Tag:Penn State
Posted on: June 15, 2009 10:04 am
 

Picking the Big Ten

This might be the worst I've seen the Big Ten in 11 years.

That's as long as I've been at CBSSports.com, so 1998 seems like a reasonable benchmark. In '98, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio State shared the title. Michigan was coming off a national championship. Wisconsin went to the Rose Bowl that year. Ohio State went to the Sugar Bowl.

For gosh sakes, in '98 John Cooper was about to win at least 10 for the fourth consecutive year.

Now? Illinois can't decide whether it is a contender or in the middle of the pack. Bret Bielema is feeling the pressure at Wisconsin. The only new coach in the league is aptly named Hope (Danny, at Purdue). Eleven years ago the Boilermakers won their last six in row, went to the Alamo Bowl and upset Kansas State with Drew Brees.

The 2009 Boilers are coming off their worst season (4-8) in 12 years.

Iowa wants to be good again but it could use less yapping from its fans and more production on the field. And Michigan ... where have you gone Wolverines? A total meltdown in Rich Rodriguez' first season has to be rectified, like, yesterday.

Indiana and Minnesota will be at the bottom of the league, a place with which they are familiar.

The Big Ten remains the leader in BCS bowls (19) but you don't have to be told the league has lost a step in recent years. The 28 NFL draft picks each of the last two seasons ranked fifth (2008) and tied for fourth (2009) among major conferences.

The league is only 9-20 in bowls (1-6 last season) since 2005.  

Here's my best example for how average the Big Ten has become: Penn State has to replace 12 starters (the most in the league), including its entire secondary. It is a twisted ankle at quarterback away from finishing fifth. A good, not great, group of receivers have to be replaced by what might be good, not great, group of receivers.

Still, the Nittany Lions are a virtual pick-'em with Ohio State to go to the Rose Bowl.

By the way, the Rose Bowl is going to be it for the conference champ.  I don't see a national title contender in the bunch. The letters U, S and C will burn the ears of Big Ten loyalists. USC has beaten Big Ten teams by a combined 60 points the past three Januarys. The Trojans will likely be waiting in Pasadena to lay the smack down once again.

Like the Woody and Bo days, it's still a two-team league. Unlike the Woody and Bo days, there's not much national buzz.

1. Ohio State -- How do you lose Beanie Wells, Malcolm Jenkins and James Laurinaitis and get better? You don't. But there is enough left for the Bucks to win the Big Ten again. They have won at least a share of the four previous titles. Everyone seems to be jumping on the Terrelle Pryor bandwagon this season. Look, I like the kid and the athlete. I'm still not convinced he's going to make that quantum leap this season. There will be more pressure on Pryor to carry the offense with his legs if either Brandon Saine or Dan Herron can't become the big dog at tailback. Much will be learned on Sept. 12 when USC visits. Give Jim Tressel a running game, a punter and 105,000 homers and he will field-position you to death. If Tres can't pull it off in September, there's a rematch waiting in Pasadena.

2. Penn State -- It's a miracle of modern science. No, not JoePa's body, I'm talking about the Penn State staff. It has stayed together (for the most part), remained loyal and helped Joe dig out of that 2000-2004 hole. The Nittany Lions are Rose Bowl contenders for the foreseeable future. The defense keeps its snarl with the return of linebacker Sean Lee. The unit did finish in the top 10 in total defense last season. Will the D miss defensive ends Aaron Maybin and Maurice Evans? As mentioned, Daryll Clark has to stay healthy. He has enough elusiveness along with tailback Evan Royster to win the league. Ohio State comes to Happy Valley on Nov. 7.

3. Iowa -- If only Shonn Greene had returned, we might be talking about the Hawkeyes giving Ohio State and Penn State a run. With quarterback Ricky Stanzi having a year of experience and three offensive line starters returning, the Hawks will be productive but in a different way. Stanzi likely will have to make more plays himself (hint: scramble) unless sophomore Jewel Hampton or freshman Jeff Brinson replace those Greene yards.

