Posted on: July 20, 2011 11:52 am
1. South Carolina is this year's Auburn. Last year no one was talking about Auburn winning the SEC West, much less the national championship. Who is this year's Auburn? South Carolina isn't a bad place to start as this year's under-the-radar team. Sure, sure, the Gamecocks are favorites to win the SEC East but with (perhaps) three future pros on offense and the debut of Jadeveon Clowney on defense, they could go further. The coach sure has national championship experience.
2. Houston Nutt's seat is warm. Ole Miss' coach won nine games and the Cotton Bowl in each of his first two seasons. Last season things imploded as Mississippi fell to 4-8. The Jeremiah Masoli experiment failed, the defense was shredded and the Rebels lost again to Mississippi State. Will that be a blip on the radar or a trend? Nutt's teams always seem to play best when expectations are low. And they are low. It's hard to see the Rebs finishing higher than fifth in the SEC West.
3. Alabama can win a national championship with either quarterback. A.J. McCarron or Phillip Sims? Sims or McCarron? It doesn't matter. Play them both, which Nick Saban has hinted at. It doesn't matter. This Bama team is so solid otherwise that it can win with a game manager at quarterback. Trent Richardson is a Heisman Trophy candidate. The defense is nearing 2009 levels. Bama gets LSU at home in the game to settle it all. What's not to like? As long as McCarron and/or Sims don't start channeling Jordan Jefferson the Tide will roll.
4. It's all on Isaiah Crowell. Caleb King and Washaun Ealey are gone at Georgia. That means that Crowell, a true freshman sensation, is going to have to be this year's Marcus Lattimore. Or do we dare suggest another Herschel Walker when talking about SEC freshman breakout tailbacks? Crowell is the kid who pulled out a real, live bullpup when he committed to Georgia. Now the question is, can he carry the program on his back?
5. When can Auburn really celebrate its national championship? Gene Chizik was slapped down last month by the NCAA enforcement director when he asked about the Cam Newton investigation. There is still the ongoing probe into the four former players who spoke out on HBO's Real Sports. News broke Wednesday that the NCAA was in Montgomery, Ala. in the last week of June conducting interviews. Tigers fans would like to finally celebrate this national championship without survivor's guilt.
Posted on: June 10, 2011 12:46 pm
Edited on: June 10, 2011 1:05 pm
A more than three-year legal battle involving the death of a former Central Florida player will proceed to trial on Monday.
The school lost its final legal challenge this week allowing the wrongful death lawsuit of the family of Ereck Plancher to go before a jury. Plancher, 19, collapsed and later died from complications of sickle cell trait in March 2008 following a strenuous offseason workout at the school. The family is seeking unspecified damages.
A circuit court this week denied Central Florida's request for a new judge to preside over the trial. School attorneys argued that circuit judge Robert Evans comments about Knights coach George O'Leary were prejudicial.
During a May ruling, Evans said, " ... Coach O'Leary doesn't seem to be the sharpest knife in the drawer ..." Central Florida previously argued that the jury shouldn't be told the school did not inform Plancher's parents of their son's condition because it would have violated federal privacy laws.
"They are devastated," family attorney J.D. Dowell said of Plancher's parents. "Obviously a parent is not supposed to outlive their child.
Along the way, the family won a key ruling in March. A former teammate of Plancher's said O'Leary banned water and banished trainers prior to Plancher's collapse. Based on that information, a judge said the family could proceed with an uncapped punitive damages lawsuit against the school. Florida law typically caps compensation in such wrongful death cases at $200,000.
Two recent, similar high-profile cases involving deaths due to sickle cell trait ended in settlements by the schools. Missouri settled with the family of player Aaron O'Neal for $2 million in 2009. That same year, Rice and the NCAA settled with the family of player Dale Lloyd II. As a result of that settlement, the NCAA agreed to mandate sickle cell trait testing under certain conditions and start an education program.
Since then, the NCAA has been sued again over the issue. The association and Ole Miss were named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed last month by the family of former Mississippi player Bennie Abram. Abram died in February 2010 following an early offseason workout due to complications from sickle cell trait.
