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Tag:Texas
Posted on: March 9, 2012 12:19 am
 

Texas on the right side of the bubble?

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – This is what a 68-team bracket has forced us to care about …

Northwestern absolutely choking its way out of a tournament it would have no shot at unless there was a 68-team bracket.

Look, I get all the national love for the Wildcats. It’s a nice story that a school known more its catchy ledes than buzzer beaters is this close to getting in the tournament for the first time. But this is what they didn’t tell us when the bracket expanded a couple of years ago: The bubble was dumbed down.

Had the 64-team field remained, Northwestern’s overtime loss to Minnesota Thursday in the Big Ten tournament would have been an NIT footnote. But the expanded bubble being what it is, we must care – about bad basketball. Even now after destiny’s Debbie Downers in Evanston frittered another one away.

Northwestern isn’t the only one. Washington (1-7 against the top 50) won the Pac-12 regular-season title but is now a question mark after losing to Oregon State. Hold your nose but Arizona may have forced itself into the conversation, if  not the bracket. This was all for good for Texas, which played one of the more compelling games of the day in a Big 12 tournament quarterfinal against Iowa State.

Compelling because Texas continues to be a member of that dreaded bubble for the first time in a long time. They have been tournament regulars under Rick Barnes. Not this season in a tenuous transition season with six freshmen. Things were looking up late Thursday when the young Horns showed some finishing ability – please note, Northwestern – in a 71-65 win over the Cyclones.  

At halftime, with his team trailing, Horns coach Rick Barnes took to the dry erase board to state the obvious.

“I wrote it down ‘NIT or NCAA'. Which one would you put your name under right now?” Barnes said. “Whichever one you want, I assure you you’re going to have to earn it.”

So they did, with their best basketball of the season. After Iowa State opened the second half with a 7-0 run, the Horns responded with a 22-4 run of their own. Suddenly, Texas is hot. It has 20 wins, a benchmark of some sort among bubble teams, right? It was won three out of the last four going into Friday’s semifinal against Missouri.

It has what Northwestern and other bubble boys don’t. Bracket credibility, if only for day. Maybe the best thing you can say about Barnes’ team is that it looks less bad that some of the others. The Longhorns have now won 10 conference games while playing in one of the few high major conferences with a round-robin schedule (18 games).

The baby Horns grew up a little Thursday night. Freshman guard Myck Kapongo played 39 minutes, with no turnovers for the first time in his 32-game career.

“We’re not young no more,” he said.

If the Horns have an advantage in the NCAA basketball committee room this weekend, it is because of pedigree. Only Michigan State, Duke and Kansas have longer NCAA tournament streaks than Barnes does at Texas (13 consecutive years). This is not one of Barnes’ classic teams. The Longhorns struggle to score mightily. Three of those freshman start.

I’m not going to tell you that Texas doesn’t belong in the tournament. Not after what I saw and read on Thursday. What makes Texas any worse than Northwestern or Washington or Colorado State or Seton Hall or Miami or South Florida?

When you get to this level of desperation you count “good” losses. Texas has plenty of them -- six, against top 10 opponents. Eight of its 12 losses have come against the top 25.

At the beginning of the day, Jerry Palm had the Longhorns out. I’m not going to say he’s wrong. I’m going to refer him to a gutty second half comeback, those maturing freshmen and Rick Barnes.

“We fought back,” he said.

Beats the heck out of Northwestern. 

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 14, 2012 1:05 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 3:30 pm
 

Big 12 schedule released -- finally

It was the most anticipated schedule since Elvis’ coat went on tour

The Big 12 finally released its 2012 football schedule on Tuesday – most of it, at least – to the relief of schools and scores of sportswriters. Don’t forget the fans. They’re they ones who apparently crashed West Virginia’s website briefly on Tuesday.

The primary news was the school finally extricating itself legally from the Big East. Call it the legal version of all those switchbacks in the state’s noted mountain landscape. The delay built anticipation. The schedule release itself could have been sold as a prime-time event.