4. Michigan State -- The Spartans are the Big Ten's flavor of the month. Coach Mark Dantonio has averaged eight wins in his first two seasons in East Lansing and the program ready to take off. Even with the loss of his two best players -- quarterback Brian Hoyer and tailback Javon Ringer -- there is plenty of talent waiting offstage. Watch true freshman tailbacks Edwin Baker and Larry Caper. Sorry Penn State, Michigan State might have the best linebackers in the league starting with junior Greg Jones, a consensus preseason all-Big Ten pick. Dantonio has the two best leg men in the league in kicker Brett Swenson and punter Aaron Bates. Iowa, Penn State and Michigan come to East Lansing. Ohio State is off the schedule.

5. Illinois -- What's your legacy going to be Juice Williams? Two years ago Illinois' quarterback guided a stunning upset at Columbus. Last season Williams and the Illini slumped. In his senior season, Juice could go out as one of Illinois' quarterback greats. Even though he led the Big Ten in passing yards, Williams threw too many interceptions (16). He will hook up often with the incredible Arrelious Benn. New offensive coordinator Mike Schultz will try to squeeze some of the old Juice out of his new quarterback. Schultz oversaw a similar offense at TCU. We'll know about the Illini before Oct. 1. They play Missouri in St. Louis and Ohio State in Columbus in September.

6. Northwestern -- The Big Ten's annually pesky Wildcats figure to be that way again. After Tressel, Pat Fitzgerald might be the league's best coach.  His team started 5-0 and came within an overtime loss to Missouri in the Alamo Bowl of winning 10 last season. There are too many holes this season to expect Northwestern to finish in the top half of the league but somebody's going to get punked by the purple in the parity-filled Big Ten.

7. Wisconsin -- Is it time to panic yet? Bielema started 21-5 in his first two seasons, then slumped to 7-6 last year. But it was the way it happened: Bielema still hasn't been able to find a serviceable quarterback. The Badgers looked lost on defense and the prospects aren't good for this season. The formula to beat Wisconsin hasn't changed: Let the tailbacks get their yards, smack the quarterback in the mouth, wait for the turnovers and control the ball against a poor-tackling defense.
 
8. Michigan -- I was at a Michigan scrimmage in April during the Final Four. Granted, you don't learn much from watching a scrimmage but it seemed to me the offense still struggled to move the ball. Rich Rod better hope that the early-enrolling Tate Forcier is the answer at quarterback. There isn't much behind him. The defense should toughen up. A bowl is a possibility but will a 5-7 season be considered progress?

9. Minnesota -- Third-year coach Tim Brewster has a new state-of-the art stadium. That won't distract fans from asking if the five-game season-ending losing streak is the beginning of the end or just a nit in Goldy's fur. Watch the combination of quarterback Adam Weber  and receiver Eric Decker.

10. Purdue -- There are spider webs in the cupboard left over from Tiller's era. Only two starters return on offense. The most experienced quarterback is fifth-year senior Joey Elliott who has played in 10 games in three seasons. Hope is looking at an 0-5 start if he can't beat Northern Illinois and Toledo early.

11. Indiana -- Kellen Lewis wasn't going to play quarterback anyway. Still, his dismissal from the team in April all but assures another down year in Bloomington. Lewis, the program's career passing touchdown leader, had been moved to receiver to make room for junior Ben Chappell. Lewis was the Hoosiers' best athlete. Without him there aren't many playmakers or much hope. Coach Bill Lynch might be on the hot seat.

Posted on: June 9, 2009 9:19 am
Edited on: June 9, 2009 4:21 pm
 

Picking the independents

When senior citizens complain, they tend to whine about wanting their juice, maybe turning up the heat, or, for gosh sakes, somebody find the remote. Jeopardy's on. 

