- LSU - First time at No. 1 since the Billy Cannon years, no?
- USC - Arguably the best team in the country
- California - !
- Ohio State - Too high
- Wisconsin - Way too high
- South Florida - ! ! !
- Boston College - !
- Kentucky - ! ! !
- Florida - Too low
Who else but Get The Picture:
A couple of days ago, I linked to a story in USA Today about how the NCAA was looking to expand the playoffs for 1-AA football to 18 games.
Well, according to the same paper, it looks like the NCAA is just getting started.
The championship and competition cabinet last week forwarded a proposal to the NCAA’s board of directors to enlarge the current 16-team field to 18 beginning in 2008. Cabinet chair Carolyn Femovich says that is the first step toward a field of 24 in the near future.
“I think that’s the ideal number we’re shooting for,” says Femovich, executive director of the I-AA Patriot League. “The cabinet heard loud and clear that future expansion could be both warranted and necessary to provide access to all of our qualified conferences and members.”
In case you’re wondering, that’s 24 schools out of 120 total in Division 1-AA. For now, of course…
Got that Plus One fans? It doesn't stop there. This is bureaucracy we're talking about here, and interests who are at a trough. Once you create something, it just grows and expands and changes course from its limited intended purpose. Call it "mission creep", call it bugaboo, call it whatever - it sucks.
Those of you quibbling over a four-team playoff or an eight team or a sixteen ... I'm not sure that you understand that whatever you think is right, the future course is already set for massive expansion. You and I may disagree about not having a playoff versus having an eight-team framework but in the end we'll both lose because that beast won't stay in its cage.
The only power here in having a say about the direction of the sport is in saying "yes" or "no". Count me as a strong "no".
Al Groh, being an ex-NFL coach, likes to hand out game balls after each game. A fairly popular football tradition that can be found down to the high school level. When the UVA compliance department heard about the handing out of game balls, they decided that it must stop."It's not specifically in the rule book that you can't give out a game ball," UVa compliance director Steve Flippen said, "but there are a lot more interpretations than there are rules and that's one of the interpretations of the extra-benefits rule.That's right, the seemingly innocuous tradition of giving a player a game ball after a game is an extra-benefit under the interpretation of NCAA rules that cannot be tolerated. Waiting until the end of the year, however, is fine.
"At the end of the year, if a team had a player of the year and awarded him a game ball, that would be OK, but not on a game-by-game basis."
So not only did Virginia football stop handing out game balls, they had to take back all the balls already handed out this year.
--- Boise State might still be the best of the non-BCS conference bunch. Their victory over Southern Miss last night was effortless. That's just a bad-ass team on their own turf.
--- I think we all slept on one of the best comebacks in the last few years. Memphis led Arkansas State at halftime last night, 31-6. Final score: Arkansas State 35-31. Wow. I had literally checked that score just before the half and shook my head as Arkansas State had been fairly solid this year. Looks like the real Arkansas State showed up for that second half.
--- Was just now listening to a local sports radio station. It looks kind of sad on paper but they're pretty amped about Alabama/Florida State. This thing looks like a laugher for Alabama but the hosts were actually leaning towards the 'Noles because of two factors: Alabama's tired (I'll buy that) and Bobby Bowden's wanted a game like this forever. Bowden grew up an Alabama fan and I can see where he'd do his level best to make his team competitive here but it just doesn't seem like he has any of that old magic. Color me skeptical.
--- Also, strange decision by ESPN this week. There's a bunch of good night games on tomorrow and they went with USC/Washington for the ABC Prime Time matchup. I realize USC is a national team and the #1 team and Washington has some storyline appeal as they try to return to power. There's business sense in choosing that game but a lot of people are scratching their heads and the Pac-10 conference as well that Oregon/Cal isn't the showcase game.
As is generally the case, this photo is not mine - it belongs to CFR's good friend Steve. Bored of Steve's pics? Feel free to send in your own, just try to be sure they're interesting. In the meantime, the image below is from the Stone Brewing Company's 11th Anniversary tasting event ... thing. I don't know, I wasn't there.
