school decided to cheat its way to a title, really, what are the disincentives? Florida State has its panties in a bunch because it wants to protect Bobby Bowden's victory total. Other than that, the biggest drawback to forfeits/vacates is embarrassment.

Especially when the upside is a possible national championship that can't be taken away.

 Incoming Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott made an appearance at the BCS meetings in Pasadena. One of the subjects being tossed around in the rumor mill is a network that would be a joint venture between the ACC and Pac-10.

While those are two disparate conferences at opposite ends of the country, they do share some of the same problems -- lack of exposure in football. Scott has poo-pooed nothing so far. It will be interested to see how far Pac-10 presidents want to go in terms of expansion and television.

The Ocean Network (Pacific/Atlantic, get it?) could feature early ACC games at 11:30 a.m. ET (beating the Big Ten by half an hour for the first major-college games of the day) followed by a featured Pac-10 game at 3:30 p.m. ET. (12:30 p.m. PT).

Don't worry so much about game quality. Some of those early Big Ten games are dogs but they get good ratings because fans just want to see football as soon as possible on Saturday. A Wake Forest-Maryland game at 11:30 a.m. wouldn't be as distasteful as you might think.

As for that 3:30 p.m. window? The Pac-10 has to do something to get its games out of Saturday late night. While USC gathers most of the attention and ratings for the conference, you better believe that other conference members would welcome an afternoon time slot.

 Couldn't resist thinking of this while in L.A.: One school (USC) was staging a quarterback battle, while across town they're having a pillow fight (UCLA).

The spring opened with coach Rick Neuheisel opening the competition to replace/challenge Kevin Craft who threw 20 interceptions last year. Redshirt freshman Kevin Prince is the clear leader going into Saturday's spring game. Craft has fallen to third.

That brings us to the curious case of Chris Forcier. Sensing his future in Westwood wasn't assured, the brother of Michigan's Tate Forcier sought his release to transfer. One problem, once given his release, Forcier found no takers for him to play quarterback.

He did what any red-blooded disgruntled signal-caller would do, he stayed and switched to receiver. His prospects, if there are any left, are even worse at that position. To say that he is buried on the depth chart would be an insult to cemetery residents.

"Certainly you take your hat off [to him] for being willing to do things to help the team," Neuheisel told the Los Angeles Times. "But you can't just reward the great effort and slow down the team to create playing time, if it is not merited."

 How good is Washington's Steve Sarkisian? It seems that he was Nick Saban's first choice to be Alabama's offensive coordinator a couple of years ago.

 Ohio State fans will do anything to get close to their Buckeyes for the spring game.

 My new favorite quarterback, Navy's Ricky Dobbs, weighs in with his latest blog.

Ramblin' Ricky is upset after the spring game, talks about his dance moves and signs for the president -- five times.

 BCS coordinator John Swofford when he was quoted in an AP story that the commissioners would consider using a human committee to select teams in the future. Not true, according to a BCS official. Swofford was asked if he would consider parts of the Mountain West Conference eight-playoff proposal. He said, yes, using the human committee as an example.

I can't imagine the commissioners would come close to using a human committee. If you thought the polls and computers had flaws, think of the inherent biases that would come with humans picking the teams. Anyway, the point is that you can't unring the bell. Media are latching onto Swofford's comment ...

Jay Drew
Salt Lake Tribune
23 April 2009

The Mountain West Conference is far from claiming victory after its proposal for sweeping changes to the current system of choosing a college football champion was pretty much swept under the rug at the Bowl Championship Series meetings in Pasadena, Calif., earlier this week.

But the league that is not one of the automatic qualifying conferences in the BCS did get in some jabs -- about 90 minutes' worth -- on Tuesday.

BCS coordinator John Swofford, in return, threw a bone to the conference that includes Utah and BYU.

The Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner said the BCS could adopt parts of the MWC's playoff plan. Specifically, he told The Associated Press that although the group is not likely to do away with its present system, the MWC's idea of forming a committee to pick the qualifying teams, rather than relying on computers and human polls, seemed to have some merit.

"A selection committee? Yes," Swofford said after the meetings concluded on Wednesday.

Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson flew back to league offices in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Thursday but was not granting interview requests, a league spokesperson said.

Thompson had to be upbeat, however, seeing as how he spoke before the meetings about his wish of just getting the proposal on the table for discussion, which happened. Thompson is well aware that change won't happen soon.

The issue now moves to presidents of universities, Swofford said, noting that BCS commissioners will meet again in June (in Colorado Springs, coincidentally) to discuss the matter further.

