Phil Taylor's Sidelines

November 03, 2003

MUSICAL CONFERENCES

The ACC raids the Big East, which ransacks Conference USA, which
steals from the Mid-American and the Western Athletic, which
pilfers from the Sun Belt. Down the conference food chain it
goes, with schools making plans to jump from one league to
another in a process that makes a farce of traditional conference
allegiances.

The ACC started the latest round of realignment, or more
accurately, cannibalization, when it persuaded Big East members
Miami and Virginia Tech to switch conferences. Boston College
eventually decided to jump as well, and the Big East is expected
to invite C-USA members Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida
to replace the defectors. Before long the makeup of some leagues
will further defy logic (Louisiana-Lafayette in the Western
Athletic Conference?), and only the most devoted fan will
know--or care--which schools belong to which conference.

That hardly matters to school administrators, who are all trying
to position their institutions for the biggest slice of the
financial pie. Since that's the goal, it's time to eliminate the
complicated maneuvering and cut to the chase. Regardless of
conference affiliation, it's obvious which programs have the
prestige and appeal to be worthy of the big-money BCS bowls and
which do not. Why not merge the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10
and Notre Dame and form the inevitable super conference, while
the rest of the schools scramble for the leftover dollars? That's
essentially what happens now, anyway.

THEY'RE NOT PRINCES

Sometimes, the computers are right. TCU, which beat Houston 62-55
last Saturday, is No. 12 in the BCS rankings. The 8-0 Horned
Frogs not only have no realistic chance at the national
championship but also even if they finish unbeaten are unlikely
to qualify for a BCS bowl--which is as it should be.

Five of TCU's wins have come against teams with losing records,
including a 13-10 escape against 1-7 Arizona. The Horned Frogs
haven't played a ranked opponent this season, and their strength
of schedule is ranked 99th. Their defense, which was supposed to
be their strength, surrendered 684 total yards against Houston.
It's little wonder that TCU coach Gary Patterson isn't
complaining about the lack of attention his team has gotten. The
Horned Frogs are probably better off if no one examines them too
closely.

CARDINAL DISSENSION

Stanford's quarterback situation has become a thorny issue for
coach Buddy Teevens. Some of the older players grumbled quietly
when senior Chris Lewis lost the starting job in Week 2 to
redshirt freshman Trent Edwards. Former Cardinal wide receiver
Teyo Johnson, now a rookie tight end with the Oakland Raiders,
spoke for some of his ex-teammates when he criticized the
decision after Stanford's 24-14 loss on Oct. 18 to Washington
State. "If [Lewis] doesn't start, it's politics plain and
simple," said Johnson.

Lewis did start in the Cardinal's 35-0 loss to Oregon last
Saturday, but Edwards was unavailable with a sprained right
shoulder. It's unclear exactly who Stanford's No. 1 quarterback
is, but what is clear is that under Teevens, Edwards seems to
have made little progress and Lewis has regressed. Stanford,
2-4 this season, is 4-13 overall under Teevens. Edwards, who
will be the undisputed starter next season, will have the next
three years to improve. Teevens won't be given nearly as much
time.

BOWDEN GETS RECORD

Florida State coach Bobby Bowden surpassed Penn State's Joe
Paterno for the most victories in Division I-A (339) history with
the Seminoles' 48-24 win over Wake Forest on Saturday. But 31 of
those wins came at Bowden's alma mater, Samford, against schools
like Gordon Junior College. Bowden's record doesn't warrant an
asterisk, but it's worth noting that a few of the victories were
particularly flimsy.

COLOR PHOTO: WINSLOW TOWNSON/AP (DODD) BC's Horace Dodd COLOR PHOTO: BRETT COOMER/AP (TCU-HOUSTON) TCU-Houston COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT E. HUDSON JR./ICON SMI (LEWIS) Lewis

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)