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Top Teams 2008

After Week Seven

  1. Alabama
  2. Penn State
  3. Texas
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Florida
  6. USC
  7. Georgia
  8. LSU
  9. BYU
  10. Missouri
  11. Ohio State
  12. Oklahoma State
  13. Texas Tech
  14. Utah
  15. Kansas
  16. USF
  17. North Carolina
  18. Miami
  19. Boise State
  20. Georgia Tech
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« ESPN College GameDay Update: Week Seven | Main | Sunday College Football Hangover »
Tuesday
Oct092007

Pundit Roundup

Making Tuesday Fun Since 2006!
***
A "weekly must-read"
***
Memo to the ESPN guys: My apologies if I missed some of your columns.  Your story archive thing went to hell, might want to have your tech guys take a look at that.

--- ESPN's Bruce Feldman lists his top 10 players at the 2007 season's midway point

Also: Hester powers LSU's offense and Instant Analysis: LSU - Florida

--- ESPN's Mark Schlabach returns with his weekly On (and Off) The Mark

Also: Champaign dreams an Illini reality

"I guess you could say that you're selling an opportunity to be part of something special," Zook said. "Being in a program that wins all the time is obviously very, very good. But being part of a team that takes a program to the top is really something special."

Finally, Zook can show players his dream instead of just telling them about it.

"I think one thing about this profession is if you believe in yourself and believe in what you're doing, it's always going to pan out," Zook said.

--- Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel says LSU survived war with Florida to protect its No. 1 ranking

Also: Mandel's Blog

Also: Week 6 pickoff, Texas is missing Vince Young-type leadership, and Mailbag: a new classification system for upsets

--- Sports Illustrated's Austin Murphy finds Florida looking to get back on track

--- Sports Illustrated's Tim Layden says Notre Dame and its fans face sad truth this season

Let's go back. In the spring of 2000, I wrote a 6,000-word story for Sports Illustrated on the struggles of the Notre Dame football program. That story cited two prominent issues that did not involve coaching: admissions and scheduling. More to the point, my reporting led me to write Notre Dame simply was not willing enough to admit marginal students to be competitive at the top of Division I-A football. That and the school's brutal "national" schedule left any coach in a very difficult position.

That story kicked up a lot of controversy. People I trust disputed some -- but not all -- of my reporting. They suggested Notre Dame had, indeed, admitted plenty of marginal students, but not the right marginal students. (Having rejected the likes of Carson Palmer and T.J. Duckett). That gets into very gray areas. Let's just say that for a long time Notre Dame had serious issues regarding talent evaluation and admissions. Those issues affected the viability of the football program.

--- Sports Illustrated's Arash Markazi documents Stanford's celebration in the wake of the victory over USC

--- Sports Illustrated's Cory McCartney returns with his weekly All-Out Blitz

Also: Ohio State employs familiar formula to ascend in polls, Cincy's making some noise with new coach and offense

--- CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd returns with his Sunday 7

Also: First half has been one long, strange LSD, er, LSU trip, Weekend Watch List, Insider, Notebook

--- CBS Sports' Spencer Tillman further expounds on his ideas of pay-for-play in college athletics

--- The Sporting News' Matt Hayes finds Cal flying high, staying focused

Also: Winners and Losers, meet the driving force behind South Florida, noise around the Illini is getting louder, What To Watch, Heisman Watch

For now, we'll stick with Stanford. The Cardinal looked like a pathetic I-AA team for much of the season. I mean, they were blown out by UCLA -- which should be shocking enough.

They couldn't play defense, the offense was anemic and -- AND -- they were playing with a backup quarterback starting the first game of his career. How fitting that this happened in Hollywood. Because, really, I still don't believe it.

Look, Stanford isn't good. There's a reason Walt Harris was fired after two years, and Buddy Teevens was canned prior to that, and Harbaugh was hired to clean up the mess. This team is devoid of talent. Period.

I wouldn't be shocked in the least if this team didn't win another game. Their best shot is this week against struggling TCU on The Farm, and Notre Dame at home on Nov. 24.

I don't want to minimize what Stanford did, because, frankly, it was monumental. I've said all along that Harbaugh was a fantastic hire; that he has the charisma (you think?) and the pedigree (he has played for Bo and Ditka among many other coaching legends) to make the Cardinal a winner.

Enjoy it, Stanford. It was one for the ages

The Sporting News' Tom Dienhart returns with another round of Blog Fog

Also: Speed 101, Week 6 awards, Saturday dreaming: Florida's desperate, Conference Call, The Soup: coaching rumors du jour

--- Yahoo! Sports' Terry Bowden returns with his Sweet 16 power rankings

Also: What now?

--- Yahoo! Sports' Gerry Ahern found opportunity knocking and Ohio State answering that door Saturday

--- CSTV's Brian Curtis says LSU's win speaks for itself

Look, the Tigers won, so let's not nit-pick, but neither one of these guys is a great quarterback. They did just enough combined. But how about Jacob Hester at QB? Fans will point out that a two-man system worked for Florida last year but Tebow came in infrequently, on big running downs. Flynn and Perrilloux were alternating plays at some points.

