Posted on: December 6, 2011 5:32 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 10:03 am
 

Comparing old Big East to new Big East

Start with the fact the Big East has BCS membership only because of a hall pass.

The BCS commissioners awarded the conference a waiver to stay in the club in 2007 just, well, because. Back then, the Big East still had enough existing juice from its teams and power from its administrators to keep its nose under the BCS tent.

No more.

You don’t have to be told that the Big East hasn’t had a team ranked in the final BCS top 20 since 2009. Or had one team in the top 10 of the BCS since 2008. (The Big Ten has had seven.) Such things matter when a conference is being awarded an $18 million-$20 million bowl game each year just, because.

That’s why you may have noticed the Big East is expanding, to chase that magic BCS berth like it was a contact high. CBSSports.com’s Brett McMurphy reported Tuesday that Boise State, San Diego State, Houston, SMU and Central Florida will join the league in 2013.

The problem is no one really knows what it all means. Four of the five new schools are basically warm bodies to keep the Big East afloat. The league is hoping the fifth, Boise, can keep the conference in the BCS big time. Air Force and Navy may join later.

But there’s no certainty the BCS is even going to be around in a few years. Commissioners will spend most of the next year deciding what college football’s postseason will look like beginning in 2014 (when the current BCS contract expires). The question – now that there is a bit of clarity regarding Big East membership – is if the league is better off with this current expansion.

Short answer: No. Not even close. The schools that have left – West Virginia, Syracuse and Pittsburgh – have accounted for five BCS bowls in the 14-year history of the system. That’s more than twice as many as the new schools bring to the table, all of them by Boise State (two).

But what choice did the Big East have? After the latest ACC raid, it just needed a heartbeat.

Here is  breakdown between the old and new. Decide for yourself if the Big East is worthy of a BCS bid.

(Note: We are considering the “highest level of football” since 1973 when Division I was established by the NCAA. Boise State moved up to Division I-A in 1996. All ranking references are to the Associated Press and BCS.)

 

Boise State

Conference: Mountain West, first year

Age of program at highest level of college football: 16th year in Division I-A/FBS

Years in the BCS era that the Broncos ended the season ranked (1998-present): Seven

The last year the Broncos ended the season ranked: 2011

BCS bowls: two (2007 Fiesta, 2010 Fiesta)

 

San Diego State

Conference: Mountain West, 13th year

Age of program at highest level: 39th year in Division I/Division I-A/FBS

Years in the BCS era that the Aztecs ended the season ranked: None.

The last year the Aztecs ended the season ranked: 1977

BCS bowls: None.

 

Houston

Conference: Conference USA, 16th year

Age of program at highest level: 39th year in Division I/Division I-A/FBS

Years in the BCS era that the Cougars ended the season ranked: One (2011)

The last year the Cougars ended the season ranked: 1990

BCS bowls: None



SMU

Conference: Conference USA, sixth year
 
Age of program at highest level: 39th year in Division I/Division I-A/FBS

Years in the BCS era that the Mustangs ended the season ranked: None.

The last year the Mustangs ended ranked: 1984

BCS bowls: None.

  

Central Florida

Conference: Conference USA, sixth year  

Age of program at highest level: 16th year in Division I-A/FBS

Years in the BCS era the Knights ended the season ranked: One (2010)

The last year the Knights ended ranked: 2010.

BCS bowls: None.

 

The skinny on new teams

Average stay in current conference: 8.4 years

Average age of new programs at highest level of football: 29.8 years

Total seasons in the BCS era that ended with a ranking: Nine (average of 1.8 times per school)

Average length of time, in years, since last end-of-season ranking: 16.4 years

Last season ranked at the end of the season: Boise, 2011

Total BCS bowls: Two.

 

The skinny on departing teams (West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Syracuse)

Average stay in current conference: 20 years (Each year was a charter member in football.)

Average age of programs playing at the highest level of football: 39

Total seasons in the BCS era that ended with a ranking: 12 (average of four times per school)

Average length of time, in years, since last end-of-season ranking: four

Last season ranked at end of the season: 2011 (West Virginia)

Total BCS bowls: 5


Posted on: December 5, 2011 7:17 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2011 7:41 pm
 

Sugar-Fiesta were talking OU-OSU trade

The Sugar Bowl was actively seeking a trade of BCS teams with the Fiesta Bowl had Oklahoma beaten Oklahoma State, Sugar CEO Paul Hoolahan told CBSSports.com on Monday.