Abram was the 21st NCAA football player to die from a non-traumatic event since 2000. Eleven of those deaths have come in Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). Sickle cell trait remains the leading killer of Division I football players since that year.
The trial is expected to last three weeks.
Posted on: October 21, 2010 5:33 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2010 11:10 am
BCS bowl projections halfway through the season:
BCS championship: Oregon* vs. Alabama*
Notes: Oregon and Alabama win out to advance to the championship game. Alabama beats both LSU and Auburn assuring that there will be no undefeated teams in the SEC. It then beats the SEC East champion to advance. Despite one loss, it vaults over undefeated Boise, the TCU/Utah winner and perhaps even Oregon. It doesn't matter for the Ducks who stay in the top two because undefeated Boise, Utah/TCU can't catch it in the BCS standings. Meanwhile, other current undefeateds Auburn, LSU, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Missouri also lose locking in Oregon. Alabama would be playing for the first back-to-back national championship since Nebraska in the 1990s. Oregon would be playing for its first.
--The Fiesta Bowl would gladly welcome Nebraska which it hasn't had since 2000. West Virginia would be making a second trip to the Valley of the Sun in four years.
--The Orange Bowl gets one of its more intriguing matchups as Florida State returns to the big time returning to a BCS bowl for the first time since 2005. Ohio State has to settle for an at-large berth after failing to win a sixth consecutive Big Ten title. The Buckeyes return to the Orange for the first time since 1977.
--The Sugar is filled with two at-large participants. Oklahoma returns to New Orleans for the first time since the 2004 (2003 season) national championship game loss to LSU.
Oregon set the school season scoring record Thursday in the season's seventh game. The Ducks have 386 points and are averaging more than 55 points per game ... Strange how two Big Ten programs defined themselves by invoking Vince Lombardi this week. First Minnesota AD Joel Maturi said, "It's not like he would be replacing Vince Lombardi," of the new coach after firing Tim Brewster. Then Rich Rodriguez said this about his struggling defense: "Listen, Vince Lombardi could come too and [it's] not going to fix some of the problems we have on defense." ... Ohio State (at Minnesota) hasn't lost consecutive games since 2004 ... TCU has lost one fumble this season ... Texas A&M has lost 12 consecutive televised games dating back to 2008. The Aggies play at Kansas Saturday on Fox Sports Net ...
In this Week of the Head Shot in the NFL, it's interesting to note that Arkansas' Ryan Mallett was knocked out of Saturday's game with a concussion. He practiced Tuesday and will play Saturday against Mississippi ... The last six Auburn-LSU games have been decided by six points or less ... Mississippi State is ranked for the first time in nine years ... Until BYU kicked a field goal in Saturday's 31-3 loss, TCU had not allowed a point in almost three games -- 175 minutes, 10 seconds. A third straight complete shutout would have marked the first time in college football since Boston College in 1992.
Tags: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Big Ten, Boise State, Boston College, BYU, Fiesta Bowl, Florida, Florida State, Fresno State, Iowa, Kansas, LSU, Michigan State, Minnesota, Minnesota, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Missouri, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Orange Bowl, Oregon, Oregon State, Pac-10, Penn State, Rose Bowl, Rutgers, SMU, Sugar Bowl, TCU, Temple, Texas A&M, Troy, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Posted on: October 13, 2010 10:44 am
Edited on: October 13, 2010 10:45 am
It only seems like Alabama obsessed all offseason about facing six SEC opponents coming off bye weeks.
The SEC schedule wasn't finalized until late summer as the school and league tried to move opponents around to keep from the dreaded six-pack. The Tuscaloosa News had revealed that over a three-year period Alabama had faced more bye-week opponents (17) than any SEC school. The best Bama could do was move Georgia State from a Saturday to a Thursday in November, thus allowing nine days before the Nov. 26 Auburn game.
That doesn't help things now. The Tide are on the brink of falling out of national championship contention after Saturday's loss to South Carolina. Their fall from No. 1 to No. 8 in the AP poll is the second-biggest fall for an in-season No. 1 since 1996. (Nebraska fell to No. 8 that year after losing to Arizona State). While Bama can still win the SEC and compete for the national championship, the final six conference opponents are going to be well rested. At least one columnist said the schedule already has caught up to the former No. 1.
