Posted on: May 28, 2009 2:29 pm
Edited on: May 28, 2009 4:25 pm

The end of Western Civilization

It has begun, the great unraveling of a literate society.

Michigan and Ohio State have decided to stop printing media guides. In related news, ADs Bill Martin and Gene Smith aren't going to take a pay cut. Rich Rodriguez and Jim Tressel will continue to be millionaires. That, and the schools have refused to cut one -- just one scholarship -- to save money. I missed the memo when the publications that publicize your programs the most were considered frivolous.

If these cuts are really about saving money, then quit grandstanding. Media guides are a line item, a very small one in any athletic budget. I just came from the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Fla. where coaches, ADs and their families were squeezing in meetings between trips to the beach.

Oh yeah, I forgot. It's the media guides that are draining the budget, not the $300-a-night hotel rooms so conference officials can sip Mai Tais and talk about scheduling.

It's easy to save money on printing costs. We're the media. Who cares? Put everyting on the Internet. Fine. We're a power outage away from losing the history of a sport. There's a reason the Vatican puts its library treasures in hermetically sealed vaults. They value the church's history. Major-college sports is trying to lose theirs.

Maybe I'm a dinosaur. This must be how the monks felt when moveable type came along. They cursed Gutenberg's name. Video killed the radio star and all that. Truth is, I'm not alone and we will be heard.

The Big Ten has its television money whether there are guides or not. But if I were the sports information director who used to edit and publish guides, I'd be worried. You're next. Really, this is a big part of their job. They spend months organizing these guides. What else is there for them to do except keep us (the media) from speaking to their athletes and coaches.

That's what it has come in major college sports. They've hampered our ability to do our jobs, unless we would happen to pay the appropriate rights fees. 

Make us pay for our seats in the press box. Don't feed us while we're there working for eight hours. Turn off the air conditioning, anything! But let us have our work tools at our fingertips.
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: May 27, 2009 12:27 pm
Edited on: May 27, 2009 5:39 pm

Voting coaches go gutless

DESTIN, Fla. -- Bobby Johnson is a good man, an honest man, a heck of a football coach.

With all due respect, he didn't know what he was talking about Wednesday after the American Football Coaches Association decided its coaches poll would go gack to the dark ages. Starting in 2010, the AFCA will no longer reveal the final ballots of its voting coaches. It had done so the past four years bringing some credibility to a borderline corrupt poll.

Johnson, the Vanderbilt coach, is a member of the AFCA board of trustees who approved -- unanimously we are told -- the switch.

It's pretty simple: The coaches might know football, but they don't know polls. They especially don't know how to choose their consultants. The AFCA followed the recommendations of the Gallup World Poll which was called in to examine the coaches poll. Gallup takes its name from George Gallup who in 1948 was part of one of the biggest polling goofs in history. Remember "Dewey Beats Truman"? Part of the blame goes to Gallup whose organization stopped polling a month before the election.

Darn that Truman and his barn-storming tour that turned the tide in the final weeks.

"You can still make mistakes on a call," said Dr. Bob Tortura of Gallup who worked with the AFCA on the project. "That was a low point in Dr. Gallup's career, I can assure you."

So why is anyone supposed to rely on the Gallup World Poll for something as complicated and controversial as the coaches poll? That's a miscalculation that's hard to live down even 61 years later. The organization advertises itself as being "a must read for audiences that need the most accurate and up-to-date information."

Just like the coaches poll, we'll have to trust Gallup on that.

It is assumed that Johnson knew none of this when a few of us approached him here Wednesday at the SEC spring meetings.

"I can't tell you the rationale," Johnson said. "They (Gallup) do a great, I think, (job) of enlisting the top experts in the land about this situation."

Hopefully, one of them wasn't South Carolina's Steve Spurrier, one of five SEC coaches in attendance who voted in the poll last season.

"That was surprising," Spurrier said of the AFCA's announcement. "I thought we would stay public on that last vote. I sort of think we ought to stay public, keep everybody honest."

Georgia's Mark Richt, another SEC voter in the poll, agreed.

"I didn't mind opening up my vote," Richt said. "I try to make it make sense. I want to be able to defend (it) every week whether it's public or not."