But the pressure has been turned up, and not just by the conference itself and other conferences that feel left out of the most lucrative bowls.

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff of Utah has launched an investigation into whether the BCS violates federal antitrust laws and Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah has pushed for the BCS situation to be on the agenda of the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights.

Swofford said after the meetings that BCS commissioners did not feel they were on shaky legal ground.

Utah's football team went undefeated last season, but was not chosen to play in the BCS title game that featured a pair of teams with at least one loss.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: March 21, 2009 10:57 pm
 

What I'll remember about Kansas City...

 ...besides the fish at Bristol during Lent, great arena and surprisingly vociferous fans

 

 Memphis fans chanting "ACC, ACC" at hopelessly outclassed Maryland. Maryland fans (Ok, just a few) firing back, "SAT, SAT."

 Greivis Vasquez not backing down. The Maryland guard called out Memphis, then stood in the lockerroom and said, "No, I don't regret anything. They proved me wrong. That's what sport is about ... There was some trash talking involved, but it's basketball."

 Wondering whether either of the teams that emerged from here will get to the Final Four. No and no.

Oklahoma doesn't have enough around Blake Griffin. The run will end in the Elite Eight. Memphis doesn't have enough offense but if it keeps getting turnovers off its press, watch out. I wouldn't bet against the Tigers especially with super-sub Roburt Sallie coming off the bench.

I wish the NCAA didn't play Final Fours in 70,000-seat stadiums. This would be a perfect place for the end of the dance.

See you in Glendale, Ariz. next week.

 

 

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 10, 2008 12:44 am
 

National notes

My Heisman ballot:

1. Tim Tebow
2. Sam Bradford
3. Colt McCoy

I can't give you a quantitative reason why Tebow is my No. 1. His numbers are down from '07. However, after watching him lead that fourth-quarter comeback against Alabama, it's more of a feel, an emotional reaction.

I go back to Sept. 27 when Tebow basically called his shot after the Ole Miss loss and then delivered! Nine wins in a row. Go back and at the quotes from that day. Tebow as Babe Ruth pointing his bad toward the Wrigley Field bleachers.

Until Saturday, Bradford was my guy. I had started hyping him for Heisman back when he was a freshman. How many players ever have led the country in pass efficiency two years in a row?

It's hard to vote Colt McCoy third when he took a team with a mediocre offensive line and led it in passing and rushing. The point is, I can't slide a piece of paper between the three of them.

The voters: John Adams, Knoxville News Sentinel; Tony Barnhart, CBS; Mark Blaudschun, Boston Globe; Kirk Bohls, Austin American-Statesman; B.G. Brooks, Rocky Mountain News; Jimmy Burch, Fort Worth Star-Telegram; Brian Davis, Dallas Morning News; Mike DeArmond, Kansas City Star; Dennis Dodd, CBSSports.com; Michael DiRocco, Florida Times-Union; Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle; Scott Ferrell, Shreveport Times; Anthony Gimino, Tucson Citizen; Herb Gould, Chicago-Sun Times; Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune; Mike Griffith, Knoxville New Sentinel; Eric Hansen, South Bend Tribune; Matt Hayes, Sporting News; Tommy Hicks, Mobile Press-Register; Ron Higgins, Memphis Commercial Appeal; Mark Janssen, Manhattan Mercury; Todd Jones, Columbus Dispatch; Blair Kerkhoff, Kansas City Star; Ted Lewis, New Orleans Times-Picayune; Mike Lopresti, Gannett Newspapers; Tom Luicci, Newark Star-Ledger; Ray Melick, Birmingham News; Rodney McKissic, Buffalo News; Brett McMurphy, Tampa Tribune.

(Two voters did not want their names used)

The rest of the national awards, etc.


MVP: McCoy

There's a difference between the Heisman winner and MVP. McCoy did more with less. Texas wouldn't be in the conversation without him.

Best quarterback: Bradford

This is getting confusing so let's just drop it.

Best running back: Shonn Greene, Iowa

The nation's No. 2 rusher came on in the second half of the season to surpass Michigan State's Javon Ringer and UConn's Donald Brown as the most consistent ground force in the nation.

Best receiver: Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech


Do back-to-back Biletnikoff Awards do anything for you? An NFL star in waiting.


Best tight end: Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma

This was tough. I recently shifted away from Missouri's Chase Coffman who was too injured at the end of the season to back up a spectacular first eight games of the season.

The 6-foot-6 inch Gresham gets opens, is hard to tackle and has speed. Need anything else?

Best offensive lineman: Andre Smith, Alabama.

