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Tag:Florida
Posted on: February 17, 2012 3:52 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 5:34 pm
 

Conference champs only in the postseason

Former SEC commissioner Roy Kramer advocated taking only conference champions for any kind of postseason structure starting in 2014.

Just for giggles I went back and used only conference champions (or BCS automatic qualifier in the case of ties) in figuring both the current 1 vs. 2 game and a Plus One. Three times in 14 years, the 1 vs. 2 BCS title game would have been different. In 10 of 14 years, at least one team in the top four would have had to be replaced. In 2011, there would have been two – Alabama and Stanford.

Here’s how BCS title games and a Plus One would have looked if only conference champions were allowed, 1998-2011:

 

1998 championship: No. 1 Tennessee vs. No. 2 Florida State (same)

1998 Plus One: No. 1 Tennessee vs. No. 5 UCLA; No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 4 Ohio State

Not included: No. 3 Kansas State.

 

1999 championship: No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 2 Virginia Tech (same)

1999 Plus One: No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 4 Alabama; No. 2 Virginia Tech vs. No. 3 Nebraska

 

2000 championship: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 2 Florida State (same)

2000 Plus One: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. Washington; No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 3 Miami

 

2001 championship:  No. 1 Miami vs. No. 3 Colorado

2001 Plus One: No. 1 Miami vs. No. 8 Illinois; No. 3 Colorado vs. No. 4 Oregon

Not included: No. 2 Nebraska, No. 5 Florida, No. 6 Tennessee, No. 7 Texas

 

2002 championship: No. 1 Miami vs. No. 2 Ohio State (same)

2002 Plus One: No. 1 Miami vs. No. 6 Washington State;  No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Georgia

Not included: No. 4 USC, No. 5 Iowa

 

2003 championship: No. 2 LSU vs. No. 3 USC

2003 Plus One: No. 2 LSU vs. No. 7 Florida State; No. 3 USC vs. No. 4 Michigan

Not included: No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 5 Ohio State, No. 6 Texas

 

2004 championship: No. 1 USC vs. No. 2 Oklahoma (same)

2004 Plus One: No. 1 USC vs. No. 6 Utah;  No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Auburn

Not included:  No. 4 Texas, No. 5 California

 

2005 championship:  No. 1 USC vs. No. 2 Texas (same)

2005 Plus One: No. 1 USC vs. No. 7 Georgia; No. 2 Texas vs. No. 3 Penn State

Not included: No. 4 Ohio State, No. 5 Oregon, No. 6 Notre Dame

 

2006 championship: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Florida (same)

2006 Plus One:  No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 6 Louisville; No. 2 Florida vs. No. 5 USC

Not included: No 3. Michigan, No. 4 LSU

 

2007 championship: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 2 LSU (same)

2007 Plus One: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Oklahoma; No. 2 LSU vs. No. 3 Virginia Tech

 

2008 championship: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 2 Florida (same)

2008 Plus One: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 6 Utah; No. 2 Florida vs. No. 5 USC

Not included: No. 3 Texas, No. 4 Alabama

 

2009 championship:  No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 2 Texas (same)

2009 Plus One: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 TCU; No. 2 Texas vs. No. 3 Cincinnati

 

2010 championship: No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 2 Oregon (same)

2010 Plus One: No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 5 Wisconsin; No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 TCU

Not included: No. 4 Stanford

 

 

2011 championship: No. 1 LSU vs. No. 3 Oklahoma State

2011 Plus One: No. 1 LSU vs. No. 10 Wisconsin; No. 3 Oklahoma State vs. No. 5 Oregon

Not included: No. 2 Alabama, No. 4 Stanford,  No. 6 Arkansas, No. 7 Boise State, N. 8 Kansas State, No. 9 South Carolina

 

Posted on: February 6, 2012 5:58 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2012 6:05 pm
 

Big 10 "kicking around" idea of Plus One

Maybe it’s the declining interest in college football for the first time in years.

Although a BCS official said it wasn’t.

Maybe it’s the unrest regarding the BCS system.

Although the system has been defended vigorously – by the BCS.

Or maybe it’s just time.

