Posted on: January 31, 2012 3:07 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2012 6:24 pm
 

Big 12 releases 10-team schedule to TV partners

The Big 12 released a 10-team football schedule to its TV partners, the conference said Tuesday afternoon. That indicates West Virginia will be in the league in 2012.

The schedule will be released publicly "in the near future," the league said. CBSSports.com reported earlier in the day that the Big 12 would “likely” delay the release of its 2012 schedule until next week. As late as Tuesday afternoon the league was holding firm to a Feb. 1 deadline to have the schedule completed.

West Virginia and the Big East had been in deep discussions as to how to resolve dueling lawsuits over the school leaving the conference. A league spokesman told CBSSports.com last week that the Big 12 would release the schedule by Feb. 1

Rightsholders ESPN and Fox now have the schedule seven months out from the 2012 season kickoff. Sources have maintained all along that the rightsholders could move the dates of certain games after receiving the schedule. Moving Texas-Baylor and Oklahoma-Oklahoma State to the final day of the 2011 regular season was a major boost to the Big 12. Baylor's Robert Griffin III won the Heisman a week later. Oklahoma State won its first conference title in decades playing for a BCS bowl in prime time.

West Virginia had been in arbitration with the Big East trying to resolve their lawsuits. Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas has said on numerous occasions that the 2012 schedule would be released by Feb. 1 and that West Virginia would be on it.

With West Virginia, the Big 12 would again have 10 teams, same as 2011. Without the Mountaineers, the Big 12 would have nine teams leaving the league schools to add at least one non-conference game to fill out their schedules at a late date. If the league drops below 10 teams that would likely trigger language affecting payouts to the Big 12 from both networks.

Late last year, West Virginia filed suit to leave the Big East sooner than the league-mandated 27-month waiting period. The Big East countersued. If West Virginia leaves the Big East this year, that would leave the conference with only seven teams for 2012. That would mean each school would have to find a sixth non-conference game to complete its schedule.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 27, 2012 5:20 pm
 

Did Oregon replace Chip Kelly this week?

Mark Helfrich would have made a fine head coach at Oregon.

So fine, that some think the Ducks’ 38-year old offensive coordinator could put the title on his job history. Right now. ProFootballTalk.com reported Thursday that Helfrich had indeed been given the job – if only momentarily -- when Chip Kelly reportedly went to Tampa Bay.

Oregon had already replaced Chip Kelly when he changed his mind 

That was the headline on ProFootballTalk.com Thursday morning. That’s also what PFT.com’s Mike Florio said this week on Tim Brando’s radio show.

In a column published Friday in the Eugene Register-Guard, columnist George Schroeder wrote,  that while Helfrich wouldn’t have been a splash hire replacement “ … for a little while late Sunday night, he was as about to be the right hire.”

Those two reports from reliable outlets suggest one thing for sure: The world is getting to know what college football insiders have known for a while: Helfrich is a rising star. Also that Kelly – if he did leave this week -- may have had to somehow “reclaim” his job at Oregon. And if you believe in the chain of command at Oregon, well, Nike CEO Phil Knight has been known to have some influence with the football program.

At the least, Kelly’s apparent departure so close to signing day had to ruffle some Duck feathers. Knight’s command of the moment – anger bubbling just below the surface -- was compelling on Thursday at the Joe Paterno memorial. No matter what you think of his stance on the Paterno/Sandusky issue, Knight owned the room. You can understand how the man got where he is  -- basically owning Oregon football.

Greg Schiano took mild criticism for leaving Rutgers so close to signing day on Thursday. Oregon has established itself as a national program. Think if Kelly had left this close to landing the school’s next class. The fallout would have been similar to Butch Davis leaving Miami a week before signing day in 2001.

Schiano had spent 11 years making the job and program matter when he bolted for the NFL. Kelly has been at Oregon three years. Despite the Nike influence, it is still a fragile football outpost. Kelly owes some of his salary and reputation to the coaches who made the absolutely right moves in replacing themselves with the right man at the right time. Rich Brooks hand-picked Mike Bellotti who then gave way to Kelly.

Safe to say, that if Kelly flirts with the NFL the next time he’d better take the job.

Kelly went on a local radio show Monday to say he “never committed to the [Tampa Bay] job, never flip-flopped.” It would be nice to know what the Bucs think of that comment. It is also legitimate to ask, if Kelly was adamant about his stance why didn’t he go on national radio/TV and get his message out?

While the locals may have been mollified, there are some remaining truths. Helfrich’s profile has been elevated in the last week. While Kelly obviously and rightly has his hands all over the offense, Helrich comes highly recommended.

“Everybody wants the hot flashy popular [guy],”  said Dan Hawkins, the former Colorado head coach. “Mark is very, very sharp [and] very, very smart. He was going to be a doctor when he went to college. He could be in a room of politicians or professors and they’d have no clue he was a football coach.”