Hoolahan said he was in contact with Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas about working the deal that would have brought Oklahoma to New Orleans in exchange for Oklahoma State. That would have relieved Oklahoma from so-called “Fiesta Fatigue” by taking the Sooners had they lost Saturday to Oklahoma State. Per BCS procedure, the Sugar would actually had to take Oklahoma State with the first overall pick then wait until the selection procedure was over before working the trade for the Sooners.

Oklahoma has been in the Fiesta Bowl three of the last five years. The Sooners have played in New Orleans once since 1972. That was the 2003 BCS title game against LSU. The trade, of course, was predicated on LSU and Alabama remaining 1-2 in the BCS. It is allowable per the BCS contract. 

The Sugar ended up with Michigan and Virginia Tech.

“I was working with Neinas throughout the week prior to selections on a possible Oklahoma trade …” Hoolahan said. “We had that greased and ready to go.”

“A lot of time was spent looking at that,” he added. “A lot of time was spent looking at similar situations regarding Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech’s name didn’t come in out of the blue.”

A second source from the Fiesta Bowl confirmed the trade talks. Neinas did not immediately return a call for comment. Because it lost both LSU and Alabama as SEC anchors, the Sugar had the first and third picks in the BCS process. Michigan was the first pick.

While the trade talk doesn’t directly address the reason why Kansas State was left out of the Sugar Bowl, it does begin to explain the Sugar Bowl’s thinking. It needed a so-called “anchor” team to pair with a second participant. Michigan became a worthy choice and the potential trade was off when Oklahoma State beat the Sooners.

The Wolverines return to New Orleans for the first time since 1984. If there are less than 10 automatic BCS qualifiers, teams ranked in the top 14 of the final BCS standings that have won at least nine games are eligible for at-large selection. That explains the leeway BCS bowls have in creating their best matchup. 

An Oklahoma win in Bedlam likely would have put a second Big 12 team (Oklahoma State) in the BCS.  

While ticket sales didn’t figure to be issue in either of the possible games involving Michigan -- Michigan-Virginia Tech or Michigan-Kansas State – there are always television considerations. It could have been that Virginia Tech was a slightly better TV draw.

Virginia Tech itself is suffering from its own “Orange Bowl Fatigue” having been to South Florida as the ACC champion three out of the last four years. Still, the college football world wanted to know Monday why Virginia Tech made it over the more accomplished and higher-ranked Wildcats.

The two-loss Hokies come to New Orleans fresh off a four-touchdown beatdown from Clemson in the ACC title game. Virginia Tech beat one team (Georgia Tech) ranked at the time in the top 20. Its own coach, Frank Beamer, barely voted the Hokies within BCS at-large eligibility on his coaches’ poll ballot at No. 13. At-large teams in the top 14 are considered.

Meanwhile, Kansas State is ranked higher (No. 8, BCS) guided by a national coach of the year candidate in Bill Snyder.

Without getting into specifics, Hoolahan said it was  a matter of familiarity with Tech. “A fond relationship,” he called it. The Sugar contributed $250,000 to the school after the tragic shootings in 2007. This is the third time since 2000 and fourth time since 1995 the Hokies have been to New Orleans.

The Sugar Bowl doesn’t have a large volunteer base (125) which could also play into the decision. Compare that to the Fiesta Bowl which claims a volunteer base of close to 3,000. The Sugar is double-hosting in this BCS rotation, responsible for two BCS games within seven days.

With SEC powerhouses LSU and Alabama in the championship game, it could be one of the biggest and busiest weeks ever for the Sugar Bowl infrastructure. Anything to make the job easier – i.e. selecting a known commodity in Virginia Tech – could help.

Hoolahan called it inviting a “long-time friend and partner.”

The Sugar could also feel it is owed the freedom to make such a pick. Since 2008, it has hosted non-BCS schools Hawaii and Utah as well as the Big East’s Cincinnati. Essentially, the Sugar Bowl may feel it shouldn’t be criticized when it has taken teams with ticket and TV draw issues in recent years.

Those are lingering consequences of the BCS that will start to be dealt with when the commissioners meet next Jan. 10 in New Orleans.

Posted on: December 5, 2011 12:48 pm
 

My 2011 Heisman ballot

In the interest of fair play and ethics, I did actually wait until all the games were played to file my ballot on Sunday. Here, in my opinion, are the three most outstanding players of 2011 ...


1. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor: The Stiff Arm needs some polishing. RGIII has the shammy.

In the last year, Reggie Bush has had to return the award. There was all the controversy swirling around Cam Newton. I’ll never get out of my head, the image of Newton being escorted by eight – 8! – security guards to his Heisman press conference.

Don’t think Griffin will need that. He is smart, charismatic and absolutely the best player in America. A one-man team? Pretty darn close. Baylor isn’t 9-3 without him.

