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Tag:LSU
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 13, 2012 1:21 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2012 1:25 pm
 

My preseason top 25 applied to postseason models

You've got to start somewhere in shaping a new postseason model. Using this humble correspondent's preseason top 25 posted Monday as a template, here are a few possibilties. All of them are among the 50 or so discussed last month in New Orleans.

A seeded Plus One on campus (The Delany Model. Top-four rated teams meet in national semifinals):

No. 4 Oregon at No. 1 LSU and No. 3 Oklahoma at No. 2 USC.

Winners meet this season in the Orange Bowl based on the BCS rotation.

A Plus One in the bowls Oregon vs. LSU in the Cotton Bowl. Oklahoma vs. USC in the Sugar Bowl. Winners meet in the Orange Bowl.

An unseeded Plus One (Playing a championship game after the bowls. In this model, all six BCS league champions guaranteed a berth. No. 7 Arkansas and No. 9 Georgia are left out. Unranked Rutgers is in as Big East champion. A human committee and/or rankings determine the top two teams after the bowls):

Rose Bowl: USC* vs. Wisconsin*

Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma* vs. Oregon

Sugar Bowl: LSU* vs. Clemson*

Orange Bowl:  Rutgers* vs. Alabama

*-conference champs

Two highest-ranked teams after the bowls meet for the national championship. Championship game location TBA.

No automatic qualifiers (No. 1 vs. No. 2 meet in the championship game. Four other major bowls are populated by the remaining teams in the top 10. Ohio State not eligible. In this scenario, five SEC teams are included. Big East and ACC not represented because no teams are ranked in top 10.)

BCS title game (Orange Bowl): LSU vs. USC

Rose: Oregon vs. Wisconsin

Sugar: Alabama vs. West Virginia

Fiesta: Oklahoma vs. South Carolina

Cotton: Georgia vs. Arkansas

Are there any other postseason models? Probably. For now, this is your lump of Play-Doh to shape.

 


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: January 9, 2012 2:31 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2012 2:43 pm
 

Don't expect Plus One anytime soon

NEW ORLEANS – Judging from early returns on the BCS reformation front, don’t get your hopes up about even a modest college football playoff.

The BCS commissioners will meet here Tuesday for the first time formally this year in what promises to be a historic 2012. Changes are expected to the BCS after the current four-year contract expires after the 2014 bowls (2013 season). Because of television contracts, the commissioners must come forward this year with what roundly assumed to be a new postseason model.

SEC commissioner Mike Slive went on record last week as saying there will be major changes in college football’s postseason.

“Not just tweaks,” Slive added.

That was major news from one of the game’s power brokers who was previously on the fence about the issue. Since then, Slive has gone underground not speaking to media about the subject. BCS executive director Bill Hancock said Monday that, “Whatever we do, we have to protect the regular season.”

That begs the question whether a much-discussed Plus One (four-team playoff) would intrude on the regular season. That’s code for the sport’s attendance and TV ratings, both of which are at all-time highs lately.

“The truest thing that’s been said is the preservation of the regular season,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN’s senior vice president, college sports programming. “Obviously we fully subscribe to that as well. The money that flows to the conferences for regular season rights really underpins the enterprise a lot of ways. To us, it’s critically important.”


That led one source close to the process to say he expects “business as usual” in the BCS after the 11 commissioners and Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick get closer to the process during the annual BCS meetings in late April.

“A lot of sports will kill for the problems college football has, from a media standpoint,” Magnus added, speaking at the Football Writers Association of America annual breakfast meeting. 

Hancock stressed that, “tomorrow is just the beginning. Everything is on the table.”

It is almost a certainty that automatic qualifying status is gone after the current deal. That has one of the BCS’ biggest hang-ups. The champions of the six major conferences (ACC, SEC, Big 12, Big East, Pac12, Big Ten) awarded a BCS bowl. The ACC and Big East have particularly underperformed during the history of the BCS.

