December 29, 2006

Pictures from the Champs Sports Bowl

I worked with Todd Anderson tonight at the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando - let the record state that I am not a photographer, Todd is a friend who needed an assistant to carry gear during the bowl game and I was happy to oblige.

I was taken aback by couple of things witnessing the game from ground level:
  • I am 6'2" and 230 pounds, but I don't look ANYTHING like the defensive backs on the field with the same measurements. I sort of expected that.
  • Maryland whooped Purdue's ass from start to finish, a result I certainly was not expecting. Obviously these guys were thinking otherwise...
  • Derrius Heyward-Bey looks like a superstar WR waiting to happen - all he needs is the 2007 QB (Jordan Steffy or Florida transfer Josh Portis) to be as accurate as departing senior Sam "Ain't no" Hollenbach.
Here are some other pictures taken from my Treo and also one from Todd with much higher quality equipment...The press meal of baked ziti with sausage, a portrait of Bonnie Bernstein's outstanding corduroy pants, Ralph Friedgen eating, er, hugging his children after the game, Greg Orton's leaping catch, and Hollenbach and the seniors at the award ceremony afterward.

Bowls on my forehead: Sun Bowl edge to the Tigers

Back from vacation, I am ready to dive back in to previewing the college football bowls. The Insight and the Music City got my attention, but first, here comes the Sun....

I will actually be attending the Champs Bowl in Orlando between the Maryland Terps and the Purdue Boilermakers...both teams excel at two things - a) offense, and b) waiting to play offense. TAKE THE OVER 53! Value of the day...

BRUT SUN BOWL: Missouri +3.5 over Oregon State

Tis the season for both holiday cheer and viral infections - seems a bunch of Tigers have caught a flu bug , but it appears to have not struck any starters.

BTW, does anyone still use Brut out there? After all the soap-on-rope jokes when I was a kid I thought they disappeared....

Statistically, these teams are close in yards per play and yards per point comparisons - the only stats that favor one side is the Beaver defense proved much better at stopping opponent's 3rd down conversions (32.1%, 22nd in the nation)

Oregon State has to be thrilled to be in a bowl game, as they lost big early in the season to Boise State but beat USC and Hawaii in November. Beavers can't run the ball effectively, yet QB Matt Moore has improved as the season wore on. Coach Mike Riley led the team to a strong finish against weak opponents.

Missouri has shown all year that they can move the ball at will - they are 12th in the nation in yards gained led by soph QB sensation Chase Daniel (right, racing go-karts before the game with K Adam Crosset). Stats show the TIgers with a decent defense (Top 25 in both yards/play and yards/point), yet Mizzou could only muster an 8-4 record this year an almost 12 point average margin of victory. Essentially, TIgers played well all year but had their asses handed to them by Nebraska and Oklahoma.

Edge here is to the Tigers - take the points in this close matchup. Impress your friends by telling them that Missouri has two of the best TE in the nation in Martin Rucker and the 6'7" Chase Coffman.

December 25, 2006

Pimp my Blog: Simpson quotes for bowl season

Merry Christmas to all, and a great gift of humor from Jonathan Tu at his blog "It's a definite maybe".

A perfectly cromulent guide to using simpsons quotes during bowl season!

Just click the link and enjoy - any additional commentary would add so little.

December 22, 2006

Three Bowls on the 23rd! Early Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanzaa

Quick notes on these as I am traveling like Kevin Garnett down on the block for Christmas. I am either safely on the ground in Tulsa or stuck in KC - feel for me...

I will try to spruce up these games by taking creative license of some classic Christmas Carols. Bowl, Birmingham, Alabama
USF (8-4) vs East Carolina (7-5)- 1pm on the deuce

The weather is the key - the Bulls are a lock if the temp stays above 50F...remember, everyone picked against them on the weather card at West Virginia and they welcomed the sun and it was all right (I know, Pat White was dinged). If you hadn't heard, QB Matt Grothe of USF finished 12th in the nation in total offense (258 ypg).

East Carolina snuck up on everyone...10-2 ATS this year, but only getting 5 at presstime.

"God rest ye merry gentlemen, lest none of you dismay/
Put a dime or two on the Bulls and show me the mon-ay"

New Mexico Bowl, Albuquerque

San Jose State (8-4) at New Mexico (6-6) - 430pm on ESPN

Watch the excellent Dick Tomey Spartan defense and mighty-mite Yonus Davis take on New Mexico on their home field, a big edge for comfort, altitude and desert cold weather.

"Have an Albuquerque Christmas/
The Lobos dorms? Just around here/

Oh by golly the Spartans will freeze and the Lobos cover this year"

Armed Forces Bowl, Fort Worth, TX
Tulsa (8-4) vs. Utah (7-5), 8pm on ESPN

Oklahoma transfer RB Courtney Tennial and QB Paul Smith lead the Hurricanes, but Utah by far possesses the better program having just played in the Fiesta Bowl a couple years ago. Utah has the momentum finishing 3-1 while went 1-3. Utes' slash (DB/PR/WR/RB/QB) Eric Weddle will be fun to watch as you never know where he will pop up. Tulsa is overrated as Utah is only a one-point favorite.

"Courtney running like he is on fire/
Paul Smith nippin at your nose/

but gotta go with Ratliff and the Utes in this bowl/
as Weddle carries, and catches and throws..."


Troy is the worst bowl team ever

New Orleans Bowl
Troy Trojans (7-5) vs. Rice Owls (7-5)
8pm on the Four-Letter network

Let me dig right in to some numbers on these boys of Troy - they won the Sun Belt in a last minute rally over (what I deem) a superior Middle Tennessee State team.
  • Phil Steele looked at a unique strength of schedule - win-loss record of opponents minus the team's actual games played. Troy was 118th in the nation.
  • 4.8 yards per play on offense, 93rd in the nation.
  • -9 turnover margin, 104th in the nation (20 take/29 give)Sammy the Owl
Yeech! But...

