"Spend a few minutes reading College Football Resource" - Whit Watson, Sun Sports

"Maybe you should start your own blog" - Bruce Feldman, ESPN

"[An] Excellent resource for all things college football. It’s blog index is the definitive listing of the CFB blogosphere ... [A] must-read for fans." - Sports Illustrated (On Campus)

"The big daddy of them all, the nerve center of this twisted college football blogsphere" - The House Rock Built

"Unsurprisingly, College Football Resource has generated some discussion" -Dawg Sports

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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Friday
Oct192007

Friday Photo Blogging

As usual, this photo is from within the extensive photo galleries by CFR friend Steve The Pirate Photo Guy.  I don't really have many details about this one other than it involves rafting on some trip to Santa Rosa, CA.  I assume the river was in that general vicinity, but I've been known to be wrong about these things.

The gentleman looking towards the camera is Steve's friend Loren.  I'd show Steve but his grizzled visage for that trip would scare small children and we just don't want that now do we?

Loren-Rafting-400.jpg 

This is a good opportunity to remind you that if you have interesting photos that you'd like to see on here some crisp Friday morning, send an email with an attached photo or two for me to evaluate and if it fits the theme I'll run with it. 

Thursday
Oct182007

CFR's 2007-2008 Top Teams List: Week Seven

As always, these are power rankings

  1. LSU - At this point nearly everyone's had an unexpected stumble.  This is the perfect opportunity to rank teams on their real ability and not this whole slotting by loss thing.  LSU isn't in that unbeatable class of recent teams like Texas, USC and Miami, but they still look like the class of college football 2007.  If I'm wrong, chances are their play the rest of the way will prove it.
  2. Florida - Saturday's game against Kentucky will go a long way in determining either their funeral or their revival.
  3. California - Run defense killed them, although that was a gutty overall game by the backup quarterback (bonehead moment aside).
  4. Oregon - Cruising.
  5. USF - Big showcase game tonight against Rutgers.
  6. Oklahoma - Outlasted a game Missouri team.
  7. Kentucky (NEW) - Whatddya know!  They're back in the Top Teams List.  Seriously: South Carolina game, wha happennn?
  8. Ohio State (+1) - Hangin' around.  Defense has obliterated some teams.
  9. Auburn (NEW) - Completely different team than we saw early in the season.  Offense is still shaky but its rapid improvement is a sign of good things.
  10. West Virginia (-3) - Playing well now that they're off the radar.
  11. Boston College (-3) - A good team, but I'm not sure they're top five good.  We'll know soon enough.
  12. South Carolina (-2) - Argh.
  13. Missouri (+1) - I keep waiting for their inevitable collapse, but so far so good especially after a competitive showing against Oklahoma.
  14. USC (-2) - Horrendous offensive showing against Arizona, but that Joe McKnight kid may just save their season.
  15. Kansas (NEW) - Great job so far.  Now keep it up.

- - - L u r k i n g - - -
(In no particular order): Cincinnati, Illinois, Boise State, Virginia, Kansas State, Arizona State, Michigan

- - - O u t - - -
Arkansas 

Thursday
Oct182007

Tornado In Town

Completely off-topic, but yeh ... in total about three twisters have hit, one fairly close to where I live.  Nothing too serious, just some overturned cars, a few roofs taken for a ride and some uprooted trees.  Amateur video below from Downtown Pensacola (not my video)

More tornado-forming storms are expected over the next 24 hours so uh, if there's no Friday Photo Blog you know why.

If I have time I'll swing around town tomorrow and take some pictures of the damage and repost here. 

Wednesday
Oct172007

Pundit Roundup

Making Tuesday Fun Since 2006!
***
A "weekly must-read"
***
--- ESPN's Bruce Feldman lists the top 10 matchups to watch in the second half.

9. Navy at Notre Dame, Nov. 3
Forget USC-ND: This is the Notre Dame game worth tuning in for. If there was ever a season where Navy had a chance to knock off the Irish, this is it. ND has won an NCAA series-record 43 straight games against Navy. They've done so in nine different stadiums, but this is the worst Irish team in that span. Their offense is horrible and their run defense isn't much better (93rd overall) and Navy has a very potent ground attack. The Irish have scored 80 points in the last two meetings in this series, which is exactly the same number of points the Irish have scored in their first seven games this season.

My friend The Lovely Vicki cheerfully texted me Sept. 7 with the following: "this might be the year Navy beats ND".  I don't endorse her glee there, but it's obvious some people have been circling that date in anticipation of something embarrassing.

Also: Feldman Picks

--- ESPN's Ivan Maisel document's Nebraska's efforts to stem an insurrection in offing Athletic Director Steve Pederson.

For one thing, as Perlman made clear in his statement Monday, he believed that Pederson had tied his future so securely to Bill Callahan, the coach he hired four years ago, that Pederson couldn't objectively make any changes.

Also: Oklahoma takes advantage of Missouri mistakes in win

--- ESPN's Pat Forde checks in with two edition of The Dash (most recent and Oct. 9)

Also: Savory Southern sojourn (with SEC commish Mike Slive, part of an ESPN series on "Southern Living: A Weekend in the SEC"), LSU the latest top-ranked team to fall, instant analysis LSU - Kentucky

--- ESPN's Mark Schlabach delivers another round of On (and off) the Mark

Also: Lights, camera, action

--- ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski tells us why the Franchione newsletter really matters

Damning.

--- ESPN's Bill Curry writes about life in the SEC

To read the rest of ESPN's SEC series, scan the menu running down the right side of this article

--- Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel checks in with another round of The Mailbag

The 2007 season had barely begun, and already I was scurrying around Manhattan in a mad scramble to find a sports bar showing a potential upset-for-the-ages (Michigan-Appalachian State) in the making. Looking back now, those first few hours of that first Saturday in September wound up setting the tone for the season to date.