What form the sport’s postseason will take in 2014 is up for much debate:

--One solution could be a so-called, unseeded Plus One. The top two teams would be selected after the major bowls to play for the national championships. Those teams would be selected by BCS standings, a human committee or both.
That raises the question whether the Rose Bowl would want to participate. The bowl and its partners (Pac-12, Big Ten) prefer not to be in anything that would resemble a national playoff.

--A four-team Plus One is a possibility but it wouldn’t work this year. It would include two teams (Alabama, Stanford) that didn’t win their conferences. Meanwhile, Pac-12 champion, Oregon, would be left out.

--Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany has proposed the bowls get out of conference partnerships (except for the Rose Bowl) and the sport merely stages a 1 vs. 2 game each season.

--Within those two proposals is the possibility that bowls themselves may bid on getting those games. There is already a perception that the Cotton Bowl may join the BCS championship rotation in the next contract.

--The Mountain West is on record proposing a full-on 16-team playoff. That probably won’t happen but hasn’t stopped commissioner Craig Thompson from trying.

“There’s got to be a better system,” Thompson said.

Hancock said the process could last until June.

“The start of the second quarter will happen here tomorrow,” he said. “There’s no leader in the clubhouse.”

After New Orleans, the commissioners next meet in February in Dallas.

In other news:

--The issue of whether the Mountain West gains automatic qualifying status for the next two seasons will not be addressed anytime soon. Thompson said too many of the 12 BCS Presidential Oversight Committee are out of pocket to vote on the matter.

The Mountain West is asking for a waiver to be included in the BCS on a temporary basis in the last two years of the current rotation in 2012 and 2013. The conference has attained some of the benchmarks set for BCS inclusion, but not all. The Mountain West would need nine of 12 votes.

“I’m not overly optimistic,” Thompson said.

--Virginia Tech president Charles Steeger has formally replaced Graham Spanier as chairman of that oversight committee. Spanier left Penn State late last year amid the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
Posted on: January 6, 2012 8:58 pm
 

Alabama kickers look for redemption in rematch

NEW ORLEANS -- Alabama Nation took its best shot at Jeremy Shelley. The Crimson Tide kicker survived.

“It wasn’t anything bad,” Shelley said of the social media barrage that hit the junior following the events of Nov. 5. “I’d tweet something and they’d say, ‘You shouldn’t be tweeting, you should be out practicing kicking.’ “

Shelley was. Diligently. It just so happened that his one-for-two performance against LSU in the first meeting was part of a horrid two-for-six performance by Bama kickers.

“If you’re a baseball player and hit .333, it probably gets you in the Hall of Fame,” Nick Saban.

At Alabama, it gets you scorn. The failure of the kickers against LSU revealed a hole in the seemingly impenetrable Saban force field. Alabama goes into Monday’s BCS title game 94th nationally in field goal accuracy. Since the LSU game, Bama kickers have missed three of seven down the stretch.

Shelley, from Raleigh, N.C., is more or less the regular kicker having made 16 of 20 this season and 28 out of 36 in his career. Sophomore Cade Foster, a Texas native, is the long-range specialist beyond 42 yards. He is two of nine this season and only nine of 18 in his career. Foster made only one of four kicks that night against the Tigers, all between 44 and 52 yards. The final miss in overtime, from 52 yards, allowed LSU to win it with a field goal on its possession.

“I think what we’ve tried to do with our guys is say, ‘Look, you had a bunch of low-percentage kicks in that game,” Saban said. “We are confident in your ability to just stay focused.”

With everything on the line, again, that could be a problem in a field-goal game. LSU is third nationally in accuracy with Drew Alleman, who has missed only two of 18 kicks all season.

Alabama didn’t do its kickers any favors that night two months ago. The offense penetrated the red zone only once. Prior to that overtime kick, Alabama was flagged for illegal substitution. In the plays prior to those six field goal attempts, 'Bama completed only two of five passes and AJ McCarron was sacked. Net yards: zero.

“We put them in situations they shouldn’t have been in,” tailback Trent Richardson said. “Everybody likes to blame their kickers. It’s our fault, it’s not their fault.”