The Big Ten – the Leaders and Legends themselves – have taken a significant step in adjusting the sport’s postseason beginning in 2014. The Chicago Tribune reported Monday that the Big Ten is “kicking around” the idea of a four-team playoff with the semifinals played on campus sites. 

While the idea of a Plus One is nothing new – it has been mentioned prominently as a replacement for the BCS – the Big Ten’s apparent increased interest is intriguing.

The Tribune quoted Northwestern AD Jim Phillips as saying, “The Big Ten is open and curious.”

Since spring 2008, various administrators from four of the six BCS leagues (SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12) have supported a Plus One. Most recently, ADs from the Big Ten and Pac-12 supported a Plus One in a straw poll in August.

The BCS pays out $180 million to participants per year. One powerful BCS AD indicated that a Plus One would be worth significantly more than double that amount. The 11 FBS commissioners next meet to discuss the issue later this month in Dallas. No final decision is expected. Significant progress is expected to be made in late April during the annual BCS meeting, this year in South Florida.

“I think sports fans are conditioned to playoffs,” Delany told the Tribune. “I don’t begrudge them that. They’re looking for more games, but we’re trying to do the right thing.”

The Big Ten Plan – what else you going to call it? – involves having the semis played on the campus of the higher-seeded team. This past season that would have meant Stanford playing at LSU and Oklahoma State playing at Alabama. The problem, as you may have noticed, is that in 2011 a Plus One would have included Stanford from the Pac-12 but not the Pac-12 champion, Oregon.

Right now, that may be a mere detail. The Big Ten is seemingly onboard in light of recent lower attendance numbers and TV ratings.  Regular-season attendance declined, if only slightly, for the second time in three years. Average bowl attendance hit a 33-year low this season. Overall BCS bowl ratings were down 10 percent from the 2011 bowls and  down 21 percent from when Fox last had the contract in 2009.

The 13.8 rating from the LSU-Alabama game was down 14 percent from last year's Auburn-Oregon game and down 24 percent from the Alabama-Texas game two years ago. BCS executive director Bill Hancock cautioned last month to reacting too early to attendance and TV ratings.

But perhaps a convergence of all those factors is now forcing change. If a Plus One is adopted expect more games grouped around the traditional Jan. 1 date. ADs and presidents are not only concerned about ratings and attendance but about second-semester football. The BCS Presidential Oversight Committee is particularly concerned about the BCS bowls being played further and further away from Jan. 1. There have been several times when teams had to get back from those games just in time for the second semester or the second semester had already begun after a BCS bowl.

“We had two experiences where we had to fly back the night of the game,” Ohio State AD Gene Smith said of two recent national championship games. “We played Florida [2007 in Glendale, Ariz.] and flew back right after the game. I remember stopping at the In-N-Out Burger. Our kids had to go to school the next day.

“We can’t do that, we can’t.”

The chairman of that BCS oversight group, Tulane president Scott Cowen, said the sport must proceed carefully.

“Two-thousand eleven was not a great year for intercollegiate athletics in America,” Cowen told CBSSports.com “I think all university presidents want to find more ways that we can cooperate and repair intercollegiate athletics.”

At least 50 different postseason plans were exchanged among the FBS commissioners Jan. 10 in New Orleans. There was no consensus but it is clear powerful people are getting used to the idea of a four-team playoff. NCAA president Mark Emmert has said on multiple occasions that there would be some interest in what he termed a football “Final Four”. SEC commissioner Mike Slive as well as Delany have been quoted as warming up to the idea.

If semis are played on campus sites then that could mean the championship game could be bid on. With the Cotton Bowl played in Cowboys Stadium, waiting on the doorstep to join the BCS that could be a huge step. One touchy issue for current BCS bowls is the preference to stay in the current four-year rotation for the championship game because of concerns about retaining sponsorships.

The Big Ten would have to consider the impact on the Rose Bowl. If one or more of the bowl's partners – Big Ten and Pac-12 – were in the playoff, how would that affect the Rose? The conferences and Rose Bowl are already uncomfortable with losing teams to the BCS championship game.  

The current deal with ESPN expires after the 2013 regular season/2014 BCS bowls. BCS commissioners are expected to have a new model for consideration by presidents by summer. 

