Tag:USC
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 13, 2012 1:21 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2012 1:25 pm
 

My preseason top 25 applied to postseason models

You've got to start somewhere in shaping a new postseason model. Using this humble correspondent's preseason top 25 posted Monday as a template, here are a few possibilties. All of them are among the 50 or so discussed last month in New Orleans.

A seeded Plus One on campus (The Delany Model. Top-four rated teams meet in national semifinals):

No. 4 Oregon at No. 1 LSU and No. 3 Oklahoma at No. 2 USC.

Winners meet this season in the Orange Bowl based on the BCS rotation.

A Plus One in the bowls Oregon vs. LSU in the Cotton Bowl. Oklahoma vs. USC in the Sugar Bowl. Winners meet in the Orange Bowl.

An unseeded Plus One (Playing a championship game after the bowls. In this model, all six BCS league champions guaranteed a berth. No. 7 Arkansas and No. 9 Georgia are left out. Unranked Rutgers is in as Big East champion. A human committee and/or rankings determine the top two teams after the bowls):

Rose Bowl: USC* vs. Wisconsin*

Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma* vs. Oregon

Sugar Bowl: LSU* vs. Clemson*

Orange Bowl:  Rutgers* vs. Alabama

*-conference champs

Two highest-ranked teams after the bowls meet for the national championship. Championship game location TBA.

No automatic qualifiers (No. 1 vs. No. 2 meet in the championship game. Four other major bowls are populated by the remaining teams in the top 10. Ohio State not eligible. In this scenario, five SEC teams are included. Big East and ACC not represented because no teams are ranked in top 10.)

BCS title game (Orange Bowl): LSU vs. USC

Rose: Oregon vs. Wisconsin

Sugar: Alabama vs. West Virginia

Fiesta: Oklahoma vs. South Carolina

Cotton: Georgia vs. Arkansas

Are there any other postseason models? Probably. For now, this is your lump of Play-Doh to shape.

 


Posted on: February 3, 2012 2:27 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2012 9:20 pm
 

It's Urban's world, Big Ten -- deal with it

The irony is that Urban Meyer and Lane Kiffin have almost become buds.

“As bizarre as this is because our relationship has been so public, I actually get along with him, probably, now,” Meyer told me this week. “We actually have conversations now. He’s fine. We’re fine. He apologized. I said, ‘I acted like a child too.’ ”

It was three years ago, that Kiffin started a year-long tweaking of the SEC establishment by accusing Meyer, then at Florida, of breaking NCAA rules.

“I love the fact that Urban had to cheat and still didn’t get him,” Kiffin said of the now infamous and inaccurate accusation regarding receiver Nu’Keese Richardson.

Left in Kiffin’s wake were a half-dozen secondary violations remaining from his zeal to remake the Vols. As we know, his one-act play at Tennessee is long over. Kiffin has rehabbed both USC and his image the last two seasons.

“He reached out,” Ohio State's new coach said of Kiffin. “I reached back. Me and his dad [Monte] have been friends for a long time. I was as [much to blame] as anybody. I was very childish and egotistical. Then he reached out and said, ‘You know what? We didn’t start out on the right foot.’ “

This all comes in the context of a lot of childishness, Big Ten style. In the past 48 hours, Meyer has morphed from rock star free-agent savior come down from the heavens to rescue Ohio State football, to a recruiting bottom feeder. In the unholy marriage of Twitter, internet and incessant electronic talkfests, there were strong words thrown around to describe Meyer’s recruiting methods.

“Illegal,” said Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema.

“Unethical,” said Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio.

Really quickly, Meyer has become the Lane Kiffin of the Big Ten. Meyer’s boss, Gene Smith, felt compelled to issue a statement Friday. Without actually saying it, the coaches seemed to intimate that Meyer was “flipping” recruits, getting them to come to Ohio State after they’d committed to other schools. The description used Wednesday on National Signing Day was that Meyer had signed eight players who had previously committed to other schools.

So what? Flipped, turned. Whatever. The man had a few short days to fix Ohio State in recruiting, with a bowl ban thrown in to work around. The problem is as the story develops, it lacks nuance, subtly and context. You have to read the full quotes from Bielema and Dantonio (below).

I was in Meyer’s office Thursday and told him about Bielema’s Wednesday statements.

“He [Bielema] called and said that [pausing] It really wasn’t our staff, it was the previous [staff],” Meyer said, “something about where a pro player called a kid or something like that. A former Buckeye called a kid. That’s all I remember. I checked into it, there’s no truth to anything.”