The kickers haven’t been allowed to talk to the media since the first LSU game. Strange, they can kick in front of 100,000 people but are judged unreliable to express their feelings. That’s Saban. That still doesn’t make it right.

“We knew going into the game that we would have a chance to make that big difference in the game,” Shelley said. “With the teams being so close, neither team scored a touchdown. I would have never thought that. It came down to us.”

After Nov. 5, both kickers tried to stay away from their various social networks. They probably were not alone. Kicking snafus allowed Alabama to get here to New Orleans. A missed field goal was largely responsible for Boise State losing its only game to TCU. The same for Oklahoma State in its only loss to Iowa State.

The postseason has been ruled by clutch kicks gone wrong. Both Virginia Tech third-string kicker Justin Myer and Stanford’s Jordan Williamson missed overtime kicks in BCS bowl losses.

The virus, it seems, is catching.

“It [criticism] comes with the position,” Shelley said. “Whether it’s a game you have to hit three field goals to win or it comes down to your foot in the last second, you’re going to be in the spotlight. It’s a matter of, you’re going to be a hero a goat.”

Shelley played youth soccer growing up. He found out about the pressure of kicking [a different ball] playing international games in Spain, England, France and Scotland.

“It’s not nearly as big of a stage, but not being used to what I’m used to now, it was very cool,” Shelley said. “You could have up to 5,000 per game.”

He knows the reps of all kickers. While teammates bust their butts in practices, they … kick.

“We’re not busting heads all day,” Shelley admitted. “Maybe we don’t work as much. Maybe we don’t work as hard. You can’t kick for three hours every day. The value of kickers has gone up tremendously, especially this bowl season. How many games have to come down to the kickers’ foot?”

Perhaps one more.

“I have no problem with the game coming down to our foot,” Shelley added. “I have complete faith in Cade and myself being able to put this game away. With this second chance, there’s a chance for redemption.”
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 5, 2012 8:44 pm
 

Badger bits: Mathieu's tale a complicated one

NEW ORLEANS -- The mystery that is Tyrann Mathieu continues to unravel.

On Thursday we learned of his place in one of the great defensive backfields. We learned of his humble background. We also learned that Mathieu’s birth father is serving life in prison for murder

Formally adopted last year, Mathieu was raised by his aunt and uncle. It has been an incredibly complicated life. When I asked if he stays in contact with his father, Mathieu said, “I don’t talk to him anymore.”

Later, he said: “I think a lot of people had their input on the things that happened in my life. I’m not afraid of it. I’m not backing down from it.”

Here are other Badger Bits gathered from Thursday’s media session:

  • Mathieu revealed that he wore No. 24 in practice as a salute to Jets corner Darrelle Reavis who owns his own “island” on the field.

“He’s a shutdown corner … We joke around at practice all the time. You know, MoMo (teammate Morris Claiborne) got his own island. So I figured I’d have my own island in practice.”

  • When did Honey Badger know he was this good, especially for his size?

“I just think mentally, in my mind, I was always a step ahead of the game. Not to take anything away from other players, I was just always confident in myself. I could make the best players.

“I was pretty much faster than everybody. I never played with guys in my age bracket. I always played with my older brothers and my older cousins so they were always taller than me. So I just kind of got used to playing against bigger guys.”


  • The worst thing he has ever said to an opponent?

“I don’t think I can really say it … I research them. I find their mama’s name. Anything I can do to let them know, you know, that I kind of know what you know.”

  • Is anything off limits?

“I don’t think I’d talk about anybody’s grandmother.”
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 1, 2012 12:16 pm
Edited on: January 1, 2012 12:18 pm
 

Looking back at 2011, ahead to 2012

Recapping 2011, anticipating 2012 (more or less) A-Z …



American Football Coaches Association: It was not a good year for the professional organization that counted Jim Tressel and Joe Paterno among its members. There wasn’t a peep of contrition or explanation in 2011 out of the old boys’ club that continues to have an ethics committee as part of its structure.