(I just put an idea into a marketer’s mind somewhere but moving on …) To put Tuesday’s developments in perspective, the Pac-12 and SEC released their schedules in late December and early January. The delay also means it's a sellers’ market, if you’re a football bottom feeder willing to yourself to the highest bidder. There is talk of I-AA schools (FBS) with openings on their schedule getting $800,000-$1 million to come get their butts beat by a BCS school.

Either the Big 12 or Big East was going to get screwed by where West Virginia ended up. Turns out it’s the Big East – although $20 million richer – that is looking for an extra non-conference game for its teams now that the Mountaineers have left. That could change if somehow Boise State is able to get to the Big East in 2012

That’s why the simple release of a football schedule became an economic mystery.

Interim commissioner Chuck Neinas promised a Feb. 1 deadline. It came and went with only TV partners getting a copy. Somehow Texas Tech’s schedule slipped out early on Friday. Apparently forgotten was the fact there are people – some call them fans – trying to schedule and budget in order to see some of those Big 12 games. They will do so knowing that Oklahoma still had two holes in its schedule, although there are indications contracts could be signed shortly.

In a weird piece of realignment fallout, West Virginia paid the Big East that $20 million for the right to go to Ames, Iowa. That’s another way of saying that Iowa State is the Mountaineers’ closest opponent now that it is in the 10-team Big 12.

“We had a great legal team,” said Oliver Luck, West Virginia’s AD.

Hooray for that. Courtroom prowess replaced proximity in the mad realignment dash long ago. The Big East and whatever Conference USA/Mountain West calls itself in the future are spread coast to coast. Texas AD DeLoss Dodds continues to work on Notre Dame forming some kind of non-football alliance with the Big 12. Never mind that the closest Big 12 school for the Irish is two states away.

Louisville desperately wants into the Big 12. BYU still might be a possibility in the future. The Big 12 could get to 11 easily in 2013. The problem is finding a 12th team that is a good fit. So Tuesday’s announcement is one of those clip-and-save moments. It’s a 10-team Big 12 for now. There are still some holes in the schedule but at least we have a working model.

Back in November Big 12 officials flew out to Morgantown for a reception welcoming the Mountaineers as a replacement for Texas A&M or Missouri. Not sure which. It doesn’t matter. TCU is also in after a slightly shorter dalliance itself with the Big East.

Point is, the unification of Big East defector and the Pure Prairie League didn’t become reality until Tuesday. Time for another reception?

“As you may be aware the Big 12 is a very stable conference,” Luck added.

 We’re not but that’s not the point right now.

 

The highlights …

--The “new” Big 12 kicks off Sept. 15 with TCU playing its first Big 12 game at Kansas.

--Each team will have a double-bye, the function of 12 games being played in a 14-week college football calendar in 2012.

 --The first beer served in a Big 12 game since Colorado was a member will be Sept. 29 when Baylor visits for West Virginia’s conference opener. We’ll let that issue breath a bit as you consider alcohol-serving state school vs. Baptist flagship.

For now, call it the Lawsuit Bowl. Five months ago Baylor was threatening to sue the SEC over its “poaching” of Texas A&M. West Virginia had sued the Big East to get out of the conference (and were sued right back).

 --Eight of the 10 teams will be in action on the last day of the season (Dec. 1). That’s a brilliant piece of scheduling making it more likely that the Big 12 title will be in play the same weekend as the SEC, ACC, Pac-12 and Big Ten play conference title games.

Last year, Oklahoma State clinched the title on the last day of the season against Oklahoma. Robert Griffin III more or  less clinched the Heisman Trophy on the same day after beating Texas.

--The conference's showcase game -- the Red River Shootout -- is Oct. 13 the week after Oklahoma plays at Texas Tech and Texas hosts West Virginia.

 In case you’re counting this is the third different lineup for the Big 12 in three years.  This time it just might work – at least until Notre Dame says yes. Just don’t put a deadline on it.  