Meanwhile, Nick Saban is trying to turn that offseason obsession into an in-season footnote. After 19 consecutive victories that included a national championship, Saban said this week his team may have believed a bit too much in itself.
"It's drinking the Kool-Aid, thinking that just because they say it on ESPN, it's so. Reading the newspapers all week. Just because you beat Florida 31-6, people start talking about you being the best team in the country. We're not the best team in the country. We had the best team in the country last year, and we proved it. We proved it over 14 games.
Hey, that's the best Sabanator outburst since my question led him to the famous "pimp" line in July.
Anything colorful from Saban is always appreciated. It beats "behind-the-scenes" mini-docs where the only thing behind-the-scenes is what you don't see. This was raw emotion, a glimpse at Saban's soul at this point in the season. The message got through. Saban won't be taking bye weeks as an excuse going forward. It's clear that playing three consecutive top-19 opponents (in the AP poll) took something out of the Tide. Now they have to play Mississippi, Tennessee, LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn coming off byes. Both teams will have a bye coming into the Nov. 6 meeting at LSU.
"Everybody out there assumes that having a bye week is an advantage," Saban said last week. "I've always answered that question by saying, 'I don't know if it's an advantage or disadvantage.'"
Maybe we're starting to find out.
The Nits are 3-3 after a depressing home loss to Illinois. Joe needs three more wins to become the third coach ever to win 400. There is growing doubt, though, that JoePa doesn't reach that mark this season. And what if he doesn't? What does that do to the program if Joe holds on (or is held over) for 2011?
The (mostly) cushy non-conference schedule has gotten Joe halfway to those six he needs, but the road ahead is littered with broken glass -- or at least formidable Big Ten opponents. Penn State still has to play the Big Ten's top three teams -- Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State. Assuming losses in those, Joe will have to win at Minnesota, at Indiana and at home against Northwestern to get to 6-6, 400 wins and a bowl game.
Is that a sendoff or a rebuilding year?
The problem with OSU is that its schedule is typically backloaded with second-half meetings with Big 12 South heavies Texas and Oklahoma. In fact, Gundy has never beaten the LongSooners, or is it the SoonHorns? (Combined 0-10 against the two schools and 21-23 after Oct. 1.) Holgorsen has been the difference this year with his version of the spread option, getting the most out of new quarterback Brandon Weeden, established tailback Kendall Hunter and breakout receiver Justin Blackmon.
The problem remains a defense which has finished above 89th nationally only once in Gundy's previous five seasons. This season's unit is marginally better in its second year under coordinator Bill Young. It is No. 88 nationally allowing more than 400 yards per game.
The difference is Holgorsen, a 39-year-old Mike Leach discipline who spent eight seasons at Texas Tech as an assistant, the final three as offensive coordinator. Holgorsen came to Okie State after a couple of seasons tutoring Case Keenum at Houston. Keenum is out with a season-ending injury but is seeking a sixth year of eligibility in 2011 during which he could become the NCAA's career passing yards leader.
Weeden, who turns 27 this week, is a former minor-league pitcher who is finding a new career playing pitch and catch out of the shotgun. Almost halfway through the season, Weeden has the fourth-most passing yards in the country leading the No. 2 scoring unit.
"[Weeden] was just a poor practice player," Gundy said. "There's a reason why we changed offenses. He can't execute [OSU's 2005-09] offense. It wasn't set up for him. ...We thought he could function at a high level, but we didn't know."
Posted on: October 4, 2010 12:46 pm
Before we begin, here is your daily dose of Les Miles. Actually, it's the only dose of Les Miles you need for this week. If you learn anything more from this postgame video about Saturday's Unlucky 13 vs. Tennessee, let me know.
There is a real chance almost halfway through the season of an unprecedented logjam at the top of the BCS -- six undefeated conference champions, four of them in BCS leagues.
It's early but there is some separation and definition to the season after five weeks. Alabama is clearly the class of the SEC. Nebraska and Oklahoma are undefeated in the Big 12, and can't meet until the conference championship game. Ohio State's trip to Wisconsin in a couple of weeks suddenly looks less daunting. Boise State is going to rush through the WAC. TCU and Utah are likely to decide the Mountain West head-to-head. Oregon looks like it is going to run away with the Pac-10.
