Tag:Penn State
Posted on: August 7, 2010 4:03 pm
 

Riffing on the preseason coaches' poll...

Nick Saban really is questioning whether Alabama is No. 1. He apparently gave his No. 1 vote to Ohio State.

Boise State is way too low at No. 5. I expected the Broncos to start at No. 3, at least. Nevertheless, Boise carries the banner for all non-BCS schools. Its ranking gives it a realistic chance at playing in the championship game if it goes undefeated. Only three conferences are represented among the four teams above it in the poll. Either Alabama or Florida will be "eliminated" when they meet Oct. 2. Boise should be concerned if Texas and/or Ohio State go undefeated. If two BCS conference teams go undefeated that could possibly block Boise. Of course, the Broncos should be used to that by now. The point is, Boise has the best shot of any team in the 13-year history of the BCS to become a non-BCS national champion.

Was it only two years ago that Georgia was the unanimous preseason No. 1? It starts this season at No. 21.

This is the third year in a row the SEC has been the coaches' preseason No. 1.

Looking ahead to 2011: There are five teams in the top 14 (including Nebraska) that will be Big Ten members next season.

No. 14 Penn State is the first team to play three teams that won BCS bowls the previous year. All three start the season in the top 10 -- No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Ohio State and No. 10 Iowa.

Oklahoma finished 2009 unranked. It debuts at No. 8.

No. 20 Florida State (7-6) has the worst 2009 record of any team in the top 25.

Surprise! Six SEC teams are in the poll.

Per urging from American Football Coaches Association director Grant Teaff, South Carolina's Steve Spurrier did not cast his traditional No. 25 vote for Duke, the school that gave him his first head coaching job.

No team has won back-to-back coaches' poll titles in the BCS era. USC won the AP title in 2003 and was unanimous champion in 2004. Of course, that might not last if the BCS rips the '04 title because of Reggie Bush.

It will be interesting to see where USC debuts in the AP poll. Remember, the Trojans can win a national championship in AP but cannot be considered in the coaches' poll. The Trojans could win the AP title but technically can't win its own conference. The program has been hit with a two-year bowl ban.

Posted on: August 2, 2010 9:38 am
Edited on: August 2, 2010 4:37 pm
 

Five things about the Big Ten

Sizing up the Big Ten going into the Big Ten media days in Chicago...

Divisional set up. Conference officials will begin talking this week about how to split the Big Ten in two beginning in 2011. That would be two six-team divisions and staging a championship, which is all but a certainty as league officials meet this week in Chicago. In a league that believes Dockers are a fashion statement, expansion to 12 teams is a radical step. Traditional rivalries are at stake. What do with the Old Oaken Bucket (Indiana-Purdue)? More importantly, what to do with Ohio State-Michigan? Competitive balance is first on commissioner Jim Delany’s list of priorities. But today’s slug (Michigan) could be tomorrow’s power. Don’t screw this one up, fellas. You’ve got a good thing going as it is. We don’t want too many Iowa-Northwestern championship games.

Joe goes for 400. No one is talking about it, but Joe Paterno is six victories away from 400 career victories. Only two other college coaches have made it to that number (Eddie Robinson, 408 and John Gagliardi, 471). The way the profession is structured today, it’s doubtful anyone will ever get to 400 again. Incredibly, JoePa has gotten better with age. His teams go to BCS bowls. He keeps recruiting with fervor. His staff stays mostly intact. We’re talking a modern miracle here, folks. Joe has been under the weather during the offseason with an intestinal disorder so it will be interesting to see how he looks at the media days. The Lions become the first team ever to play three teams that won BCS bowls the previous year. Alabama, Ohio State and Iowa are all on the road. Penn State hasn’t won in Iowa City since 1999 and has lost six of the last eight to Ohio State. Still, save the date: The way the schedule shapes up, win No. 400 will come on or around Oct. 30 against Michigan.

Malaise and blue. This is either the last year of the Rich Rodriguez era or the takeoff point for Michigan getting back on track. There is no in-between with a new athletic director in place and pending NCAA penalties on the horizon. Rich Rod is going to have to win – big, it says here -- to save his job. With the school trotting out a $225 million refurbishment of the Big House this season, another losing season won’t be tolerated. The angst starts Sept. 4 against UConn.

