Posted on: February 25, 2011 1:07 pm
For the moment I'm going to name it Super Saturday. Even that seems a bit modest.
Traditionally, the last weekend of the regular season was already a monster -- the Conference USA, Big 12, SEC and ACC championship games along with your random Civil War thrown in. It was, and is, usually a one-day play-in for the BCS championship bowl and other major bowls. Last year alone we got Oregon's coronation at Oregon State, Auburn's major, final statement against South Carolina and Virginia Tech winning the ACC (again).
That final weekend could be about to get a lot bigger. First, consider we've got a new configuration with the Big 12 dropping its championship game and the Big Ten and Pac-12 adding title games. Suddenly, the Big 12 is without a presence on that last day (Dec. 3 this year). Turns out there are serious talks underway about moving Oklahoma-Oklahoma State and/or Texas-Texas A&M to that day.
That could make Saturday truly Super considering the blockbuster implications for this season. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State most likely are both going to start the season in the top 10. The game could end up being the Big 12's first "championship game" in the new 10-team alignment. Texas and A&M could also be moved off its traditional Thanksgiving week home.
"The leader in the clubhouse would be either UT-AM or OU-OSU,” a source told the Tulsa World. “ABC wants a blockbuster weekend on championship Saturday, but doesn’t want to blow up Thanksgiving, so it’s a tricky situation."
The odds of all four of those Big 12 teams being out of the title race on the final day are minimal. Even if they are, those games are sure to deliver the key Texas demographic (Dallas, Houston, San Antonio etc.) That cannot be underestimated. The source added that a Texas-A&M, OU-OSU doubleheader is a possibility.
"That (doubleheader) is on the table and being discussed," the source said. "It is by no means a 'done deal,' but it is certainly possible."
Don't forget that the Pac-12 will play its first championship game that day at the stadium of the school with the best record. The Big Ten is already slotted to play its title game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. In other Super Saturday news, the Big East -- which just released its schedule -- will have two games that day -- Connecticut at Cincinnati and Syracuse at Pittsburgh.
The next question: How to schedule all those games so they don't all bump into each other.
Posted on: January 6, 2011 8:27 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2011 12:24 am
PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. -- Auburn isn't going to lay down. That much is official as the Tigers try to deal with the most explosive offense in the country.
Oregon averages 49.33 points per game according to the NCAA, No. 1 nationally. More to the point, Oregon scores those points quickly. The Ducks are 103rd in time of possession (27:59 per game). That figures out to an average of 1.76 points per minute of possession. Only 21 of 91 scoring drives this season lasted more than 2:43.
That leaves a lot of defensive tongues dragging. Chip Kelly's offense is so effective that basketball types have become interested with its pace. Kelly talks regularly with Oregon women's coach Paul Westhead (The Guru of Go). Representatives from the Houston Rockets and Portland Trailblazers visited Kelly and the Ducks in the offseason.
"We're not going to do that," Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof said Thursday at the BCS championship game press conferences. "We're going to line up and play."
There is an NCAA rule that prohibits such tactics.
"Most likely the officials will warn the team, 'Get up, get up or you'll be penalized,' " before a penalty according to Dave Parry, the national coordinator of officials.
Opponents going European soccer on the Ducks -- aka diving -- started in September during a game at Arizona State.
"It's kind of like a World Cup game here with the crowd and these injuries," Kelly said at the time.
The practice became so common that Oregon fans began booing each time there was an opponent injury -- legitimate or not.
"The fake injuries, the cramps, that's stuff that sometimes can really kill our drives and sometimes really motivates us," Oregon receiver Jeff Maehl said. "We put our foot on the pedal even more ... It's becoming a strategy for other teams. If that's the route they want to take, that's part of the game. It shows a lot of mental weakness."
Oregon comes into the game fourth nationally averaging 79.25 plays per game. The top three are all from the Big 12 -- Oklahoma (86.5), Texas Tech (81) and Texas A&M (80.75).
"Hopefully my wind can hold up," said Auburn All-American defensive tackle Nick Fairley. "That's one thing we're not going to do ... fake an injury to slow them down."