Posted on: January 31, 2012 3:07 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2012 6:24 pm
 

Big 12 releases 10-team schedule to TV partners

The Big 12 released a 10-team football schedule to its TV partners, the conference said Tuesday afternoon. That indicates West Virginia will be in the league in 2012.

The schedule will be released publicly "in the near future," the league said. CBSSports.com reported earlier in the day that the Big 12 would “likely” delay the release of its 2012 schedule until next week. As late as Tuesday afternoon the league was holding firm to a Feb. 1 deadline to have the schedule completed.

West Virginia and the Big East had been in deep discussions as to how to resolve dueling lawsuits over the school leaving the conference. A league spokesman told CBSSports.com last week that the Big 12 would release the schedule by Feb. 1

Rightsholders ESPN and Fox now have the schedule seven months out from the 2012 season kickoff. Sources have maintained all along that the rightsholders could move the dates of certain games after receiving the schedule. Moving Texas-Baylor and Oklahoma-Oklahoma State to the final day of the 2011 regular season was a major boost to the Big 12. Baylor's Robert Griffin III won the Heisman a week later. Oklahoma State won its first conference title in decades playing for a BCS bowl in prime time.

West Virginia had been in arbitration with the Big East trying to resolve their lawsuits. Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas has said on numerous occasions that the 2012 schedule would be released by Feb. 1 and that West Virginia would be on it.

With West Virginia, the Big 12 would again have 10 teams, same as 2011. Without the Mountaineers, the Big 12 would have nine teams leaving the league schools to add at least one non-conference game to fill out their schedules at a late date. If the league drops below 10 teams that would likely trigger language affecting payouts to the Big 12 from both networks.

Late last year, West Virginia filed suit to leave the Big East sooner than the league-mandated 27-month waiting period. The Big East countersued. If West Virginia leaves the Big East this year, that would leave the conference with only seven teams for 2012. That would mean each school would have to find a sixth non-conference game to complete its schedule.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 25, 2012 4:47 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 10:16 pm
 

Petrino not seeing No. 1 recruit Thursday

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino will not be making an in-person visit Thursday to the nation’s No. 1 recruit according to the player’s coach.

“A situation occurred,” Springfield (Mo.) Hillcrest coach John Beckham told CBSSports.com

Beckham said that Petrino and Hillcrest receiver Dorial Green-Beckham “bumped into each other” earlier this month in San Antonio, Texas possibly creating an NCAA recruiting issue. Petrino was in town for the American Football Coaches Association convention. Green-Beckham was there for the U.S. Army All-Star Game.

Arkansas issued a statement Wednesday saying no NCAA violation occured.  

“When he was at the coaching convention in San Antonio, they bumped into each other,” said Beckham who also is Green-Beckham’s foster father. “It just so happened that another school that was recruiting Dorial happened to be there that day.”

This NCAA bylaw may apply: 

In football, one contact per prospective student-athlete is permitted during each week of the contact period as specified in Bylaw 13.17.4 either at the prospective student-athlete's educational institution or any other location (e.g., prospective student-athlete's home). A visit to the prospective student-athlete's educational institution and any other location (e.g., prospective student-athlete's home) during the same calendar day shall be considered one contact.

The Army all-star game was Jan. 6. The AFCA convention was Jan. 8-11. There were NCAA recruiting "quiet" and "dead" periods during some of those dates. During those times no in-person contact is allowed with recruits by coaches. Beckham added that Arkansas will send other coaches on Thursday.

Arkansas' statement: "No violation has occured and we are taking proactive steps we feel necessary to avoid any risk of one." 

As days dwindle toward signing day on Feb. 1, the rush to get Green-Beckham’s name on a national letter of intent has intensified. The 6-foot, 6-inch, 225-pound receiver has narrowed his list of finalists to Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Alabama. He is listed as having the most Twitter followers among the nation’s top 100 recruits

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and assistant Jay Norvell visited the school on Monday. Texas coach Mack Brown is expected to visit on Wednesday. Green-Beckham made an Arkansas visit last week with his foster  brother Kingsley Ehie. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel flew in by helicopter to speak to the prospect last week. Green-Beckham's list of finalists are Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri.