Joe Paterno is one of those senior citizens. He also tends to whine. Recently he chose the Big Ten as his target. Late in life other 82-year-olds want their favorite chair, pillow or blanket. The Penn State coach prefers Big Ten expansion. Syracuse, Rutgers and Pittsburgh are his favorites. Pretty much anyone but Notre Dame.

The fact that no one of consequence even commented on JoePa's ramblings confirmed that they were just that -- ramblings. Paterno might want it his way but he's got it all wrong.

The only way Big Ten expansion works is if Notre Dame is the pick. Ten years ago, the conference (Big 11, really) walked down the aisle hand-in-hand with ND. A marriage seemed imminent. Then the engagement was abruptly broken off when the Notre Dame's board of trustees reiterated its preference to stay independent.

Since then, the former lovers' prospects have dimmed. Big Ten football has regressed recently. Despite two BCS bowls this decade, Notre Dame has seen some of its darkest days since its last appearance in 2006. Coach Charlie Weis' job hangs by a thread. He is the program's fifth coach since '96. The last national championship was 21 years ago.

Still, ND retains favored status in the BCS. The public at large didn't know about ND's almost special dispensation when it came to the BCS. It had arguably the easiest entry into a major bowl -- basically win nine and finish in the top 12.

 Notre Dame also happened to keep all the bowl money itself (minus expenses, of course). Why join a conference? It gets $4.5 million for playing in a BCS bowl. Even in years when ND doesn't go to the BCS bowl, it receives a $1.4 million check just for participating in the system. The deal with NBC pays it another $8 million per year. At least. 

That's why Notre Dame is the only school that makes sense for Big Ten expansion. The conference could use the money. Notre Dame is a ratings winner whether it is 7-1 or 1-7. People watch the same way they watch dogs fighting in the middle of the street.

It interests us.

It's easy to see why the trustees want to stay independent. Why split all that money 12 ways? Of course, if Notre Dame joined the Big Ten it could dictate some favorable terms. For example, it is assumed the school wouldn't be sharing any of that NBC money.

You can also see why Notre Dame expansion makes sense to the Big Ten. Adding the Irish would boost the Big Ten's TV ratings, its bowl coffers (at some point) and its profile. Think how the fledgling Big Ten Network could benefit. There would be a central location to catch up on everything Notre Dame.

Big Ten expansion into South Bend would be easier on both ends to recruiters. For existing Big Ten coaches who could tell prospects, "Come play against Notre Dame," and for Notre Dame which could tell prospects, "Come win the Big Ten."

None of this is going to happen soon. Commissioner Jim Delany recently called Big Ten expansion a "back burner issue." While the conference's football prospects might be down, things are always cyclical in college football. Notre Dame, as you will read below, is expected by some to get back to a BCS bowl this season.

For now, a 12-team Big Ten with Notre Dame is a conversation piece. It might never happen. The economy might worsen and it might be inevitable. There is one thing conclusion when it comes to the subject:

Please don't listen to JoePa.

Picking the independents...

1. Notre Dame -- It's all in place -- the schedule, the front-line talent, the network, the hype. Forget all that. ND goes nowhere this season unless Jimmy Clausen makes the next logical step in his progression. The junior improved last season adding 18 pounds and throwing for 25 touchdowns. It all came together in the bowl game when his only four incompletions against Hawaii were drops. With better protection, a better running game, better receivers and a better outlook, Clausen should begin to fulfill the promise he brought to South Bend three years ago. Whether it's enough to save Charlie Weis' job is another issue. It's BCS bowl or bust for The Big Guy. Weis will ride as far as Clausen can take him. The kid will benefit from the return of four starters on the offensive line. Experts have fallen in love with receivers Michael Floyd and Golden Tate. The running game (No. 100 nationally) has to get better with the arrival of freshman Cierre Wood. Clausen can give Wood a few pointers on how to approach that freshman season. The quarterback had his ego knocked back to The Stone Age in 2007-2008. But, seemingly, Clausen has lived and learned. With his body still intact from all those sacks, Clausen should thrive. But will it be enough to win at least nine games?