Yards per play: Rice 5.3 (66th), Troy 4.8 (93rd)
Yards per point: Rice 12.42 (18th), Troy 14.87 (72nd)

Yards per play allowed: Rice 6.7 (115th), Troy 5.1 (49th)
Yards per point allowed: Rice 12.8 (94th), Troy 15.2 (59th)
3rd down conversion allowed: Rice 57/144 39.6% (74th), Troy 61/168 36.9% (55th)

Turnover Margin: Rice +11 27/16 (8th), Troy -9 20/29 (104th)

No one is setting the world on fire, but it looks like the true battle is when Rice has the ball since that is where both teams have their strengths. Looks like Rice should easily win the turnover battle and I give them the slight edge.

Both teams gave birth to their own version of the Texas Tech/Air Raid offense this year. Rice snuck up on everyone this year, going 9-3 against the spread (ATS) under first year coach Todd Graham and OC Major Applewhite (yep, that Major that sat behind Chris Simms in Texas). WR Jarrett Dillard led the nation with 20 TD catches and was a unanimous Fantasy College Blitz All-American.

Troy had a donut season - big hole in the middle. After playing GT and Florida State tough early, they were beat like they stole something at Nebraska and UAB.

The risk to my viewpoint on the Rice win lies in momentum - Troy won six of the last seven, three of those wins on the road. QB Omar Haugabook and the spread offense really took off towards the end as well.

Rice -4, over 54. Neither defense is stellar, and with both offenses getting in gear in November plus the additional practice time the over is the play (avg 44 ppg this year in all of NCAA).

December 20, 2006

Vegas Bowl, baby!

With the opening of college bowl season last night in the TCU yawner, er, win...I passed on the preview because it was set up to be a yawner. Tuesday Night game in the heart of shopping season? Putting it up against reruns of my new hero Bear?

C'mon Worldwide Leader, you gotta come out of the gate stronger than this, baby!

But in the two hole sets up one of the best matchups of this second season - The Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl between 10-2 BYU and 7-5 Oregon, 8pm Thursday night.

The Cougars have done nothing but surpass expectations (4th in nation ATS at 9-2-1) this year, and the Ducks have done nothing but underperform all year. When the officiating foul-up of the year results in your most memorable victory, the season was a disappointment.

THE STATS: Edge Cougars

Yards per play: BYU 6.8 (4th) vs. Oregon 5.9 (27th)
BYU SLIGHT EDGE, I would have expected more out of the Ducks but the Pac-10 defenses are better than widely accepted.

Yards per play allowed: BYU 4.9 (36th) vs Oregon 4.9 (36th)
A push, but BYU gets a much bigger edge here for the differential (1.9 vs. 1.0)

Turnover Margin: BYU 25/11 (4th) vs Oregon 20/30 (109th)
BIG edge - BYU's record alone would suggest they care for the ball better but Oregon is just plain sloppy averaging 2.5 turnovers a game.

3rd down conversions allowed: BYU 32.9% (29th) vs. Oregon 33.5% (33rd)
A push for two pretty good defenses


BYU has a top-ten runner in Curtis Brown, a top-five QB in John Beck, and the best catching TE in the game in Jonny Harline. Oregon is loaded at wideout yet have their top two struggling with injuries (James Finley and Jaison Williams) but are embroiled in a QB controversy as Brady Leaf (yes, Ryan's brother) looks to get the start. Will Oregon be content to run the ball all night long with the Weekly Show Jon Stewart and Jeremiah Johnson? Probably not if history is any guide.

Great note on the Phil Steele site: BYU has played at this stadium three times in the last 13 months (this bowl last year plus a visit to UNLV), so the temptation of Sin City may not be so novel as it might be to the neon-clad Oregon squad.

BYU -3 at presstime, and the digit is 61.

I am very confident of the Cougars in this one ATS, but that number is awfully high with two good defenses (NCAA avg was 44 ppg this year).

Plus, remember that BYU does the haka...
Vince Mullins On College Football: Another reason to watch the Las Vegas Bowl

December 19, 2006

Pimpin: Rich Kotite Banged the BCS

A great cultural simile for the 32 bowl games - draw a parallel between every bowl game in relation to every stereotypical high school personality.

Sure, they misspelled "Welcome", but this is so clever it is scary!

December 16, 2006

Mount Union so good it is sickening

Mount Union won the D3 College Football Championship for the ninth time in the last fourteen Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowls, crushing Wisconsin-Whatever 35-16 today in Salem, Virginia.

Mount Union coach Larry Kehres raised his record to 246-20-3...Sicker than Britney Spears at 9am.
The following links will do a much better telling of the story since they devote their time to D3 and the Purple Raiders. Stay classy, Purple Raiders - none of that rioting like UMass.

Fantasy College Football All-Americans

Over at Fantasy College Blitz, we just posted the first of our articles highlighting the best statistical performers at each position, starting with the quarterbacks. During the past two seasons we provided our analysis for subscibers only but we want to make our All-Fantasy team available for all to enjoy and debate.

Here I will list the top three teams, but the full positional breakdowns will appear at FCB throughout the next two weeks. While total fantasy points were a big consideration, we also gave extra attention to week-to-week consistency.

While some people may think that fake degrees are a bad thing there are many uses for them, such as pulling pranks on friends using a fake college degree or, in case of lost paperwork due to fire or other accident, easily getting a replacement college diploma without contacting your university.

