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Posted on: March 7, 2012 10:03 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 10:03 pm
 

Scott: Summertime before reaching BCS consensus

Posted by Bryan Fischer

LOS ANGELES -- Although the most recent BCS meetings wrapped up two weeks ago in Dallas and the NCAA tournament is fast approaching to steal headlines, discussion about the future of the college football postseason continues to bubble to the surface.

Speaking at the league's annual basketball tournament Wednesday evening, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott cautioned that any movement toward a specific postseason proposal would likely be months away from emerging.

"Once we start to get to the point where a consensus is emerging around a model or two, that's when conferences will be asked to kind of officially vote on something," Scott said. "It's a little hard to predict when exactly but it's probably summertime.

"I don't know if there will be a point where our conference declares exactly what it supports until there's a specific proposal in front of us. We're kind of far from that point and there's a lot more work that I need to do and my colleagues from other conferences need to do to narrow options and think of all the implications."

One of the few details to emerge about any new BCS deal over the past few months is that Scott and the Big Ten's Jim Delany prefer that only conference champions to be eligible for any sort of postseason playoff or plus-one. SEC commissioner Mike Slive, speaking to the Birmingham News earlier Wednesday, naturally disagreed with the notion, no surprise considering the all-SEC nature of the national championship game in January.

Approximately 50 proposals different have been presented to decision makers over the past few months and it seems that just about the only thing that anybody can agree upon is that the process will continue to evolve before everybody comes together again.

"It's an iterative process," Scott said. "The concepts will get more specific. I've been in constant contact with our AD's and presidents over the last few months - with our partners at the Rose Bowl in terms of priorities. We're starting to talk about options."

Which ones, exactly, remain to be seen.

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 6:42 pm
 

Tim Beckman treats his players to porridge

Posted by Tom Fornelli

If you were wondering what Illinois football would be like under new head coach Tim Beckman, it seems the program has taken on a bit of a "Goldilocks and The Three Bears" feel.

As part of Illinois' "All-In Banquet" this week, players who had followed Beckman's rules this semester were treated to a nice meal of steak and eggs. Those players who weren't showing up to all their classes ten minutes early or missed a rep during winter workouts were given porridge.

Some players complained the porridge were too hot, others said it was too cold, but Beckman felt it was just right.

"I think it was a little bit of an eye-opening experience for some of them," Beckman told the Chicago Tribune. "We ask our players to be above and beyond … and compete at a level that we think is a championship level." 

Now, it's important to point out that Beckman holds himself to the same standard that he does his players. Since he missed a winter workout while attending an alumni event, he joined the Illini players who found themselves with a bowl of porridge placed in front of them. In all, 21 Illini players were treated to the steak and eggs.

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 6:07 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Clemson



Posted by Chip Patterson


Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Clemson.

Spring Practice Starts: March 7

Spring Game: April 14

Three Things To Look For

1. Raised expectations. The hope of returning the ACC title to Clemson had driven Tigers' programs for two decades until Dabo Swinney finally delivered the crown in December. But after the 2011 team "broke through the walls," as Swinney put it several times, the expectations changed completely for 2012. Bringing back all of the primary offensive skill players but Dwayne Allen, and hiring Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables has made 2012 a BCS or bust season. No longer will Clemson fans hope to avoid a letdown, instead they expect to compete for hardware from opening day. Not even a record-setting blowout loss in South Beach could shake the confidence of a new-attitude program hungry for more titles.

2. Improving the offensive line. With Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins, and Andre Ellington all back, the Tigers are set with All-ACC talent at the skill positions. However, troubles along the offensive line prevented the unit from clicking during their late-season slide in 2011. The success of the offense relied too heavily on individuals like left tackle Phillip Price, and this spring should be an opportunity for offensive coordinator Chad Morris to get some depth and a solid rotation along the line. Price and fellow tackle Landon Walker are gone, leaving center Dalton Freeman as the only lineman with any significant game experience. Conditioning should no longer be an issue for offseason practice, either, with one full year of Morris' system under their belts.