He is what coaches look for when they recruit left tackles. A case can be made for Smith, the likely Outland Trophy winner, being Bama's MVP. Without him protecting John Parker Wilson and carving out holes for Glen Coffee, the Tide don't start 12-0.

Defensive player of the year: Rey Maualuga, LB, USC

From a troubled beginning, this voracious tackler became the foundation for one of the best statistical defenses in history.

Best defensive lineman: Jerry Hughes, DE, TCU

Ask BYU's Max Hall what he thinks of the nation's sacks leader In their October matchup, Hughes sacked Hall three times.

Best defensive back: Eric Berry, Tennessee.

Lane Kiffin should be at Berry's house right now making sure he's happy, comfortable and ready to take 20 snaps a game on offense.

Best special teams player: Kevin Huber, P, Cincinnati

You won't find many other All-Americans on the best Cincinnati team in history that won 11 games and the Big East. We'll give it to Huber who bombed 20 punts more than 50 yards and dropped 20 punts inside the 20.

Remember when Cincinnati used to be a basketball school?

Freshman of the year: Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State

How did he get from Texas to Corvallis?

Coach of the year: Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech

Staff of the year: Penn State

The Broyles Award is doing a disservice to Penn State. The honor goes to the assistant coach of the year. Not only were there no Penn State assistants among the finalists, the Broyles folks didn't do the right thing and pick the entire Penn State staff.

With JoePa ailing, his staff basically took over and led the Nittany Lions to a Big Ten title. Big ups to defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, defensive line coach Larry Johnson and quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno. They were the glue.

Biggest disappointments: Georgia, Notre Dame, South Florida, West Virginia, Michigan, Tennessee, the ACC, the Pac-10.

Biggest surprises: Oregon State, Ball State, Alabama, Buffalo, East Carolina, Rice, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Texas Tech.

Sometimes you just live right: Charlie Weis almost got run out of town after a 6-6 season. His reward? A trip to the Hawaii where he can continue to recruit linebacker Manti Te'o. 

Don't give me any of this stuff about a dead period. Te'o will be a captive audience as the Irish take over Oahu.

Best games: Texas 45, Oklahoma 35, Oct. 11 in Dallas.

The winner usually wins the Big 12 South and competes for the national championship. Right? Right?

Texas Tech 39, Texas 33, Nov. 1 in Lubbock.

Not to pick on the Horns here but the reason they are playing Ohio State instead of Florida is Crabtree's game-winning catch with one second left.

UCLA 27, Tennessee 24 (OT) Sept. 1 in the Rose Bowl.

Tennessee's defense held UCLA's Kevin Craft to only four interceptions in the first half. Then, in his best performance of a long, long season, Craft rallied the Bruins in the second half.

Rick Neuheisel led a post-game pep rally.

Florida 31, Alabama 20, Dec. 6 at the SEC championship game.

The BCS was smiling as the closest thing to a national semifinal was played out in front of the largest Georgia Dome crowd in history.

Whine of the year: Pete Carroll and USC

You lost to a team you weren't supposed to (Oregon State). You paid for it in the polls. Deal with it. Maybe the difference between that and Florida losing to Ole Miss? Urban Meyer has made a habit lately of winning the big ones <em>and</em> the little ones.

Best stories:

Six teams ranked No. 1 during the season (the most since 1984)

Alabama arriving a year early (at least) under Nick Saban

Utah, TCU and BYU making a huge statement by the Mountain West: The BCS doesn't belong to the six power conferences.

Notre Dame's collapse from 4-1 and Weis barely hanging on for another year.

Oregon State beating USC and chasing its first Rose Bowl in 44 years.

Coaches in waiting.

Coaches waiting in line ("resigning" in the middle of a season).

The end of a Bowden (Tommy).

The continuation of a Bowden (Bobby).

The longing of a Bowden (Terry, to get back in the game).

Joe's hip.

Charlie's knee.

Nate Davis' gloves.

Jay Jacobs' "shock" over Tommy Tuberville's "resignation."

Tennessee goes from old school to youngest coach in the country.

The (sad) state of Washington. (Combined records of the Huskies and Cougars, 2-22).

Big 12 quarterbacks.

Big 12 offenses.

Big 12 top 10 games each week.

The Big 12 surpassing the SEC, if only for a moment, as the best conference in the country.

The tie in the Big 12 South.

The cry that followed.

Politcking.

Text messages.

The high road.

Running it up.

Calling off the dogs. 

Flyovers.

"To me that's a little ridiculous," Bradford said.

That's a good way to end it, for now.