Stone's rightfully proud of themselves, and it shows.
The ice cream truck for adults
As always, these are power rankings
- USC - Steadily improving, getting a little of that 2002-2004 USC feel although not as explosive on offense.
- LSU (+2) - Having fun and playing loose.
- Florida (-1) - On again off again defense is the achilles heel here. Tim Tebow desperately wants to win each and every down, haven't seen that from a player since Reggie Bush.
- Oklahoma (-1) - You think they're trying to make a point?
- West Virginia - Messing around and throwing the ball. We'll check back again when they play Cincinnati and USF.
- California - Was the second half against Arizona something to worry about or a good team simply letting off the gas?
- Texas (+1) - Disappointing so far but psychologically I think this upcoming game against Kansas State could really set this team afire.
- Oregon (+1) - They've always played the Bears tough and this weekend is an opportunity to prove superiority.
- Boston College (+1) - Playing loose, almost too loose (slow start against Army). The pieces are there on both sides of the ball.
- Kentucky (NEW) - This may be too aggressive of a ranking but it's one big muddy mess after the top seven or so teams anyway. Like Boston College, this team's motivated behind a senior quarterback destined for the first round of the NFL draft and playing solid enough defense.
- USF (NEW) - George Selvie is playing out of his mind right now. Versatile offense is fun to watch, really put on a show in the first half against North Carolina last weekend.
- Rutgers (-1) - Hard to tell if this team's really improved from last year as they dance through a forest of cupcakes, but it's not like they're making mistakes either.
- Alabama (-1) - Not a great team, but I'm chalking some of that loss up to Georgia being Georgia and getting one of those weird wins they get before looking good/not great for a few weeks. Solid in the fourth quarter one week, pedestrian the next.
- Arkansas (-7) - See Kentucky. I'm not sold one bit on teams like Wisconsin, Penn State, South Carolina, Virginia Tech etc. The 'Hogs made some egregious blunders but they've also narrowly lost to two teams ranked above them (here) and aren't all that bad of a football team considering that without a legitimate quarterback teams still can't stop either of their backs.
- Ohio State (NEW) - Eh ...
- - - L u r k i n g - - -
In no particular order: Cincinnati, UCLA, Arizona State,Wisconsin, Penn State, Georgia, Hawaii, Michigan
- - - O u t - - -
Tennessee, Louisville, Nebraska, South Carolina, Georgia Tech
McKnight was the first recruit Wilson offered a scholarship to after he joined Orgeron's staff in 2005. McKnight was a sophomore back then. At the time, McKnight's coach, J.T. Curtis, a Louisiana high school legend, kept trying to sell Wilson on his seniors.
"Yeah, all right, J.T., but how can I get Joe?" Wilson persisted. "I wanna start recruiting Joe."
Wilson realized then and there that if the Rebels had any shot at landing McKnight, they had no time to spare. Orgeron, too, had brainstormed about a plan to get McKnight to Oxford. Going head-to-head with LSU for a player whom the Rebels staff believed to be the best back from New Orleans since Marshall Faulk certainly sounded like a long shot, but Orgeron suspected adding another heavy hitter into the chase could change that.
USC, which had already gotten commitments from blue-chip tailbacks Marc Tyler and Broderick Green, knew about McKnight, but the Trojans were recruiting him as a cornerback. USC linebackers coach Ken Norton had even told one of Curtis High's assistants that he thought if McKnight went to USC, he'd start three years at cornerback and go right to the NFL as a first-rounder.
Before USC coaches went out on the road for their spring evaluations last May, Orgeron dialed up old pal Pete Carroll and told him Joe McKnight would be their next Reggie Bush and was better than any back in the country. "I wanna help Pete," Orgeron later said, "but it doesn't hurt to get Joe away from LSU."