Posted on: February 3, 2012 2:27 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2012 9:20 pm
 

It's Urban's world, Big Ten -- deal with it

The irony is that Urban Meyer and Lane Kiffin have almost become buds.

“As bizarre as this is because our relationship has been so public, I actually get along with him, probably, now,” Meyer told me this week. “We actually have conversations now. He’s fine. We’re fine. He apologized. I said, ‘I acted like a child too.’ ”

It was three years ago, that Kiffin started a year-long tweaking of the SEC establishment by accusing Meyer, then at Florida, of breaking NCAA rules.

“I love the fact that Urban had to cheat and still didn’t get him,” Kiffin said of the now infamous and inaccurate accusation regarding receiver Nu’Keese Richardson.

Left in Kiffin’s wake were a half-dozen secondary violations remaining from his zeal to remake the Vols. As we know, his one-act play at Tennessee is long over. Kiffin has rehabbed both USC and his image the last two seasons.

“He reached out,” Ohio State's new coach said of Kiffin. “I reached back. Me and his dad [Monte] have been friends for a long time. I was as [much to blame] as anybody. I was very childish and egotistical. Then he reached out and said, ‘You know what? We didn’t start out on the right foot.’ “

This all comes in the context of a lot of childishness, Big Ten style. In the past 48 hours, Meyer has morphed from rock star free-agent savior come down from the heavens to rescue Ohio State football, to a recruiting bottom feeder. In the unholy marriage of Twitter, internet and incessant electronic talkfests, there were strong words thrown around to describe Meyer’s recruiting methods.

“Illegal,” said Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema.

“Unethical,” said Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio.

Really quickly, Meyer has become the Lane Kiffin of the Big Ten. Meyer’s boss, Gene Smith, felt compelled to issue a statement Friday. Without actually saying it, the coaches seemed to intimate that Meyer was “flipping” recruits, getting them to come to Ohio State after they’d committed to other schools. The description used Wednesday on National Signing Day was that Meyer had signed eight players who had previously committed to other schools.

So what? Flipped, turned. Whatever. The man had a few short days to fix Ohio State in recruiting, with a bowl ban thrown in to work around. The problem is as the story develops, it lacks nuance, subtly and context. You have to read the full quotes from Bielema and Dantonio (below).

I was in Meyer’s office Thursday and told him about Bielema’s Wednesday statements.

“He [Bielema] called and said that [pausing] It really wasn’t our staff, it was the previous [staff],” Meyer said, “something about where a pro player called a kid or something like that. A former Buckeye called a kid. That’s all I remember. I checked into it, there’s no truth to anything.”

Unethical? Name me a coach who hasn’t signed a recruit who had been favoring another school. It’s how the industry works. It’s cutthroat. It’s brutal.

“I tell our guys,” Meyer said, “you really have no value to a program if you can’t recruit.”

All this reminds me of the great Ricky Bobby who once said, “If you’re not first, you’re last.”

Good call. There are no second places in a recruiting. You either get the guy or you don’t. As long as no NCAA or civil laws are broken, it’s every recruiter for himself. By some estimates, Meyer landed four kids who had committed to Penn State. It would have been a recruiting sin, if he didn’t pick over the remains of Penn State football. In fact, who didn't go after Penn State recruits? Maybe the best question for Meyer is, “Four? Why didn’t you get six?”

Speaking at high school coaches’ clinic Friday morning, Meyer had enough. He was quoted as saying (rhetorically): “You’re pissed because we went after a committed guy? Guess what, we got nine guys [recruiters] who better go do it again. Do it a little harder next time.”

How does that taste, Big Ten? Bielema told the Sporting News that Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez would speak to Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany Friday about Meyer’s recruiting methods. There’s one problem with that. Let’s say that Meyer pissed off a bunch of Big Ten coaches by taking their commits. Again, so what? “Commit” should be stricken from recruiting glossary along with “slight lean” and “strong verbal.” They are contrived terms meant to shame a player into what has become some sort of promise/marriage/sacred bond.

But let’s say that somehow Delany pushes through an official Big Ten stance that no coach can intrude on a “committed” recruit. The one big problem: Even if all 12 Big Ten schools agree, there are 108 other FBS programs who won’t.

