Tag:Pac-10
Posted on: June 25, 2009 2:05 am
 

The Tom Hansen interview

This is the full transcript of an interview with outgoing Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen. An accompanying column appears on the site.


Q: Have you spoken to (former NCAA executive director) Walter Byers lately?

Hansen: "When I was first here I wrote him once about something and he didn't respond. I saw him at the 1988 Final Four in Kansas City. He was very friendly but I haven't been in contact with him since then."

Q: What kind of guy was Walter to work for?

Hansen: "Walter was marvelous to work for. Walter was a great teacher. Walter was a patient person. He worked with each and every staff member to make us better.

"It was a challenge to me to try to write a story that he wouldn't just blot out with red ink. As I went on, I got better. He was a magnificent editor because that was his background. He made every one of us better. He was fiercely loyal to the staff. If we made a mistake, he would defend us externally with anyone or anybody.

"You knew you had his support in whatever you did. When I started there were seven administrators. He sent us out to do some pretty major things. In addition to TV, I had Congressional relations. I had the first NCAA committee on women's athletics. I was out there on some pretty fierce firefights at times."

Q: No casual Fridays I understand?

Hansen: "When I got there we all worked Saturdays as well. The joke was we spent all lives and all our careers in college athletics but we couldn't go to any football games."

Q: Do you think we'll ever see a playoff in our lifetime?

Hansen: "I hope you live a long, long, long time. I don't expect one in the near future, just because of the many, many difficulties it would include. I don't think so because of the negatives a playoff would entail."

Q: Does the man on the street even understand what the BCS is?

Hansen: "I don't think the man on the street has the full picture to evaluate ... a playoff. I don't think they begin to envision the negatives of a playoff, which would have to be 16 teams for political reasons.

"Most people want to have one more game with four teams playing. That can never be. They vastly underestimate the complexity of a playoff, the fact that you have to play on the college campuses. You'd probably kill the bowl system.

"Then they completely fail to appreciate or recognize the many things the BCS has done to help college football. With the BCS, but not with a playoff system, that we can have 12 (regular-season) games. The 12th game has been a financial bonanza for the bowl subdivision.

"It was done with the tacit understand that the postseason would not be expanded. It has also made the regular season so absolutely outstanding. It's the best regular season of any American sport -- pro or college. We certainly didn't have the foresight to plan it that way but it evolved. Part of it is because every game all season long at least has an indirect effect on what teams play in the BCS."
 
Q: So you think it would have to be 16 teams to accommodate everyone?

Hansen: "Absolutely. We would have to have automatic qualification for the 11 (Division I-A) conferences. If Notre Dame qualified under the conditions that it does, now you've only four at-large berths left and you'd have a horrible argument over those."

Q: I was reading about the 1984 Supreme Court ruling that broke up the NCAA's monopoly on televised college football.  Do you think the NCAA eventually would have opened up anyway and allowed more teams more appearances?

Hansen: "We already had. I was the architect. About '82 we went to two networks. We went to cable as well. Admittedly, that was trying to stave off the College Football Association. It was clear that television was growing to the point that we had to expand.

"We had two networks and ESPN. They (schools) were sincere in wanting more opportunity. Once the market was fractured, it was many years before the per-game value was achieved again. What was behind that was the desire by certain institutions to do their own programs. It was more than an expansion of the existing NCAA programs."

Q: A lot of people said that was the first step toward the BCS...

Hansen: "I think it was a weigh station on the road toward the BCS ... It was a major step in changing the way Division I football was structured and operated."

Q: When you came to the Pac-10 was, back then, also the only conference that investigated itself in the case of NCAA wrongdoing?

Hansen: "Yes. That had been done because of some problems in the late 70s, early 80s."

Q: How uncomfortable is that for the membership with brother investigating  brother?

Hansen: "Because it's been supported well by the presidents and been thoughtful and positive, it's gone well. It's been very measured and careful.

"Our people support it because we can get an investigator to campus almost immediately. The NCAA, with all of its responsibilities, can't do that. When our investigator arrives on campus our people know him. Whereas the NCAA investigator is almost always a total stranger.

"The other (conference) members also have confidence that once our person gets in there things are going to get cleaned up. Whereas, again, the NCAA doesn't get there for a period of time. That's some of the reasons why it has been supported."

