Tag:Utah
Posted on: November 11, 2009 10:31 am
Edited on: November 12, 2009 11:32 am
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National notes

Happy birthday, of sorts, to the Associated Press poll. The 1,000th AP poll was released this week with Florida at No. 1.

Historical perspective: Back in 1936 when the first poll debuted Florida was kicking off a 4-6 season under Josh Cody. The Gators weren’t ranked in AP until 1950 during a 5-5 season under Bob Woodruff.

Minnesota was No. 1 in that first poll. I think we all know where the Gophers are these days in terms of poll relevance – underground.

I bring all this up because the AP poll might be our lifeboat this season. With the season hurtling toward a BCS-record four undefeated teams at the end, we are squarely in line for split national champions.

That would be more than fair in the only game where the national championship matchup that frequently isn't decided on the field.

Here’s the scenario for your split national champion:

BCS title game: Alabama, Florida or Texas win the big game. One of three will finish 14-0 and be the BCS champion.

Fiesta Bowl: TCU defeats USC or Iowa to finish 13-0.

Sugar Bowl: Cincinnati defeats the SEC championship game loser, Alabama or Florida, to finish 13-0.

Poinsettia Bowl: Boise State beats a two-loss Utah to finish 13-0.


Who do you pick? The reality is that it will be hard for the voters to ignore the title game winner. We had chaos in 2003 because the BCS somehow rated No. 1 in the polls USC No. 3. That gave the voters a motive, fairness, elevate the Trojans in AP.

Keep dreaming Boise, Cincy and TCU.


Don’t hold your breath, Boise. That talk already has started about there being two non-BCS schools in the BCS. Even more, perhaps pitting TCU and Boise in a battle of non-BCS unbeatens.

Here’s why it won’t happen: In the TCU-Boise argument don't forget that these two teams played 10 months ago. I would love to see this game in the Fiesta Bowl (which is the only place it can happen in the BCS) but the fact a two-loss Penn State or USC will probably jump Boise. They can rationalize it because Boise is, frankly, an old story. Given the option the Fiesta Bowl will exercise that option. Unfair? Sure, but a bowl never changes its stripes (or something like that).
 
The Fiesta will argue that it has more than done its part for the BCS by taking Utah and Boise in previous years. It is reaaalllly sensitive about becoming the depository for the non-AQs. Taking TCU will be enough. 


Another replay mind-blower. According to this story most replay booths don’t have HD monitors.

You have to be kidding me? We can watch the game at home in HD, the television production trucks have HD, but the guys making the decisions are watching on the same low resolution sets that have been around for years?

Amazing. In the case of Saturday’s LSU-Alabama controversy you can see why perhaps replay official Gerald Hodges ruled inconclusive evidence. You can also see why there was outrage.

We may have had a better view?

It’s not like these conferences can’t afford to upgrade. Do yourselves a favor, commissioners, and save the possible embarrassment of missing a key call. Go to Best Buy and start loading up the shopping cart.

Posted on: October 21, 2009 12:18 pm
Edited on: October 21, 2009 12:28 pm
 

BCS commissioners weigh a CEO/coordinator dude

If you read Wednesday’s AP story, you know that the BCS commissioners don’t know what they want.

The title of “coordinator” of the Bowl Championship Series has been a sentence, not a position. The commissioners look forward to the one-year term of BCS coordinator about as much as a trip to the NCAA infractions committee.

They’ve talked intermittently about hiring an outside person to take over the day-to-day administration of the controversial system. They sure as hell don’t want to do it. What does that say about the system itself? You could put a pistol to my head and I couldn’t tell you what the “BCS coordinator” does. It’s a title emptier than Bud Selig’s head when it comes to replay.

The issue was coming to a head because Big East commissioner John Marinatto is due to take over as coordinator in January. He is a “rookie”, in his first year as commissioner. His fellow commissioners don’t want a rook taking over but that’s part of the problem. The Pac-10 and Big Ten commissioners don’t want the title at all. That eliminates three of the six BCS commissioners.

The Big Ten’s Jim Delany and just-retired Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen never served. Like a lot you, their league presidents are adamantly opposed to the system.

