Tag:Big Ten
Posted on: December 13, 2010 1:37 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2010 6:05 pm
 

Dungeons, Dragons and Big Ten divisions

The new Big Ten has 12 teams and will start every season with two Ls.

If this has you confused, it's meant to in the new Large Dozen. The Big Ten made a big deal Monday out of revealing the names of its two six-team divisions. Then it underwhelmed us. The divisions are named Leaders and Legends. Not to be confused with Dungeons and Dragons or Abbott and Costello.

Leaders Division:  Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin

Legends Division:  Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern


"There's nothing, maybe, like it out there," Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said.

That's certainly true. With all the great history and tradition available to it, the haughty Big Ten went low brow, corporate, generic. Leaders and Legends? That's the name of the trophy store down the street. What were "Gods" and "Superheroes" already taken? One thing for sure: The league won't be getting any cease and desist letters from famous people unless it's this guy. Sign ups are now being taken for summer school classes just to memorize the members of each division.

"Maybe if people don't embrace it in the first hour," Delany said, "they will in the first 24 or 36."


It's likely to take longer, if ever. If you're like me you're already wondering how the league promotes a Leaders Division showdown between Purdue and Indiana. It also prompts the question: Are the Leaders not legends and the Legends not leaders? And the alliteration thing is about as clever as a handoff to Archie Griffin. Delany was asked if the "two Ls" thing won't be associated with losses.

"You're the first one who has mentioned it," Delany said.

Apparently the commish wasn't on Twitter Monday which blew up with general mockery and disgust. A firm no doubt got six figures to "consult" on the division names and new logo. You'll love that when you see it. The league was cute with its embedded "11" in the old logo. In the new one, the "I" in "Big" has turned into "1". The "G" is meant to kind of simulate a "0". Maybe, but the "G" also looks like a "6". The league might be sending us a Da Vinci Code message on its future expansion plans.

"Now that you mention it ...," Delany said of a possible interpretation of "Big 16" in the new logo.

What is this a trademark or an M.C. Escher print?

All those names, all those (lower-case) legends and the league completely blew it. Schembechler and Hayes divisions would have been perfect. If Delany was worried about favoring individuals, then consider none of what went on Monday would have been possible without Bo and Woody enhancing the brand.

Instead the league used some of those people names for its conference awards, hyphenating them to get as many leaders and legends into the mix as possible. That makes the league's major awards look like chick-flick characters from your basic Lifetime movie. Who can forget Meredith Baxter-Birney playing Colleen Stagg-Paterno in "Looking For Love in Iowa City"?

My take on the subject wouldn't be complete without a list of suggested division names from myself and Twitter followers earlier on Monday. We got your generic right here.

Posted on: December 13, 2010 10:42 am
Edited on: December 13, 2010 11:01 am
 

Big Ten to reveal division names on Monday

The Big Ten just announced it will reveal its division names Monday at noon ET.

Let the naming carousel begin. I've always favored "Schembechler" and "Grange" divisions but that causes immediate consternation with Ohio State. Maybe, "God" and "D-----" division names would be more appropriate considering Bo and Woody's salty language.

Anyway the suggestions are pouring in via Twitter.

Block and Tackle

Three Yards and A Cloud of Dust

Wine and Cheese (or is it Whine and Cheese?)

BCS Works and Little Brothers of the Rich

Fields and Furnaces

Rust and Corn

Rust and Belt

Lakes and Plains

Snow and Drift

Not and Expanding

Nebraska and Others Also Playing

Murderers Row East and Murderers Row West

Big and Slow

Not Texas and Not Notre Dame

SEC East Jr. and SEC West Jr.

$ and %

Pure Prairie League and Great Flyover

Windfall and Bowl Split

Autoworkers and Cropdusters

Corn and Beef

Pasa and Dena

Black and Blue




Keep 'em coming. I'll update before noon ET
Category: NCAAF
Tags: Big Ten
 
Posted on: November 23, 2010 6:14 pm
 

BCS releases list of at-large candidates

The BCS exclusionary?

