Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
 
Tag:Penn State
Posted on: February 17, 2012 3:52 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 5:34 pm
 

Conference champs only in the postseason

Former SEC commissioner Roy Kramer advocated taking only conference champions for any kind of postseason structure starting in 2014.

Just for giggles I went back and used only conference champions (or BCS automatic qualifier in the case of ties) in figuring both the current 1 vs. 2 game and a Plus One. Three times in 14 years, the 1 vs. 2 BCS title game would have been different. In 10 of 14 years, at least one team in the top four would have had to be replaced. In 2011, there would have been two – Alabama and Stanford.

Here’s how BCS title games and a Plus One would have looked if only conference champions were allowed, 1998-2011:

 

1998 championship: No. 1 Tennessee vs. No. 2 Florida State (same)

1998 Plus One: No. 1 Tennessee vs. No. 5 UCLA; No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 4 Ohio State

Not included: No. 3 Kansas State.

 

1999 championship: No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 2 Virginia Tech (same)

1999 Plus One: No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 4 Alabama; No. 2 Virginia Tech vs. No. 3 Nebraska

 

2000 championship: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 2 Florida State (same)

2000 Plus One: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. Washington; No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 3 Miami

 

2001 championship:  No. 1 Miami vs. No. 3 Colorado

2001 Plus One: No. 1 Miami vs. No. 8 Illinois; No. 3 Colorado vs. No. 4 Oregon

Not included: No. 2 Nebraska, No. 5 Florida, No. 6 Tennessee, No. 7 Texas

 

2002 championship: No. 1 Miami vs. No. 2 Ohio State (same)

2002 Plus One: No. 1 Miami vs. No. 6 Washington State;  No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Georgia

Not included: No. 4 USC, No. 5 Iowa

 

2003 championship: No. 2 LSU vs. No. 3 USC

2003 Plus One: No. 2 LSU vs. No. 7 Florida State; No. 3 USC vs. No. 4 Michigan

Not included: No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 5 Ohio State, No. 6 Texas

 

2004 championship: No. 1 USC vs. No. 2 Oklahoma (same)

2004 Plus One: No. 1 USC vs. No. 6 Utah;  No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Auburn

Not included:  No. 4 Texas, No. 5 California

 

2005 championship:  No. 1 USC vs. No. 2 Texas (same)

2005 Plus One: No. 1 USC vs. No. 7 Georgia; No. 2 Texas vs. No. 3 Penn State

Not included: No. 4 Ohio State, No. 5 Oregon, No. 6 Notre Dame

 

2006 championship: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Florida (same)

2006 Plus One:  No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 6 Louisville; No. 2 Florida vs. No. 5 USC

Not included: No 3. Michigan, No. 4 LSU

 

2007 championship: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 2 LSU (same)

2007 Plus One: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Oklahoma; No. 2 LSU vs. No. 3 Virginia Tech

 

2008 championship: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 2 Florida (same)

2008 Plus One: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 6 Utah; No. 2 Florida vs. No. 5 USC

Not included: No. 3 Texas, No. 4 Alabama

 

2009 championship:  No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 2 Texas (same)

2009 Plus One: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 TCU; No. 2 Texas vs. No. 3 Cincinnati

 

2010 championship: No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 2 Oregon (same)

2010 Plus One: No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 5 Wisconsin; No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 TCU

Not included: No. 4 Stanford

 

 

2011 championship: No. 1 LSU vs. No. 3 Oklahoma State

2011 Plus One: No. 1 LSU vs. No. 10 Wisconsin; No. 3 Oklahoma State vs. No. 5 Oregon

Not included: No. 2 Alabama, No. 4 Stanford,  No. 6 Arkansas, No. 7 Boise State, N. 8 Kansas State, No. 9 South Carolina

 

Posted on: February 14, 2012 5:38 pm
 

NCAA considers using private investigators

INDIANAPOLIS -- NCAA enforcement may be going private – at least private investigator.

As the NCAA’s most feared division reinvents itself, that little nugget emerged during my recent conversation with enforcement director Julie Roe Lach. She has been with the NCAA for 14 years. But it was the last 12 months or so that have been the most challenging, with seemingly a scandal a week.

“It was constant,” she said

As part of a new streamlined approach, the NCAA might indeed use private investigators on a contract basis to observe subjects.

“Literally, if they could mobilize someone in a matter of hours as opposed to us putting someone on a plane it’s a timeliness issue,” Roe Lach said. “That, to me, is where we need to stay ahead of the curve.”

Proactive is a term seldom attached to the enforcement division. Last year’s test of the association’s ability to police itself comes at the same time the NCAA is trying to downsize its 436-page manual.

The NCAA has become more open, more accessible, more understandable. Last year, Roe Lach’s department conducted an all-day Enforcement Experience exercise for media. The idea is to communicate that enforcement is going to be more efficient, more streamlined.

“Are people going to expect that more is going to be permissible? …,” said Roe Lach, 35. “Should we publish a list of all the schools we’re investigating? I don’t know if we’re going there.”

The NCAA last week released a set of proposed enhanced penalties that could be in effect later this year. CBSSports.com’s Bryan Fischer first published a version of those documents on Jan. 15.

As a part of that, Roe Lach said her division may begin contracting with private investigators for selected surveillance missions. Jim Rockford used to charge $200 a day plus expenses. Will the NCAA go there in hiring out investigative contractors?

“We could. Our bylaws don’t preclude it,” Roe Lach said. “We’d have to be very careful how we do it.”