 

 

Posted on: November 12, 2008 11:49 am
 

National notes

The BCS bowls right now ...

BCS title game: Alabama/Florida vs. Texas/Texas Tech/Oklahoma
 
Orange: ACC vs. Utah/Boise
 
Fiesta: Texas/Texas Tech/Oklahoma vs. Ohio State
 
Sugar: Alabama/Florida loser vs. Big East
 
Rose: Penn State vs. USC
 
 
Notes: The SEC, Big 12 and Big Ten get two teams ... The Fiesta Bowl gets the first and third picks in this scenario ... That leaves the Sugar with the Big East chumps, er, champs ... Orange definitely gets the non-BCS team because it picks last. No one is going to take Utah or Boise ahead of it because those schools just aren't new stories.
 
 
 Your official ACC tiebreaker scenarios direct from the ACC office.

First, 10 of 12 teams are still alive for the ACC title including Duke, in last place in the Coastal Division at 4-5 and 1-4. Other than that, take a couple of Advil and read on.

Atlantic Division


Florida State (7-2, 4-2) -- beat Boston College and Maryland to finish the season and hope someone beats Wake Forest. FSU currently loses a tiebreaker to the Deacons.

Wake Forest (6-3, 4-2) -- needs to beat N.C. State and Boston College and hope someone defeats Maryland.

Maryland (6-3, 3-2) -- controls its own destiny. Beat North Carolina, Florida State and Boston College and it is in.

Boston College (6-3, 2-3) -- controls its own destiny. Needs to win at Florida State, at Wake Forest and at home against Maryland to win the division.

Clemson (4-5, 2-4) -- Can't win the division.

N.C. State (3-6, 1-4) -- Can't win the division.

Coastal Division

North Carolina (7-2, 3-2) -- win out against Maryland, N.C. State and Duke and hope someone beats Virginia Tech.

Miami (6-3, 3-2) -- win out against Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and N.C. State and hope North Carolina loses one more game.

Virginia Tech (6-3, 3-2) -- Controls its own destiny by beating Miami, Duke and Virginia.

Georgia Tech (7-3, 4-3) -- needs to beat Miami and have North Carolina lose twice, Virginia lose to Clemson and Virginia Tech lost two of its remaining three games (one to Virginia).

Virginia (5-5, 3-3) -- needs to beat Clemson and Virginia Tech and have someone beat both Miami and North Carolina

Duke (4-5, 1-4) -- beat Clemson, Virginia Tech and North Carolina to finish 4-4 in the division. Then, have Virginia lose to Clemson and beat Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech beat Miami and lose to Duke and Virginia. Georgia Tech lose to Miami and have Miami lose to Virginia Tech, beat Georgia Tech and lose to N.C. State. In addition, have North Carolina beat Maryland, but lose to N.C. State and Duke.

Got all that?

 

 All is not lost for Penn State.

 

There is a convoluted way that Joe Paterno can get to the national championship game.

1. Penn State wins out to go 11-1
2. Alabama loses to at least two of the three: Mississippi State, Auburn and Florida.
3. Texas Tech loses to Oklahoma and Baylor.
4. Oklahoma State defeats Oklahoma.
5. Missouri defeats Texas in the Big 12 title game.
6. USC loses once more to either Stanford, Notre Dame or UCLA.
7. Utah loses to San Diego State or BYU.

That would leave Florida No. 1 at 12-1. Bama, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Texas and USC would each have at least two losses. An undefeated Utah might not be a threat anyway but a loss to BYU ends the Utes' hope for making a miraculous run to the national championship game.
 
The only possible No. 2 would be Penn State. Hey, I told you it was convoluted.

 That got me thinking. How DOES Utah get to the national championship game?

 

1. Penn State loses to either Indiana or Michigan State.
2. through 4. above.
5. USC loses once more.
6. At that point, it probably wouldn't matter which team won the Big 12, Texas or Missouri. It would be close with Texas having one loss and Utah being undefeated.
7. All Utah would have to do is beat San Diego State and BYU to advance to the title game.

 No matter what the standings say, it's still all about Texas in the Big 12.

 

The university is in talks to launch its own TV network. Horns TV sounds a bit inappropriate in a cable universe populated with the likes of Playboy TV, but I'm sure the school will come up with something.

Texas has the nation's largest athletic budget, somewhere north of $120 million. It made non-qualifiers a deal breaker when the conference was formed 12 years ago. Nebraska and Kansas State complained loudly but went along. Look where those programs went shortly thereafter without the benefit of non-qualifiers.