The LSU defense didn't look great in the first half and blown coverage made them look silly. But Glenn Dorsey & Co. pulled it together to contain and then stop Tebow late in the game. Earlier in the week, I asked Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville what lessons LSU could take from his team's upset over the Gators last week. Tuberville told me first, they limited the Florida's running game. Second, they managed to contain, though not stop, Tebow. Third, Auburn gave up just 78 yards after contact, meaning his defensive players made tackles without allowing the big plays. Again, we turn to the stats from the game where LSU gave up 314 yards to Florida, 158 through the air and 156 on the ground.

So what do we take from this game? Well, for one, Miles has been elevated. His coaching decisions, which somehow worked out, endeared him to thousands of LSU fans who still questioned his chops. Good for him.

We also took away the fact that this season, LSU has been the most dominant. But that's not saying too much, considering they looked bad against Tulane last week and sloppy against Mississippi State. That's not domination, but it is winning and a lot of other teams wish they could say the same. And finally, Florida may just be the best two-loss team in history. Play this game again in Atlanta in December and the result may change.

I'd argue 2002 USC was the best two-loss team we've seen in a while, but Florida ain't bad either.

--- CSTV's Trev Alberts returns for his weekly Mailbag

--- CSTV's Adam Caparell profiles Heisman Trophy winner Earl Campbell

--- CSTV's Jerry Palm says the road to the BCS is a bumpy one

--- CSTV's Brian Jones contends that college athletics are important and not to be frowned upon. This is in response to several educators launching attacks on college athletics this week.

But here's where I differ from the Professors. I think they are gravely flawed in their inability to recognize the benefits of participating in athletics. As I stated in a rebuttal to the op-ed piece by professor Palaima in the aforementioned Austin American-Statesman - which the Statesman still has yet to print, but I digress - as a direct result of sports, I win every day in life! Would you like to know why? Because athletics instilled in me the intangible qualities necessary to keep on persevering in this dog-eat-dog world. Athletics has taught me to take it a step further and on more than one occasion, athletics has saved my life.

Athletics was a father to this young boy from the ghetto of Lubbock, Texas, who had no father. It was the daddy that taught me hard work. It was the daddy that taught me "tough times don't last, tough people do." It was the daddy that whispered ever so quietly, "don't quit!" It's those lessons that carry me when I'm down, when I'm overwhelmed, when I'm close to throwing in the towel.

Yes, I call on my faith, but my experiences on the field and the court have played a vital role in helping me overcome so many obstacles in life. So, I take exception to the notion that "student-athletes lose." Nothing could be further from the truth. The student-athlete, like non-athlete student, loses if he or she is not able to fully grasp the extraordinary opportunities of college. And, despite the well-publicized misdeeds of a few, most student-athletes at The University of Texas and other schools throughout the country take advantage of the gifts afforded to them by athletics.

Academia sometimes has too much time on its hands.  It's like when I come across weird feminist articles about how useless or bad for the world men are.  So then you hear people pick up that flag like Sally Field saying there would be no wars if women and mothers were in charge.  Uh huh ...

Sports are both meaningful and meaningless, just like everything else.  They are just as much art as entertainment, the different side of the same coin as museums and opera except to the utmost snobs and non-thinkers who disproportionately end up at universities it seems.  Yet those are given much higher prestige while consumed less by the public.  I can't stand morning radio and shows like Today and Oprah but I don't think society is going to hell or ineficciently allocating itself because people follow those in droves.  Just don't count me as a participant.  Neither are sports and their followers fools.  The majority of critiques are hilariously hollow and dripping with disdain and jealousy.

--- The Rivals.com crew is busy at work, as usual.  Be sure to check this week's archives for stories from Olin Buchanan, Mike Huguenin, David Fox and Steve Megargee

--- Sun Sports TV's Whit Watson, well I think he just compared USF coach Jim Leavitt to Chewbacca.

--- USA Today's Kelly Whiteside says LSU is hoping to follow in the footsteps of their 2003 title run

[Defensiv tackle Glenn] Dorsey decided to return to school for his senior season for several reasons. He was dealing with a nagging stress fracture in his right shin last season. He also wanted to complete his degree. Dorsey is a frequent speaker at his local YMCA and one of his messages is, "Stay in school and dream big."

"Coming from a small little town (Gonzales, La., population 7,003), kids feel they can't do big things because of where they're from," Dorsey says. "I thought about that also when I made my decision."

Plus, he didn't want to leave LSU without winning a national title. He grew up 60 miles from New Orleans; the three other starters on the line were raised within 40 miles of the stadium. "That would be tremendous," Dorsey says of the possibility of ending his college career in the Superdome, site of the Bowl Championship Series title game. "That's like the ultimate."