His Heisman moment came on Nov. 19 with that last-second pass against Oklahoma. His final statement was unforgettable, four total touchdowns Saturday against Texas. He is assured of going down in history regardless. Griffin leads the country in pass efficiency and if his current numbers hold up, he would set an NCAA single-season record.

 
2. Montee Ball, TB, Wisconsin: Wisconsin pumps out 1,000-yard rushers like Milwaukee pumps out beer. This one is special.

At the beginning of the season, there was more buzz about 2010 consensus Big Ten freshman of the year, James White. At the end of it, Ball become Big Ten offensive player of the year. There’s never anything wrong with Big Ten’s leading rusher playing for the Big Ten champions becoming a Heisman finalist.

In a program that specializes in sharing the ball, Ball currently leads the country in rushing yards (1,759) and total touchdowns (38). On that subject: Ball needs two more touchdowns to break Barry Sanders’ 23-year-old record for most tds in a season. They would come in the Rose Bowl against Oregon. The junior is taking nothing for granted.

“It could be the last team I play, it could be the last camera I talk to,” Ball said. “You’ve just got to embrace it.”

 

3. Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU: What’s a little synthetic chronic between friends? OK, that’s not fair. Honey Badger was technically suspended for the Auburn game for a violation of team rules.

After watching this kid all year, frankly, I don’t care. Bush once won a Heisman. I’ll take my chances with Mathieu and his blonde Fauxhawk. Besides, the Honey Badger takes what he wants

Mathieu combines the daring of Deion with multi-purpose ability of Charles Woodson, all in a 5-foot-9, 180-pound package. He has created the “Badger play”. In 25 career games, he has averaged at least one of these per game: interception, punt return for touchdown, fumble recovery, forced fumble.

How ridiculous is LSU’s defense? Fellow cornerback Morris Claiborne is an All-American. Mathieu is a Heisman candidate. 

Posted on: December 4, 2011 8:39 pm
Edited on: December 4, 2011 8:40 pm
 

Curtis Johnson to Tulane

New Orleans Saints assistant Curtis Johnson will be named the new coach at Tulane, CBSSports.com has learned.

The school would confirm or deny but has announced a Monday press conference to announce its new coach. Johnson will be replacing Bob Toledo.
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: December 4, 2011 4:14 pm
Edited on: December 4, 2011 4:18 pm
 

Coaching carousel: Sumlin, Clemson, Colorado St

Coaching realignment and the dangers of social media …

--A lot of us will never get part of our Sunday afternoon back after chasing a bogus rumor that Mack Brown was being “forced out” at Texas. Not true. In fact, I’m told Brown has reached out to recruits to reiterate his commitment.

--I’m also told the coaching situation at Texas A&M won’t be resolved for a matter of days. As reported elsewhere, an A&M regent is close to Houston coach Kevin Sumlin. However, there is a list being considered. It’s clear from reports and the fact that Mike Sherman was fired that AD Bill Byrne is being marginalized in the decision. President R. Bow(tie)en Loftin continues to stick his nose in where it doesn’t belong.

A TAMU spokesman tweeted Sunday afternoon that there is no timeline for the search. 

--Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris has told  former CBSSports.com staffer Bart Wright of the Greenville (S.C.) News that he would be interested in the Houston opening if Sumlin leaves. Morris has extensive connections back in Texas where he coached in high school.  

There also appears to be some interest from Ohio State in Morris as Urban Meyer’s new OC. Bruce Feldman reported a “potential bidding war” may be developing between Clemson and the Buckeyes. Both Morris and Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele are expected to receive raises after the ACC championship.

--Meanwhile, former Colorado coach Gary Barnett has a key endorsement for the Colorado State job. Steve Fairchild was fired Sunday afternoon.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: December 4, 2011 8:48 am
 

Week 14 Power Poll: Oklahoma State over Bama

There’s just something wrong about a team that didn’t win its division getting a national championship berth while sitting on the couch.

Such was Alabama’s fate on Saturday. The Tide seemingly got to New Orleans without lifting a weight, running a lap or repping a play on the last day of the season. Look, I don’t have a Dawg in the hunt – neither does Georgia – but there is something weird about that.

All props to the Tide to getting to their second national championship game in three years. Alabama perhaps had the “best” loss of any team behind LSU. But the best thing Bama had going for it on Saturday was Nick Saban. There are worst spokesman to have.

As the regular season closes, the Power Poll is going with Oklahoma State at No. 2 and Bama at No. 3. We’ve got a month to debate. Fire away.