Hawkins and Helfrich worked together for a total of six years at Boise State and Colorado. In between those two jobs, Helfrich was Dirk Koetter’s quarterbacks coach at Arizona State. He came to Oregon with Kelly as offensive coordinator in 2009. The obvious question going forward is how much Helfrich has to do with play-calling. Kelly is considered the Zen master, the offensive genius. Helfrich is the silent partner.

But if Oregon was considering elevating him – or had elevated him – the question had been answered. No matter who is calling the plays at Oregon, Helfrich was perceived good enough to run the entire program. 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 26, 2012 3:10 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 3:11 pm
 

NCAA sickle cell testing debated

The American Society of Hematology issued a policy statement Thursday opposed to the current NCAA mandate that requires schools to test athletes for sickle cell trait.

The policy statement conflicts with that NCAA testing policy that is not yet two years old. For decades, the association had not tested for sickle cell trait but changed its stance as part of a settlement of a lawsuit over the death of a Rice athlete in 2006.

The NCAA requires that all athletes be tested for the condition unless they provide prior test results or sign a waiver. In a Thursday press release, the hematology society contended that “current scientific evidence does not justify screening.” It says that “universal preventive interventions” make testing unnecessary.  The society stated further that the Army uses such measures as heat acclimatization, hydration and work-rest cycles to deal with all situations regarding exertional issues.

Scott Anderson, Oklahoma head trainer and noted expert on sickle cell trait, countered: “Their [recommended] precautions are not working for individuals with sickle cell trait …”

Sickle cell trait is not a disease. It is a condition found in approximately eight percent of African-Americans and in a much smaller percentages of Caucasians.  Anyone with the condition can live a normal life. About two million Americans live with the trait. Problems occur when blood cells “sickle” due to overexertion.

Thursday’s policy statement seems to make public a large disagreement between organizations on how to treat the affliction. The hematology society said its position is supported by the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, American Public Health Association and Association of Public Health Laboratories.

That differs from the approach taken by the NCAA, NBA, NFL and the military academies aside from the Army.

Oklahoma has had major award winners play with the condition. But because of Anderson and his research, afflicted athletes are acclimated to heat and exertion over a period of days at the beginning of spring and fall practice. Testing becomes a further safeguard.

Several high-profile deaths caused by the condition have occurred in recent years at Missouri, Florida State, Central Florida and Rice.  
Anderson added that the NBA, NFL, Navy, Marines and Air Force do screen for sickle cell trait. In results published recently in Health Services Research Journal, it was estimated there would be one death in the NCAA if every athlete were tested over a four-year period. Without testing, the research concluded that seven players would die over a 10-year period.

Anderson said that 2011 was believed to be the most deadly year for athletes nationally regarding sickle cell trait since 2000. Not all of the deaths have been confirmed to be caused by sickle cell trait, Anderson added. It is known that sickle cell trait has been the leading cause of non-traumatic deaths among Division I college football players since 2000. The NCAA changed its policy in 2010 after lawsuit brought by the family of Rice football player Dale Lloyd. The association promised to require testing and increase awareness.

“When you look at kind of objectively, this was prompted by a lawsuit,” said Dr. Janis Abkowitz, president-elect of the hematology society. “We’re not against the NCAA … We hope that we could provide information to the NCAA in rethinking both the correctness of the initial policy, but also some of its downstream unintended policy.”

Dr. Abkowitz said the NCAA plans to extend its policy to Division II and Division III athletes, “every high school kid that is interested in sport would be tested and confused.” She want on to call it a “huge network of misunderstanding”. The society notified the NCAA before releasing its statement.

“We’re not out for a battle, we’re out to be helpful,” Dr. Abkowitz said.

In February 2010, Ole Miss player Bennie Abram died of complications resulting from sickle cell trait. The school, the NCAA and other entities are being sued by Abrams’ family. The death took place just as the NCAA was changing its policy.

 

 

 

 

Posted on: January 25, 2012 4:47 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 10:16 pm
 

Petrino not seeing No. 1 recruit Thursday

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino will not be making an in-person visit Thursday to the nation’s No. 1 recruit according to the player’s coach.

“A situation occurred,” Springfield (Mo.) Hillcrest coach John Beckham told CBSSports.com

Beckham said that Petrino and Hillcrest receiver Dorial Green-Beckham “bumped into each other” earlier this month in San Antonio, Texas possibly creating an NCAA recruiting issue. Petrino was in town for the American Football Coaches Association convention. Green-Beckham was there for the U.S. Army All-Star Game.

Arkansas issued a statement Wednesday saying no NCAA violation occured.  

“When he was at the coaching convention in San Antonio, they bumped into each other,” said Beckham who also is Green-Beckham’s foster father. “It just so happened that another school that was recruiting Dorial happened to be there that day.”

This NCAA bylaw may apply: 

In football, one contact per prospective student-athlete is permitted during each week of the contact period as specified in Bylaw 13.17.4 either at the prospective student-athlete's educational institution or any other location (e.g., prospective student-athlete's home). A visit to the prospective student-athlete's educational institution and any other location (e.g., prospective student-athlete's home) during the same calendar day shall be considered one contact.