If all that happens, here is one projection of how the final BCS standings might look. Is too early? Never. The first BCS standings will be released in two weeks.
1. Alabama: With all the talk about the Pac-10's strength this season, the SEC still rules. The Tide are all but assured of playing three more ranked teams -- South Carolina, LSU and Auburn.
For the previous two weeks Boise, at No. 3, had gained on No. 2 Ohio State and pulled away from the No. 4 team. After one week of WAC play -- against admittedly horrible New Mexico State -- the voters have fallen in love with Oregon and are already damning the Broncos for their schedule.
There are 18 remaining undefeated teams. Five of those (28 percent) are in the Big 12. By the end of this week there will be 16 because of head-to-head meetings (Michigan State-Michigan, Nebraska-Kansas State). Also, by the end of the week a maximum of 11 teams will have the possibility of finishing undefeated because of assured head-to-head games. After this week only four undefeated teams will be alive in the Big 12; three in the Big Ten. Only one undefeated team (at most) will be able to come out of the Mountain West, Pac-10, SEC and WAC.
**Texas is out of the AP poll for the first time in 162 weeks (2000). The streak in the coaches' poll had lasted 192 weeks. Texas, 3-2, still has games left against Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M meaning it could be headed for its worst season since before Mack Brown arrived in 1997.
**TCU posted its first road shutout of an opponent in Gary Patterson's 10 years as head coach, 27-0 at Colorado State. That's significant because Patterson is a defensive wizard whose teams have finished tops in total defense each of the last two seasons.
**Speaking of the Horned Frogs, the interest in the Big East is apparently real and reciprocal. TCU could join the league as soon as next season. One reason: There is no financial penalty to leave the Mountain West.
**Poor Jaime Hill. The BYU defensive coordinator was fired after Friday's loss at Utah State. You expect that in the SEC, but at BYU? Hill joined the staff from the CFL in 2006 and was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2008. BYU, 1-4, is off to its worst start in almost four decades.
Some other d-coordinators who might want to watch their backs:
Doug Mallory, New Mexico. Not really fair because his future is tied to embattled head coach Mike Locksley. The Lobos have allowed a I-A-most 35 touchdowns and 52.6 points per game.
Co-coordinators Keith Patterson/Paul Randolph, Tulsa. The Hurricane gave up 51 points at East Carolina, losing on the last play of the game. Oklahoma State put up 65 on Tulsa which is 106th in pass efficiency defense.
Ray McCartney, Wake Forest. His defense has given up 68 points to Stanford, 24 touchdowns in five games and 36.8 points per game.
**Team Schizo: Washington has lost to the worst BYU team in years, got run off its home field by Nebraska and now has beaten USC in consecutive seasons.
**Team Schizo II: Kansas lost to Baylor by almost seven touchdowns, 55-7, in Waco. Not even the locals care about Baylor, a Big 12 doormat. There were an estimated 15,000 empty seats at Floyd Casey Stadium. It's bad when your team is intimidated by the Bears.
Tags: Alabama, Auburn, Baylor, Big 12, Big Ten, Boise State, BYU, East Carolina, Iowa, Jacksonville State, Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, Mississippi, Missouri, Mountain West, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Portland State, South Carolina, TCU, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Tulsa, Utah, Utah State, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Wisconsin
Posted on: January 14, 2010 4:38 pm
Edited on: January 14, 2010 4:40 pm
Tennessee has seemingly moved on to Duke head coach David Cutcliffe as its favorite.
The Vols' former offensive coordinator (on two ocassions) could be the fallback candidate now that Will Muschamp and Troy Calhoun have dropped out of the running. Cutcliffe is 9-15 in two seasons at Duke. Five years ago he underwent triple bypass surgery. He has rebounded nicely making modest improvement at Duke.
Cutcliffe is 53-44 overall including a successful six-year stay at Ole Miss where he was 44-29. The Rebels tied for the SEC West title in 2003. From 1983-1992 Cutcliffe was a Tennessee assistant. From 1993-1998 he was Phil Fulmer's offensive coordinator before departing for Ole Miss.