I would never have guessed just five weeks later I'd be sitting in the press box at the most anticipated game of the season, Florida-LSU, clamoring for play-by-play updates during Stanford's game-winning drive against USC. Or that I'd be voting South Florida in my top 10 that night and Cincinnati in my top 15.

As is obvious by now, we are in the midst of a college football season unlike any before it, one in which no team -- not even the mighty Trojans -- is immune from defeat on any given week and where the national landscape changes drastically from one week to the next. In fact, this is the first time I can remember being this far into a season and having no idea who will play for the national championship.

Also: Week eight rankings, week seven pickoff

Also: The Mandel Blog

--- Sports Illustrated's Austin Murphy says it's the year of the upset - so who's next?

Also: More upsets and a surprise Heisman winner could cap the most volatile season in memory

--- Sports Illustrated's Cory McCartney ranks the top five one-loss teams

Also: Meet Texas Tech's TD machine, breaking down Saturday's Oklahoma - Missouri showdown

Not bad for a guy who had never played wide receiver in a game before this season.

The 6-foot-3, 208-pounder was a high school quarterback, throwing for 11 touchdowns and running for five more as a senior at Dallas Carter. It's an experience that has proved helpful in Crabtree putting himself in position to make plays.

If not for a delay in Crabtree being ruled eligible to play by the NCAA Clearinghouse, Harrell would have been throwing to him last season. Crabtree was forced to redshirt and he and Harrell worked together privately and have become close on and off the field. "We call each other 'brothers,' " Crabtree said.

During that redshirt season he also picked the brains of all-Big 12 receivers Joel Filani and Jarrett Hicks, who along with Robert Johnson, combined for 205 receptions in 2006, and the confident Crabtree saw what it took to be effective in Leach's offense.

"I seen 'em, I talked to 'em every day," Crabtree said. "Basically, I just put them all together and just made one person."

--- CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd pens a halfway review: where did all the heavyweights go?

Halfway through the season, offenses are on a pace to shatter, not just break, all-time records for points, total offense and passing.

NCAA I-A record for points per team: 27.3, 2002
So far this season: 28.5

Record for total offense per team: 382.6, 2003
So far this season: 392

Record for completion percentage per game: 58.4 percent, 2006
So far his season: 59.2 percent

Record for passing yards per team: 224.6, 2005
So far this season: 234.6

Record for yards per play: 5.42, 2006
So far this season: 5.47

Also: Healing Nebraska football should start with Dr. Osborne, be careful what you wish for (or don't): Bulls could actually do it, Sunday 7, Oklahoma earns an important victory but left wondering what if, Weekend Watch List, answer to Illinois mystery lies with D.C.-wired Locksley

--- CBS Sports' Spencer Tillman wraps up his three-part series about academics and athletics

Also: Upstart programs ahead of curve in ever-changing game

Interesting read.  Tillman's writing surprises me, he's kind of bland on TV but when he puts finger to keyboard he's thoughtful and has a command of a wide range of concepts and ideas.

--- The Sporting News' Matt Hayes gives us his midseason read on college football 2007

Also: Winners & Losers, Inside Dish, Cal flying high and staying focused, nightmare of a BCS matchup could be coming, What to Watch, Heisman Watch, recruiting put Illinois on the map this season

--- The Sporting News' Tom Dienhart previews the second half of the 2007 college football season

Also: Conference Call, If Callahan goes, Nebraska can't blow it again, In a crazy season why not the Buckeyes?, Week 7 awards, Blog Fog, Saturday Dreaming, Aggies are laying foundation for a change, Conference Call, good NFL candidates for college jobs

--- Yahoo! Sports Terry Bowden tries to discern why traditional powers have been upset so much lately

Now, I have to be careful here because this isn't going exactly where you think it might be going. I'm not saying that coaches at the power schools are getting out-coached. They didn't get to where they are by not knowing how to coach 'em up and get 'em ready to play. I'm just saying that desperate times call for desperate measures. Coaches who are trying to find a way to win ballgames with lesser talent are more willing to scrap their old philosophies and try something new than the guys with all the talent. Heck, if I have better players than you've got, I'm going to make sure I just keep doing what I've been doing and let the superior athletes be the difference. Jackie Sherrill used to say if it ain't broken break it. Now I know what he means. If you were the first person to put in the wishbone, you won the national championship. If you were the last guy to take it out, you got fired. The successful coaches at non-traditional power schools are playing a different game than a lot of the "comfortable" folks are willing to play.

Also: Playoff pulpit (oh brother here we go again!)

--- CSTV's Trev Alberts returns to answer his Mailbag and also discusses Kentucky's victory over LSU

--- CSTV's Adam Caparell profiles Heisman Trophy winners George Rogers and Johnny Rodgers

Also: Missouri the machine

--- CSTV's Jerry Palm analyzes the initial release of the 2007 BCS standings

--- CSTV's Brian Jones relays a story about a broadcast last week that saw him anger both coaches and the lead official.  Funny stuff.

Also: Nation who loves to hate

--- CSTV's Carter Blackburn administers an interesting top 25 pop quiz

--- Be sure to check out this week's efforts from the Rivals.com team of Olin Buchanan, David Fox, Steve Megargee and Mike Huguenin

--- Sun Sports TV's Whit Watson debates college football's top five helmets

UCLA?! LSU?!  Your co-hosts need help, heh.

Also: Signed, concerned, press conference mess

So understanding that, understand this: the four-ton egg that UCF laid at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Saturday set the Knights' program back five years. Forget Alabama, forget any monumental game that UCF has played in its 28-year football history -- this was the one game that could have changed their lives, and they blew it. Bad.

It's not a rivalry if you're getting your intestines handed to you every year. South Florida was ready; UCF was not. As an unbiased media guy, I truly have no dog in this fight, but sweet Christmas -- 64-12? 545 total yards to 144? The leading rusher in the nation garners 56 yards on the ground and no touchdowns? Are you serious?

You gotta show me something. What a disaster for UCF. And what a blow to the Big Five.