Not today with 22.5 percent of Division I-A still eligible for BCS bowls. That's the conclusion after reading a BCS press release Tuesday afternoon. The BCS released its list of teams still under consideration for the five elite bowls. In addition to the 19 teams contending for automatic berths by winning their conference there are still eight teams being considered for at-large berths.

Those are:

No. 11 (in the BCS) Alabama, 9-2. Eliminated from the SEC, the Tide could get in the conversation by beating Auburn.

No. 21 Arizona, 7-3. A longshot even if the Wildcats beat Oregon this week.

No. 12 Arkansas, 9-2. The LSU game is a playoff to stay alive in the BCS.

No. 4 Boise, 10-0. Let's be honest, if the Broncos don't win out they're not going to a BCS bowl.

No. 5 LSU, 10-1. The highest-ranked one-loss team would seem to be in if it beats Arkansas.

No. 19 Nevada, 10-1. Another longshot even with a win over Boise on Friday.

No. 20 Utah, 9-2. Consecutive losses to TCU and Notre Dame doomed the Utes.

No. 3 TCU, 11-0. The Frogs are nervous. If they are passed by Boise for the No. 3 spot, their BCS bowl chances are in jeopardy.

To be eligible for an at-large berth, a team must finish in the top 14 of the BCS standings. For a non-A.Q. (automatic qualifier) conference champion to get into a BCS bowl it must finish in the top 12. (Top 16 if it is ranked higher than a champion from a power conference.) Only the highest-ranked non-A.Q. meeting those parameters is guaranteed a spot in the BCS. 

What's amazing is that there are 19 teams still alive for automatic berths:

ACC: Florida State, North Carolina State, Virginia Tech
Big East: UConn, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, West Virginia
Big Ten: Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin
Big 12: Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M
Pac-10: Oregon, Stanford
SEC: Auburn, South Carolina

Posted on: November 11, 2010 10:40 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2010 2:48 pm
 

Son of Weekend Watch List

Much credit to Bill Livingston of the Cleveland Plain Dealer for the work on these Joe Paterno statistics: As JoePa pursues win No. 401 Saturday at Ohio State , it's worth noting how he won a significant portion of his first 400. For the first 27 years of his head coaching career, Penn State played as an independent. The Nittany Lions regularly faced these six Eastern independents -- West Virginia, Syracuse, Rutgers, Temple, Pittsburgh and Boston College .

The Suspect Six weren't exactly national powers, at least they weren't against Paterno. Penn State was 112-14-1 against those schools before joining the Big Ten. Throw in the service academies -- Army, Navy and Air Force were especially devastated during the Vietnam War -- and Joe was 130-16-1. Those 130 victories before joining the Big Ten account for more than half of his wins as an independent and 32.5 percent of his total victories ...

Who keeps track of this stuff? Michigan can win its 300th all-time game in November against Purdue ... Two backup quarterbacks go at it in Atlanta. Miami freshman Stephen Morris led a last-minute win over Maryland last week. Georgia Tech goes with sophomore Tevin Washington who replaces Josh Nesbitt , out with a broken arm ... With a win over Kent State , Army (5-4) assures that all three service academies are bowl eligible ... Syracuse (6-3 heading to Rutgers) is one of just nine I-A teams with four road wins ...

This is where playing I-AAs becomes a liability. Arizona State (4-5) must win its final three games to become bowl eligible. The Sun Devils played two I-AAs and now must sweep Stanford, UCLA and Arizona ... SEC teams are averaging 31 points per game, the most since expansion in 1992 ... Vanderbilt has attempted four field goals and 72 punts ... The Big East has no bowl eligible teams. At this point last year it had three.


Posted on: November 3, 2010 11:28 am
Edited on: November 3, 2010 11:57 am
 

National notes

There are worse coaching-change strategies: Elevate a 70-year-old former coach who has won that school's only national championship and still has the fire in his belly.

