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Beamer's pride, UConn's berth, NCAA's hypocrisy; more Snaps

Until a conference foe takes the crown from Virginia Tech, when I mention the ACC, I intend to refer to the league as the VTC. The Hokies proved once again Saturday that they own the conference, winning their fourth title in seven seasons in the league by beating Florida State on Saturday in the conference title game (RECAP | BOX).

But this title may be the most special for Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer. The Hokies could have completely fallen apart after they fell to 0-2 following a loss to FCS school James Madison. Instead, they rallied and won their final 11 games.

Virginia Tech can cap the comeback by winning the Orange Bowl, but that might not be so easy. The Orange Bowl probably will select one-loss Stanford, which has demolished opponents down the stretch. But Beamer thinks he has something special in this group, and it's hard to doubt a guy who wins as consistently as he does.

"Those two losses we had at the beginning of the year make these 11 wins and the ACC Championship seem even greater," Beamer said Saturday. "We're very appreciative, and I like these kids. I like what they're all about."

Instead of standing up at a team banquet last week and playing a Josh Groban song that got him mocked by everyone -- including, hilariously enough, Josh Groban -- Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez should have waited to plead for his job. Monday, he can walk into athletic director Dave Brandon's office and said this: "You know whose team thumped a BCS AQ-conference champion? This guy!"

It seems like years since Michigan opened the season with a resounding win against a fairly-hyped Connecticut team. That day, the Huskies didn't appear capable of winning any conference, but Coach Randy Edsall and his staff never threw in the towel. After starting off 3-4, the Huskies won their last five and made history Saturday when kicker Dave Teggart made a career-long 52-yard field goal to lift UConn to a 19-16 win (RECAP | BOX) against South Florida and clinch the Huskies' first Big East title.

The Big East in 2010 will never be confused with the AFC East, but a little context should help people appreciate what Edsall has accomplished in Storrs. The Huskies didn't join the FBS until 2000. Ten years later, they're going to a BCS game.

UConn probably will be a heavy underdog to Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, but the Huskies can begin worrying about that next week. Saturday, they earned the right to celebrate.

If a pro-sports fan ever asks you why so many people dislike the NCAA, simply point them to this page on Auburn's official fan shop site. Auburn is selling dozens of "Heisman Hopeful No. 2" items, from a short-sleeve T-shirt for $18.95 to a long-sleeve ladies' shirt for $22.95.

Auburn's No. 2 is quarterback Cam Newton, the guy who probably will collect the Heisman Trophy next week. Unless you've lived in a cave for the past month, you know Newton is involved in a bit of a scandal right now.

But the 61 "Heisman Hopeful No. 2" shirts only serve to underscore the NCAA's hypocrisy when it comes to who may cash in on athletes. Newton's father, Cecil, is not allowed to exploit his son for a quick payday, but Auburn is more than welcome to do so and exploit Cam Newton for cash.

This isn't a knock against Auburn. The athletic department is only doing what the rules allow. Other schools exploit their players the same way -- with the NCAA's blessing. Georgia exploited receiver A.J. Green by selling his No. 8 jersey in every conceivable variation, but the NCAA suspended Green for four games for selling a game-used jersey. (Granted, it was for a lot more than market value to a guy identified as an agent runner, but Georgia made a lot more than a grand selling No. 8 jerseys.)

Spare me the argument that Newton is using Auburn to increase his potential NFL payday. Newton could slip on a banana peel, break his leg and never play an NFL down. Auburn will make millions off Newton this year.

Obviously, no parent should be allowed to pimp their child to the highest bidder, but Cecil Newton has to be thinking he got a raw deal.

In case you missed it, Cincinnati's mascot got hauled off by the cops at their home game against Pittsburgh on Saturday. And because this is 2010, the whole sordid affair wound up on YouTube within hours. (There is a little dirty language as fans protest the Bearcat's potential incarceration, so be aware.) Also, feel free to ignore the woman who suggests the videographer stop taping because the incident wasn't that funny. On the contrary, it was hilarious.

SI.com's weekly power rankings are done for the season, but you can still vehemently disagree with my choices this week. Here's the AP poll ballot I'll submit Sunday morning.

1. Auburn 2. Oregon 3. TCU 4. Stanford 5. Michigan State 6. Wisconsin 7. Ohio State 8. Arkansas 9. Nevada 10. Boise State 11. LSU 12. Virginia Tech 13. Oklahoma 14. Nebraska 15. Missouri 16. Oklahoma State 17. Texas A&M 18. South Carolina 19. Alabama 20. Utah 21. Florida State 22. Mississippi State 23. West Virginia 24. Maryland 25. San Diego State

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