--- USA Today's Kelly Whiteside finds critics taking early shots at USF

--- The New York Times' Pete Thamel says this topsy-turvy season faces more flips

Also: Upset parade grows as Kentucky tops LSU, eccentric star flourishes in Boise State's small spotlight

Also: The Quad Blog

--- The Dallas/Ft. Worth Star-Telegram's Wendell Barnhouse says the season's first BCS standings don't mean much

Also: Wildcats hit Tigers in the mouth, knock them down, what do phone threats, O.J. and cupcakes have in common?, Ohio State's rebuilding becomes demolition D, polls need to take the wait-and-see approach

--- Be sure to check out the blog by Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer Tony Barnhart

--- The Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi says the Miami - Florida State rivalry is a shadow of its former self

Never in my newspaper career has a Florida State-Miami game seemed so meaningless. This is the first time in 30 years that both teams have come in unranked. Which is why they should have kept it as the season-opener. Even though both teams have been down for a while, when they opened the season against each other the game at least had some significance. When it was the season-opener, fans could at least harbor some hope about what the rest of the season would bring. Now the fans aren't hoping for greatness; they're coping with mediocrity.

--- The New York Post's Lenn Robbins says BCS madness strikes again

Consider this: A USF-Ohio State championship would pit one program that wasn't in existence 12 years ago against another that is in its 117th year of football and claims seven national titles. Somewhere in that great IT room in the sky, Woody Hayes is Googling South Florida. Hayes won't get any sympathy from Bo Schembechler, who like the rest of us, thought Ohio State was rebuilding this season.

Also: Gotta make USC No. 1 for most shocking 'L'

--- The Tuscaloosa News' Cecil Hurt says the greatest college football rivalry gets second-class treatment

--- In response to the replay review weirdness of last weekend, the Mobile Press-Register's Neal McCready says equality is absent in the SEC 

--- The Birmingham News' Kevin Scarbinsky says minority coaches have been invisible

--- The Birmingham News' Ray Melick says wielding power is essential to righting wrongs

Also: letting athletes coast will hurt them someday

--- The Mobile Press-Register's Paul Finebaum says Tennessee - Alabama no longer a must-see

The Tennessee-Alabama game has become an afterthought. It's passé.

Says who?

Check the starting time. The game begins Saturday at 11:34 a.m. and will be carried on something called Lincoln Financial. There will be no Keith Jackson bellowing "Whoa Nellie" and remembering his old friend Bob Neyland and his other old friend Paul Bryant (Keith called him "Paul" and not "Bear.")

This game this year couldn't even draw Verne Lunquist and Gary Danielson. Not than anyone will miss Danielson's incessant and banal chatter.

The announcers for this game will be Dave Neal, Dave Archer and Dave Baker. Does three Dave's beat a full house?

Instead, the league's No. 1 "old-school rivalry" isn't even the No. 2 matchup on this Third Saturday in October. The top dog belongs to the Ali vs. Frazier bloodletting in the Bayou Saturday night. No. 2 on this day belongs to Florida-Kentucky, a game that usually has to fight to even get on Lincoln Financial (the artist formerly known as the JP game).

There's something wrong with this. The Tennessee-Alabama game once stood the South on its ear. Now, it's the appetizer in the SEC. This is the first time since 1988 the game has failed to make a national network (Lincoln Financial is shown in nine states).

Also: Ed Orgeron is more than a caricature

***
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.

***

Ballhype: hype it up!
Tuesday
Oct162007

Heisman Talk

For years the usual complaints about the Heisman Trophy was that its winners were formulaic, pre-determined, and not necessarily the best players the game had to offer.  The formulaic thing makes sense, I mean the fact that there exist Heismandments speaks to a certain pattern of determining the winner.  Whether or not the Heisman Trophy winner is college football's best player is debatable and ultimately meaningless to its real virtue.

As for that other critique, this season has completely thrown out the window the whole pre-determined thing.

Much like the insanity of the first half of this 2007 college football season, the Heisman Trophy race is one big mess.  The sage and knowing Heisman Pundit has gone so far as to make like its a 1988 Nintendo game and is hitting the reset button.

We have come to a turning point in the race for the 2007 Heisman.

Seven weeks into the season, each of the players on the preseason HP Heisman Watch have suffered devastating blows to their candidacies. It makes for a very confusing race.

No other candidate from a traditional power is in place and ready to make a move. No player is wowing the country with season stats (Texas Tech players aside) that capture the imagination. No one player is dominating week in and week out.

Therefore, I think it is time to re-set the race, because right now there is no real leader.

So yes, sad orangutan.

This thing is wide open and it's exactly what the doctor ordered for Heisman Trophy critics.  At the same time, there's absolutely no energy to this race.  Is there a connection between this lack of excitement and a wide-open field?  You tell me.  What I do know is that this is quite rare what we're witnessing and while the opportunity's there for some player from outside the traditional powers who also isn't a preseason favorite for the honor to make a run ... it just ain't happening.

In a few more weeks those ballots go out and voters have three lines to fill out three names.  If form holds, voters will truly have a wide range of choices and we're going to learn something new about the award and its mysterious cabal of voters here.

Personally, Michigan's Mike Hart has been on my radar since week one.  I believe he's had only one game under 100 yards and showed a real competitiveness throughout some of Michigan's tougher, embarrassing games.  Heisman Pundit and MGoBlog both are banging that Hart drum a bit, so this isn't an isolated sentiment (see: website + shirts).  Hart is college football's Little Engine That Could - and does - so if nobody else makes a break for this thing, why not?

I think he can.

Tuesday
Oct162007

Pundit Roundup

Later tonight or Wednesday.  Thank you for your patience.

Monday
Oct152007

ESPN College GameDay Update: Week Eight

With the annual USC/Notre Dame battle looking subpar this year, I like GameDay's pick here in going to Lexington for the Florida/Kentucky game.