One of the ideas being tossed around was actually hiding the identity of all the voters. Talk about a Star Chamber. After the past four seasons, each of the 60 or so voters (there were 61 last season) released their final ballots. That was a small concession to a system that rewards its participants with millions of dollars. Those dollars actually controlled by the participants.

Example: Coaches will still be allowed to vote for themselves.


Am I the only one outraged by this? Apparently not.

"Now," Spurrier said, "There's a chance for real hanky panky."

Where's the incentive, now, for coaches to fill out their own ballots? This isn't a poll, it's a secret society that prints money.

For the past four years, the system has worked. At least it worked better, if not completely. There was transparency, accountability. The coaches' final regular-season ballots were published in USA Today. With Wednesday's announcement, they're going backward.

The best method is to release each and every ballot every week. If the coaches don't like it, don't participate. If the thin-skinned coaches who vote can't stand a little scrutiny then that's tough.  Give me $3 million a year, I'll give you my vote, my car keys and my credit card number and my underwear size.

Let's recap: This is a system that forces it coaches to vote No. 1 the winner of the BCS championship game. The AFCA essentially is legitimizing itself. The BCS would still "work" if coaches were allowed a free will after the title game.

If the Congressmen and attorney generals want some BCS source to sue, they ought to go after the AFCA. Its poll kept Utah from winning a national championship. At least the AP media voters can vote their conscience. If you recall, the AP voters thought so much of the undefeated Utes that they voted them No. 2 in the final poll.

AFCA and USA Today officials swear it has cross checks in place to keep a coach from abusing his ballot. Since we'll never see them -- just like 1948 -- we'll have to take their word for it.

A final head scratcher: The 16 board of trustees who voted to change the Division I-A poll aren't all from Division I-A. In fact, the coaches poll that makes up one-third of the BCS formula has been altered by two Division II coaches, two Division III coaches, one NAIA coach and 11 I-A coaches.

I'm sure glad the NAIA has weighed in.

Get ready for some real hanky panky. Trust me.

Posted on: April 16, 2009 2:23 pm
Edited on: April 16, 2009 2:57 pm

Duke point guard may become a Michigan man

We interrupt Michigan's rebuilding job to hire a contract worker.

The artist known as Duke point guard Greg Paulus apparently is going to upset the natural order of Michigan's quarterback situation to compete for the starting job in the fall. Paulus made the announcement that he had received a scholarship offer from Michigan during a Thursday conference call. A Michigan spokesman confirmed it.

"Whatever the kids said, wouldn't be a lie,"  the spokesman said.

Michigan is in a weird place. Because Paulus is considered a recruit, the school cannot mention his name. Consider it the same situation as last fall except that Michigan folks dreaded to mention the names of quarterbacks Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan.

What does a former high school star have to offer mighty Michigan? Plenty. At worst, Rich Rodriguez might be bringing in Paulus to be the world's largest cattle prod. (No jokes, please). Rich Rod told me recently, "We try to create the most competitive atmosphere in college football."

If nothing else, then, Paulus could be a third-stringer -- a glorified scout teamer -- who could challenge freshmen Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson. (I'm not including Sheridan. If he starts then Michigan is in more trouble than I thought.)

On the other hand, it's hard to take seriously a kid who last played football five years ago in high school. It's a long way from the senior prom to the Big Ten.

Or is it?

There has to be a certain desperation sinking in for Rich Rod. If he doesn't go to a bowl this season, the pressure is going to increase. Why not take a flyer on a kid who might be a one-year wonder? Either Forcier or Denard could redshirt.

Those two guys have to understand this is a giant statement about their abilities. Duke coach David Cutcliffe won't take Paulus as a quarterback because he has returning starter Thaddeus Lewis. Rich Rod is willing to listen because he has no starting quarterback.

It could be interesting or messy -- or both. Just get me to November. If Paulus is in the mix for the Ohio State game I can imagine Jim Tressel's scouting report: "Watch the quarterback when he puts the ball between his legs. He can't go to his right."


Category: NCAAF
Posted on: April 15, 2009 6:56 pm

How Greg Paulus can play for five years

That's the first thing that came to mind when point-quarterback Greg Paulus began marketing himself to Michigan.

