Random, but interesting-link
There's a really cool comparison chart within the link. Clemson's athletic department did their homework (with the help of IMG Marketing) and feel they're very competitive relative to regional schools.
The season-ticket cost is $225.00
Single-game ticket prices (opponent):
- Texas A&M, Florida State, Miami-$48
- Boston College-$40
- Duke, Temple-$35
As an aside, that's a fairly interesting home slate for the Clemson fans, 3 national programs, another decent OOC opponent, and two cupcakes.
This is a rare spring practice update from us.
One of the more interesting stories coming out of spring this year is the quarterback competition at Florida State. We'd be shocked to see incumbent Wyatt Sexton unseated, but his job is very unsafe once the Seminoles get past the season-opener against Miami.
Here is a fairly vanilla story from the Orlando Sentinel about that competition.
The names to know
- Wyatt Sexton
- Drew Weatherford
- Xavier Lee
South Carolina's Spring Game will be televised. Call this a hat-tip to Steve Spurrier from ESPN.
- "Garnet and Black Spring Game"
From ESPN.com's Mark Kriedler, in the aftermath of Rick Neuheisel's "victory" over the NCAA-
This is also a man who will be running another major college football program. Because Rick Neuheisel, generally speaking, winds up winning a bunch more games than he loses.
There is no vindication here for college sports, put it that way. The college game, so much higher-stakes than the highest-stakes NCAA basketball pool could ever be, now pivots almost solely on the concepts of W-L, bowl participation and attendance. Neuheisel, again speaking generally, delivers on all fronts.
Ahhh the dictates of the game-win, and the rest will follow. This creates a lot of problems, ones that can be mitigated with more active and intelligent leadership from athletic directors, coaches, current players, the media, and the NCAA.
One of our favorite topics on here is Ted Ginn, Ohio State's precocious
"athlete". In just 32 touches last year, he scored 8 times.
On our old location we campaigned hard for people to stand up and notice his skills well before the national media or Ohio State's coaches really took notice.
Anyway, ESPN's blogger extraordinaire Bruce Feldman is reporting that Ginn may finally end up at his original position---cornerback. He has apparently added some weight and the Chris Gamble comparisons are starting up. The difference is that Ginn is light years ahead of Gamble athletically, and according to Feldman's sources, defensive technique. Scary.
We'll file this under Heisman, not necessarily for this year (the 3-headed monster of Bush, Leinart and Peterson should come away with the award), but maybe Ginn's junior year, presumably his last in college football.
In the spirit of the current season, I'd like to jump up and let it be
known that college football is still around. For a while now I've
held onto an article by The Sporting News' Tom Dienhart.
He lists 65 reasons college football is better than college basketball. Keep in mind this is dated to 3/6/2002. What would you add to this list?
he NCAA Tournament will begin next week. It's a fun event, especially the first weekend. In fact, it may be among the four best days on the sports calendar. Still, college hoops pales in comparison to college football. Let me count the ways, 65 of them in all.
- 1. Pregame flyover by F-18 fighter jets at Navy games. You are lucky to get some cheesy indoor fireworks at some basketball games.
2. Georgia's UGA. The lovable Bulldog is out of place on hardwood, as are
other living mascots like Bevo (Texas), Mike the Tiger (LSU), Bully
(Mississippi State), Reveille (Texas A&M), Smokey (Tennessee) and Spirit
(Washington), among others.
- 3. Trophy games. The hoops world has nothing to match hardware like the Little Brown Jug (Michigan-Minnesota), Floyd of Rosedale (Iowa-Minnesota), Old Brass Spittoon (Indiana-Michigan State), Apple Cup (Washington-Washington State) and the Bronze Boot (Wyoming-Colorado State).
- 4. Tailgating. It's an all-day (and sometimes all-night) affair where the art of potato chip eating is taken to new heights. And double-dipping is permitted. Conversely, you arrive for a hoops game minutes before tipoff and blast out the door at the final buzzer.
- 5. Marching bands. Lots of brass and sass, while hoops games are left with puny pep bands devoid of high-kicking drum majors. And when was the last time the Stanford Band played a role in the outcome of a Cardinal basketball game? I rest my point.
- 6. Opening kickoff. Nothing in basketball compares with the key-chain-jingling anticipation and crescendo of the initial meeting of foot and pigskin. Blink and you miss the tipoff in hoops.
- 7. The Vol Navy. It's too cold to take a boat to a basketball game at Tennessee. Ditto for Washington, where many fans dock their boats on Lake Washington near Husky Stadium.
- 8. Homecoming. That squeal of delight you just heard was the sisters of Alpha Phi celebrating the fact one of their own just was crowned Homecoming queen. Group hug.
- 9. Bowls. In this thing called March Madness, only one team gets to finish its season with a win. Twenty-five teams left bowls with smiles on their faces last year.
- 10. Mascot fun. Opposing teams rarely, if ever, bring their mascot to basketball games. But on Saturday afternoons, we get to see Missouri's Truman the Tiger get wracked on the goal post by the cheerleaders of K-State. And if we're lucky, some group of cheerleaders will kidnap that scary-looking Husker thing-a-ma-gig in Lincoln.
- 11. Army-Navy. Name another game between two bad teams that guarantees a sellout and national TV audience? Do Army-Navy even play each other in basketball? Does anyone care?
- 12. Running onto the field. From Miami players' entrance amid billows of smoke to Colorado players following in the tracks of Ralphie, charging onto the field charges up fans.
- 13. Helmets. Nothing speaks pride and tradition more than headgear worn by schools like Michigan, Nebraska, Tennessee and Texas. Uniform styles come and go in basketball.
- 14. Hitting. Those guys wearing culottes think there's contact in the paint? That's nothing compared to the vertebrae-rattling collisions across the middle of the field each Saturday in the fall.
- 15. Big Uglies. Hoops is for pretty boys with long legs and $200 sneakers. There's no place for the 340-pound slobber knockers who do one thing well: Shove around people. Let's hear it for fat guys!
- 16. End zones. The diagonal slashes at Notre Dame, the checkerboards at Tennessee... Just one look at some and you know where you're at without stepping outside the stadium.