To Orgeron, USC was the perfect diversion. Sure, USC could open the kid's eyes to things far beyond Tiger country. But USC was also a four-hour plane ride away. Orgeron figured if there were some confusion in McKnight's mind, it might give Ole Miss a chance. Ole Miss might become a viable alternative for a kid who was conflicted, especially since Orgeron felt that if anyone could win McKnight's trust, it was Frank Wilson."If he goes to USC, he's gonna win the Heisman," Orgeron said. "His tape is better than Reggie's high school tape. If he comes to Oxford, we'll change the bricks on Manning Way to McKnight Way."
Buy his book. Buy his book. Buy his book.
--- ESPN's Ivan Maisel returns with his regular feature the I-Formation.
Also: 2007 bowl projections
--- ESPN's Pat Forde returns with another edition of the Forde Yard Dash.
When hungry in Lexington after the once-every-three-decades victory over a top 10 team, The Dash recommends a visit to one of the SEC's great greasy spoon joints, the Tolly-Ho (40). Get yourself a Ho burger, some cheddar tots and an Oreo milkshake -- after you've had a few beers. It's a short stagger from several quality bars to the Ho.
Noted. Also: Mark Richt is the SEC's king of the road.
The Tide had to settle for a field goal in the opening possession of overtime. When the Bulldogs offense came out for its turn, Bobo went for the kill right away.
His call: 142 Z takeoff. Stafford was to fake a handoff to the right, drawing the safety that direction. Then he'd look for his receiver deep on the left side against one-on-one coverage. "If they stuffed the run on first down, at their end of the field, their fans are gonna go berserk," Bobo explained. "You've usually got to hit one deep in a game like this." Georgia's sideline coaches asked Bobo which receiver he wanted to run the route. His response: "I don't care." Receivers coach John Eason made an unusual call, going with Henderson -- a senior who never had caught a touchdown pass, and who had dropped a deep ball earlier in the night.
The play unfolded to perfection. Stafford faked. Henderson sprinted off the line and got behind the coverage. Stafford -- a prep superstar with a cannon for an arm who occasionally is plagued by sophomore inconsistency -- threw his best pass of the night. Henderson went up after it.
"It was my battle to win," Henderson said. "He came up big," Bobo said. "That kid's been through a lot." People were always telling 5-foot-10, 150-pound Henderson he wasn't big enough to play SEC football. Henderson proved them wrong by becoming a dangerous kick returner -- but making plays like this was a whole different deal.
--- ESPN's Mark Schlabach finds an ailing LSU still shines in win against South Carolina (+ instant analysis)
Also: Georgia radio icon Larry Muson to miss Alabama game. Solid profile of the man.
--- Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel returns with another round of The Mailbag.
I won't argue with anyone who says Willingham was mistreated during his brief stint in South Bend, because in many regards, he was. If you want to argue that Weis has been unduly idolized, or that he's a flat-out bad coach, the Irish are currently giving you no shortage of ammunition.
But to go straight for the race card? For one thing, it's so absurdly simplistic, and it's also an extremely unfair generalization to place on an entire university. I'm not saying it's preposterous to think race played an issue -- obviously, racism is still very much rampant in our society -- but what evidence do we possibly have that it played any bigger role at Notre Dame than at any other school that's fired a black head coach?
Meanwhile, do people have any idea how much harm they're causing black head coaches by leveling such baseless accusations? College football is in desperate need of more minority head coaches (there are only six black head coaches among the 119 Division I-A schools), but what incentive does a school have to hire a black head coach if, as in Notre Dame's case, it's going to be accused of racism if things don't work out?
Plus an interesting observation on the rise of the spread offense.
I didn't hear the comment, but 95 percent seems like an unrealistic number considering the amount of NFL-bred head coaches around the country who will always run a pro-style offense. But I do think the spread will continue to ... umm, spread, considering the massive success being had with it by schools like Florida, West Virginia and Oregon.