Q: That leads to the next question. When do you think the USC thing will be wrapped up?

Hansen: "Very difficult to predict because of the legal entanglements. I'm speaking more about (Reggie) Bush than I am about (O.J.) Mayo. With Bush you have a case that I think is becoming more prevalent.

"Fifteen years ago before the NCAA took the boosters out of recruiting, the boosters established relationships. They took care of the financial needs of the high, high profile athletes in college. Now you've got the agents doing that.

"Once the student-athlete decides to become a professional you have no leverage to use to get that person to talk to you. All these outside forces, even the university, can't leverage that."

Q: How frustrating is that in getting a fair conclusion to this?

Hansen: "It's enormously frustrating for us, for the university, for the NCAA. Justice delayed is justice denied." 

Q: If it ever comes to vacating or forfeiting USC victories, the BCS commissioners might be in the awkward position of having to take away a championship. How uncomfortable would that be?

Hansen: "I think it would be very uncomfortable. Yet, over the years in the NCAA that same responsibility has fallen to faculty representatives, athletic directors and others. It has been done by peers, although not as quite as directly as competitive peers as commissioners would be."

Q: Would commissioners have the guts to take that step?

Hansen:
"It's also a fact that the BCS commissioners or I-A commissioners wouldn't have been involved in any investigation or finding of facts. It's a very different, and I think quite awkward, situation."

Q: You're the longest tenured commissioner in I-A, what's your biggest memory or accomplishment in the Pac-10?

Hansen: "I think a couple of things. Establishing the television contracts we have and establishing our women's athletic programs is another of which I'm very proud." 

Q: It seems to be a topic on the West Coast, getting games on at better times in the East. At the same time you've had tremendous exposure through USC.

Hansen: "Right now our programs are in very good shape. We had 11 national championships and five bowl wins alone (this season). I'm very proud I'm going out at a time we're quite obviously highly, highly competitive. This year is the seventh time we've won 10 or more NCAA championships. No other conference has done that."

Q: Does the Pac-10 need to expand?

Hansen: "Probably not. If Division I-A stays basically in the same structure, I don't think so. The reason a conference expands is to get more football TV homes for television purposes. Short of going to Texas which we tried to do in the early 90s, there is no other institution that brings more TV homes than our average.

"Our TV area is about 18 million (viewers). We need someone with more than 1.8 million TV homes. The state of Texas has about seven percent (of the total viewers). That works but nothing else really works."

"The other thing is, our ADs have looked at the conference playoff. It's not nearly as lucrative as more television income. (Proponents) want to go to 12 and then have to go into divisions in football. We worked very hard to get a complete (round-robin) conference schedule. Our ADs would not want to retreat from that." 

Q: What are you going to do in retirement?

Hansen: "I'm not going to run around and consult like some of my friends who are retired. I'm going to be content, I think, to play golf and work in the yard and travel.

"One of things that is amusing. We have never spent much time exploring the Bay Area or Northern California. Because we've spent so many weekends at game and at meetings we haven't done that. That's one thing that is high on our priority list."

Q: Given all we've talked about, is this almost the best college football has ever been? For example, the two highest growing sports are NASCAR and college football.

Hansen: "That's true. College football television-wise and attendance-wise has never been better. The TV ratings, if not historically high right now, are so solid. The postseason have been very strong the last several years. It can be said that it is (better than ever)."

Q: Is the Rose Bowl still the same as it was because of the BCS? Has it retained its magic?

Hansen: "I think it has., particularly when we come back to a Pac-10-Big Ten game which is really the basis of it. We were surprised by the number of times that didn't happen (because of the BCS). That's come back now somewhat. The addition of the fifth game was critical to that. When you hosted the national championship game, you didn't lose the Rose Bowl.

"I think the most exciting time you could ever experience was two o'clock on January 1 when the teams are lining up for the kickoff. It's almost like the stadium starts to levitate a little bit. It's a glorious, glorious thing to be a part of."

Q: Can your BCS brethren, weather this latest storm from Capitol Hill?

Hansen: "I think so. I don't take that as more than politics instigated by the senators or congressmen from certain areas ... We understand that. The federal government has no business trying to regulate the postseason. I don't think there are many in the Congress that seriously consider doing so."