Florida's slim national title hopes die if they lose here, and Kentucky has to prove they're the team that beat LSU and not the one that flopped against South Carolina. 

Monday
Oct152007

Sunday College Football Hangover

Is now posted at FanHouse.  Lots of good pictures this week, thank you Getty.

Saturday
Oct132007

Saturday Live Thread: Week Seven

You know the drill.  Let's do this.

Friday
Oct122007

Friday Photo Blogging

From the collections . . .

Barrel cactus at close range.  I've got a bit of a thing for cacti/succulents and the desert.

Barrel-Cactus-400.jpg 

Wednesday
Oct102007

CFR's 2007-2008 Top Teams List: Week Six

As always, these are power rankings

  1. LSU (+1) - Say hello to your new, nearly-unquestioned leader.  Don't let us down Tigers.
  2. Florida (+1) - Because as of now I don't see anyone a "better" team behind them.
  3. California (+1) - This is a good team, but now they're almost accidental contenders.  Show us something.  And then do it again.
  4. Oregon (+2) - So difficult to defend.
  5. USF - Everyone says their offense is bad.  I say it's there if they need it.
  6. Oklahoma (+1) - Solid win over a much-improved Texas team.
  7. West Virginia (+1) - Now two weeks removed from USF defeat.
  8. Boston College (+1) - Kinda shaky Saturday.
  9. Ohio State (NEW) - Hangin' around, which is more than most teams can say.  That defense has been fantastic.
  10. South Carolina (NEW) - I have a love/hate thing with this South Carolina team.  They do just enough and that's not going to cut it anywhere except this wacky 2007 season.
  11. Arkansas (NEW) - Shaky Saturday against a nobody, but they're a known quantity.
  12. USC (-11) - SPLASH! Hard to drop them much farther in a power ranking, as irritating as that is.  If I did this in a different way they'd plummet.  Well maybe they'll tank against Arizona this week and do the work for me.  Every week's a season!
  13. Cincinnati (NEW) - Officially making a Big East title run.  Just ... wow.
  14. Missouri (NEW) - They've burned me before but so far so good after exploding against Nebraska Saturday.
  15. Illinois (NEW) - Defense? Check.  Run game? Check.  That tickly feeling of ascendance that makes teams outplay themselves?  Check.

- - - L u r k i n g - - -
Boise State, Auburn, Kentucky, Kansas State, Arizona State

- - - O u t - - -
Georgia, UCLA, Purdue, Wisconsin 

Tuesday
Oct092007

ESPN College GameDay Update: Week Seven

The Sooners were rightly passed up last weekend in favor of a trip to Baton Rouge.  It's GameDay redemption this weekend, however, as the Saturday morning three-headed monster takes in Missouri's trip to Oklahoma.

It's been a while since we've had real anticipation for a Big 12 North/South battle so be sure to savor this until Nebraska, Kansas State and Colorado get their acts together.

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.

Sunday
Oct072007

Sunday College Football Hangover

Is now posted at FanHouse.  Down goes Troy.

Saturday
Oct062007

Saturday Live Thread: Week Six

It's "midterm" time for the majority of teams this year and it should be anothe fantastic weekend.

LSU - Florida is the headliner, but almost every other game has some intrigue. 

Friday
Oct052007

Friday Photo Blogging

A rare photo from my collection this week.

No real story here, just kind of a cool shot from the outdoor balcony of a dining establishment in Old Town San Diego.  Good place, too, but then the state unnecessarily and greedily took over its management from private hands and it hasn't been anywhere near as good afterwards.  Typical.

Bandini-Top-400.jpg 

Wednesday
Oct032007

CFR's 2007-2008 Top Teams List: Week Five

As always, these are power rankings

  1. USC - Thoroughly dominant when not committing penalties and turnovers in the rain
  2. LSU - Have yet to face a legitimate quarterback but aside from modest blemishes doing what an elite team should do
  3. Florida - Slim pickings after one and two here.  Six offensive snaps in the first quarter, three overall possessions in the first half.  Auburn was playing keepaway.  That's how you play Brazil to a draw during international soccer matches.  But then you gotta remember Brazil is Brazil for a reason, namely that they're an elite soccer club.  So, too, are the Gators an elite football team (for now, let's see the why's and how's of the LSU game this weekend).
  4. California (+2) - Like Cal fan and Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz, the Bears are hanging around.  Beat a solid Oregon team on the road last weekend.  The defensive line is a little suspect for a top five team, but in the absence of some of the former elite returning to form, here they are!
  5. USF (+6) - Teams that haven't been there before tend to wilt after a big win like against Auburn.  Why focus on the game at hand when you can bask in your own glory?  Oops.  That's two solid wins now for the Bulls.  The offense went in the tank a bit against West Virginia, but I've seen them play a few times this year, they definitely can score more than they have.  The challenge at this point is consistency and focus in attempting to win the Big East.  This is uncharted territory but for now this looks like a very solid football team with a great defense, a mobile quarterback, a fairly innovative offense if they want to actually use it, and playmakers at tailback and receiver.  Lots to love.
  6. Oregon (+2) - Offense came alive in that fourth quarter against California before being done in by turnovers.  The Ducks remain incredibly explosive and are a very solid football team.
  7. Oklahoma (-3) - Colorado was able to wear then down with the run game which was surprising.  The Sooners should return to form, they're solid everywhere and may have been caught sleeping a bit but are no longer the mighty force we thought just a week ago.
  8. West Virginia (-3) - Met their match against USF.  Steve Slaton's big-game fumbling issues are worrisome but this team can clearly move the ball and actually had a solid defensive outing against USF.  Like Oklahoma, the shine is now off this fancy car but the engine's still working and can get them where they want to go.
  9. Boston College - Solid on defense, can run and pass equally well, NFL quarterback.  Somewhat sloppy the last two weeks but overall a motivated squad.  Hard to tell how good coach Jags is, but at worst he has that Larry Coker feel of taking over a good team from the previous coach and having exactly the right energy and style to put it over the top.
  10. Kentucky - I'm still suspicious of their defense and that schedule gets some meat on it in the coming weeks.  Like Boston College this team has a savvy, veteran, physically talented first-round quarterback doing everything right leading the way.  Coach Rich Brooks has overcome the "turnovers = turnaround" curse this year and is a proven winner.  So far, so good, although borderline top 10 may be the ceiling for this team.