2007 Fantasy College Blitz
All-Fantasy Teams

First Team
*Unanimous selection

QB - Colt Brennan (right), Hawaii*
RB - Steve Slaton, West Virginia
RB - Ian Johnson, Boise State
WR - Jarett Dillard - Rice*
WR - Chris Williams, New Mexico State

TE - Jonny Harline, BYU
K - Arthur Carmody, Louisville*
D - Virginia Tech Hokies*

Second Team

QB - Chase Holbrook, New Mexico State
RB - Garrett Wolfe (right), Northern Illinois
RB - Raymell Rice, Rutgers
WR - Johnie Lee Higgins, UTEP
WR - Davone Bess, Hawaii
TE - Darius Hill, Ball State*

K - Alexis Serna, Oregon State*
D - Boston College Eagles

Third Team

QB - Brady Quinn (right), Notre Dame
RB - Ahmad Bradshaw, Marshall
RB - Nate Ilaoa, Hawaii

WR - Robert Meachem, Tennessee
WR - Rhema McKnight, Notre Dame

TE - Chase Coffman, Missouri
K - Justin Medlock, UCLA
D - Georgia Bulldogs

Honorable Mention

QB - Chase Daniel - Missouri, Graham Harrell - Texas Tech, Pat White - West Virginia, John Beck - BYU
RB - Darren McFadden - Arkansas, PJ Hill - Wisconsin
WR - Ryne Robinson - Miami (OH), Calvin Johnson - GT, Joel Filani - Texas Tech, Adarius Bowman - Oklahoma State
TE - Travis Beckum - Wisconsin, Scott Chandler - Iowa
K - Anthony Montgomery - Boise State, Garrett Hartley - Oklahoma
D - Nevada Wolfpack, Western Michigan Broncos

December 14, 2006

Stagg Bowl XXIV: Feel the Purple Excitement!

The Mount Union Purple Raiders (14-0)
versus the
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (14-0).

ESPN 4pm on Saturday.

The Division 3 National Championship Game, the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl 34 in Salem, Virginia.

(Salem Massachussets and Oregon already had big events booked).

Both teams wear purple, in case you were wondering.

Seriously, this is Mount Union's tenth appearence in the Stagg Bowl, and I crafted a solid argument a couple weeks back that they may be the most dominant college sports program in the country. Nate Kmic (right) rumbled for a career-high 371 yards and three touchdowns to lead Mount Union to a 26-14 win over St. John Fisher in the NCAA Division III semifinals

This is the final game of the UWWW head coach Bob Berezowitz who has really gone out with a bang before retirement.

Other links of interest...
Game notes
Tale of the Tape Playoff Printable Bracket!
ESPN bracket

December 11, 2006

PRESSWIRE: Mullins denies interest in Alabama job

ORLANDO, FL (PRESSWIRE): Contrary to news released over the weekend, college football pundit and blogger Vince Mullins denies he has talked with the University of Alabama about their vacant head coaching job, according to the Birmingham Baron.

Prior to this story coming to light, the Crimson Tide have discussed this with, and been rebuffed by:
  • Rich Rodriguez -West Virginia
  • Steve Spurrier - South Carolina
  • Jim Grobe - Wake Forest
  • Nick Saban - Miami Dolphins
  • Gene Stallings - former Alabama coach
  • Norm Chow - Tennessee Titans OC
  • Kevin Federline - estranged music producer
  • Jay Barker - former Alabama QB
  • Larry the Cable Guy - Comedian
  • Paul Johnson - Navy
"While I am flattered that people around the country find my insight on the sport to be of value, I am quite comfortable with using the Internet to make those views known," Mullins said late Sunday. "IMHO, no one can flourish in the Alabama position with all those behind-the-scenes boosters controlling the program."

Alabama athletics director Mal Moore declined to comment specifically on the Mullins situation in the Decatur Weekly, only repeating seven times that "there is no timetable to make a head coaching decision".

Mullins quipped in retort, "It is obvious their time table is less than three years to give any coach a chance to win a national championship. The administration needs some sort of "institutional Viagra" in order to allow the new coach time to get the job done. Please contact Mal Moore if this coaching search last more than four more weeks."

December 10, 2006

Another reason to watch the Las Vegas Bowl

Dec 21, brought to you by Pioneer Purevision.

BYU faces Oregon. As if the tremendous Cougar offensive talent isn't enough to scare a below-average Duck defense, the Ducks now must prepare to see the haka...

For the uninitiated, the world's best national rugby team (and perhaps the greatest national sports team of all-time) is the New Zealand All Blacks. Not a cultural reference, only one of fashion. The Haka is their pre-game ritual based on traditional tribal dance designed to unnerve and intimidate their opponents, and it seems to work much better than stomping on the home team's midfield logo...

Here are some links to get some more of the history of the Haka, the All Blacks and the Kiwi dominanace of world rugby...


December 08, 2006

Shannon to coach Hurricanes

USA Today reporting that Randy Shannon accepts the head coaching job at Miami late last night, ascending from defensive coordinator to become the sixth college football coach of color.

I applaud the hire on to counts - giving the job to an inside man, and also the courage to embrace diversity in the coaching staff in one of the most culturally diverse cities in America.

I shudder at the path to get here though - Miami sent overtures to so many coaches this has the feel of securing the seventh-best guy on the list. Greg Schiano, Lou Saban, and even Bernie Kosar all have been rumored to receive offers.

Rumors are surfacing overnight that Rich Rodriguez will grab the Alabama job today. More to come.

More on Shannon from around the routers:

Miami Herald - Let the sociologists debate the race issue, this "graduation" feels right.
Sun-Sentinel -
one head coach involved in talks about the UM opening concluded: "It was Shannon's job to lose" once Schiano exited the picture.

December 07, 2006

Hurricanes need a warning: Kosar to coach? story that Bernie Kosar is openly campaigning for the head coaching job at the University of Miami. If this in fact is the solution to the Hurricanes moribund program, I may need another hobby than producing a college football blog.

I keed, but will he teach Kirby Freeman and Kyle Wright throw sidearm? On the positive side, he knows how to win, produce and be successful - Kosar has made a TON of dough in private equity, runs his own steakhouse

In my mind, this would be like SMU hiring Craig James (or worse, Eric Dickerson), or Florida State hiring Charlie Ward - the path towards igniting a solid program will never be led by a blatant attempt to grab past glory through an aging star player WHO HAS NEVER COACHED.

Hurricanes need to get their shit correct - if NC State can hire away a winner like Tom O'Brien from a solid job, WTF is Miami waiting for? Must be working on something in the background?

It should make great theater watching the Alabama and Miami job search - maybe they will post on LinkedIn or Monster...