 

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Pac-10, USC
 
Posted on: May 15, 2009 11:14 am
Edited on: May 15, 2009 11:19 am
 

Pac-10 Network

As you read here first, the Pac-10 is considering its own network. Can expansion to 12 be far behind?

I was stunned to read that the Big Ten pulls in twice as much money as the Pac-10.
Category: NCAAF
Tags: Pac-10
 
Posted on: April 24, 2009 1:20 pm
Edited on: April 24, 2009 1:34 pm
 

No downside to cheating to win a BCS title

Leftovers from this week's West Coast swing ...

BCS commissioners might soon have to consider penalizing one of its own. One of the issues that emerged from the recent consolidation of the two USC cases, is a possible lack of institution control violation. Both former basketball star O.J. Mayo and former Heisman winner Reggie Bush are alleged to have taken improper benefits.

The combining of the cases streamlines things and makes it more likely that one or both of the programs could be forced to forfeit or "vacate" games. In the case of USC football, that could include a pair of Pac-10 championships in 2004 and 2005 as well as the 2004 national championship.

That could put the BCS commissioners in the uncomfortable spot of having to remove that national title. Because the NCAA doesn't stage a championship in I-A football, a forfeit would affect Pete Carroll's victory total, Pac-10 titles, the NCAA football records book and the USC media guide. It would be up to the commissioners to actually take away the title.

That isn't going to happen. The commissioners don't want to get into the business of penalizing their own. But it does raise another question: Because a BCS title is essentially immune from NCAA sanctions, does that ratchet up the incentive to cheat to get one?

It's looking more and more like Bush acted on his own. But if a booster (or group of boosters) or even a school decided to cheat its way to a title, really, what are the disincentives? Florida State has its panties in a bunch because it wants to protect Bobby Bowden's victory total. Other than that, the biggest drawback to forfeits/vacates is embarrassment.

Especially when the upside is a possible national championship that can't be taken away.

 Incoming Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott made an appearance at the BCS meetings in Pasadena. One of the subjects being tossed around in the rumor mill is a network that would be a joint venture between the ACC and Pac-10.

While those are two disparate conferences at opposite ends of the country, they do share some of the same problems -- lack of exposure in football. Scott has poo-pooed nothing so far. It will be interested to see how far Pac-10 presidents want to go in terms of expansion and television.

The Ocean Network (Pacific/Atlantic, get it?) could feature early ACC games at 11:30 a.m. ET (beating the Big Ten by half an hour for the first major-college games of the day) followed by a featured Pac-10 game at 3:30 p.m. ET. (12:30 p.m. PT).

Don't worry so much about game quality. Some of those early Big Ten games are dogs but they get good ratings because fans just want to see football as soon as possible on Saturday. A Wake Forest-Maryland game at 11:30 a.m. wouldn't be as distasteful as you might think.

As for that 3:30 p.m. window? The Pac-10 has to do something to get its games out of Saturday late night. While USC gathers most of the attention and ratings for the conference, you better believe that other conference members would welcome an afternoon time slot.

 Couldn't resist thinking of this while in L.A.: One school (USC) was staging a quarterback battle, while across town they're having a pillow fight (UCLA).

The spring opened with coach Rick Neuheisel opening the competition to replace/challenge Kevin Craft who threw 20 interceptions last year. Redshirt freshman Kevin Prince is the clear leader going into Saturday's spring game. Craft has fallen to third.

That brings us to the curious case of Chris Forcier. Sensing his future in Westwood wasn't assured, the brother of Michigan's Tate Forcier sought his release to transfer. One problem, once given his release, Forcier found no takers for him to play quarterback.

He did what any red-blooded disgruntled signal-caller would do, he stayed and switched to receiver. His prospects, if there are any left, are even worse at that position. To say that he is buried on the depth chart would be an insult to cemetery residents.

"Certainly you take your hat off [to him] for being willing to do things to help the team," Neuheisel told the Los Angeles Times. "But you can't just reward the great effort and slow down the team to create playing time, if it is not merited."

 How good is Washington's Steve Sarkisian? It seems that he was Nick Saban's first choice to be Alabama's offensive coordinator a couple of years ago.