As long as the NCAA gets it right. With only 55 persons in enforcement – 30-something on the street – enforcement can never catch all the outlaws. But told her department needed more vigilance in football, the NCAA hired former homicide Bill Benjamin to head a new football enforcement division

“If we get wind that a booster is employing student-athletes or an agent is too connected we’ll just go and watch foot traffic,” Roe Lach said. “It’s not like we’re out there stalking people.

“We’ve definitely conducted surveillance recently. Is it a better use of our resources to contract out surveillance?”

We’ll see.

 

Here’s a quick Q&A with Lach …
 

CBSSports.com: The NCAA seems to be more open under president Mark Emmert. To the point that Cam Newton’s father was called out, the media is engaged on subjects and enforcement is more of a transparent process.

Roe Lach: “Probably because I think that’s President Emmert’s philosophy. First, the challenge is to take an honest look at where can we have more transparency. We also recognize there are some times we can’t be transparent about either because federal law says so or there is a greater interest at stake.

“I don’t think the default is no longer, ‘We can’t say anything.’ “

 

CBSSports.com: Talking to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, he agreed whole-heartedly with the intent of the Penn State letter  to possibly investigate the school in light of the Sandusky matter. Where is your department on that right now?

Roe Lach: “Right now, and I can say this because it’s been stated publicly, the Penn State letter was framed very specifically as from the president’s office. It’s really at an inquiry or information gathering stage and if the NCAA should take some sort of action. If the answer is yes … the next question is how?

“Is this an enforcement action or is there some other action that doesn’t currently exist that needs to be examined?”

 
CBSSports.com: Was there a border crossed there? The Sandusky case is a legal matter.

Roe Lach: “Historically, legal matters are dealt with through the criminal system … There are times when criminal action also violates NCAA rules. There was a Division II case where a coach was providing a prescription drugs to student-athlete. I don’t know if that is legal.”

 

CBSSports.com: But even that is different from the Sandusky case.

Roe Lach: “You’re right. Typically, criminal issues are separate from NCAA issues but not always. Especially on the gambling front. That’s why we try to have relationships with  the FBI and other agencies.

“The larger issue at play … is what’s the culture here going on in the athletics department? Does that somehow tie into how the athletic department exercises institutional control? President Emmert’s letter opened the door for that discussion.”

 
CBSSports.com: Does that mean every similar case like that is going to end up on your desk?

Roe Lach: “I don’t think so. The larger issue is, do you have NCAA violations that may not be as clear? But you could make the argument that those are part of the culture that undermines institutional control. That the athletic department is not really being controlled by the school.”


CBSSports.com: Couldn’t you just wait for the courts to play out?

Roe Lach: “Sometimes that’s what we have to do … It’s not necessarily a wait-and-see approach either.”

 

CBSSports.com: There has been an addition of a director of enforcement for football, Bill Benjamin. What does that entail?

Roe Lach: “I was with the head football coaches (at the coaches’ convention) … We had heard from them, ‘Hey, here are our concerns [about enforcement].’ … That helped really to support the move to move staff to football.

“Part of their push to us has been we need to increase the penalties for secondary violations and suspend some coaches. They’ve also met with the Committee on Infractions and want to ramp up the penalties on football cases.

“To me that’s the first time a coaches’ association has stepped forward and said, ‘We want you to do more to us.’ “

 

CBSSports.com: Dr. Emmert told me in November in the middle of the investigation that Miami had been ‘extraordinarily cooperative.’ That’s the first time I’d heard anyone from the NCAA say anything like that in the middle of an NCAA investigation. Your reaction.

Roe Lach: “We don’t typically comment on cooperation but this goes back to the other discussion. That’s not a confidential issue. In the past we probably took a conservative approach. If a school is really stepping up and cooperating and taking some heat … sometimes it helps for them to be recognized by us.”

 

CBSSports.com: Does that make things uncomfortable if, in the end, Miami gets hammered?

Roe Lach: “I’ve been in hearing rooms where we’ve said, ‘This is an extremely serious case – if not the most – close to it [but] the school did everything within their control once they found out about these serious violations …

“The appeals committee message has been: You need to give some credit in the penalty phase … You need to factor that his. Where the committee has tried to land is, there is an obligation of cooperation. You shouldn’t get credit for doing what you’re supposed to do. There is a philosophical disagreement about that within the membership.”

 

CBSSports.com: How is the shrinking of the manual coming?

Roe Lach: “Sometimes you feel like it’s two steps forward, one step back. Right when you think you’ve got a ground-breaking idea … then 10 more unanswered questions pop up. It’s so hard for people to get their arms around less regulation and how does that affect coaches and schools.”

 

CBSSports.com: Can this year be better than 2012? Perhaps less work?

Roe Lach: “We’re just trying to continue our progress in terms of knowing what’s going on. If people are breaking the rules, we’re upholding integrity by enforcing them.”

Posted on: January 27, 2012 5:20 pm
 

Did Oregon replace Chip Kelly this week?

Mark Helfrich would have made a fine head coach at Oregon.

So fine, that some think the Ducks’ 38-year old offensive coordinator could put the title on his job history. Right now. ProFootballTalk.com reported Thursday that Helfrich had indeed been given the job – if only momentarily -- when Chip Kelly reportedly went to Tampa Bay.

Oregon had already replaced Chip Kelly when he changed his mind 

That was the headline on ProFootballTalk.com Thursday morning. That’s also what PFT.com’s Mike Florio said this week on Tim Brando’s radio show.