The Army all-star game was Jan. 6. The AFCA convention was Jan. 8-11. There were NCAA recruiting "quiet" and "dead" periods during some of those dates. During those times no in-person contact is allowed with recruits by coaches. Beckham added that Arkansas will send other coaches on Thursday.

Arkansas' statement: "No violation has occured and we are taking proactive steps we feel necessary to avoid any risk of one." 

As days dwindle toward signing day on Feb. 1, the rush to get Green-Beckham’s name on a national letter of intent has intensified. The 6-foot, 6-inch, 225-pound receiver has narrowed his list of finalists to Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Alabama. He is listed as having the most Twitter followers among the nation’s top 100 recruits

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and assistant Jay Norvell visited the school on Monday. Texas coach Mack Brown is expected to visit on Wednesday. Green-Beckham made an Arkansas visit last week with his foster  brother Kingsley Ehie. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel flew in by helicopter to speak to the prospect last week. Green-Beckham's list of finalists are Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri.

Recruiting analysts are hanging on every nugget of information regarding the national single-season leader in receiving yards. Rivals.com predicted Monday that the receiver would be heading to Arkansas. Maxpreps.com analyst Steve Spiewak says he can’t understand the perception that Arkansas is in the lead. Green-Beckham says he is undecided and will make his decision known next Wednesday morning at the school.

“People really read in too much to what he says,” Beckham said. “They interviewed [Dorial] last week before a basketball tournament in St. Louis. And he said … ‘I have to go to Missouri next week.’ They all got hung up on, ‘I have to,’ instead of ‘wanting to go.’ That’s just a little example.” 

Posted on: January 25, 2012 1:20 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 3:16 pm
 

Big 12 will release 2012 schedule by Feb. 1

Expect a Big 12 football schedule for 2012 by next Wednesday.

Contracts with partners ESPN/ABC and Fox mandate that a schedule be released by Feb. 1 according to a league spokesman. That suggests there will be some finality in a process that has been up in the air since West Virginia was welcomed into the conference on Nov. 4.

“That’s the deadline [Feb. 1] we’re working off of,” the Big 12’s Bob Burda said Wednesday morning.

While there could be shifting of dates for TV purposes after that date, the schedule – with or without West Virginia – would probably be released publicly at the same time, “given where we are on the calendar and the sensitivity of people wanting to plan,” Burda said.

He added that the league had schedule contingencies both ways with West Virginia in or out of the Big 12. A Rhode Island judge has directed West Virginia and the Big East into non-binding mediation to resolve their lawsuits. The two sides have sued each other over a Big East bylaw that requires 27 months’ notice before leaving the league. West Virginia wants to join the Big 12 in 2012. The Big East bylaw would keep it in that conference through the 2013-14 school year.

Asked Tuesday when a 2012 schedule for his conference might be released, Big East commissioner John Marinatto said: "I’m really not going to give up a comment on that at this time."

Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas has long said it has received assurances from the school that West Virginia will be in for the 2012 football season. Earlier Monday, he told a Lubbock, Texas radio station that the 2012 football schedule would be out by Feb. 1.

If West Virginia is not in for 2012, that would put the Big 12 at nine teams and likely trigger network contract language regarding payouts if membership falls below 10 teams. Additionally, the nine teams would be put in a scheduling bind having to find an extra non-conference game at a late date.

Putting the current schedule delay in perspective: The base schedule for the 2011 season was completed in September or October 2010.  After adjustments by networks and schools, it wasn’t out publicly until March and April 2011. The Big 12 has lost four teams since June 2010 (Nebraska, Colorado, Texas A&M, Missouri). It has added TCU and West Virginia beyond the 2011 season.

The SEC and Pac-12 have already announced their 2012 schedules, both between late December and early January. 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 23, 2012 10:50 am
Edited on: January 23, 2012 11:04 am
 

Chip Kelly staying at Oregon, but for how long?

Chip Kelly, WTF?

A part of me says any college coach anywhere would want to try the NFL. Another part says why Kelly, why the Bucs and why now? OK, so it's an NFL opening, but it doesn't mean anyone with Chip’s chops will automatically become the next Jim Harbaugh.

And not necessarily with that offense.

Oregon's coach waffled Sunday night/Monday night before staying at Oregon. Waffling would put him on a team of coaches whose roster is overstocked. Nothing wrong with waffling. If the Bucs would have hired you, great Chip. But you’ve essentially been refining, developing, running that same offense for about the past 17 years -- 14 at New Hampshire, three at Oregon. It's a great offense -- for college.

Someone will have to convince me how it resembles a winning offense in the NFL at the moment. While Kelly’s O has revolutionized the way the ball is moved in the Pac-12 and around the country, the contrived word "Tebowesque" comes to mind in regard to the NFL.