 Ohio State fans will do anything to get close to their Buckeyes for the spring game.

 My new favorite quarterback, Navy's Ricky Dobbs, weighs in with his latest blog.

Ramblin' Ricky is upset after the spring game, talks about his dance moves and signs for the president -- five times.

 BCS coordinator John Swofford when he was quoted in an AP story that the commissioners would consider using a human committee to select teams in the future. Not true, according to a BCS official. Swofford was asked if he would consider parts of the Mountain West Conference eight-playoff proposal. He said, yes, using the human committee as an example.

I can't imagine the commissioners would come close to using a human committee. If you thought the polls and computers had flaws, think of the inherent biases that would come with humans picking the teams. Anyway, the point is that you can't unring the bell. Media are latching onto Swofford's comment ...

Jay Drew
Salt Lake Tribune
23 April 2009

The Mountain West Conference is far from claiming victory after its proposal for sweeping changes to the current system of choosing a college football champion was pretty much swept under the rug at the Bowl Championship Series meetings in Pasadena, Calif., earlier this week.

But the league that is not one of the automatic qualifying conferences in the BCS did get in some jabs -- about 90 minutes' worth -- on Tuesday.

BCS coordinator John Swofford, in return, threw a bone to the conference that includes Utah and BYU.

The Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner said the BCS could adopt parts of the MWC's playoff plan. Specifically, he told The Associated Press that although the group is not likely to do away with its present system, the MWC's idea of forming a committee to pick the qualifying teams, rather than relying on computers and human polls, seemed to have some merit.

"A selection committee? Yes," Swofford said after the meetings concluded on Wednesday.

Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson flew back to league offices in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Thursday but was not granting interview requests, a league spokesperson said.

Thompson had to be upbeat, however, seeing as how he spoke before the meetings about his wish of just getting the proposal on the table for discussion, which happened. Thompson is well aware that change won't happen soon.

The issue now moves to presidents of universities, Swofford said, noting that BCS commissioners will meet again in June (in Colorado Springs, coincidentally) to discuss the matter further.

But the pressure has been turned up, and not just by the conference itself and other conferences that feel left out of the most lucrative bowls.

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff of Utah has launched an investigation into whether the BCS violates federal antitrust laws and Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah has pushed for the BCS situation to be on the agenda of the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights.

Swofford said after the meetings that BCS commissioners did not feel they were on shaky legal ground.

Utah's football team went undefeated last season, but was not chosen to play in the BCS title game that featured a pair of teams with at least one loss.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: March 24, 2009 5:48 pm
Edited on: March 25, 2009 12:48 am
 

Curveball from the Pac-10

Who is Larry Scott? He just got named the new commissioner of the Pac-10. I read the release and I still don't have a clue.

Apparently, Scott is well accomplished as head of the Women's Tennis Association. What, Billie Jean King wasn't available? When I think of women's tennis, I don't think WTA. In fact, I don't think at all. I usually switch the channel unless Maria Sharapova is playing.

You know where this heading don't you? Submitted for approval, a list of organizations more relevant than the WTA.

Major League Lacrosse ... The National Intramural Co-ed Inner Tube Water Polo Association ... The Belinda Carlisle Fan Club ... The Arena League Football Players Association ... Quilters International ... Midwest Angus Breeders Association ...

Do I need to go on?   

I'll cut Larry a break. This isn't on him. He applied for the job and got it. I'm sure the Stanford tennis coach is happy. It's the Pac-10 I don't understand. It was talking to San Diego Padres GM Sandy Alderson. It twice offered the job to the guy who runs the NCAA Tournament, a wonderfully qualified guy named Greg Shaheen.

We know now that Scott wasn't exactly a first choice. Now he has to learn the BCS, which is slightly more complicated than tennis' tiebreaker.

Maria Sharapova is Maria Sharapova. Whether she belongs to the WTA or not is meaningless to me. She's hot, OK? Now it's up to L. Scott to prove to me that he matters.

 

 

Posted on: February 11, 2009 1:04 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2009 4:06 pm
 

The future of Mike Leach and other items

The feeling seems to be that Mike Leach will let the deadline expire for signing a new contract on Tuesday. I wrote about the situation on Wednesday.