- - - L u r k i n g - - -
It's almost impossible to rank anyone after the top 10.  Maybe next week?  In no particular order:

Ohio State, Georgia, Arkansas, UCLA, Cincinnati, Arizona State, Generic Big 12 North (Nebraska/Kansas State/Missouri), Generic Big Ten (Illinois, Wisconsin, Purdue)

- - - O u t - - -
Penn State, Hawaii, Michigan, Alabama, Rutgers 

Tuesday
Oct022007

Pundit Roundup

Making Tuesday Fun Since 2006!
***
A "weekly must-read"
***
--- ESPN's Bruce Feldman checks in with a Friday Mail Call.

Also: Book tour bonanza, weekend picks, top 10 scariest places to play and credit goes to Zook for Illini's start

I just got home from 10 days in the South on one of the early legs of the "Meat Market" tour. I ended up falling asleep at 9:15 last night local time. Sad truth of the road swing: I do think I've gotten over Chick fil-A. Saturday in Atlanta I had it for all three meals, and honestly it wasn't planned that way.

On the ride to Athens, I tried to get an egg and cheese sandwich and couldn't get it at the Publix I stopped at, but I was told that I could get it at Chick-fil-A. Sure enough, I did. Then after the Ole Miss-Georgia game a friend's wife gave me a chicken sandwich that became a late lunch as I watched Alabama-FSU from the press box. Finally, while scrambling to the Airport Marriott to try and catch the Auburn-Florida and USC-Washington games, I needed to pick something up to go and it was either a grilled chicken sandwich or Taco Bell. I opted for the chicken. By my calculations, I had six meals at Chick-fil-A, three dinners of ribs, 11 glasses of Sweet T, and the rest of the trip I lived off PB and whey bars. I'm back on the road again Friday.

--- ESPN's Ivan Maisel checks in from Tampa detailing USF's upset of West Virginia.

Pandemonium overtook the field at Raymond James Stadium, and the grizzled veteran inside you thinks, "It's September, for goodness' sake. Act like you've been there before."

And then you remember -- USF has never been here before.

In its 11th season of college football, in its seventh season of I-A football, and in its third season in the Big East, South Florida had never played before a sellout crowd at home. It had never established itself as one of the best teams in the nation. It had never reached the big time.

The Bulls did all of that Friday night. They didn't do it very prettily. But what the game lacked in artistry -- and if you missed the game on television, look at the box score and find the 10 turnovers -- it more than made up for in the passion that makes college football different from the game played in this stadium eight Sundays a year.

Also: Another weekly round of I-Formation

--- ESPN's Pat Forde says Insanity Saturday has shifted college football's landscape

Also: The Dash

--- ESPN's Mark Schlabach says baseball helped Dennis Dixon find success in football

Dixon said he spent an hour throwing the football and watched film two to three hours each day this summer. "When he came back to school, I was the first person he came to talk to," Bellotti said. "He said, 'Coach, I'm totally committed to football.' I know he was throwing and watching film, but he wasn't here. He had some things to prove to people because he wasn't here."

But Kelly knew Dixon had put in the work and would return as a much different player than the quarterback who left. "I saw it when I went down there and when I'd talk to him on the phone," Kelly said. "He'd call me in the middle of the night and say, 'Coach, I'm watching film of the spring game and they're running this coverage. What do you think?' When I talked to him, I got a feeling there was a trust factor between the two of us."

Also: Cal beats Oregon, Instant Analysis and On (and Off) The Mark

With the No. 6-ranked Bears leading No. 11-ranked Oregon 31-24, Ducks quarterback Dennis Dixon had driven his team right down the field in the final two minutes. Oregon reached the California 40 with 53 seconds to play. The Ducks were on the Bears' 20 with 29 seconds to go, then the 5 with only 22 seconds left.

"They did a nice job of making it down the field," California coach Jeff Tedford said. "I was getting ready for overtime. From the 5? They're too good from there."

After Tedford called timeout to let his defense catch its breath, the Ducks lined up to try to tie the game. Dixon took the snap and threw to the left side for senior receiver Cameron Colvin, who caught the pass around the 4. Ezeff had to fight through a block -- which he described as an illegal pick by a different Ducks receiver -- before he chased down Colvin near the end zone.

Ezeff leveled Colvin near the 1-yard line, but the Ducks receiver tried to stretch his right arm and the football around the pylon at the end zone. The football fell out of his hand.

It bounced into the end zone and rolled out of bounds.

"In my mind, I thought he scored," Ezeff said. "I was like, 'Damn, I'm going to be in trouble with my coaches.' But then I looked up and saw [cornerback] Brandon Hampton going after the football. I saw my coaches running at me making the signal for a touchback.

--- ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski takes a balanced look at Mike Gundy's press conference rant and its role in the coach/athlete/team vs. media relations game. A must read, too much good stuff to excerpt.

--- ESPN's Bill Curry says Gundy's outburst falls into a gray area

--- Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel returns for another round of The Mailbag

Also: Alabama matchup looms large for struggling Seminoles

Also: Mandel's Blog

--- Sports Illustrated's Austin Murphy finds South Florida ready to prove itself against West Virginia (and did they ever!)

--- Sports Illustrated's Tim Layden says players are fair game and open to criticism in big-time college sports

--- Sports Illustrated's Arash Markazi profiles an 11-year-old alleged quarterback phenom named David Sills

--- Sports Illustrated's Cory McCartney profiles soon-to-be NCAA rushing record-holder Danny Woodhead of Chadron State

Also: The All-Out Blitz 

--- CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd says Cal's program is structurally sound as long as Jeff Tedford is around

Since December a group of activists have climbed into a grove of oak trees to protest the construction of new athletic facilities. One of them gets naked from time to time. He was a tourist attraction during the season opener against Tennessee. While protecting the trees, the activists themselves are protected by a chain link fence and, on game days, a security force.