ACC commissioner John Swofford and SEC commissioner Mike Slive -- guys who actually served -- have had a hard time being coordinator. They have presidents within their conferences who are opposed to the BCS – Florida State president T.K. Wetherell in addition to Florida’s Bernie Machen and Georgia’s Michael Adams.

If the commishes do hire an outsider, they’ve got to decide to spend the money. Take it from me, they’re going to get some blow back from the schools if they pay someone like Archie Manning or Condoleezza Rice half a million a year. The money they’re producing is supposed to go directly to the schools.

What could an Archie or Condie do, really? They would be figureheads trying to sell snow to the Eskimos. But at least they’d be figureheads who could push the BCS with a clear conscience. That’s something Condie couldn’t do with her Bush Push of the presidential agenda.

We’ve already heard “No New Taxes”. Pardon us if we ignore cries of “Know Your Texas”.

I’ll take Archie as the first father of football. As a parent, he produces great quarterbacks. As a BCS flak, he'd probably become just as confused as the rest of us.

That’s why the commissioners don’t know what they want to do. It’s a job they don’t want, but who does?

Stat package

(Stuff that didn't fit on Wednesday's story on the halfway point)

These are your leaders in these categories halfway through the season:

Rushing: Nevada, 292.83 yards per game
Passing: Houston, 431.5
Total offense: Houston, 560.3
Rushing defense: Texas, 35.8
Passing defense:  North Carolina, 125.1
Fewest turnovers: Air Force, Cincinnati, Oregon State, four each
Most turnovers: Miami (Ohio), 26
Individual rushing: Ryan Mathews, Fresno State, 162.3
Pass efficiency:  Kellen Moore, Boise State, 171.8
Receiving yards per game: Dezmon Briscoe, Kansas, 134.2 yards
All-purpose running: Torrey Smith, Maryland, 207.71
Tackles: Carmen Messina, New Mexico, 13.33 per game
Interceptions: Robert Johson, Utah; Earl Thomas, Texas; DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson; Rahim Moore, UCLA; Tyler Sash, Iowa, all tied with five

 

Posted on: August 7, 2009 1:06 pm
Edited on: August 7, 2009 1:21 pm
 

Reaction to the first coaches' poll

The first People’s Republic of Coaches secret ballot is out. What we're supposed to learn from it:

1. SEC fan must be throwing himself off various barbeque shacks in the South after learning the crushing news: The world’s best conference has only five teams in the first poll. Condolences, the world is gaining on you SEC. The Big 12, ACC and Pac-10 are tied for second with four teams each.

2. First you have to be ranked. That’s another way of saying Boise State is the early favorite to grab its second BCS bowl. The Broncos go in as the highest-ranked non-BCS school (No. 16) followed by No. 17 TCU, No. 18 Utah and No. 24 BYU.

There is hope. Utah was unranked at the beginning of 2008 before going undefeated.

3. The Big East got skunked. Not only did the Big East not have a ranked team, you have to look all the way down to the team with the 29th-most votes to find the league. Cincinnati is followed, in order, by Pittsburgh (30), West Virginia (31) and Rutgers (32).

How embarrassing is this? In the last three years, the Big East has had a team ranked in the top 10 in the preseason. West Virginia started there in 2006 (No. 7), 2007 (No. 6) and 2008 (No. 8). Two teams were ranked last season (South Florida and West Virginia) and three teams were ranked in 2007 (West Virginia, Louisville and Rutgers).

4. The SEC West is strong. Ole Miss is No. 10 which means, according to the poll, it is only the third-best team in the West. Alabama is No. 4 and LSU is No. 9.

5. I’m a little bit surprised that Kansas isn’t ranked.  The Jayhawks are favored by many to win the Big 12 North. The Jayhawks get No. 22 Nebraska at home and return the best pair of returning receivers in the country – Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier. KU started just out of the top 25 with the 26th-most votes.

6. Only in the coaches’ poll. Voters can vote for themselves No. 1 before they’ve played a game, but they can’t (or are encouraged not to) vote for their teams No. 1 in the final poll unless their team wins the BCS title game.

7. It’s murkier and more secret next year. In 2010, coaches will go back to keeping secret their final ballots. As I’ve written, BCS commissioners are going to try to convince the coaches to change their stance – or possibly be kicked out of the BCS.