I got some crazy names that just might work for either gig...
  • Galen Hall (PSU OC, former Gator coach),
  • Gary Pinkel from Missouri,
  • Art Briles at Houston, and
  • Glen Mason at Minnesota
  • Bobby Petrino at Louisville
  • (update) Walt Harris, formerly of Stanford
All have shown a willingness to move or have a couple pockmarks on the resume.

December 05, 2006

Open letter to Lloyd Carr: A-B-C

Always be closing...ALWAYS BE CLOSING!

Given the thin margin of poll victory of the Gators over the Wolverines, I think many voters would have leaned to Michigan if only Lloyd Carr had asked for their vote.

To paraphrase the immortal Blake (above, played by Alec Baldwin) of Glegarry Glen Ross, "You lost their Attention, you didn't gain the voters Interest, they were ready to make a Decision, and they took Action against you. You hit the bricks pal, and beat it! "

There is nothing innately inappropriate about campaigning or selling, but read the following is a quote from Carr's coaches show on Saturday Night ahead of the final poll announcements:

"I just think that based on some of the comments the Florida coach has made in the last two weeks, he has been campaigning strenuously for a berth in the championship game and making some statements about Michigan that I think were inappropriate," Carr said. "That certainly is going to stir a controversy, and who knows what that's going to lead to."
Stop me if I am assuming too much, but I think the message behind the Carr message is "I am too good to put on a sales job for my program - our work should stand on its own."

In my time in many different industries, this is always the lament of the taskmaster - he who believes that "My craft should be good enough and that my brilliance should be obvious to anyone who sees my work." You have seen them - the co-workers who thinks sales is a dirty job and not worthy of their dignity. Their hubris oozes forth after every artistic triumph in their own mind. To paraphrase an old Dan Akroyd line, "Lloyd, you ignorant slut!"

All the hours Carr spent this past year hitting the recruiting trail, all the hours leading and inspiring young men to peak performance, ALL FOR NAUGHT as Carr simply wouldn't close the deal and ask for the vote. If I were Chad Henne, Mike Hart, or LaMarr Woodley, I would be seething that my coach didn't do everything possible to ensure an appearence in the BCS Championship. It is fair to say that all coaches do some shady/gray/push-the-envelope activities and no one blinks an eye, yet Carr wouldn't go the last step for his players and his school.


Carr must have assumed that his 11-1 season was good enough to get back deserve a rematch. He forgot two important points - 1) "Recency bias" as the voters may have forgotten how good Michigan played this year in general and two weeks ago in specific, and 2) the voters are bleating sheep that need to be led since they rarely take their job seriously enough to record some games and watch them later.

Michigan did not do everything they could do to assure a title shot - THEY LOST, they lost two weeks ago, and they lost the public opinion that a rematch was bad for the sport.

Lloyd, all you probably had to do was ask. Just like you do when recruiting, when you are in a budget meeting, or when you go home and demand more pudding from the missus. I hear the desert is lovely this time of year - sad that your seniors won't be there.

December 03, 2006

Gators going to Glendale - and my thoughts on the BCS

LA Times had the first leak, and USA Today just reported that the Gators did jump ahead of Michigan in the BCS poll, pitting them against Ohio State on January 8th for the BCS Championship Game on FOX.

BCS official website was last to the punch. Final poll here.

At 3pm today, the two human polls pushed Florida from four to two on the heels of the USC loss and the Michigan sabbatical, effectively killing any drama of this result. The margin by which the Gators snuck by the Wolverines stands quite compelling:
  • 2670 to 2632 on the Harris,
  • 1529 to 1526 on the AP, and
  • 1470 to 1444 on the Coaches Poll.

1) Avoiding rematches should be part of the bylaws or SOP of the Bowl Championship Series. Using this year as an example, if Michigan were to play the Buckeyes again and beat them, the season series would be 1-1, yet Michigan would be crowned the victors? Don't think so.

Wolverines, you had your shot in the Horseshoe. Nice effort. Way to build off last year. There is a lovely consolation prize behind Door #1. Enjoy the Rose Bowl - See ya in the spring.

2) Let us say that there are only 50 of the 119 Division 1 teams that can truly have a shot at the #1 spot each year - the only 100% confidence way to see who is best is to play 49 games on a neutral field all at the same time with no injuries. There are less than 13 regular season games each year - an incredibly small statistical sampling of needed matchups to determine a true regular season pecking order. 13 games provides less than a 25% confidence level.

Regardless of bowls or playoffs, it may only be right one of four times. For comparison, National League hitters only had a .265 batting average this year - again, the BCS system excels at quantitatively sorting out a very complex system with a decent level of confidence.

I call for each of you to embrace the chaos! There will never be a perfect system, and if there are two teams that are clearly most deserving of the title game, then the BCS won't apply.

That is part of the allure of the college football sport. There will never be a bona fide clear cut selection for the top 2 (or top 8 for that matter). Our current system of polling and (hopefully) bias-free computer analysis is pretty damned good. Most people do not attempt this level of due diligence on their retirement plans or their choice of a mate. Most people apply too much emotion or harbor too many preconceptions to address those choices - do these sound familiar to you college football fans?

3) The margin of the polls will fuel many debates about Michigan's case to be in the Championship, but regardless of the motivation of the pollsters, Gators are in the Show. Whether voters actually believe UF is the second best team, whether voters have a bias against rematches, or whether the Gators were just good enough to keep Michigan out of the picture it doesn't matter.

Obviously this debate of Florida over Michigan was setlled by less that five people - prepare to hear from them over the next couple days.

December 02, 2006

Risk Capital - Championship Week

Very few games, but quality trumps quantity. Oddly, my favorite pick is probably the least impactful to the BCS...

Navy -19 over Army, MAX BET

Neutral field, Navy's top-rated tunning offense (with a 6:1 run:pass ratio) against the 116th ranked Black Knights defense - and Army looked positively Pop Warner against the Air Force triple option. In seven of eleven games Army allowed over 190 rushing yards in a contest. Army has no offense either. There are some very poor and tasteless allegories I will ignore here - take the Midshipmen side with confidence.