In a column published Friday in the Eugene Register-Guard, columnist George Schroeder wrote,  that while Helfrich wouldn’t have been a splash hire replacement “ … for a little while late Sunday night, he was as about to be the right hire.”

Those two reports from reliable outlets suggest one thing for sure: The world is getting to know what college football insiders have known for a while: Helfrich is a rising star. Also that Kelly – if he did leave this week -- may have had to somehow “reclaim” his job at Oregon. And if you believe in the chain of command at Oregon, well, Nike CEO Phil Knight has been known to have some influence with the football program.

At the least, Kelly’s apparent departure so close to signing day had to ruffle some Duck feathers. Knight’s command of the moment – anger bubbling just below the surface -- was compelling on Thursday at the Joe Paterno memorial. No matter what you think of his stance on the Paterno/Sandusky issue, Knight owned the room. You can understand how the man got where he is  -- basically owning Oregon football.

Greg Schiano took mild criticism for leaving Rutgers so close to signing day on Thursday. Oregon has established itself as a national program. Think if Kelly had left this close to landing the school’s next class. The fallout would have been similar to Butch Davis leaving Miami a week before signing day in 2001.

Schiano had spent 11 years making the job and program matter when he bolted for the NFL. Kelly has been at Oregon three years. Despite the Nike influence, it is still a fragile football outpost. Kelly owes some of his salary and reputation to the coaches who made the absolutely right moves in replacing themselves with the right man at the right time. Rich Brooks hand-picked Mike Bellotti who then gave way to Kelly.

Safe to say, that if Kelly flirts with the NFL the next time he’d better take the job.

Kelly went on a local radio show Monday to say he “never committed to the [Tampa Bay] job, never flip-flopped.” It would be nice to know what the Bucs think of that comment. It is also legitimate to ask, if Kelly was adamant about his stance why didn’t he go on national radio/TV and get his message out?

While the locals may have been mollified, there are some remaining truths. Helfrich’s profile has been elevated in the last week. While Kelly obviously and rightly has his hands all over the offense, Helrich comes highly recommended.

“Everybody wants the hot flashy popular [guy],”  said Dan Hawkins, the former Colorado head coach. “Mark is very, very sharp [and] very, very smart. He was going to be a doctor when he went to college. He could be in a room of politicians or professors and they’d have no clue he was a football coach.”

Hawkins and Helfrich worked together for a total of six years at Boise State and Colorado. In between those two jobs, Helfrich was Dirk Koetter’s quarterbacks coach at Arizona State. He came to Oregon with Kelly as offensive coordinator in 2009. The obvious question going forward is how much Helfrich has to do with play-calling. Kelly is considered the Zen master, the offensive genius. Helfrich is the silent partner.

But if Oregon was considering elevating him – or had elevated him – the question had been answered. No matter who is calling the plays at Oregon, Helfrich was perceived good enough to run the entire program. 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 19, 2012 12:27 pm
 

A plus-one playoff through the years: 2003-2007

In the second installment of our plus-one lookback (2003-2007), USC takes over from Miami to forge a dynasty before the SEC begins to go reticulated python on college football.  Oh, and sorry Texas. That 2005 title never happened.

(All plus-one games played on neutral fields. Here’s how things looked from 1998-2002.)

 

2003

BCS champion: LSU 21, Oklahoma 14

The setup:  By now, epic BCS fails were becoming commonplace. This time Oklahoma blew through the first 12 games of the season winning by an average of more than 32 points. That was before a four-touchdown loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 title game.

So much for the dangers of losing late.  Not only didn’t No. 1 OU fall out of the top two, it didn’t fall from the top spot! (It dropped from No. 1 to No. 3 in the human polls.) That was the first problem.  The second, more significant issue, is that USC was a consensus No. 1 in the human polls but No. 3 in the BCS.

Complicating matters, if that was possible, was three major-college, one-loss teams occupying the top three spots in the final BCS (OU, LSU, USC). One of them didn’t win its conference. The BCS commissioners swallowed hard, averted their eyes and tried to explain an LSU-Oklahoma championship game. The final absurdity: That meant the coaches poll would not even be considering its No. 1 team (USC) for the national championship.

Thank goodness for the AP poll.  After USC beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl, AP gave its final No. 1 ranking to the Trojans. For the first time in the BCS era, there was a split national championship. While that was OK with most folks, certain LSU fans couldn’t stomach sharing anything with anyone. Two things wrong with that: Like five other teams prior to the bowls that year, LSU was a one-loss team. By now it was becoming clear that if you lose a game in the BCS system, you lose the right to argue.

Isn’t it enough that national championships are forever? I still get emails from angry Tiger fans who claim they are the true national champs. Who cares?

How a four-team playoff would have changed things:  No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 4 Michigan, No. 2 LSU vs. No. 3 USC. OU would have easily mauled Michigan. The Rose Bowl that season proved it. USC outclassed the slower Wolverines by two touchdowns in Pasadena. Oklahoma 35, Michigan 17.

Many would have considered LSU-USC the real championship game. This was the year LSU freshman sensation Justin Vincent ran for 1,000 yards. Defensive tackle Chad Lavalais was the SEC defensive player of the year. USC had Reggie Bush as a freshman, Matt Leinart as a sophomore throwing to the  fantastic Mike Williams. This was the beginning of a Troy dynasty with the Trojans at least playing for three consecutive national championships in the real world. In this alternative universe it would have been a thriller, USC 27, LSU 20.

