Tag:Pac-10
Posted on: November 5, 2008 10:32 am
 

National notes

What is the immediate future of Tennessee football?

I'm talking two, three years down the road. I have a nagging feeling that Tennessee could become the new Nebraska. A fallen power. Nebraska will never win three national championships in five years. Those days are over.
I'm wondering when the Huskers will challenge for the Big 12 North again. As recently as early this decade, Nebraska was still dominating the division.

Tennessee has won three SEC East titles in the past seven years. That's not bad, folks. Will the next coach do that? The school has the facilities and interest and budget to win big. How does it get that back in one of the most competitive atmospheres in the country?

 Good to see that Steve Spurrier has officially declined interest in tap-dancing on Phil Fulmer's grave, er, in the vacancy. After all, you can't spell Steve Spurrier without UT.

 Before that the Old Ball Coach took a few final jabs at his favorite target. After South Carolina beat the Vols 27-6, Steve Spurrier said: "I'm used to hearing 'Rocky Top' about 10 times. Did they play it at all? I can't remember any of it. Usually you hear that song -- maybe they only play it after they score." Ouch.

 

 USC has become a victim of its own excellence. The Trojans dropped from fifth to seventh this week in the BCS standings despite shutting out Washington 56-0. Apparently the pollsters and computers aren't impressed with the Pac-10 conference.

 

Since the BCS standings debuted, USC is 3-0 having outscored Washington State, Arizona and Washington by a combined 142-10. In that time USC has lost 7.5 percent of its BCS average (.8165 to .7551).

Three of the six BCS computers have the Pac-10 ranked no higher than fourth (Billingsley, fourth; Sagarin, sixth; Colley, seventh behind the Mountain West).

"The more we win, the worse we get," Pete Carroll said.

 BYU needs Utah to beat TCU on Thursday to have any chance of winning its third consecutive Mountain West title.

 

Where is BYU quarterback Max Hall going to be?

"Can't miss 'The Office,' Hall said before changing his story. "I don't know. I will probably pay attention to it. I will probably watch it."
 
 
 Greg Robinson has won three Big East games in four seasons at Syracuse. Two of those are over Louisville's Steve Kragthorpe. Might want to add another name to the hot list.

 This week's SEC ill feeling of the week descends upon Baton Rouge where Nick Saban makes his return as a college coach to LSU.

 

"This isn't about me," Bama's coach said.

Uh, yeah it is, Nick. It's all about you walking out on LSU for the NFL. That in and of itself isn't bad. Who among us wouldn't jump at the chance for a huge promotion?

The mistake is coming back into the belly of the beast (Death Valley!) and trying to deflect the attention. Check this comment from the SEC meetings earlier this year. The guy doesn't exactly expect a welcoming committee.

"All I know is when we had a staff meeting about who goes on what bus, who rides where and all that kind of stuff, it was pretty unanimous in our staff that when we go to LSU, nobody's riding on the bus I'm on," Saban said.

 The pandering went down to the last day for Mr. Hope and Change. Barack Obama continued to tell us what we wanted to hear without offering any substance.

 

"I think it is about time that we had playoffs in college football," Obama said during a Monday interview. "I'm fed up with these computer rankings and this and that and the other. Get eight teams -- the top eight teams right at the end. You got a playoff. Decide a national champion."

That will resonate with Joe Six Pack, which is the point of Obama's entire campaign. Hope and change are empty terms. I'm betting Mr. H and C knows as much about college football as the average cricket player.

How are you going to select the eight teams? What about the ninth team? What about the bowls? Where are the games going to be? You might want to check with the Rose Bowl, Pac-10 and Big Ten.

A lifetime of Washington experience counts more than charisma and empty promises. To paraphrase Dennis Miller, John McCain gave us 5 1/2 years in a Vietnamese prison, I believe we owed him at least four in the White House.

 Mystery team of the week. Unbeaten, No. 1 in total defense in a major conference, tied for 54th nationally in total defense. Answer below.

