Tag:Big Ten
Posted on: October 21, 2010 11:53 am
Edited on: October 21, 2010 11:56 am
 

Pac-12 divisions announced

The new Pac-12 divisional alignment is expected to be announced by commissioner Larry Scott during a Thursday afternoon press conference.

USC AD Pat Haden may have revealed the alignment speaking last week to a Trojan booster group. Haden reportedly told the boosters that the divisions would be split along what seem to be north-south lines. In one division would be Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State, Stanford and Cal. In the other division: USC, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah.

There is no word on the conference scheduling alignment. The SEC uses a 5-2-1, eight-game conference schedule with one designated rival from the opposite division. The Big Ten adopted the same scheduling model beginning in 2011. It will eventually go to a nine-game conference schedule. The Pac-12 is expected to stay with its current nine-game conference schedule when it splits into divisions next season.

The conference is still determining the location of the conference championship game. Scott will speak at 2:30 pm ET in San Francisco.

Posted on: October 14, 2010 5:15 pm
Edited on: October 15, 2010 1:31 am
 

Son of Weekend Watch List

Watch Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon at Texas Tech. He just might be the best receiver in the country. The problem is OSU is 0-6 in Lubbock during the Big 12 era. Overall, the Cowboys haven't won in Lubbock since 1944 ... The remaining 59 teams in I-A will have played half of their regular-season schedules after this weekend, including USC which will play its seventh of 13 games ... If Ohio State is able to hold on to the No. 1 ranking for four more Sundays this season it would pass Oklahoma to become the most-frequent No. 1 in AP poll history. The Bucks became No. 1 for the 94th time this week. Only Oklahoma (97) and Notre Dame (95) have been No. 1 more often ... If anyone had told you Louisville would be 4-2 halfway through its first season post-Kragthrope would you have laughed? The Cards would be just that if they win Friday night against Cincinnati...

Miami (3-2) reaches the halfway point in its season this week at Duke a candidate for the nation's most disappointing team. The record isn't terrible, it's more where the program stands right now -- No. 3 in the state. Jacory Harris has been uneven. FSU ran the Canes out of their own building. You look at the talent and just think Miami should be better. You can have your argument between Florida State (5-1) and Florida (4-2) right now but it's clear the Hurricanes -- in the middle of a comeback -- are in danger of finishing back in the pack in 2010's in-state race ...

Bad game of the week: Eastern Michigan (0-6) at Ball State (2-4). The teams are a combined 4-32 since the beginning of 2009 ... Army and Rutgers play the first college game in new Meadowlands Stadium ... Utah (at Wyoming) has scored at least 56 in three consecutive games ... Jim Tressel is the first Big Ten coach to win 100 games in 10 seasons ... Alabama continues a rather remarkable streak not having allowed a 100-yard rusher in 40 consecutive games ... Mississippi State (at Florida) is shooting for its first four-game winning streak since 1999 ... Something to consider while boarding the South Carolina bandwagon: Stephen Garcia is 11-2 at home, only 1-5 on the road heading to Kentucky ... Steve Spurrier is 18-0 vs. the Wildcats combined at Florida and South Carolina ... Oregon State has lost one turnover this season ... TCU is back in a familiar spot leading the nation in total defense. That's where the Frogs finished the last two seasons ... Denard Robinson's Heisman season -- and maybe Michigan's season -- hangs in the balance. Robinson is facing the country's No. 2 rush defense in Iowa ... Michigan State (vs. Illinois) is going for its first 7-0 start since its 9-0 start in 1966 ...

I thought we'd gotten over this: The replay official in last week's controversial Oregon State-Arizona game was an Arizona grad. How can that be?

 

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 13, 2010 10:44 am
Edited on: October 13, 2010 10:45 am
 

National notes

It only seems like Alabama obsessed all offseason about facing six SEC opponents coming off bye weeks.

The SEC schedule wasn't finalized until late summer as the school and league tried to move opponents around to keep from the dreaded six-pack. The Tuscaloosa News had revealed that over a three-year period Alabama had faced more bye-week opponents (17) than any SEC school. The best Bama could do was move Georgia State from a Saturday to a Thursday in November, thus allowing nine days before the Nov. 26 Auburn game.

That doesn't help things now. The Tide are on the brink of falling out of national championship contention after Saturday's loss to South Carolina. Their fall from No. 1 to No. 8 in the AP poll is the second-biggest fall for an in-season No. 1 since 1996. (Nebraska fell to No. 8 that year after losing to Arizona State). While Bama can still win the SEC and compete for the national championship, the final six conference opponents are going to be well rested. At least one columnist said the schedule already has caught up to the former No. 1.