That seems to be the way it's trending at Colorado where Dan Hawkins' fifth year at the school has the adopted title of a Sean Penn movie . Bill McCartney's name is being more than floated at Colorado. Mac is practically campaigning for his former job .

"Colorado football is a sleeping giant!" McCartney told the Denver Post recently.

Mac may have it half right. The Colorado icon is interested and ready, even if it has been 17 years since we walked away from CU citing family concerns. It was Mac who survived a rocky start -- to put it mildly -- to shape Colorado into national power. The Buffs were 7-25-1 in his first three seasons which would make him shark bait in this impatient age. The administration showed faith, McCartney made Nebraska a designated rival and he began recruiting Southern California. The program then won its only national championship in 1990 (shared with Georgia Tech). I spoke to McCartney recently about the infamous Fifth Down game that made that championship possible.

Bringing Mac back would a kind of bridge hire to get the program back on track much like 71-year-old Bill Snyder at Kansas State. 

"I know this, Bill McCartney is as fine a football coach as I`ve ever known," Snyder said earlier this season. "If he wanted to go back at the age of 90, he would still be extremely successful."

Colorado definitely needs some healing. The Hawkins thing just hasn't worked out. The former Boise coach is 19-38 at CU heading into this week's Kansas game. His tenure has been sort of a warning for all coaches who might think the grass is greener. In this case it certainly has been a warning to Chris Petersen who has been wildly successful since replacing Hawkins.

CU doesn't seem to be that far away. It won the Big 12 North as recently as 2005 and won division titles four of five years beginning in 2001. Those Gary Barnett days look pretty good right now. Hawkins could save his job with a bowl but it doesn't seem likely. The Buffs, 3-5, need to win three out of their last four to get bowl eligible. If not, AD Mike Bohn needs to hit a home run for one, big obvious reason: He hired Hawkins. The Buffs are moving to the Pac-12, a new chapter in their history, and can't afford to keep languishing. Bohn might be put off by McCartney's time away from the game, but with Snyder coming back and Joe Paterno going after his 400th win experience has to count for something.


Would McCartney embrace modern notions like the spread offense? Does he have the energy to recruit? Those are questions yet to be answered. There has been speculation about the makeup of the staff. Former CU and Broncos player Dave Logan has been mentioned as an assistant. Logan is currently a high school coach in the Denver area. Other names heard as possible McCartney staff members: former CU player and assistant Jon Embree (Redskins tight ends coach) and the Buffs' career rushing leader Eric Bieniemy (Vikings running backs coach).


* The most likely way the BCS standings come into play in the Big Ten tiebreaker is if Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan State all tie at 7-1. The Badgers currently lead in the BCS standings at No. 9. There is still the possibility of a four-way tie that would include Illinois, with each team at 6-2.


Ohio State is tied for the top spot in the Big Ten with a team it does not play, Michigan State (each are 4-1). Wisconsin is at 3-1 having beaten Ohio State and Iowa and losing to Michigan State. Either Iowa, also 3-1, or Ohio State probably will be eliminated from the race when they meet Nov. 20 in Iowa City.
 
The Buckeyes are gunning for a conference record-tying sixth consecutive Big Ten title. Ohio State has the toughest road to the Big Ten title if you consider combined conference records of remaining opponents (6-6).  Wisconsin has the easiest road (5-11). Michigan State hasn't won the league since 1990. For Wisconsin, it has been since 1999. Iowa hasn't won it since 2004.

 Even if the Large Eleven is out of the national championship picture, the league has played in the most BCS bowl games (21) and will probably get two teams in again this season.

* Phil Fulmer is the latest name to surface at Minnesota, mostly because Fulmer himself all but expressed interest at Minnesota recently.

“Minnesota has great potential, and with its new facilities it’s a place you could recruit to,’’ Fulmer told the Knoxville News Sentinel . “I believe it’s a place where you can compete.’’

Other names mentioned for the job include Mike Leach, former Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski, former Kansas coach Mark Mangino, Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and Canadian Football League coach Marc Trestman.