- 17. Name games. Many rivalry games have monikers. The Backyard Brawl: Pitt-West Virginia. The Iron Bowl: Alabama-Auburn. Big Game: Stanford-Cal. The Egg Bowl: Mississippi-Mississippi State. That isn't the case for basketball, where they are just "games."
- 18. 100,000 fans. You think a few thousand Cameron Crazies is something? Check out the scenes at Michigan, Penn State and Tennessee, where they shoehorn in over 100,000.
- 19. Polls that matter. In hoops, they are nothing but an accouterment to the season that have no bearing on shaping the postseason. In football, they are a factor in the BCS.
- 20. Each game counts. You can't say that for basketball, where the Big Dance renders moot any early season defeats. But if you lose in September in football, your quest for a national title could be finished.
- 21. No Dick Vitale. Apparently, he thinks if you talk loud enough and long enough, what you have to say is important.
- 22. Keith Jackson. The anti-Vitale whose dulcet tones and trademark inflections serve to complement the game -- not dominate it.
- 23. Touch of luck. The Clemson Tigers reach out and touch Howard's Rock as they swoop down toward the field. Maryland has a Terrapin it touches, while Michigan has the "Go Blue" banner players jump up to touch.
- 24. No baggy shorts. The football uniform lends itself to conformity Conversely, the high-top boys love flaunting their tattoos, high socks, low socks, headbands, long hair, afros, cornrows, etc.
- 25. Notre Dame. From your seat in Notre Dame Stadium, you can suck in the scene of leaves turning colors, the Golden Dome and Touchdown Jesus. Try doing that in the Joyce Center.
- 26. Signing Day. College basketball has split its signing day into an early and late period. Football climaxes with a flurry of faxes on one celebrated day.
- 27. Crowd participation. There's nothing like the sight of seeing thousands of arms doing the tomahawk chop with the accompanying war chant at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee.
- 28. Tearing down the goal posts. It's the traditional way to celebrate a big win. Sometimes, the goal post even gets totted around campus. No one tears down a basketball goal, save for Darryl Dawkins.
- 29. Rivalry Week. While not all rivalries are played the third week in November, most are. The concentration of blood feuds makes for high drama with matchups like Arizona-Arizona State, Auburn-Alabama and Florida-Florida State, among others.
- 30. No Bobby Knight. Wanna know what it's like to never be wrong? Go ask Knight. Basketball can keep him.
- 31. Postgame concerts. There was a time at Wisconsin where the band's Fifth Quarter celebration was attended by more fans than the game. In a hoop arena, you may hear an announcer drone on with the final stats after a game.
- 32. New Year's Day. It's the high holy day of the sport, when a gluttonous portion of pigskin is served up on TV. Hoops has no such concentrated focal point.
- 33. Baton Rouge on a Saturday night. The LSU fans have had all day to, ahem, get fired up for the night game and turn the town into one of the loudest places on the planet for three hours.
- 34. Red River Shootout. Texas and Oklahoma annually meet in Dallas with the Texas State Fair serving as the backdrop. College basketball counters with multiple teams meeting at neutral sites that stir the passions of no one.
- 35. Chief Osceola. When was the last time the Florida State mascot sat perched atop faithful horse Renegade and jabbed his flaming spear into center court of the Leon County Civic Center? Try never.
- 36. Ohio State Buckeye stickers. The players stick them on their helmets for good deeds performed on the field.
- 37. Midnight Yell Practice. Close to 50,000 show up the night before Texas A&M home games to prep their lungs for some throat-bleeding screaming the next day. The Aggie hoops teams is lucky to draw 50,000 for a season.
- 38. Postgame applause for the opponent at Nebraska. Sure, it's easy to be nice to a team whose rear end you just stomped. Still, it's a class act by the Big Red faithful. There's no equivalent in the basketball world.
- 39. Joe Paterno's glasses. They are as hip as wing tips and Depends, but they are one of the sport's enduring symbols. Basketball gave us Bobby Knight's sweater pulled up over his belly.
- 40. Varied sideline attire for coaches. College hoops is pretty staid: a jacket or sweater. But football coaches can show their school colors with officially licensed gear that gives them a comfy Saturday-afternoon-on-the-couch look.
- 41. Head sets. Thousands strain each week to read the lips of their school's sideline Caesar. But it's even better when the coach spikes his head set in frustration. Sorry, basketball coaches, but a towel or clipboard won't suffice.
- 42. Staying power. Football players can't turn pro right out of high school. In fact, they have to remain in school for at least three years. In hoops, the best prepsters never even lace 'em up in college, which dilutes the quality of the game.
- 43. Visors. Grid coaches can don headgear. Check out Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops' visor. And Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer looks snappy in his ball caps. Hoops coaches give us gel and comb-overs.
- 44. ESPN GameDay. It's the epicenter and focal point of the sport on Saturdays. Miss it and risk being misinformed. When set up on location, it creates a rock concert scene. The CBS basketball studio show with Jim Nantz has the pizzazz of a loaf of white bread. Count how many times Nantz says "On the road to Atlanta" and "March Madness." You can stop once you hit 4,000.
- 45. Spring ball. The post-fall pad popping helps tide fans over until August rolls around. In some parts of the country, spring football is the No. 2 sport behind fall football.
- 46. Just passing by. Walking through the Grove is a pregame ritual at Ole Miss, as fans fawn over their heroes as they pass by on the way to the game. Tennessee has its Vol Walk.
- 47. JumboTrons. There's nothing like looking up and being dwarfed by a replay of the play you just saw. Some schools even use them to taunt. See Oregon.
- 48. Fresh air. Sure, some teams play in domes, but most do battle outside. And you can really appreciate that when you watch a game at a place like BYU, Washington, Army or Colorado.
- 49. Road trips. Who caravans to a basketball game? But just watch the trail of cars from Blacksburg, Va., to Charlottesville, Va., for a Hokie-Cavalier football game.
- 50. Bowdens. Hoops has nothing like the father-son coaching duo of Bobby and Tommy Bowden. Now, if we can just talk Terry out of the TV booth.
- 51. Push-ups after touchdowns. Many buff male cheerleaders drop and give fans how ever many points their team now has. A great way to stay in shape, as long as you aren't a cheerleader at Vanderbilt.