In fact, recruiters will be laughing all the way to their private planes during recruiting season. How do you think SEC coaches are going to react if the Big Ten coaches all agree to this little “gentlemen’s agreement?”

Probably by winning a seven consecutive national championship, for starters.  

“Gentlemen’s agreement?,” one incredulous former major-college assistant told me Friday. “[Recruiting] is a Clint Eastwood movie. ‘Hang ‘Em High, ‘The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.’ Are you kidding me? Gentleman’s agreement?”

Context was an issue here. I had a Michigan State official call me to explain Dantonio’s quotes. Read the entire Bielema statement from signing day. Kind of takes some of the starch out of a flaming controversy that continues to have kindling thrown on it. Michigan State defensive coordinator "starts a recruiting rivalry."

You would hope. In fact, there should be a recruiting rivalry should exist with every Big Ten team. The Spartans haven't been to a Rose Bowl in almost 25 years.

Anyway, here's the full quotes ... 


Mark Dantonio
speaking in general on Wednesday:

"I would say it's pretty unethical. You ask people for a commitment, you ask for people's trust, ask for people to make a commitment to you, but then you turn around and say it's OK to go back after somebody else's commitment. That's a double standard.

"Everybody's got a job to do, there's a lot of pressure, but we're all grown men and we're trying to do a job, just like society today in every respect, whether it's a reporter or doctor or lawyer or somebody else. People are gonna try and do their job, they're gonna do what they have to do to get it done sometimes."

Specifically on Urban Meyer:

“They've got a new coach, there's differences when a new coach comes in. It's a new testing of the waters, but it's a two-way street, it's always a two-way street. There's always gotta be the other person listening, too. I think when it becomes a matter of twisting somebody, when you're a 50-year-old man or 40-year-old man twisting a 17-year-old, that's when it's wrong.

"I'm not saying that's happening in the Big Ten Conference, but I see that happening around the country. That happens when somebody decommits on the day of signing day and you've got to wonder about that."
 
Dantonio then released this statement on Friday: "Let me be clear: Some general recruiting statements I made were completely taken out of context when combined together by a reporter not in attendance. The timing of my comments was a reflection of an occurring matter on Signing Day and nothing to do with Urban Meyer at Ohio State. My comments regarding 'unethical' behavior were general in nature, according to my current coaching philosophy, and not directed toward any particular institution." 

Question to Bret Bielema on Wednesday: Is Urban Meyer’s hiring changed recruiting in the Upper Midwest and in the Big Ten?

Bielema:  "Well, I don’t think it, I hope it doesn’t change. I think the potential to change has been there. And, there’s a few things that happened early on that I made people be aware of that I didn’t want to see in this league that I had seen take place at other leagues, other recruiting tactics, other recruiting practices that are illegal. And I was very up front and was very pointed to the fact. I actually reached out to Coach Meyer and shared my thoughts and concerns with him, and the situation got rectified.

“But the one thing I love about this league, it was kind of funny, when I was a younger coach, I was offered a job in another league, right? And this coach, I was working for $175,000 for Coach Alvarez, and he asked me what I was making, and I said I was making $175,000. He goes, ‘how many year contract?’ I said, ‘zero, just a one-year contract.’ He goes, ‘I’ll offer you $350,000 in a four-year contract.’ And I’m like, ‘ah, I don’t think so. You know, it’s not, money is not important to me at this point. I kind of want to stay where I’m at in the Big Ten. It’s got great values. I’m at a great place, a great institution.’

He goes, ‘okay, I’ll make it $450,000, and I’ll give you a five-year guarantee.’ I said, ‘okay, now I’ve got to talk to you.’ But it did make a point of interest to me. I didn’t tell you that I was just joking. But it was a real offer that was out there. And he said to me, ‘you know what the difference between the Big Ten and this conference is?’

And I said, ‘no.’ He said, ‘in the Big Ten, everybody tells on everybody. In our conference, nobody tells on anybody.’ And that made a huge comment to me. And I’ve been very cognizant of that, encourage our coaches to play by the books, to do things in a certain way. If you have to lie, cheat, or steal to get someone here, it doesn’t make a great point once you get them here about how you’ve got to handle them.

