Posted on: October 14, 2010 11:25 am

What I believe about the BCS

Full disclosure? I'm on the fence about a playoff. It could work, sure. It also could diminish the regular season like it has in college basketball.

As someone who covers it, I like the BCS. The drama, the lunacy, the fuzzy math. It has given us some of the wackiest moments in the sport's recent history ... Texas' campaigning in 2004 to get in ahead of Cal. The lunacy of Nebraska getting in in 2001. LSU fans' continued disbelief that their team actually shared the 2003 title with USC.

Of course, I don't have a Bulldog in the fight so, of course, it's fun.

What I think folks forget is that the BCS is miles better than the old bowl system. Joe Paterno will go to his grave knowing he could have won four more national championships if not for the old-style back-room bowl deals. We've had 13 1 vs. 2 games in the BCS era (since 1998). From 1943 (the first 1 vs. 2 game) to 1997, we had 31. That's an average of one per year (guaranteed, by the way) compared to one every 1.7 years.

I'll never forget Tommy Tuberville canvassing votes in the Orange Bowl press box (2004). I'll always wonder at Nebraska and Miami stepping onto the Rose Bowl turf as "foreigners" in 2001. I lost part of my hearing watching LSU win two titles. Like it or not, the BCS gave us all that.

With the first set of standings being released on Sunday, this is what I believe about the BCS ...

--Every week is a playoff.

True: In the sense that you lose once and you're in danger of being eliminated for the BCS title game. That has made for some great theater over the years.

"I think we've got to preserve this regular season," BCS executive director Bill Hancock said. "No one knows how much, but it would be diminished. Energy would go from the regular season into the playoff."

--A playoff would ruin the regular season.

False: Sorry, Bill, rivalries are rivalries. A playoff doesn't diminish Ohio State-Michigan, Alabama-Auburn or Kansas-Missouri. Three years ago, Missouri beat Kansas to go to No. 1 in the country. KU went to its first BCS bowl (Orange) in almost in 40 years. Missouri played for the Big 12 title before losing to Oklahoma. Both of those teams would have been safely in a 16-team bracket. And it wouldn't have mattered a lick to the rivalry.

--The BCS is about power, not money.

True: The presidents and ADs would rather keep a system where most of the money goes to the power conferences ... than make more money with a playoff. A playoff would mean more trickle down for non-BCS schools who one day might join the power elite. The BCS, without saying it, wants to keep the membership exclusive.

A BCS executive disagrees.

"The Mountain West could never be [an equal] to the Big Ten," the source said. "Not in your grandkids' lifetime, not in my grandkids' lifetime."

--The BCS is in legal danger.

False: I'm no lawyer but it has survived every legal challenge so far. Obama and the Justice Department don't seem to want to get involved. PlayoffPAC sends out a heck of a press release but has yet to make an impression. The Mountain West's trip to Washington D.C. in 2009 seems less compelling now that the league has lost BYU and Utah.

--If the commissioners wanted it today, a playoff could be implemented.

True: No question. If Jim Delany can talk the Big Ten into the BCS and, later conference expansion, he could talk its presidents into a playoff.

--The windfall from a playoff would cure all financial ills.

False: A 1994 NCAA study into a playoff abruptly died when the opinion of Florida State's Derrick Brooks was solicited. Brooks reportedly told officials something like, "What's in it for me?" Any windfall would re-start the pay-the-players argument. Pay the players and you have withholding. If you have withholding, the you lose tax exempt status.

The basketball tournament income is different because it is controlled by the NCAA and parceled out in "units."

--The only playoff that works is a 16-teamer.

True: That way all the conference champions get a berth, along with five at-large teams. That takes care of the non-BCS champions who would suddenly be guaranteed a berth.

Anything else merely extends the argument from who's No. 2 to who's No. 5 (in a four-team playoff) to who's No. 9 (an eight-team playoff).

--A selection committee could pick those five teams.

False: Not all of them. No way. You'd have lawsuits from here to Boise. Look at the trouble we got in weaving voters and computers into the process. Putting, say, 12 people in charge of picking the final few teams of a college football playoff would introduce all kinds of human biases.