Meanwhile, the AFCA continues to rig a BCS system it profits from in the coaches’ poll. Before coaches demand accountability from media, players and assistants, they need to give up control of a poll that holds the purse strings to a multi-million system and awards its final No. 1 ranking to the BCS title game winner.


BCS: After the championship game, the BCS continues to deliver some stultifying matchups.

Michigan-Virginia Tech? (Where was Boise, Kansas State?)

Clemson-West Virginia? (Six combined losses?)

Oklahoma State-Stanford is nice in the Fiesta Bowl but there are those who believe the Cowboys should be playing LSU in New Orleans. A Plus-One wouldn’t totally fix things but we’d love to see one this season – No. 1 seed LSU vs. No. 4 Stanford and No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Oklahoma State.

Unfortunately, the next chance for change, 2014, looks to be more of the same. The Pac-12 and Big Ten aren’t likely to allow the Rose Bowl to become a national semifinal. Even a Plus-One wouldn’t account for No. 7 Boise, a team that was a missed kick away from playing for the national championship.

 

BCS trivia: Nick Saban (4-1) and Les Miles (5-2) have each beaten Alabama at least four times as SEC coaches.

 

BYU: Courted by the Big 12 and Big East (at least) during conference realignment, BYU stood strong and stayed independent in 2011. Whether the Cougars’ status stays that way remains to be seen. Glory is still elusive. A seventh consecutive bowl resulted in the world’s largest Mormon school beating the FBS school with the smallest enrollment (Tulsa) in the final 12 seconds in the Armed Forces Bowl.

 

Charlie Weis: Quietly, Notre Dame’s former coach accounted for the biggest recruiting day in the history of Kansas football. On December 22, Weis lured quarterbacks Dayne Crist (Notre Dame) and Jake Heaps (BYU) as transfers.

OK, it’s only Kansas and it’s a couple former five-star quarterbacks who underachieved. But as long as Weis is in Lawrence, Kansas will be worth our attention. The Big 12 is a quarterback league. Weis has his for at least the next three years. He and the Jayhawks will be a story as Weis tries to rehab  his college coaching image.

Conference realignment: In the chase for money and automatic qualifying status, networks and commissioners couldn’t help themselves. They acted like businessmen at a strip club during happy hour, making it rain. The change was so fast and furious that we’re still not sure what conference West Virginia will play in 2012.

 

David Boren: Oklahoma’s president trashed the Big 12 and then-commissioner Dan Beebe one day. Then, after finding out 24 hours the Pac-12 wasn’t going to take his Sooners, he shifted stance and said he was actually trying to save the league.

Oklahoma’s former governor is a dangerous, manipulative, powerful, fascinating figure. Just don’t cross him. Boren ran Beebe out of the Big 12 in one of the great injustices of the year.

 

Death Cam: On the second-last day of 2011, there was a sobering warning for 2012. An ESPN SkyCam almost smashed an Iowa player Friday night during the Insight Bowl. Dear networks: Our desire to see every possible angle has been sated. We’ve got HD, blimps and replay. We don’t need a debilitating injury – or worse.

 

LaMichael James: Quietly – yes, quietly – “LaMike” became one of the era's most dangerous weapons and the best running back in Oregon history. If James stays for his senior season, which he is not likely to do, he would challenge Ron Dayne for the NCAAA career rushing record.

As it is, James will have plenty left for the NFL because of his efficiency (6.6 yards per carry, only 746 career carries). The question is, can the leading edge of Chip Kelly’s quick-strike offense survive as a pro at only 5-foot-9, 185 pounds?

 

Lane Kiffin: Before Todd Graham jilted Pittsburgh, Monte’s boy was bolting Tennessee after a season. Funny, how we’ve forgotten. Lane matured before our eyes in 2011 leading the probation-crippled USC to a 10-2 record, including a win at Pac-12 champion Oregon.

It looks like the Trojans are back. This time, Kiffin isn’t going anywhere.