Championship game: Heisman winner Jason White was beat up for the Sooners at this point in the season. He hung in gamely against LSU but the Tigers defense and the Superdome crowd were too much. USC would have brought a similar kind of hurt. USC 23, Oklahoma 14.

Fantasy quote: “Sure we deserve a championship berth. It wasn’t like we lost to K-State by five touchdowns.” –Bob Stoops.

Who got screwed: Obviously USC, but AP was there to bail it out. That would change after the 2004 season, though, as the news organization rethought its influence on the national championship race and the money that went with it.

 

2004

BCS champion: USC 55, Oklahoma 19

The setup: For the first time in the BCS era, three undefeated teams stood atop the polls at the end. The BCS quickly realized that three don’t fit into two championship berths. Auburn eventually “lost”. There is still the lasting image of Tommy Tuberville working the press box for AP votes at the Orange Bowl after the BCS had kept the undefeated SEC champions out of the BCS title game. While the Trojans and Sooners played, Auburn’s coach was literally glad-handing media, hoping against hope.

It didn’t happen for Auburn which finished third in the BCS and second in the final human polls. SEC types were outraged that their undefeated champion wasn’t worthy of playing for it all. As you might have noticed, things would change quickly for the SEC.

The difference was Auburn’s non-conference schedule and perhaps an Oklahoma-friendly Bowling Green AD.  Elsewhere, both the Trojans and Sooners were in the middle of historic runs. OU played in its third championship game since 2000. USC was in the middle of its own 34-game winning streak. Only Stanford, Cal and UCLA came within a touchdown of the Trojans that season.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 USC vs. No. 4 Texas, No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Auburn.  Texas wasn’t quite there yet despite 1,000-yard rushing seasons from both Cedric Benson and Vince Young. Meanwhile, USC sported a Heisman winner (Leinart) as well as three other consensus All-Americans. This was arguably the best Trojan team of the Pete Carroll era. USC 37, Texas 24.

Would have loved to see the nation’s No. 1 scoring defense (Auburn) against No. 8 in total offense (Oklahoma). Using LSU’s D in 2003 as evidence, OU doesn’t show up offensively in a plus-one against a quality SEC defense. Auburn 25, Oklahoma 21.

Championship game: Auburn gets its title shot but just can’t overcome perhaps the team of the decade. USC 26, Auburn 13.

Fantasy quote: “How many voters does a commissioner have to bribe for the SEC to get to the championship game?” – Mike Slive

Real quote: “Where’s Your God Now?” – sign taunting BYU fans at Rice-Eccles Stadium in the final seconds of Utah’s 52-21 win over the Cougars that clinched the Utes’ first BCS berth.

Who got screwed: Cal. With one BCS bowl berth left, the No. 5 Bears lost a propaganda war with No. 4 Texas. Both were 10-1 on pick ‘em day. Knowing that finishing at No. 4 guaranteed his team a BCS bowl, Mack Brown had no problem campaigning for his Longhorns while Cal’s Jeff Tedford pretty much refused to engage.

Cal would have been the obvious Pac-10 replacement in the Rose Bowl with USC playing for the national championship. But Texas’ bum rush created feelings that what Bevo wants, Bevo gets long before the Longhorn Network.

“"I guess we didn't run up the score at the end, or beg for votes after the game," Cal’s Aaron Rodgers said. "I thought it was [wrong] for coach Brown to beg for votes.”

AP withdrew its poll from the BCS after the controversy.



2005

BCS champion: Texas 41, USC 38

The setup: On paper USC never won a game this season. On the field, it ravaged the field. We would find out years later that Bush competed the entire 2005 season while ineligible having taken cash and benefits from two would-be agents.

Dismiss that from your mind considering how these Trojans were completing that 34-game winning streak. They failed to score less than 34 in any game. They scored at least 50 in seven games. They scored 60 twice and 70 once. This was the team that couldn’t be outscored -- until it was, by Vince Young.

On the night of Jan. 5, 2006 Texas’ quarterback proved himself to be the best player in the school’s glorious history. Completing a game in which he had almost 500 yards in total offense, Young pulled it down and scored the winning touchdown with 19 seconds left.

USC was denied a third straight national championship. Texas won its first in 35 years because of a singular talent.

"Without question that was the best [performance] by one guy [I've seen]," Pete Carroll said.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 USC vs. No. 4 Ohio State, No. 2 Texas vs. No. 3 Penn State. Anyone else have a letdown here? Ohio State was a year away in 2005 having lost to Texas and Penn State in the regular season. JoePa rebounded from downturn to begin the century to grab a share of the Big Ten. It is interesting that two Big Ten teams would have been in a plus-one. Does it matter, though, given the greatness at the top?

USC 42, Ohio State 20. Texas 44, Penn State 17.

Championship game: With his defense gassed and resting on the sidelines, this time Carroll decides to use Bush on fourth down. In the real game he didn’t. That allowed Texas to stop LenDale White on fourth down which led to the Horns’ winning drive. USC 38, Texas 35.

Fantasy quote: “I’m predicting two Super Bowls for Vince Young.” – Beano Cook

Who got screwed:  USC players who gave their heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears for the program only to have the season ripped away in disgrace because of Bush’s selfishness. In case you forgot, the NCAA vacated USC’s 2005 season as part of the Bush penalties.

 

2006

BCS champion: Florida 41, Ohio State 14

In the latest BCS game ever played (Jan. 9), the system began to take different turns. Double-hosting debuted. A few days before the Gators swamped the Buckeyes, Boise beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl in one of the sport’s greatest upsets. A player proposed to a cheerleader. The Broncos proved they could play with the big boys, a cry that still is ringing in our ears today.