Unethical? Name me a coach who hasn’t signed a recruit who had been favoring another school. It’s how the industry works. It’s cutthroat. It’s brutal.

“I tell our guys,” Meyer said, “you really have no value to a program if you can’t recruit.”

All this reminds me of the great Ricky Bobby who once said, “If you’re not first, you’re last.”

Good call. There are no second places in a recruiting. You either get the guy or you don’t. As long as no NCAA or civil laws are broken, it’s every recruiter for himself. By some estimates, Meyer landed four kids who had committed to Penn State. It would have been a recruiting sin, if he didn’t pick over the remains of Penn State football. In fact, who didn't go after Penn State recruits? Maybe the best question for Meyer is, “Four? Why didn’t you get six?”

Speaking at high school coaches’ clinic Friday morning, Meyer had enough. He was quoted as saying (rhetorically): “You’re pissed because we went after a committed guy? Guess what, we got nine guys [recruiters] who better go do it again. Do it a little harder next time.”

How does that taste, Big Ten? Bielema told the Sporting News that Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez would speak to Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany Friday about Meyer’s recruiting methods. There’s one problem with that. Let’s say that Meyer pissed off a bunch of Big Ten coaches by taking their commits. Again, so what? “Commit” should be stricken from recruiting glossary along with “slight lean” and “strong verbal.” They are contrived terms meant to shame a player into what has become some sort of promise/marriage/sacred bond.

But let’s say that somehow Delany pushes through an official Big Ten stance that no coach can intrude on a “committed” recruit. The one big problem: Even if all 12 Big Ten schools agree, there are 108 other FBS programs who won’t.

In fact, recruiters will be laughing all the way to their private planes during recruiting season. How do you think SEC coaches are going to react if the Big Ten coaches all agree to this little “gentlemen’s agreement?”

Probably by winning a seven consecutive national championship, for starters.  

“Gentlemen’s agreement?,” one incredulous former major-college assistant told me Friday. “[Recruiting] is a Clint Eastwood movie. ‘Hang ‘Em High, ‘The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.’ Are you kidding me? Gentleman’s agreement?”

Context was an issue here. I had a Michigan State official call me to explain Dantonio’s quotes. Read the entire Bielema statement from signing day. Kind of takes some of the starch out of a flaming controversy that continues to have kindling thrown on it. Michigan State defensive coordinator "starts a recruiting rivalry."

You would hope. In fact, there should be a recruiting rivalry should exist with every Big Ten team. The Spartans haven't been to a Rose Bowl in almost 25 years.

Anyway, here's the full quotes ... 


Mark Dantonio
speaking in general on Wednesday:

"I would say it's pretty unethical. You ask people for a commitment, you ask for people's trust, ask for people to make a commitment to you, but then you turn around and say it's OK to go back after somebody else's commitment. That's a double standard.

"Everybody's got a job to do, there's a lot of pressure, but we're all grown men and we're trying to do a job, just like society today in every respect, whether it's a reporter or doctor or lawyer or somebody else. People are gonna try and do their job, they're gonna do what they have to do to get it done sometimes."

Specifically on Urban Meyer:

“They've got a new coach, there's differences when a new coach comes in. It's a new testing of the waters, but it's a two-way street, it's always a two-way street. There's always gotta be the other person listening, too. I think when it becomes a matter of twisting somebody, when you're a 50-year-old man or 40-year-old man twisting a 17-year-old, that's when it's wrong.

"I'm not saying that's happening in the Big Ten Conference, but I see that happening around the country. That happens when somebody decommits on the day of signing day and you've got to wonder about that."
 
Dantonio then released this statement on Friday: "Let me be clear: Some general recruiting statements I made were completely taken out of context when combined together by a reporter not in attendance. The timing of my comments was a reflection of an occurring matter on Signing Day and nothing to do with Urban Meyer at Ohio State. My comments regarding 'unethical' behavior were general in nature, according to my current coaching philosophy, and not directed toward any particular institution." 

Question to Bret Bielema on Wednesday: Is Urban Meyer’s hiring changed recruiting in the Upper Midwest and in the Big Ten?

Bielema:  "Well, I don’t think it, I hope it doesn’t change. I think the potential to change has been there. And, there’s a few things that happened early on that I made people be aware of that I didn’t want to see in this league that I had seen take place at other leagues, other recruiting tactics, other recruiting practices that are illegal. And I was very up front and was very pointed to the fact. I actually reached out to Coach Meyer and shared my thoughts and concerns with him, and the situation got rectified.