“So I think that’s the point that I’ll take moving forward. Our league is based on certain values that we’re going to hold to be true. And, you know, if you don’t hold to those things to be true in our conference, well, you’ll be held accountable.”

There’s a couple of ways of fixing this “situation.” It sounds like Delany is going to have to have a come-to-Jesus meeting with his coaches to stop the backbiting. It happened with the SEC’s Mike Slive a couple of years ago when Kiffin was in full throat.

The other is to establish an early signing day, say the first week of December. High school players can be left alone to concentrate on state playoffs and their studies. Families don’t have to waste money on last-minute unofficial visits. Best of all, it relieves the pressure Signing Day, a date that has evolved into becoming an end to the process. 

It’s actually the beginning of a two-month signing period, but they don’t want you to know that. That’s an issue for another day. For now, it’s Urban’s world and the Big Ten is only living in it. 

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.   

Posted on: December 15, 2011 12:24 am
Edited on: December 15, 2011 10:41 am
 

Saban could lose second coach before title game

Nick Saban could lose two staff members before the BCS national title game.

Once again the name of 'Bama linebackers coach Sal Sunseri has emerged as a replacement at Pittsburgh. The abrupt departure of Todd Graham means the Pittsburgh administration will have to scramble. Sunseri, also Alabama’s associate head coach, interviewed with Pittsburgh last year. He is a former All-American linebacker with the Panthers.

Saban has already lost offensive coordinator Jim McElwain who is headed for Colorado State. McElwain will stay through the bowl game. He has been with Tide almost four years.

Meanwhile, five names have emerged at Pittsburgh as the school rushes to find a coach for the second straight December. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads a possible front-runner. Rhoads was defensive coordinator for the Panthers under Walt Harris and Dave Wannstedt.

Rutgers offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti could be a candidate at Pittsburgh along with Baltimore Ravens secondary coach Teryl Austin. Prior to Rutgers, Cignetti spent two seasons as Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator. Austin played at Pittsburgh and most recently spent a season as Florida’s defensive coordinator. Most of his career has been spent in the NFL.

Last year, Pittsburgh also showed interest in Florida International coach Mario Cristobal and Tom Bradley, now the Penn State interim coach.  

Also, look for Samford offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee to get serious consideration to join Gus Malzahn in the same position at Arkansas State. Lashlee formerly played quarterback for Malzahn in high school and was a grad assistant at both Arkansas and Auburn.  


Posted on: December 8, 2011 12:00 pm
 

Weis to Kansas? Can't see it

Charlie Weis’ name has been mentioned for the Kansas job, which is interesting.

The man is highly thought of in the area. He made Matt Cassel an All-Pro in his one year with the Kansas City Chiefs. Kansas City won the AFC West and led the NFL in rushing with Weis as offensive coordinator. Weis was also determined to leave the area after one season because he and his wife had enough because of disturbing incidents involving their daughter.

Weis made the move to Florida to be with his son Charlie Jr. and to provide a better setting for that special needs daughter, Hannah. I don’t think he comes back to Kansas to be a head coach. Kansas has less of an infrastructure than Notre Dame and Weis went to two BCS bowls with the Irish.

I might be totally wrong. Kansas may have spoken extensively with Weis. Maybe he wants to get back into college head coaching in the worst way. He would be that sexy hire and get KU football back on the map. It’s hard to remember but the Jayhawks were national championship contenders in 2007.

Florida took a downturn in 2011 with Weis as offensive coordinator but that’s all it was – a downturn. And don’t forget the growing possibility that Urban Meyer didn’t exactly leave the cupboard stocked.

As of now, Weis isn’t going anywhere because his focus remains where it should be – his family.

Meanwhile, as of now …

Arizona State: With June Jones apparently out of the picture, the Sun Devils are reportedly turning their attention to Tennessee defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, Oregon offensive coordinator Jim Helfrich and 49ers assistant Jim Leavitt. Still can’t understand why Sumlin was out of the mix early. Said it was his dream job.

UCLA: An LA Times report says the Bruins are centering on Jim Mora Jr. 

Illinois: The Chicago Tribune is reporting that the Illini like Toledo’s Tim Beckman.

Kansas: Completely silent. The Kansas City Star lists 11 candidates.