Oh yeah, and the SEC started a streak for the ages. The first of six consecutive titles by the Strength Everywhere Conference began with Florida thrashing Ohio State.

That year the immortal Chris Leak was backed up at Florida by some kid named Tebow. During the season we were treated to the jump pass, winning a game by a fingernail and first of two national championships by Urban Meyer.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 4 LSU, No. 2 Florida vs. No. 3 Michigan. The Buckeyes blitzed through the regular season setting up Jim Tressel for his second national championship in five years. Les Miles was just getting going, posting his second straight 11-2 season. We were going to see LSU-Ohio State in 2007 anyway. In a playoff, the Buckeyes arrived a year early with Troy Smith, Ted Ginn Jr. and company winning a close one. Ohio State 31, LSU 27.

Denied a rematch with Ohio State by the pollsters and computers, Michigan would have welcomed a playoff. Coming off one of the most emotional games in Michigan history (losing to Ohio State the day after Bo Schembechler’s passing), there was a chance to sneak in the back door for a national championship. Florida’s D would have denied it. Florida 37, Michigan 21.

Championship: We’re assuming that Ginn Jr. doesn’t injure his foot celebrating a kickoff return. We still can’t assume Ohio State would have an answer for Florida’s team speed. Florida 31, Ohio State 21.

Fantasy quote: “We got tattooed.” – Tressel.

Who gagged: USC. Needing only to win over sliding UCLA to play for another title, the Trojans coughed up one of the program’s largest hairballs. The 13-9 loss to the Bruins on the last day of the regular season remains inexplicable to this day except to then-UCLA defensive  coordinator DeWayne Walker. He helped hold the Trojans to less than 20 points for the first time in 64 games

 


2007

BCS champion: LSU 38, Ohio State 24

Let’s see … LSU in New Orleans? Again? Call it another unintended consequence of the BCS. The commissioners probably never imagined the Tigers being good at the exact same time the Superdome was hosting the big game. Call it purple and gold serendipity.

And luck. In the fastest and more furious finish of the BCS era, both No. 1 (Missouri) and No. 2 (West Virginia) lost on the last day of the season allowing  the Buckeyes and Tigers to move up. A week earlier, LSU had lost at home, giving up 50 to Arkansas. After beating Tennessee in the SEC championship game, the Tigers moved from No. 7 to No. 2.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Oklahoma. No. 2 LSU vs. No. 3 Virginia Tech. This was an unspectacular Oklahoma team that lost to Colorado and Texas Tech before being smoked by West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl. Ohio State 31, Oklahoma 23.

In a plus-one, the ACC champion would have played for a national championship in a rematch we didn’t need to see. In the second week of the season, the Tigers smoked the Hokies 48-7 in Baton Rouge. Play it again, Les? LSU 33, Virginia Tech 14.

Championship game: What hurt Buckeye pride is that LSU was the last comic standing in 2007 in a wild finish to the season. The Tigers were the first two-loss team to win a national championship in 47 years. And still, LSU was able to score 31 unanswered to bury the Bucks. By now, the jokes and labels associated with Ohio State were beginning to leave a mark.

“Yeah, and that hurts," said Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis, "just because the media really builds it up like we are slow and all that stuff."

The Bucks football reputation was in tatters after two straight championship losses. In a few years, that rep was about to get a whole lost worse. LSU 42, Ohio State 17.

 Fantasy quote: “Next?” – SEC

Who got screwed: The fans. Hawaii was non-competitive against Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. The Rose Bowl got three-loss Illinois to match against USC. West Virginia lost Rich Rod, then promoted Bill Stewart before a rout of Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. The average margin of victory in the five BCS bowls (20 points) was second only to 2002 (22.5 points).

Plus-one champions, 2003-2007: USC, USC, USC, Florida, LSU.

Tomorrow: A plus-one from 2008 to 2011.   

Posted on: January 16, 2012 10:56 pm
 

Weis on O'Brien's recruiting and Super Bowl run

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Charlie Weis has a bit of advice for the latest Patriots offensive coordinator to get his first college head coaching job at a national program.

Win the Super Bowl first.

Penn State’s Bill O’Brien is in the exact same place Weis was seven years ago with Notre Dame. Same job, same circumstance – splitting time between that college job and a Patriots playoff run.

“To be honest with you, I feel that if you’re making a run at the Super Bowl you have an ethical responsibility to finish the job,” Weis said Monday during a Kansas recruiting update.  

That’s how Weis did it in his last year with the Patriots. New England hasn’t won a Super Bowl since then.

“I hope that’s how it turns out for the Patriots,” Weis said. “I hope that’s how it turns out for Bill [Belichick] and Billy [O’Brien].”

Weis has met O’Brien only casually but said the Patriots-Nittany Lions transformation is being handled by Belichick the same way it was seven years ago. After being named Notre Dame coach in late 2004, Weis didn’t take over full-time until after the Patriots won their last Super Bowl on Feb. 6, 2005. O’Brien, finally named at Penn State on Jan. 6, has also been splitting duties as the Patriots head to the AFC championship game.

“The first year it hurts you because you’re now taking a small [recruiting] class,” Weis said. “You’re scrambling to get your staff in line. Case in point: [Penn State’s staff is] in line with two weeks left in recruiting. They’ll get some guys but they’re going to get whatever guys they can get with two weeks left to recruit.”