- 52. Toilet paper. Not in the stalls, but in the stands. The sight of streams of the stuff sailing from the upper reaches of a stadium following a touchdown is enough to bring a tear to Mr. Whipple's eye.
- 53. Bowl rings. Try impressing the blond in your English class by flashing an NCAA Tourney watch. "Hey, baby, we lost in the first round to Coppin State. Wanna get a pizza?"
- 54. No excessive TV timeouts. How many times are you watching a basketball game only to have the rhythm and excitement amputated by a TV timeout? Doesn't happen in grid.
- 55. Awards. Sure, the hoop side has the Wooden, Naismith and what not. But football gorges itself with trophies. There are 19 that are awarded to players, ranging from the Heisman to the Groza. Heck, there's even a trophy for the best assistant coach.
- 56. Overtime. Yes, basketball has it, but nothing tops the thrill of teams taking turns lining up at the 25-yard-line and trying to trade scores until someone drops. Want proof? Go back and watch last year's Arkansas-Ole Miss seven OT thriller.
- 57. Bad blood. It runs deeper on the gridiron. There is no better example than the feuding that's going on in the Northwest between Oregon and Washington. Huskies coach Rick Neuheisel accused the Ducks of unethical recruiting. He also was upset because during Oregon's game with Oregon State last year, an image of someone puking was followed by a picture of Neuheisel.
- 58. Noise makers. You won't find many -- if any in arenas. But go to a football game at Mississippi State and you'll be deafened by the clanging of cowbells.
- 59. The SEC. College hoops has its lynchpin league in the ACC. But for all intents and purposes, that has been a two-team league for years: Duke and North Carolina. Maryland has nosed its way to the top. But the SEC features a greater number of teams that have made big waves nationally in recent years: Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, LSU, Auburn, Georgia and Alabama.
- 60. Variety. There are more styles of play in football than basketball. On any given Saturday, you can see a spread offense, option, triple-option or two-back set. In hoops, the styles are less varied. For the most part, you either run-and-gun or play a halfcourt game.
- 61. State Troopers. Hoops coaches don't need 'em to escort them on and off the court. But a couple big 'uns run interference for the coaching gods of the south each Saturday.
- 62. Playing catch. How many times do you see two people in a grassy knoll hurling a pigskin between them as they count down to kickoff? It's part of getting ready for the game. It's too cold to shoot hoops outside before a basketball game.
- 63. Face-painters. This is a different crowd that you should approach with caution. It's a commonly known fact there are more per capita in the football crowd than the basketball crowd. Go ask the Gallup people.
- 64. Impromptu choirs. At Maryland, coach Ralph Friedgen instituted a policy of having the players gather in front of the student section after a victory and serenading them with the school fight song. That doesn't happen at Cole Field House.
- 65. Big bass drums. Texas' has Big Bertha, which measures 54 inches in diameter and weighs 500 pounds. Purdue has "The World's Largest Drum." Alas,neither can be found on the hoop court. But they hold center stage on Saturdays in the fall, just begging to be pounded by a big furry mallet.
I finally found a link with 2005 spring practice dates. Yes,
spring practice is well underway for many teams, but several out there
Today is the inaugural edition of Friday Heisman Blogging. Yes, I know it's Saturday. Go figure.
Right off the bat, there is the news that 1946 Heisman winner, Army's Glenn Davis, died Wednesday. There is another piece and pictures of him on the Heisman.com website.
He scored 59 touchdowns and netted 4,129 yards rushing and receiving in his career.
He had led an interesting life, dating famous actresses, and later marrying the ex-wife of 1954 Heisman winner, Wisconsin's Alan Ameche.
A cool picture of Davis-
More to come...
Yes, I'm a party-pooper.
Tomorrow, we will have a new friday blogging ritual, to keep up with the joneses of the blogging world who often "cat blog" or "car blog" or "XYZ blog" on Fridays.
Friday will become our "Heisman blogging" time.
Much more on the weekend unless more distractions come our way.
As always, thank you for stopping by and please continue to use our wealth of links.
I can't believe it's come to this.
More and more idiotic Tommy Tuberville quotes and news items continue to come to my attention. Hopefully this is a one-time deal but I have my doubts.
So, where to begin? How about...this
"Before you go and play Georgia and Alabama, do you want to go play at Michigan? I don't"-Tommy Tuberville
Wow. Tommy, this quote is typical of your fraudulent and broken logic about Auburn's schedule. The reason you were left out of the Orange Bowl last year and not Oklahoma, was exactly because you didn't come close to scheduling anyone competitive out of conference. In addition, your conference was way down last year, and you coasted in on a light in-conference slate.
So, how do you go about planning to make a run at the title game? You continue scheduling cupcakes! How stupid. The reason you were rightly excluded is you didn't give your team a chance to lose like so many other D-1 teams are willing to do, in the name of proving themselves. Solid out-of-conference games are college football's weeding system. When an overhyped team meets a legit OOC opponent and loses, they are weeded out of the title hunt. It's a great system, keeping the Auburns of the world from ever coming close to a title game when they barely have a top 5 squad.
So how does Auburn, and others of its ilk, cheat a good and meaningful system? They build a cupcake highway on which to declare themselves rightful Orange Bowl participants. It's wrong, its fraudulent. I'm not sure Auburn would have survived a normal OOC slate so early in the season last year. They were tripped up by lowly Georgia Tech just the year before. The system did its job there. So auburn responded by avoiding the system altogether.
It's a horrible aspect of the game, and we've already devoted way too many words to it on here already. Check our archives for plenty more.
Unfortunately, the Auburn athletic department and its fiat-in-chief Tuberville have made with the wayward crowd populated by half the SEC and Kansas State. Auburn gets some credit for taking on USC, but OOC schedules are often made many years in advance, and at the time USC was a rare big-name program that happened to be dragging along rock-bottom, perfect pray for a midlevel SEC team hoping to grab and coattail as a solid OOC conquest. Unfortunately for Auburn, USC got good just as they appeared on the schedule.
Here are some more great Tuberville quotes-
"I'm not going to put our guys in a situation where they have to play a very tough conference game, then go out and play a very tough road non-conference game," he said. "I'm not going to do it. It's not fair to them. Our conference is hard enough."