 

 Tyrell Fenroy of Louisiana-Lafayette became the seventh player to rush for 1,000 yards in each of four seasons. He joins a list that includes Tony Dorsett, Cedric Benson and Ron Dayne.

 

 More Tennessee:

 

One of the more striking aspects of Phil Fulmer's firing is the support showed by his players.

“I just feel like I just lost one of my ribs and my kidney or something,” safety Eric Berry said. “I feel like I just lost a family member. Nobody has died, but that’s what it feels like to me right now.”

"That right there wasn't very stand up of Tennessee ... He should go out on his own terms," offensive lineman Ramon Foster said.  "If you're on the other side of the fence we hope you're happy."

 Tennessee AD Mike Hamilton's letter to alumni:

 

Dear friends,


This afternoon, Coach Fulmer announced he will step aside at the conclusion of the football season. I want to express my sincere gratitude for everything he has done for the University and our program.

Coach Fulmer has been, and will continue to be, a great representative of the University and the athletic department. He has dedicated a majority of his life to our program and brought home two SEC championships and a national championship. He has secured his place as the second winningest coach in Tennessee history behind General Neyland. I personally appreciate everything he has done for Tennessee and look forward to him continuing to be a part of our family.

I hope that you will come and show your appreciation for Coach Fulmer at the Wyoming and Vanderbilt games as well as the Kentucky game on Nov. 29 when we celebrate “Phillip Fulmer Day” in Neyland Stadium.

We will begin a national coaching search immediately. We have a great University, world-class student-athletes, a tremendous fans base and first-class facilities. As a result, we will attract some of the nation’s best candidates. We will introduce a new coach to you over the next several weeks.

Thank you for your continued support of Tennessee football.

Sincerely,

Mike Hamilton

 

 Kentucky wishes Randall Cobbs could clone himself. In his first career start, he threw for 56 yards and a touchdown in a 14-13 win over Mississippi State. Cobbs also rushed for 31 yards and a touchdown.

 

He also caught a team-high three passes as a receiver and returned a few punts.

"If I were our field goal kickers, I'd be worried," offensive coordinator Joker Phillips said.

 Texas Tech is your mystery team of the week.

 

Posted on: October 15, 2008 10:56 am
 

National notes at the halfway point

One of the best measures for an improved program is the games ahead/behind method. Look at baseball standings for an example. The NCAA includes a section in its statistics book each year that tracks the most improved teams from one year to the next. In 2007, it was Illinois which went from 2-10 in 2006 to 9-4 last season. That's an improvement of 6 1/2 games.

Hawaii holds the record improving by 8 1/2 games in 1999. Ironically, the Warriors might be on the opposite side of that stat this season.

At the halfway point, I thought it would be a good idea to figure the biggest improvements and biggest declines of the 2008 season. Remember, some of the numbers might be skewed because we've played only half a season. But this might be a good measuring stick for coach of the year candidates and provide a short list of coaches about to be fired.

Most improved

1. Minnesota +7 1/2 games (from 1-11 to 6-1)
2. Duke +5 1/2
3. North Carolina +4
4. Pittsburgh +3 1/2
5. several tied at +3

Biggest decline

1. Hawaii -5 1/2 games (from 12-1 to 3-3)
2. Central Florida, Tennessee -4
4. LSU, Arizona State, Florida Atlantic, Michigan, West Virginia, Rutgers, Kansas - 3 1/2

Most improved by conference: Baylor, +3; ACC, Duke +5 1/2; Big East, Pittsburgh, +3 1/2; Conference USA, Rice/Marshall, +3; Mountain West, Colorado  State/UNLV, +3; MAC, Ball State/Northern Illinois, +3; SEC, Vanderbilt/Ole Miss, +3; WAC, New Mexico State, +3: Independents, Notre Dame, +3; Big Ten,  Minnesota, +7 1/2; Sun Belt, Florida International/Louisiana-Lafayette, +3; Pac-10, Stanford, +2 1/2.