That leaves him only two years left on a deal that is paid him $1.75 million in 2008, eighth-highest in the Big 12. More important, Texas Tech could be assured that Leach would be on his way out. Allowing him to walk after the 2010 season would not only hurt recruiting but probably distract Leach who would be looking for a new job.

That's not to say a new agreement couldn't be worked out at some future date, but giving a sitting coach a deadline to sign a deal is unique.

Here is a copy of what is believed to be Leach's current contract

 A look at the 2009 Pac-10 non-conference schedule: (Thanks to the San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner who rounded up the skeds)

Once again the Pac-10 is showing it isn't shy about playing out of conference. The league plays few I-AA opponents and is willing (maybe because of its geography) to travel to play high-profile opponents.

Best 2009 Pac-10 non-conference games:

1. USC at Ohio State, Sept. 12 -- Game of the Century No. 1,317. Will this be Terrelle Pryor's coming out party?

2. Utah at Oregon, Sept. 19 -- By this point in the schedule the Ducks will have played Boise, Purdue and Utah. Three BCS league opponents. Combined record from 2008: 29-9. Please, stop the madness. Even if the Ducks win all three, what condition will they be in for the Pac-10 schedule?

3. USC at Notre Dame, Oct. 17 -- Seven in a row and counting for the Trojans ...

4. Oregon at Boise State, Sept. 5 -- Can't understand why Oregon (and Oregon State) keep playing the Broncos. In this case, the loser might be out of a BCS bowl.

5. UCLA at Tennessee, Sept. 12 -- Rick Neuheisel won't be leading any postgame pep rallies in Neyland. When was the last time the Bruins and Vols were each this desperate for a quarterback?

6. Arizona State at Georgia, Sept. 26 -- The Devils were embarrassed by the Bulldogs last season in the middle of a six-game losing streak. In this return game, both teams are rebuilding.

7. Cincinnati at Oregon State, Sept. 19 -- Jacquizz Rodgers vs. the defending Big East champions.

8. LSU at Washington, Sept. 5 -- What is the Washington AD smoking? That brutal non-con schedule helped get Tyrone Willingham fired. Steve Sarkisian starts his career against an SEC monster.

9. Notre Dame at Stanford, Nov. 28 -- Irish season finale. Will it be Charlie Weis' finale?

10. Kansas State at UCLA, Sept. 19 -- Wait, Bill Snyder is actually getting on a plane to play a non-con road game?

11. Arizona at Iowa, Sept. 19 -- The Wildcats are on the rise but Iowa still start the season ranked despite the loss of tailback Shonn Greene.

12. Stanford at Wake Forest, Sept. 12 -- The I.Q. Bowl. Jim Harbaugh's scheduling instincts have to be questioned. His team is starting with consecutive roadies to Pullman (Washington State) and Winston-Salem.

13. Cal at Minnesota, Sept. 19 -- Gophers have almost everyone back in this season that will be a referendum on Tim Brewster's future. (started 7-1, finished 0-5). Hope the Bears have a secondary. Adam Decker could be a preseason All-American.

14. Maryland at Cal, Sept. 5 -- Plenty of revenge motive here for the Bears. Cal was down 28-6 after three quarters last season at Maryland before waking up. After winning nine in '08, the Bears have set their sights higher.

 How the economy will handle the glut of bowls -- natural selection.

 The president is a recruitnik too.

It is the responsibility of this space to keep alive the printed word whenever possible. To that end, let me recommend two excellent, recently-released books.

"KU Basketball Vault, The History Of The Jayhawks," is a unique look at one the most decorated programs in hoops by veteran college basketball scribe Ken Davis. Unique? When was the last time you got souvenirs with your coffee table book?

"Big Boy Rules, America's Mercenaries Fighting in Iraq" will change your entire view of the war, the government and human nature. Steve Fainaru of the Washington Post provides a deeply personal look at the Bush travesty that is the Iraq war. Steve is a Pulitzer Prize winner who was a former colleague at the Kansas City Star.

I know, I know. I can hear you. That's as close as I'll ever get to a Pulitzer.

 

Posted on: February 2, 2009 11:58 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2009 12:40 am
 

Condy looking for work

Condoleezza Rice's job prospects might suddenly have gotten brighter. Not only is she interested in becoming the next Pac-10 commissioner, there might be another, bigger opening soon.