Auburn's best chance is to stop Oregon on first down. That's when the Ducks offense faces the same challenge as a conventional unit, converting second- and third-down and long. Cal's lollygagging worked but so did the fact that it had effective back seven that allowed it to cover receivers one-and-one and devote the rest of the defense to the run. The Bears held Oregon to season lows in points (15) and points (317) in the Ducks' 15-13 victory.
Posted on: January 2, 2011 6:46 pm
On the same day TCU received its first Rose Bowl bid, its stadium was demolished.
The two occurrences on Dec. 5 are actually related. In a strange way, the Frogs were in Saturday's Rose Bowl because Amon G. Carter Stadium was being demolished. The win over Wisconsin was a culmination of events that might have elevated TCU to being the best non-automatic qualifier in existence.
Part of the stadium was torn down as part of a $100 million facilities upgrade. Call it an overall upgrade, the biggest in school history. With the Rose Bowl win and a 13-0 season, TCU is on the edge of breaking into college football's elite. It certainly has passed Utah and Boise as the best non-BCS programs of the BCS era (since 1998). World's tallest midget status is a bit meaningless now, though, with TCU joining the Big East in 2012.
It will leave behind quite a legacy before starting a new one as one of the game's haves. Gary Patterson is a defensive savant but his teams have been tremendously balanced. Departing senior Jeremy Kerley was a dual threat as a receiver and returner. Quarterback Andy Dalton leaves as the winningest active quarterback in the game. His placement will be either Casey Pachall, a redshirt freshman, or Matt Brown, an Allen, Texas star who changed his commitment from Arizona in February.
Only 10 starters return with the loss of 26 seniors in 2011. But Patterson has been good at replenishing and rebuilding. Most of the 2010 recruiting class redshirted. Only three true freshmen played any significant time. This season marked the program's fifth in the last six with at least 11 wins. The residual gift from those victories will benefit both the Mountain West and Big East. BCS executive director Bill Hancock confirmed Saturday night that the leagues will each get credit for TCU's records in 2010 and 2011.
A four-year evaluation period for automatic BCS conference qualification has been adjusted to match up with TV contracts. That's why TCU will most likely help the Big East keep its BCS status and aid the Mountain West in getting its shot. If the MWC meets a series of benchmarks it will get temporary automatic qualifying status in 2012 and 2013. That would help sustain the league despite the losses of Utah and BYU next season and TCU in 2012. Boise State joins the MWC in 2011. Nevada, Fresno State and Hawaii (football only) will arrive in 2012.
Some dope tweeted Sunday about TCU's weak schedule. While the MWC has been damaged by defections, it is on the brink of BCS automatic qualification because of the accomplishments of TCU, BYU and Utah. The Frogs have actively sought a tougher schedule in the Big East. Meanwhile, in the non-con Boise State comes to Fort Worth in 2011. Oklahoma and Virginia follow in 2012. There's a home and home with LSU in 2013 and 2014.
Let's see Ohio State (Marshall, Ohio and Eastern Michigan this season in the non-con) match that.
Posted on: December 30, 2010 11:46 am
Edited on: December 30, 2010 4:15 pm
Jan. 8 -- I'll never forget a crushed Mack Brown in the Rose Bowl hallway leading to the Texas lockerroom after losing to Alabama. I ask him, "Would Colt [McCoy] have made a difference?" Mack: "It wouldn't have been close."
Feb. 1 -- What's so special about Cretin-Derham Hall High in St. Paul, Minn. No. 1 recruit Seantrel Henderson? A lot. But the kid's nationally televised commitment to USC turns out to be a mockery of the system.
March 17 -- Before Butler bounces a ball in the NCAA Tournament I was there to chronicle what was then a stepping-stone job.
Also in May -- Haley Dodd graduates from high school, commits to the University of Missouri.
June 1 -- Big 12 spring meetings begin in Kansas City with all hell breaking loose.
June 3 -- Big 12 schools are so spooked by impending conference realignment that an ultimatum is issued: Declare loyalty or else. Nebraska won't commit, having been in talks with Big Ten since January.
June 9 -- Colorado announces it is joining the Pac-10.