Define “pause.” That’s the term Delany used on June 11 to describe the current state of Big Ten expansion.  That was also the day Nebraska formally announced it had joined the league. That means college athletics still is sitting with a tack on its chair. There’s this uncomfortable feeling that things aren’t settled. Notre Dame could decide tomorrow it wanted in and we’d be in for another round of expansion turmoil. Texas could spend two years in the 10-team Big 12 and decide it doesn’t want to go to Waco and Ames anymore. Those two scenarios aren’t likely but Delany isn’t closing the book on expansion either. Going into Monday’s media days, he hasn’t quite defined what hitting the pause button means. For now, the Big Ten, which has an 11 in its logo, will expand to 12 beginning in 2011. 

Ohio Statement. After winning its first Rose Bowl in 10 years, the Big Ten is on a roll. It beat four top 15 teams in bowls last season. Even in losing, it proved its worth. Northwestern gave Auburn a tussle in the Outback Bowl.  Iowa’s Adrian Clayborn may be this season’s Ndamukong Suh. Wisconsin seems to have the running thing down (a 1,000-yard rusher in 15 of the last 17 seasons). It’s up to Ohio State, though, to complete the comeback. The Buckeyes won their first Rose Bowl in 14 years, have a Heisman candidate in Terrelle Pryor and most probably will start the season ranked No. 2.  This season is a success in Columbus and around the Big Ten only if Ohio State plays for in a third national championship game in nine years.
 

Posted on: July 7, 2010 4:50 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2010 5:51 pm
 

Preseason mags' top 25

We love the polls. College football polls to be specific. Preseason college football polls to be exact.

There is the annual cry to get rid of them. Hogwash. First, the Associated Press isn't going to disappoint its subscribers by scrapping one of its most popular offerings of the year. Second, there would be no preseason magazines without preseason top 25s.

And last time I checked, the magazines aren't going away either. We need them. We want them. The likes of Athlon and Lindy's are selling better than ever. There are regional editions. Sure, some of them outdated by the time they hit the stands. (USC No. 3, Athlon? Really?) That's OK. The sport is year-round now. It's not going to stop for a printing press.

The mags' arrival officially stirs the juices. Suddenly, it's OK to break down the Sun Belt, predict the WAC. Argue about the SEC East. That's why this blog is devoted to one of my annual obsessions -- a combined poll from all the preseason magazines.

I combined five polls, from The Sporting News, Phil Steele, Lindy's, Athlon. Yahoo Sports and CBSSports.com. Our official preseason poll won't come out until late August. For this purpose, then, I'm using my post-spring top 25.

A few notes, rules and notifications:

*Each school was assigned a number in descending order. Twenty-five points for a No. 1 ranking, 24 for No. 2, etc.

*Schools are then ranked from highest-point total to lowest.

*I also included an average poll rank, mostly because not all the schools were named in all five polls. Example: Oregon State finished No. 25 because it got 11 points from being ranked No. 15 in The Sporting News.  The likes of Cincinnati (eight points) and Utah (five) were ranked in two polls but finished with fewer total points than Oregon State.

*Thirty seven schools received votes.

*Alabama was not a consensus No. 1. Phil Steele made some waves by picking Oklahoma No. 1.

The annual compilation:

1. Alabama: Duh. Haven't lost an SEC regular-season game since 2007. Highest rank, No. 1. Lowest, No. 3 (148 points, Avg. rank between No. 1 and No. 2)

2. Ohio State: The Big Ten is back. Ohio State never left. Highest rank, No. 2. Lowest rank, No. 3. (142 points. Avg. rank between No. 2 and No. 3)

3. Boise State: Should be a consensus top five pick with major polls debut next month. Highest rank, No. 2. Lowest rank, No. No. 6. (136 points. Average rank between No. 3 and No. 4)

4. Florida: Fastest team in the country, again. Highest rank, No. 4. Lowest rank, No. 7. (123 points. Avg. rank between No. 5 and No. 6)

5. TCU: Nation's best defense the past two seasons. Highest rank, No. 4. Lowest rank, No. 11. (113 points. Avg. rank between No. 7 and No. 8)

6. Nebraska: Fitting that these two are tied. They hate each other. Highest rank, No. 5. Lowest rank, No. 11 (112 points. Average rank between No. 7 and No. 8)

7. Oregon: Most talent in the Pac-10. Highest rank, No. 6. Lowest rank, No. 15 (111 points. Avg. rank between No. 7 and No. 8)

8. Texas: Adding physicality to offense. Highest rank, No. 4. Lowest rank, No. No. 11 (110 points. Avg. rank between No. 7 and No. 8)