Now Texas is bidding to take over the cable universe. Makes me wonder how Michael Crabtree ever got into the end zone a couple of weeks ago.

 Tim Tebow got away with it. John Parker Wilson didn't.

 

Wilson, Alabama's quarterback, said he regretted pantomiming a cell phone call to the LSU fans following a first-quarter touchdown at Death Valley. Unlike Tebow last year at LSU, Wilson was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. Tebow wasn't. Guess it depends on how innovativeness of your taunt.

"Whether it should have been a penalty or not, it doesn’t really matter," Wilson said. "It was just a bad decision, something I really shouldn’t have done."

The quarterback turned his cellie off on Thursday and didn't turn it on again until after the game on Saturday.

 They're talking contract extension for Randy Shannon at Miami. That's good news for a guy who started 2-3 after a 5-7 first season. The Canes are in contention for the ACC title (who isn't?) and should start 2009 in the top 25.

 

 Bo Pelini has waited until the week of the 11th game to break out the coveted "Blackshirts" for 11 of his best defenders.

 

Makes sense to reward the Huskers for their defense. They're 81st in total defense giving up 380 yards per game and 89th in scoring defense giving up 29.1 points.

 ESPN is in negotiations with the BCS to move all five BCS games to the cable side. I don't have a problem with all the games being on one network.  But this does allow the Worldwide Leader to increase its fees to cable companies which will be passed on to us, the consumer.

 

Posted on: November 2, 2008 2:28 pm
 

Random thoughts on a football Saturday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Florida has the Ol' Ball Coach back.

Younger, certainly, and less chatty. Plus, Urban Meyer doesn't have quite the swashbuckling nature of Steve Spurrier.

But he isn't far off.

Meyer no doubt hacked off Georgia -- and maybe some football purists -- with his little stage production at the end of Saturday's 49-10 victory over Georgia.

The coach called two inexplicable -- and indefensible -- timeouts in the final minute. Florida's second-team offense had the ball to run out the clock, or so we thought. At no time did backup quarterback Jeff Brantley take a knee.

Instead, Meyer called his team over to the sideline with both 44 and 31 seconds remaining.

"I wasn't paying attention to the first timeout," Florida safety Will Hill told the <em>New York Daily News</em>. "The second timeout, I'm thinking, 'That Urb is a funny guy.'"

Meyer had promised in his book "Urban's Way" that there would be retribution for Georgia's bum rushing of the field last season in the Cocktail Party. Up until that point, the teams had played it mostly straight.

The timeouts, though, were clearly calculated meant to drag out the agony for Georgia.

"(Tailback Emmanuel) Moody was running the ball real hard and I wanted to get him a couple of carries," Meyer said innocently. "Just trying to win a game."

Yeah, right. And Napoleon was trying to get his point across during this skirmishes in Europe.

Meyer gave himself away Saturday with a brief smile in the interview room. Other that, it was poker face all the way. That's the difference between him and Spurrier. The OBC always had a smirk or a wink.

Meyer has a can full of revengeful whup --- and he isn't afraid to use it.

The coach didn't endear himself to Miami fans earlier this season when he called for a late field goal in a 26-3 victory over the Hurricanes.

Miami coach Randy Shannon officially has a grudge leftover from that one. He was quoted last week as saying, "Something is going to happen," in the Florida-Georgia game. That almost put pressure on Meyer to do <em>something</em>.

"Watch that game. Don't watch ours," Shannon said. "I'm serious."

Florida got a winner when it hired Meyer four years ago. It didn't know it was getting a reasonable facsimile of Spurrier.

Meyer, though, is a bit more stealthy and charmless than the legend. This season he has put his foot on the throat of a couple rivals and pressed down. Are things even with Georgia now or do the Bulldogs retaliate at some future date? Miami won't have a chance for a few more years. The series doesn't continue until the next decade.

"You always respect the game of football," Meyer said.

Did Meyer respect it Saturday night? There is plenty of time to find out. They say what goes around comes around.  Meyer is still a young man in his 40s.

 Michigan's 33-year bowl streak is over after losing to Purdue 48-42.

 

Boilermakers' coach Joe Tiller what-the-helled-it calling for a hook-and-ladder in final minute. Purdue scored the winner with 26 seconds left.

Things are much more bleak than the last time Michigan didn't go to a bowl. That was 1974 and the Wolverines finished 10-1. Those were the days when only the Big Ten winner was allowed to go bowling, in the Rose Bowl.

 What's Tim Brewster doing throwing from deep in his own territory?