“But the one thing I love about this league, it was kind of funny, when I was a younger coach, I was offered a job in another league, right? And this coach, I was working for $175,000 for Coach Alvarez, and he asked me what I was making, and I said I was making $175,000. He goes, ‘how many year contract?’ I said, ‘zero, just a one-year contract.’ He goes, ‘I’ll offer you $350,000 in a four-year contract.’ And I’m like, ‘ah, I don’t think so. You know, it’s not, money is not important to me at this point. I kind of want to stay where I’m at in the Big Ten. It’s got great values. I’m at a great place, a great institution.’

He goes, ‘okay, I’ll make it $450,000, and I’ll give you a five-year guarantee.’ I said, ‘okay, now I’ve got to talk to you.’ But it did make a point of interest to me. I didn’t tell you that I was just joking. But it was a real offer that was out there. And he said to me, ‘you know what the difference between the Big Ten and this conference is?’

And I said, ‘no.’ He said, ‘in the Big Ten, everybody tells on everybody. In our conference, nobody tells on anybody.’ And that made a huge comment to me. And I’ve been very cognizant of that, encourage our coaches to play by the books, to do things in a certain way. If you have to lie, cheat, or steal to get someone here, it doesn’t make a great point once you get them here about how you’ve got to handle them.

“So I think that’s the point that I’ll take moving forward. Our league is based on certain values that we’re going to hold to be true. And, you know, if you don’t hold to those things to be true in our conference, well, you’ll be held accountable.”

There’s a couple of ways of fixing this “situation.” It sounds like Delany is going to have to have a come-to-Jesus meeting with his coaches to stop the backbiting. It happened with the SEC’s Mike Slive a couple of years ago when Kiffin was in full throat.

The other is to establish an early signing day, say the first week of December. High school players can be left alone to concentrate on state playoffs and their studies. Families don’t have to waste money on last-minute unofficial visits. Best of all, it relieves the pressure Signing Day, a date that has evolved into becoming an end to the process. 

It’s actually the beginning of a two-month signing period, but they don’t want you to know that. That’s an issue for another day. For now, it’s Urban’s world and the Big Ten is only living in it. 

Posted on: January 20, 2012 11:58 am
Edited on: January 20, 2012 1:46 pm
 

A plus-one playoff through the years: 2008-2011

In the final installment plus-one lookback (2008-2011), the Big 12 and SEC rule. The assumption is that playing extra games would loosen the SEC’s grip on the sport. It just makes sense. In any playoff, dark horses and underdogs are going to emerge. Teams spend all season getting to the top, then in one game it can all go pfft against an inferior opponent.

In this plus-one there was a huge pfft in 2011.

(All plus-one games played on neutral fields. Here’s how things looked from 1998-2002 and 2003-2007.

 


2008

BCS champion: Florida 24, Oklahoma 14

The setup: Put this one on the Big 12 which never foresaw a three-way tie broken by the BCS standings. Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Texas all went 7-1 in the Big 12 South. Texas beat OU, Texas Tech beat Texas, OU beat Texas Tech. They were all 1-1 against other. Texas felt slighted because it won the Red River Shootout, but Oklahoma won the South by a mere .0128 of a point.  That basically greased the path for OU to get to the national championship game.

Another Oklahoma powerhouse, another disappointment. For the third time in four tries during the BCS era, the Sooners were stopped in that championship game. This Oklahoma team was the highest scoring of all time averaging 51 points per game. In his last season, Sam Bradford threw 50 touchdown passes.

All that was no match for an SEC defense. A top 10 defense featured Brandon Spikes, Joe Haden and Jermaine Cunningham. Florida’s D held the Sooners to their lowest point total in more than two years.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 4 Alabama, No. 2 Florida vs. No. 3 Texas. A plus-one couldn’t come fast enough for the Horns whose only blemish was a loss to Texas Tech with a second to go. It’s easy to project that Gators D devouring the Horns too. Florida 33, Texas 21.

Alabama stayed in the top two of the BCS until losing an SEC championship game showdown to Florida. In year before Bama won two out of the next three titles, the defense tied for third overall. It would have been the difference against OU. Alabama 26, Oklahoma 24.

Championship game: Same script as Atlanta. A close game is blown open in the fourth quarter by that guy named Tebow. Before anyone cared about his throwing motion, completion percentage or virginity, Florida’s quarterback proved himself one of the best of all time. Florida 20, Alabama 17.