--The bowls are a great way to throw away money.

True: As reported in the new book Death to the BCS, schools are lucky to break after having to pay for their own transportation, lodging and having to buy bowl sponsorships and tickets.

"The fact that we didn't go to a bowl game means we actually made money," former Michigan AD Bill Martin said in the book.

--The bowls would die if there was a playoff.

False: How can the likes of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl and Humanitarian Bowl be any more meaningless? A playoff doesn't affect that at all. 

Posted on: October 8, 2010 1:29 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2010 9:06 am

Son of Weekend Watch List

Judgment time: More than half of Division I-A (61 teams) will reach the halfway point of the regular season having played six games after this week. The season reaches its official halfway point after the games of Oct. 16. Seven weeks down, seven weeks to go on the college football calendar ...

Strangely, the end of Saturday's LSU-Tennessee game was similar to the conclusion of the Fifth Down, at least in the confusion category. If you're looking for link between the two it's LSU third-string quarterback Chase McCartney. Chase is the grandson of former Colorado coach Bill McCartney who was the Buffs' coach against Missouri 20 years ago. Missouri and CU meet for the final time as Big 12 opponents Saturday in Columbia ... What's the big deal about Turner Gill's curfew which doesn't allow Kansas players to see women after 10 p.m. during the season? With all the mistreatment of women in sports, this is a bold, positive step. The alternative is Florida (30 arrests in six years). Gill was asked if his curfew would hurt recruiting. "I guess it could. But we can explain it. It's not that big a deal." The Jayhawks host Kansas State on Thursday ...

Sometimes you just feel pity. Purdue (2-2 going to Northwestern) has lost its quarterback (Robert Marve), best receiver (Keith Smith) and top running back (Ralph Bolden) to season-ending injuries ... Penn State is 114th in red zone offense, worst among BCS conference schools ... Florida State (25) and Miami (17) are 1-2 nationally in sacks. Best of luck to Jacory Harris and Christian Ponder ... Baylor (4-1 vs. Texas Tech at the Cotton Bowl) is trying for consecutive wins away from Waco for the first time since 1996 ...

Stay away from this trend, gamblers. Toledo is 0-2 at home but 3-0 on the road heading to ... Boise. Oh no. ... What's your deal? USC will try to stay within 34 (margin of loss in last year's meeting) when it travels to Stanford ... Who needs BYU in the Mountain West for BCS strength? The Cougars (1-4 and hosting San Diego State) are off to their worst start since 1973 ...  UNLV (at West Virginia) hasn't played in the Eastern Time Zone since 2004 ...

WAC commissioner Karl Benson is the latest source to want coaches' poll ballots made public. His former school, Boise State, was jumped last week in both polls by Oregon. "My guess is that there are coaches who voted Boise State in double-digits," Benson said. "Boise State, unlike any other team in the country, has won the games that they're supposed to win."

Benson brought into question the process which was further muddied by New Mexico State coach DeWayne Walker, whose team lost to Boise 59-0 last week. Walker wasn't sure if he had a coaches' poll (he doesn't), but "I usually let my assistant coaches handle that stuff." Let's hope he never gets a vote ...

Posted on: September 22, 2010 9:39 am
Edited on: September 22, 2010 12:16 pm

Vince Young wins the 2005 Heisman!

Since the Heisman folks won't re-vote, we did. Vince Young is the "new" winner of the 2005 Heisman.

Our college football crew went back five years (using the Hot Tub Time Machine) and reconsidered the candidates in light of Reggie Bush forfeiting his Heisman. There was no directive. Three of the six voters considered Bush. Typical of those was CBSSports.com college football production editor J. Darin Darst.

"In my opinion, Reggie Bush was the best player in the nation that year," Darst said.  "You can't tell me that amazing season didn't happen. It did, I remember it. I understand why Bush gave the Heisman back, but he never should have been pressured to return the award. I will always remember that Bush won the Heisman in 2005."

 We thought about inviting Young to Ft. Lauderdale for the award ceremony but the Heisman folks wouldn't part with the trophy. Besides, it still has Bush's name on it.