 

The Minnesota coach's decision to do just that might have cost his team a Jan. 1 bowl. Adam Weber's pass was intercepted near midfield and run in for a touchdown in Northwestern's 24-17 victory.

 Some things never change. West Virginia gave the Big East some hope with a 35-13 victory over UConn. The Mountaineers are the only team undefeated in conference play (6-2, 3-0) and have won five in a row.

 

 Just when you thought there was some sense to be made out of the ACC ... Division-leading Virginia lost to Miami in overtime. Florida State fumbled into the end zone allowing Georgia Tech to escape. Even Clemson won, beating Boston College at home.

 

The team with the ACC's best conference record, Maryland, didn't play. The Terps (6-2, 3-1) lead the Atlantic Division and are at Virginia Tech on Thursday. Georgia Tech (7-2, 4-2) has a half-game lead in the Coastal.

 It didn't just seem that every big game was close, it was the truth. Nine teams in the AP top 25 were involved in games decided by 10 points or less.

 

 Oklahoma State is 8-1 for only the third time in its history over beating Iowa State 59-17. Does anyone else think the Cowboys just might be the best in the Big 12? They will get a chance to prove it going to Texas Tech this week.

 

 For the record, it was warmer in Overland Park, Kan. this weekend than it was in Jacksonville, Fla. for the Cocktail Party. First Coast, my backside. Driving through downtown to get to the stadium, I had to negotiate a bum rush of a different kind. The city can get a Super Bowl but apparently it can't take care of its indigent.

It still boggles the mind that this city has an NFL franchise and has hosted at least one NCAA Tournament first-rounder. It is not major league.

Posted on: October 15, 2008 10:56 am
 

National notes at the halfway point

One of the best measures for an improved program is the games ahead/behind method. Look at baseball standings for an example. The NCAA includes a section in its statistics book each year that tracks the most improved teams from one year to the next. In 2007, it was Illinois which went from 2-10 in 2006 to 9-4 last season. That's an improvement of 6 1/2 games.

Hawaii holds the record improving by 8 1/2 games in 1999. Ironically, the Warriors might be on the opposite side of that stat this season.

At the halfway point, I thought it would be a good idea to figure the biggest improvements and biggest declines of the 2008 season. Remember, some of the numbers might be skewed because we've played only half a season. But this might be a good measuring stick for coach of the year candidates and provide a short list of coaches about to be fired.

Most improved

1. Minnesota +7 1/2 games (from 1-11 to 6-1)
2. Duke +5 1/2
3. North Carolina +4
4. Pittsburgh +3 1/2
5. several tied at +3

Biggest decline

1. Hawaii -5 1/2 games (from 12-1 to 3-3)
2. Central Florida, Tennessee -4
4. LSU, Arizona State, Florida Atlantic, Michigan, West Virginia, Rutgers, Kansas - 3 1/2

Most improved by conference: Baylor, +3; ACC, Duke +5 1/2; Big East, Pittsburgh, +3 1/2; Conference USA, Rice/Marshall, +3; Mountain West, Colorado  State/UNLV, +3; MAC, Ball State/Northern Illinois, +3; SEC, Vanderbilt/Ole Miss, +3; WAC, New Mexico State, +3: Independents, Notre Dame, +3; Big Ten,  Minnesota, +7 1/2; Sun Belt, Florida International/Louisiana-Lafayette, +3; Pac-10, Stanford, +2 1/2.

Biggest decline by conference: ACC, Boston College/Clemson/Virginia, -2 1/2; Big 12, Kansas, -3 1/2; Big East, West Virginia/Rutgers, -3 1/2; Big Ten, Michigan, -3 1/2;  Independents, Western Kentucky, -2 1/2; Conference USA, Central Florida -4; MAC, Bowling Green/Ohio/Miami (Ohio), -1 1/2; Mountain West, New Mexico, -3; SEC, Tennessee, -4; Pac-10, Arizona State -3 1/2; WAC, Hawaii -5 1/2; Sun Belt, Florida Atlantic, -3 1/2.

Storylines for the second half

Will anyone go unbeaten?: It looks like the SEC and Big 12 will cannibalize each other. That leaves a bunch of one-loss powers that also could include Ohio State, Penn State, USC and Utah or Brigham Young.

Heisman race: Tim Tebow won't repeat and the Big 12 looks like it has a lock on the 2008 winner. But which player?

JoePa In the Sky With A Headset: Can Penn State's venerable coach win a Big Ten title and national championship without setting foot on the field the rest of  the way? Physical problems continue to keep JoePa in the press box. When asked Tuesday if he needed a hip replacement, Paterno answered cryptically, "I don't  know." It isn't exactly Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds but anything Joe does the rest of the season is going to be followed closely.