Fantasy quote: “They got lucky. The state of Alabama is going to rule college football the next three years.” – Nick Saban.

Who got screwed: Utah. It beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. It beat Alabama bad. It deserved something after finishing as the only undefeated team in the country.

 


2009

BCS champion: Alabama 38, Texas 21

The setup: The game was decided when Alabama’s Marcel Dareus took out Colt McCoy on the contest’s fifth play. The question to this day, remains: Would a healthy McCoy have made any difference? Mack Brown answered that night, “It wouldn’t even have been close.” 

Texas was forced to play an untested quarterback, Garrett Gilbert, against a carnivorous defense. All that was left was for stadium personnel to clean up the remains. It was perhaps the most disappointing BCS title game. Ninety-five thousand fans in the Rose Bowl and millions across the country expected to see a symphony. They ended up watching the Wiggles.

Yes, yes, Mark Ingram won the Heisman and that Alabama D could have played in the NFL, but it still feels like there is something missing from that night – a frisky Colt.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 TCU, No. 2 Texas vs. No. 3 Cincinnati. All four were undefeated. All four would have had a fair chance to state their cases in a playoff. TCU would have scared the spit out of Bama. I know because I saw it a year later against Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. I know because TCU was playing an NFL quarterback (Andy Dalton). I know because Gary Patterson is Nick Jr. as a defensive mastermind. Alabama 23, TCU 20 OT.

The toughest decision in the other semifinal was Brian Kelly’s. Does he stay at Cincinnati for a national title run or go to Notre Dame? Would it have made a difference? Texas 47, Cincinnati 27.

Championship: At the risk of being frisked for hallucinogens next time I go to T-town, McCoy would have made a huge difference. In a classic Big 12 offense vs. SEC defense, the Large Dozen was due to take one sooner or later. Texas 29, Alabama 27.

Fantasy quote: “We regret Coach Kelly’s decision to stay at Cincinnati to coach in the playoff. That said, Notre Dame has had to move on and act swiftly. Please welcome to the Irish family as Notre Dame’s next coach, Urban Meyer.” – ND AD Jack Swarbrick.

Who got screwed: Boise State, which went 14-0 while beating the Pac-10 (Oregon) and Mountain West (TCU) champions. Only one team in the regular season came within 11 points of the Broncos.

  


2010

BCS champion: Auburn 22, Oregon 19

The setup: Cam Newton’s daddy went trolling for the six-figure handshake. Then he and his son were bailed out by a loophole the size of the Lincoln Tunnel. That, basically, is a summary of the 2010 season. Newton was so good, that no team could stop Auburn. Cecil Newton was that sleazy that sometimes it was hard to sift through the wrongdoing to see a talented, personable kid who established himself as one of the best ever.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 4 Stanford. No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 TCU. TCU would have gotten the chance it deserved. The nation’s No. 1 defense could have matched up with anyone. The hunch here is that Patterson would have bottled up Oregon at least as much as Auburn did. TCU 24, Oregon 21.

How about a matchup of the top two Heisman vote getters? Stanford’s Andrew Luck would have done what Oregon’s Darron Thomas couldn’t – make a vulnerable Auburn secondary pay. Cammy Cam Cam, though, would have been the difference against the tough Cardinal.  Auburn 28, Stanford 21.

Championship game: Andy Dalton meet Nick Fairley. Tank Carder meet Cam Newton. Auburn-TCU would have gone a lot like Auburn-Oregon. Down to the wire with the underdog hanging surprisingly tough. In the end, the Tigers had too many playmakers. Auburn 22, TCU 19.

Fantasy quote: “Define ‘solicit.’ “ – Cecil Newton

Who got screwed: The Heisman Trust. What was supposed to be a celebration turned into a solemn event. The takeaway from his press conference is Newton's answer to the question: In a year when Reggie Bush had to give back is trophy, do you have any concerns you'll have to give yours back as well?

“Two letters for you, my friend,” Newton said. “No.”

All righty, then.

 

2011

BCS champion: Alabama 21, LSU 0

The setup: Funny how penthouses and outhouses occupy the same block in the SEC. One moment, they’re calling Les Miles’ team one of the best ever. The next he’s been outcoached so badly by Nick Saban that he has to turn in his trucker’s hat.

Such was the fallout from a season that kept the national championship down in the Sweet Home for the third consecutive season. The Rematch of the Century was almost as big a disappointment as the Game of the Century. Except this time, there was some finality to it. Saban DID outcoach Miles. AJ McCarron DID play like Tom Brady. The rest of the country IS still drafting in the SEC’s excellence.