Um, Tommy, lately your conference hasn't been hard enough. Your most difficult game last year was in the Sugar Bowl, an ugly win over a lower-ranked, 1-dimensional Virginia Tech. Nobody from within the SEC (at least, anyone who appeared on your schedule, since SEC teams don't play a complete slate) came close. Yet a fringe top 10 team took you to the ropes. Right.
"We don't have to apologize for the schedule we play," Tuberville said. "We've got Georgia Tech. You want to put yourself in a scenario where you can have a competitive schedule, but you want to win the SEC. That's your goal."
Hubris. Hubris. Hubris. Just when I was going to ask myself where are all the outraged college football writers taking the Auburn coach to task, one came along to at least give Tommy a few wags of the finger. Sort of.
Here's TSN's Matt Hayes-
First, the good stuff-
The e-mails came pouring in from the Plains the day after Southern California disposed of Oklahoma and secured the national title. Auburn was robbed. Auburn would've given the Trojans a better game. Auburn this, Auburn that. Auburn, Auburn, Auburn.
At this point, I'll introduce Pat Hill. You know him as Fresno State's brash and bold coach, a guy who has built a program from the scrap heap and will play anyone, any time, any place to gain respect. So I placed a call to Hill last week and told him Auburn just added a home game against Division I-AA Western Kentucky to complete its 2005 schedule. And before I could ask the question, he gave the answer.
"We called them," Hill interrupted. "We wanted to play them. I guess their schedule was already filled."
No, it wasn't. Fresno officials called before Auburn added Western Kentucky, and Hill is speaking with a politically correct tone because, well, he'd love a shot at Auburn somewhere down the road. Yeah, good luck with that. Auburn has bigger fish to flop.
Like The Citadel. Or Western Kentucky. Or big, bad Ball State.
This is why Auburn wasn't one of two teams playing in the Orange Bowl national title game last season, why the Tigers were stuck in the Sugar Bowl politicking for respect. Respect? Play someone with a pulse outside your conference, then we'll talk.
Wait, I take that back. Aubie played USC in the 2002 and '03 seasons and lost by a combined 47-17. The Tigers also played Georgia Tech in 2003 and lost 17-3. Hence, the reason for last year's brutal nonconference slate of Louisiana-Monroe, The Citadel and Louisiana Tech. And the reason the Tigers weren't playing USC in the Orange Bowl.
Excellent! Up to this point, Hayes is dead-on. Simple, logical. But his underlying logic is wrong.
Look, Auburn shouldn't have to apologize for its schedule; it plays in the SEC, the toughest conference in college football. But like it or not, teams must prove themselves outside of their conferences to earn style points. It's as much a beauty pageant as it is a demolition derby.
WHAT?! Auburn definitely has to apologize for its schedule. And be sincere about it. The OOC scheduling game is definitely not a beauty pageant. It's the last "weeder" process left in the game, since so many conferences are going the way of the 12-team, 2-division format that helps the major in-conference powers avoid playing each other, maximizing the conference's total of good records in the "beauty pageant" that is the end-of-year record's dance with the college polls.
Auburn was put in this predicament after Southern Miss bailed out of a game because of conflicts with the new Conference USA schedule. But here's the hitch: Southern Miss informed Auburn last September. University officials knew for five months -- through a magical unbeaten season, through the controversy of not being able to play for the national title because of a pathetic nonconference schedule -- that they needed a nonconference game for 2005, yet they chose to continue down the same path.
Basically, Auburn neglected a five month window of opportunity to get someone real on their schedule, including the aforementioned Fresno State. Instead, USC grabbed the Bulldogs a few weeks back. The same USC team that played in the Orange Bowl despite a ton of close wins this last season, including an opener against the same Virginia Tech that almost beat Auburn, and the same USC team that got into that game after learning the previous season's lessons---don't lose, and continue to beef up the OOC schedule because the in-conference slate let them down when it came time for the BCS computers to choose between USC, Oklahoma and LSU. Clearly Auburn and USC have taken two vastly divergent paths in their pursuit of championships, one honorable and competitive, the other fraudulent and anticompetitive, if not arrogant. Luckily for college football, the honorable team and its coach, Pete Carroll, have gone on to win two titles. The Auburn Tigers have been left panting in USC's dust, and they have only themselves to blame.
Believe it or not, it gets worse for Auburn-
A university spokeswoman says Auburn needs seven home games per season to make budget. Fresno State didn't want a game in return -- "We usually play on the road; we know that," Hill says -- but Auburn steered clear of a team that is 10-8 against BCS teams since 2000.
So, this quote basically catches Auburn's spokespeople in a lie. Nice. Actually, two lies. The first being that an OOC game against an opponent like Fresno State would be on the road. Well, Fresno's coach said they end up on the road against elite BCS teams all the time. Lie.
Then another potential lie-Auburn needs 7 home games to make budget. Auburn is one of the most popular teams in college football, and with an incredible season like last year, they are now flush with additional cash and BCS game revenue that comes with success. They more than likely have enough money to make budget this year without a seventh home game. I'm not buying what they're selling.
Unbelievably, there's MORE from CTT (Coach Tommy Tuberville, as the Auburn folk like to say)-
This, from Ivan Maisel/ESPN.com-Auburn is replacing the best backfield in the last 50 years!
Unbelievable. I'm not sold on Carnell Williams, but Ronnie Brown was/is the real deal. Jason Campbell's a decent quarterback, but not much more than that.
I remember a few years ago Notre Dame had a modest backfield of a decent quarterback, Rick Mirer, and 4 super backs, the "Killer B's"-Jerome Bettis, an NFL Hall of Fame type back, Lee Becton, the best back on the 1993 Irish squad that finished #2, Reggie Brooks, another first-round pick like Bettis, and the sleek Jeff Burris, would would star as a terrific free safety and future NFL cornerback.
Or how about the current USC squad of Heisman trophy winner and eventual #1 pick Matt Leinart, with two future first round backs in Reggie Bush and LenDale White, and potentially, a third this year in Chauncey Washington.
What is Tommy smoking? I just listed two better backfields in the last 15 years, both of whom achieved far far far more on the field where it counts, than the Campbell/Brown/Williams troika.
Nor should it. It looks like some folks are starting to catch on...