Weis’ first class consisted of only 15 players and finished 40<sup>th</sup> nationally (Rivals) with only two four-star prospects – tight end Joey Hibdon and receiver D.J. Hord.

“It hurts you in the first year, which then hurts you in the third year,” Weis said referring to a lack of depth that shows up when players are expected to mature as juniors.

Maxpreps.com currently has Penn State with only 13 commitments with two weeks left until signing day. Similar to Weis in his first ND season, O’Brien’s class is ranked 41<sup>st</sup> by Rivals.

Obviously, there are different recruiting issues. Penn State is trying to dig out from a horrific scandal. Notre Dame remains on that championship chase. Weis went to BCS bowls in his first two seasons in South Bend. The freshmen in that first recruiting class then went 10-15 in 2007 and 2008 as juniors and seniors. Weis was fired after the 2009 season.

“There was a big positive residual effect when I was both offensive coordinator with the Patriots and the head coach at Notre Dame – in the second year,” Weis said.  “You went and won it [Super Bowl] so now you have all these recruits looking at you. You don’t get them for that [first] year. The next year made it easier to recruit.”

True, Weis landed a top 10 class in 2006, but those players went 16-21 in their final three seasons. After staying with the Chiefs for one season (2010), Weis went to Florida as offensive coordinator in 2011. He stayed for the Chiefs one-game playoff  “run” before departing for Gainesville.

“It’s not like they’ve had a whole year left to go ahead and do the thing,” Weis said of O’Brien, “although …the next year it makes things a lot easier as far as recruiting.”

 

Posted on: January 16, 2012 10:56 pm
 

Weis on O'Brien's recruiting and Super Bowl run

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Charlie Weis has a bit of advice for the latest Patriots offensive coordinator to get his first college head coaching job at a national program.

Win the Super Bowl first.

Penn State’s Bill O’Brien is in the exact same place Weis was seven years ago with Notre Dame. Same job, same circumstance – splitting time between that college job and a Patriots playoff run.

“To be honest with you, I feel that if you’re making a run at the Super Bowl you have an ethical responsibility to finish the job,” Weis said Monday during a Kansas recruiting update.  

That’s how Weis did it in his last year with the Patriots. New England hasn’t won a Super Bowl since then.

“I hope that’s how it turns out for the Patriots,” Weis said. “I hope that’s how it turns out for Bill [Belichick] and Billy [O’Brien].”

Weis has met O’Brien only casually but said the Patriots-Nittany Lions transformation is being handled by Belichick the same way it was seven years ago. After being named Notre Dame coach in late 2004, Weis didn’t take over full-time until after the Patriots won their last Super Bowl on Feb. 6, 2005. O’Brien, finally named at Penn State on Jan. 6, has also been splitting duties as the Patriots head to the AFC championship game.

“The first year it hurts you because you’re now taking a small [recruiting] class,” Weis said. “You’re scrambling to get your staff in line. Case in point: [Penn State’s staff is] in line with two weeks left in recruiting. They’ll get some guys but they’re going to get whatever guys they can get with two weeks left to recruit.”

Weis’ first class consisted of only 15 players and finished 40<sup>th</sup> nationally (Rivals) with only two four-star prospects – tight end Joey Hibdon and receiver D.J. Hord.

“It hurts you in the first year, which then hurts you in the third year,” Weis said referring to a lack of depth that shows up when players are expected to mature as juniors.

Maxpreps.com currently has Penn State with only 13 commitments with two weeks left until signing day. Similar to Weis in his first ND season, O’Brien’s class is ranked 41<sup>st</sup> by Rivals.

Obviously, there are different recruiting issues. Penn State is trying to dig out from a horrific scandal. Notre Dame remains on that championship chase. Weis went to BCS bowls in his first two seasons in South Bend. The freshmen in that first recruiting class then went 10-15 in 2007 and 2008 as juniors and seniors. Weis was fired after the 2009 season.

“There was a big positive residual effect when I was both offensive coordinator with the Patriots and the head coach at Notre Dame – in the second year,” Weis said.  “You went and won it [Super Bowl] so now you have all these recruits looking at you. You don’t get them for that [first] year. The next year made it easier to recruit.”

True, Weis landed a top 10 class in 2006, but those players went 16-21 in their final three seasons. After staying with the Chiefs for one season (2010), Weis went to Florida as offensive coordinator in 2011. He stayed for the Chiefs one-game playoff  “run” before departing for Gainesville.

“It’s not like they’ve had a whole year left to go ahead and do the thing,” Weis said of O’Brien, “although …the next year it makes things a lot easier as far as recruiting.”

 

Posted on: January 6, 2012 2:13 am
Edited on: January 6, 2012 10:25 am
 

O'Brien hire shows Penn State didn't have a clue

Tom Brady looks better every day. Every day, that is, an assistant gets hired away from the Patriots.

It’s a great thing to work for the Pats, at the top of your profession, chasing Super Bowls each season. A stark reality set in when Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini and Josh McDaniels left. They don’t necessarily get better. Their former franchise just keeps chugging along.

Freeman: Penn State should quit whining over good hire

See a pattern here? No. 12. He’s still there winning games without them.

With that, we present Bill O’Brien as the new coach at Penn State. O’Brien is the Patriots offensive coordinator. He is most famous to a large part of the population at the moment for getting into a sideline spat with Brady. For that transgression he was allowed to live.

Now he goes to Happy Valley where his career could die.