June 11 -- Nebraska trashes Texas on the way to announcing its departure for the Big Ten in 2011. The Longhorns take their worst beating in seven years.
A portion of the remaining Big 12 have nots (Missouri, Iowa State, etc.) agree that Texas should get an increased share of conference revenue just because it's Texas. There is no Big 12 with it. The Horns spend the rest of the year establishing its own network, reportedly with ESPN for $15 million per year.
June 16 -- Troy is burned to the ground.
July 21 -- Nick Saban goes there with the p-word.
August 15 -- Haley moves into her University of Missouri dorm 30 years after her dad moved out of Columbia. Yes, a few sentimental tears were shed.
August 27 -- It's the Year of the Comeback.
September 7 -- Boise State launches itself into a season-long national conversation with a 33-30 win over Virginia Tech.
October 9 -- It's officially a national race again as defending national champ Alabama loses to South Carolina.
October 12 -- Turns out, South Carolina's win was a bigger deal than we thought. The Gamecocks become only the 45th team ever (in wire service era) to a beat a No. 1 team.
November 4 -- Story breaks of Cam Newton's dad soliciting $180,000 from Mississippi State.
November 6 -- Matt Hayes of the Sporting News and I get trapped in the LSU postgame celebration after an amazing win over Alabama. We get a behind-the-scenes look at the LSU's coach's "Lesticles."
Non-BCS story of the year: While covering that Boise-Nevada game on a bitterly cold night in Reno, a window in the press box has to be cracked so the clock crew "can hear the whistle." We're not exactly in Columbus, folks. Haven't heard a line like that since the Class 4-A state title game in 1984.
November 27 -- Miami's Randy Shannon is fired after an uninspired loss to South Florida. Jon Gruden gets his name in the search, as he always does, but in the first major hire of his career, AD Kirby Hocutt eventually picks Temple's Al Golden.
December 1 -- The best guy to talk about Kyle Brotzman's disappointment happens to be Boise resident and fan Bill Buckner.
December 5 -- Told you it was the Year of the Comeback.
December 19 -- Jack and dad enjoy the Chiefs and Rams in St. Louis during Christmas break. It's nice watching a game without a deadline to meet or a petulant coach to question. It's even better doing it with my wingman.
It was a great year. May 2011 be even better.
Tags: Alabama, Ascension Catholic School, Auburn, Baylor, BCS, Big Ten, Big Ten, Boise State, Butler, Cardinals, Chiefs, Colorado, Cretin-Derham Hall High, CYO football, ESPN, Final Four, Frozen Four, Haley Dodd, Heisman, Iowa State, Jack Dodd, Janet Dodd, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Magic Johnson, Mexico, Miami, Mississippi State, Missouri, NCAA Tournament, Nebraska, Newport Beach, North Carolina, Northern Iowa, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Oregon State, Pac-10, Padres, Rams, South Carolina, Texas, Texas, USC, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, World Cup
Posted on: December 8, 2010 7:27 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2010 11:01 am
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Welcome to Day 2 of the post-Urban Florida coaching search. This time it's for real. We think.
Florida AD Jeremy Foley says he'd like to have someone hired in 2-2 1/2 weeks. He also says he hasn't contacted any candidates. Of course, he hasn't. That's not the way searches work. Coaches who want to remain anonymous can keep on the down low by speaking to a third party. You can bet some influential Gators have been burning up the phone lines talking to candidates already -- probably some of these candidates.
Here's my list in descending order of probability...
It would be a good get for Foley, but for how long?
The biggest drawback: Whit is an accomplished head coach already headed to a BCS conference (Pac-12). He could take a bigger step going to the SEC. If they hired him, the Gators would play defense, I guarantee you that.
Here's what bothers me: Mullen isn't exactly known as an aggressive recruiter. His record in two seasons with the Bulldogs is still only 13-11. On the plus side: Steve Spurrier didn't enjoy recruiting either and he did all right. Mullen would unite the Gator Nation, although whoever gets hired is going to be the guy to follow the guy. Never a good thing in the coaching profession. You know what happened here the last time a coaching icon left.
Kevin Sumlin, Houston: Foley loves him.