First, from the sometimes up, often down Pete Fiutak, on CFN's "Ask CFN" (March 4, 2005 entry)-
Is it just me or has the Pac 10 gone weak-kneed in the scheduling department this year? I have always been a fan of the league because, while other conferences were beating up on the small fry and talking about how great they were, Pac-10 teams were hitting the road and playing games worth watching. The Southern California and Arizona schools are keeping up their end but the northern schools are wimping out big time. Is it just a 1-year fluke, are the schedules tougher than they appear, or are Pac-10 schools trending towards softer schedules? – JAHNice work, Pete. This underlines another point I've danced around, but knew someone out there would run with it---the Pac-10 is consistently the best scheduling conference in college football.
A: Absolutely, dead wrong. The Pac 10 did a great job scheduling real non-conference games and has even better ones on tap for 2006. You’re right; USC didn’t have to schedule a landmine like Fresno State. Arizona State is going to LSU and Arizona is going to Utah and hosting Purdue. There are some great other non-conference matchups too. UCLA plays Oklahoma, Oregon State is playing Boise State and at Louisville. Stanford is playing at Navy and Notre Dame, and Washington also plays the Irish. As far as the future, none of the other BCS leagues come close to having as good a non-conference slate in 2006: Arizona at LSU, Arizona State at Colorado, California at Tennessee and against Minnesota, Oregon at Fresno State, Oregon State at Boise State, Stanford at Notre Dame, USC at Arkansas and against Nebraska and Notre Dame, UCLA against Utah and at Notre Dame, and Washington at Oklahoma and against Fresno State. Only Washington State is taking it easy.
Also, addressing another issue I raised in an earlier essay and rant (and more), Fiutak has an interesting idea about early-season games:
The NCAA (or the infamous BCS group) should enact a policy whereby wins against non-IA opponents to not count toward a team's record, but a loss would. Therefore, there's no reward for scheduling such cupcakes - only risk. It won't stop the bullies from scheduling "tune up scrimmage games" like this, but it might take away some of the motivation to do so. – DougThis isn't a bad suggestion, at first glance. I still don't understand the need to grab teams from another entire division, but I agree with Fiutak that teams would be best served with some kind of warmup game that didn't count for anything instead of early-season losses when strong and weak teams are on more equal footing costing a great team more than they should when the polls come out.
A: For everyone’s sake and for the betterment of the game, I have a different solution. Every D-I team should get one home game that doesn't count against a D-IAA team on the last weekend in August. This does two things: 1) it gives every team a tune up game. Without the preseason like the NFL has, college football teams have to rock from the opening kickoff. The result is sloppy play and uneven teams that aren’t nearly as good as the are a few weeks later. Wouldn’t you rather see Miami play Florida State in the middle of October than on opening day? If teams don’t want to risk injury, they can play their backups and develop some depth. 2) It’s an easy payday for the schools making the athletic directors happy. After that one home game, there are no more D-IAA games on the schedule.
Our next item on the scheduling list, keeping with the Pac-10 theme:
I found this amazing write-up on one of our blogs in the links section, comparing the SEC and Pac-10 out-of-conference schedules, head-to-head matchups, and several other scheduling factors. It's pretty damning against the SEC if you ask me. A lot of it is in graphical form and hard to copy on here, so just stop by the link and take a look.
For a conference whose supporters and many from within claiming outright "superiority" over other teams and conferences, they look average if not worse against what is often considered the weakest or next-weakest BCS conference, the Pac-10. Kudos to the author, who for the most part uses data in a fair way to absolutely crush a lot of pre-existing media and fan bias towards the SEC, and in a similar vein if the post had gone a little farther, the Big 12.
Year-to-year, these conferences aren't static in relative strength. Nobody is really superior, when using smart analysis, but some years one conference is really strong, and another year it's weak. That's college football. Some years the SEC is looking great, some years it's the Pac-10 or the ACC.
In his new blog (premium content) on ESPN.com, Bruce Feldman had a brief discussion about the running and throwing abilities of Texas quarterback Vincent Young.
Feldman says he is on Young's bandwagon, noting the obvious athletic skills, but hits on something I'd like to discuss a little more.
However this Dallas Morning News writer says it's time the rest of us acknowledge what Young and his coach Mack Brown are asserting: Young can throw the football, too. Actually, it's not time just yet. Spring drills don't prove that. And while he may have a better completion rate (59%) than Major Applewhite and Chris Simms had, Young's 12-11 TD-INT rate is downright mediocre. Good passers usually operate at a two or three-to-one clip.
One of the most poorly used statistics out there today is completion percentage. It means nothing without context. In Vince Young's context, he rarely throws the ball, often dumping it off while on the run and rarely within a sophisticated set of plays. Young's 11 interceptions on just 222 attempts is staggering.
Simplistic and ball control offenses tend to have much higher completion percentages compared to the more sophisticated and risky offenses, making completion percentage such a pointless stat without context. Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell threw at a nearly 60% clip three years in a row, without much deviation, yet until last year he really wasn't much of a quarterback. A much better thrower, USC's Matt Leinart, has a career completion rate well over 60%, yet in the Orange Bowl completed just over 50% of his passes. Yet he also had the game of his career, tossing four touchdowns and throwing several unbelievable passes, most notably to tight end Dominique Byrd and receiver Steve Smith for touchdowns.
It is unrealistic and asinine to place Young's throwing percentage as comparative to a guy like Leinart, who although making a lot of easy throws, has the legitemate throwing skill to complete difficult throws on a consistent basis and yet still keep his interception rate low.
When writers and pundits get into these comparative statistics games, they have to be smart about what they are saying and not trick the audience by misuse of available statistical measures. The Dallas Morning News writer tried to be a homer and loses with us, and the esteemed Feldman also caught him in the act.
That said, we have some very good things to say about Vince Young, the athlete. Well before his breakout game against Michigan in the Rose Bowl, a veritable coming-out party before the second-largest televised bowl audience last year, a good source of ours said, "Vince Young is the best running quarterback since Michael Vick". That source is dead-on.