Maybe that’s not fair, but the one conclusion we can draw from this convoluted coaching search is that Penn State didn’t have a clue. If there was ever a time to hire a search firm, this was it. It didn’t. Instead, it looks like there were warring factions inside the search. What did Penn State want? We’re still not sure.

At least the school made a swift, definitive and convincing statement. Swift if you consider it was 45 days between Paterno’s firing and O’Brien’s reported hiring. Definitive if you consider that everyone but Knute Rockne turned down the job/used it for a raise/laughed into the phone when contacted.

Convincing if you consider that O’Brien, 42, may be nothing more than a sacrificial door jamb in big, cosmic coaching-go-round -- a go-between while Penn State football rights itself and the next Urban Meyer comes along. It’s only been a couple of days since he passed but let’s not forget that it was the late, great Gene Bartow who taught us never to be the guy to follow the guy.

Until his unsightly downfall, Paterno was college football’s Wooden. Paterno’s legacy is stained forever. But when the dust and lawyers settle, O’Brien will eventually be asked match a long, successful legacy that produced a .749 winning percentage.

Contract details have not been announced but if O’Brien doesn’t get at least a seven-year contract, he should fire his agent. The job was toxic before O’Brien took it. It’s going to take a while to clean it up. O’Brien is not the sexy hire that is going to talk undecided recruits in off the ledge. But the school couldn’t afford a sexy hire image-wise. That would have been sending the wrong message for a program that obviously has been worshipping at the altar of Paterno for too long.

During these 45 days, Penn State aimed high, scoured low and came up with a guy who is supposed to do what? Deconstruct and rebuild the program? Win the Big Ten next year?

Penn State would prefer to win quietly, out of the spotlight. That, of course, is impossible.

Fans with thousands invested in personal seat licenses aren’t going to stand for a de-emphasis of football. Winning the Big Ten anytime time soon seems impossible, too. There will be a faction of recruits who stay away from Penn State for obvious reasons: They don’t want to shower in the same place where a youth may have been sodomized.

There is still another faction of recruits who will always go there because they believe they can get to the NFL. That may sustain the program. O’Brien will say the right things and try to restore faith in football, school and community.

Time, then, for introductions all around. O’Brien has been New England’s OC since 2008. He has 14 years college experience as an assistant but none as a head coach. The Duke teams he was associated with went 1-22.

There are cautionary tales all around him: Weis parlayed the promise of seven games at Notre Dame into a 10-year contract. He is currently at Kansas trying to rebuild the Jayhawks and rehab his coaching image. Crennel is 26-41 as an NFL head coach. McDaniels lasted less than two years as coach of the Broncos. Magini is doing TV analysis.

O’Brien’s future awaits. Ironically, he needs a quarterback at Penn State for starters. Suddenly, for him, there are no Tom Bradys in sight.
Posted on: January 1, 2012 12:16 pm
Edited on: January 1, 2012 12:18 pm
 

Looking back at 2011, ahead to 2012

Recapping 2011, anticipating 2012 (more or less) A-Z …



American Football Coaches Association: It was not a good year for the professional organization that counted Jim Tressel and Joe Paterno among its members. There wasn’t a peep of contrition or explanation in 2011 out of the old boys’ club that continues to have an ethics committee as part of its structure.

Meanwhile, the AFCA continues to rig a BCS system it profits from in the coaches’ poll. Before coaches demand accountability from media, players and assistants, they need to give up control of a poll that holds the purse strings to a multi-million system and awards its final No. 1 ranking to the BCS title game winner.


BCS: After the championship game, the BCS continues to deliver some stultifying matchups.

Michigan-Virginia Tech? (Where was Boise, Kansas State?)

Clemson-West Virginia? (Six combined losses?)

Oklahoma State-Stanford is nice in the Fiesta Bowl but there are those who believe the Cowboys should be playing LSU in New Orleans. A Plus-One wouldn’t totally fix things but we’d love to see one this season – No. 1 seed LSU vs. No. 4 Stanford and No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Oklahoma State.

Unfortunately, the next chance for change, 2014, looks to be more of the same. The Pac-12 and Big Ten aren’t likely to allow the Rose Bowl to become a national semifinal. Even a Plus-One wouldn’t account for No. 7 Boise, a team that was a missed kick away from playing for the national championship.

 

BCS trivia: Nick Saban (4-1) and Les Miles (5-2) have each beaten Alabama at least four times as SEC coaches.

 

BYU: Courted by the Big 12 and Big East (at least) during conference realignment, BYU stood strong and stayed independent in 2011. Whether the Cougars’ status stays that way remains to be seen. Glory is still elusive. A seventh consecutive bowl resulted in the world’s largest Mormon school beating the FBS school with the smallest enrollment (Tulsa) in the final 12 seconds in the Armed Forces Bowl.

 

Charlie Weis: Quietly, Notre Dame’s former coach accounted for the biggest recruiting day in the history of Kansas football. On December 22, Weis lured quarterbacks Dayne Crist (Notre Dame) and Jake Heaps (BYU) as transfers.

OK, it’s only Kansas and it’s a couple former five-star quarterbacks who underachieved. But as long as Weis is in Lawrence, Kansas will be worth our attention. The Big 12 is a quarterback league. Weis has his for at least the next three years. He and the Jayhawks will be a story as Weis tries to rehab  his college coaching image.

Conference realignment: In the chase for money and automatic qualifying status, networks and commissioners couldn’t help themselves. They acted like businessmen at a strip club during happy hour, making it rain. The change was so fast and furious that we’re still not sure what conference West Virginia will play in 2012.