Tennessee assistant Kippy Brown is still in the running along with a new name -- Louisiana Tech's Derek Dooley. The son of Vince Dooley is 17-20 in three seasons in Ruston, La. He coached under Nick Saban at both LSU and the Dolphins.
Posted on: December 8, 2009 10:03 am
This Houston Nutt-to-Kansas thing has legs. I'm hearing that Nutt has a fractured relationship with his Ole Miss AD Pete Boone. That's why you saw him pop up out of nowhere on Monday.
Boone is the one who poo-pooed the stories yesterday that there was mutual interest between Kansas and his coach. The opposite, it seems, is true. Now its up to the Lew Perkins' braintrust. The Kansas AD and his inner circle were believed to be interviewing Buffalo's Turner Gill on Tuesday morning at the Waldorf-Astoria.
Is Gill still No. 1 with Nutt in the picture? Will Gill have to hit it out of the park in the interview for Kansas not to automatically turn to Nutt? KU would be lucky to get the two-time SEC coach of the year. He's media friendly (that would be welcome after Mark Mangino), a great recruiter and a heck of a coach.
Basically: Do you go for the proven commodity in Nutt or go for the up and comer in Gill? Stay tuned.
Posted on: November 19, 2009 6:00 pm
Edited on: November 20, 2009 10:48 am
It's that insane time of year when we have been asked to pick the best players in the country -- before all the games are played.
Some awards are narrowing their lists of semifinalists to finalists after Saturday's games. That would be with two weeks left in the regular season. Those kinds of deadlines are particularly unfair especially at quarterback and running back where there are multiple candidates.
(I never understood the whole semifinalist-finalist thing anyway. It’s just a way to string out and hype the award.)
The Heisman has always been a pet peeve for me. So much can happen in bowls that sometimes the winner is diminished (see Oklahoma’s Jason White in the 2004 Sugar Bowl) or the person who should be the real winner emerges (see Vince Young in the 2006 Rose Bowl).
Consider that McCoy and Tebow still have to play conference championship games. Moore is the nation’s most efficient passer working on an undefeated season. Dalton and Stull are among the most improved quarterbacks in the country.
I'm considering waiting at least another week to vote. If the O'Brien folks don't approve, tough spit.
The Doak Walker Award’s list of the 10 semifinalists was released this week. The list did not include the nation’s fourth-leading rusher Bernard Pierce (Temple), the SEC's second-leading rusher Anthony Dixon (of Mississippi State, eighth in the country) or the Pac-10’s second-leading rusher (LaMichael James of Oregon).
It did include the nation’s No. 46 rusher, C.J. Spiller of Clemson who should be considered the best all-purpose runner in the country, not the best running back.
There is a safety net. Candidates can be written in, however voters are a group are traditionally lazy. They tend to vote for what is in front of them. One exception was 2007 when the Biletnikoff process was so off the mark in 2007 that Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree won as a write-in candidate.
The main reason for these incredibly early lists is college football’s awards show. It airs the Thursday after the end of the regular season. If the awards committees want to be seen on national TV, then they have to cow tow to ESPN deadlines.
Here’s another idea: How about setting yourself apart and waiting until after the bowl season? Somehow I think some network or another would still televise the Heisman ceremony.
Etc: Cincinnati is one of the few teams that could afford having a quarterback in jail. No biggie, there’s always Tony Pike … A loss to Ohio State would doom Michigan to its worst Big Ten finish since 1962 … Iowa (vs. Minnesota) and Penn State (at Michigan State) both need to win to stay in BCS consideration … Connecticut’s Zach Frazer has a chance this week to become one of the few players in history to play both for and against Notre Dame. Frazer transferred from ND in 2007 … Receiver Jordan Shipley will replace the suspended D.J. Monroe for Texas on kick returns this week against Kansas … Texas has scored 10 non-offensive touchdowns this season (defense and special teams). That leads the nation and is a school record … Miami’s Jacory Harris (at home vs. Duke) has thrown 16 interceptions, the most of the top 100 passers rated by the NCAA.