Biggest decline by conference: ACC, Boston College/Clemson/Virginia, -2 1/2; Big 12, Kansas, -3 1/2; Big East, West Virginia/Rutgers, -3 1/2; Big Ten, Michigan, -3 1/2;  Independents, Western Kentucky, -2 1/2; Conference USA, Central Florida -4; MAC, Bowling Green/Ohio/Miami (Ohio), -1 1/2; Mountain West, New Mexico, -3; SEC, Tennessee, -4; Pac-10, Arizona State -3 1/2; WAC, Hawaii -5 1/2; Sun Belt, Florida Atlantic, -3 1/2.

Storylines for the second half

Will anyone go unbeaten?: It looks like the SEC and Big 12 will cannibalize each other. That leaves a bunch of one-loss powers that also could include Ohio State, Penn State, USC and Utah or Brigham Young.

Heisman race: Tim Tebow won't repeat and the Big 12 looks like it has a lock on the 2008 winner. But which player?

JoePa In the Sky With A Headset: Can Penn State's venerable coach win a Big Ten title and national championship without setting foot on the field the rest of  the way? Physical problems continue to keep JoePa in the press box. When asked Tuesday if he needed a hip replacement, Paterno answered cryptically, "I don't  know." It isn't exactly Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds but anything Joe does the rest of the season is going to be followed closely.

The non-BCS challengers: TCU, BYU and Utah are all in the mix. If Tulsa can win at Arkansas on Nov. 1 the Golden Hurricane will be a factor. The MAC is  simply too tough for Ball State (7-0) to go undefeated but you have to root for the Cardinals. Their best receiver's career is over (Dante Love) and their quarterback (Nate Davis) wears gloves.

Biggest looming controversy: If a one-loss team from the SEC, Big Ten or Big 12 is edged out of the BCS title game by an undefeated non-BCS school.

Next coach to be fired: Given the swiftly declining situation at Auburn it might be Tommy Tuberville. Other than that, Washington's Tyrone Willingham and  Syracuse's Greg Robinson are locks. Keep an eye also on San Diego State's Chuck Long and Central Florida's George O'Leary.

Biggest upset looming out there: Not in terms of David and Goliath but watch the Texas at Texas Tech game on Nov. 1. If both teams keep winning you're looking at No. 1 Texas vs. a Red Raiders team that should be in the BCS top five. If Texas Tech wins try to wrap your mind around Mike Leach and his Pirate  Love jumping up to No. 1.

Get out your swords and Johnny Depp movies.

BCS bowl predictions at the halfway point

BCS title game: Penn State* vs. Oklahoma*
Fiesta Bowl: Texas vs. Alabama
Sugar Bowl: Florida* vs. South Florida*
Orange Bowl: BYU^ vs. Virginia Tech*
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. USC*

*-conference champ
^-non-BCS automatic qualifier

  Remember last week when Washington State held open tryouts to find a scout team quarterback? The winner of that competition, Peter Roberts, suddenly finds himself a viable backup option with the Cougars headed into the USC game.

 Speaking of injuries, it's a shame that two stars at Kentucky and North Carolina recently saw their careers end. Carolina's Brandon Tate, the I-A career  leader in kick return yards, is finished because of a knee injury. Exciting Kentucky receiver Dicky Lyons is done because of a knee ligament tear.

 

 Don't say I didn't warn you. I know what I said about Texas and Texas Tech above but indulge me: The way things are shaking out, a Kansas-Oklahoma State Big 12 title game isn't out of the question. If Texas beats Missouri on Saturday then it becomes more likely. Kansas is playing better and has Texas at home later in the season. KU and Missouri meet in Kansas City on Nov. 29.

 

Oklahoma State is playing better than anyone in the conference (that includes Texas). That head-to-head game is Oct. 25.

 Remember this when you watch BYU and TCU on Thursday night. BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall allows each special teams unit to name a captain. The captain then  names starters and backups for each unit. Wonder if that ever happens in the SEC?