One quick explanation on that quote. There are option quarterbacks and there are running quarterbacks. Michael Vick was a runner, so is Vince Young. To this point in his career, Young had been an inconsistent but incredibly talented runner, and Texas has changed itself into a 1-dimensional run attack to hasten his development and take advantage of his and Cedric Bensons' run abilities. That sacrifice paid off big time in the Rose Bowl, as an overmatched Texas squad basically lost to Michigan but Vince Young dominated the Wolveries. He had several breathtaking improvisation carries and shredded a fairly unathletic but overall highly skilled defense. Nobody will ever question his run skills after that.
Keep in mind the quote wasn't directly comparing Young and Vick. They are two different quarterbacks, and two significantly different runners. Only in the context of "running quarterbacks", Young is in Vick's class---clearly.
As always, the SportsLawBlog has a terrific write-up on the situation.
The NCAA has a tough task in regulating amateur, intercollegiate athletics,but its tendency to strictly rely on its often contradictory rules has hurt athletes (see Jeremy Bloom, Mike Williams). And now its own employees could not keep up with the changing bylaws, creating the loophole through which coach Neuheisel escaped, costing the NCAA $2.5 million dollars.
In the end Neuheisel claims he was vindicated, but he escaped on a
technicality, as the NCAA argued in its letter published yesterday (and
reproduced on CollegeFootballResource).
But the NCAA also got a taste of its own medicine, so the author is
somewhat unsympathetic to their having to pay for their slipup.
The people most hurt by the situation are the athletes and fans of
the "once proud" UW football program, who suffered through a 1-10
season last year, as well as the smoldering mess in Neuheisel's wake at
Washington and Colorado, both under heavy investigation and sanction
from the NCAA and suffering on the field.
Great, great read.
I guess this means Neuheisel won?
Here's the USA Today story. This thing is wrong on so many accounts, not just coach Neuheisel, but the UW and the NCAA.
Some noteworthy sections of the story-
"I feel fully vindicated," Neuheisel said outside the courtroom. "Obviously they're going to have their stories, too, but I feel like this is the best scenario. Nobody's nose gets bloodied."
"The legal system works," he added. "The players got together and found an amicable resolution. I'm thrilled to be moving on."
Last week, [Trial Judge Michael] Spearman left open the possibility of declaring a mistrial because the NCAA had failed to provide Neuheisel's legal team with an updated version of its bylaws during discovery. In a statement Monday, the university said it agreed to settle because a mistrial could be declared. The updated bylaws seem to bolster Neuheisel's argument that NCAA investigators acted improperly when they failed to tell him in advance that they planned to question him regarding his gambling.
It appears the case could have gone either way until the last-minute NCAA bylaws thing prompted a settlement in Neuheisel's favor.
Here is the NCAA's release concerning the situation-
Myles Brand Statement Regarding Settlement Agreement with Rick Neuheisel
For Immediate Release
Monday, March 7,2005
Wallace I. Renfro
Senior Advisor to the President
317/917-6117 (public and media relations main line)
“The NCAA has agreed to a settlement in the lawsuit brought against the Association by former University of Washington head football coach Rick Neuheisel. The settlement is in the amount of $2.5 million and includes Mr. Neuheisel’s attorney’s fees and costs.
“One of the issues in the lawsuit was the meaning of NCAA Bylaw 32.3.7 (Disclosure of Purpose of Interview). Editorial revisions to the bylaw were adopted effective approximately six weeks before Mr. Neuheisel was interviewed in June 2003. The NCAA's interpretation of Bylaw 32.3.7 is that the disclosures required by the bylaw may be made at any time before the staff asks questions of an interviewee. Moreover, the disclosures required do not include a disclosure of the specific NCAA bylaw that the interviewee may have violated. In the NCAA's view, a broader reading of the bylaw is contrary to the intent of the drafters of the bylaw, and inconsistent with the language and purpose of the bylaw.
“The settlement in this case is the result of restrictions placed on the NCAA by the court about how the Association could explain the bylaw and defend its rightful interpretation.
“I have complete confidence that the NCAA enforcement staff acted properly and in compliance with NCAA bylaws with regard to Mr. Neuheisel's interviews. Even so, an independent examination of procedures and processes employed by the national office staff to implement NCAA bylaws will be expanded to review this specific instance. In addition, the Association’s general counsel is reviewing all enforcement interviews subsequent to April 2003, where ethical-conduct concerns were being addressed and where the same interpretation was applied. The Association's member institutions hold themselves and their employees to a high standard of compliance with NCAA bylaws, and the NCAA staff will continue to hold itself to the same high standard.”
Elizabeth Hoffman, the president of the University of Colorado-Boulder, has resigned.
There were several issues at work here, but clearly the football
sex/booze/prostitutes recruiting scandal and very recent sexual abuse
allegations had a major impact.
Below is the text of her letter of resignation-
To the Board of Regents:
I have spoken many times about my view of principled leadership. It has become clear to me that, amid the serious matters the University of Colorado now confronts, my role as the leader of the University has become an issue. It appears to me it is in the University's best interest that I remove the issue of my future from the debate so that nothing inhibits CU's ability to successfully create the bright future it so deserves.
Therefore, I intend to resign my position as President of the University of Colorado effective June 30, 2005 or whenever the Board names a successor.
This decision enables me to continue to be an advocate for quality public higher education in the State of Colorado and to work even more closely with the Board to resolve the very serious budget matters currently before the state legislature, to resolve the Ward Churchill matter, and to attend to the pending Title IX trial. It further enables us to oversee the first full year of the reforms we implemented regarding the Athletics Department, football recruiting and our alcohol and sexual conduct programs. It also provides time for the Regents and the University to make as orderly and seamless a leadership transition as possible.
I do not take this step lightly or hastily. I love CU. I have given it my heart and soul these past five years. I deeply appreciate the enormous support and assistance I have received from the students, faculty, administrators, legislature and the larger CU community.
The controversies we have confronted in the past year have helped clarify a set of values and principles I think are vitally important for the University's future. They are values and principles I personally hold dear. They include:
To that end, the larger CU agenda is quite clear, and I urge the Regents and my successors to continue to pursue it vigorously. It requires ensuring the financial health of the University; creating and maintaining an environment that is welcoming, tolerant and supportive of all students; stimulating learning, academic excellence and increasing the number of areas in which CU is a true academic leader; maintaining the highest standards of integrity and ethical behavior; and rebuilding CU's reputation as the outstanding university that it is.
