You know we're in the dregs of summer when the only real college football news of late has been the unfortunate, but inevitable, wave of offseason player arrests (with an
Next week, however, SEC coaches, players and a horde of media will convene in Birmingham, Ala., for the league's annual season kickoff circus, where talk will (mostly) turn from police lineups to projected lineups. Having attended this event several times and sat in the enormous Wynfrey Hotel ballroom, I can already predict the No. 1 question each of the conference's 12 coaches will be asked when he takes his turn at the dais.
Hey, you can't argue with four straight BCS titles. But I do wish we could have seen a more diverse set of championship-game matchups over the past four years, which involved two SEC-Big Ten and two SEC-Big 12 pairings. Apparently I'm not alone.
Indeed, it's a shame Carroll's Trojans never faced an SEC champion in either the BCS title game or another bowl matchup. Controversial finishes denied us the chance to see USC face LSU in 2003 or Auburn in '04, much to the chagrin of SEC fans. For USC fans, however, the single biggest missed opportunity came in 2008, when the Trojans fielded what was unquestionably the most dominant defense of the Carroll era (the unit allowed a staggering 9.0 points per game) but shot themselves in the foot with an early-season loss at Oregon State. While I still believe one-loss Oklahoma (or Texas) was a more deserving participant, it's a shame we didn't get the opportunity to see
So, what potential 2010 matchup would elicit a similar curiosity factor? I'll go with Alabama vs. Boise State.
There's no greater litmus test right now than facing the SEC's champion, and if we believe the consensus projections that Alabama will once again be that team, and that the perennial outsider Broncos are about to field their most complete team to date, what better way to settle the question once and for all as to whether Boise belongs? For once, there would be no excuses if the Broncos pulled it off. No one could say their opponent wasn't motivated (Oklahoma in the '07 Fiesta Bowl), hadn't yet rounded into form (Oregon in last season's opener) or wasn't a BCS program (TCU in last year's Fiesta Bowl). We can already predict the requisite disclaimers that will follow should Boise beat Virginia Tech in this year's highly anticipated opener -- the Hokies always lose their high-profile openers, they play in the "inferior" ACC, etc.
Even when Utah beat 12-1 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl two years ago, we heard that the deflated Tide didn't take the game seriously, suffered from
And of course, if Alabama won by three touchdowns, we'd learn something, too.
I've noticed a lot of confusion on this issue since USC's coaches-poll ban was announced. Short answer: There is no effect. The BCS hasn't included specific "strength of schedule" or "quality win" components in its formula since 2003. And the various computer ratings used by the BCS crunch straight-up wins-and-losses data, not voter-poll rankings. So USC's opponents will get the same credit for the game as they usually would.
USC's standing in the BCS rankings will obviously be affected, as the coaches poll accounts for one-third of a team's score (along with the Harris Poll and the computers), but since the Trojans are ineligible for a BCS bowl, that doesn't matter, either. The only tangible impact might come if USC finishes the regular season ranked, say, seventh in the AP and Harris polls, and, say, Wisconsin finishes 15th. The Badgers (and like everyone else ranked behind the Trojans in those polls) would finish one spot higher in the BCS standings, which, in this hypothetical, would allow Wisconsin to finish in the Top 14 and therefore qualify for a BCS at-large berth.
There's no reason both can't be successful. Murray was ranked behind only
One thing's for sure: Don't be fooled into reading too much into Murray's inexperience. If you look at the trend in recent years, quarterbacks who get thrown into the fire as true freshmen, no matter how talented, do tend to struggle initially (see Clausen,
If both Brantley and Murray fulfill expectations, it should add yet another chapter to the Florida-Georgia rivalry and give their fans yet another subject to debate.
That Heisman list must have been pretty all-encompassing, because I didn't get a whole lot of complaints about excluded players -- just a whole bunch from Dallas/Fort Worth. Dalton's omission was not intentional. Perhaps subconsciously my lingering memory of his three picks in the Fiesta Bowl affected my thinking, but that's not entirely fair, considering
While Dalton is far from a favorite, I could see him entering the discussion early, especially if he has a big game in TCU's nationally televised opener against Oregon State. Beyond that, however, the Horned Frogs aren't going to play in a lot of must-see-TV games, and Dalton would have to put together much gaudier stats than he did last season (2,756 yards, 23 touchdowns, eight interceptions) and lead his team to another undefeated season to remain a factor.
It was huge for the ACC, and yet another example of just how rapidly the value of college television contracts has skyrocketed in recent years. When the ACC expanded in 2004, industry observers lauded the league for garnering a new football contract with ABC/ESPN worth $37 million a year, up from $20 million. Six fairly undistinguished football seasons later, that same conference is suddenly worth
As I've written before, this all started when the Big Ten started its own network in 2006. At the time, commissioner
All of which is extremely good news for the Pac-10, the one BCS conference that has yet to reap the windfalls of this new spending spree. Commissioner
I certainly hope so. With a new quarterback playing behind five new offensive linemen, a long-range field-goal kicker may be the Vols' best hope of scoring points, and with a freshman and two sophomores expected to start in the secondary, a punter who can pin an opponent deep might force opposing receivers to have to run farther to reach the end zone.
That depends on your definition of "relevant."
In the 10 years since the Mountain West-WAC split, the two leagues have obviously gone in opposite directions. The MWC continues to gain respect, while the WAC teeters closer to oblivion. Whereas Utah's move to the Pac-10 marks the first time the MWC has lost a team, the WAC already went through one raid in 2005 when it lost Tulsa, UTEP, Rice and SMU to Conference USA and had to replace them with bottom-feeders Idaho, Utah State and New Mexico State. Commissioner
But that does not mean the WAC will disappear without Boise. Lest we forget, another WAC team, Hawaii, earned a BCS bid just three years ago. Fresno State's beaten quite a few of the big boys under
Fair enough, but here's a little clarification on my part. The Mailbag fully concedes the right of any school to recognize whichever national championship selectors it deems legitimate from the pre-modern era, and the inherent ambiguity that comes with it. Alabama, for instance, proudly claims 13 national championships, while other sources recognize it for 12. Georgia Tech, for its part, is certainly entitled to claim the four that it does: 1917, 1928, 1952 and '90.
For uniformity's sake, however, the Mailbag does not recognize so-called "national championships" prior to the advent of the AP poll in 1936 and coaches poll in 1950, seeing as most "polls" prior to then were conducted by obscure individuals or organizations and oftentimes were rewarded retroactively. Therefore, while Yellow Jackets fans are perfectly entitled to brag of the 1917 and '28 teams that wowed the Helms Athletic Foundation, or the '52 team that claims as one of its selectors the INS -- International News Service -- the Mailbag officially recognize the 1990 UPI coaches poll trophy as that school's "first" national championship.
Any further disputes may be taken up with Cleveland Cavaliers owner