In fact, the place where it's most likely to take off next is the SEC. It's no secret coaches are copycats, and as teams find out over the next couple of years (as Tennessee did last week) just how hard it is to defend the spread when you've got the right quarterback and skill players, many of them will likely adopt it themselves. (LSU has already begun doing so a bit under new offensive coordinator Gary Crowton.)
I don't see the spread as a fad; I see it as an epiphany that, for whatever reason, took football coaches 100 years to realize, but now that they have, seems almost like common sense. Simply put, if you spread the field, you give your playmakers more room to run free. As the late Randy Walker, who himself converted from the power-I to the spread at Northwestern, told me in 2005, "It's as if all those years, we were playing football in a phone booth."
--- Sports Illustrated's Cory McCartney returns for another round of the All-Out Blitz
--- CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd scribbles some thoughts in his Notebook.
--- CBS Sports' Spencer Tillman talks about the NFL's cheating issues and college football
College football is a mixed bag. Former Georgia coach Wally Butts and Alabama's Bear Bryant were accused by the Saturday Evening Post of "fixing" a game between the Dogs and Tide. Alabama won that game 35-0. The 1963 trial turned into a circus with a parade of witnesses, including Bryant and two of his players who shot holes in the allegations.
By any standard, the info was the kind of stuff you can get from "just watching" and is useless against an opponent.
Joe Namath later asked how could the game be fixed when he called most of the plays? To prove his point, Bryant got up to draw X's and O's on a board to show the jury the real world of coaching and all the rest of it. Jurors' eyes glazed over and had no clue what the man was saying. Butts won a judgment of $3 million, eventually cut to $400,000 or so.
Then there's "good natured" cheating among buddies. In 1971, Texas coach Darrell Royal accused Oklahoma's Barry Switzer and his staff of sending a spy -- a grad student who took notes -- to closed practices at Memorial Stadium. Switzer said it didn't happen, but in his book Bootlegger's Boy, he fessed up. The game ended in a 6-6 tie.
--- The Sporting News' Matt Hayes lists last weekend's winners and losers
--- The Sporting News' Tom Dienhart hands out week four awards
--- Yahoo! Sports' Terry Bowden releases his weekly Sweet 16 list and analyzes Michigan/Penn State
--- CSTV's Brian Curtis looks at the differences between college football's unbeatens and the winless
--- CSTV's Trev Alberts returns with his weekly Mailbag
--- CSTV's Adam Caparell says Steve Spurrier's just being honest
--- As always, the Rivals.com crew of Olin Buchanan, David Fox, Mike Huguenin and Steve Megargee are all over the college football scene. Pick and choose from the story archive.
--- USA Today's Kelly Whiteside delivers a round of pooch kicks and pancakes.
Last year, after a 7-1 start, the Tigers seemed poised to win their first league title since 1991. After beating the Yellow Jackets in October, they rose to a No. 11 ranking. Five days later a crushing loss to Virginia Tech sent the Tigers slumping to a 1-4 finish.
The booster club circuit in the offseason was particularly rough for Bowden."It depended on the alcohol," Bowden said. "If alcohol was served and they were drinking for an hour, you'd get some pretty cold-blooded questions. But if you stand eyeball to eyeball and they're not drinking courage, it's not as bad."
--- The New York Times' Pete Thamel finds that Kentucky football no longer has the blues
--- The Dallas/Ft. Worth Star-Telegram's Wendell Barnhouse returns with another round of College Football Insider.
Also: Gundy's ill-considered outburst masks real issue, when you least expect it a Saturday full of surprises, common sense and college football can actually coexist, 20 years later schools still heed stern message, expert helps us read between the lines
Three wise men have come up with an idea that might change college football officiating.
The change has nothing to do with rules or rules interpretations, but it has everything to do with perception.
Walt Anderson, Ken Rivera and Jim Blackwood are the football officiating supervisors, respectively, of the Big 12, Mountain West and Western Athletic conferences. Their roster of officials are cross-pollinated because of geography.
The trio came up with the idea of developing a combined or blended crew that will work games this season in their three conferences.