It has been my honor and privilege to serve as President of the University of Colorado. We have accomplished great things, the controversies of the past year notwithstanding. Among them are the creation of the Coleman Institute and the molecular biotechnology initiative, the rapid growth of the Fitzsimons campus, gaining enterprise status for CU and all of higher education, consolidation of the Denver and Health Sciences campuses, strengthening the future of the Colorado Springs campus, and creating one of the most productive technology transfer programs in the country. During that time, two faculty members have won Nobel Prizes, four have been awarded MacArthur Genius Awards, and annual research productivity has increased by $100 million.
Of these achievements we should all be proud.
I thank you deeply for your past support, and wish CU nothing but the best and brightest future.
It's early, but we're already getting excited about the upcoming
college football season. The time leading up to that starting
point is a fairly lengthy, but simple process, marked by several key
Right now we have just survived the important but overhyped NFL combine, and spring practices have begun for about half the schools. Those will continue for about a month, abating in time for the less publicized summer workouts, when many recruits are eligible to work out with their teammates.
Around that time a ridiculous slew of preview magazines are published, followed by the fall practices and then the season. There are some events we are forgetting, but for the most part this is the process.
Of particular interest to us at this time is the annual hype fest generated by the preview magazines. Like many college football fans, we'll head to the newsstands, or our nearby bookstore, and browse the magazines. But we feel its important to note that they aren't what they're cracked up to be.
By all means, spend your money and enjoy the magazines, but simply do not take much stock in their predictions. Over the years its become apparent that the preseason rankings by the magazines simply don't rely on any kind of consistent, systematic methodology. There's no doubt that the magazine editors and writers sit down and excrutiatingly go about finding a way to most accurately predict their top 25 for that given year, but at the same time, they really haven't done so well over the years, or uncovered better ways to do it.
There might be a better way. The magazines simply haven't found it.
Instead, much of their material discusses team stories, which are great to read, but light on the analysis. If there is analysis, it's often focused on the marginally useful roster and coaching changes. They often follow a simple pattern. So and so fired X bad coached and replaced with Y coach. Y coach is a retread, team must be stagnant. Y coach is a fresh face, team will improve. Y coach is moving up in the college ranks, team will be a contender. You get the picture.
Or, the discussion will revolve around a quarterback battle or a switch from a graduating star at tailback to a trio of newcomers. All of this is interesting, and somewhat important, but we have come to realize it fails to really give a good picture of what the team is going to be like the following year.
This is not a dismissal of those critical bits of information. We ourselves consider those same things when trying to gauge the outcome of the upcoming season. There are other ways to think about college football on field success, though, and we hope that some of the models and ideas we currently follow here at CollegeFootballResource can give a BETTER picture of what will happen.
Please don't read this as arrogant, but simply critical of the process. I personally had an enlightenment of sorts a few years ago, running into a few friends who have an understanding of the game, and the whole college football thing, a lot more advanced than my own. I've tried very hard to learn from them, and test their own models and thoughts, and incorporate them into my own style. So far they have been much more accurate and if nothing else, more informative, in the sense that I actually understand now, much of the time, why such an event occurs.
Prediction will always be a crap shoot, but even there, these folks have found something closer to the ideal. We're not always perfect, not even close. A lot of what I've taken from them has collapsed. But its also led to further analysis and improvement of the ideas and models, something that simply doesn't happen in the preseason magazine world, or the college football analyst world, for that matter.
Right now I am hoping that when it comes to "prediction time," the things I believe in will have a greater reliability and sound reasoning than what most fans take as analysis.
So, what exactly am I talking about? Well, in simple terms, sophistication/coaching, and talent.
The preseason magazines themselves, and much of the overall college football analysis, follows various simple talent models. We do, too, but in a different way. For a while I used to think talent would be an overriding factor in games, and in how rosters themselves were made up. The model worked in some ways, and completely failed in others. But we can take a larger concept from it---overriding talent.
For example, let's say Washington State played Miami in a game. All things being equal (a risky assumption, but let's use it for the model), Washington State is going to get absolutely waxed by the Hurricanes. This is an overriding talent example. But if LSU plays Auburn, or Michigan plays Tennessee or USC plays Oklahoma, in theory these teams are all but equals, in talent. Nobody has an overriding edge. Yet some of these games are going to be ridiculously lopsided, such as USC/Oklahoma or Michigan/Tennessee.
Why is that?
We can actually call this sophistication/coaching, but the idea is this---college football, unlike the NFL, has a huge gap in coaching aptitude. College coaches fall into many categories, such as offensive-minded, defensive-minded, sophisticated, old ball coach, etc. They all follow different styles and implement various offensive and defensive schemes. Each model a coach uses or can be labeled by, has its advantages and disadvantages. But the more sophisticated the model, the greater the chance for success. On-field intelligence, like overriding talent, is a very relevant factor in the outcome of games.
That is why we weren't the least bit shocked when USC breezed past Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. The reason was sophistication. Both teams were relative equals in on-field talent, but most analysts were only able to grasp their talent models and find ways within that model to give a slight edge to USC, or more often, Oklahoma. But there was more to the situation than that.
The offensive and defensive packages USC ran were well ahead of what Oklahoma had been running, or witnessed, in quite a few years. The variety of looks, formations, and styles on both offense and defense provided USC the luxury of confusing the hell out of Oklahoma's players, and to a lesser extent, its coaches. If the game were replayed ten times, the outcome would be eerily similar each time. Talent had simply been neutralized in the matchup and sophistication took over.
That is why in my post-season top 10 list I had 5 high-IQ teams, all on the offensive side of the ball (USC, Utah, Louisville, California, Boise State), in the top 10.
Obviously there are several other factors at work, but these tend to dominate. Most matchups don't have vary large gaps of talent or sophistication between teams, so prediction becomes murkier and we have to look to less reliable factors, but for the most part this model is holding up well.
One example where on the surface it doesn't is the Cal/Texas Tech matchup. I had wrongly assumed before the game California, with its incredible offense, would coast past the Red Raiders. But I had forgotten another fairly important sub-category of this model---familiarity.