"There's a lot of concerns about our fans taking matters into their own hands," a Cal spokesman said.

For now, the activists have won. Ground isn't going to be broken any time soon. A judge is expected to rule soon regarding a tangled web of lawsuits that have delayed what athletic director Sandy Barbour believes will take the program to the next level.

If Tedford wasn't tied up through 2013 with a new four-year extension, there would all-out panic among Cal fans. It's hard enough luring recruits to a 78-year-old stadium where earthquake cracks are visible.

Also: Sunday 7, great teams turn to pumpkins before Halloween, Renegade? Ha! South Florida is downright lova-Bull after upset, weekend watch list, Insider and give Jags credit for the Eagles' hot start

Observers already are noticing a looser feel to the Eagles. Ryan -- Matty Heisman for now -- is throwing downfield more. Not that he had a choice under new offensive coordinator Steve Logan.

"You guys are playing to win," offensive lineman Gosder Cherilus quoted a friend as saying. "Before you played not to lose."

If Logan ever needs work, he could slide right over to his own radio show. Whoops, Logan already has done that. His show at 620 The Bull in Raleigh, N.C., was legendary for its quirkiness, humor and cool music.

Here's a slice: The former East Carolina head coach calls tailback L.V. Whitworth "NASA" because "conditions have to be absolutely perfect for him to launch."

When the defense dominated a spring scrimmage, Logan compared it to the mother-in-law who drove her car off a cliff. "Good news," Logan said, "but I sure did like that Cadillac."

Logan's idea of a perfect play is one play, 80 yards. Down 14-0 in the opener to Wake Forest, Jagodzinski turned to Logan and politely asked, "What's going on?"

"I know," Logan said, "don't worry about it."

BC won 38-28.

--- CBS Sports' Spencer Tillman talks about dollars, cents and the burden of the student-athlete

A former coach and friend, the late Bill Walsh, had a rule. You could not raise an objection in one of his meetings without providing a solution. Next week, we'll explore what can and should be done to correct the gross inequity. The solutions might surprise you.

--- The Sporting News' Matt Hayes returns with another round of Inside Dish

Also: The biggest losers, Winners & Losers: The AP poll goes mad, Big East looking like a big disappointment, did Coach Fran give A&M a reason to fire him?, no bull: South Florida is on the map, what to watch, Heisman watch and the Big Red of Nebraska looks awfully little.

--- The Sporting News' Tom Dienhart says Arkansas is leading the pack in new-look offenses

No school does it better than Arkansas. Star running back Darren McFadden, a Heisman front-runner, has gone hog-wild in the WildHog formation. "He's a great athlete who has quarterback mechanics," says Razorbacks coach Houston Nutt. "We wouldn't do it unless we had a difference-maker."

Arkansas has been running a variation of the WildHog since 1999, Nutt's second year as coach. McFadden caused a stir in the scheme last season when the formation was known as the Wildcat. The absence of a steady passing threat -- and McFadden's megaskills -- prompted Arkansas to snap him the ball so often that in some games the Wildcat looked like the base offense.

McFadden took 16 snaps against LSU and 13 against Tennessee. Arkansas scored touchdowns on three of those plays against Tennessee and averaged 8.3 yards on the snaps against LSU. McFadden threw three touchdown passes from the Wildcat formation last season and one from the WildHog in the opener this season against Troy. He took the snap and ran 56 yards for a TD last week against Kentucky.

"When he's a quarterback, they're basically a spread-out offense running a lot of wishbone principles, creating a pitchman with somebody going in motion and running a misdirection zone read," says Alabama coach Nick Saban. "You have to have run support on both sides. That isn't simple to do unless you load the box. And when a defense does that, it becomes vulnerable to the pass."

Arkansas also has a variation of the WildHog called the Race-Horse, which features running backs Peyton Hillis and Felix Jones flanking McFadden as he waits for the snap.

Also: Week five awards, Blog Fog: are NFL Sundays this exciting?, all hail the Big Ten! Really, Franchione's breach of trust likely won't be forgiven, which Big 12 coach will blow up next?, Conference Call and black candidates for coaching jobs abound

What's it mean? Fran is done.

The fact the Aggies are mired in mediocrity was enough to put Fran on the edge. This news pushes him over it.

I talked with someone close to the program last night and was told there was a player's only meeting yesterday. And it was very quiet. Fran later talked to the players.

I have to think the players feel their trust has been broached. Will they continue to lay it on the line for Fran?

And, I know this about people: If they aren't truthful about one thing, you sure as heck can believe they aren't being truthful about many things in their lives.

It's all about trust. And that bond has been broken. A marriage, friendship, etc., can't thrive without trust.

Early word I hear is that Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville would be interested in coaching A&M, where he worked earlier in his career. He wants out of Auburn, and Auburn wants him gone.

Stay tuned for more coaching news each week.

--- Yahoo! Sports' Terry Bowden talks about how his old man almost followed Bear Bryant's footsteps at Alabama

Very interesting read here, too much to excerpt so be sure to click on this if you like back stories and imagining the possibilities if things had gone down differently in life.

--- Yahoo! Sports' Gerry Ahern says the Wisconsin Badgers got by Saturday against Michigan State

--- CSTV's Brian Curtis tries to make sense of a wild week five

No, parity is not here in college football. If you think there is parity just look at the teams who were winless heading into this weekend. Five were teams from the Sun Belt, who kept getting stomped by BCS teams. That is not parity.