Meanwhile, Nick Saban is trying to turn that offseason obsession into an in-season footnote. After 19 consecutive victories that included a national championship, Saban said this week his team may have believed a bit too much in itself.

"It's drinking the Kool-Aid, thinking that just because they say it on ESPN, it's so. Reading the newspapers all week. Just because you beat Florida 31-6, people start talking about you being the best team in the country. We're not the best team in the country. We had the best team in the country last year, and we proved it. We proved it over 14 games.

"This team hasn't proved s---."

Rhymes with spit.

Hey, that's the best Sabanator outburst since my question led him to the famous "pimp" line in July. 
 
"Excuse my language," Saban immediately told reporters on Monday. "That's how I feel about it. I'm really upset that I used bad language."

Anything colorful from Saban is always appreciated. It beats "behind-the-scenes" mini-docs where the only thing behind-the-scenes is what you don't see. This was raw emotion, a glimpse at Saban's soul at this point in the season. The message got through. Saban won't be taking bye weeks as an excuse going forward. It's clear that playing three consecutive top-19 opponents (in the AP poll) took something out of the Tide. Now they have to play Mississippi, Tennessee, LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn coming off byes. Both teams will have a bye coming into the Nov. 6 meeting at LSU.

"Everybody out there assumes that having a bye week is an advantage," Saban said last week. "I've always answered that question by saying, 'I don't know if it's an advantage or disadvantage.'"

Maybe we're starting to find out.

 


**There is a dicey situation developing at Penn State where Joe Paterno is approaching his 400th career win.

But when?

The Nits are 3-3 after a depressing home loss to Illinois. Joe needs three more wins to become the third coach ever to win 400. There is growing doubt, though, that JoePa doesn't reach that mark this season. And what if he doesn't? What does that do to the program if Joe holds on (or is held over) for 2011?


In one sense, a 5-7 season can be written off as rebuilding year. Quarterback Rob Bolden is a true freshmen and has loads of upside. In other sense, there has to be concern. This is the first time in a long time, Penn State hasn't had at least one playmaker on either side of the ball.

The (mostly) cushy non-conference schedule has gotten Joe halfway to those six he needs, but the road ahead is littered with broken glass -- or at least formidable Big Ten opponents. Penn State still has to play the Big Ten's top three teams -- Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State. Assuming losses in those, Joe will have to win at Minnesota, at Indiana and at home against Northwestern to get to 6-6, 400 wins and a bowl game.

Is that a sendoff or a rebuilding year?



**
I'm starting to get intrigued by Oklahoma State. Coach Mike Gundy has ridden new offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen to a 5-0 start, the team's third such beginning since 2004.

The problem with OSU is that its schedule is typically backloaded with second-half meetings with Big 12 South heavies Texas and Oklahoma. In fact, Gundy has never beaten the LongSooners, or is it the SoonHorns? (Combined 0-10 against the two schools and 21-23 after Oct. 1.) Holgorsen has been the difference this year with his version of the spread option,  getting the most out of new quarterback Brandon Weeden, established tailback Kendall Hunter and breakout receiver Justin Blackmon.

The problem remains a defense which has finished above 89th nationally only once in Gundy's previous five seasons. This season's unit is marginally better in its second year under coordinator Bill Young. It is No. 88 nationally allowing more than 400 yards per game.

The difference is Holgorsen, a 39-year-old Mike Leach discipline who spent eight seasons at Texas Tech as an assistant, the final three as offensive coordinator. Holgorsen came to Okie State after a couple of seasons tutoring Case Keenum at Houston. Keenum is out with a season-ending injury but is seeking a sixth year of eligibility in 2011 during which he could become the NCAA's career passing yards leader.

Weeden, who turns 27 this week, is a former minor-league pitcher who is finding a new career playing pitch and catch out of the shotgun. Almost halfway through the season, Weeden has the fourth-most passing yards in the country leading the No. 2 scoring unit.

"[Weeden] was just a poor practice player," Gundy said. "There's a reason why we changed offenses. He can't execute [OSU's 2005-09] offense. It wasn't set up for him. ...We thought he could function at a high level, but we didn't know."

 

 

Posted on: October 4, 2010 12:46 pm
 

National notes

Before we begin, here is your daily dose of Les Miles. Actually, it's the only dose of Les Miles you need for this week. If you learn anything more from this postgame video about Saturday's Unlucky 13 vs. Tennessee, let me know.