Would love to know who didn't vote Florida No. 1 (the Gators got 53 of the 59 first-place votes), but it's a secret. 

 

Posted on: July 22, 2009 11:05 am
Edited on: July 22, 2009 12:49 pm
 

Mountain West scraps

MWC notes as the its media days wrap up Wednesday in Henderson, Nev. ...

After TCU's Gary Patterson, new San Diego State coach Brady Hoke is easily the most outgoing head man in the league. Hoke is one of those call-me-anytime guys. We've already bonded on one subject. Hoke is familiar with the annual San Diego bacchanalian ritual known as Over The Line. For those of you familiar with Indian Ball, it's Indian Ball played on sand.

With beer and bikinis and bands and all kinds of rude stuff.

Hoke hasn't been to OTL yet but something tells me he will.

 Wyoming was picked last in the nine-team Mountain West. First-year coach Dave Christensen knew what he was getting into when he took the job. Wyoming has had one winning season this decade.

"That's where I would have voted us too," Christensen said.


  Where do Sugar Bowl-winning quarterbacks go? In the case of Utah's Brian Johnson it's the United Football League. The UFL is a new pro franchise that debuts in the fall with a handful of franchises. Johnson went undrafted in the NFL but got taken by the UFL New York franchise.

That was after turning down a job offer from Kyle Whittingham.

"I offered him a job as a full-time job coach, but he wanted to try playing," Whittingham said. "Someday I want to get him back on the staff."

  The Utes aren't going to fall off the map without Johnson. Whittingham loves the three candidates lining up to replace Johnson -- junior Corbin Louks, juco transfer Terrance Cain and early enrollee Jordan Wynn.

Louks, who threw seven passes last season, runs a 4.42. Cain came in from Blinn (Texas) College, juco home of former K-State quarterback Michael Bishop. Whittingham says Cain, "reminds me of Alex Smith."

  Utah has the longest active bowl streak having won its last eight in a row.

 Since joining the league in 2005, TCU has the best overall record, 41-11. A case can be made, though, for it being the least accomplished of the big three (including Utah and BYU). Utah has won a Sugar Bowl and has that bowl streak going. BYU has won the league twice in that span and for a time had the nation's longest winning streak. When it trailed TCU in Fort Worth last year it was the first time in two years it trailed at halftime.

 TCU was the first non-BCS school to finish ranked in the top 12 despite two losses.

  TCU was picked to win the league in a preseason media poll. Patterson already is on record as saying he prefers to come from behind. The last time his team was picked to win in the preseason it finished fifth (8-5).

  Only four schools have won conference titles in the 10-year history of the Mountain West -- Utah, TCU, BYU and Colorado State.

  The league has the best winning percentage in bowls the last five years (14-7, .667). The SEC is second (24-13, .643).

  Only five other teams in the country have won more games than Utah (22) and BYU (21) the last two seasons.

  Bronco Mendenhall on christening Jerry Jones' new mega-stadium against Oklahoma. BYU and OU will play in the first college game in the new stadium on Sept. 5.

"Our coaches and players have earned the right to be selected to for the game,"  BYU's coach said. "I viewed it like a postseason bowl game where they earned their chance because of their body of work. I was willing to trade off possibly an undefeated season ... to continue to improve us over time."

Patterson took it further. His team beat Oklahoma in 2005 and, aside from one bad first quarter, played the Sooners off their feet in 2008. The 35 points allowed in that game were the second-fewest (next to Florida) allowed against OU's offense.

"If you don't play the Oklahomas or the Texases of the world you get a false sense of where you are as a program and how high you can play," he said. "Just playing well doesn't do you any good, if you've got to win those games.

"It has to get to a point where we're recognized enough as a group. Just like Florida loses one game it doesn't make any difference. People talk about Baylor improving, SMU improving. It won't do any of us any good, it doesn't do TCU any good for those programs not to be winning." 

 

Posted on: June 23, 2009 11:51 am
Edited on: June 24, 2009 2:12 am
 

Picking the Big East

Sometimes you feel like the smartest person in the college football world.