Chip Kelly, Oregon: If his team wasn’t playing for the national championship I bet he'd more than listen. The timing, though, is a deal breaker. Kelly wouldn't leave until after the BCS title game (Jan. 10) and Florida sure wouldn't wait that long.
Bob Stoops, Oklahoma: There will be some sentiment for Spurrier's former defensive coordinator to come "home". Insiders know that Stoopsie is perfectly happy in Norman, loves his AD (Joe Castiglione) and can continue to compete for Big 12 and national championships each year. Sorry, Gators.
Chris Petersen, Boise State: As much as I like Pete, he wouldn't last three minutes in Florida's media fish bowl. There's a reason he hasn't left yet. Petersen is completely comfortable at a place where he can win forever.
Larry Fedora, Southern Miss: Could be dark horse candidate.
Charlie Strong, Louisville: Florida's former D coordinator is a strong recruiter and great man. Florida needs a rock star. Charlie Strong is not a rock star.
Steve Spurrier, South Carolina: Don't. Think. So.
Posted on: November 28, 2010 9:19 am
Edited on: November 28, 2010 1:06 pm
It looks like the biggest college football Sunday, well, until next week when the BCS bowls are announced. At issue today:
--Let the Miami speculation begin. Randy Shannon’s firing means a wide net will be cast. As Gregg Doyel pointed out, Miami pretty much has said player conduct isn’t an issue anymore. Miami fired a fine man who had recruited good players and good citizens.
Forget that, it’s time to find a football coach. Miami’s legacy is so deep that a rule has been named after it. Well, it doesn’t have an official name but next year points will be taken off the board for excessive celebration during a play. I’ve written about …
Anyway, to the speculation:
Miami needs a head coach. Miami needs an offensive coach. Miami needs a coach with quarterback experience. That doesn’t necessarily mean a former quarterback (Mark Richt?) but it does mean one who can coach (and recruit) quarterbacks.
My short list in no particular order:
Dana Hologorsen, Oklahoma State offensive coordinator – No, he’s not a head coach but he’s the reason the top three offensive players in the Big 12 play for Oklahoma State (Brandon Weeden, Kendall Hunter, Justin Blackmon).
Mike Leach, Key West resident-- He’s laying low in the Keys filing lawsuits until the next big thing comes along. If Miami wants to go 180 degrees from Shannon then this is their man. Note to Miami, though: Bring representation. This former lawyer is legally armed and dangerous.
Charlie Strong, Louisville - Defensive guy. Definitely not a quarterback guy. Strong, though, is known as a great recruiter who could get Miami back on track in a hurry. That pretty much goes for whoever Miami hires. We’re talking the ACC, here.
Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech -- He’d come in a heartbeat. He loves Miami, knows how to recruit there. Tubs has two national championships rings from Miami. Is he too old though, 56, for Kirby Hocutt’s tastes?
Greg Schiano, Rutgers -- Here’s what you have to ask yourself – Has Rutgers dragged Schiano down? He led it to unprecedented heights but the Knights will miss their first bowl in five years this season. Or, are Miami’s resources just waiting to be tapped by an energetic former Hurricane assistant. Schiano has recruited South Florida for years.
Mark Richt, Georgia -- His name is automatic given his ties to the program (former quarterback) and success at Florida State and Georgia. But how does Richt go from the hot seat at Georgia to a hot candidate at Miami in just a few weeks?
--Other issues today: Three-way ties in the Big Ten and Big 12 have to be settled for BCS berths.
Oklahoma is expected to slip past Oklahoma State (and Texas A&M) in the Big 12. Wisconsin is expected to grab the Rose Bowl berth ahead of Ohio State and Michigan State.
In Oklahoma’s case, it’s fitting that the final Big 12 game (in this configuration) could be OU and Nebraska in the Big 12 title game. It’s that rivalry (among others) that was altered when the Big 12 was formed.
TCU seemingly has clinched a Rose Bowl berth, at least, after destroying New Mexico. The Horned Frogs’ regular season is done. It’s difficult to project them falling out of the No. 3 spot in the BCS.
Posted on: November 23, 2010 6:14 pm
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.