Also: Aggies, Longhorns hope to bury pain of last week

--- The New York Times' Pete Thamel says Stanford's victory over USC adds to season of upsets

Stanford replaced the subdued Harris with the more aggressive Harbaugh. He had angered U.S.C. Coach Pete Carroll with comments about how long Carroll would stay at U.S.C. and heaped praise — and pressure — on the Trojans this year, saying they may be “the greatest team in the history of college football.”

The Marquette basketball coach Tom Crean, Harbaugh’s brother-in-law, said those comments were indicative of Harbaugh’s toughness and confidence. Crean said he and his family celebrated wildly in their living room Saturday night. Crean said Harbaugh recently went through a divorce and was separated from his children, who live in San Diego. Crean said he was happy to see something go right for Harbaugh.

“I got a text from him last night that said: ‘I know you know how this feels. We love you guys. Calling recruits the rest of the night,’ ” Crean said. “I think that’s all they did the rest of the night. I’m proud of him. Everyone is.”

The toughness that Harbaugh showed as an N.F.L. quarterback is reflected in his team. Tomey and the Oregon offensive coordinator Chip Kelly said that Stanford’s effort was something that stood out to them in their games against the Cardinal earlier in the year.

“When I watched them, the one thing that impressed me is that they really played hard,” Kelly said. “There are no guarantees in this profession. It’s crazy. This whole year has been crazy. You have no idea what’s going to transpire, but if you play hard, you’ve got a shot.”

Also: LSU survives a scare, Percy Harvin now saves his outbursts for the field, hail to the alma mater (good read about Les Miles)

Also: The New York Times' "The Quad Blog"

--- MSNBC's Michael Ventre says LSU is No. 1, but who's the second best team?

--- The Dallas/Ft. Worth Star-Telegram's Wendell Barnhouse says on any given Saturday its madness on the gridiron

Also: For now, LSU looks like a champion, Switzer and Carville offer inside views on today's games, previewing this weekend's college football games, kickoff change has had little effect, College Football Insider: Pac-10 crew got this one right, fuzzy national title picture has two months to clear up

--- Be sure to check out Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer Tony Barnhart's blog: Mr College Football

--- The Austin-American Statesman's Kirk Bohls says quit knocking the polls

Bad:

If anything, the Associated Press and USA Today should start the polls in June and have another in July before the official early-season poll in mid-August. Fans can’t get enough of college football and want it earlier and earlier.

Worse:

In an aside, I’ve always had a beef with those pollsters — writers, broadcasters and coaches — who refuse to put a team ahead of another team it just beat, if only because the victorious team was unranked or rated far below the losing squad. Now if a team like an Auburn has two losses before it knocks off Florida on the road, the Tigers still have some proving to do.

But in the case of Kansas State, which incidentally lost to that Auburn team but on the road and in a game that was tied late into the fourth quarter, the Wildcats, in my opinion, should be ranked ahead of Texas. My ballot reflected that, putting Kansas State 16th and Texas 18th. But nothing’s final. If KSU loses to Texas and Texas beats OU, they could flipflop because it’s all about what you do most recently.

That's exactly how to create a meaningless, confused ballot and why I do power rankings instead. Do you really put Stanford ahead of USC in this week's - or any week's - poll? Absurd.

--- The Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi says the championship run is officially over for the Gators

It's over.

Finally, it's over.

All you Gator haters can now rejoice and sing, Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead.

And all you Gator fans can now reflect and sing, I've Had the Time of My Life.
After all these months and years, the phenomenal string of Florida national championships is now over. First it was a basketball national title. Then a football national championship. Then basketball again. And then. . .
LSU 28, Florida 24.
It was Florida's second consecutive loss and effectively removed UF from the national title conversation. And if it were going to happen, this was a most fitting night -- and the most fitting site.

--- The Mobile Press-Register's Neal McCready says Les Miles called a gutsy game and all of his gambles paid off

--- The Mobile Press-Register's Paul Finebaum asks: Can Aubun keep Tommy Tuberville on the plains?

Two weeks ago, in the wake of the Mississippi State disaster, the murmur among some Auburn boosters concerned who might be a good replacement for Tommy Tuberville after this season.

Today, in the wake of yet another spectacularly stunning upset over Florida, the question might be about whether Auburn can keep Tuberville from jumping ship following this season.

If someone just arrived back here after spending the month of September on a remote island with no Internet or phone service, they missed one of the wackiest five weeks in Alabama and Auburn football history.

They saw the fans (and some of us real geniuses in the media) write Tuberville off after a disastrous start and crown Nick Saban Master of the Universe. They saw others proclaim that "Bama is Back," and "Auburn is Dead."

In the end, almost everybody was right about something but wrong about most things.

And here we are, in a brand new month without the faintest idea what is about to happen next. And you wonder why college football is the best sport on earth.

***
To read articles and blog entries from many other college football writers, be sure and visit CFR's "The Punditry" links. You can either bookmark that link or find it via CFR's College Football Links section on the menu at left.

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