Sometimes you throw darts.

Welcome to the Big East where all you need is flexible wrist. Don't worry about a bulls eye. Anywhere, you throw it, you could be a winner. Since 2003 eight different schools have claimed at least a share of the Big East title. A lot of that has to do with realignment after ACC expansion. But the conference remains perhaps the most competitive BCS conference.

Last season six of the eight teams made it to a bowl. In 2006-2007, three Big East teams had made it to the top three in the polls. With only eight teams, the league had one less NFL draft pick (27) than the Big Ten's 11 teams (28).

The demise of the Big East was greatly exaggerated. In the four years since realignment it is 3-1 in BCS bowls.

A case can be made for at least four schools being good enough to win the league this season.

Picking the Big East ...

1. Rutgers -- This dart lands in Piscataway. The Scarlet Knights will go to their first BCS game mostly because they have the league's most favorable schedule. Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, South Florida and West Virginia have to come up the Jersey Turnpike.  Even though Greg Schiano loses his quarterback (Mike Teel) and two best receivers (Kenny Britt and Tiquan Underwood), there is enough talent to fill in. All five starters are back on the offensive line, including 325-pound NFL prospect Anthony Davis at left tackle. Schiano gave up his play-calling duties on defense, handing them over to assistants Bob Fraser and Ed Pinkham. The pressure will be on but the Knights have time to wade into the deep end. They get Howard, Florida International and Texas Southern at home before playing their second Big East game. The momentum created by a seven-game winning streak to end '08 will carry over with 16 returning starters.

2. South Florida -- It helps to have the Big East's best offensive (quarterback Matt Grothe) and defensive (George Selvie) players. The offense gets more of a pure spread with the promotion of Mike Canales to offensive coordinator. Grothe might have to use those magic legs more than ever with only one returning starter on the offensive line. Selvie can be a freak at times off the edge. He slipped back in '08 after 14 1/2 sacks in 2007. The Bulls must learn to finish. They started 6-0 in '07 and 5-0 in '08. If they are going to get off to a similar start this season they must win at Florida State on Sept. 26.

3. Pittsburgh -- I really want to pick the Panthers to win. I really do. Dave Wannstedt might have the most talented team in the league but he will have to prove it. The loss of tailback Sean McCoy to the NFL was a killer. Early enrollee Dion Lewis has a shot at the job. If senior Bill Stull doesn't hold onto the quarterback job (nine touchdowns, 10 interceptions, there's always junior Pat Bostick. The defense will be stout again with Mick Williams at defensive tackle. Linebacker Adam Gunn returns for a sixth year of eligibility after breaking his neck in the '08 season opener. Wanny has stockpiled talent with three consecutive top 25 recruiting classes. Coming off a nine-win season, he needs to take the next step and win a bowl game in his fifth year at Pittsburgh.

4. Cincinnati -- The Bearcats were lucky enough to hold onto coach Brian Kelly. The ultimate coaching ladder climber (three jobs since 2003), recently signed an extension through 2013. If Kelly sticks around long enough, Kelly could make Cincinnati into a watered down version of Miami in the old Big East, an urban school waiting to bust out. In his second full season, Kelly produced 11 wins, a conference title and an Orange Bowl berth. Injuries forced Kelly to use five quarterbacks last season. The survivor, senior Tony Pike, is back. He'll throw to Marty Gilyard, the leading returning receiver in the league.

5. West Virginia -- Sorry, West Virginians. You lose Pat White and your prospects don't improve. White was one of the Big East's best-ever players and perhaps the best player in West Virginia history. The slippery quarterback cannot be fully replaced, but Jarrett Brown will give it a shot. The senior gets his shot to start in his final season. The 6-foot-4 Brown is more of a physical dual-threat quarterback. What Brown can't do, tailback Noel Devine can. After rushing for almost 2,000 yards in his first two seasons, this could be Devine's breakout year. A Heisman run wouldn't be surprise. The Mountaineers will have to win at least nine again to make it happen. That could be a struggle.