**A warning going into Week 6 ...

There is a real chance almost halfway through the season of an unprecedented logjam at the top of the BCS -- six undefeated conference champions, four of them in BCS leagues.

It's early but there is some separation and definition to the season after five weeks. Alabama is clearly the class of the SEC. Nebraska and Oklahoma are undefeated in the Big 12, and can't meet until the conference championship game. Ohio State's trip to Wisconsin in a couple of weeks suddenly looks less daunting. Boise State is going to rush through the WAC. TCU and Utah are likely to decide the Mountain West head-to-head. Oregon looks like it is going to run away with the Pac-10.

If all that happens, here is one projection of how the final BCS standings might look. Is too early? Never. The first BCS standings will be released in two weeks.

1. Alabama: With all the talk about the Pac-10's strength this season, the SEC still rules. The Tide are all but assured of playing three more ranked teams -- South Carolina, LSU and Auburn.

2. Oregon: Pollsters are already falling in love with the Ducks despite a dicey strength of schedule to this point.

3. Ohio State: Like Alabama, likely to play three more ranked teams (Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan). If you think the Big Ten's strength will carry the Buckeyes into the top two, think again. Oregon's offense is stronger and will make a stronger case, especially on the road where Jim Tressel seems to play conservatively.

4. Big 12: I am well aware that Kansas, Oklahoma State and Missouri are also undefeated making it five in this league. I'm also projecting that, regardless, this is where an undefeated Big 12 champion would end up if everyone else wins out. Among the five Big 12 undefeateds: Kansas State plays Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Missouri. Missouri plays Kansas State, Oklahoma and Nebraska. Nebraska plays  Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Missouri. Oklahoma plays only Missouri and Okie State. The Cowboys still have Kansas State, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

5. TCU/Utah: The Mountain West race will come down to the teams' Nov. 6 meeting in Salt Lake City. If either finishes undefeated it will most likely finish ahead of an undefeated Boise.

6. Boise State: There was bad, bad news for the Broncos on Sunday. They were jumped in both polls by Oregon for No. 3 in the rankings despite having superior accomplishments and super schedule strength to this point. Oregon has played a I-AA (Portland State) and a team that might as well be I-AA (New Mexico). Boise has played two ranked teams, one in the top 10 on the "road" (Virginia Tech at FedEx Field).

For the previous two weeks Boise, at No. 3, had gained on No. 2 Ohio State and pulled away from the No. 4 team. After one week of WAC play -- against admittedly horrible New Mexico State -- the voters have fallen in love with Oregon and are already damning the Broncos for their schedule.

There are 18 remaining undefeated teams. Five of those (28 percent) are in the Big 12. By the end of this week there will be 16 because of head-to-head meetings (Michigan State-Michigan, Nebraska-Kansas State). Also, by the end of the week a maximum of 11 teams will have the possibility of finishing undefeated because of assured head-to-head games. After this week only four undefeated teams will be alive in the Big 12; three in the Big Ten. Only one undefeated team (at most) will be able to come out of the Mountain West, Pac-10, SEC and WAC.

**Texas is out of the AP poll for the first time in 162 weeks (2000). The streak in the coaches' poll had lasted 192 weeks. Texas, 3-2, still has games left against Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M meaning it could be headed for its worst season since before Mack Brown arrived in 1997.

**TCU posted its first road shutout of an opponent in Gary Patterson's 10 years as head coach, 27-0 at Colorado State. That's significant because Patterson is a defensive wizard whose teams have finished tops in total defense each of the last two seasons.

**Speaking of the Horned Frogs, the interest in the Big East is apparently real and reciprocal. TCU could join the league as soon as next season. One reason: There is no financial penalty to leave the Mountain West.

**Poor Jaime Hill. The BYU defensive coordinator was fired after Friday's loss at Utah State. You expect that in the SEC, but at BYU? Hill joined the staff from the CFL in 2006 and was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2008. BYU, 1-4, is off to its worst start in almost four decades.

Some other d-coordinators who might want to watch their backs:

Tyrone Nix, Mississippi. The Rebs got upset by Jacksonville State giving up 49 points and got beat by Vandy, 28-14. Had to hold off Kentucky 42-35 on Saturday. Rebels allowing almost 33 points per game.

Doug Mallory, New Mexico. Not really fair because his future is tied to embattled head coach Mike Locksley. The Lobos have allowed a I-A-most 35 touchdowns and 52.6 points per game.