Rutgers +10 at West Virginia, 3 units

So both teams are off bad losses - the talk of the Mountaineers being the only ones "with something to prove" is not only myopic it shows irresponsible journalism. You think that the Scarlet Knights have nothing to prove? They have been doing it all year long and had one hiccup in the visit to Cincinnatti. Add to this WVU QB Pat White continues to suffer from a high ankle sprain and with out him the offense is in the hands of the one-armed Steve Slaton. Rutgers may not win, but the ten points is a gift.

If you aren't feeling so froggy, tease both games up six points.

Arkansas +3 versus Florida, 3 units

The betting world must put no faith in the Arkansas passing game - why else would the Hogs be getting 3? I like to think of the Hog offense as a high-school single wing with lots of misdirections mixed in with long passing plays. Did you know that Arkansas is 8th in the nation with 14.00 yards per pass attempt? I expect that the Gators will occassionally put NINE players "in the box", effectively limiting Darren McFadden and Feix Jones but allowing at least two big plays to Marcus Monk or "Run DMc" in the passing game.

It must be pointed out the reason why I am only suggesting three units - the Gators have...
  • won ugly all year against what many think to be better teams (LSU, Tennesse, Georgia).
  • stand at 11-1, but are only 3-8 against the spread, and
  • won the last five in the series
In what should be a close game, take the points on a running team that plays strong D on a neutral field - take a shot with the Hogs.

I like Hawai'i -8 at home versus Oregon State (Colt Brennan needs four TDs to break Klingler's record), Oklahoma -3.5 over Nebraska in the snow and Georgia Tech -1 over Wake Forest as well, just not as much as these three above.

I am taking a small respite from the blog for the weekend - first wedding anniversary, if things go well should be sleeping in most of Sunday, na'mean?

November 30, 2006

Inside the BCS with Wesley Colley of Colley Matrix

I have been chatting with Wesley Colley all season long because I have great respect for the work he does on his college rankings (basketball too). So when I saw that this week he was the lone computer poll to have USC at #1, we had to keep our conversation going...

Vince Mullins: Wesley, you are the only system that has USC as the overall #1 - tell me about what your work likes about the Trojans this year over Ohio State. Also, what are the other polls missing in your opinion?
Wesley Colley: First, some of the other systems have USC VERY close to OSU in their internal ratings, so I'm not really much of an outlier. I suspect some of the systems may join me if USC beats UCLA. What my system likes about the Trojans is that they've won their conference outright, beat SECW champ Arkansas, Big XII-North champ Nebraska, and by far the best indy in Notre Dame - all while, they've played zero creampuffs.
VM: Florida fans are killing me with questions - is there any chance that the Gators can leap above USC and get to the Championship Game with a win over Arkansas and a USC loss to UCLA? What about in your work? The big BCS score gap makes it look difficult to me....
WC: The short answer is yes. UF can absolutely get into my top 2 if USC loses.
VM: Also, I quickly scanned the computer "index" and the biggest variance to the pollsters is Wisconsin (computers average 12, voters agree on 6) would you explain the gap in the pollsters opinion and the bias-free nature of the computers?
WC: Wisconsin lost early and has percolated up the human polls, but hasn't beaten a ranked team. Wisconsin is essentially the OTHER beneficiary to the lack of Badger-Buckeye matchup this season, while Ohio State's SOS suffers because of it.
VM: Are there any other issues you want to highlight with your system or the polls?

WC: It'll be a lot more interesting if the Bruins pull off the miracle.
While some people may just go ahead and sign up for University of Phoenix online because of the commercials you may want to take some time to research various college degree programs available online, so that you aren't investing time and money into online college degrees that won't help you in the long run.

November 29, 2006

Why I hate the coaches poll

Saw a link on Deadspin that gives me further ammo in my almighty crusade against coaches voting for anything in college football.

Seems Virginia Tech Head Coach Frank Beamer (right) expressed a bit too much Hokie love in his All-American Ballot - a full SIX Gobblers are four more than any rational human would ever suggest for this year's team. And Brandon Ore and Xavier Adibi are marginal at best.

The liberal among you might suggest that the homerism is OK, he should support his players. If so, then you would expect the rest of his picks to be sane and illustrating some due diligence, right?

Beamer submits for your approval John Talley of Duke at defensive back.


But wait, the insanity is truly in the inconsistency - his vote for TE is Chris Hopkins of Toledo. This vote actually suggests some thought and analysis - perhaps he subscribes to Fantasy College Blitz, as we were promoting him as the top fantasy TE in the nation early in the season before the Rockets hit their funk. Hopkins is now third in receptions nationally.

All in all, I don't know WTF to think about Beamer's ballot except that its extreme-ACC bias and no votes for anyone west of the Mississippi River except for a couple Cal players.

Stop the coaches vote in all shapes and forms!

November 28, 2006

Bowl Game Schedule

courtesy of the four-letter network and CSTV, here is my meta-composite guide to the bowls and the teams that have already committed to bowl games - I am feverishly copying this in my Treo as we read and encourage you to plan your Christmas parties and shopping around every date.

This weekend's action will have a lot of impact on the BCS bowls, especially Florida vs. Arkansas, Rutgers at West Virginia and USC vs. UCLA. Motor City Bowl is in a quandary as the Big Ten 7 Iowa already took a bid to the Alamo - who else could they pick? BCS Selection Show is Sunday at 8 EDT on Fox.

Italics are my rather thought-out projections. I ranked the bowl-eligible teams in each conference by "bowl attractiveness", filled in bids already accepted, then plugged in where appropriate.

  • four Sun Belt teams are eligible, usually only champ goes bowling (likely Troy). But Middle Tennessee State could beat most of the ACC, maybe they squeak ahead of Kentucky or Kansas?
  • Miami Hurricanes not in a bowl now that FSU is going to Emerald?
  • With two BCS bids likely in the Big Ten, not enogh bowl-eligible teams to fill the tie-ins.
Also a three words or less preview. Feel free to mock the sponsors or bowl titles in the comments unless you are pimping your site.