However, I am beginning to believe that parity may just have arrived for the BCS conference schools. On any given Saturday, there is a growing chance that either team can win on the field. Maybe not on a regular basis, but more times than in the past. That's why Oklahoma can lose to 2-2 Colorado and Kansas State can beat Texas (again) and Auburn with two losses sticks it to Florida and Clemson goes down to Georgia Tech and Illinois skyrockets to 4-1. In the six major conferences, plus Notre Dame, I can count three teams, maybe four, who clearly, well, have little or no chance against their brethren. That's not bad out of 66 teams.

--- CSTV's Trev Alberts returns for another weekly round of Mailbag

--- CSTV's Adam Caparell profiles Desmond Howard's magical punt return against Ohio State that prompted "The Pose"

Once Howard got to midfield, the Buckeyes were in his rearview mirror and there was nothing but pay dirt in front of him. As he raced down the sidelines, clear of everyone, speeding past a stunned and helpless Ohio State sideline, a thought popped into Howard's head.

"Should I do the pose, should I not? Should I do it? Should I not?"

The idea of striking the pose wasn't entirely Howard.  A teammate had actually brought up the idea to Howard earlier in the season, but Howard has just shrugged it off. He knew he was a legitimate Heisman candidate, but he didn't want to jinx himself by doing the pose prematurely.

And everything Howard was about growing up told him not to do it. Howard was raised and coached to put the team first. You don't celebrate the individual.

"Especially at Michigan," Howard said.

But in those few brief seconds, as Howard hit the 20-yard line and raised his finger high in the sky toward the Michigan faithful, he wrestled with idea. He didn't want to come off selfish, didn't want to be perceived as an individual. That was the last thing he wanted to do.

But 20 yards, later, Howard's mind had been made up.

"Once I crossed that goal line I said, `Forget it. I have to do it.'"

So as Howard ran past the goal line, entering the end zone just to the side of the far hash mark, Howard slowed up and came to a stop almost perpendicular to the goalpost.

Predictably, the crowd went wild. Howard had just scored his 23rd and final touchdown of the season and the decibel levels soared to ear-drum shattering proportions. Then, as if to defy all logic, the Big House got louder as they witnessed Howard give the stiff arm, his left leg lifted in the air, and brimming ear to ear he had just returned the longest punt in Michigan history.

"They loved it. They thought it was great," Howard said. "They thought the timing was perfect. It was like seizing the moment. So I had a lot of positive feedback."

--- Be sure to stop by the Rivals.com story archive for all the latest from Olin Buchanan, David Fox, Mike Hugguenin and Steve Megargee

--- Sun Sports TV's Whit Watson has a feeling for history in the making.  Check out this entry about how things have changed in the state of Florida.

I'm writing this entry in my office at 8:30pm on a Friday night. I'm here because South Florida is playing West Virginia on a Friday.

Because Rec Warehouse College Kickoff re-airs twice on Saturday mornings, the crew was compelled to stay at the studio until the conclusion of the USF-West Virginia game, so that we could re-tape the opening segment of the show to include USF highlights from Friday night.

To repeat: Sun Sports is paying me, a full crew, and two analysts to stick around until midnight in order to make sure that USF highlights make it into the Saturday morning re-airs.

Let this speak volumes as to how far the Bulls have come.

And please, let this get the USF fans off our backs.

I watched Saturday morning and sure enough, changes had been made to include USF.

Also: Bull Run

Let me offer you this nugget about how sports are produced on television: when the crew starts going to interviews in the stands and lengthy biographical sketches of players, they ain't doing that to "enhance the broadcast."

They do that when the game is a dud, or a blowout. USF fans should take this as a compliment.

The final stats on Friday night don't reflect it, but South Florida's defense was absolutely stifling. West Virginia, a team ranked 2nd in the nation in rushing coming in, managed 188 yards on the ground -- 169 yards below its average.

I said it on Rec Warehouse College Kickoff, and I'll say it again: USF's defense on Friday night was as good as I've seen anybody play all year. Period.

--- USA Today's Kelly Whiteside finds surprises galore in college football's first month

Also: One-and-out not necessarily the case in title chase, Oklahoma State hopes to move on from tirade, Justin Forsett rushes into limelight at California

--- The New York Times' Pete Thamel names winners and losers after a weekend of upsets

Also: Cal holds its ground and sets its sights on a title, a mentor to quarterbacks applies a deft touch at Oregon

At Oregon and at New Hampshire, [Oregon Offensive Coordinator Chip] Kelly has impressed those around him with his ability to retain football information. On New Hampshire bus trips, a popular game was trying to stump Kelly on which college any player in the N.F.L. went to. [Oregon quarterback Dennis] Dixon said Kelly can name the college, junior college and high school of every N.F.L. quarterback.

“Football things I retain pretty well,” Kelly said. “I do forget when to pick up my dry cleaning and where I parked my car, though.”

For both [New Hampshire quarterback Todd] Santos and Dixon, Kelly’s football mind has helped them create some memorable moments.

Also: The Quad Blog

--- MSNBC's Michael Ventre asks: USC or LSU? Both have their flaws

--- The Dallas/Ft. Worth Star-Telegram's Wendell Barnhouse returns with another round of College Football Insider

Also: Still no clear-cut favorite in crowded Heisman race, Franchione's "VIP Connection" newsletter raises a number of troubling issues, Duke lineman's brainchild might turn into dot-com gold

--- Be sure to check out the blog of Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer Tony Barnhart

--- The Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi says if God does care, St. Bobby will beat 'Satan'

I've never bought into the notion of God rooting for certain teams. Somehow, I just don't think He takes time out from comforting tsunami victims and feeding the Sudanese homeless just so he can become the Gators' 12th Man in Baton Rouge.

But if ever we needed divine intervention in sports, this would be the week -- the week Florida State plays Alabama in Jacksonville. I don't know about you, but I have to believe God never would allow Bobby Bowden to lose to Nick Saban.