These teams on paper had similar talent, with a slight edge to California (Aaron Rodgers and J.J. Arrington are clearly stars), but in sophistication California has TCBO, The Country's Best Offense. I gave them a fairly large nod over the Red Raiders, because Texas Tech had a sophisticated, but gimmicky offense. I tend to look down on gimmick offenses, but in situations like this, I really shouldn't.
For several years now Texas Tech's offense has become increasingly less potent within its own conference. Even the weaker defensive teams within the Big 12 are now picking up much of what they are doing, and, having played Tech several years running, can adjust much easier to their schemes. This overall downgrade in the Tech offense had little bearing, though, outside of its own conference, except against teams who have faced similar offenses. Cal wasn't one of them. Although Cal plays in the high-sophistication Pac-10, most Pac-10 offenses are not gimmicky, and run a lot of pro formations and looks. Although both Tech's offensive style and the Pac-10 offenses are similar in potency, they simply do not look the same once you're on the field.
I have since lost the quote, but California's safety, after the game, was quoted as saying something similar to "we practiced for a month against that kind of offense, and then we hit the field and just had no clue how to stop it". This, in a nutshell, is familiarity. You can watch something on film, and practice against something roughly similar to it, but unless you have seen it in a game at least once, if not many more times, you simply cannot adequately prepare for it. This was a factor in the USC/Oklahoma game, I might add, hurting the Sooners' chances, since Oklahoma's offense especially was so low-tech compared to what USC's defense had been facing.
An analogy about familiarity one of my football smart friends likes to make is actually a basketball analogy. Say, for example, you're on a basketball team that plays man-to-man, and has a lot of talent. You've run that one style for years, and have figured out how to play it on defense and beat it on offense. You're doing great. Even better, all your opponents run roughly the same man-to-man style. You are familiar with it to the point where with your talent you can overcome your similar opponents.
But then you get into a tournament and your upcoming opponent is a highly skilled zone team. They have run zone for years, but play in a mixed league, so they have an understanding of how to play against your man style, and also can stick to their own zone style. Well, you can go and practice all you want against a dummy zone style, but it simply won't prepare you for what will happen on the court against that technically proficient zone team who also happens to be familiar with what you are doing. The outcome, barring some other factors, is predictable well in advance, and against your favor. The zone team will simply crush your team.
Same thing is at work here. California's offense had some aspects that Texas Tech had some familiarity with, but California simply had no idea how to stop a low-talent but confusing team like Texas Tech. One additional factor at work was Cal's loss of basically the entire WR corps. Their back, J.J. Arrington had a fine game, and the Bears had scored around 28 legitemate points, a low output,but nothing frightening. Unfortunately, they had lost all 3 of their capable WR's, two of them just before the game. The new guys were dropping a ton of balls and looked lost against Tech's secondary, one who had practiced all year against 5 WR fronts and some intricate offensive packages. That last factor pushed the game from a close nod to the Red Raiders, to the blowout that we saw on TV.
Hopefully by now you can get an idea of what I personally look at right now, at least in terms of matchups. The model also applies for predictions, as well, because the ideas have their effects on the field. We haven't gotten into the nitty-gritty because that's an ever-evolving part of the game. I would love to say that LSU's new coach Les Miles will be a flop because he runs a 1-dimensional offense and that will get chewed up by some of the suddenly sophisticated SEC offenses that are coming in with the other new coaching hires. But I don't know that. Miles may have run that 1-trick-pony excellent run offense at Oklahoma State out of necessity, despite having a balanced offensive background. We'll find out soon enough, but that's where things get murky. And that's where we get to have some fun.
The bigger picture here is that something along the lines of what I've just presented is way beyond what is normally taken as "expert" analysis by the preseason magazines and prognosticators out there. So far, in my eyes, its proven closer to the truth. There are many gaps in it, as there are in any model, since its very difficult to have a scenario that can accurately account for all 117 or so D-1 programs, let alone be aware of what each one is doing within that model. But we try, and we'll be all the more accurate for it. So if accuracy and truth are what you are after, know that some of us are out there with a better idea of what that really is, warts and all. So keep buying those magazines, for entertainment purposes, as we ourselves do, but not for prognostication.
We praise Ohio State for their new athletic director hire, Gene Smith,
formerly the AD at Arizona State. We don't know a lot about him,
but ASU has a terrific overall athletics tradition, remaining
competitive in the Sears Cup standings alongside Pac-10 powers
Stanford, UCLA and USC, as well as in-state rival Arizona.
As noted below, Smith's "operating budget" jumps from $34 million to $80 million.
As an aside, we'll document his salary since it is apparently public information. It's interesting to track salaries over the years, both for coaches and AD's, to note the increasing demand for high-profile candidates and what they get paid relative to their era. It's something to look back to.
Here's an exerpt from the report at BuckeyeSports.com-
Smith accepted an offer for a seven-year contract with an option for a three-year extension after 24 months in the position. His initial base salary will be $450,000 with annual incentives of up to $75,000 for achieving athletic performance goals and up to $50,000 for achieving academic performance goals. An additional total sum of $350,000 will be contributed by Ohio State to a deferred compensation plan that will vest, along with any accrued earning, seven years after the initial date of employment, which will be April 15
Another article we ran across also said former Buckeye AD Andy Geiger was paid $250,000 annually.
Salary information is a lot easier to find among public universities, because by most if not all state laws they must disclose practically any expenditures. They are responsible to the public, and in turn, their "private" information isn't so private. At least not compared to private colleges who can be more secretive about salaries. Hence, nobody knows for sure what Pete Carroll is making, although it's rumored in the $3 million range, or how well Miami compensates its coaches and athletic director.
As noted earlier, we may not get too involved in the goings-on of
spring practices around the country. Its a vitally important time
for the programs, but its a bit much to cover on here.
That said, we recommend stopping by CSTV's college football stories section, as several programs' releases on spring practice, such as previews, dates, interviews and whatnot are posted daily. You can get a good idea of what several programs are doing.
The 2004 Holiday Bowl made a record payout this year, awarding identical $2,044,988 payments to California and Texas Tech.
This is the fifth consecutive year the Holiday Bowl has paid the participating teams at least $2 million. The Holiday Bowl's team payout ranks ninth-largest of the 28 bowls