9. Oklahoma: Rebuilding into Big 12 and national power again. Highest rank, No. 1. Lowest rank, No. 12. (106 points. Avg. rank between No. 8 and No. 9)

10. Virginia Tech: Class of the ACC until further notice. Highest rank, No. 8. Lowest rank, No. 13. (94 points. Avg. rank between No. 10 and No. 11)

11. (tie) USC: Two-year bowl ban begins. Does the dynasty continue? Highest rank, No. 3. Lowest rank, No. 16. (90 points. Avg. rank No. 11)

Iowa: Sexy dark horse pick in the Big Ten. Highest rank, No. 8. Lowest rank, No. 14. (90 points. Avg. rank No. 11)

13. Wisconsin: Fresh from pounding Miami. Factor in Big Ten. Highest rank, No. 6. Lowest rank, No. 23. (82 points. Avg. rank between No. 12 and No. 13)

14. Miami: Starting to look like Canes of old. Highest rank, No. 4. Lowest rank, No. 14. (79 points. Avg. rank between No. 12 and No. 13)

15. Florida State: New coach, healthy quarterback. Great prospects. Highest rank, No. 14. Lowest rank, No. 20. (60 points, Avg. rank No. 16)

16. Arkansas: Petrino starting to work his magic with Ryan Mallett. Highest rank, No. 16. Lowest rank, No. 21. (50 points, Avg. rank between No. 17 and No. 18)

17. North Carolina: Nation's best defense? Highest rank, No. 12. Lowest rank, No. 24. (48 points. Avg. rank No. 18)

18. Pittsburgh: Coming first 10 win season since 1981. Highest rank, No. 14. Not ranked by Steele. (45 points. Avg. rank No. 17)

19. LSU: Les Miles on the hot seat? Highest rank, No. 18. Not ranked by Steele. (35 points. Avg. rank No. 19)

20. Georgia Tech:
Defending ACC champs seem to have gotten better. Highest rank, No. 13. Not ranked by Steele, Yahoo and Athlon. (30 points. Avg. rank No. 16)

21. Auburn: Chizik not ready to cede state to Alabama. Highest rank, No. 15. Not ranked by Lindy's and Yahoo. (29 points. Avg. rank between No. 18 and No. 19)

22. Penn State: JoePa going for No. 400. Highest rank, No. 18. Not ranked by Sporting News. (27 points. Avg. rank No.  20 and No. 21)

23. Georgia: New AD could be the least of Dawgs' problems. Highest rank, No. 15. Not ranked by CBSSports.com and Sporting News. (24 points. Avg. rank No. 20)

24. West Virginia: Noel Devine could carry 'Neers to a BCS bowl. Highest rank, No. 19. Not ranked by Athlon and Yahoo. (16 points. Avg. rank No. 22)

25. Oregon State: Mike Riley always has Beavers in contention. Highest rank, No. 15. Not ranked by CBSSports.com, Steele, Lindy's and Athlon. (15 points. Avg. rank between No. 18 and No. 19)

Other teams receiving votes: Notre Dame, Connecticut, Missouri, South Carolina, Cincinnati, Utah, Houston, Clemson, Arizona, Stanford, Washington, Navy.

Notes: To no one's surprise the SEC led all conferences with six teams in the top 25 (Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Georgia) ... To everyone's surprise, the ACC was second with five teams (Virginia Tech, Miami, Florida State, North Carolina, Georgia Tech) ... The Big 12 had three of the top 10 (Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska) ... The ACC, Big Ten and Big 12 each had three teams in the top 15 ... Every national champion since 1999 is represented in the top 25 ... Six states had multiple teams in the poll. Florida led all states with three (Miami, Florida, Florida State).

 

Posted on: June 12, 2010 9:49 am
Edited on: June 12, 2010 9:51 am
 

Expand-O-Meter, Saturday, June 12

Days college athletics has been held hostage (since Big Ten announced expansion exploration on Dec. 15): 179
 
Having a good day: Nebraska. At the beginning of the week, a Baylor yahoo lobbyist call its fans "corn shuckers". Good luck in Conference USA, dude. The Big Ten is going to love Lincoln. It's bigger than West Lafayette, flatter than State College and more, um, culturally enlightening than East Lansing. It's got cool clubs, a new 16,000-seat arena going up and minor league baseball. Entry into the Big Ten is a game changer for Nebraska. Can't wait until Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State come marching into Memorial Stadium. One of the best game day experiences anywhere just got kicked up a notch.