While the rest of the nation continued to set offensive records, LSU and Bama combined for 36 points, 10 field goals and one touchdown in two games. Is this what you want out of a national champion? Read on.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: Plenty. No. 1 LSU vs. No. 4 Stanford and No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Oklahoma State would have added some texture, clarity, fairness and, well, offense to the proceedings.

Step back, Slive. Back off, Saban. Move away, Miles. College football would have gotten even, broken the SEC death grip.

"We'd have thrown it 50 times," Mike Gundy told USA Today. "You like to think Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon could have put together some touchdowns. Get the ball thrown down the field and open some things up. Try to make it exciting, and see what happens."

The key word being “exciting”.  Who wouldn’t have loved to see Andrew Luck and Weeden go against those defenses? LSU played with a quarterback who would have had a hard time starting in the Big 12. Alabama played one offense all season ranked in the top 30 (Arkansas, 29th) and 10 ranked 84th or lower.  

Defense wins championships? Not necessarily in this case if it plays a championship offense.

Let’s assume that Oklahoma State gave up its average of 27 points. Let’s assume Alabama gave up more than its average of eight points against the nation’s No. 2 offense. Let’s assume that it matters that the Cowboys were fifth in field-goal accuracy and Alabama was 85th.

Let’s also assume that Oklahoma State’s 44 turnovers gained – the most in the sport in eight years – matter.  The Cowboys had an average defense, not a bad one. LSU 22, Stanford 17; Oklahoma State 36, Alabama 34.

Championship game: It suddenly gets a lot easier for the Cowboys. With Miles keeping an actual passing quarterback (Jarrett Lee) on the bench, that makes things less difficult for Oklahoma State. Yes, LSU’s running depth would have pounded the Pokes. But an underrated offensive line would have worn down the Tigers. Oklahoma State 27, LSU 21.

Fantasy quote:  “How do you like us now, OU?” – Boone Pickens

Who got screwed: In the real world, it was Oklahoma State. The Cowboys finished third in the BCS by closest margin since the formula was refigured in 2004. They played a stronger schedule than Alabama and won what some thought was the strongest conference in the country in ’11. Bammers were successful, though, in reducing the national conversation about two one-loss teams to one game. It was determined Alabama’s one loss (to LSU) was less bad than Oklahoma State’s (Iowa State). It’s a full season, folks. The Fightin’ Gundys had a fine one.

As far as props, there was a time when the idea of Mike Gundy as the national coach of the year would have been a Saturday Night Live skit. Now it’s reality.

Cowboys as champs outrageous? At least you can’t blame the BCS.
 

Plus-one champions, 2008-2011: Florida, Texas, Auburn, Oklahoma State.

Plus-one team summary: Miami (3), USC (3) Florida (2), LSU, Texas, Auburn, Oklahoma State, Florida State, Tennessee (each one).

Conferences: SEC (5), Pac-10 (3), Big East  (3), Big 12 (2), ACC (1)

-30-

 

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 18, 2012 11:45 am
Edited on: January 19, 2012 10:35 am
 

A plus-one playoff through the years: 1998-2002

Who exactly is against a plus-one playoff at this point?

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany is willing to consider it. SEC commissioner Mike Slive is predicting major changes to the current system. NCAA president Mark Emmert would support a four-team playoff.

OK, there a few. But it’s clear, the times they are a-changin’. While a four-team playoff isn’t a panacea, the idea has become as trendy as skinny jeans lately. No. 1 vs. No. 4, No. 2 vs. No. 3 in the BCS standings facing off in two national semifinals. The two winners meet for all the Tostitos.  Or whatever corporate sponsor wins the rights.

Emmert even used the term “Final Four approach.” Think of the possibilities. Even more corporate sponsors.

We digress. Nothing actually changes until the 2014 season. The BCS commissioners will hash things out over the next six months. Before we get there, we’ve got a chance to look back at what would have been. Using the BCS standings as a template, CBSSports.com went back and matched up the top four teams in each of the 14 years of the BCS.

Some years it was wonderful. Some years it wasn’t needed. Every year it was fun to fantasize. We kick off today with the first five years of the BCS (1998-2002). What emerged, at least in this space, was an extension of the Miami dynasty.

 

1998

BCS champion: Tennessee, 23-16 over Florida State.

The setup: Back when the BCS was young and it made sense there was little controversy over Florida State and Tennessee meeting in the first championship game. FSU was on a 10-game winning streak since losing the second game of the season to N.C. State. No opponent had come within of the Noles 11 points during the streak.