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia
Mountain West - At Large
TCU vs. Northern Illinois
San Diego
(any passes?)
Dec. 19, 8 p.m.

Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas
Oregon vs. BYU
Las Vegas
(Ducks beat Sooners?)
Dec. 21, 8 p.m.

R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Sun Belt Champ vs. C-USA
(Troy) vs. Rice
New Orleans
(Find a party)
Dec. 22, 8 p.m.

Big East vs. C-USA
East Carolina vs. (S Miss.)
Birmingham, Ala.
(Pirates sunk)
Dec. 23, 1 p.m.

New Mexico
Mountain West vs. WAC
New Mexico vs. San Jose State
Albuquerque, N.M.
(End of Days?)
Dec. 23, 4:30 p.m.

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces
Mountain West vs. C-USA
Utah vs. Tulsa
Fort Worth, Texas
(Two good defenses)
Dec. 23, 8 p.m.

Sheraton Hawaii
Pac-10 vs. WAC
Hawaii vs. Arizona State
(100 pts?)
Dec. 24, 8 p.m.

Motor City
MAC #1 vs. Big Ten #7
Central Michigan vs. (???)
(Not enough Tens!)
Dec. 26, 7:30 p.m.

ACC vs. Pac-10
Florida State vs. UCLA

San Francisco
(Mighty have fallen)
Dec. 27, 8 p.m.

PetroSun Independence
Big 12 vs. SEC
Oklahoma St vs. South Carolina
Shreveport, La.
(Spurrier coaching other?)
Dec. 28, 4:30 p.m.

Pacific Life Holiday
Big 12 vs. Pac-10
Missouri vs. California
San Diego
(Classic matchup)
Dec. 28, 8 p.m.

Big East vs. Big 12
Pitt vs. Kansas/MTSU

(Can't watch scraps)
Dec. 28, 8 p.m.

NFL Network
Gaylord Hotels Music City
Miami (FL) vs.Georgia
Nashville, Tenn.
(Great for Gaylord)
Dec. 29, 1 p.m.

Brut Sun
Big 12/Big East/Notre Dame vs. Pac-10
Texas Tech/Kansas St vs. Oregon State
El Paso, Texas Dec. 29, 2 p.m.

AutoZone Liberty
SMU vs. Tennessee
Memphis, Tenn.
(Smell Vol letdown)
Dec. 29, 4:30 p.m.

Big 12 vs. Big Ten
Texas Tech vs. Minnesota
Tempe, Ariz. Dec. 29, 7:30 p.m.

NFL Network
Champs Sports
ACC vs. Big Ten
Maryland/Clemson vs. Purdue
Orlando, Fla. Dec. 29, 8 p.m.

Meineke Car Care
ACC vs. Big East/Navy
Clemson/Maryland vs. Navy
Charlotte, N.C. Dec. 30, 1 p.m.

Mastercard Alamo
Big Ten vs. Big 12
Iowa vs. Kansas State
San Antonio Dec. 30, 4:30 p.m.

Virginia Tech/BC vs. Auburn
Atlanta Dec. 30, 8 p.m.

MPC Computers
BC/Virginia Tech
Boise, Idaho Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m.

Big Ten vs. SEC
Penn State vs. Florida
Tampa, Fla. Jan. 1, 11 a.m.

AT&T Cotton
Big 12 vs. SEC
Texas vs. LSU
(Set your alarm!)
Jan. 1, 11:30 a.m.

Toyota Gator
ACC vs. Big 12/Big East/Notre Dame
Georgia Tech vs. WVU/Louisville
Jacksonville, Fla. Jan. 1, 1 p.m.

Capital One
Big Ten vs. SEC
Wisconsin vs. LSU
Orlando, Fla. Jan. 1, 1 p.m.

Big Ten #2* and Pac-10 #2/At Large
Michigan vs. Notre Dame
Pasadena, Calif. Jan. 1, 5 p.m.

Tostitos Fiesta
Big 12 vs. At Large BCS
Oklahoma vs. Boise State
Glendale, Ariz.
Jan. 1, 8 p.m.

FedEx Orange
ACC vs. At Large BCS
Wake Forest vs. Rutgers/WVU
Miami Jan. 2, 8 p.m.

Allstate Sugar
SEC vs At Large BCS
Arkansas vs. Louisville/Rutgers
New Orleans
(like last year?)
Jan. 3, 8 p.m.

MAC vs. Big East
Western Michigan vs. USF/Cincy
(More great defense)
Jan. 6, Noon

Houston vs. Ohio/Nevada
Mobile, Ala.
(almost there)
Jan. 7, 8 p.m.

BCS Championship Game
#1 vs. #2
Ohio State vs USC
Glendale, Ariz. Jan. 8, 8 p.m.


November 27, 2006

The Sham that is Big-Time College Athletics

SI's former editor and now NPR podcaster Frank DeFord takes on Bowl scouts (great gig), the Congress' look at the NCAA tax-exempt status (signal that GOP was on its way out), and athletics and entertainment place in the educational process (let's just be honest about it)...

National Public Radio

November 26, 2006

A survey on coaching situations

North Texas moved first by dumping Head Coach Darrel Dickey just a few months after a heart attack. Honestly, it doesn't get much rougher than that.

Larry Coker was next, then UNC's John Bunting, then John L. Smith, then Iowa State's Dan McCarney... but Sunday axes truly started to swing.
Others on the hot seat:

Mike Shula, Alabama - another loss to Auburn fanned the rumor flames, and no bowl game in the immediate future. I give him even odds.
Rich Brooks, Kentucky - although he finished the season strong and has a bright future with that offense. Brooks should be good for another season.