 

 


Posted on: August 18, 2008 10:40 am
 

Five things you should know about the Pac-10...

1. The Slickster: He's back and he's here to stir up Westwood, L.A., That School Down The Road and the Pac-10. Rick 
Neuheisel will be the freshest thing to hit the league since, well, Pete Carroll. Get ready for the USC-UCLA rivalry to reignite.

2. Curse of the Trojans: A dislocated knee is one thing (quarterback Mark Sanchez) but it's getting ridiculous at 
USC. Offensive lineman Jeff Byers is being treated for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Running back Joe McKnight 
smashed his fingers in a doorjamb last year (ouch!). Don't forget an outbreak of jock itch.

3. Curse of the Trojans II: USC has developed a nasty habit of a conference loss that defies explanation. Last year, it was Stanford. The year before that it was Oregon State. Put a shotgun (formation) to my head and I'd have to say 
the Oct. 25 game at Arizona qualifies as this season's head scratcher.

4. Intersectionals: Never let it be said the Pac-10 is ducking the competition. It plays that brutal nine-game 
round-robin league schedule. It doesn't fill the non-cons with cream puffs either. The Pac-10 was 5-3 against BCS 
conference schools in non-conference games last season (No. 1 in the country). We'll know a lot about the Pac-10 
(and a lot of other conferences) early on. Consider these intersectional doozies ...

USC at Virginia, Aug. 30
Oregon State at Penn State; BYU at Washington, Sept. 6
Oklahoma at Washington, Ohio State at USC; UCLA at BYU, Sept. 13
Georgia at Arizona State, Sept. 20

A case can be made for the Pac-10 being favored in only two of those games, both USC games (Ohio State, Virginia).
 

5. The end of an era: Commissioner Tom Hansen ends more than a quarter century of service when he steps down after 
this academic year. An NCAA veteran of 16 years, Hansen joined the league in 1983. Things have been great -- the 
re-emergence of USC -- and embarrassment -- the recent officiating snafus -- but Hansen always added class and dignity to a tough job.

His replacement could signal a small crack in the staunch Pac-10 position against a plus-one depending on who is 
hired. The short list: Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson, WAC commissioner Karl Benson and former 
Pacific/Dartmouth/Stanford AD Ted Leland.

Posted on: August 14, 2008 11:11 pm
 

More "Things"

If 25 wasn't enough, here are three more "things" to watch in '08 ...

FutureSex/LoveSounds/PaternoBowden

No, this isn't a new Justin Timberlake disc. Remember when Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden used to be about who was going to retire the all-time victories record?

Now it's about which exit is going to be more ugly. Paterno is going Wallenda this season, working without a net, er, contract. Bowden has a succession plan in place but there is little buzz about his program this season.

Why do I get the feeling that both guys will still be coaching in 2009?


Overrated, underrated

Overrated:  Spring. Spring games are now televised.  Some whack marketer tried to conduct a series of concerts/pep rallies leading up to the games at several schools. Note to fans: These are practices. By the time the season rolls around you will have learned nothing. Sitting in the sun on a lawn chair sipping Michelob Ultra isn't bad, though.

Underrated:  These coaches who will soon have big-time jobs -- Al Golden (Temple); Brian Kelly (Cincinnati); Bronco Mendenhall (BYU); Mark Dantonio (Michigan State).


Just rated

Here's how the conferences stack up for 2008, 1-11

1. SEC
2. Big 12
3. Big Ten
4. Pac-10
5. Big East
6. ACC
7. Mountain West
8. Conference USA
9. WAC
10. MAC
11. Sun Belt

Posted on: May 1, 2008 1:00 pm
Edited on: May 1, 2008 2:50 pm
 

The real story behind the BCS meetings

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany's calculated plan worked.