It looks like a slow offseason for coaching changes. Colorado may be the biggest job that opens up assuming that Georgia doesn't do anything with Mark Richt.


Posted on: November 1, 2010 11:38 pm
Edited on: November 2, 2010 12:16 am
 

Big East possibly discussing expansion on Tuesday

Big East presidents and athletic directors will meet Tuesday to discuss possible expansion, the New York Post reported on Monday.

The Post originally broke the story of Big East's interest in seemingly unlikely expansion candidate TCU. The interest turned out to be reciprocal. If you believe that college football is trending toward the mega-conference, then schools need to get into a BCS conference before the window of opportunity closes.

The Big East is interested in staying relevant by remaining one of those BCS conferences. It received a waiver to remain an automatic qualifier conference by the other BCS commissioners in the past because of television's desire to have those Northeast markets. With conference realignment anything but dead, commissioner John Marinatto wants to protect his league from poachers. Earlier this year, the Big Ten was a threat to the Big East. Rutgers emerged as an attractive addition to the Big Ten and perhaps will remain one in the future. The Big Ten eventually settled on Nebraska -- for now.

TCU is looking for its own relevance. The loss of BYU and Utah has damaged the Mountain West's ongoing attempt to get at least a temporary BCS bid in 2012 and 2013. TCU has shown a willingness to conference hop to improve its profile since being left out of the Big 12 in 1996. Ironically, if the Horned Frogs get a second consecutive bowl bid this year it would have gotten a huge boost from beating resurgent  Baylor. TCU was left out of the Big 12 in favor of Baylor 15 years ago, mostly because of a political power play by then-Texas governor Ann Richards.


"If you're not aligned with an automatic qualifying conference prior to the super realignment you have no shot," CBS College Sports analyst Aaron Taylor said. "At least if you're there to begin with, you're in the topic of conversation and discussion. On paper, you'd think that TCU being in Texas doesn't make sense. But they're the furtherst team to the East in the Mountaint West. They would be the same distance, but West, to the Big East."

Other schools being mentioned for Big East expansion are Houston, Central Florida and either Temple or Villanova from Philadelphia. TCU and Central Florida seem to be the most likely expansion candidates at this point.

Posted on: October 26, 2010 11:55 am
Edited on: October 26, 2010 1:47 pm
 

National Notes

All Cam Newton all the time? Seems like it especially with the question of the week that has risen up on various talk shows, Twitter accounts and in my brain:

Is Cam Newton better than Tim Tebow? At this point in time the answer is yes. Cammo is bigger (6-feet-6, 250 pounds), stronger (watch him bulldoze those linebackers) and faster than the Gainesville god known as Tebow. Newton won't approach Tebow's numbers because this might be his one and only season at Auburn.

The irony is that Florida had him and let him get away. Actually, Newton admits he let himself get away. The laptop incident didn't help but Newton was being redshirted and had an ankle injury in his final semester with the Gators. Tebow and John Brantley were ahead of him on the depth chart, making it easier for Newton to transfer.

After becoming the national juco player of the year, Newton found the perfect coach (offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn) with the perfect offense at Auburn. The rest you've watched each Saturday. The latest accomplishment was setting the SEC season rushing record by a quarterback -- with four games left.

"He's the best facilitator of the football as a college quarterback," said Pete Cordelli, a former Notre Dame assistant. "He runs his football team like he's a point guard. It's Showtime on the Plains. Who can you take and put on the other 119 teams  and make them better? Can you imagine him at Oregon or Oklahoma? Imagine if he was at Penn State, we wouldn't be talking about Paterno retiring. Imagine him at Ohio State?"

That's a lot of imagining but only one team has him. 


* The next question is whether Newton will go Prince on us and change his name to a symbol: N - mg = ma

(The equation is deciphered below)

* By the way, don't blame Urban Meyer. He's got enough problems. Critics want the Florida coach to get rid of lawbreakers (you might have heard there have been quite a few), but they want to blame him for letting Cam I Am for "getting away."