With NCAA president Myles Brand fighting pancreatic cancer, it's logical to think that Rice would be a prime candidate to replace Brand if he ever steps down. If Rice can manage world affairs, she certainly can oversee 1,000 NCAA schools. Well, that is, unless Bobby Knight gets back into coaching.


Just thought of something else: Rummy as enforcement director?

 

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Pac-10
 
Posted on: December 10, 2008 12:44 am
 

National notes

My Heisman ballot:

1. Tim Tebow
2. Sam Bradford
3. Colt McCoy

I can't give you a quantitative reason why Tebow is my No. 1. His numbers are down from '07. However, after watching him lead that fourth-quarter comeback against Alabama, it's more of a feel, an emotional reaction.

I go back to Sept. 27 when Tebow basically called his shot after the Ole Miss loss and then delivered! Nine wins in a row. Go back and at the quotes from that day. Tebow as Babe Ruth pointing his bad toward the Wrigley Field bleachers.

Until Saturday, Bradford was my guy. I had started hyping him for Heisman back when he was a freshman. How many players ever have led the country in pass efficiency two years in a row?

It's hard to vote Colt McCoy third when he took a team with a mediocre offensive line and led it in passing and rushing. The point is, I can't slide a piece of paper between the three of them.

The voters: John Adams, Knoxville News Sentinel; Tony Barnhart, CBS; Mark Blaudschun, Boston Globe; Kirk Bohls, Austin American-Statesman; B.G. Brooks, Rocky Mountain News; Jimmy Burch, Fort Worth Star-Telegram; Brian Davis, Dallas Morning News; Mike DeArmond, Kansas City Star; Dennis Dodd, CBSSports.com; Michael DiRocco, Florida Times-Union; Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle; Scott Ferrell, Shreveport Times; Anthony Gimino, Tucson Citizen; Herb Gould, Chicago-Sun Times; Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune; Mike Griffith, Knoxville New Sentinel; Eric Hansen, South Bend Tribune; Matt Hayes, Sporting News; Tommy Hicks, Mobile Press-Register; Ron Higgins, Memphis Commercial Appeal; Mark Janssen, Manhattan Mercury; Todd Jones, Columbus Dispatch; Blair Kerkhoff, Kansas City Star; Ted Lewis, New Orleans Times-Picayune; Mike Lopresti, Gannett Newspapers; Tom Luicci, Newark Star-Ledger; Ray Melick, Birmingham News; Rodney McKissic, Buffalo News; Brett McMurphy, Tampa Tribune.

(Two voters did not want their names used)

The rest of the national awards, etc.


MVP: McCoy

There's a difference between the Heisman winner and MVP. McCoy did more with less. Texas wouldn't be in the conversation without him.

Best quarterback: Bradford

This is getting confusing so let's just drop it.

Best running back: Shonn Greene, Iowa

The nation's No. 2 rusher came on in the second half of the season to surpass Michigan State's Javon Ringer and UConn's Donald Brown as the most consistent ground force in the nation.

Best receiver: Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech


Do back-to-back Biletnikoff Awards do anything for you? An NFL star in waiting.


Best tight end: Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma

This was tough. I recently shifted away from Missouri's Chase Coffman who was too injured at the end of the season to back up a spectacular first eight games of the season.

The 6-foot-6 inch Gresham gets opens, is hard to tackle and has speed. Need anything else?

Best offensive lineman: Andre Smith, Alabama.

He is what coaches look for when they recruit left tackles. A case can be made for Smith, the likely Outland Trophy winner, being Bama's MVP. Without him protecting John Parker Wilson and carving out holes for Glen Coffee, the Tide don't start 12-0.

Defensive player of the year: Rey Maualuga, LB, USC

From a troubled beginning, this voracious tackler became the foundation for one of the best statistical defenses in history.

Best defensive lineman: Jerry Hughes, DE, TCU

Ask BYU's Max Hall what he thinks of the nation's sacks leader In their October matchup, Hughes sacked Hall three times.

Best defensive back: Eric Berry, Tennessee.

Lane Kiffin should be at Berry's house right now making sure he's happy, comfortable and ready to take 20 snaps a game on offense.