Tuesday at lunch, Delany emerged from the BCS meetings and went on a rant about his place (and his conference's place) in the postseason. Remember, Delany doesn't talk publicly about much of anything with reporters. At least lately. This past week he has been practically chatty talking about his league's perception. He, the Big Ten, Pac-10 and Rose Bowl aren't obstructionists, he said, in college football's postseason. In fact, Delany contended, that the Big Ten and Pac-10 have been progressive in helping deliver the Rose Bowl to the BCS. Without it we'd still in the old Bowl Coalition.

"The characterization of the Big Ten and Pac-10 being at one place and everyone else being at the other place, I don't think that's accurate," Delany said. "You guys (media) have an opportunity to talk to a lot of people here. I would ask you to ask each one of those people how strongly they feel about the call for change. I don't see it."

Then Delany lobbed the bomb that changed the course of these meetings.

"Thirty-six months ago, all six commissioners, all six (BCS oversight committee) presidents, the AD advisory committee said we don't want a plus one," Delany said. "About 18 months ago, people people said let's look at it. I think there are a lot of people who like where they are, but they should speak for themselves."

Basically, Delany called out his peers.

If you want a plus-one, identify yourself.

On Wednesday, they did. The six BCS bosses were paraded out for the media to state their case. For: ACC commissioner and the SEC's Mike Slive. Against: Everyone else -- Big 12, Big East, Pac-10, Big Ten and Notre Dame AD Kevin White.

Considering the group needs a consensus to change things, there's a loooooonnnng way to go before we get a playoff. The Big 12 presidents considered the issue in March and turned it down flat. Big East commish Mike Tranghese said, "We're opposed to a playoff. We don't think a playoff is in the best interests of college football."

The great thing was hearing all these powerful public. None of us (media) thought a plus-one would be passed but we weren't expecting what was essentially a public vote. Now these guys are on record. If you want to write your local congressman, er, commissioner now you know where to go.

  Slive, who stuck his neck out and presented the plus-one, was disappointed that the issue wasn't "vetted" more by presidents at the conference level. The Big 12 was the only league that formally presented the issue to its presidents. The Big 12 presidents rejected anything resembling an NFL-style playoff that meant a team would have to play more than 14 games. A Big 12 champion playing in a plus-one championship game would be playing in its 15th game.

  The so-called Group of Five non-BCS conferences (WAC, MAC, Mountain West, Conference USA, Sun Belt) have a combined vote but didn't use it because a formal vote wasn't taken.

"There could have been support for a plus-one model if it meant a better chance for a team from the Group of Five to have a chance to play in it," said WAC commissioner Karl Benson. But we're happy with the system with the way it is. It has provided access and it has provided revenue."

  The so-called "bracket creep" argument doesn't make sense. Several commissioners said they were concerned that a four-team bracket would soon expand to eight or 16. Don't believe the hype. The BCS commissioners (and their presidents) control the BCS. That's different from Divisions I-AA, III and III where NCAA committees control the playoffs.

If the commissioners and presidents wanted a playoff to end at four, it would end at four. There would be no group above them who could overrule.

While I was in Florida ...

  These schools had more players drafted than Alabama (which had none): Arkansas State, Army, Bentley, Buffalo, Coastal Carolina, Eastern Kentucky, Furman, Gardner-Webb, Hampton, McNeese State, Nicholls State, Northwest Missouri State, St. Augustine's and Wheaton.

  Matthew Stafford somehow got anointed as the No. 1 quarterback in next year's draft. Stafford is popular with the honeys, loves NASCAR and can lift a keg over his head, but to call him the best NFL quarterbacks prospect after only two seasons? It must be a shallow draft next year. Matthew has yet to throw for 300 yards but has been held under 100 yards six times.

  Two more bowls made the postseason cut. The approval of the St. Petersburg and Congressional bowls by the NCAA on Thursday brings the number to 34. That's 68 teams for a division that produced only 71 bowl-eligible teams last season. That's also three more than the NCAA Tournament. I'm waiting for the time when the St. Pete and Congressional have to petition the NCAA to allow a 5-7 team in its shindig because there aren't enough teams to go around.

 

 

 

 

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