2. Navy -- It was hard to place Navy second behind ND. If everything goes right for the Middies, they could be the best of the independents. They won one more than Notre Dame last season. The last two seasons they've been competitive with Notre Dame which is important after four decades of losses. The prospects are bright for '09. In his first full season as head coach, Ken Niumatalolo won eight games, a sixth consecutive Commander-In-Chief's Trophy and got Navy to a bowl. The best thing to happen to Navy, in a weird way, might have been an injury to dangerous quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada. That allowed budding talent Ricky Dobbs to start four games in '08. Dobbs wants to be president someday (after his Navy commitment, of course). His moves could make the triple option even more dangerous. The front seven is the strength of the defense. Remember that you read it here first -- in June: Look out Ohio State and Pittsburgh. Navy visits both in the first three weeks of the season. Dobbs and the option are coming.

3. Army -- Good things are being said and written about new coach Rich Ellerson. If he can transfer his magic to this run-down program, then ... well let's wait and see. There have been 12 consecutive losing seasons. The Army brass has made bad decision after bad decision. There is no reason that the Black Knights shouldn't at least be on a par with Air Force and Navy, but somehow Army has sunk to the depths of Division I-A. Ellerson comes from I-AA Cal Poly bringing the triple option on offense and double-eagle flex formation on defense (think Arizona's "Desert Swarm"). Army won't go to a bowl but it needs to build enough momentum to give Navy a game on Dec. 12.

 


Posted on: June 5, 2009 3:36 pm
 

Predicting the bling ...

We're all Heisman candidates in June. Mom, dad, the plumber, the cat. Well, maybe not the cat.

This is the time of year to salute every swinging hick who dares to dream of a trip to New York. With that in mind, here are my Heisman rankings.

1. Colt McCoy, Texas -- It's his time. Among the Three Amigos, it's his turn.
2. Tim Tebow, Florida -- Voters will be wary of making Superman a two-time winner. There has only been one.
3. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma -- Back-to-back ain't happenin' either.
4. Jevan Snead. Ole Miss -- This year's Matt Stafford.
5. Jahvid Best, Cal -- No. 3 rusher last season, should be the nation's leading rusher in 2009.
6. Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech -- The hoss in Paul Johson's option offense.
7. Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State -- Cowboy No. 1
8. Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State -- Cowboy No. 2
9. Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State --  Cowboy No. 3
10. Case Keenum, Houston -- 5,000-yard passer.

The others -- Arrelious Benn, Illinois; Eric Berry, Tennessee; Dezmon Briscoe, Kansas; Daryll Clark, Penn State; Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame; Aaron Corp, USC; Noel Devine, West Virginia; A.J. Green, Georgia; Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma; Max Hall, BYU; Greg Hardy, Ole Miss; Tim Hiller, Western Michigan; Jerry Hughes, TCU; Colin Kaepernick, Nevada; Julio Jones, Alabama; Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan; MiQuale Lewis, Ball State; Jake Locker, Washington; Taylor Mays, USC; Kellen Moore, Boise State; DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma; Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State; Todd Reesing, Kansas; Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State;  Charles Scott, LSU; Brandon Spikes, Florida; Triumph the Insult Comic Dog; The Kobe and LeBron puppets; Zach Galifianakis; Conan O'Brien; Lassie; David Letterman; Iron Man; Alex Trebek, Tina Fey, shall I go on?

 

Bednarik/Nagurski Award (best defensive player): Jerry Hughes, TCU

Biletnikoff Award (best receiver): Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State

Broyles Award (best assistant coach):  John Chavis, LSU defensive coordinator

Groza Award (best kicker): Kai Forbath, UCLA

Ray Guy Award (best punter): Derek Epperson, Baylor

Lombardi Award (best lineman): Greg Hardy, Ole Miss

Mackey Award (best tight end): Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma

Davey O'Brien Award (best quarterback): Colt McCoy, Texas.