--- Be sure and check out the blog of Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Tony Barnhart.
--- The New York Post's Lenn Robbins profiles Army captain Mike Viti
Viti is a team captain and one of just four regimental commanders at West Point. He told The Post because of football practices, games and travel, his regimental commander duties (he oversees eight companies and two battalions) and an 18-credit course load (“It’s the first time I haven’t taken at least 20 credits,’’ Viti said), he’s getting about four hours of sleep per night.
The heavy workload hasn’t affected Viti’s play. He has scored a touchdown in each of the past two games for Army (1-2), including a 3-yard run for a TD in Saturday’s 21-10 loss to Wake Forest.
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Viti’s success is that he wasn’t born into a military household and initially didn’t see himself attending a service academy, much less become one of its leaders.
Both of his grandfathers fought in the Korean War, but his dad didn’t serve. Viti, from Berwick, Pa., was considering Villanova and Penn State. Then came the day that changed the world, certainly Viti’s: Sept. 11, 2001.
“I was in my world history class in high school my sophomore year and one of the teachers walked in and said there had been an accident,’’ Viti said. “I remember watching the second plane go into the tower and you knew then it was no accident.
“Then we heard about the plane hitting the Pentagon and the one that went down in Pennsylvania. I felt like my home was in the center of a triangle - New York, Washington and Shanksville. By the end of my junior year I made an unofficial visit to West Point and I knew then that this was the only place for me.’’
--- The Birmingham News' Kevin Scarbinsky finds Bobby Bowden having mixed feelings about the Bama Bowl
A year later, Auburn fired Doug Barfield and came close to bringing home Vince Dooley from Georgia. When that done deal came undone, Auburn turned to Bowden.
He was busy preparing his 10-1 FSU team for an Orange Bowl rematch with Oklahoma when the call came.
"They contacted me on the sly," Bowden said. "I couldn't dare let word get out that I was talking to somebody about a job."
Bowden said he had an uncle in Childersburg, and he met with a small circle of Auburn insiders, including the president, at his uncle's house. Bowden swears the Auburn president offered him the job and asked him to resign from Florida State to take it right away.
Bowden remembered his reaction this way: "I can't do it. I'm playing in the Orange Bowl. My boys would have a fit. Y'all ought to go ahead and hire somebody else."
Bowden said he recommended Pat Dye.
"I knew Pat was a great coach," Bowden said. "I knew he had coached for Bear Bryant. I thought he'd be pretty good competition (for Bryant), and it turned out to be true."
Speaking of Bryant, Bowden said he's a big reason why Florida State and Alabama haven't played for so long. After taking the FSU job in 1976, Bowden invited Bryant to play in a golf tournament in Tallahassee. "The idea was to try to get a game with Alabama," Bowden said.
Bryant visited, but there was one problem. Two years earlier, in 1974, Alabama had needed a late field goal to beat Florida State 8-7.
"Bear said, `As long as I'm AD at Alabama, we ain't playing y'all."
And they haven't. Until now.
--- The Mobile Press-Register's Paul Finebaum says Nick Saban's impact is evident
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.
ESPN College GameDay will make a rare trip out west to Eugene, Oregon on Saturday ahead of the Cal/Oregon game.
Yes, Virginia, there's football played west of the Mississippi, west of the Rockies, and north of Los Angeles.
Wait, you mean they actually have a defensive coordinator? Bad joke, moving along ...
Defensively, the entire first half, we got hit in the mouth and acted like someone took our lunch money, and all we wanted to do is have pouty expressions on our face until somebody dobbed our little tears off and made us [expletive] feel better. Then we go out there and try harder once our mommies told us we were OK. Neither one of those things is acceptable.
As is fan protocol, websites were swiftly established demanding the head of defensive coordinator Lyle Setencich.
College Football Live, moments ago:
Sideline reporter Todd Harris talking about the USC/Washington State game, said be sure to tune in as they'll have a very special guest introducing the lineups for both teams. That's a dead giveaway that the great Keith Jackson will do the honors.