3. Brent Venables' impact. The Tigers return just six starters on defense, and have a huge need on the defensive line to replace All-ACC graduates Brandon Thompson and Andre Branch. Former Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables enters as one of the most praised (and highest-paid) defensive coordinators in the ACC, but will have his work cut out with this young group of defenders. On one hand, it might be easier to teach a new system rather than have to un-teach Kevin Steele's complex scheme. On the other, he could end up seeing the same youthful mistakes that plagued the Tigers in 2011. Venables will have all eyes on his defense in 2012, and getting through to his unit this spring will be essential for Clemson's success in the fall.

For much more on Clemson as they go through Spring Practice, including the Top 3 Position Battles for the spring, follow Travis Sawchik's Tigers' RapidReports. For more spring previews around the ACC check out Spring Practice Home.

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 4:54 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2012 4:59 pm
 

Pinkel: Border War renewal "going to happen"

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Missouri kicked off spring practice yesterday, but with the Tigers preparing for their first season in the SEC East, Gary Pinkel also took the time this morning to appear on radio station 610 Sports AM in Kansas City. And he had some highly interesting things to say about his program's 120-year-old "Border War" rivalry with Kansas--namely, that the two schools will resume the series in the future, despite the Tigers' acrimonious leap to the SEC.

"You know we’re going to play again," he said. "We need to play a game in Kansas City. Every year we should play the first or second week in September ... It would be awesome. Basketball can do the same thing. Maybe not every year in Kansas City but certainly maybe four years there then home and away and go back there. It’s awesome.

"It’s going to happen. You all know it’s going to happen."

This would be news to Kansas, who reacted to the Tigers' defection from the Big 12 by insisting the Border War had come to an end, despite support from the Jayhawk players for continuing the series; 2012 will mark the first time since 1891  the two teams won't meet on the gridiron, disrupting the longest rivalry in any college sport west of the Mississippi River. The months between Missouri's announcement and now have yet to produce, at least publicly, any thaw in KU-UM relations from the Lawrence side of things.

But Pinkel is correct that some things speak more loudly than even anger and bitterness, and that one of them is cold, hard cash.

"Of course it’s going to happen. We’re going to make too much money doing it, first of all," Pinkel said (emphasis added). "And all the fans want it to happen ... I wish the Big 12 luck. I’d never wish Kansas luck. I can’t do that. That’s against my principles. But certainly I hope the Big 12 does really, really well. Let’s just move on. Gosh darn, it’s not that complex."

We admire Pinkel's "principles" here, since they illustrate why we're hoping the allure of splitting a huge Kansas City-fueled paycheck can bring the two teams back together on both the football field and the basketball court; it's not an exaggeration to say college sports would be better for it. But we also don't blame Kansas for being aggrieved, given the general "see ya, wouldn't want to be ya" vibe given off by the Tigers on their way out the league door.

Take this trailer (for lack of a better term) for the SEC leap posted to the Mizzou football YouTube channel Wednesday:
 


The voiceover isn't exactly inflammatory: "They say you rise to the level of competition ... That playing great teams only makes you better ... We're counting on it." But the implication is also clear: The SEC is just better than your conference, dude.

So here's a wish that Pinkel's prediction comes true sooner rather than later ... and our own prediction that it may take a few years for the wounds to heal well enough for that to happen.

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 3:01 pm
 

Keenan Allen to miss spring practice

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Cal quarterback Zach Maynard really enjoyed passing to Keenan Allen last season, but he's not going to be able to this spring.

Cal announced in a press release on Wednesday afternoon that the team's leading receiver in 2011, Allen, won't be participating in spring practice this year thanks to an ankly injury. While the release did not go into specifics on Allen's ankle injury, it did say that he'll be undergoing surgery on the ankle on Thursday.

The good news is that head coach Jeff Tedford also said that Allen would "be back for summer workouts and fully recovered for the season."

Of course, while that's good news for Cal, Allen not being around this spring could be bad news for the aforementioned Maynard. After an up-and-down season in 2011, Maynard enters spring practice competing with Zach Kline for the starting quarterback job. Kline is a highly-touted member of Cal's latest recruiting class.

Having a receiver like Allen around, whom Maynard is very comfortable with, would help his chances in the quarterback battle this spring.