Butkus Award (best linebacker):  Brandon Spikes, Florida

Outland Trophy (best interior lineman):  Ciron Black, LSU

Rimington Trophy (best center): Kristofer O'Dowd, USC

Eddie Robinson Award (coach of the year):  Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech

Thorpe Award (best defensive back): Eric Berry, Tennessee

Doak Walker Award (best running back):  Jahvid Best, Cal

 

 

Posted on: June 2, 2009 4:24 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2009 4:46 pm
 

FSU's appeal of Bowden's victories ongoing

Bobby Bowden and Florida State still don't know the fate of the 14 victories in question regarding the celebrated academic fraud case.

The process is still ongoing -- and complicated -- judging from a cryptically worded release from Florida State on Tuesday. We were led to believe that a decision from the appeals committee might come down today. Turns out that even some at FSU were surprised that we are essentially still in the middle of the process.

Florida State is appealing the loss of wins in several sports -- including up to 14 in football -- the result of NCAA penalties handed down in March. The NCAA acknowledged Tuesday only that the appeals committee has received its response from the NCAA infractions committee. That starts a clock that now gives Florida State 15 days (until June 17) to file a rebuttal to the response. Then there are 10 days for the NCAA to respond back to FSU.

The school already has requested an in-person hearing with the appeals committee after those two steps are completed. Florida State has said it will make its rebuttal public when it is filed.

It can only be assumed that the infractions committee did not have a favorable response to the appeal.

"If that was the case, (we) probably would have heard something," said a person close to the process.

The school is doggedly fighting the NCAA penalties because of Bowden's legacy. The loss of 14 victories would stain the program and virtually end the neck-and-neck race between Bowden and Penn State's Joe Paterno for the all-time victories record. Paterno is currently No. 1 in Division I-A with 383 wins, one ahead of Bowden.

The information filed Tuesday is not public. Instead it was posted on a "secure NCAA custodial website" to be viewed only by Florida State lawyers, officials, its consultants and NCAA personnel. No one, anywhere, is talking at this point.

FSU retained the services of The Compliance Group in Lenexa, Kan. to guide it through the case. A letter from appeals committee chair Noel Ragsdale to The Compliance Group's Stacey Karpinnski on Tuesday acknowledged the committee's receipt of the infractions committee's response. FSU president T.K. Wetherell and athletic director Randy Spetman are among those copied on the letter.

Ragsdale is listed as a clinical professor of law at USC. Ironically, Karpinski is listed on The Compliance Group website as having a law degree from FSU. Neither could be reached for comment.

According to the NCAA website, the appeals committee's decision is final after the in-person hearing. That decision is reached by majority vote of the committee members attending the meetings. There are currently five members on the committee.

Also according to the website, the committee will "reverse or modify a ruling (by the infractions committee) only if the individual or institution can show one or more of the following grounds:

1. That the ruling was clearly contrary to the evidence;


2. That the individual's or institution's actions did not constitute an infraction of NCAA rules;


3. There was a procedural error and but for the error, the Committee on Infractions would not have made the finding of violation; or


4. The penalty assessed was excessive such that its imposition constitutes an abuse of discretion."

The appeals committee has been more open to overturning penalties in recent to the consternation of certain infractions committee members.

In 2008, former infractions committee chairman Gene Marsh of Alabama said: "If folks really are interested in righting the wrong of winning games, because you won while you were cheating, vacation (of victories) seems to be a logical thing to do."

Earlier this year, Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen told CBSSports.com he agreed with the original FSU penalties.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: April 2, 2009 12:55 pm
 

More from Penn State ...

Leftovers from Thursday's Penn State story. Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley on ...

The victories race between Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden: "What you're seeing with those two guys, that's the last frontier. It's one of those records like DiMaggio's hitting streak. I don't know how anybody can."


Linebacker Sean Lee: "He could play right now. We're not letting do contact. He does all individual drills. He does the skeleton drills.

"It hasn't even been a year (since the ACL injury). Another three months will be good where he's not getting pounded on. Last year we lost him in the spring, he was blitzing and it was a no-contact deal. He just kind of pulled up on (quarterback) Darryl Clark and it buckled on him.