The non-BCS challengers: TCU, BYU and Utah are all in the mix. If Tulsa can win at Arkansas on Nov. 1 the Golden Hurricane will be a factor. The MAC is  simply too tough for Ball State (7-0) to go undefeated but you have to root for the Cardinals. Their best receiver's career is over (Dante Love) and their quarterback (Nate Davis) wears gloves.

Biggest looming controversy: If a one-loss team from the SEC, Big Ten or Big 12 is edged out of the BCS title game by an undefeated non-BCS school.

Next coach to be fired: Given the swiftly declining situation at Auburn it might be Tommy Tuberville. Other than that, Washington's Tyrone Willingham and  Syracuse's Greg Robinson are locks. Keep an eye also on San Diego State's Chuck Long and Central Florida's George O'Leary.

Biggest upset looming out there: Not in terms of David and Goliath but watch the Texas at Texas Tech game on Nov. 1. If both teams keep winning you're looking at No. 1 Texas vs. a Red Raiders team that should be in the BCS top five. If Texas Tech wins try to wrap your mind around Mike Leach and his Pirate  Love jumping up to No. 1.

Get out your swords and Johnny Depp movies.

BCS bowl predictions at the halfway point

BCS title game: Penn State* vs. Oklahoma*
Fiesta Bowl: Texas vs. Alabama
Sugar Bowl: Florida* vs. South Florida*
Orange Bowl: BYU^ vs. Virginia Tech*
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. USC*

*-conference champ
^-non-BCS automatic qualifier

  Remember last week when Washington State held open tryouts to find a scout team quarterback? The winner of that competition, Peter Roberts, suddenly finds himself a viable backup option with the Cougars headed into the USC game.

 Speaking of injuries, it's a shame that two stars at Kentucky and North Carolina recently saw their careers end. Carolina's Brandon Tate, the I-A career  leader in kick return yards, is finished because of a knee injury. Exciting Kentucky receiver Dicky Lyons is done because of a knee ligament tear.

 

 Don't say I didn't warn you. I know what I said about Texas and Texas Tech above but indulge me: The way things are shaking out, a Kansas-Oklahoma State Big 12 title game isn't out of the question. If Texas beats Missouri on Saturday then it becomes more likely. Kansas is playing better and has Texas at home later in the season. KU and Missouri meet in Kansas City on Nov. 29.

 

Oklahoma State is playing better than anyone in the conference (that includes Texas). That head-to-head game is Oct. 25.

 Remember this when you watch BYU and TCU on Thursday night. BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall allows each special teams unit to name a captain. The captain then  names starters and backups for each unit. Wonder if that ever happens in the SEC?

 

 


Posted on: August 31, 2008 5:39 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2008 8:53 pm
 

Deep thoughts on a football Saturday

As long as I'm piling on the ACC couldn't resist this one ...

Well, it's not an ACC error per se but why not kick a mediocre league while it's down. It seems that Duke officials 
were shocked when parachutists descended into Wallace Wade Stadium with the game ball about an hour before Saturday's 
James Madison game. One problem. Duke hadn't ordered a game ball. However, North Carolina, eight miles away, did.

 Will we look back on this as the football equivalent of The Beatles playing the Cavern Club? In other words, the 
modest beginning for a monster talent? Terrelle Pryor looked more than capable in his career debut against 
Youngstown State, 35 yards passing, 52 yards rushing and a touchdown.

 

For up-to-the-minute updates go to Pryor's 24-hour webcam. You've got to see the archived stuff of him having the 
Caesar salad for lunch on Friday. Classic.

 Appalachian State won! The third quarter, 7-3 over LSU.

 

 Nothing like patience. This from a Detroit columnist: "(Michigan quarterback) Steven Threet needs to start based on his performance 
(against Utah)." After watching that mess in The Big House does it matter?

 

 Hawaii AD Jim Donovan is a smart, smart man. There are no more SEC teams on the Warriors schedule for the 
foreseeable future. The last two outings against the SEC have resulted in combined losses of 97-20 to Georgia and 
Florida.

 

 If you want to put a new name atop the hot seat list, feel free to add San Diego State's Chuck Long. We did get 
our designated I-AA upset late Saturday although it wasn't the earth shaker you might think. Cal Poly beat the Aztecs 
for the second time in three seasons. This time it was 29-27. A San Diego columnist the program "reached the bottom of its existence."