In other words, it worked in college. In the pros? TBD. At Oregon, Kelly pretty much had the best and fastest players around (until he played the SEC). In the NFL, the rules kind of bunch everyone toward 8-8. Chip Kelly is not an 8-8 guy. Neither are impatient owners. That's why you see so much turnover. Raheem Morris went from rising young star to fired in three seasons in Tampa. In 2011, he started 4-2, then lost his last 10.

Again, nothing wrong with flirting with the NFL. But it is a brutal, unforgiving life. Would Kelly have gladly morphed overnight from offensive genius to NFL pro-style robot? Doubt it. Every time a Patriots assistant leaves Bill Belichick and falters, I’m reminded of the singular talent of Tom Brady.

The Pats got lucky hitting gold in the sixth round. Would Kelly in the NFL?

Does it matter? Worst case scenario, Oregon’s coach could fall upward -- get fired himself after three seasons in the NFL and rebound with a big-time job in college. That essentially happened to Nick Saban. It may happen to Pete Carroll.

What I do know is that Kelly has a job in perpetuity in Eugene -- or until the NCAA weighs in. He is the king of Oregon, one of the top five college coaches today. A national championship is definitely in his future if he sticks around. But my first thought when the Tampa reports popped up was that Kelly must have some inside information in the Will Lyles investigation. Then I was reminded that Oregon hasn't so much as received its notice of allegations.

Kelly may have been bailing on a bad situation, one that eventually may impact his ability to succeed at his job. But at this moment it doesn’t seem like it. He came back to win ballgames and face the NCAA music. In that order. Oregon officials have maintained since the day of the initial document dump that they are innocent. Or at least not very guilty in the NCAA court of law.

What Oregon does have to worry about is the long-term plans of its coach. Kelly is now on record as looking around. He cannot be blamed. Again, the NFL makes sense for any upwardly mobile coach. There are few places in college he could or would go except the No Fun League. But there are also few places with the corporate support of Nike, which has paid off with three consecutive BCS bowls and a national title shot.

Going forward, Oregon AD Rob Mullens has to consult his List. Every AD worth his mascot lapel pin has one in his back pocket. On it, he has the names of, say, the top five candidates he would call should his coach leave. If Mullens doesn’t have his personal List,  then he isn’t as sharp as I thought.

At the top has be Boise State’s Chris Petersen. Oregon is thought to be one of the few places Boise’s almost hermit-like coach would consider. He has roots in Eugene. He coached receivers there for six years before moving to Boise. The media-averse Petersen would have to deal with more, but not much more.

This is a coach who was reportedly offered substantial millions by UCLA. Petersen’s name comes up for about every major job that opens. He’s good. Oregon could do worse.

Nothing happened Sunday night/Monday morning and a lot happened. Kelly stayed at Oregon. But the emerging question is: For how long?

And does have Mullens have his List?

And would C.P. be interested?    

Posted on: January 20, 2012 11:58 am
Edited on: January 20, 2012 1:46 pm
 

A plus-one playoff through the years: 2008-2011

In the final installment plus-one lookback (2008-2011), the Big 12 and SEC rule. The assumption is that playing extra games would loosen the SEC’s grip on the sport. It just makes sense. In any playoff, dark horses and underdogs are going to emerge. Teams spend all season getting to the top, then in one game it can all go pfft against an inferior opponent.

In this plus-one there was a huge pfft in 2011.

(All plus-one games played on neutral fields. Here’s how things looked from 1998-2002 and 2003-2007.

 


2008

BCS champion: Florida 24, Oklahoma 14

The setup: Put this one on the Big 12 which never foresaw a three-way tie broken by the BCS standings. Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Texas all went 7-1 in the Big 12 South. Texas beat OU, Texas Tech beat Texas, OU beat Texas Tech. They were all 1-1 against other. Texas felt slighted because it won the Red River Shootout, but Oklahoma won the South by a mere .0128 of a point.  That basically greased the path for OU to get to the national championship game.

Another Oklahoma powerhouse, another disappointment. For the third time in four tries during the BCS era, the Sooners were stopped in that championship game. This Oklahoma team was the highest scoring of all time averaging 51 points per game. In his last season, Sam Bradford threw 50 touchdown passes.

All that was no match for an SEC defense. A top 10 defense featured Brandon Spikes, Joe Haden and Jermaine Cunningham. Florida’s D held the Sooners to their lowest point total in more than two years.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 4 Alabama, No. 2 Florida vs. No. 3 Texas. A plus-one couldn’t come fast enough for the Horns whose only blemish was a loss to Texas Tech with a second to go. It’s easy to project that Gators D devouring the Horns too. Florida 33, Texas 21.

Alabama stayed in the top two of the BCS until losing an SEC championship game showdown to Florida. In year before Bama won two out of the next three titles, the defense tied for third overall. It would have been the difference against OU. Alabama 26, Oklahoma 24.