Tennessee was a no-brainer as the other half of the first BCS title game. The undefeated SEC champs were a foreshadowing of how college football’s postseason would be dominated. The difference was Bobby Bowden having to rely on backup quarterback Marcus “Rooster” Outzen because of a neck injury to Chris Weinke.  Rooster, a former high school option quarterback, completed only nine of 22 while throwing two picks. The formerly explosive FSU offense was held to 253 yards by a great Tennessee defense led by Dwayne Goodrich (54-yard interception for a touchdown).

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 Tennessee vs. No. 4 Ohio State, No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 3 Kansas State. Ohio State’s John Cooper was on a run of four straight seasons with at least 10 wins. The Buckeyes only loss was to a Nick Saban-coached Michigan State team that finished 6-6. Tennessee’s superior defense would have ruled the day. Tennessee 20, Ohio State 16.

A four-team playoff would have saved Kansas State which was coming off the most devastating loss in program history. Like UCLA that season, the Wildcats were a win away from a national championship berth. They led Texas A&M by 15 in the fourth quarter in the Big 12 championship game. K-State lost in double overtime dropping from the title game to the Alamo Bowl after suffering its first loss.

The collapse was so sudden and complete that Bill Snyder called it the worst of his career. “The pain that comes from this,” he said, “is obvious.” The guy who scored the winning touchdown for A&M, Sirr Parker, had a movie made about him.

It is still considered by some the best K-State team ever. Given a second chance, Michael Bishop and the Wildcats would have rebounded against FSU. Kansas State 27, Florida State 20.

Championship game: Kansas State vs. Tennessee. Because of FSU’s injuries, K-State would have been a much better opponent for the Vols. Watching Bishop and receiver Darnell McDonald try to break down the Tennessee defense would have been a treat. In the end, Bishop, prone to turnovers, would have given the Vols at least one short field. Plus, he wasn’t the best thrower. Tennessee defensive coordinator John Chavis would have attacked those two weaknesses all night. Tennessee 30, Kansas State 23.

Fantasy quote:
 "We'd play 'em again tomorrow in a parking lot in shorts and T-shirts. That would be Indiana State, not Tennessee." -- Bill Snyder

Who got screwed: UCLA found out it’s when you lose, not if you lose. A lot of the blame goes on coach Bob Toledo. With a berth in the title game hanging in the balance, Toledo chose to travel to Miami the day before the final regular-season game in early December. The Bruins weren’t acclimated to the South Florida heat and lost a shootout, 49-45. UCLA dropped from second to fifth in the final BCS standings meaning the Bruins wouldn’t even have made a four-team playoff.

The “consolation” for the Bruins was the Rose Bowl, won by Wisconsin 38-31.

 


1999

BCS champion: Florida State 46, Virginia Tech 29

The setup: No controversy here. Florida State and Virginia Tech were the only two undefeated major-college programs. Tech had a team for the ages – at least in Blacksburg -- in Michael Vick’s first year as a starter. The only thing that slowed FSU’s Peter Warrick’s that season was the receiver’s suspension for getting a significant discount from a friendly clerk at a local department store. The Noles went wire-to-wire at No. 1 in AP.

In the championship game, Tech rebounded from 21 down to take a 29-28 lead going into the fourth quarter. Vick accounted for 322 yards in total offense but couldn’t play defense. FSU scored 18 unanswered in the final 15 minutes, winning 46-29.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 4 Alabama, No. 2 Virginia Tech vs. No. 3 Nebraska: This was probably a year when a plus-o
ne would have been worthless. Virginia Tech and FSU had nothing to prove except to play each other. A playoff would have allowed Nebraska (11-1) and Alabama (10-2) in. The Huskers would have earned a semifinal spot with what is now their last team to win a conference title. Nebraska got even for its only regular-season loss by beating Texas in the Big 12 title game.

Even though Nebraska posted two shutouts that year, Vick was a force of nature that season. Virginia Tech 29, Nebraska 22.

Meanwhile, it was hard to believe a Mike Dubose-coached team that lost to Louisiana Tech would have been able to play for a national championship. Despite winning the SEC that year, Bama wasn’t national championship caliber. Florida State 32, Alabama 20.

Championship game: Little would have changed. Noles 35, Virginia Tech 24.
 
Fantasy quote:  "When's the Miami game next year?" -- Bobby Bowden.