Co-coordinators Keith Patterson/Paul Randolph, Tulsa. The Hurricane gave up 51 points at East Carolina, losing on the last play of the game. Oklahoma State put up 65 on Tulsa which is 106th in pass efficiency defense.

Ray McCartney, Wake Forest. His defense has given up 68 points to Stanford, 24 touchdowns in five games and 36.8 points per game.

**Team Schizo: Washington has lost to the worst BYU team in years, got run off its home field by Nebraska and now has beaten USC in consecutive seasons.

**Team Schizo II: Kansas lost to Baylor by almost seven touchdowns, 55-7, in Waco. Not even the locals care about Baylor, a Big 12 doormat. There were an estimated 15,000 empty seats at Floyd Casey Stadium. It's bad when your team is intimidated by the Bears.

"When I went out there, they were bigger than I thought,” KU linebacker Steven Johnson told the Kansas City Star. “I’m just like, ‘What in the world are they eating?’ ”

Posted on: September 28, 2010 7:47 pm
 

National notes

What the hell happened to the Big East?

No one was predicting a national championship this season, but things were looking up weren't they? Pittsburgh had a bonafide Heisman candidate in Dion Lewis. UConn was going to beat Michigan and begin the end for Rich Rod. West Virginia had Noel Devine. Cincinnati wasn't 12 wins good, but it was 10 wins good. Right?

The only thing good about the league at this point is that September is ending. At least the Big East can start 0-0 in October. It was 1-10 against BCS conference schools in September. Every team in the league has at least one loss. There are no ranked teams. UConn has changed quarterbacks. There has been an APB sent out for Lewis. Syracuse? There's hope. The Orange are 3-1.

Remember, this was the league that Paul Tagliabue thought was worth saving.

Here's what went (really, really) wrong.

Brian Kelly left Cincinnati. The Bearcats were thinking the worst and hoping for the best. Turns out that Kelly did have the magic touch to get a mid-major into a BCS bowl. It also turns out that the growing pains under Butch Jones were going to be significant.  A 1-3 start means the Bearcats have one less loss than they have had in last two seasons combined (four).

Rutgers never capitalized. It was almost four years ago that Rutgers lit up the nation and New York with that magic win over Louisville. The Scarlet Knights didn't follow through to win the Big East and capture that BCS berth. Greg Schiano keeps recruiting well but Rutgers has lost that Cinderella the program had. It dropped to 2-1 Saturday with a loss to North Carolina.

Ditto for South Florida. Wasn't it just three years ago that the Bulls rose to the No. 2 in the country? South Florida was a fun story for a while under fiery coach Jim Leavitt. Then they always seemed to fade in November. Leavitt got sideways with the administration and may have struck a player. A lawsuit trying to dispel that assertion is what takes most of his time lately. Skip Holtz was the right hire but it's going to take time. Actually, the Bulls might have the brightest outlook after one month. They stuck with Florida for a half and should be 4-1 heading to Morgantown on Oct. 14.

Pittsburgh underachieved again. The Panthers were a prohibitive favorite to win the league in the preseason. They still might do it but have already lost twice. Thursday's four-touchdown rout by Miami was embarrassing. There will be no 10-win repeat.

Four of the league's eight teams have switched coaches in the last two years.
Remember, continuity is a good thing.

There's always Temple and/or Villanova. The two schools have been rumored to join the league as a way of bolstering its major-market profile if and when the Big Ten gets the expansion jones again. There was a report that the league may be interested in TCU. Makes sense for both sides, sort of. If TCU loses once in the Mountain West, it could be out of the BCS running. If it loses three times (non-conference games) while playing in the Big East, it could still get a BCS bowl.

None of that fixes what's wrong now. 

The top 10 September teams (No preseason polls involved. Strictly based on accomplishments to date)

1. Alabama -- beat two ranked teams, one top 10 team on the road. No drop off after losing nine defensive starters.
2. Boise State -- beat two ranked teams, one on the "road" (Virginia Tech). No drop off after undefeated season.
3. Stanford -- Most underrated team in the country. Andrew Luck could win the Heisman. Cardinal could win the Pac-10.
4. Auburn -- Complete team now with Cam Newton.
5. Nebraska -- Defense alone could get it to national championship game.
6. Oregon -- Scorched the earth until Arizona State, then Devils handed them a game by turning it over seven times.
7. Arizona -- Win over Iowa was biggest in years.
8. NC State -- Won twice impressively on the road (Central Florida, Georgia Tech). Suddenly an ACC favorite.
9. Ohio State -- Against the only upright opponent showed flaws but still picked off four Miami passes. Still waiting for Big Ten sked.
10. Michigan -- Can't argue with 4-0 for the second straight season. Denard Robinson emerging as Heisman favorite.