Best special teams player: Kevin Huber, P, Cincinnati

You won't find many other All-Americans on the best Cincinnati team in history that won 11 games and the Big East. We'll give it to Huber who bombed 20 punts more than 50 yards and dropped 20 punts inside the 20.

Remember when Cincinnati used to be a basketball school?

Freshman of the year: Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State

How did he get from Texas to Corvallis?

Coach of the year: Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech

Staff of the year: Penn State

The Broyles Award is doing a disservice to Penn State. The honor goes to the assistant coach of the year. Not only were there no Penn State assistants among the finalists, the Broyles folks didn't do the right thing and pick the entire Penn State staff.

With JoePa ailing, his staff basically took over and led the Nittany Lions to a Big Ten title. Big ups to defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, defensive line coach Larry Johnson and quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno. They were the glue.

Biggest disappointments: Georgia, Notre Dame, South Florida, West Virginia, Michigan, Tennessee, the ACC, the Pac-10.

Biggest surprises: Oregon State, Ball State, Alabama, Buffalo, East Carolina, Rice, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Texas Tech.

Sometimes you just live right: Charlie Weis almost got run out of town after a 6-6 season. His reward? A trip to the Hawaii where he can continue to recruit linebacker Manti Te'o. 

Don't give me any of this stuff about a dead period. Te'o will be a captive audience as the Irish take over Oahu.

Best games: Texas 45, Oklahoma 35, Oct. 11 in Dallas.

The winner usually wins the Big 12 South and competes for the national championship. Right? Right?

Texas Tech 39, Texas 33, Nov. 1 in Lubbock.

Not to pick on the Horns here but the reason they are playing Ohio State instead of Florida is Crabtree's game-winning catch with one second left.

UCLA 27, Tennessee 24 (OT) Sept. 1 in the Rose Bowl.

Tennessee's defense held UCLA's Kevin Craft to only four interceptions in the first half. Then, in his best performance of a long, long season, Craft rallied the Bruins in the second half.

Rick Neuheisel led a post-game pep rally.

Florida 31, Alabama 20, Dec. 6 at the SEC championship game.

The BCS was smiling as the closest thing to a national semifinal was played out in front of the largest Georgia Dome crowd in history.

Whine of the year: Pete Carroll and USC

You lost to a team you weren't supposed to (Oregon State). You paid for it in the polls. Deal with it. Maybe the difference between that and Florida losing to Ole Miss? Urban Meyer has made a habit lately of winning the big ones <em>and</em> the little ones.

Best stories:

Six teams ranked No. 1 during the season (the most since 1984)

Alabama arriving a year early (at least) under Nick Saban

Utah, TCU and BYU making a huge statement by the Mountain West: The BCS doesn't belong to the six power conferences.

Notre Dame's collapse from 4-1 and Weis barely hanging on for another year.

Oregon State beating USC and chasing its first Rose Bowl in 44 years.

Coaches in waiting.

Coaches waiting in line ("resigning" in the middle of a season).

The end of a Bowden (Tommy).

The continuation of a Bowden (Bobby).

The longing of a Bowden (Terry, to get back in the game).

Joe's hip.

Charlie's knee.

Nate Davis' gloves.

Jay Jacobs' "shock" over Tommy Tuberville's "resignation."

Tennessee goes from old school to youngest coach in the country.

The (sad) state of Washington. (Combined records of the Huskies and Cougars, 2-22).

Big 12 quarterbacks.

Big 12 offenses.

Big 12 top 10 games each week.

The Big 12 surpassing the SEC, if only for a moment, as the best conference in the country.

The tie in the Big 12 South.

The cry that followed.

Politcking.

Text messages.

The high road.

Running it up.

Calling off the dogs. 

Flyovers.

"To me that's a little ridiculous," Bradford said.

That's a good way to end it, for now.

 

 

Posted on: November 9, 2008 7:52 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2008 8:50 pm
 

Random thoughts on a football Saturday

The BCS question of the week: If Oklahoma beats Texas Tech in two weeks ,which Big 12 team wins the South and could ultimately get to the BCS title game?

The national championship chase is basically down to six teams if you make a reach and include No. 6 (in the BCS) USC. As of this moment, it's pretty much assured that the Big 12 and SEC will meet in South Florida.