Allen led Cal with 98 receptions, 1,343 receiving yards and 6 touchdown catches in 2011 as a sophomore.

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 1:13 pm
 

Slive: plus-one shouldn't be champions-only

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Few individuals -- if any -- will have as large a say in the construction of the impending college football "plus-one" as SEC commissioner Mike Slive. And as of Wednesday, the construction Slive has in mind is one that won't be exclusive to conference champions.

Speaking to the Birmingham News, Slive said that he was "willing to have a conversation" about restricting the field to champions only, but that it wasn't his preference--no surprise, considering it was his conference that wedged its teams into both slots in the 2011 national title game.

"[I]f you were going to ask me today, that would not be the way I want to go," Slive said. "It really is early in the discussions, notwithstanding what some commissioners say publicly. There's still a lot of information that needs to be generated."

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott previously stated his support for admitting conference champions only, though we're not sure that veiled "some commissioners" jibe from Slive is a shot across Scott's bow or not.

What we are sure of is that Slive is more open to Jim Delany's proposal for on-campus semifinals than Scott's regarding league champions. While stopping well short of endorsing the Big Ten-backed suggestion, Slive also noted some of its benefits and kept the door well open to its consideration.

"There are plusses and minuses to that concept," Slive said. "One is that you're playing a couple games to determine the national champion and to make it a home game for somebody has always been perceived as a competitive advantage ... You have to look at that. The other side is there would be the question of fan travel and the ability to travel to one or more games. You guarantee good attendance (on campus) -- for one team.

"It needs to be looked at carefully. It's on the table and it should be on the table."

Slive also again declined to reveal details on the SEC' 2013-and-beyond scheduling arrangements and said the league wasn't interested in expanding beyond its current 14 teams. Of more interest was his comments on the league's ongoing television negotiations, reopened since the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri.

"They know who we are and what we have," Slive said. "None of our schools will be hurt financially (in 2012-13). But that's just today. It's tomorrow that's the real issue. The discussions are very important. They're longterm. We'll leave it at that."

Knowing that Slive's entire willingness to entertain expansion was -- very likely -- motivated first-and-foremost by a desire to rework the league's (mostly) static 15-year TV deal for something closer to the Big Ten and Pac-12's rapidly expanding, league network-driven contracts, could his emphasis on the "very important" "longterm" be commissioner-speak for a push for an SEC Network? 

We'd be stunned, frankly, if it means anything different. Slive's opinions and preferences on the plus-one matter a great deal where the rest of college football is concerned--but when it comes to the distant future of his own conference, those negotiations may be even more critical.

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 11:10 am
Edited on: March 7, 2012 11:13 am
 

Illinois' Justin Staples to be suspended

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Following a DUI arrest on campus on February 9, in which he was found to have a blood-alcohol level of .157, Illinois defensive lineman Justin Staples was suspended from winter workouts for two weeks.

If Staples thought that would be the extent of his punishment, he was wrong.

Staples will be allowed to participate in spring practice with the Illini, which starts Wednesday, but he'll be missing some time this fall when the games begin.

New head coach Tim Beckman said that Staples will "miss some game time" but did not go into specifics into how much game time that is exactly. It could be a half, a game, or a number of games.

Staples started only one game as a redshirt junior in 2011, but played in all 13 games, recording 16 tackles and a sack.

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 10:48 am
Edited on: March 7, 2012 10:48 am
 

Michael Harrison leaves Oklahoma State

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Wide receiver Michael Harrison had been a candidate to earn a starting job on the Oklahoma State offense in 2012 but was suspended for the season in February. Now it seems that Harrison has decided since he can't play football in 2012, he doesn't want to play football in 2013 or any other year.

Harrison told head coach Mike Gundy he was leaving the Oklahoma State program last week.

“The NCAA suspended him,” Gundy told The Oklahoman. “I never suspended him, and then he chose to not play football. He made that choice himself. My recommendation to him was to finish school, because that's what you have to do. You can't go anywhere at this particular time…and then if he chooses to (leave), that's his call.

“I don't know what he wants to do. I just know that he's decided he does not want to play football anymore.” 

Harrison caught 20 passes for 255 yards and 3 touchdowns for the Cowboys last season.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com