Who got screwed: Really, no one. For the second straight year, No. 6 Kansas State lost only once in the regular season but didn’t get close to a BCS bowl after Nebraska won the Big 12. No. 5 Tennessee actually beat Alabama during the season but finished second in the SEC East. But as we would see in a couple of years, winning your division was no prerequisite to playing for the national championship.

 


2000

BCS champion: Oklahoma 13, Florida State 2

The setup: plus-one matchups would have addressed one of the great BCS injustices. No. 2 Florida State played No. 1 Oklahoma for the title despite losing to No. 3 Miami by three in Wide Right III. FSU eventually got the No. 2 spot over the Canes by .32 of a point.

While Miami was in the process of kicking off a 34-game winning streak that season, FSU was at the end of an incredible 14-year run in which it finished in the top four. Despite Weinke winning the Heisman that year, the Noles were dominated in a defensive snoozer of a championship game.

While the season felt unfulfilling in South Florida, Oklahoma had a season for the ages. Juco quarterback Josh Heupel made a run at the Heisman running something called the zone-read option. Bob Stoops’ defense was suffocating, allowing 14 or fewer points nine times. With its championship, the Sooners finally crawled out of bomb crater caused by crippling NCAA penalties 11 years earlier.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 4 Washington, No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 3 Miami. A Florida State-Miami rematch would have been a championship game in itself. The issue was further complicated because the Canes only loss that season came to Washington in the second week of the season.

It’s hard to beat a team twice in a season but by the end of the 2000, Miami might have been the best team in the country. Miami 28, Florida State 24.

In the other semifinal, Oklahoma was a much more complete team. The Huskies won six of their games by a touchdown or less. Quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo was the spark on a team not loaded with a ton of NFL talent. Oklahoma 38, Washington 25.

Championship game: Miami vs. Oklahoma. A matchup for the ages. Two programs, full of swagger, reborn before our eyes. Think of the talent on that field – Jeremy Shockey, Santana Moss, Bryant McKinnie, Ed Reed, Rocky Calmus, Heupel, J.T. Thatcher, Torrance Marshall, Quentin Griffin.

In what would have been Butch Davis' final game, the Canes have bit more speed and athleticism. Miami 27, Oklahoma 23.

Fantasy quote:  
"Someone from the Cleveland Browns on Line 1, coach." --Davis' secretary 

Who got screwed: In the real world, it was Miami. With a plus-one it would have been Virginia Tech. In Vick’s last season, the Hokies went 10-1 in the regular season, losing only to Miami, but were nosed out for the No. 4 spot by  Washington. Tech was actually better than the Huskies in the computers but was hurt by its schedule strength.

 

 

2001

BCS championship game: Miami 37, Nebraska 14

The setup: If there was ever a year for a four-team playoff,  2001 screamed for it. The Miami-Nebraska game was one of the great BCS traveshamockeries. The Huskers played for the championship despite failing to win the Big 12 North and getting blown out in the final regular-season game by Colorado.

It was considered a further scandal when the Big 12 champion Buffs finished at No. 3, .05 of a point behind Nebraska. And you thought the Rematch of the Century was controversial? Oregon also had a beef, finishing No. 4 in the BCS but was consensus No. 2 in both human polls.

Two outsiders to the Pasadena tradition – Huskers and Canes -- were made to feel like they had to wipe their feet before stepping foot on the hallowed Rose Bowl turf.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things:  No. 1 Miami vs. No. 4 Oregon, No. 2 Nebraska vs. Colorado.  Miami would have easily handled Oregon. This was one of the best UM teams of all time. Miami 34, Oregon 16.

A Nebraska-Colorado rematch would have been tasty. The 62-36 regular-season CU win signaled the beginning of a long, slow decline for Nebraska football. Would the Huskers have had to suffer the same indignity again? Yes. Colorado 32, Nebraska 30.

Championship game:  This season kicked off a streak in which CU’s Gary Barnett got to the Big 12 championship game in four of five years. Nothing, though, would have stopped Miami which won the national championship in Larry Coker’s first season after taking over for Davis. Miami 30, Colorado 17.
 

Fantasy quote: "How hard can this be?" -- Larry Coker
 
Who got screwed: College football? The more BCS fathers think about the 2001 season, the more they want to induce vomiting. Colorado beat Nebraska, played a tougher schedule and won the conference yet still didn’t get to play for it all. The thing is, no one in Nebraska would have said a word if the Huskers would have been left out.