Coaches for whom I fear:

Mike Bellotti, Oregon - an amazing collapse of a season among a series of excellent campaigns.
JD Brookhart, Akron - horrible follow-up to MAC Championship, but he is doing great work.
Chuck Long, San Diego State - first year was as successful as Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip - but no ne in management at either production should worry about early returns given all the resumes.
Walt Harris, Stanford - he didn't suddenly forget everything about offensive football. The injury list was deep and wide - Jack Kevorkian could be the team doctor.

Guys who I can't believe have jobs:

Bobby Bowden, FSU - see earlier article
Tommy West, Memphis - OK, Year One without DeAngelo Williams was supposed to be hard, but firing your DC mid-way through the season triggered a full-on collapse.
Ron Zook, Illinois - although I give him credit for moments of glory this year - he just needs a ton more moments.
Ed Orgeron, Ole Miss - sold his season's soul for QB Brent Schaeffer, and it took six weeks for him to get comfy in the offense. Plus, his temper is reaching legendary proportions. Their regents deserve this for the handling of David Cutcliffe.

Got a rumor or a fake story to propogate? Hit the comments.



Good tongue in cheek look at the candidates for the Hurricanes job - extra points for not mentioning Schiano.

Although Schiano has only said, "I plan to be at Rutgers", not "I am staying at Rutgers". Gotta love the wordplay.

Some honest candidates? I still say that of the jobs at smaller schools, there are great hires at Tulsa's Steve Kragthorpe and USF's Jim Leavitt. Not sure either wants to leave their current jobs, but they have shown how they can build up a program from ashes.

USC jumps Michigan in the human polls

Or as I prefer to call it, the AD poll since I have heard from many good sources (Florida colleges mostly) that the coach usually hands it off to the Athleic Director. It is worth 1/3 of the final BCS rankings (Harris and Computer Index the other thirds). BCS puts out its official Week 13 poll around 7pm.

Ohio State the unanimous #1 in all the land (votes in parentheses), looks like a cinch for the OSU - USC BCS Championship

Trojans jumped all over Notre Dame last night, so here is the Top 25 courtesy of

Ohio State (63)
Southern California

Boise State


and now for the Harris Poll Top Ten:

1Ohio State (114) 12-028501 W42-39 Michigan
2USC10-126213at UCLA W44-24 Notre Dame
3Michigan11-126002 L39-42 at Ohio State
4Florida11-125314Arkansas W21-14 at Florida State
5Notre Dame10-223475 L24-44 at USC
6Arkansas10-223456at Florida L26-31 LSU
7West Virginia9-220518Rutgers L19-24 South Florida
8LSU10-218899 W31-26 at Arkansas
9Wisconsin11-1188811 W35-3 Buffalo
10Louisville10-1185710Connecticut W48-24 at Pittsburgh

Interesting that the Harris Poll doesn't list Boise State in their Top Ten (they sit at 12) after their undefeated season in the WAC. Remember that non-Big Six conference winners has to be ranked 12 or better in order to qualify for a BCS Bowl. Boise a lock for the Fiesta.

More on the Bowl matchups as they become more clear.

November 25, 2006

What is wrong with Florida State?

  • Three losses or more in each of the last six years (8-4 in 2001, then 9-5, 10-3, 9-3, 8-5, now 6-6).
  • Boosters pony up $100k per year to OC/nespot Jeff Bowden to make him go away.
  • Consistently near the bottom of the nation's third-down conversion rankings (worst in 2003, 86th this year).

Theories are many to the downfall of Seminole Nation, I lean to the idea that this nation just needs a new leader. Bobby Bowden (right, in statue form calling for a rare extra point kick) can still recruit (support below), but on his coach's show he can't remember player names - Bowden has delegated too much and the wins have waned. I fear Jeff Bowden was left on his own with no one to mentor him, and dagummit if Papa Bowden didn't stand up for his kid throughout the whole process regardless.

Getting a college degree is more accessible now than ever.

If someone were abducted by aliens five years ago and came back to hear that the Seminoles were shut out at home by Wake Forest, they would request a return to the anal probing. All had to be wrong with the world, so why stay?

Many people say that the recruiting has fallen off - I ask you to look back at the late February Florida newspapers or look at the surveys of who had the best recruiting classes and it just isn't so. The following is copied from the eponymous Phil Steele College Football Preview 2006, page 294 and 296 (I am adding the players in from memory, feel free to add/correct/scold me.)..
  • 2006 - 9th best class (Myron Rolle)
  • 2005 - 3rd (WR Greg Carr and Fred Rouse)
  • 2004 - 8th (QBs Weatherford and Lee, RB Antone Smith)
  • 2003 - 19th
  • 2002 - 1st (LB Buster Davis, RB Lorenzo Booker)
  • 2001 - 1st
It boils down to not having the leadership and the coaching. So they have the players, they have the facilities, and they have a conference begging for a superpower after gutting the Big East a couple years ago...

Bobby must go, and he will only go of his own volition. For chrissakes, he has his own statue outside Doak Campbell Stadium - icons are not fired. Plus, he and Paterno seem to have some sort of unspoken deal to keep coaching until one dies or opens up a huge lead in the career coaching wins race (Bowden leads 365-362).

Bobby must leave for the Seminoles to return to glory.

And that is coming from a Gator alum.

Grrr beats soooey, 31-26

It was a superbly entertaining game, and the bowl ramifications were many - with more back and forth on the scoreboard than a debate on the Springer show, LSU made one less one-loss team of Arkansas, 31-26.

As my colleague Daniel Freer of Fantasy College Blitz pointed out while we enjoyed the finest meats and hops at the Orlando Ale House, "It is obvious to me that Darren McFadden (above) may not only be the best runner in the nation, he may be the best quarterback on the Hogs."

Casey Dick played down to his name (easy joke I am sure he has never heard before) completing just 3 of 17 passes, and the only pass in the second half that didn't bounce awkwardly off the turf ended up in LSU's hands. RUN DMc threw for 33 yards, five more than Dick - as Johnny Most might have said, "What a veritable disgusting display!"