The numbers:
1. Vince Young, Texas, 26 points -- 4 first place votes
2. Reggie Bush, USC, 18 (2)
3. Matt Leinart, USC, 10
4. Brady Quinn, Notre Dame, 4
5. DeAngelo Williams, Memphis, 2
6. A.J. Hawk, Ohio State, 1

Based on top 3 -- 5-3-1 voting.

Voters: Dennis Dodd, national columnist; Darin Darst, college football production editor; Jason Horowitz, on-air talent; Adam Aizer, podcast talent; Tom Fornelli, blogger; Brian Stubits, editor.

Posted on: September 15, 2010 3:51 pm
Edited on: September 16, 2010 6:55 pm

2005 will remain Heismanless

There will be dark, deep hole where Reggie Bush's name used to be on the list of Heisman winners.

The head of the Heisman Trust just announced that there will be no winner for 2005 after Bush forfeited his trophy on Tuesday. William Dockery said it would be too hard to "recreate the vote" the ended with Bush winning over Vince Young and Matt Leinart.

Young will have to be happy with a national championship. He's a lot happier than Bush who has a bunch of holes in resume, and his character. Heritage Hall has been cleared of any mention of him at USC. He has forfeited his own trophy. Up next, the BCS which has promised to vacate USC's 2004 title if the school loses its NCAA appeal.

This latest move allows the Heisman to retain much of its dignity. There is no precedent set -- by the Heisman. It took no official action on Bush. In fact, Dockery said the Trust was not leaning either way on whether to strip Bush of his trophy.

This reminds us more than ever that the Heisman winner "must be in compliance with the bylaws defining an NCAA student-athlete."

I feel sorry for this year's Heisman winner, who is going to get a endoscopy from the media. Attention: Terrelle Pryor, Denard Robinson, Kellen Moore, etc. No $100 handshakes. In fact, no 25-cent handshakes.
Category: NCAAF
Tags: Heisman, USC
Posted on: September 15, 2010 10:27 am
Edited on: September 15, 2010 10:31 am

National notes

Don't tell anyone but we didn't learn much from Showdown Saturday except that Virginia Tech would have a hard time winning the Colonial Athletic Association.

For the most part, Showdown was a letdown.

Mark Twain could have replaced Mark Ingram and Alabama still would have beaten Penn State. OK, Ingram has better top end speed than Twain but you get my point.

Alabama's season is boiling down to three-week stretch during which Bama plays at Arkansas (Sept. 25), at home against Florida (Oct. 2) and at South Carolina (Oct. 9).

Miami still has work to do in its long-awaited comeback. Jacory Harris has a lot of work to do with his judgment.  After throwing four picks vs. Ohio State, Harris is tied for second nationally (at least in the NCAA top 100) with four interceptions.  Last year Harris was No. 2 in picks (17) behind Ole Miss' Jevan Snead (20).

Tennessee put up a good fight for a half against Oregon.

Florida State didn't even make it that far.

Player of the week besides the obvious (Denard Robinson)?  South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore who looks like a combination of George Rodgers and Herschel Walker for the OBC. More on him later in the week.

Interesting stuff here regarding Jeremiah Masoli's transfer to Ole Miss. Masoli contends he was given his release to transfer from Oregon before he was dismissed from the team. The NCAA initially ruled that Masoli would not get a transfer waiver to Ole Miss because he had been kicked off the team.

Not sure if I want Mike Leach back in coaching. Not because he isn't good at it. It's because he might be better as a radio pirate. Leach let loose on his satellite radio show.

On the lack of mercy given to outgunned opponents:

"If my third offense went in and we were up on them, we weren't going kneel on the ball. We were going to try to score. The reason we were going to try to score is because I spend all my time teaching that offense to score, not to sit and evaluate the feelings of the other team."

On his not having Alabama in his top five:

"A lot of folks are frontrunners and if you win last year they assume you're going to win this year and the next year. If that was the case, everybody was going to win the thing 20 years in a row. I'm prepared to be proven wrong."

Leach also said he had a standing $500 bounty on shady agents hanging around Texas Tech. Supposedly, that was for players to turn in those shady agents. Problem though:  Wouldn't paying off that bounty be a possible NCAA violation?