6. Connecticut -- UConn forces you to pay attention. The basketball team has a higher profile. In a league of football overachievers, it is not the first option. South Florida is in its 13th year of existence, but UConn has been in I-A only seven years. The country had to pay attention last season.  Donald Brown led the country in rushing, the Huskies blew out conference champ Cincinnati and won eight games. Coach Randy Edsall's name continued to pop up for higher profile jobs. Edsall stayed. However, Brown is gone to the NFL so don't expect another 2,000-yard season. Notre Dame transfer Zach Frazer will take over at quarterback throwing to 5-9 Kashif Moore, the team's leading receiver.

7. Louisville -- This has to be a make or break season for Steve Kragthorpe. He is 11-13 in two years. Last season crashed with a five-game losing streak. The once powerful offense is now struggling. Tailback Victor Anderson rushed for 1,000 yards but only 207 of those came in the last four games. Louisville desperately needs something good to happen. The schedule is not kind. In consecutive weeks the Cardinals play at Kentucky, at Utah, Pittsburgh, Southern Miss, at UConn and at Cincinnati.

8. Syracuse -- If Doug Marrone's work ethic could be transformed into wins, the Orange would be back in a major bowl. Cuse Nation is excited about one of their own taking over. Still, Marrone is a rookie head coach inheriting a train wreck. The new coach has embraced Syracuse traditions. Redshirt freshman Ryan Nassib was named starter in spring practice but there is the small matter of a former Duke guard in the mix. This was a good place for Greg Paulus to land. A one-year cameo could get the Cuse back on track. Before missing last season for academic reasons, Mike Williams caught 60 passes in '07 and was second-team all-Big East. The defense finished last in the conference in total defense. Look to the Jones brothers for improvement. Senior Arthur is a defensive tackle who has 31 1/2 career tackles for loss. His brother Chandler is an end who could get into the lineup as a redshirt freshman.

 


Posted on: June 4, 2009 1:05 pm
Edited on: June 5, 2009 1:36 pm
 

Picking the Mountain West

The Mountain West needs to focus, look closer. Capitol Hill's favorite conference spent the offseason pitching its case to Congress and challenging the BCS.  

But let's be clear. It was the coaches poll -- the prove-it-on-the-field guys -- that hit Utah with a lead pipe with its final regular-season poll.

The Utes finished No. 7. Seventh, for what turned out to be the nation's only undefeated major-college team. Utah's chances were dead before it got that Sugar Bowl bid. Great result and all that in New Orleans but let's analyze why the Utes couldn't play for it all.

There's a bias, all right. It comes from the coaches. The Harris poll also voted Utah seventh before the bowls but it almost gets a pass. The Harris voters aren't in the business, lining their pockets with bowl money, at the same time denying two major-college teams (Boise was undefeated in the regular season too) a better bowl fate.

The coaches, dear Mountain West, are the ones who have drawn the line -- and it clearly doesn't include teams from below the BCS level. Is that about to change? We'll see with the Mountain West sporting three possible BCS busters again this season (Utah, BYU, TCU). 

Only the top two teams in the BCS play in the national championship. The winner gets the coaches poll automatic No. 1 vote (or is supposed to). 

Heck, Utah was only able to make it up to No. 4 in the coaches after beating Alabama by two touchdowns in the Sugar Bowl.

The BCS might be unfair to the great unwashed non-BCS school but it is unfair mostly because the voting coaches -- by and large -- don't take those schools seriously. (Remember, Utah finished second in the Associated Press media poll. It was fifth among the computers.)

Guess who had the majority of the coaches votes last season? Thirty-seven of the 61 voting coaches came from BCS conferences (61 percent). The power conference schools make up only 55 percent of Division I-A. 

The Mountain West voters were New Mexico's Rocky Long (Utah, No. 7 before the bowls); TCU's Gary Patterson (No. 7) and Utah's Kyle Whittingham (No. 5). Whittingham voted his Utes No. 1 after the Sugar Bowl.

The Mountain West has done its best to make all of this clear.  Unfortunately, it will be another five seasons, at least, before any kind of playoff can be staged.

Until then, there is a hope. Short of a playoff, we learned in January that the Mountain West could gain automatic BCS access by 2012
The noble fight goes on in 2009 with Utah expected to repeat as conference champions. Don't tell TCU and BYU, though.

Picking the Mountain West ... 