 

LSU: Look at the roster. It’s so young. The SEC defensive player of the year is a sophomore (Tyrann Mathieu). There are 13 sophomores (or younger) in the two-deep. On defense. These Tigers were built to win in 2012. This season has been gravy.

No matter what happens Jan. 9, the Tigers are a good bet to start as the 2012 preseason No. 1.

 

Matt Barkley: Probation, what probation? USC’s blond, Hollywood-ready quarterback is returning for his senior season Leinart-style. After a 10-win season during a second consecutive bowl-ban season, the Trojans will likely start 2012 in the top five and be the Pac-12 favorites.

 

Mike Leach: He’s baaaack and that’s good for all of us. The talk turns from lawsuits to alignments again for The Pirate who has been out of the game too long. Things are about to get real interesting in Pullman.



NCAA:
The sometimes secret association opened itself up in 2011 – to media, to the public, to its members. There were countless press releases. Some of them named names of wrongdoers, calling out Cecil Newton, calling out media Also, welcoming media during a revealing Enforcement Experience in May.

What a emerged was a more accessible NCAA but one that, at times, was more interested in promoting itself than addressing the issues. That August summit was a great idea but moved too fast to the point that groundbreaking stipend and scholarship legislation was overridden. The decision to allow the Buckeye Five to play in the Sugar Bowl a year ago remains inexplicable.

 

Notre Dame: Weis recruited quarterbacks but couldn’t produce enough wins. So far, Brian Kelly can’t even get the quarterback thing straight. The Irish are becoming something they can never be – boring. After losing to Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl, ND is now 2-10 in its last 12 postseason games.

Its last two coaches have been decidedly offensive guys. Those Notre Dame offenses have, since 2005, finished 61st or worst more times (three) than they have in the top 10 (two). The 2007 unit under Weis was dead last. That’s an average of No. 46 in total offense since Weis arrived. That equates to the offensive standing of Virginia in 2011.

Before the Irish can return to national relevance, they have to become more exciting.



Offense:
With bowl games still to be factored in, the offensive revolution of college football continues.

The average figures for points per game (28.3), passing yards (229.4), completions (19.2) are all on pace to finish second all-time. The current total offense mark of 392.75 is ahead of the record set in 2007, 392.64.



Penn State:
The job left behind by JoePa has proved to be toxic to the coaching profession. At one point its reported top two choices – Tom Clements and Mike Munchak – had a <>total<> of four years college experience. Sixteen years ago.

 

SEC: You don’t have to be told again … The SEC is so dominant that the best football conference is assured of both its sixth straight title and first title game loss.

The league has used the BCS to make an unprecedented run. Voters and computers are conditioned to give the SEC champion the benefit of the doubt each season. Not saying that’s wrong, it just is. It’s sort of like the next Jay-Z album shooting to the top of the charts in preorders.


Twitter: In 2011, the Twitterverse became our universe. Use it as a tool to argue with a friend across from you on the cyber barstool or as a de facto wire service. Where were you when Bin Laden was killed and the Penn State scandal broke last year? Twitter followers and users brought us the news in real time.


Tyrann Mathieu: How does a 5-foot-9, 180-pound cornerback become the best defender in the country? Proving all the doubters wrong. Tennessee and Alabama deemed him too small to play. Les Miles to a chance on a local kid. What emerged was the best ball hawking corner since Charles Woodson. 


Will Lyles:
The former talent scout/mentor/Dancing With The Stars participant (Ok, kidding on that one) is the key figure in the NCAA futures of LSU, Cal and Oregon.

Lyles reportedly sang to the NCAA in August. That followed allegations that Chip Kelly’s program commissioned after-the-fact recruiting info that it had already paid $25,000 for. There is still the unsettling feeling that Oregon could be in for major sanctions in 2012.



ZZZ:
What we’d like to do a little more in 2012. Somehow, we know that’s not going to be the case. Let’s hope that college athletics regains a bit of its moral and ethical compass in 2012. 

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