1. LSU – Closed out with combined 83-3 rallies against Arkansas and Georgia.
2. Oklahoma State – Won conference. Handed Bob Stoops his second-worst loss. Beat five ranked teams.
3. Alabama – Didn’t win division. Lost at home to LSU while missing four field goals and throwing two interceptions.
4. Stanford – Best era in Cardinal history? 23-2 last two seasons under two coaches. More than just Andrew Luck.
5. Arkansas – Please, Garrick McGee, you can do better than UAB.
6. Boise State – Kellen Moore lost three games in his career by a total of five points.
7. USC – Lane Kiffin, Pac-12 coach of the year.
8. Oregon – Time for Ducks to step up in third consecutive BCS bowl.
9. Wisconsin – Montee Ball’s 38 total touchdowns more than 52 teams.
10. Michigan – First Sugar Bowl since 1984?
11. South Carolina – Spurrier best coaching job of his career?
12. Kansas State – Look who finished second in the Big 12.
13. Virginia Tech – It’s called the ACC title game. Your supposed to show up for it.
14. Baylor – “I could be wrong but I think Baylor won its first Heisman tonight,” RGIII.
15. TCU – So Gary Patterson's defense didn’t finish No. 1. So what? Frogs rebound to win 10 in “off” year.
16. Southern Miss – Furious Bradley scoop and scored for Southern Miss. That should have been the first sign that Houston was in for an upset.
17. Houston – Looked distracted by coach’s job rumors. Looked entitled playing for CUSA at home.
18. Georgia – Should have stopped and taken team picture with “10-0” on the scoreboard in the background vs. LSU.
19. Clemson – Those are the Tigers we knew before November.
20. Oklahoma – Landry Jones slumped badly this season.
21. Michigan State – The wait for the Rose Bowl enters its 24<sup>th</sup> year.
22. Nebraska – DC Carl Pelini reportedly leaving for Florida Atlantic.
23. West Virginia – Yes, this is the Big East and, yes, this particular tri-champion is ranked.
24. Florida State – Looking back, Atlantic Division was decided on Sept. 24 in five-point loss at Clemson.
25. Cincinnati  -- There’s a reason Butch Jones is getting all these job mentions.  

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: December 3, 2011 11:51 pm
Edited on: December 4, 2011 1:05 am
 

Uncertainty awaits 'Bama, OK State in BCS

If it all goes away for Alabama, Nick Saban will have taken his last shot on GameDay.

Complimenting LSU.

Smooth move or last gasp? 

That's the lasting image of Alabama's push for a national championship berth that could be slipping away overnight in the BCS. Jerry Palm says, for now, 'Bama looks solid at No. 2.

But let's review: The savvy Saban did his savvy best to be savvy Saturday morning, giving LSU its proper props. Even the mother of all TV hypefests may not help 'Bama as it sat on the sideline on the last day of the regular season. The intent, of course, was to expose Alabama as much as possible for two hours on national television.

What Saban failed to mention, or perhaps comprehend, was that Oklahoma State would be responsible for Bob Stoops's second-worst career loss. The Cowboys' 34-point over margin over Oklahoma on Saturday night was second only to OU’s 2005 BCS title game loss in the Orange Bowl. That 55-19 trounching at the hands of USC team that had to vacate its season because Reggie Bush was competing while ineligible.

Just to put a nice, neat bow on this season. Yeah, right. There is nothing but uncertainty as we wait for the final BCS standings Sunday night. Palm says Oklahoma State will have to make a significant leap in the human polls to pass Alabama. Consider the computers a wash. Alabama came into the day leading the Cowboys in that category, .9500-.9300.

Oklahoma State began the day fifth in both the Harris and coaches’ polls. Virginia Tech's loss to Clemson in the ACC title game helped but perhaps not enough. If the computers stay basically the same, Palm says Okie State has to finish at least 19 points ahead of Alabama in each of the human polls to have a chance. Oklahoma State currently trails Alabama by 342 points in the Harris poll and 166 points in the coaches' poll. That essentially means the Cowboys are going to have to pass Stanford, which didn’t play, and Virginia Tech in the human polls.

"I'm not sure one team ahead of [Oklahoma State] losing and one team putting up a big number [Clemson] is going to change the fact that everyone thought all along that LSU and Alabama were the two best teams," Palm said. "The voters would have to have an epiphany. That's basically what we're talking about."

That’s not to say the voters won’t change their minds. After watching one conference win five titles in a row, there could be such a thing as SEC Voter Fatigue.

The computers don’t know this was Stoops' second-worst loss. They don't know that Saban subtly was hyping his team on ESPN. A lot of the voters won’t either. Should it matter? Victory margin is largely factored out of the machines anyway. The circle argument will continue overnight until the final standings are released.