Championship game: Same script as Atlanta. A close game is blown open in the fourth quarter by that guy named Tebow. Before anyone cared about his throwing motion, completion percentage or virginity, Florida’s quarterback proved himself one of the best of all time. Florida 20, Alabama 17.

Fantasy quote: “They got lucky. The state of Alabama is going to rule college football the next three years.” – Nick Saban.

Who got screwed: Utah. It beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. It beat Alabama bad. It deserved something after finishing as the only undefeated team in the country.

 


2009

BCS champion: Alabama 38, Texas 21

The setup: The game was decided when Alabama’s Marcel Dareus took out Colt McCoy on the contest’s fifth play. The question to this day, remains: Would a healthy McCoy have made any difference? Mack Brown answered that night, “It wouldn’t even have been close.” 

Texas was forced to play an untested quarterback, Garrett Gilbert, against a carnivorous defense. All that was left was for stadium personnel to clean up the remains. It was perhaps the most disappointing BCS title game. Ninety-five thousand fans in the Rose Bowl and millions across the country expected to see a symphony. They ended up watching the Wiggles.

Yes, yes, Mark Ingram won the Heisman and that Alabama D could have played in the NFL, but it still feels like there is something missing from that night – a frisky Colt.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 TCU, No. 2 Texas vs. No. 3 Cincinnati. All four were undefeated. All four would have had a fair chance to state their cases in a playoff. TCU would have scared the spit out of Bama. I know because I saw it a year later against Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. I know because TCU was playing an NFL quarterback (Andy Dalton). I know because Gary Patterson is Nick Jr. as a defensive mastermind. Alabama 23, TCU 20 OT.

The toughest decision in the other semifinal was Brian Kelly’s. Does he stay at Cincinnati for a national title run or go to Notre Dame? Would it have made a difference? Texas 47, Cincinnati 27.

Championship: At the risk of being frisked for hallucinogens next time I go to T-town, McCoy would have made a huge difference. In a classic Big 12 offense vs. SEC defense, the Large Dozen was due to take one sooner or later. Texas 29, Alabama 27.

Fantasy quote: “We regret Coach Kelly’s decision to stay at Cincinnati to coach in the playoff. That said, Notre Dame has had to move on and act swiftly. Please welcome to the Irish family as Notre Dame’s next coach, Urban Meyer.” – ND AD Jack Swarbrick.

Who got screwed: Boise State, which went 14-0 while beating the Pac-10 (Oregon) and Mountain West (TCU) champions. Only one team in the regular season came within 11 points of the Broncos.

  


2010

BCS champion: Auburn 22, Oregon 19

The setup: Cam Newton’s daddy went trolling for the six-figure handshake. Then he and his son were bailed out by a loophole the size of the Lincoln Tunnel. That, basically, is a summary of the 2010 season. Newton was so good, that no team could stop Auburn. Cecil Newton was that sleazy that sometimes it was hard to sift through the wrongdoing to see a talented, personable kid who established himself as one of the best ever.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 4 Stanford. No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 TCU. TCU would have gotten the chance it deserved. The nation’s No. 1 defense could have matched up with anyone. The hunch here is that Patterson would have bottled up Oregon at least as much as Auburn did. TCU 24, Oregon 21.

How about a matchup of the top two Heisman vote getters? Stanford’s Andrew Luck would have done what Oregon’s Darron Thomas couldn’t – make a vulnerable Auburn secondary pay. Cammy Cam Cam, though, would have been the difference against the tough Cardinal.  Auburn 28, Stanford 21.

Championship game: Andy Dalton meet Nick Fairley. Tank Carder meet Cam Newton. Auburn-TCU would have gone a lot like Auburn-Oregon. Down to the wire with the underdog hanging surprisingly tough. In the end, the Tigers had too many playmakers. Auburn 22, TCU 19.

Fantasy quote: “Define ‘solicit.’ “ – Cecil Newton

Who got screwed: The Heisman Trust. What was supposed to be a celebration turned into a solemn event. The takeaway from his press conference is Newton's answer to the question: In a year when Reggie Bush had to give back is trophy, do you have any concerns you'll have to give yours back as well?

“Two letters for you, my friend,” Newton said. “No.”

All righty, then.

 

2011

BCS champion: Alabama 21, LSU 0

The setup: Funny how penthouses and outhouses occupy the same block in the SEC. One moment, they’re calling Les Miles’ team one of the best ever. The next he’s been outcoached so badly by Nick Saban that he has to turn in his trucker’s hat.

Such was the fallout from a season that kept the national championship down in the Sweet Home for the third consecutive season. The Rematch of the Century was almost as big a disappointment as the Game of the Century. Except this time, there was some finality to it. Saban DID outcoach Miles. AJ McCarron DID play like Tom Brady. The rest of the country IS still drafting in the SEC’s excellence.

While the rest of the nation continued to set offensive records, LSU and Bama combined for 36 points, 10 field goals and one touchdown in two games. Is this what you want out of a national champion? Read on.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: Plenty. No. 1 LSU vs. No. 4 Stanford and No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Oklahoma State would have added some texture, clarity, fairness and, well, offense to the proceedings.