 

Posted on: November 3, 2011 10:44 pm
 

Son of Weekend Watch List

Son of WWL is the petulant offspring of Weekend Watch List. This week it weighs in on the LSU-Alabama rematch.

 


Before the teams even kick it off Saturday LSU-Alabama II has filled minds, cyberspace and column inches.

That’s the world we live in. If Tigers-Tide is good, a rematch in the BCS championship game could be better – depending. Depending on a very narrow set of circumstances.

First, ask yourself. Do you even want to see the Game of the (11-year-old) Century again, two months later? Is that even fair? Here’s my take on how it could happen:

--LSU has to lose Saturday’s game. Alabama is favored and playing at home. The pollsters probably wouldn’t give the benefit of the doubt to the Crimson Tide in this scenario if they lose. It doesn’t matter that LSU is No. 1. Alabama is No. 2 and perceived to be the better team playing at home before 101,821 fans and Bear Bryant growling in the background. Literally.

--LSU has to play well and lose a close game, preferably at the gun and preferably by a 55-yard field goal or something like that. That would resurrect the oldest line in show business: Always leave them wanting more.

--LSU has to win the rest of its games which at this point include Western Kentucky, a trip to Ole Miss and at home against Arkansas. It would help, a lot, if LSU blew out the Hogs. That would be the lasting impression the Tigers would leave in the minds of the voters who would still have to wade through two more Saturdays of football. (Arkansas-LSU is on Friday, Nov. 25).

It was a different set of circumstances but don’t forget LSU lost to Arkansas in 2007 and still went to the BCS title game with two losses. That’s one indication of how powerful an SEC team is in the BCS standings.

--Stanford and Oklahoma State have to lose. At least. The feeling is that LSU would at least have a chance to pass an undefeated Boise State in the BCS. While that’s no certainty, the SEC has gotten the benefit of the doubt before (see above).

“I’m a believer,” Steve Spurrier said, “that if a rematch does occur, the formula we have in place is to get the best two teams in the game.”

Spurrier should know a little bit about the subject. Florida beat Florida in the Sugar Bowl rematch to win the 1996 national championship.


Why it won’t happen

 

--The loser will have had its chance … No one wants to see the game again … Give someone else a chance.

All those are valid arguments and have already manifested themselves five years ago. Michigan lost the last regular-season 1-2 game at Ohio State 42-39 in 2006. On the last day of the season (two weeks later) the Wolverines – No. 3 in the BCS at the time -- were edged out by SEC champ Florida after No. 2 USC was upset by UCLA. Michigan actually gained in the polls and computers, but enough losing out to Florida by .0134 of a point.

--SEC voter fatigue. WWL has no evidence that this exists but after five consecutive national championships who is to say that – if it’s close – human nature won’t take over? In other words, why not give someone else a chance?

--The loser won’t play on the last day of the season (Dec. 3) when a lot of statements can be made. If Alabama wins big in the SEC title game, that will be another reason not to elevate LSU to No. 2. Boise State could complete an undefeated season with what figures to be a complete obliteration of New Mexico.

--The loser better not fall too far. In the 13-year history of the BCS no team that finished out of the top two in the final regular-season polls played for the national championship. Nebraska played for the title in was fourth in 2001 in the AP and coaches poll. Oregon finished but was relegated to the Fiesta Bowl.

 

 

Something to chew on, and spit out: What’s wrong with this world when Barry Switzer gets a statue at Oklahoma 22 years after leaving the school and Nick Saban got one at Alabama after his fourth? … Where have you gone Mike Leach? Last week against Iowa State, Texas Tech failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time in five years … Unbelievable: Iowa and UCLA still control their own fate in their conferences. Iowa, 5-3, can still win the Legends Division despite a horrific loss last week to Minnesota. The Bruins, 4-4, are in the thick of things in the Pac-12 South. They host division leader Arizona State this week … Penn State’s Silas Redd led the nation in rushing in October with 703 yards … Louisville travels to West Virginia looking for its first three-game Big East winning streak in five years … Unless a meteor hits, Boise’s Kellen Moore should set the record for career wins by a quarterback. Moore is 45-2 as a starter going into the UNLV game.

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