How can this guy play college sports for five years? A veteran compliance officer at a BCS conference school clued me in. Players are allowed four years of eligibility per sport. Paulus has exhausted his four years as annoying point guard at Duke. Now he gets one more year.

Here's how it works: If Paulus goes to Michigan he would have to pursue a master's program that is not available at Duke. That's step one, and a big one considering that Michigan isn't exactly South Carolina when it comes to post-graduate work. I have to think that Michigan and Duke match up a lot on master's offerings.

Step Two: Write a formal letter to Michigan asking to be accepted.

Step Three: Obtain a waiver from the NCAA. That's no guarantee but I'm assuming that Paulus (being from Duke) isn't exactly abusing the system.

I'm starting to wonder what Rich Rodriguez really feels about his quarterback situation. The fact that he would have serious discussions with a kid who hasn't played quarterback since high school tells me something about how Rich Rod views his quarterbacks. Early-enrolling Tate Forcier has the job going into the fall, but incoming freshman Denard Robinson will challenge. If Paulus beats out those two guys, Michigan is in worse shape than I thought.

And what does it say about Paulus that he is closer to playing football for Michigan than basketball in the NBA?

The latest twist is that Duke football coach David Cutcliffe is willing to take Paulus as a receiver. For that to happen Paulus would have to enroll in a) a second degree program or b) in a master's program.

Hope that helps.


Category: NCAAF
Tags: Duke, Michigan
Posted on: January 7, 2009 6:59 pm

Final, final before BCS title game

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- How big is this game? Urban Meyer needed a security detail to go to the bathroom Wednesday morning at the Marriott Harbor Beach.

A man's gotta go when he's gotta go. The security team led Meyer through a mob of reporters after a press conference. No word on whether the coach did an Associated Press ranking (No. 1) or a coaches poll ranking (No. 2).

 Meyer is all for his former school, Utah, lobbying for the No. 1 ranking. Utes coach Kyle Whittingham, along with Texas' Mack Brown, said he will defy the American Football Coaches Association edict and vote their team No. 1.

"That's absolutely what they should do," Meyer said. "I've got news. (If) I'm representing the University of Florida, and I'm an employee of the University of Florida and I represent my players, most of all I'm going to fight like a dog to take care of them.


"I made a comment two years ago that the University of Florida belonged in the national championship game ... I was lobbying. I simply said that we belonged in the game. More importantly, I love my players and represent my players. You don't really understand the whole mechanics, investment and passion that these coaches have."

 Meyer on a playoff: "I think at some points it might happen now. I didn't believe that a few years ago, but I feel now the discussion is out of control."


 Bravo to BC AD Gene DeFilippo who told Jeff Jagodzinski to hit the road after he interviewed with the Jets. Sure it's a bold move but coaches still need to be accountable to their bosses. I wish more ADs were like Filippo.


It reminds me of 1989 when Bill Frieder was going to leave Michigan for Arizona State. Bo Schembechler told Frieder to hit the road and elevated Steve Fischer. All Fischer did was lead the Wolverines to the national championship game.

 They're being a little presumptuous in the Tulsa airport.


Category: NCAAF
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.


Text messages.

The high road.

Running it up.

Calling off the dogs. 


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

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



Posted on: December 8, 2008 7:38 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2008 11:22 am

Random thoughts on a football Monday

Colt McCoy is the Heisman leader in the prestigious Rocky Mountain News poll. Yours truly voted in it this season.

 Nagurski Award (best defensive player) went to a Big 12 player? Texas' Brian Orakpo was sixth in sacks and 11th in tackles for loss. Okaaay ....


CBSSports.com's All-America team (including our defensive player of the year) will be released on Friday.

 Once again, one person didn't vote in the Harris poll. That made it three times this season someone was missing from the 114-person panel.

 Eighteen coaches voted for their own school in the coaches poll. The individual ballots were released  Monday in USA Today. There were some interesting results.

--Oregon's Mike Bellotti voted for Cal (No. 25) but Cal coach Mike Tedford did not.

--North Carolina finished with six points in the coaches poll. Two of them came from coach Butch Davis who voted the Tar Heels No. 24.