Think about it: Bowden is known across the country as "St. Bobby"; Saban is known by another message-board moniker that is sweeping the nation: "Nick Satan." Personally, I don't believe Little Nicky is a disciple of the devil, but he is a disciple of Bill Belichick. And isn't that almost as bad?

Here's all you need to know about Saban's reputation: Georgia Coach Mark Richt, a Bowden protege, closed practice last week for the first time in seven years as a head coach. Not coincidentally, Richt's decision came on the same week Georgia was playing Saban's team and, yes, within a few day of when Saban's mentor -- Bill Beli-Cheat -- was nabbed for video-sabotaging his opponent.

--- The Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Ted Miller says USC's Pete Carroll is clicking on quest for perfection

What often gets undersold, though, are the philosophical and intellectual underpinnings of Carroll's approach to coaching and running a program.

His style has garnered more attention, but his success is hung on substance.

Here's what he told the Los Angeles Times this summer in a column about how he is devoted to, of all things, the 1974 book, "The Inner Game of Tennis."

"We are trying to create a self-actualized program," he said. "It's really about divine nonchalance."

Huh? Don't write that off as psycho-babble, though.

"Self-actualized," a term best known as the peak of Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, simply means a person becoming the best person he can be. "Divine nonchalance" suggests being great without needing outside validation, to be above the fray.

While many coaches study psychology and leadership -- UW coach Tyrone Willingham recently recommended Spencer Johnson's "The Present" during a discussion about the topic -- Carroll is a true aficionado.

Carroll's high school football coach apparently used Maxwell Maltz's groundbreaking self-help book, "Psycho-Cybernetics" -- a celebration of goal-setting as the driving force of a good life -- to educate and motivate his team, according to a profile in The Orange County Register.

Carroll also is longtime friends with Lou Tice, a Seattle-based management and motivational guru and founder of the Pacific Institute. Carroll and Tice partnered in 2003 for a charity, A Better L.A.

Carroll can be fairly curt and standoffish when asked questions that bore or annoy him. But introduce a topic that piques his interest and an eager and highly intelligent conversationalist appears.

It's clear he's still completely engaged and driven to "do it better than it's ever been done," which at present means leading the top-ranked Trojans to a third national title since 2003.

--- The Tuscaloosa News' Cecil Hurt details Alabama's woeful play against legitimate non-SEC foes over the past two to three decades.

So let’s keep going. Alabama has played a few non-conference teams that do meet that standard recently, teams like Oklahoma (twice) and UCLA (twice) and Virginia Tech (newly arrived in the neighborhood but deserving of the big-time label because of its successes under Frank Beamer). Alabama has played those teams — it just hasn’t beaten them.

In fact, if you stick to any strict definition of big-time football, it’s been over a decade since Alabama recorded a non-conference win of that stature. The Crimson Tide defeated Michigan in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1, 1997. It was the last game that Gene Stallings coached, and if any further symbolic evidence was needed to illustrate the chaos that followed him for a decade, the bare statistic — that Alabama hasn’t beaten a non-conference team more illustrious than Texas Tech since — should provide it.

You can make the question a little bit tougher, and provide some context for this weekend’s Florida State game, if you ask it this way.

When’s the last time Alabama won a big non-conference game in the regular season?

Again, we aren’t talking Hawaii or BYU here. So if we exclude Duke, as we should, then you really have to gas up the time machine.

The answer lies in the Bill Curry Era, when Thomas Rayam reached a big mitt into the sky and blocked a Penn State field goal try to preserve a 17-16 win on Oct. 28, 1989. To put that in context, just remember that some of the blue-chip high school seniors that Alabama is recruiting today hadn’t been born at the time.

--- The Birmingham News' Kevin Scarbinsky suggests September was the best month of football ever in the state of Alabama

Today, the first day of October, should be Fan Appreciation Day in this state, with a twist. 

Instead of college football teams celebrating their fans, college football fans should show their appreciation for their teams.

Think of what we just witnessed in the last 30 days.

It wasn't always pretty, and it wasn't close to perfect, but it just may have been the best month of college football there ever was in this state.

If you like games that ain't over till they're over, and not necessarily even then, it was a September to remember.

Auburn and Alabama played 10 games. Seven of those games were in doubt till a final drive. Five of those games weren't over till the final play was done.

From the first Saturday in September to the last, from Brandon Cox coming out of his fog to lead the winning drive against Kansas State to Brandon Cox rising out of the Swamp to lead the winning drive at Florida, it's been one heart-stopper after another.

No wonder Bill Oliver's on the radio selling the virtues of defibrillators.

--- The Mobile Register's Paul Finebaum says Bobby Bowden has fallen and he can't get up

Despite the media's best efforts, the FSU program has fallen and it can't get up.

Oh, it might win today (the Seminoles are a slight favorite) over Alabama. But the days of BCS glory and national relevance are long gone. FSU can't even compete for prominence in its own state anymore now that Urban Meyer has arrived. It is possible Bowden can still cobble together a decent season, in spite of a horrific start. Perhaps he can still leave the game with a modicum of respect, but most in the industry fear it's probably too late for him to go out with anything more than a whimper.

Bowden has taken the path of most great coaches who forget that the good of the program is more important than the selfish wishes of its leader and have to be shoved out the door as opposed to retiring with grace.

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Ballhype: hype it up!
Monday
Oct012007

ESPN College GameDay Update: Week Six

Although the Gators lost last weekend, ESPN is making the right choice in heading down to Baton Rouge to see Florida play LSU this Saturday.

Sunday
Sep302007

Trivia

How many weeks (not counting this week) has LSU been ranked Associated Press No. 1 in its entire history?

Also: Name the season(s) in which this was accomplished.

Update: Jack chimes in with the full and complete answer below.  Congratulations!

LSU was ranked #1 for 6 weeks in 1958, including the final poll on December 1. They were ranked #1 for 8 weeks in 1959, including the preseason poll. So that's 14 weeks in 1958 and 1959. This is the first time that LSU has been ranked #1 in the AP since November 2, 1959. Geaux Tigers!