I stole this one from my friend Steve - he won't complain. He goes to unusual places though, and then I flip through his galleries and steal pictures from those places. Solid friendship, right?
Ok so this is some unspecified place in Utah at 11,000 feet elevation. Basically the same elevation as Haleakala in Maui but without all the grazing bovine on the way up. Boring? Maybe, but It was between this and a photo from a NASCAR race in Fontana last year with mountains in the background. His 909 for life (don't ask) sister would have been all proud though and we just can't let her have these victorious moments of pride. Sorry, Vick. Maybe next week.
As always, these are power rankings
- USC - Fashionably late, USC re-asserted itself to the tune of 8.2 yards/carry, the most ever by an opponent in Lincoln. Holes. Pac-10 openers tend to be a little scary for USC so we'll see if this ranking gets adjusted after Saturday against Washington State.
- Florida - Answered most questions about Tebow's quarterbacking ability and young defense, no? Wowwww, one hell of a performance. Like USC's showing, Florida had a historic night (as did LSU the week before against Virginia Tech) with 59 points against the Volunteer defense. They kind of have that 2006 Ohio State feel by playing great defense with only two returning starters. Except, I'm thinking they don't want to get trucked in a bowl game like that.
- Oklahoma - Is Sam Bradford having the best start to a career of any frosh quarterback in NCAA history? Sure looks like it. Could go under the radar a bit until the Texas game.
- LSU - Could prove me wrong. Matt Flynn's a great fit for that offense. Him and Hester are gritty and athletic which is a rare combination. Dorsey's simply the best and perhaps unstoppable. I'd love to see his impact against Florida and possibly a BCS Championship game.
- West Virginia - Shaaaaky on defense, but breathtaking on offense. Pat White's learned to convert on third and long passing situations which is scary. Then there's that Devine kid.
- California (+1) - Ho hum, but just about everyone other solid team took a dive. Maybe Cal's next? Pac-10 play should revive them a bit.
- Arkansas (+3) - Weird night, they get a lot of credit for battling back from a huge early deficit. Hard to rank them much higher than this given the parody that is their coach (see: LSU), but they're playing hard and have one of those rare unstoppable forces of nature in McFadden. He did all he could Saturday before a concussion sidelined him late.
- Texas (-2) - Something's not quite right. Should turn it around, but how many more late rallies does this team have? Jamaal Charles is coming along nicely.
- Oregon (NEW) - Can't quite figure out how to play consistent defense like Duck squads of a decade past, but it hasn't mattered as Dennis Dixon has transformed himself into an unstoppable machine. Top 10 NCAA rushing numbers hint at a hard-nosed mentality sometimes lacking in Eugene.
- Boston College (NEW) - Impressive victory over a solid (we presume) Georgia Tech team. Matt Ryan's become unstoppable in the new offense that lets him ... gasp! ... change plays at the line. Defense has been lights-out as well, although that might not last forever with star tackle B.J. Raji gone.
- Rutgers (NEW) - This is less a reward for the shameful Norfolk State (who?!) victory but a recognition that they're still playing solid defense and have mixed in a little more passing game to balance an already solid offense.
- Alabama (NEW) - There's something not quite right about their defense, but so far the Tide has mostly held the line. Terry Grant's been great at tailback and takes pressure off John Parker Wilson.
- Penn State (+2) - I could see their offense collapsing upon itself somewhere (perhaps against Michigan this weekend?) but there's also a bit of a 2005 feel to this Nittany Lion squad (at least on defense).
- Louisville (-6) - Hangin' on by a thread. Absolutely no defense, but hard to beat when the offense is unstoppable.
- Hawaii (-1) - See: Louisville.
- - - L u r k i n g - - -
In no particular order: Ohio State, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Arizona State, USF, Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Georgia, South Carolina
- - - O u t - - -
I'm looking forward to next week, things remain deeply unsettled here until more games are played.