Step back, Slive. Back off, Saban. Move away, Miles. College football would have gotten even, broken the SEC death grip.

"We'd have thrown it 50 times," Mike Gundy told USA Today. "You like to think Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon could have put together some touchdowns. Get the ball thrown down the field and open some things up. Try to make it exciting, and see what happens."

The key word being “exciting”.  Who wouldn’t have loved to see Andrew Luck and Weeden go against those defenses? LSU played with a quarterback who would have had a hard time starting in the Big 12. Alabama played one offense all season ranked in the top 30 (Arkansas, 29th) and 10 ranked 84th or lower.  

Defense wins championships? Not necessarily in this case if it plays a championship offense.

Let’s assume that Oklahoma State gave up its average of 27 points. Let’s assume Alabama gave up more than its average of eight points against the nation’s No. 2 offense. Let’s assume that it matters that the Cowboys were fifth in field-goal accuracy and Alabama was 85th.

Let’s also assume that Oklahoma State’s 44 turnovers gained – the most in the sport in eight years – matter.  The Cowboys had an average defense, not a bad one. LSU 22, Stanford 17; Oklahoma State 36, Alabama 34.

Championship game: It suddenly gets a lot easier for the Cowboys. With Miles keeping an actual passing quarterback (Jarrett Lee) on the bench, that makes things less difficult for Oklahoma State. Yes, LSU’s running depth would have pounded the Pokes. But an underrated offensive line would have worn down the Tigers. Oklahoma State 27, LSU 21.

Fantasy quote:  “How do you like us now, OU?” – Boone Pickens

Who got screwed: In the real world, it was Oklahoma State. The Cowboys finished third in the BCS by closest margin since the formula was refigured in 2004. They played a stronger schedule than Alabama and won what some thought was the strongest conference in the country in ’11. Bammers were successful, though, in reducing the national conversation about two one-loss teams to one game. It was determined Alabama’s one loss (to LSU) was less bad than Oklahoma State’s (Iowa State). It’s a full season, folks. The Fightin’ Gundys had a fine one.

As far as props, there was a time when the idea of Mike Gundy as the national coach of the year would have been a Saturday Night Live skit. Now it’s reality.

Cowboys as champs outrageous? At least you can’t blame the BCS.
 

Plus-one champions, 2008-2011: Florida, Texas, Auburn, Oklahoma State.

Plus-one team summary: Miami (3), USC (3) Florida (2), LSU, Texas, Auburn, Oklahoma State, Florida State, Tennessee (each one).

Conferences: SEC (5), Pac-10 (3), Big East  (3), Big 12 (2), ACC (1)

-30-

 

Posted on: January 19, 2012 12:27 pm
 

A plus-one playoff through the years: 2003-2007

In the second installment of our plus-one lookback (2003-2007), USC takes over from Miami to forge a dynasty before the SEC begins to go reticulated python on college football.  Oh, and sorry Texas. That 2005 title never happened.

(All plus-one games played on neutral fields. Here’s how things looked from 1998-2002.)

 

2003

BCS champion: LSU 21, Oklahoma 14

The setup:  By now, epic BCS fails were becoming commonplace. This time Oklahoma blew through the first 12 games of the season winning by an average of more than 32 points. That was before a four-touchdown loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 title game.

So much for the dangers of losing late.  Not only didn’t No. 1 OU fall out of the top two, it didn’t fall from the top spot! (It dropped from No. 1 to No. 3 in the human polls.) That was the first problem.  The second, more significant issue, is that USC was a consensus No. 1 in the human polls but No. 3 in the BCS.

Complicating matters, if that was possible, was three major-college, one-loss teams occupying the top three spots in the final BCS (OU, LSU, USC). One of them didn’t win its conference. The BCS commissioners swallowed hard, averted their eyes and tried to explain an LSU-Oklahoma championship game. The final absurdity: That meant the coaches poll would not even be considering its No. 1 team (USC) for the national championship.

Thank goodness for the AP poll.  After USC beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl, AP gave its final No. 1 ranking to the Trojans. For the first time in the BCS era, there was a split national championship. While that was OK with most folks, certain LSU fans couldn’t stomach sharing anything with anyone. Two things wrong with that: Like five other teams prior to the bowls that year, LSU was a one-loss team. By now it was becoming clear that if you lose a game in the BCS system, you lose the right to argue.

Isn’t it enough that national championships are forever? I still get emails from angry Tiger fans who claim they are the true national champs. Who cares?

How a four-team playoff would have changed things:  No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 4 Michigan, No. 2 LSU vs. No. 3 USC. OU would have easily mauled Michigan. The Rose Bowl that season proved it. USC outclassed the slower Wolverines by two touchdowns in Pasadena. Oklahoma 35, Michigan 17.