Computers don't know that Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy endorsed Alabama at No. 2 last week, then went on the stump for his team immediately after the OU game.

Computers don't know the minds of the Cowboys on the night of Nov. 18. That was less than a day two Cowboys women's basketball coaches lost their lives in a plane crash. The next night the Cowboys lost their only game to Iowa State. Should that matter?

Computers don't care a hoot about an LSU-Alabama rematch which would be the first of its kind in BCS history.

So what we're left with are these base arguments:
  • Oklahoma State’s only loss in an 11-1 season came to unranked Iowa State on the road in overtime two weeks ago.
  • Alabama’s only loss came to No. 1 LSU at home in overtime a month ago.
  • Oklahoma State has an elite offense.
  • Alabama has an elite defense.
  • Oklahoma State won its conference.
  • Alabama didn't win its division.
Which team would you pick to play LSU in the national championship game? The answer isn't obvious. Immediately after the game Stoops said he would vote LSU-Oklahoma State 1-2.

That's one man. So is CBSSports.com blogger Tom Fornelli, who may have provided the most compelling evidence this week. Fornelli posted blind resumes of all the contenders for No. 2. Oklahoma State got 80 percent of the vote.

But the computers don't care about that either.


Category: NCAAF
Posted on: December 3, 2011 7:36 pm
Edited on: December 3, 2011 7:38 pm
 

Heisman Badger whips Dawgs

ATLANTA -- It was bordering on the ridiculous.

For two months since that slop of Game of the Century we’ve had to listen to SEC loyalists argue about the defensive aesthetic value of its top teams. For the first half of the SEC championship game the Strength Everywhere Conference had lost the benefit of the doubt. It shamed itself. It shamed football. It shamed the No. 1 ranking.

At least the top two BCS remain intact. Or so it seems after No. 1 LSU did enough in the second half Saturday to beat Georgia in the SEC title game thanks to a kid renamed Heisman Badger.

His real name, LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, not only saved the game for the Tigers, in one stunning afternoon-turned-night that turned Georgia into goo. At the same time he saved the SEC’s rep and legitimized, somewhat, the BCS national championship game.

Mathieu returned one punt 62 yards and set up another score with a 47-yard in the third quarter. Somewhere, Johnny Rodgers was giving props. Everywhere crotchety gray-haired Heisman voters conditioned to write “Andrew Luck” on the top line over the top few weeks had to scramble.

Spelling lessons – no, it’s not Tyrone Matthew – and a highlight package were in order for the uninitiated. A cornerback for Heisman is an acquired taste. Ask Charles Woodson. Can Mathieu get to New York? Debatable. Should he win the Heisman? No question.

With apologies to Robert Griffin III, this might have been as big a Heisman Moment as there has been on the last Saturday in recent years.  

That was all a mostly punchless LSU offense needed. It had tortured its coach and LSU fans for most of the game, but particularly in the first half. The Tigers had 12 yards and no first downs at halftime. The only reason they any points was Mathieu’s punt return.

The defense took over in the third quarter, giving LSU field position that led to 21 points. That’s all the Tigers needed to (we think) secure a spot in the BCS title game for the third time in eight years. Believed to be accompanying LSU is Alabama which waited on the sidelines Saturday for the Tigers to rubber-stamp things.  

That would be a matchup of the No. 31 (Alabama) and No. 62 (LSU) offenses. But on defense those teams are 1-2 in total defense. But there is only one Honey Badger which was the only original nickname stuck on the sophomore from New Orleans when he began making play after play.

For those of you not caught up on the Honey Badger saga, watch this. You too will see why the Honey Badger takes what he wants.

In the season opener against Oregon, Mathieu led all LSU tacklers with 10 accenting that with a strip and score of Duck Kenyon Barner. At the end of the season, in his 25<sup>th</sup> career game, Mathieu has averaged one big “Badger play” per game. That would be four career interceptions, 11 forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries and two punt returns for touchdowns. Total: 25.

The SEC as a whole really couldn’t lose Saturday. LSU could have lost and possibly opened the door for the best postseason day in SEC history. Three teams – LSU, Alabama and Georgia – would have stood a chance of getting an unprecedented three BCS bids.

Turns out it doesn’t matter who lost that Nov. 5 Game of the Century. If it was LSU, Alabama would have been here causing Georgia to tap out. One was going to be No. 1 and the other was going to be No. 2. That is all but assured now. Right?

 

  

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Alabama, BCS, Georgia, LSU, SEC
 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com