Alabama and Texas Tech remained 1-2 in the BCS standings released on Sunday. Now the intrigue: Texas moved up to No. 3, followed by Florida and Oklahoma. All three Big 12 teams in the top five have a chance to win the Big 12 South.

An Oklahoma win in two weeks would create a three-way tie for the division. (Oklahoma still has still has to go to Oklahoma State on Nov. 29) That tie would be broken by the highest-ranked BCS team at the end of the regular season.

So who gets it?

"Can't say," Jerry Palm told me Sunday afternoon.

This much we do know: Texas has a huge advantage over Oklahoma in the computers, .920-.820. Palm says, in theory, all OU would have to do is pass Texas in the computers. That's possible considering Oklahoma's stronger schedule than Texas down the stretch.

There's also a huge variable -- the human polls. Texas jumped over Oklahoma on Sunday in the Harris poll.

The outrage in all this -- at least for Texas -- is that Oklahoma lost to the Longhorns and could be playing for the Big 12 title instead of Texas.

Another scenario. Texas Tech could lose in two weeks and still win the South if Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma. In that case, Texas and Texas Tech would be tied but the Red Raiders hold the head-to-head tiebreaker.

 After watching the quality of play in the LSU-Alabama game -- folks, it was not good -- I don't want to hear anything about how the Big 12 somehow takes a back seat to the SEC.

 

Example: In the 19 games since Ruffin McNeil took over as Texas Tech's defensive coordinator, the Red Raiders are giving up an average of 22 points and 330 yards having forced 35 turnovers.

Last season Texas Tech gave up 610 yards and 49 points to Oklahoma State. After the game Setenich resigned and was replaced by McNeil. On Saturday, Texas Tech gave up only 368 yards and 20 points.

"Our defense is never mentioned in the same breath with our offense," McNeil said. "Our offense is so consistent. That's where we're trying to get."

 Texas Tech became the second team since 1965 to beat a top 10 team the week after beating No. 1. The last team to accomplish what was Oklahoma in 1984. The Sooners beat No. 1 Nebraska, then beat No. 3 Oklahoma State.

 

 There was word circulating that the Rose Bowl would break its cast-in-stone (and broken only by the BCS) tradition of matching the Pac-10 and Big Ten.

 

There were some in the Rose administration -- just like us -- who simply did not want to see Ohio State and USC play again. Who wants to see a re-run of also-rans?

After Saturday, it looks like the Rose will be juuuuust fine. If you consider Oregon State vs. Penn State "fine." That would be a rematch of Penn State's Sept. 6 rout of the Beavers but any major bowl with Joe Paterno in it would be better than Trojans-Buckeyes.

The Nittany Lions' one-point loss to Iowa just about dropped the Big Ten out of the national championship picture. Penn State can still win out (against Indiana and Michigan State) and still capture the Big Ten.

The looming surprise is that with four weeks to go, Oregon State still controls its own destiny in the Pac-10. The Beavers stayed on track with an impressive 34-6 victory over UCLA. The pesky Beavers have Cal and Oregon at home before going to Arizona for the season-finale on Nov. 29.

That's not exactly a daunting schedule considering the Pac-10 is going to have to hustle to fill its six bowl slots. Only five teams are above .500.

Oregon State would be making its first Rose Bowl appearance since 1965.

 Nothing like sacking up for your lame duck coach.

 

Hard to tell who should be more embarrassed -- Tennessee's players for laying down to punchless Wyoming or Fulmer who couldn't squeeze a win-one-for-the skipper game out of the Vols.

Incredibly, Wyoming coach Joe Glenn, almost a certainty to be fired himself, is 3-1 against the SEC.

 The ACC is the only I-A conference with at least two conference losses by every member school.

 

 How bad is the Pac-10? It is basically down to Stanford (5-5) to fill all six of its bowls. Only five teams to this point are bowl eligible. The Cardinal have to beat USC at home or win at Cal to become bowl eligible. 

 

 Happy 79th to Bobby Bowden who celebrated his birthday with a victory over Clemson that put Florida State in a tie with Wake Forest for a tie in the ACC Atlantic.

 

 
 
 
 
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