The Quarter Pole

(The best after four games. Team and player)

Best of the Big East: West Virginia, Jordan Todman (UConn)
Best of the Big 12: Nebraska, Taylor Martinez (Nebraska)
Best of the Big Ten: Ohio State, Terrelle Pryor (Ohio State)
Best of the ACC: NC State, Russell Wilson (NC State)
Best of the SEC: Alabama, Ryan Mallett (Arkansas)
Best of Conference USA: East Carolina, Bryce Beall (Houston)
Best of the Pac-10: Oregon, Andrew Luck (Stanford)
Best of the Mountain West: TCU, Ronnie Hillman (San Diego State)
Best of the Sun Belt: Middle Tennessee, Jerrel Jernigan (Troy)
Best of the WAC: Boise State, Kellen Moore (Boise State)
Best of the MAC: Temple, Bernard Pierce (Temple)

Posted on: September 26, 2010 1:54 pm
 

The Day After in college football

As the month of September closes, Texas is out of it, Boise State is in it and Notre Dame is, well, Notre Dame with a defense so suspect it ought to be arraigned.

Surprises? Shoelaces and Michigan. Oregon and its offensive napalming. Jim Harbaugh and his piling on.  Georgia slumping, Auburn soaring. "Little Giants" and one big giant -- Alabama remains No. 1 and looks like it isn't going to nudged from that spot for a while ...

**Just in time for Alabama, Florida may have found a) itself and b) a reasonable facsimile of Tim Tebow.

Celebrated freshman Trey Burton scored six times (five rushing, one passing) against Kentucky in a 48-14 win. Burton lined up mostly in the Wildcat, spurring memories of Tebow during his freshman year. The freshman had changed his number from 13 to 8. That at least gave him the mojo to go for the joy of six. Rex Grossman and Percy Harvin also wore the number. It also gives Alabama something to think about this week when the Gators come to Tuscaloosa.

More good news for the Gators: Florida is 21-4 against coaches with a national championship on their resume since Urban Meyer arrived.

**Way to wreck a Red River party: In its last two meetings to Austin, UCLA has outscored Texas 100-15 including Saturday's 34-12 decision. It was the infamous "Rout 66" in 1997 (UCLA 66, Texas 3) that paved the way for Mack Brown to come to Austin. Between the two UCLA visits to Texas, the Longhorns have been to (and won) two Rose Bowls. UCLA has been to one. Texas, of course, leads UCLA in national championships 1-0 during that time.

"I don't feel right now that we're very good at anything," Brown said after the game.

It may not get better anytime soon. Texas next two games are against Oklahoma and at Nebraska. The loss likely drops Texas out of the national championship race before the calendar turns to October. If OU wins next week, the Big 12's national championship hopes may be up to Big Ten deserter Nebraska.

**The Big Ten's lost weekend produced some predictable results -- blowouts and embarrassments. Wisconsin (over Austin Peay) and Ohio State (over Eastern Michigan) each scored 70. Purdue (to Toledo) and Minnesota (to Northern Illinois) both lost to MAC teams. Add it up and the Big Ten went 8-2 against a compilation of eight MAC teams and two I-AAs. Shameful schedule.

**Don't blame Notre Dame's Manti Te'o. After getting 21 tackles against Stanford, the Irish linebacker leads the country with a staggering 13.5 per game. ND is back, though, where it has been for the last few years in total defense -- 103rd. Only two BCS-level teams are worse, Oregon State and Wake Forest.

The No. 2 tackler is Hawaii's Corey Paredes, meaning the nation's top two tacklers are from Oahu

**Don't care if Terrelle Pryor if got six touchdowns against air (aka Eastern Michigan), he moved to the top of my Heisman list this week: 1, Pryor (four passing, one rushing, one TD reception); 2, Kellen Moore; 3, Mark Ingram; 4, Andrew Luck; 5, Denard Robinson.

Posted on: September 22, 2010 12:05 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2010 12:09 pm
 

National notes

Heart attacks can happen to anyone. Young, old. Physically fit, physically decrepit. That's why our thoughts and prayers should rightfully go to Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio.