--Mike Leach voted Oklahoma No. 1, Texas Tech No. 2 and Texas No. 5. No. 5? That at least equaled the lowest ranking of the Longhorns among the 61 voters.

--Nebraska got all of five points in the poll. Four of them came from coach Bo Pelini who slotted his Huskers No. 21.

--Most overrated team by a coach: Missouri. Gary Pinkel had his Tigers at No. 18. They barely stayed in both polls.

--Three five-loss teams finished with votes -- Kansas, Rutgers and Buffalo.

 Here are the combined top five of the seven Big 12 coaches who voted in the coaches poll. This is an issue, of course, because Texas finished .01816 of a point out of the BCS title game.


1. Oklahoma (five first-place votes)
2. Texas (1)
3. Florida (1)
4. Alabama
5. USC

The seven are: Art Briles, Baylor; Mack Brown, Texas; Dan Hawkins, Colorado; Mike Leach, Texas Tech; Gary Pinkel, Missouri; Gene Chizik, Iowa State; Bo Pelini, Nebraska. Only Chizik and Mack Brown had Texas ahead of Oklahoma on their ballots. Briles, Hawkins, Leach, Pinkel and Pelini voted Oklahoma No. 1.

Four coaches voted Texas No. 1 in the coaches poll. Amazingly, one of them wasn't Mack Brown: Chizik, Todd Dodge, North Texas; Rick Neuhiesel, UCLA; Mike Price, Texas-El Paso.

Chizik worked for Brown. Dodge played at Texas. Price played Texas this year was grateful for the Horns coming and filling his stadium. Neuheisel is the head scratcher but a lot of stuff The Rickster does causes us to scratch our heads.

 How my BIG playoff would have looked in 2006 and 2007:



Regular season national champion: Ohio State
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. USC

Playoff bracket

No. 1 LSU vs. No. 8 West Virginia
No. 4 Georgia vs. No. 5 Missouri
No. 2 Virginia Tech vs. No. 7 Kansas
No. 3 Oklahoma vs. No. 6 USC


Regular season national champion: Ohio State
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. USC

Playoff bracket

No. 1 Florida vs. No. 8 Oklahoma
No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 5 Wisconsin
No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 7 Auburn
No. 3 LSU vs. No. 6 Boise State

 The old lady next to us offered us a drink, she was guzzling gin out of a thermos. That much I remember from the last time the Cardinals won a division. Back in 1975 they were the St. Louis Cardinals and I was just out of high school.


Friend Jack Scanlan and I somehow scored tickets in the bleachers at old Busch Stadium to what was then the biggest football game in The Loo's history.  On a cold, cold day, Jackie Smith caught a touchdown pass and the Cardinals of Jim Hart, Terry Metcalf and Mel Gray beat the Giants 14-6.

It was a bigger deal then than it was today in Arizona. The Cardinals migrated from Chicago in 1960 and spent 27 mostly-frustrating seasons in my hometown. I still follow the Cards enough to know that the Bidwells are still the Bidwells.  Cheap and clueless.

Good on ya to Arizona, though. The city deserves a team to fit that magnificent stadium.

And, no, take the old lady up on her offer. I was only 18, besides I'm a vodka man.

Posted on: November 22, 2008 11:28 am

Penn Sate and Michigan news

It's amazing the things you see watching TV ...

 Joe Paterno just said he would "run out" with the team in the 2009 season opener. Actually, he said it Friday night at the pep rally but if that's not a sign I don't know what is. Of course, that's all before JoePa undergoes hip surgery next week. The rumors were rampant this week that Joe would step down after this Michigan State game. But that's all they were, rumors.


If Joe quits at this point it will be because of complications with the surgery, not because of some master plan. The man still wants to coach.

 Rich Rodriguez just threw Lloyd Carr under the bus. In a television interview he broached the subject that no one wants to up in the Detroit-Ann Arbor area: Lloyd Carr didn't exactly leave the cupboard full. Rodriguez ticked off all the roster holes then said, "I should have known better." Rodriguez basically admitted he took the Michigan job because it was Michigan, not knowing there were huge holes on offense.


 Great day here in Oklahoma. It will be clear and in the 30s tonight for Texas Tech-Oklahoma.





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