1. Utah -- Give Whittingham credit. He didn't mope around after getting shafted. He didn't skip town for a bright, shiny new job. He stuck to the task. Losing quarterback Brian Johnson, kicker/punter Louie Sakoda and defensive end Paul Kruger won't be hard with 24 redshirt freshmen returning, not including three players back from missions. Remember the name Corbin Louks at quarterback. 

2. BYU -- Along the Wasatch Range they're talking about the Cougars the way the rest of the nation is talking about Utah. Coach Bronco Mendenhall has won 32 games the past three seasons while winning two Mountain West titles. This year's team is loaded and gets the Utes at home to finish the regular season. Best sign? The last four times BYU has had a senior quarterback, it has won the league. Senior Max Hall is the Mountain West's best at his position. Defensive end Jan Jorgensen is the league's career sack leader.

3. TCU -- Coach Gary Patterson specializes in taking high school running backs and turning them into defensive terrors. Get ready, then, for All-American defensive end Jerry Hughes to cause more damage. Hughes was handed a defensive number when he got to Fort Worth and went to work. Last year he led the nation with 15 sacks. TCU's unit as a whole led the nation giving up only 47 rushing yards. If the Frogs are going to jump over Utah, they can't get bogged down offensively. Last year's 13-10 loss in Salt Lake City was a killer.

4. Air Force -- It has been a seamless transition from Fisher DeBerry to Troy Calhoun who has won 17 games in his first two seasons in Colorado Springs. The option offense continues to be the great equalizer. The Falcons should win the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy. Beyond that, we're wondering if Air Force is the team that started 8-2 in '08 or the one that lost its last three.

5. UNLV -- Mike Sanford likely saved his job by winning five games last season. Bowl eligibility is a definite possibility this season. That's saying a lot for a program that has had one winning season in the last 14. Ryan Wolfe is the leading returning receiver in the league (88 catches, six touchdowns).

6. New Mexico -- First-time, first-year coach Mike Locksley has made his share of waves since arriving in the high desert. He injected some energy in what had become a lazy program. He used his recruiting prowess to snatch a few players from the Washington, D.C. area. Above all else, Locksley, the former Illinois OC, needs a Juice Williams-like presence at quarterback. Recruit Emmanuel Yeager left school recently to go back to D.C. That might have set the position back considering incumbent Donovan Porterie was recruited by Rocky Long to run the option. 

7. Colorado State -- Steve Fairchild took the Rams from 3-9 to 7-6 (and a bowl win) in his first season. That tied for the most wins since 2002. The defense must get better after giving up 30 points per game. A veteran offensive line could spring junior tailback John Mosure for a big year.

8. Wyoming -- Dave Christensen, his Hog and his spread offense blew into Laramie from Missouri promising  more appealing football. Christensen was the OC at Missouri for Chase Daniel and the Tigers' record-setting offense. Last season Wyoming's offense averaged less than 13 points per game. There's no one on the roster close to resembling Daniel. Let's hope that Christensen's motorcycle isn't the program's most entertaining feature.

9. San Diego State -- Still trying to figure out why Brady Hoke made this lateral move from Ball State to take this job. Sure, Ball State wouldn't bump up salaries for Hoke's assistants. Is that a reason to go to the worst program in the Mountain West? Brady, your career is at risk here. 
Posted on: June 1, 2009 12:42 pm
 

Picking the WAC

The biggest offseason news for the WAC has not Boise State's 12-1 season, it was Boise State's athletic director.
Gene Bleymaier is the Broncos' athletic director. He is also a lawyer who made the most sense last month at the BCS hearings in Washington.

"How many more years do we need to go undefeated," Bleymaier told a congressional committee, "before we get a chance?"

Good point.

Boise has finished the regular season undefeated three times since 2004. This season could be No. 4. if the Broncos can get past a tough season opener against Oregon. (It didn't bother them last year when the Broncos won 37-32 at Oregon).

Boise should roll to another WAC title but how high can it get in the BCS standings? While the Mountain West has its gripes, the WAC has had teams in back-to-back BCS bowls in 2006-07.