* If the top of the polls look unfamiliar, they should. Oregon is No. 1 for the second consecutive week in the AP poll. Other than USC, the last Pac-10 team to be ranked No. 1 in the AP poll was Washington in 1992 (five weeks). No. 2 Boise State is the highest ranked WAC team since BYU won the national championship in 1984.

* Boise rant of the week: At what point do 47-point beatdowns of WAC teams in some way equal a seven-point win over LSU. That's why I think Boise could win the SEC East, Big 12 and Big Ten.

* During this Alabama bye week, Nick Saban visited the Touchdown Club of Memphis. One snarky attendee  gave Nick his props and summed up the season properly -- at least from an Alabama perspective: "Congratulations on winning the BCS national championship last year and producing a Heisman Trophy winner. I know expectations are high in the state of Alabama and people expect another national champion and another Heisman winner. Fortunately, those expectations appear to be in reach. Auburn is No. 1 in the BCS and Cam Newton appears to be the leading candidate for the Heisman."

* What's the antidote for arrogance? Mack Brown is trying to figure that out. According to him, that's what Texas has been playing with for too long. Brown who called out his players after the Iowa State loss and, in the process, might have indicted his own motivation skills.

There is no excuse with bowl-bound Baylor coming in. The Longhorns roster routinely is comprised of the best players in Texas, some of the best in the country. Try to explain, then, how Baylor leads the Big 12 South eight weeks into the season. You can't.


* Sometimes we write too much about the winners, the BCS, bowl games, NCAA reprobates. This space is dedicated to the feel-good stories of late October.

Baylor clinched a bowl berth for the first time in 15 years after that Kansas State win. The season looked encouraging but Bears fans had learned not to assume anything. Quarterback Robert Griffin was coming off a blown-out knee. It lost at TCU by 35 earlier in the season.  Griffin now is arguably the best quarterback in the Big 12.
 
Western Kentucky broke a nation-leading 26-game losing streak in beating Louisiana-Lafayette. Akron and New Mexico now share the national lead; each have lost eight in a row. Oh, and another warning for the next Vince Lombardi at Minnesota: The Gophers are next with a seven-game losing streak.

Remember when Ron Zook was on the hot seat? Illinois' coach is a respectable 4-3, having beaten Penn State in the process. Its three losses are no disgrace, to Michigan State, Ohio State and Missouri. Those schools have a combined record of 22-1.

No shame either for Iowa State's Paul Rhoads. The Cyclones are now 4-4, chasing a bowl after beating Texas. Their four losses are to Iowa, Kansas State, Utah and Oklahoma. Combined record: 23-5.

Seven games into his second season, Syracuse's Doug Marrone has the Orange at 5-2, in second place in the Big East, a half-game behind Pittsburgh. (Pittsburgh has beaten Syracuse already so it has the tiebreaker)

For only the second time and for first time in six years Baylor and Iowa State won a Big 12 Conference game on the same day. Also for only the second time in Big 12 history, Texas and Oklahoma lost on the same day when coached by Bob Stoops and Mack Brown.

* Why could Cameron Newton nickname himself "N - mg = ma"? That is more or less the mathematical representation of Newton's first law of motion: An object in motion tends to stay in motion. If I were Newton, Cam not Sir Isaac, I'd copyright that sucker.

 


Posted on: October 21, 2010 5:33 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2010 11:10 am
 

Halfway Son of Weekend Watch List

BCS bowl projections halfway through the season:

BCS championship: Oregon* vs. Alabama*
Rose: Boise* vs. Iowa*
Fiesta: Nebraska* vs. West Virginia*
Orange: Florida State* vs. Ohio State
Sugar: Auburn vs. Oklahoma

*-automatic qualifier

Notes: Oregon and Alabama win out to advance to the championship game. Alabama beats both LSU and Auburn assuring that there will be no undefeated teams in the SEC. It then beats the SEC East champion to advance. Despite one loss, it vaults over undefeated Boise, the TCU/Utah winner and perhaps even Oregon.  It doesn't matter for the Ducks who stay in the top two because undefeated Boise, Utah/TCU can't catch it in the BCS standings. Meanwhile, other current undefeateds Auburn, LSU, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Missouri also lose locking in Oregon. Alabama would be playing for the first back-to-back national championship since Nebraska in the 1990s. Oregon would be playing for its first.