 

2002

BCS champion: Ohio State 31, Miami 24, 2 OT

The setup: No need to even discuss a playoff this year. What was left to determine after one of the best games in history? Ohio State’s double-overtime title game win over Miami had everything – dozens of future pros, points, penalties and Porter. Actually, Terry Porter, the official who made the infamous call in the end zone that turned a Miami celebration into more overtime.

You know what happened next. A molecular biology major named Craig Krenzel studiously led the Buckeyes to a come-from-behind win. In the end the Canes couldn’t believe they lost. Somewhere beneath the Fiesta Bowl stands that night Miami’s Kellen Winslow II muttered, “The best team didn’t win.”

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 Miami vs. No. 4 USC, No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Georgia. A Miami-USC semifinal would have had plenty of brand-name value. Carson Palmer won the Heisman that year but his Trojans lost twice before the second week of October and couldn’t recover in the rankings. Miami 24, USC 23.

An argument could be made that Georgia was one of the great one-loss teams in BCS history. In Mark Richt’s second season, the Dawgs went 13-1, losing only to Florida. A Georgia team that included Jon Stinchcomb, Boss Bailey and David Greene would have been a fine semifinal opponent for the Buckeyes. But based on nothing more than mojo, Ohio State would have won because it was a team of destiny winning half of its 14 games by a touchdown or less. Ohio State 23, Georgia 19.

Championship game:  Miami, an 11 ½-point favorite, blew the real meeting to Ohio State because it took the Buckeyes lightly and committed five turnovers. In a playoff, it's hard imagining the 2002 Canes being that bad. Miami 24, Ohio State 17.

Fantasy quote:  
"Beers in my room after the game. Media invited." -- Terry Porter 

Who got screwed: In a four-team playoff, perhaps it would have been No. 5 Iowa. Brad Banks led the nation in pass efficiency that year. The defense was fifth against the run. The scoring offense was top 10. The Hawkeyes finished .28 of a point behind No. 4 USC.

Iowa finished third in both human polls. But the Trojans – fifth in both polls – at least won their conference while playing the toughest schedule in the country.

 

Plus-one champions, 1998-2002: Tennessee, Florida State, Miami, Miami, Miami.

Tomorrow: A plus-one from 2003 to 2007. 

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. 

Posted on: December 8, 2011 3:08 pm
 

Robert Griffin in a landslide in my straw poll

Robert Griffin in a runaway.

That’s how much Baylor’s quarterback has captured the nation – or rather the ballots of Heisman voters. Griffin was the landslide winner in the Dodds and Ends straw poll canvassing of 23 Heisman voters.

Griffin was named on all 23 ballots, getting 19 first-place votes. Stanford’s Andrew Luck was second having been named on 13 ballots, getting two first-place votes. Alabama’s Trent Richardson was third.

Ballots were due to the Heisman Trust on Monday. This poll suggests that Griffin made huge gains after beating Texas on Saturday. Before that, it seemed that Luck and Richardson had dominated the voting.

If Griffin follows through and wins the Stiff Arm on Saturday, he would be the first player from a private parochial school to win the Heisman since BYU’s Ty Detmer in 1990. He would be the first player from a non-traditional football school to win it since Boston College’s Doug Flutie in 1984.

Since then, the Heisman has been shared by only 17 schools.

 

The totals:

1. Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor, 64 points (19 first-place votes)
2. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford, 25 (2)
3. Trent Richardson, TB, Alabama, 17 (2)
4. Montee Ball, TB, Wisconsin, 14
5. Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU, 11
6. Matt Barkley, QB, USC, 6
7. (tie) Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State; LaMichael James, TB, Oregon, 1

Participating voters: Lee Barknecht, Omaha World-Herald; Tony Barnhart, CBSSports.com, CBS Sports Network; Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel; Dean Blevins, News 9, Oklahoma City, Okla.; Kirk Bohls, Austin American-Statesman; Rick Bozich, Louisville Courier-Journal; Chip Brown, Orangebloods.com; Chuck Carlton, Dallas Morning News; Angelique Chengelis, Detroit News; Bob Condotta; Seattle Times; Dennis Dodd, CBSSports.com; Erik Gee, KNML, Albuquerque, N.M.; Ken Goe, Portland Oregonian; Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune; Matt Hayes, Sporting News; Tommy Hicks, Mobile Register; Ron Higgins, Memphis Commercial Appeal; Todd Jones, Columbus Dispatch; Blair Kerkhoff, Kansas City Star; Stewart Mandel, SI.com; George Schroeder, Eugene Register-Guard; David Teel, Newport News Daily Press; Dick Weiss, New York Post.   

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