The problem, if you can call it that, is that Oregon will likely be the only ranked team that Boise State faces this season. A similar predicament didn't bother the Broncos against Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl so what are we supposed to conclude?

Bleymaier is right. The Broncos belong not only in a BCS bowl but deserve a chance at the national championship.

If it wins all its games.

Picking the WAC ...

1. Boise State -- Start with accurate lefthander Kellen Moore at quarterback. Throw in starting experience at every position. Add a rising superstar coach who has two undefeated years in his first three seasons.  Watch for Chris Petersen and the Broncos to make another top 10 run. They are quick and athletic. Think a mountain version of Miami in the 1980s. Watch Titus Young who might be the league's fastest receiver.

2. Nevada -- Colin Kaepernick is the WAC's best quarterback. The Pistol offense is quirky and might be the WAC's best unit. It was held under 31 only twice, none came after September. In his third go-round with the Pack, Chris Ault is one of the more underrated coaches in the country. Ault needs just a hint of defense to milk the season down to late November when his team visits Boise State with the conference title possibly on the line. 

3. Louisiana Tech -- If it wasn't for Boise State, Louisiana Tech would be the WAC's Next Big Thing. The Bulldogs went 6-2 down the stretch appearing in only the program's third bowl in 20 years. Coach Derek Dooley has a returning quarterback (Ross Jenkins) as well as 16 other starters. Just think what a healthy receiver/returner Phillip Livas can do this season. Playing with a torn meniscus, the 5-foot-8 Livas piled up more than 2,000 all-purpose yards.

4. Fresno State -- The baseball team shamed the football team last year going from Bulldogs to Underdogs to Wonderdogs in winning the school's first national championship in a men's sport. Fresno would settle for a conference title from football. Coach Pat Hill has no WAC titles this decade and no outright titles ever (1998 and 1999 were ties). Fresno State's version of American Chopper's Paul Teutul  might have lost something off his fastball but the Bulldogs are still going to be a factor. Something will have to change, though, even with 15 returning starters. The Dogs were minus-11 in turnovers last season and have been outgained in the last three seasons.

5. San Jose State -- Coach Dick Tomey has done wonders in his retirement job, milking 23 victories out of this program in his four seasons. The Spartans faltered down the stretch last season losing their final three and missing out on a bowl. Tomey's team will contend for the WAC this season if Cal transfer quarterback Kyle Reed can improve, 6-4 receiver Marquis Avery can take pressure off of teammate Kevin Jurovich and the front seven on defense can dominate.

6. Hawaii -- June Jones knew what he was doing by getting out while the getting was good. While replacement Greg McMackin went 7-7 and got the Warriors to a bowl in his first season, the program will continue to slide. Hawaii will entertain offensively, it always does. But only two starters return on defense where 11 of the top 13 tacklers have departed.

7. Utah State -- New coach Gary Andersen (Utah's former defensive coordinator) has a monumental task ahead. As the No. 3 program in a sparsely populated state Utah State is constantly reminded how it can't get it done. It has been 12 seasons since the Aggies had a winning season. Former coach Brent Guy won nine games in four seasons.

8. Idaho -- Robb Akey is 3-21 in his two seasons but there are signs of hope considering the Vandals haven't had a winning season this decade. The top three rushers return not including Washington State transfer (nine miles away) DeMaundray Wooldridge. Quarterback Nathan Enderle somehow threw more touchdowns (20) than interceptions (17) during a 2-10 season.

9. New Mexico State --The Aggies went from wild-eyed offensive philosophy (Hal Mumme) to one of the best defensive coaches in the game (UCLA d-coordinator DeWayne Walker). Unfortunately the new coach picked one of the worst programs in I-A to launch his full-time head-coaching career. The defense will play hard and get better. The offense lost the leader of the nation's No. 10 pass offense (quarterback Chase Holbrook). Too bad new o-coordinator Timm Rosenbach doesn't have any eligibility left. The former Washington State quarterback was the Cougars' quarterback coach from 2003-07.

 

Posted on: April 24, 2009 1:20 pm
Edited on: April 24, 2009 1:34 pm
 

No downside to cheating to win a BCS title

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jay Drew
Salt Lake Tribune
23 April 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Category: NCAAF
 
 
 
 
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