Preseason poll puzzle, RichRod's latest woes; more Mailbag
There are some things that simply defy explanation. Take, for example, my infatuation with
As a 34-year-old professional whose prime MTV-watching days ended about 10 years ago, there's no logical reason why I should find so much enjoyment in watching a bunch of dim-witted twentysomethings in Miami get drunk, fight, break up, get back together, rinse and repeat. But I do. Oh, how I do. I live to see
In fact, it would be much easier for me to identify the reasons behind
To address the last part of your question first: Yes, I do think the difference in overall talent level among NFL teams is far thinner than among college teams, therefore putting NFL quarterbacks in the position to make or break a season. Obviously, you're not going to win championships in college with a subpar signal-caller -- but Alabama did win a national title last season with a first-year starting quarterback (
However, it does seem like voters put less of a premium on quarterback experience this year than they have in the past. While Oregon probably dropped about five spots when it lost
But that doesn't explain the low number of Pac-10 teams in the poll. (And we must mention as a disclaimer that USC was ineligible.) It was probably more a reflection of the conference's poor showing last bowl season. Oregon State came darn close to reaching the Rose Bowl, but probably cost itself a preseason top 15 ranking by laying an egg against BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl. Arizona's 33-0 Holiday Bowl loss to Nebraska cost it any shot at a preseason ranking. And imagine how different the preseason rankings might have been for both Oklahoma (No. 8) and Stanford (unranked) had the Sun Bowl gone 31-27 the other way.
The irony, of course, is that bowl results are rarely representative of anything other than which team cared more about the game and which team handled the layoff better. Luck didn't even play in Stanford's bowl game. My guess is at least two or three other Pac-10 teams will be ranked by the end of the season -- but good luck guessing which ones. While only two made the preseason cut, seven of the league's nine eligible teams received votes (everyone but UCLA and Washington State). It's not that voters didn't notice those veteran quarterbacks, they just couldn't agree on which had the best supporting casts.
Sorry, Chris. Regardless of a coach's involvement, the NCAA sanctions the school where the infractions occurred. This happens to be a particularly unusual situation because, while most of the West Virginia violations allegedly occurred
Mind you, of the five "major" violations alleged against Michigan (personally, I think they're all still fairly "minor"), the only one the school is contesting is the allegation that Rodriguez "failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance" in the football program. AD
However, what happens if Rodriguez is found guilty
Harris is a beast, no question, but one who's done his best work with near anonymity thus far. How many people outside of ACC country could tell you that Harris ran for 264 yards in a game against NC State last season or 179 against Florida State? Or that he closed the season with five straight 100-yard games? Or that he ran for 900 yards the year before?
Harris faces two obstacles in terms of exposure. For one, he's only the third-most decorated player on his own team behind linebacker
Both of you raise a valid point, and both show why the issue of compensating college athletes is so much more complex than the average sanctimonious columnist would have you believe. Still, it's hard to believe the NCAA and its schools have gotten away with the racket of profiting off of individual players' likeness -- even
To answer the first part of the question: no. If a coach oversigns in February and/or overshoots his expected offseason roster attrition and has to pull one of his incoming freshman's scholarships at the last second, the player has three equally unappealing options. He can "grayshirt," which means delaying enrollment until January, when a scholarship becomes available in next year's class; walk-on at his own expense; or ask for his release and transfer elsewhere. It's cold, it's ugly, but fortunately, this dark side of the sport is finally getting some much-needed publicity.
Credit the unusual candor of Porter, the LSU freshman who, having already spent two months on campus, in a dorm room and attending classes, was summoned to
In the coaches' defense, there are a few legitimate reasons behind oversigning. A coach has to anticipate that some veteran players will transfer, flunk out or suffer career-ending injuries (in which case they can be placed on medical hardship scholarships). And remember, scholarships are not four-year agreements, they're one-year renewable deals. I've had several coaches tell me the danger of unconditionally committing to a guy for four years is that some underachievers inevitably stop caring, stop putting in the work and keep receiving tuition checks without contributing in any meaningful way. I get that. But at the end of the day, a program is not going to implode if it has to go into a particular season with 81 players instead of 85. These are kids' lives coaches are messing with, especially the freshmen. Can you imagine moving away to college, showing up for the first day of school and being told, "Sorry -- we lied. We don't have room for you. Wait 'til next year."
It's inexcusable, and the NCAA needs to step up and take a hard-line stance against oversigning. As mentioned here before, check out
I get the cute little math jokes, I do, but seriously -- why would the Big Ten change its name? You don't have to be a marketing major to understand the importance of branding. Besides the Ivy League, no college conference has the same level of brand recognition as the Big Ten. It's not even close. Even a complete non-sports fan has at least heard of "the Big Ten." Meanwhile, there's a significant portion of the population that knows the "SEC" only as the Securities and Exchange Commission.
As this admittedly partisan faculty member at Illinois
I'm not sure you can put a number of years or championships on it, but it's certainly true that the Bearcats haven't yet reached "benefit of the doubt" status. It's tough to compare Ohio State, which played in its first Rose Bowl in 1950, and Cincinnati, which made its first BCS bowl in 2009. And I'm sure some Big East followers remember the cautionary tale of Louisville, which looked to be on the brink of becoming an annual contender under
While I don't expect Cincy to go 12-1 again, I do think the Bearcats are being discarded far too quickly by most. Consider: Of the 10 teams that played in BCS games last season, eight were among the top 11 in the preseason coaches' poll, Georgia Tech was 17th ... and Cincinnati was unranked. It'd be one thing if the school had replaced Kelly with a complete unknown, but
I don't know if the Bearcats will win the Big East again -- they're in a tight jumble with West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Connecticut -- but I'd be surprised if they return to the land of the forgotten.
Mike, I hate to break it to you pal, but it's time to get a new girlfriend.