Random thoughts from the game:
  • USC's strength of schedule takes a smack now that Arkansas loses its second game. Boy do they need that win over Notre Dame today to eclipse Michigan.
  • Likewise, Florida's chances went down of moving ahead of Michigan by beating Arkansas next week. Granted, they have a win over LSU also, so it might be a net-zero to the computers. But remember, the BCS is two-thirds pollsters, so the immediacy of the Arkansas loss may count more.
  • My man-crush on JaMarcus Russel grows stronger - I predict he will be everything that Michael Vick wants to be as a QB. He flicks his wrist and the ball goes forty-yards with a Warren Moon-like spiral.
  • With such an imaginative offensive gameplan by Arkansas OC Gus Mazlahn, WTF not get the ball in McFadden's hands in that final drive? Don't overthink this, Gus.
  • Arkansas bowl games are pretty well locked up - beat Florida, cue Def Leppard to pour some Sugar. Lose their third in the SEC Championship game, Cotton or the Capital One come calling.
  • I admit I expected LSU to lose and become one of the best three-loss teams ever - LSU may end up in a better bowl (Fiesta?) depending on the BCS rankings that come out Sunday Night.

November 24, 2006

A WAC-ky dilemma: Win or take the money?

I learn a lot when hanging out with Daniel Freer - I knew he would be a tremendous asset when I put together Fantasy College Blitz to make the market for
fantasy college football, and he has yet to disappoint. So this week, he and I collaborated on the Start/Sit article for the Top 25 teams, and he sneaks this nugget in...
No one outside of Nevada wants the Wolf Pack to (beat Boise State) today....a Boise loss means $1.5 million less bowl revenue sharing per WAC team without a BCS Bowl invite. - DF
Granted, the only other place I would see this or the potential Boise bowl matchups debated is at the Idaho Statesman, but I thought this was a strong look under the hood of college football's current system and a study in human nature at the very least.

Imagine the behind the scenes discussions in Reno if the WAC commissioner Karl Benson were to cleverly drop the slightest hint that there could be something in it for the Nevada Wolfpack if they were to drop a couple balls. Or put a couple on the carpet? Or call more draw plays on 3rd and 8? I would hope that if this were to ever happen, some Nevada alum/bigwig would put up a $1.5mil "gift" if the Wolfpack were to win.

I am not saying that this is happening at all - Benson has been nothing but an open lobbyist for Boise State in their quest for a BCS Bowl the last two years. As one of two undefeated teams in Division 1, if they win the WAC and finish in the Top 12 of the BCS, then to a BCS Bowl they go.

Remember, no one was happier to see USC lose to Oregon State than Boise State - Broncos pelted the Beavers on national TV in September, the game when Ian Johnson entered our collective consciousness by scoring five touchdowns. That only helps that they have a win over a team theat beat a Top Five team - something that BCS Technician Wesley Colley calls a "second-order" event.

3:30pm in Reno on the Game Plan...Broncos are a 2 1/2 point road dog. Should be one of the games of the day with lots of subtext. If Nevada wins, it makes a three-way tie at the top of the conference with round-robin-reauchamboux-like results since BSU beat Hawaii and the Warriors beat the Wolfpack.

PS - Did you know that Nevada leads the nation with ten wins against the spread?

November 23, 2006

Risk Capital, Week 13

First thing - throw away the idea that in Rivalry Week that "records do not matter". While certainly you can expect teams like Florida State and Texas A&M to get up and play better for their traditional rivals, across the nation this platitude will get worn out quicker than a pair of Air Jordans on a three-year old.

Join now and receive a generous sign up bonus.

Middle Tennessee -9 vs. Troy, MAX BET 5 UNITS
I know, you want to hear about the big games...but I thought this gaming thing was about finding lay-ups to bet? Like investing, it is all about finding inefficiencies and expoliting them and there is no less followed D1 conference than the Sun Belt. The only way anyone from this bastard conference gets to a bowl is to win the conference, and MTSU has a defense that would let it compete in the WAC and maybe the ACC this year. Granted, Troy almost beat FSU and Georgia Tech early in the season, but turnovers have been killing them.

Hawaii -18 vs. Purdue, 3 units
Purdue's defense is worse than Martha Stewart's and they just got off a 14-hour plane ride during the Turkey Day holiday. Game tips off at 11pm EST - see where I am going here? Over 75 is a threat, if you can actually find a book that publishes it - I haven't been able to for a month since Colt Brennan began his obscene attack on the passing record book. As Daniel Freer at Fantasy College Blitz reminded me yesterday, Jerry Glanville coaches the defense and they have played as well as any in the WAC. The main reason for 3 units rather than five? Will the bad Purdue defense translate better in the WAC.

Rutgers -14 over Syracuse, 3 units
Angry team in need of a tune up comes home to play a woeful opponent - sounds like a great setup for the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers still is a top 5 defense and the only Orangeman who can hurt it is WR Delone Carter. I think Rutgers covers this with ease.

NC State -3 over East Carolina, ? units
Terry Bowden, between spitting and stuttering on his Orlando Radio Show on ESPN 1080, is 6-3 this year with his lock of the week - this week, this is his pick. He my be unable to have an intelligent conversation outside the realm of football, but he knows his locks.

Triple Option Special: None
Navy is idle, Air Force travels to UNLV and is giving 10.5...too rich for my blood. Plus, Phil Steele says that the UNLV defensive coach was at USAFA for five years prior to his gig in the desert - pass on this one.

Rivalry picks - hard to bet given the pageantry
  • Florida squeaks by FSU (did you know Urban Meyer has yet to win on the road while at UF, plus has yet to cover this year away from the Swamp?)
  • Texas over Texas A&M
  • Arkansas over LSU on Friday (making LSU the best three-loss team ever!)
  • Arizona by 7 over Arizona State
  • Oregon vs. Oregon State - pick'em!
  • Oklahoma by 10 over Oklahoma State
  • BYU by 13 over Utah
  • Miss St over Miss in one of the most boring games of the week.
  • UNC over Duke in THE most boring game of the weekend
Hope you all enjoyed your turkey - stay awake today for the big Arkansas at LSU game!