Many would have considered LSU-USC the real championship game. This was the year LSU freshman sensation Justin Vincent ran for 1,000 yards. Defensive tackle Chad Lavalais was the SEC defensive player of the year. USC had Reggie Bush as a freshman, Matt Leinart as a sophomore throwing to the  fantastic Mike Williams. This was the beginning of a Troy dynasty with the Trojans at least playing for three consecutive national championships in the real world. In this alternative universe it would have been a thriller, USC 27, LSU 20.

Championship game: Heisman winner Jason White was beat up for the Sooners at this point in the season. He hung in gamely against LSU but the Tigers defense and the Superdome crowd were too much. USC would have brought a similar kind of hurt. USC 23, Oklahoma 14.

Fantasy quote: “Sure we deserve a championship berth. It wasn’t like we lost to K-State by five touchdowns.” –Bob Stoops.

Who got screwed: Obviously USC, but AP was there to bail it out. That would change after the 2004 season, though, as the news organization rethought its influence on the national championship race and the money that went with it.

 

2004

BCS champion: USC 55, Oklahoma 19

The setup: For the first time in the BCS era, three undefeated teams stood atop the polls at the end. The BCS quickly realized that three don’t fit into two championship berths. Auburn eventually “lost”. There is still the lasting image of Tommy Tuberville working the press box for AP votes at the Orange Bowl after the BCS had kept the undefeated SEC champions out of the BCS title game. While the Trojans and Sooners played, Auburn’s coach was literally glad-handing media, hoping against hope.

It didn’t happen for Auburn which finished third in the BCS and second in the final human polls. SEC types were outraged that their undefeated champion wasn’t worthy of playing for it all. As you might have noticed, things would change quickly for the SEC.

The difference was Auburn’s non-conference schedule and perhaps an Oklahoma-friendly Bowling Green AD.  Elsewhere, both the Trojans and Sooners were in the middle of historic runs. OU played in its third championship game since 2000. USC was in the middle of its own 34-game winning streak. Only Stanford, Cal and UCLA came within a touchdown of the Trojans that season.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 USC vs. No. 4 Texas, No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Auburn.  Texas wasn’t quite there yet despite 1,000-yard rushing seasons from both Cedric Benson and Vince Young. Meanwhile, USC sported a Heisman winner (Leinart) as well as three other consensus All-Americans. This was arguably the best Trojan team of the Pete Carroll era. USC 37, Texas 24.

Would have loved to see the nation’s No. 1 scoring defense (Auburn) against No. 8 in total offense (Oklahoma). Using LSU’s D in 2003 as evidence, OU doesn’t show up offensively in a plus-one against a quality SEC defense. Auburn 25, Oklahoma 21.

Championship game: Auburn gets its title shot but just can’t overcome perhaps the team of the decade. USC 26, Auburn 13.

Fantasy quote: “How many voters does a commissioner have to bribe for the SEC to get to the championship game?” – Mike Slive

Real quote: “Where’s Your God Now?” – sign taunting BYU fans at Rice-Eccles Stadium in the final seconds of Utah’s 52-21 win over the Cougars that clinched the Utes’ first BCS berth.

Who got screwed: Cal. With one BCS bowl berth left, the No. 5 Bears lost a propaganda war with No. 4 Texas. Both were 10-1 on pick ‘em day. Knowing that finishing at No. 4 guaranteed his team a BCS bowl, Mack Brown had no problem campaigning for his Longhorns while Cal’s Jeff Tedford pretty much refused to engage.

Cal would have been the obvious Pac-10 replacement in the Rose Bowl with USC playing for the national championship. But Texas’ bum rush created feelings that what Bevo wants, Bevo gets long before the Longhorn Network.

“"I guess we didn't run up the score at the end, or beg for votes after the game," Cal’s Aaron Rodgers said. "I thought it was [wrong] for coach Brown to beg for votes.”

AP withdrew its poll from the BCS after the controversy.



2005

BCS champion: Texas 41, USC 38

The setup: On paper USC never won a game this season. On the field, it ravaged the field. We would find out years later that Bush competed the entire 2005 season while ineligible having taken cash and benefits from two would-be agents.

Dismiss that from your mind considering how these Trojans were completing that 34-game winning streak. They failed to score less than 34 in any game. They scored at least 50 in seven games. They scored 60 twice and 70 once. This was the team that couldn’t be outscored -- until it was, by Vince Young.

On the night of Jan. 5, 2006 Texas’ quarterback proved himself to be the best player in the school’s glorious history. Completing a game in which he had almost 500 yards in total offense, Young pulled it down and scored the winning touchdown with 19 seconds left.

USC was denied a third straight national championship. Texas won its first in 35 years because of a singular talent.

"Without question that was the best [performance] by one guy [I've seen]," Pete Carroll said.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 USC vs. No. 4 Ohio State, No. 2 Texas vs. No. 3 Penn State. Anyone else have a letdown here? Ohio State was a year away in 2005 having lost to Texas and Penn State in the regular season. JoePa rebounded from downturn to begin the century to grab a share of the Big Ten. It is interesting that two Big Ten teams would have been in a plus-one. Does it matter, though, given the greatness at the top?