His linebackers: "They're very athletic, very good linebackers. It's not too early to place them (among the greats). We're in a position where a lot of guys can do a lot of things. Most of our guys can play two positions. Sean can play any of the linebacker positions.

"We've never been married to a defense, we've been married to players. We're just lucky they can do a lot of things. "

Getting over the Rose Bowl: "(Joe is) not over the Rose bowl."

Losing defensive ends Aaron Maybin and Maurice Evans early to the draft: "We weren't planning on losing both of them ... Aaron had two years left. We would have been in a better idea where we're headed if we had those two guys back. Plus the guys we have here would have been better.

"It wasn't when LaVar (Arrington) came out early. He was a freak."

On Joe: "People ask how he has changed. He's no different. I've been with him a long time, I know what he wants done. I know what he expects."

On what schools he will visit during the spring: "We're not going anywhere this year ... I learn as much from our state schools ... It's hard to get away for a few days to watch somebody else."

 

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Penn State
 
Posted on: January 3, 2009 6:06 pm
Edited on: January 3, 2009 6:08 pm
 

Parcells to OU. Stoops not to the Broncos.

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Dolphins EVPFO Bill Parcells attended Oklahoma's Saturday practice.

EVPFO, that's Executive Vice President for Football Operations or fancy talk for general manager.

"He’s just evaluating our players I’m sure, but it was great to have him here. I’ve always been a big fan of the way he coaches and the way he handles you media guys too," Bob Stoops said. "I think it’s always important when you get a legendary figure and a guy that’s a hall of fame coach. I just like to have our players see and hear from those kind of guys and always he has a great message for them."

Stoops also shot down rumors about him and the vacant Broncos job. Denver owner Pat Bowlen is an Oklahoma grad.

"What situation? That’s a rumor that I have not heard and no one has contacted me about that so I don’t know anything about it," Stoops said. "We’re preparing for a national championship and that’s all my focus and all my concentration’s on so obviously I’m not a candidate. I’m sure someone might have told me other than you guys if I was a candidate."

 The early hypocrite of year award goes to Joe Paterno. The venerable coach complained about the media intrusion on himself and his team at the Rose Bowl.

 “People running around with cameras taking pictures of me," Paterno told reporters on Friday, the day after his team lost to USC in the Rose Bowl, "when I’ve got a team of guys bustin’ their butts to get themselves in this situation. And people are more worried about me than talking about guys like Daryll Clark and Derrick Williams and people like that.”

Hey, we'd love to talk to them coach but you closed the lockerroom after the game which is against BCS policy. You also stiffed ABC on a promised interview before the game.

“I just think there’s a limit to how much you can expose your football team to.”

Those two statements don't make sense together, coach. You can't complain about us not talking to your players, then in the same breath complain about how much we talk to your players.

The Rose and BCS are considering what action to take against Paterno and Penn State. There are apparently fines for violating terms of the BCS contract which states that lockerrooms must be open to media after all five games.

 There are some strong hints that Oregon offensive coordinator Chip Kelly isn't going to be a coach in waiting much longer. Mike Bellotti seems to be clearing the decks to become athletic director before next season. Bellotti has given two assistants permission to "explore other options." Those options apparently do not include staying at Oregon under Kelly.

  Pardon Utah if it felt slighted at the Sugar Bowl. First there were shirts being sold identifying Utah as being in the WAC (it is in the Mountain West). Before the game fans were given some novelties (clappers, etc.) that identified the Utes as being the "Uthes". 

 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 2, 2009 7:21 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2009 7:33 pm
 

Leftovers from the Rose Bowl and other bowls

LOS ANGELES -- Take all of this for what it is worth but USC's two biggest stars from Thursday say they're coming back.

Receiver Damian Johnson said before the Rose Bowl that he was definitely coming back from his redshirt junior season in 2009. That was before his 10-catch, 162-yard career day against Penn State.