Having the bad day: Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon. He just can't help himself. Nixon ratcheted up the angst in the Big 12 early on by disparaging the conference's academics (as compared to the Big Ten). Now his alma mater is beginning to look a lot like Tom Hanks in Castaway in conference realignment. With the dominoes tumbling around him, Nixon -- the governor, mind you -- weighed in on college football with the Columbia Tribune.

“We need to have a football playoff system,” Nixon said. “Maybe getting some of these mega-conferences will get some order there. We’ve got this BCS system of Mizzou beating Kansas and Kansas going to the Orange Bowl … and having votes to decide which is the best team when every other sport — EVERY OTHER SPORT — has playoffs. I look at this potentially as an opportunity for the larger conferences to have more sway vis-à-vis the NCAA and get what I think fans across America need and deserve: a real playoff for NCAA football. When you’ve got a larger conference they’ve got a bigger voice, and they’re the ones negotiating with Fox, ABC, NBC, ESPN, CBS, then you’re not in that old boy network of the bowls, which I think is the relic of the past.”

Given that Nixon has become the Babe Ruth Curse of Mizzou, you can now bet a playoff is what isn't coming.

Quote of the day: "This beautiful girl, quite honestly, wasn't going to be there forever." -- Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany welcoming Nebraska into the league.

Link of the day: A heart-wrenching look at the demise of the Big 12 from the center of the conference, Kansas City.

On tap: A 16-team Pac-10 by Wednesday.

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: February 10, 2010 10:30 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2010 2:02 pm
 

More expansion: A proposed new look

The Mountain West is on notice.

The Big East too.

Don’t forget the Big 12 which could be ripped asunder.

One or all of those conferences are going to be impacted if, as expected, the Pac-10 and Big Ten expand in the near future.

After writing about the big picture on Wednesday, we’re here to speculate freely about how other conferences might be impacted.

Mountain West: After leading his league to the brink of BCS automatic qualifying status, commissioner Craig Thompson has to be concerned.

A BYU-Utah defection to the Pac-10 makes a lot of sense. In basketball, the league has travel partners (Washington-Washington State, Arizona-Arizona State). The Utes and Cougars are bitter rivals but would be make ideal additions due to the far-flung nature of the league.

I still don’t know how the Pac-10 views the academic aspect of expansion, so I’m not sure how it views the combination of a state school (Utah) and what amounts to a private school (BYU). If there is a fallback, it could be San Diego State.

If the Big Ten were to take Missouri, that’s a potential three teams ripped from the Mountain West and could mean the end of the league.  The three most likely replacements would be Boise State, Fresno State and Texas-El Paso.

The best non-BCS league could find itself teetering on the edge of existence, or at least relevance.

Big 12: The biggest hit comes if both Colorado (Pac-10) and Missouri (Big Ten) leave.

If Missouri or Colorado leave, the Big 12 would go get TCU from the Mountain West. While that would wound the MWC, the league would most likely then invite Boise State.

If both Colorado and Missouri left, the Big 12 would get TCU and, maybe, Houston? Either way, the Big 12’s TV stature would shrink.

Big East: The league was almost wiped out when the ACC expanded five years ago. What happens if Pittsburgh, Syracuse or Rutgers is taken by the Big Ten?

Most likely the Big East would raid Conference USA for Central Florida. That would get the league further into Florida. UCF is third-largest school in the country (53,000) behind Ohio State and Arizona State. There's got to be some football players in there somewhere. Plus, the school has made a huge commitment to facilities.

Sooner or later doesn’t Big East football and basketball have to split? The unwieldy existence between the two sides (16 teams in basketball, only eight of which play football).

After the wounds caused by the ACC, another hit could cause the end of the Big East in football.

My latest look on how the Big Ten, Pac-10, Big 12 and MWC might look in the future.

BIG TEN 
Schembechler Division

Iowa
Missouri
Michigan
Michigan State
Minnesota
Northwestern

Grange Division
Illinois
Indiana
Ohio State
Penn State
Purdue
Wisconsin

BIG 12
North Division
Nebraska
Colorado
Kansas
Kansas State
Iowa State
TCU

South Division
Texas
Texas Tech
Texas A&M
Oklahoma
Baylor
Oklahoma State

 

PAC-10
North Division
Oregon
Oregon State
Washington State
Cal
Stanford
Washington

South Division
BYU
Utah
Arizona
Arizona State
USC
UCLA

MOUNTAIN WEST
Fresno State
Boise State
Texas-El Paso
Air Force
Wyoming
UNLV
San Diego State
New Mexico
Colorado State

 

 

Posted on: November 19, 2009 6:00 pm
Edited on: November 20, 2009 10:48 am
 

Son of Weekend Watch List

It's that insane time of year when we have been asked to pick the best players in the country -- before all the games are played.