 

 Big 12 starting quarterbacks threw a combined 20 touchdown passes on Saturday. That's an average of 2.2 per man without two of the  nine starters throwing for a score. The breakdown:  Kansas' Todd Reesing (three), Missouri's Chase Daniel (three), Nebraska's Joe Ganz (four), Kansas State's Josh Freeman  (three), Texas' Colt McCoy (three), Texas' A&M Stephen McGee (none), Texas Tech's Graham Harrell (two), Oklahoma State's Zac  Robinson (none) and Oklahoma's Sam Bradford (two).

 


 Five years ago to the day Dennis Franchione started his Texas A&M career with a 26-11 victory over Arkansas State. 
Franchione's replacement, Mike Sherman,wasn't so fortunate losing to the Red Wolves 18-14 in his first game as 
Aggies' coach. The usually staid Associated Press called it "one of the most embarrassing losses in A&M history."  


 Nebraska recovered a fumble against Western Michigan. That brings the Huskers to one-third of their total for all 
of 2007.


 Pittsburgh is now 5-13 since starting 6-1 in 2006. 

 How important are those Virginia Tech special teams? Huge. The Hokies had won 17 consecutive games when blocking a 
kick. Ironically, East Carolina's T.J. Lee blocked a punt and scored the game-winning touchdown in a 27-22 Pirates' 
victory. East Carolina became the only team below the BCS level that beat a top 20 team. The other teams 
with a win over top 20 wins on Saturday were Missouri and Alabama.

 

The Pirates became the first Conference USA team to beat back-to-back ranked teams. They had defeated Boise State in 
last year's Hawaii Bowl. That says more about Conference USA than it does East Carolina. Conference USA is 13 years 
old.

 Injury watch: Georgia's monster defensive tackle Jeff Owens is out for the season with a knee. How many more injuries can UGA stand?...There are varying reports about the severity of Jeremy Maclin's injury late Saturday. Missouri's all-purpose 
king apparently twisted an ankle (X-rays were negative).

 

 Novenas are being said in Columbus for tailback Beanie Wells. Ohio State's tailback has some sort of right foot 
problem. Again, X-rays were negative. Even if he is 100 percent look for Jim Tressel to seriously limiting Wells' 
playing time this week against Ohio. The Bucks need him healthy for USC in two weeks. We should know something on Monday.

 

 Most impressive on opening weekend? It had to be USC which slapped around Virginia. Pete Carroll looked like he 
was sandbagging us during the preseason. Three weeks after dislocating his knee, quarterback Mark Sanchez looks 
ready and able to become the new Leinart after throwing for a career-high 338 yards.

 

"Everything happened just right," Carroll said. "Too bad we let them score."


 If you're looking ahead to Tennessee-UCLA on Monday night consider UCLA's Kevin Craft. The juco transfer 
quarterback faces some uphill odds. The last juco transfer qb to lead a team to a Pac-10 title was USC's Tim Green in 
1984.

 Hurricane Gustav's impact is being felt all the way to Alabama. Tulane has already gone threat ahead of the storm 
in preparations for this week's game at Alabama. Troy goes over to LSU in a game that could be a prime candidate for 
cancellation. The Category 3 storm is expected to hit Louisiana on Monday.

 

 OK, so there is no Terrelle Pryor 24-hour webcam but if you got down this far believing it, gotcha!

 


Posted on: August 14, 2008 11:11 pm
 

More "Things"

If 25 wasn't enough, here are three more "things" to watch in '08 ...

FutureSex/LoveSounds/PaternoBowden

No, this isn't a new Justin Timberlake disc. Remember when Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden used to be about who was going to retire the all-time victories record?

Now it's about which exit is going to be more ugly. Paterno is going Wallenda this season, working without a net, er, contract. Bowden has a succession plan in place but there is little buzz about his program this season.

Why do I get the feeling that both guys will still be coaching in 2009?


Overrated, underrated

Overrated:  Spring. Spring games are now televised.  Some whack marketer tried to conduct a series of concerts/pep rallies leading up to the games at several schools. Note to fans: These are practices. By the time the season rolls around you will have learned nothing. Sitting in the sun on a lawn chair sipping Michelob Ultra isn't bad, though.

Underrated:  These coaches who will soon have big-time jobs -- Al Golden (Temple); Brian Kelly (Cincinnati); Bronco Mendenhall (BYU); Mark Dantonio (Michigan State).


Just rated

Here's how the conferences stack up for 2008, 1-11

1. SEC
2. Big 12
3. Big Ten
4. Pac-10
5. Big East
6. ACC
7. Mountain West
8. Conference USA
9. WAC
10. MAC
11. Sun Belt

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