A USC source told me that Sanchez' father told him that the quarterback is definitely coming back. Sanchez threw for 413 yards (second-most ever in the Rose Bowl) and four touchdowns.

"I don't know how I could leave all this," Sanchez told reporters after the 38-24 victory. "That's what I'm planning on."

Departing offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian was asked if this was Sanchez' last game.

"I don't know. I know he's a tremendous quarterback, he's extremely bright. He's got great physical tools. He prepares himself mentally and physically better than anyone I've been around. I don't know what that equates to. I just know what he is."

If both players return, USC's offense could be the most productive at Troy since 2005, the last season for Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush. The defense is another issue. The offensive line returns intact. Williams and Ronald Johnson are rounding into go-to receivers for Sanchez who has struggled in general to develop one as a starter.

The nation's No. 1 defense is another story. It figures to lose 10 starters if, as expected, safety Taylor Mays comes out early.

"It's about what's best for me," Mays said.

Code breaking from your favorite translator: He's gone.

As for that rebuilt defense ... USC got its last national championship game with a unit that wasn't exactly a juggernaut in 2005. It finished 48th nationally giving up 361 yards per game.

 While Sanchez' future is uncertain, Sarkisian did coach his last game at USC before going to Seattle for take over the sinking ship known as the University of Washington.

"It's been seven great years of my life," Sark said. "Four straight Rose Bowls to be part of, three straight wins. For Mark and I, watching him grow up as a freshman until this point now I'm really happy for him."

"More than anything we've got to develop a belief in winning. This team believes in winning. That's the first thing we have to carry up there."

 Williams is the most productive on-field member of the Springdale Five.

Four of the five highly-recruited members of Springdale (Ark.) High School followed their coach Gus Malzahn to Arkansas in 2006. Since then, a cross-country drama has played out. Malzahn left Arkansas after a year to go to Tulsa. He recently took the OC job at Auburn.

They eventually scattered to the four winds. Williams and quarterback Mitch Mustain transferred to USC. Mustain is now the No. 3 quarterback behind Aaron Corp and Sanchez. Williams led the Trojans in receiving. Tight end Ben Cleveland is still at Arkansas having caught one pass in 2008. Receiver Andrew Norman transferred to Tulsa in 2007, then returned to Arkansas as a walk-on in 2008.
Offensive lineman Bartley Webb signed with Notre Dame but reportedly gave up football because of a shoulder problem.

"I wouldn't ever say that (I'm the most accomplished)," Williams said.

 It still boggles the mind that Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer was considering redshirting quarterback Tyrod Taylor. In winning a tidy, if not exciting, Orange Bowl, Taylor is now 13-2 as a starter.

The Hokies should go into next season as ACC favorites. Again. Tech's dominance of the league was not what the suits envisioned when they expanded the league but until Miami and Florida State show us more, the league is going to stay out of the state of Florida.

 Speaking of which, that was the ACC's first BCS bowl win (and second ever) since 2000. Virginia Tech was involved in that one too, as the loser from the Big East against FSU.

 South Carolina quarterbacks threw an incredible 27 interceptions this season and have coughed up a total of 69 in Steve Spurrier's four seasons. After a disappointing 31-10 loss to Iowa in the Outback Bowl you've got to ask yourself how much the OBC has left before he starts hitting from the tips for good.

  For whatever its worth, the Pac-10 has clinched best record in the bowl season (5-0). It's hard to put much stock in a series of exhibition games but if we're going to damn the Big Ten for being 1-5 in bowls, we might as well credit the Pac-10.

That doesn't remove the fact that the league had two of the worst programs in America -- Washington and Washington State -- and continues to be USC and the Little Nine.

 Not a bad comeback for Nebraska quarterback Joe Ganz in the Gator Bowl. He fumbled away a ball that was a returned for a touchdown and threw a pick that led to another score. After leading a second-half rally Ganz was named the MVP of the Gator. 
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.

 

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com