Some awards are narrowing their lists of semifinalists to finalists after Saturday's games. That would be with two weeks left in the regular season. Those kinds of deadlines are particularly unfair especially at  quarterback and running back where there are multiple candidates.

(I never understood the whole semifinalist-finalist thing anyway. It’s just a way to string out and hype the award.)

The Heisman has always been a pet peeve for me. So much can happen in bowls that sometimes the winner is diminished (see Oklahoma’s Jason White in the 2004 Sugar Bowl) or the person who should be the real winner emerges (see Vince Young in the 2006 Rose Bowl).

But at least the Heisman gives voters enough time to wait until after all the regular-season games are played. Not so for most of the other awards, of which there are way too many.

A couple of pieces of information came across SOWWL's desk this week. The list of three finalists for the Davey O'Brien Award (best quarterback) are expected by 1 p.m. ET on Sunday. How, on Sunday, are we supposed to pick between Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow, Case Keenum, Kellen Moore, Jimmy Clausen, Andy Dalton and Bill Stull? Those are seven names that come to mind at the moment . There might be more.

Consider that McCoy and Tebow still have to play conference championship games. Moore is the nation’s most efficient passer working on an undefeated season. Dalton and Stull are among the most improved quarterbacks in the country.

I'm considering waiting at least another week to vote. If the O'Brien folks don't approve, tough spit.

The  Doak Walker Award’s list of the 10 semifinalists was released this week. The list did not include the nation’s fourth-leading rusher Bernard Pierce (Temple), the SEC's second-leading rusher Anthony Dixon (of Mississippi State, eighth in the country) or the Pac-10’s second-leading rusher (LaMichael James of Oregon).

It did include the nation’s No. 46 rusher, C.J. Spiller of Clemson who should be considered the best all-purpose runner in the country, not the best running back. 

Missouri’s Danario Alexader is fifth in catches per game and third in receiving yards per game after catching 10 balls for 200 yards against Kansas State. You won’t find him on the list of the 10 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award (best receiver). Three of the 10 players have been injured or left their team.

There is a safety net. Candidates can be written in, however voters are a group are traditionally lazy. They tend to vote for what is in front of them. One exception was 2007 when the Biletnikoff process was so off the mark in 2007 that Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree won as a write-in candidate.

The main reason for these incredibly early lists is college football’s awards show. It airs the Thursday after the end of the regular season. If the awards committees want to be seen on national TV, then they have to cow tow to ESPN deadlines.

Here’s another idea: How about setting yourself apart and waiting until after the bowl season? Somehow I think some network or another would still televise the Heisman ceremony.

Etc: Cincinnati is one of the few teams that could afford having a quarterback in jail. No biggie, there’s always Tony Pike …  A loss to Ohio State would doom Michigan to its worst Big Ten finish since 1962 … Iowa (vs. Minnesota) and Penn State (at Michigan State) both need to win to stay in BCS consideration … Connecticut’s Zach Frazer has a chance this week to become one of the few players in history to play both for and against Notre Dame. Frazer transferred from ND in 2007 … Receiver Jordan Shipley will replace the suspended D.J. Monroe for Texas on kick returns this week against Kansas … Texas has scored 10 non-offensive touchdowns this season (defense and special teams). That leads the nation and is a school record … Miami’s Jacory Harris (at home vs. Duke) has thrown 16 interceptions, the most of the top 100 passers rated by the NCAA.

Posted on: November 18, 2009 12:29 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2009 3:14 pm
 

National notes

We all know that the SEC rules our lives. So what are we to make of the release this week of The Blind Side, the much-hyped movie adaptation of the famous book?

To me, it's free advertising for the coaches and schools involved. Free recruiting advertising.

Think that other coaches aren't jealous? The movie features Nick Saban (as LSU's coach), Houston Nutt (as Arkansas' coach), Tommy Tuberville (as Auburn's coach), Phil Fulmer (as Tennessee's coach) and, uh, Lou Holtz.

Sure, they're at other jobs, or out of jobs, but think about what they represent. When they watch the movie potential recruits will see the current coach of Alabama (Saban), the current coach at Ole Miss (Nutt) and a couple of out-of-work coaches who will be getting free advertising -- Tuberville and Fulmer.