But the idea that coaches face any more stress than the rest of us is laughable. If anything, coaches should be healthier than the general public. They control their hours. They are around trainers, doctors and elite athletes all day. There is a weight room right around the corner. Sure Dick Vermeil coined the term "burn out" but most of us don’t' have the luxury of quitting our jobs, doing TV for 16 years and getting into wine collecting.

Take a moment and think about the poor slob, trying to make the mortgage and putting two kids through college. He's burned out every day.  He doesn't get a trip to Hawaii from Nike in the offseason. Heck, he doesn't have an offseason. So let's not go nuts here. There are some coaches, Steve Spurrier and Bob Stoops among them, who don't believe that more is better.

Dantonio's heart attack spurred a rash of cliché coaches-need-to-take-care-of-themse
lves stories this week. Thankfully, in general, most coaches responded the same way as Michigan's Rich Rodriguez.

"There are a lot of stressful jobs out there," he said.

**On June 11, Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman and AD Tom Osborne stood before the Nebraska board of regents and ranted.

"One school leaving a conference does not break up a conference. Two schools leaving a conference does not break up a conference," Osborne said. "Six schools leaving a conference, breaks up a conference. We have not had a hidden agenda, we have not dealt with more than one conference."

They were talking about Texas. It was half theater (the board voted unanimously for Nebraska to join the Big Ten) and half political. In that same meeting, Perlman added that his school didn't owe the Big 12 a dime for leaving the conference. Remember, this was in the middle of the Pac-10's failed raid on half of the Big 12.

From a legal standpoint, Nebraska wanted to position itself as having been pushed out of the Big 12 because of the wandering eyes of Texas and the five other schools pursued by the Pac-10. Colorado and Nebraska left the Big 12 on consecutive days. The next order of business was determining how much each school owed the Big 12 for departing. League bylaws state that a school that gives only one year's notice, it must sacrifice 80 percent of its conference revenue share.

Perlman knew there would probably come a day when his school would negotiate some sort of exit fee. When it did, Perlman wanted to save as much money as possible. He was already on record as saying his team was forced out.  Nebraska no doubt would have cited Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe's assertion, on the day Nebraska left for the Big Ten, that the Big 12 would be better off with 10 teams. The Big 12's case would have been bolstered by a report that Nebraska had been sending feelers to the Big Ten since January. 

Faced with the prospect of a protracted court battle, what happened Tuesday was a mutually negotiated divorce. A mediator was brought in work with Colorado, Nebraska and the Big 12 over a two-day period, according to the Boulder (Colo.) Camera. As late as Saturday Colorado apparently still hadn't taken advantage of a standing Pac-10 offer to "finance" the Big 12 buyout by withholding future Pac-10 revenues. The Pac-10 had offered up to a $10 million loan to help CU with the exit fees, the Camera reported.

The Big 12 settled for only half of the money owed it when Nebraska agreed to pay the league $9.2 million. Colorado paid less, only $6.9 million, because it had said all along it was joining the Pac-10 in 2012. Plus, its revenue take in the Big 12 was less than Nebraska's.

Remember this when you next read about buyout clauses and exit fees. They mean little. They are meant to compensate current members, not keep schools in a league. If a school really wants to leave, it will leave. Everything can be negotiated. If it isn't, there's always court.

**The news last week that Penn State is adding hockey had an interesting Notre Dame twist.

With Penn State there are now six Big Ten teams that sponsor men's hockey, the NCAA minimum. Commissioner Jim Delany has been enthusiastic about forming a Big Ten hockey league. The other five Big Ten hockey members compete in NCAA power conferences -- Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State in the CCHA; Wisconsin and Minnesota in the WCHA.

Notre Dame also competes in the CCHA. The hockey Irish might have no choice but to join the Big Ten in hockey if Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State decide to leave the CCHA. In essence, it would be the hockey version of the recent college football realignment. Would Notre Dame playing Big Ten hockey be part of a larger move for all of the Irish's sports? The school already plays in three other leagues (Big East, CCHA and Midwest Fencing Conference) for its other  sports.

**How underachieving has Florida's offense been to this point? Mississippi State, which threw five interceptions against LSU, is ranked significantly higher (No. 70) than the Gators (92nd) in total offense. Only five other BCS conference schools average fewer yards than Florida -- UCLA, Kansas, Vanderbilt, Oregon State and Maryland.  That's after the Gators have played Miami (Ohio), South Florida and Tennessee.

**So much for losing nine defensive starters. Alabama is back in the top 10 (ninth) in total defense.

 
 
 
 
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