--The Fiesta Bowl would gladly welcome Nebraska which it hasn't had since 2000. West Virginia would be making a second trip to the Valley of the Sun in four years.

--The Orange Bowl gets one of its more intriguing matchups as Florida State returns to the big time returning to a BCS bowl for the first time since 2005. Ohio State has to settle for an at-large berth after failing to win a sixth consecutive Big Ten title. The Buckeyes return to the Orange for the first time since 1977.

--The Sugar is filled with two at-large participants. Oklahoma returns to New Orleans for the first time since the 2004 (2003 season) national championship game loss to LSU.


Ranking the remaining MICs

11. Urban Meyer, Florida: Let's not forget that 20 years ago, Florida football didn't matter. Post-Zooker, Meyer made it a bigger national power than it was under Spurrier.

12. Joe Paterno, Penn State: No matter how his career ends, JoePa will leave the program in great shape.

13. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech: An example of having patience with a good coach. Beamer started out terribly but the administration allowed him stay. Now he's one of the best in the country.

14. Al Golden, Temple: The nation's hottest young coach has got it back to the point where the Big East should consider inviting back the Owls.

15. June Jones, SMU: The first and only coach to lead the Ponies to a bowl game since the death penalty. That's good enough for me.

16. Mike Riley, Oregon State: Beavers win eight or nine each year and are always a factor in the Pac-10 race. Don't forget the Civil War is in Corvallis this year.

17. Larry Blakeney, Troy: In the same category as Snyder and Paterno on a smaller scale. Would Troy even exist without Blakeney?

18. Pat Hill, Fresno: Never won a WAC title but kept the Bulldogs relevant to the point that they're jumping to the Mountain West.

19. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State: It's early but all the signs are good that FSU will soon be back on the national scene.

20. Bronco Mendenhall, BYU: Like Meyer, Bronco is allowed a down year.

21. Bo Pelini, Nebraska: If the NFL doesn't come calling, Nebraska will begin winning championships again under Bo.

22. Bret Bielema, Wisconsin: Saturday's win allowed BB to make this list. Ohio State was his second win over a ranked Big Ten team. Barry Alvarez' hand-picked guy is trending upward.

23. Greg Schiano, Rutgers: The momentum has slowed since 2006 but Rutgers is back among the living under Schiano to the point that the Big Ten is sniffing around.

24. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern: Operating with a low budget against Big Ten giants, the Wildcats are more than competitive with Fitz.

Oregon set the school season scoring record Thursday in the season's seventh game. The Ducks have 386 points and are averaging more than 55 points per game ... Strange how two Big Ten programs defined themselves by invoking Vince Lombardi this week. First Minnesota AD Joel Maturi said, "It's not like he would be replacing Vince Lombardi," of the new coach after firing Tim Brewster. Then Rich Rodriguez said this about his struggling defense: "Listen, Vince Lombardi could come too and [it's] not going to fix some of the problems we have on defense." ... Ohio State (at Minnesota) hasn't lost consecutive games since 2004 ... TCU has lost one fumble this season ... Texas A&M has lost 12 consecutive televised games dating back to 2008. The Aggies play at Kansas Saturday on Fox Sports Net ...

In this Week of the Head Shot in the NFL, it's interesting to note that Arkansas' Ryan Mallett was knocked out of Saturday's game with a concussion. He practiced Tuesday and will play Saturday against Mississippi ... The last six Auburn-LSU games have been decided by six points or less ... Mississippi State is ranked for the first time in nine years ... Until BYU kicked a field goal in Saturday's 31-3 loss, TCU had not allowed a point in almost three games -- 175 minutes, 10 seconds. A third straight complete shutout would have marked the first time in college football since Boston College in 1992.

 

 
 
 
 
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