 

David Boren: Oklahoma’s president trashed the Big 12 and then-commissioner Dan Beebe one day. Then, after finding out 24 hours the Pac-12 wasn’t going to take his Sooners, he shifted stance and said he was actually trying to save the league.

Oklahoma’s former governor is a dangerous, manipulative, powerful, fascinating figure. Just don’t cross him. Boren ran Beebe out of the Big 12 in one of the great injustices of the year.

 

Death Cam: On the second-last day of 2011, there was a sobering warning for 2012. An ESPN SkyCam almost smashed an Iowa player Friday night during the Insight Bowl. Dear networks: Our desire to see every possible angle has been sated. We’ve got HD, blimps and replay. We don’t need a debilitating injury – or worse.

 

LaMichael James: Quietly – yes, quietly – “LaMike” became one of the era's most dangerous weapons and the best running back in Oregon history. If James stays for his senior season, which he is not likely to do, he would challenge Ron Dayne for the NCAAA career rushing record.

As it is, James will have plenty left for the NFL because of his efficiency (6.6 yards per carry, only 746 career carries). The question is, can the leading edge of Chip Kelly’s quick-strike offense survive as a pro at only 5-foot-9, 185 pounds?

 

Lane Kiffin: Before Todd Graham jilted Pittsburgh, Monte’s boy was bolting Tennessee after a season. Funny, how we’ve forgotten. Lane matured before our eyes in 2011 leading the probation-crippled USC to a 10-2 record, including a win at Pac-12 champion Oregon.

It looks like the Trojans are back. This time, Kiffin isn’t going anywhere.

 

LSU: Look at the roster. It’s so young. The SEC defensive player of the year is a sophomore (Tyrann Mathieu). There are 13 sophomores (or younger) in the two-deep. On defense. These Tigers were built to win in 2012. This season has been gravy.

No matter what happens Jan. 9, the Tigers are a good bet to start as the 2012 preseason No. 1.

 

Matt Barkley: Probation, what probation? USC’s blond, Hollywood-ready quarterback is returning for his senior season Leinart-style. After a 10-win season during a second consecutive bowl-ban season, the Trojans will likely start 2012 in the top five and be the Pac-12 favorites.

 

Mike Leach: He’s baaaack and that’s good for all of us. The talk turns from lawsuits to alignments again for The Pirate who has been out of the game too long. Things are about to get real interesting in Pullman.



NCAA:
The sometimes secret association opened itself up in 2011 – to media, to the public, to its members. There were countless press releases. Some of them named names of wrongdoers, calling out Cecil Newton, calling out media Also, welcoming media during a revealing Enforcement Experience in May.

What a emerged was a more accessible NCAA but one that, at times, was more interested in promoting itself than addressing the issues. That August summit was a great idea but moved too fast to the point that groundbreaking stipend and scholarship legislation was overridden. The decision to allow the Buckeye Five to play in the Sugar Bowl a year ago remains inexplicable.

 

Notre Dame: Weis recruited quarterbacks but couldn’t produce enough wins. So far, Brian Kelly can’t even get the quarterback thing straight. The Irish are becoming something they can never be – boring. After losing to Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl, ND is now 2-10 in its last 12 postseason games.

Its last two coaches have been decidedly offensive guys. Those Notre Dame offenses have, since 2005, finished 61st or worst more times (three) than they have in the top 10 (two). The 2007 unit under Weis was dead last. That’s an average of No. 46 in total offense since Weis arrived. That equates to the offensive standing of Virginia in 2011.

Before the Irish can return to national relevance, they have to become more exciting.



Offense:
With bowl games still to be factored in, the offensive revolution of college football continues.

The average figures for points per game (28.3), passing yards (229.4), completions (19.2) are all on pace to finish second all-time. The current total offense mark of 392.75 is ahead of the record set in 2007, 392.64.



Penn State:
The job left behind by JoePa has proved to be toxic to the coaching profession. At one point its reported top two choices – Tom Clements and Mike Munchak – had a <>total<> of four years college experience. Sixteen years ago.

 

SEC: You don’t have to be told again … The SEC is so dominant that the best football conference is assured of both its sixth straight title and first title game loss.

The league has used the BCS to make an unprecedented run. Voters and computers are conditioned to give the SEC champion the benefit of the doubt each season. Not saying that’s wrong, it just is. It’s sort of like the next Jay-Z album shooting to the top of the charts in preorders.


Twitter: In 2011, the Twitterverse became our universe. Use it as a tool to argue with a friend across from you on the cyber barstool or as a de facto wire service. Where were you when Bin Laden was killed and the Penn State scandal broke last year? Twitter followers and users brought us the news in real time.


Tyrann Mathieu: How does a 5-foot-9, 180-pound cornerback become the best defender in the country? Proving all the doubters wrong. Tennessee and Alabama deemed him too small to play. Les Miles to a chance on a local kid. What emerged was the best ball hawking corner since Charles Woodson. 


Will Lyles:
The former talent scout/mentor/Dancing With The Stars participant (Ok, kidding on that one) is the key figure in the NCAA futures of LSU, Cal and Oregon.

Lyles reportedly sang to the NCAA in August. That followed allegations that Chip Kelly’s program commissioned after-the-fact recruiting info that it had already paid $25,000 for. There is still the unsettling feeling that Oregon could be in for major sanctions in 2012.



ZZZ:
What we’d like to do a little more in 2012. Somehow, we know that’s not going to be the case. Let’s hope that college athletics regains a bit of its moral and ethical compass in 2012. 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com