Recruiting analysts are hanging on every nugget of information regarding the national single-season leader in receiving yards. Rivals.com predicted Monday that the receiver would be heading to Arkansas. Maxpreps.com analyst Steve Spiewak says he can’t understand the perception that Arkansas is in the lead. Green-Beckham says he is undecided and will make his decision known next Wednesday morning at the school.

“People really read in too much to what he says,” Beckham said. “They interviewed [Dorial] last week before a basketball tournament in St. Louis. And he said … ‘I have to go to Missouri next week.’ They all got hung up on, ‘I have to,’ instead of ‘wanting to go.’ That’s just a little example.” 

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 10, 2011 8:56 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2011 10:01 pm
 

Robert Griffin III wins the 2011 Heisman

NEW YORK -- The humble son of two retired Army sergeants now becomes a name for the ages.

Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III became the 77th winner of the Heisman Trophy here beating out two-time finalist Andrew Luck of Stanford. Alabama's Trent Richardson was third.

The redshirt junior caught the nation’s attention with his accurate arm, incredible moves and scholastic achievements. In other words, what the Heisman should be about. Griffin threw for almost 4,000 yards and accounting for 45 touchdowns for an equally humble Baptist school in central Texas.

His win helps Baylor elevate itself from a low point that included a player’s murder eight years ago. Twice in the last 18 months, the program faced an uncertain future with the possible breakup of the Big 12.

But Griffin changed all that. He has been compared to everyone from Michael Vick to Vince Young to any role model you can imagine. If he doesn’t declare for the NFL next month, Griffin will apply for Baylor Law School. There can’t be many former winners who were pursuing their master’s when they accepted the award.

Griffin had two signature Heisman moments this season. On Nov. 19 he threw the game-winning touchdown pass against Oklahoma with eight seconds left. A week ago, he threw for two scores and ran for two more in a blowout win over Texas. In terms of Heisman voting, that was the clincher. Luck and Richardson had completed their seasons.

Actually, there was a third Heisman moment. Griffin outdid himself as a wearer of outrageous socks. He pulled up his pant leg at the ceremony to reveal he was wearing Superman socks – complete with cape. He is the first Heisman winner to play his high school football in Texas since BYU's Ty Detmer in 1990. That's also the last year a player won it from a private parochial school.

Luck and Richardson were thought to be the leaders late into November. But Griffin overtook them winning comfortably by 280 points over Luck (1,687-1,407). For those on the Richardson bandwagon, he didn't even carry his own region. Griffin won even that region 303-256 over the Alabama tailback. 

Griffin was born in Japan, the son of Army lifers Robert Sr. and Jacqueline Griffin. Enrolled at Baylor at age 17, he was a Big 12 400-meter hurdles champion in track before he took a snap. When he did, he became the youngest starting quarterback in FBS in 2008.

Coach Art Briles saw something that others didn’t. Other schools projected him either as a track star or something other than a quarterback.

But that was at Houston where Griffin originally committed. When Briles got the job at Baylor, Griffin followed like a loyal puppy.

“A big part of the decision was I wanted to go where I could play early,” he said. “Not that I thought I was better than anyone else, I just didn’t feel like it would be good to sit behind somebody for two years then play.”

In the third game of the 2009 season he tore his ACL. In 2010, he was back throwing for 3,500 yards. This season he threw for almost 3,998 yards and 36 touchdowns. He was more accurate than Luck, more exciting than Richardson. If his pass efficiency numbers hold up through the bowl game, Griffin will complete, statistically, the best season in NCAA history.

RGIII also became the third player in FBS history to throw for 10,000 yards and 2,000 yards rushing.

 

 

Category: NCAAF
 
 
 
 
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