Leach is also an analyst for CBS College Sports.

USC might be the most unimpressive 2-0 ranked team. The Trojans have committed 24 penalties for nation-leading 240 yards in two games. Lane Kiffin's solution? Silence.

Three quarterbacks who have taken snaps at Michigan are in the top 10 in NCAA total offense this week:

1. Robinson, 442.5 yards per game
T6. Ryan Mallett, Arkansas, 351.0
10. Steven Threet, Arizona State, 322.5

Joker Phillips is first head coach to start his Kentucky career 2-0 since Bear Bryant in 1946.

Phillips might have the most versatile player in the country to this point. Through two games receiver/returner/holder Randall Cobb has scored a touchdown four different ways -- rushing, receiving, passing and on a punt return.

Steve Spurrier, a longtime playoff honk, on Boise State:  "The only way to settle those kinds of situation is a playoff. They aren't going to play the kind of completion that SEC schools play. We settle it with voting."

Thoughts and prayers for Arkansas kick returner Dennis Johnson who suffered what was termed a painful "bowel injury" returning a kick vs. Louisiana-Monroe. Here's the video

Who will coach Northern Illinois this week against Illinois? Huskies coach Jerry Kill was hospitalized Sunday after complications resulting from surgery earlier this month. Kill underwent surgery on Sept. 3, a day after Northern Illinois lost its season opener to Iowa State. Initial reports stated Kill, who had a tumor removed from a kidney in 2005, was suffering from dehydration this time. Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys could take over if Kill can't go.


Posted on: September 14, 2010 5:44 pm
Edited on: September 14, 2010 5:45 pm

Reggie Bush forfeits Heisman

If Reggie Bush has found religion, it took a long and winding road to get to the confessional.

Five years long, winding through college, the pros and an NCAA investigation that continued to shame him. Religion? Maybe, a little, but what Reggie Bush truly practiced Tuesday in forfeiting his 2005 Heisman Trophy was classic damage control.

Controlling damage to his reputation. Translation: endorsements. Bush had become such a tragic figure that it was wearing on his member-in-good-standing status as a Kardashian-dating, part-time playing, Super Bowl-ring wearing celebutant.

Hate to simplify it, but these types things are never that complicated. It looked like the Heisman Trust was ready to vote Tuesday on vacating Bush's 2005 trophy.  Bush (or his handlers) stepped in and changed the verb from "stripped" of the trophy to "forfeit" the Heisman. It projects a sense of totality, closure and, at some level, elicits sympathy.

Especially when you throw in that the decision was "heart-breaking."

Forfeiting means that some Bush (or an assistant) will have to pack up the hardware and mail it back to New York. The ultimate shame.  Bush also threw us off the scent by saying he wants to establish "an educational program which will assist student-athletes and their families avoid some of the mistakes that I made."

You know, the kinds of mistakes college football players make every day ...

--Arranging for their parents to get a free house.

--Taking close to half a million in extra benefits from shady "marketers".

--Denying any of it ever happened saying, "the truth will come out."

--When the truth does come out, promise to help the school with its appeal of massive NCAA penalties.

--Tainting a national championship while disgracing your school and teammates.
You know, those type of mistakes.
Had Bush let this drag on, he would have begun to be defined by it, especially by the folks  who are always looking for jocks to hawk their products.  I know, I know if Kobe Bryant can still endorse sneakers after that little dust-up in Colorado, then why worry?

There is no easy answer. In our sports society, reps can always be rehabbed. Why Bush's still needs work after Tuesday is summarized by a simple remaining question.

After five years, an NCAA investigation and a Heisman forfeiture, where, exactly, is the apology?

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: August 31, 2010 11:32 am

Miami about to be taken down by a rat. Fair?

Isn't it odd how it's not an NCAA investigation until somebody gets screwed?

The old adage goes: It's not cheating unless you get caught. And sometimes the NCAA doesn't catch you, it seems, until the cheaters get cheated. Nevin Shapiro is serving time in federal prison for allegedly running a $900 million Ponzi scheme. He was once a Miami booster who apparently was more than good friends with more than a few Hurricane players. Shapiro told the Miami Herald this week that he'll write a tell-all book detailing Miami wrongdoing since 2001.