USC 42, Ohio State 20. Texas 44, Penn State 17.

Championship game: With his defense gassed and resting on the sidelines, this time Carroll decides to use Bush on fourth down. In the real game he didn’t. That allowed Texas to stop LenDale White on fourth down which led to the Horns’ winning drive. USC 38, Texas 35.

Fantasy quote: “I’m predicting two Super Bowls for Vince Young.” – Beano Cook

Who got screwed:  USC players who gave their heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears for the program only to have the season ripped away in disgrace because of Bush’s selfishness. In case you forgot, the NCAA vacated USC’s 2005 season as part of the Bush penalties.

 

2006

BCS champion: Florida 41, Ohio State 14

In the latest BCS game ever played (Jan. 9), the system began to take different turns. Double-hosting debuted. A few days before the Gators swamped the Buckeyes, Boise beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl in one of the sport’s greatest upsets. A player proposed to a cheerleader. The Broncos proved they could play with the big boys, a cry that still is ringing in our ears today.

Oh yeah, and the SEC started a streak for the ages. The first of six consecutive titles by the Strength Everywhere Conference began with Florida thrashing Ohio State.

That year the immortal Chris Leak was backed up at Florida by some kid named Tebow. During the season we were treated to the jump pass, winning a game by a fingernail and first of two national championships by Urban Meyer.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 4 LSU, No. 2 Florida vs. No. 3 Michigan. The Buckeyes blitzed through the regular season setting up Jim Tressel for his second national championship in five years. Les Miles was just getting going, posting his second straight 11-2 season. We were going to see LSU-Ohio State in 2007 anyway. In a playoff, the Buckeyes arrived a year early with Troy Smith, Ted Ginn Jr. and company winning a close one. Ohio State 31, LSU 27.

Denied a rematch with Ohio State by the pollsters and computers, Michigan would have welcomed a playoff. Coming off one of the most emotional games in Michigan history (losing to Ohio State the day after Bo Schembechler’s passing), there was a chance to sneak in the back door for a national championship. Florida’s D would have denied it. Florida 37, Michigan 21.

Championship: We’re assuming that Ginn Jr. doesn’t injure his foot celebrating a kickoff return. We still can’t assume Ohio State would have an answer for Florida’s team speed. Florida 31, Ohio State 21.

Fantasy quote: “We got tattooed.” – Tressel.

Who gagged: USC. Needing only to win over sliding UCLA to play for another title, the Trojans coughed up one of the program’s largest hairballs. The 13-9 loss to the Bruins on the last day of the regular season remains inexplicable to this day except to then-UCLA defensive  coordinator DeWayne Walker. He helped hold the Trojans to less than 20 points for the first time in 64 games

 


2007

BCS champion: LSU 38, Ohio State 24

Let’s see … LSU in New Orleans? Again? Call it another unintended consequence of the BCS. The commissioners probably never imagined the Tigers being good at the exact same time the Superdome was hosting the big game. Call it purple and gold serendipity.

And luck. In the fastest and more furious finish of the BCS era, both No. 1 (Missouri) and No. 2 (West Virginia) lost on the last day of the season allowing  the Buckeyes and Tigers to move up. A week earlier, LSU had lost at home, giving up 50 to Arkansas. After beating Tennessee in the SEC championship game, the Tigers moved from No. 7 to No. 2.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Oklahoma. No. 2 LSU vs. No. 3 Virginia Tech. This was an unspectacular Oklahoma team that lost to Colorado and Texas Tech before being smoked by West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl. Ohio State 31, Oklahoma 23.

In a plus-one, the ACC champion would have played for a national championship in a rematch we didn’t need to see. In the second week of the season, the Tigers smoked the Hokies 48-7 in Baton Rouge. Play it again, Les? LSU 33, Virginia Tech 14.

Championship game: What hurt Buckeye pride is that LSU was the last comic standing in 2007 in a wild finish to the season. The Tigers were the first two-loss team to win a national championship in 47 years. And still, LSU was able to score 31 unanswered to bury the Bucks. By now, the jokes and labels associated with Ohio State were beginning to leave a mark.

“Yeah, and that hurts," said Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis, "just because the media really builds it up like we are slow and all that stuff."

The Bucks football reputation was in tatters after two straight championship losses. In a few years, that rep was about to get a whole lost worse. LSU 42, Ohio State 17.

 Fantasy quote: “Next?” – SEC

Who got screwed: The fans. Hawaii was non-competitive against Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. The Rose Bowl got three-loss Illinois to match against USC. West Virginia lost Rich Rod, then promoted Bill Stewart before a rout of Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. The average margin of victory in the five BCS bowls (20 points) was second only to 2002 (22.5 points).

Plus-one champions, 2003-2007: USC, USC, USC, Florida, LSU.

Tomorrow: A plus-one from 2008 to 2011.   

 
 
 
 
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