I'm all for Tubby and Fulmer getting new jobs. Holtz, well, I think you know my stance on him. This is not the economy of health care, I just wonder if the rest of the SEC coaches, or the rest of college football will be so thrilled about Friday's premier.

Fiesta frolic: The Fiesta seemingly holds the fate of Boise State in the BCS. The bowl would get the second pick after the Sugar Bowl if the rankings remain the same -- Florida or Alabama at No. 1 and Texas at No. 2.

The Sugar Bowl would take the Gators-Tide loser because it would have lost its anchor team, the SEC champion, to the BCS championship game. The Fiesta would pick second because it would have lost its anchor team, the Big 12 champion (Texas). In that scenario, the only threat to the Broncos -- unless Texas is upset – is Oklahoma State. It could finish 10-2 and qualify as an at-large team.

Qualify is a relative term. It was communicated to me this week that the Fiesta Bowl considers its relationship with the Big 12 similar to that of the Rose Bowl with the Pac-10 and Big Ten. In other words, the Fiesta isn’t passing up a BCS-eligible Oklahoma State to take Boise State.

A lot has to happen: The Cowboys still have to beat Colorado and, more significantly, win at Oklahoma to finish 10-2. The Pokes would be going to Glendale having finished second in the Big 12 South with no wins over currently ranked teams.

Boise, then, has to be big Oklahoma fans on Nov. 28. If not, the at-large teams look like this: TCU, Big Ten (Iowa/Wisconsin/Penn State), SEC (Florida/Alabama) and Oklahoma State. The six other slots are taken up by the six major-conference champions.

TCU search: Sometimes you just get lucky. Nine years ago, the TCU coaching search’s was kept  small and secret. Dennis Franchione was going to Alabama. Then-TCU AD Eric Hyman was joined by NFL personnel guru Gil Brandt and TCU trustee Malcolm Louden.

They climbed into a private jet, hitting as many candidates as possible in as short a time as possible. Your loyal blogger recently obtained that candidates list:

Sonny Lubick, former Colorado State coach and former assistant at Miami
Rick Minter, former Cincinnati coach
Watson Brown, former coach at Alabama-Birmingham and current coach at Tennessee Tech
Jeff Bower, former coach at Southern Miss
Dave McGinnis, former head coach of the Arizona Cardinals and TCU grad. McGinnis is now an assistant with the Tennessee Titans.
Dan McCarney, former Iowa State coach and current defensive line coach at Florida

After running through that group, The Thoughtful Three came back and found their guy in their backyard. They picked Dennis Franchione’s defensive coordinator, a guy named Gary Patterson. Things seem to have worked out.

McGinnis never was a head coach after the Cardinals. Bower was let go at Southern Miss a couple of years ago. Brown had a mostly mediocre stay at Alabama-Birmingham. Lubick is retired. Minter left Cincinnati after 2003 and is currently the defensive coordinator at Marshall.

“I watched Gary coach the defense and I knew he was a genius,” said Hyman now the South Carolina AD.

Goodbye, Dick Tomey: The classy, accomplished San Jose State coach retired this week (effective at the end of the season) reminded of the biggest tragedy of his career.

In 1995 while coaching at Arizona, Tomey endured the death of Damon Terrell. During a preseason workout Terrell collapsed due to sickle cell trait and died about a month later. A hospital technician removed a tube leaving an air bubble in Terrell’s bloodstream. He died not from a disease but because of hospital error.

Tomey was given the news during a game that year against Georgia Tech.

“That was gut wrenching … Damon was out of the woods, he was going to recover,” Tomey said. “At halftime of the game they told me that Damon had passed away. They weren’t going to tell a anyone else, because people were watching on television. The hospital had made an error.

“I knew it and I couldn’t tell anybody. I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to be anywhere …  I went in the lockerroom after the game. I was about to explode. I had to tell the guys their teammate had died. It was the most gut-wrenching thing. The outpouring of affection for that young man was amazing but the circumstances were clearly the most difficult thing I ever had to deal with.”

The next week at Illinois, Arizona called timeout before the opening kickoff. They formed the letters “D” and “T” with helmets held to the sky.

Most improved: So far it’s Idaho and SMU. They’re tied. Each is five games better than last season.

Idaho has gone from 2-10 to 7-4. SMU has rebounded from 1-11 to 6-4. Iowa State’s Paul Rhoads is the most successful first-year coach to this point improving the Cyclones, 6-5, four games from last season.

 

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