His motivation? Paying back some of the victims, reportedly around 60 who lost upwards of $80 million. Shapiro won't earn a dime from the book. His other motivation, he says, is payback for former players who ignored him.  

"Once the players become pros, they turned their back on me," Shapiro told the Herald. "It made me feel like a used friend."

As long as everyone was kissing Shapiro's ass, then, everything was OK. The point is, these cases don't develop sometimes until low-life reprobates blow the whistle. Lloyd Lake, who had served time for a probation violation, rolled over on Reggie Bush after Bush failed to repay $300,000 that Lake had spent on him. All Bush had to do was repay Lake, who essentially wanted to become Bush's agent, and everything was cool.

The same thing seems to be going on at North Carolina, Alabama and South Carolina. The rumor going around is that a reputable agent (or agents) alerted the NCAA and/or media about low-life agents and marketers who blatantly staged that ostentatious player party in South Beach. Had the rogue agents kept things on the down low, maybe those three 
schools aren't wondering who is going to be able to play on Saturday.

You might wonder why the NCAA listens to these guys. The association isn't held to a legal standard. It doesn't have to use due process. It cannot issue subpoenas compelling witnesses to testify. You have to wonder, though, what credibility a source like Shapiro has. Consider this recent headline: "Felon Who Stole $900 Million To Rat Out "The U".

Because of those investigative restrictions, the NCAA also has to meet a lower standard (its own) for a conviction. Remember, this is technically a non-profit organization that has been given these powers by its members. Police use "rats" like Shapiro all the time. Prisoners testify in open court. But it's up to a jury to decide on the evidence. The NCAA infractions committee is judge and jury. USC thought it was going to skate on the Bush case because it was unaware 
of the wrongdoing.

The NCAA decided that USC was guilty because it was unaware of the wrongdoing.

But it remains amazing how none of it would have happened if someone had gotten paid off or, in Shapiro's case, someone's feelings weren't hurt.

Posted on: August 26, 2010 8:13 am
Edited on: August 26, 2010 2:30 pm

FWAA vacates USC 2004 title

The Football Writers Association of America has vacated USC's 2004 national championship and asked the school to return the Grantland Rice Trophy that symbolized that title.

The announcement was made Thursday morning after a resolutions committee voted by confidential ballot. USC will be eligible for the FWAA's preseason poll but cannot win the trophy in 2010. The action was taken after NCAA penalties were handed down in June. Among other violations, the NCAA concluded that former tailback Reggie Bush competing while ineligible

The Grantland Rice Trophy has been awarded continuously to its national champion since 1954 by the FWAA. The BCS is on record as saying it will vacate the USC title if the school's NCAA appeal fails. The Heisman Trophy Trust is still discussing its stance on Bush's 2004 award. Shortly after taking the job, new USC AD Pat Haden ordered the school's copy of Bush's trophy returned to the trust.

Tim Griffin, the current FWAA president, wrote this in his letter notifying USC of the FWAA's decisions: "Had these facts been known, USC would not have been selected for the award ... in light of standards applicable to FWAA poll participants, award candidates and award recipients. All finalists for FWAA team and individual awards, including the Grantland Rice Award and Trophy, reasonably are presumed to have been in material compliance with certain qualifying standards at the time of award issuance."

The coaches' poll is not ranking USC this season because the school is on NCAA probation. USC remains eligible to be ranked in the Associated Press poll and can finish No. 1. It is No. 14 in the AP preseason poll. The AP did not strip USC of its 2004 title.

The FWAA took no action to elevate a new champion for 2004. It stated that USC is eligible for its preseason poll but will not be eligible to be voted on in its season-ending poll. Auburn was also notified of Thursday's action by the FWAA. In addition to USC, Auburn and Utah also finished undefeated that season.

The FWAA is one of four major championship selectors recognized by the NCAA. This is the first time the FWAA has taken such action.

(Dennis Dodd is a past president of the FWAA and was a member of the resolutions committee on this matter)

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Auburn, USC, Utah
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com