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
Tags: ACC, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Auburn, BCS, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Boise, Florida State, LSU, Michigan State, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Pac-10, Pac-10, Pittsburgh, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, Syracuse, TCU, Texas A&M, UConn, Utah, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Posted on: November 21, 2010 8:28 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2010 11:14 pm
TCU's chances of making a BCS bowl just improved with Sunday's release of the latest BCS standings.
The Horned Frogs are teetering on the brink of being excluded from a BCS bowl and coach Gary Patterson knows it. That's the reason he went through the ESPN "car wash" over the weekend, flying to Bristol, Conn. for appearances on various ESPN platforms. Patterson was low key and stated his case to the point that he even made it to Chicago Saturday to be on the set of GameDay.
What even Patterson probably doesn't know is, as of Sunday night, that a spot looks like it is opening up for his team in the Orange Bowl. TCU's case was helped by the Nebraska's loss to Texas A&M. The Huskers could have been a potential at-large team. That possibility probably no longer exists with Nebraska having dropped to 9-2.
TCU's plight is affected by a BCS rule that allows a berth to only one automatically qualifying non-BCS school. After that, it's up to the bowls' discretion. That was the scenario last season when Boise and TCU played in the Fiesta Bowl. This year it's likely they both get in again if you assume that the top eight in the BCS win out. Here's why:
1. An Oregon-Auburn championship game creates an opening in the Rose Bowl that this year, per BCS rules, allows for the highest-ranked qualifying non-A.Q. (automatic BCS qualifier) to go to Pasadena. Given the numbers posted Sunday that is most likely Boise State. The Broncos -- fourth in the BCS -- moved within .0135 of No. 3 TCU. With two games remaining, Boise State seems destined to move into that No. 3 position.
2. Assuming Boise is in the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin (winner in a three-team Big Ten tie), then it's easy to slot these teams:
Oklahoma/Oklahoma State/Nebraska or Missouri vs. the Big East champ in the Fiesta.
LSU (SEC at-large) vs. Ohio State (Big Ten at-large) in the Sugar.
3. This is where it gets interesting in the Orange Bowl. There simply isn't that large of an eligible pool to match against the ACC champion (Virginia Tech, Florida State or NC State). At that point only Oklahoma State (11-2 coming off a Big 12 title game loss), Missouri (10-2 if it beats Kansas), Stanford (11-1 if it wins out) and TCU (12-0 if it beats New Mexico) would likely be eligible for a BCS berth. Every other team would have at least three losses or, like Michigan State, be shut out because its conference already had the limit of two BCS teams.
Remember that the Orange is very sensitive to attendance. It needs two teams who can guarantee a sellout (or come close to guaranteeing) a sellout. That seemingly eliminates Stanford and Missouri. Stanford would be traveling across the country. Only one Pac-10 team (USC in 2003) has played in the Orange Bowl in a non-championship BCS year since 1985. Missouri has a notoriously mediocre fan following in bowls.
That leaves only TCU, not exactly an attendance draw but a better team than any of the other candidates. Virginia Tech-TCU doesn't quite stir the blood the same way that, say, LSU-TCU does but in my scenario the Sugar is not going to pass up a chance for a rematch of the 2008 BCS title game (LSU-Ohio State).
In my scenario, everyone is happy -- TCU, the BCS -- which doesn't have to take a load of ---- for leaving out the Horned Frogs -- and my man Patterson. Once again, the biggest development of Saturday was Nebraska being eliminated. If the Huskers had won that created the unsavory scenario involving the Orange Bowl. The bowl possibly would have had to choose between a two-loss Nebraska and an undefeated TCU. Isn't it great how things work out?
Once again, recapping why TCU fans should be happy if the top four win out:
BCS championship game: Oregon-Auburn
Rose: Boise State-Wisconsin (assuming Badgers win three-way tiebreaker)
Fiesta: Big 12 (Oklahoma/Oklahoma State/Nebraska/Missouri) vs. Big East (too many possibilities even to post on the Internet)
Sugar: LSU-Ohio State
Orange: ACC (Virginia Tech/Florida State/NC State)-TCU
Top eight in the BCS as of Sunday: