Posted on: August 2, 2011 9:33 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
Big East Media Day kicked off Tuesday in Newport, RI with the announcement of the preseason media poll. West Virginia was the overwhelming favorite of the voting media at the event, collecting nearly all of the the first-place votes. With Pittsburgh coming in second place, the highest expectations will be on the conference's two newest coaches: Dana Holgorsen and Todd Graham. While Connecticut head coach Paul Pasqualoni is new at his post with the Huskies, he is no stranger to the conference after spending 13 seasons as the Syracuse head coach.
Here is the full rundown of the preseason media poll. Do you agree with the media? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.
1. West Virginia (21) - 188
2. Pittsburgh (2) - 162
3. USF (1) - 151
4. Syracuse - 98
5. Cincinnati - 96
6. Connecticut - 76
7. Louisville - 60
8. Rutgers - 33
Posted on: July 14, 2011 12:20 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 12:45 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
After getting my new copy of EA Sports' NCAA Football 12 on Tuesday, I took the time to simulate the entire 2012 season to see what the video game thinks is going to happen this year. In order to make things realistic, I even went through all the trouble of updating rosters to reflect what they currently look like.
That meant moving Russell Wilson from NC State to Wisconsin, removing Terrelle Pryor -- not to mention benching the suspended Buckeyes for the first five games of the season -- removing WaShaun Ealey and Caleb King from Georgia's backfield and so on and so forth.
No need to thank me, it was a labor of love.
So how did things turn out?
Well, it looks as if we'll once again have a non-BCS school finish the year undefeated -- the only school to do so -- but it's not Boise State or TCU. In fact, Boise State finally got its shot at a national title, but it couldn't come through.
Let's find out. First we'll start with the conference champions (Records don't include conference championships or bowl games).
ACC -- North Carolina 9-3 (6-2)
Big 12 -- Texas A&M 10-2 (8-1)
Big East -- South Florida 9-3 (6-1)
Big Ten -- Wisconsin 11-1 (7-1)
C-USA -- Houston 12-0 (8-0)
MAC -- Western Michigan 10-2 (7-1)
MWC -- Boise State 12-0 (7-0)
Pac 12 -- Oregon 9-3 (7-2)
SEC -- South Carolina 11-1 (7-1)
Sun Belt -- Troy 10-2 (8-0)
WAC -- Fresno State 8-4 (7-0)
And how about those BCS bowl games? Well I'm glad you asked.
Rose Bowl -- Wisconsin 49, Oregon 46 OT
Fiesta Bowl -- Texas A&M 38, Ohio State 17
Orange Bowl -- North Carolina 28, Alabama 20
Sugar Bowl -- Houston 48, South Florida 13
BCS National Championship -- South Carolina 24, Boise State 22
Yes, that's right, the Ol' Ball Coach has added another national title to his resume. Boise State did have a chance to topple the BCS machine, but couldn't pull through. Trailing 24-16, Kellen Moore hit Kyle Efaw on a 16-yard touchdown with 3 minutes left, but the Broncos couldn't convert the two-point conversion. The Gamecocks ran out the clock and celebrated a national title. Oh, and Stephen Garcia was the game's MVP. Let that marinate in your brain for a minute or two.
As for awards, I hope Houston quarterback Case Keenum used all that time off last season to build himself a trophy case because it looks as if he's going to need one. Keenum not only won the Heisman Trophy, but the Maxwell, Walter Camp and Davey O'Brien trophies to boot. That's what happens when you lead Houston to a 14-0 record yet still finish second in both polls.
Now, if that's not enough info for you, let's take a look at some of the season storylines by conference.
-- Jimbo Fisher hits the sophomore slump. Florida State doesn't even qualify for a bowl berth after finishing the year 5-7 with a 3-5 mark within the ACC. FSU loses to Oklahoma, Wake Forest, Maryland, NC State, Boston College, Miami and Florida. And of those losses, only the loss to Florida was by less than 10 points.
-- Al Golden has Miami on the right track. Sure, the Canes only went 8-5 during the season, but they did finish 6-2 in ACC play, just missing the ACC title game thanks to a 27-17 loss to North Carolina
-- Duke goes bowling! That's right, Duke finishes the year 7-6 with a 4-4 mark in the ACC, including a two-point win over UNC. Though the Dukies do lose to Florida in the Music City Bowl. I have no idea who Steve Spurrier was rooting for while watching.
-- Boston College is the "best" team in the Atlantic Division. The Eagles finish the year 8-6 with a 5-3 mark in the conference. They even nearly beat UNC in the title game, losing 29-27.
-- Oklahoma can't handle the pressure. The Sooners started out the year 7-0 before getting shocked by Kansas State on the road -- where else? -- 24-21. They also lost at Oklahoma State 38-24 to end the regular season and kill their hopes of a BCS berth.
-- Texas won't be terrible two years in a row. The Longhorns finish the season 11-2 with a 7-2 mark in the Big 12. Though they do lose to Oklahoma and Texas A&M, which stings a bit.
-- Where have you gone, Blaine Gabbert? Missouri needs you. The Tigers finished the season 4-8 with a 2-7 mark in the conference. Seems they're going to miss Colorado, Nebraska and the North Division.
-- The Big East is respectable. While no team in the conference finished the season with less than three losses (Pitt being the only with three), seven of the eight Big East schools won at least seven games, with Rutgers holding the only losing record.
-- Louisville can't finish. The Cardinals led the Big East most of the season before losing four of their last five games to finish 3-4 in the conference.
-- Casino or football field, Dana Holgorsen has a tough time winning anywhere this year. The Mountaineers went 2-5 in the Big East during his inaugural campaign.
-- Who needs Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor? Ohio State went 4-1 in its first five games of the season while so many of its playmakers sat out, and though the Buckeyes struggled in Big Ten play, they still finished the year 9-4 and got an at-large berth to the Fiesta Bowl. Oh, and they still beat Michigan.
-- Not that Michigan minded all that much, because Brady Hoke made believers out of the faithful in his first year. That Michigan loss to Ohio State? That was the Wolverines only Big Ten loss of the regular season, as they went 7-1 to win the Legends Division.
-- Wisconsin loves Russell Wilson. Wilson and the Badgers tore up the Big Ten all year long until the final week of the regular season. Then, after being 11-0 and ranked #1 for the majority of the regular season, the Badgers fell at home to Penn State 42-28. Though I guess beating Michigan 34-13 in the first Big Ten Championship Game and then Oregon in the Rose Bowl took some of the sting out of it.
-- New kid Nebraska gets picked on. The Huskers went 3-5 in Big Ten play, even losing to Minnesota. Though that wasn't as embarrassing as the 13-7 loss to Ohio -- University, not State -- in the Texas Bowl.
-- USC isn't on probation in virtual reality. So the Trojans were able to win the Pac-12 South division, even if they did lose to Oregon 35-14 in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship.
-- Utah enjoyed their move more than Colorado. The Utes finished the season 5-4 in conference play while Colorado went 3-6.
-- Andrew Luck should have gone pro. Stanford and Luck were off to a very nice start to the season, opening 7-0. Then Luck broke his arm, missed the rest of the year and Stanford finished 10-3.
-- The East still stinks. Sure, South Carolina wins the national title, but no other SEC East team managed to win more than four games in the conference. Meanwhile, in the West, LSU had the worst season of anyone, going 7-6 with a 3-5 mark in the SEC. Les Miles needs to eat more grass.
-- Will Muschamp did OK. Florida finished the season 9-4 with a 4-4 mark in the SEC, though Charlie Weis' offense needs some work. The Gators never scored more than 21 points against a SEC opponent not named Vanderbilt.
-- Alabama needs to fire Nick Saban, PAAAAWWWWWWWL. Oh the indignity of Alabama's 2012 season. Not only did the Tide lose the SEC title game to South Carolina, but then they went and lost to North Carolina in the Orange Bowl. Since when does Alabama play in the Orange Bowl, PAAWWWWL? NICK SABAN HAS GOT TO GO.
-- Auburn doesn't miss Cam Newton as much as you'd think. Even without their Heisman winning quarterback, the Tigers still manage to go 8-5 with a 4-4 mark in the conference. Not great, but not terrible either.
-- TCU would like to get to the Big East ASAP. The Horned Frogs lose twice in 2012, and not just to Boise State. Unlike 2011, TCU wasn't able to escape San Diego State, losing 33-30 at Qualcomm Stadium.
-- Notre Dame is back! The Irish finish the year 10-3, and feature one of the most potent offenses in college football. Why they're painting Brian Kelly over Touchdown Jesus as you read this.
-- BYU finds independence to be constricting. The Cougars first season free of the shackles of conferencedom does not work out very well, as BYU finishes the year 4-8 and even loses to Utah State along the way.
-- While I already went over the disrespect Houston received, what about conference mate Southern Miss? The Golden Eagles finished the regular season 11-1 before losing to Houston in the C-USA title game, and they couldn't even sniff the Top 25.
And that's it. There's the entire 2011 season right there according to a video game. I suppose at this point there's no point in even watching any of the games. Now, if you don't mind me, I'm going to go try and wrap my head around Stephen Garcia leading South Carolina to a national championship.
Can you imagine that party?
Tags: ACC, Al Golden, Alabama, Andrew Luck, Auburn, BCS National Championship, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Blaine Gabbert, Boise State, Boston College, Brady Hoke, Brian Kelly, BYU, C-USA, Caleb King, Cam Newton, Case Keenum, Charlie Weis, Colorado, Dana Holgorsen, Duke, Fiesta Bowl, Florida, Florida State, Fresno State, Georgia, Heisman Trophy, Houston, Jim Tressel, Jimbo Fisher, Kansas State, Kellen Moore, Kyle Efaw, Les Miles, Louisville, LSU, MAC, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, MWC, NC State, NCAA Football 12, Nebraska, Nick Saban, Non-BCS, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Orange Bowl, Oregon, Pac-12, Penn State, Pitt, Rose Bowl, Russell Wilson, Rutgers, San Diego State, SEC, Simulations, South Carolina, South Florida, Southern Miss, Stanford, Stephen Garcia, Steve Spurrier, Sugar Bowl, Sun Belt, TCU, Terrelle Pryor, Texas, Texas A&M, Troy, USC, USF, Utah, Utah State, Vanderbilt, Video Games, WAC, Wake Forest, WaShaun Ealey, West Virginia, Western Michigan, Will Muschamp, Wisconsin
Posted on: July 4, 2011 2:52 pm
Edited on: July 4, 2011 6:21 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Happy Independence Day everyone. It's been a remarkable 235 years but America is still going strong despite plenty of ups and downs. On the gridiron, it seems like Notre Dame, Navy and others have been independent of conference overlords for just as long. With BYU joining their ranks last week and in honor of the holiday, it's a perfect time to look at what programs could follow their lead and go out on their own.
While it's doubtful that any of these programs will actually pursue going independence in the near future, perhaps they could/would/should on second thought. Feel free to bring up some other programs that could go out on their own in the comments below.
The Broncos have made quite the run the past few years, winning two BCS bowls and posting a remarkable three undefeated seasons. Boise State was originally a junior college who has, rather quickly, risen in the ranks from an independent in Division II to their current place in the Mountain West. Their wide-open style of play and ability to beat more talented teams has certainly earned them a national reputation and with that comes eyeballs. For example, last season's game against Virginia Tech earned a 6.8 overnight rating, making it the highest rated Labor Day night game since 1990.
From the Blue Turf to the trick plays, a lot of what has made Boise State football a national brand is due to the exposure they get on ESPN. For years they had several featured games on the network and, even if they were on late at night on the East Coast, people were at least able to see the games. Boise State is losing a lot of that exposure with the move to the Mountain West (with games on The Mtn. and Versus) in exchange for an increase in television revenue, which is expected to be around $800,000 a year based on the current conference agreements. If Boise State gets unhappy with the arrangement and decides to go independent, they could follow the lead of BYU. The Cougars recently signed a deal with ESPN to televise several football games with estimates putting the value of the deal at between $800,000 and $1.2 million per home game. As a program with a love-them-or-hate-them reputation that causes people to tune in, going independent might make sense down the road.
If there's one team on this list that is actually familiar with football independence, it's Florida State. The Seminoles were conference-less from 1951-1991 prior to joining the ACC. In a curious twist of fate, the school was invited by the ACC to join their conference but were rejected by the SEC. Regardless, Florida State is aware of what it takes to be an independent and what challenges and benefits come with it. While most believe their relationship with the ACC is a good one, one never knows what will happen if another wave of conference realignment hits. The ACC is, mostly, a basketball-centric league and as winners of two somewhat recent national titles, Florida State is much more of a football school than the conference's other members.
Scheduling always gets tricky but Florida State has a long history of playing both Miami and Florida. Both games are usually big ratings winners so, like Boise State, the program would likely do well financially getting a majority of the television money versus splitting it with fellow conference members. Throw in nearby UCF and USF and the Seminoles could have nearly half a schedule from in-state programs alone. Add in a big name program, such as the one against Oklahoma this year, and Florida State could get back to being a much bigger draw nationally like they were in the 1990's. Of course, as with most Florida teams, they'd also have to win to stay relevant.
The way things are going with the NCAA investigation into Oregon's football and basketball programs, it's likely more than a few Ducks fans have thought about leaving the NCAA altogether, much less the Pac-12. While the program itself hasn't seen much success on the gridiron outside of the past decade, there's one thing that lands Oregon on this list: Nike. The Beaverton, Ore., based company has already made the Ducks their featured program by ensuring they have the latest Nike gear and well over 160 uniform combinations (feel free to mix and match your own Duck uniform here).
The school already has an affiliate network of television and radio stations and it wouldn't be all that surprising if they teamed with Nike to get an actual cable channel going. Given what Nike has already done in the marketing sphere, the idea of "their" team crisscrossing the country might raise as many eyebrows in Indianapolis as it does in Eugene. At the same time, it's hard not to see the idea floated in Phil Knight's office at some point, is it?
Go ahead and insert your own Big 12-Texas joke here. If there was one lesson to be learned from last summer's realignment saga, it was that Texas is the major player in college athletics - and for good reason. The football program brought in the most revenue in the country last year with a staggering $94 million take and a nearly $69 million profit. If there's any program that could afford any initial financial hit from going independent, it's the Longhorns.
The program is also uniquely positioned (perhaps more so than anybody on this list) to head out on their own. The Longhorn Network will launch in late August and, with ESPN's backing, figures to expand the Texas brand into households across the country. Like BYU with BYUtv, having their own network already up and running would be a huge advantage over others that would be pondering a similar move. Schedule-wise, they would have no problem scheduling games based on the teams nearby and their draw nationally. Add in the fact that Texas is a large public school with plenty of alumni and fans across the country, and it's possible that football independence actually makes a lot of sense if administrators don't find the arrangement with the Big 12 to be working out.
If you're making a list of things that a school should have if they're considering going independent, USC would have a lot of check marks next to their name. Lots of alumni all over the country? Check. Nationally recognized brand? Check. Traditional college football power? Check. Given the school's connections to Hollywood and Silicon Valley, it wouldn't be all that surprising if they were able to quickly move onto some unique and intriguing media options if they decided to pursue football independence.
The recent NCAA sanctions have certainly hurt the reputation of the school and the football program which might actually be one reason why the school decides to make the jump from the Pac-12 to join the ranks of rival Notre Dame as an independent. Plenty of alumni are not happy with the Pac-10's lack of support in their infractions case (unlike, say the Big Ten with Ohio State) and that cuts into some of the good will Larry Scott has brought with a new media rights package. The Trojans have plenty of history of going around the country and playing teams, why not a little more of that as an independent? The Pac-10 was known as USC and nine others during the run under Pete Carroll, so maybe the idea of separating from the bunch isn't too far-fetched.
Tags: ACC, America, BCS, Big 12, Big Ten, Blue Turf, Boise State, BYU, BYUtv, ESPN, Florida, Florida State, Independece Day, Larry Scott, Longhorn Network, Miami, Mountain West, Navy, NCAA, Nike, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pac-10, Pac-12, Phil Knight, SEC, Texas, The Mtn., UCF, USC, USF, Versus, Virginia Tech
Posted on: June 28, 2011 3:23 pm
Edited on: June 28, 2011 3:50 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
USA Today today posted an exhaustive database of athletic "subsidies" for every NCAA Division I school--i.e., how much does each university itself (via student fees, public funding, or any other addition to the institutional budget) pay for its athletic department out of its own metaphorical pocket?
For most BCS conference schools (partciularly those in the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12), their athletic departments are nearly self-sufficient, with 20 percent or less of their budgets coming from direct university funding. But that's not the case everywhere, and especially not at Rutgers, which USA Today found has offered its athletic department some $115 million in subsidies the past five years. That number is nearly double the figure at any other BCS school, and comes in the face of a state budget crisis that has forced the school to withhold $30 million worth of scheduled raises for faculty and staff.
So, to briefly recap: Rutgers forks over some $23 million a year to its athletic department (nearly $27 million in 2010), then tells its professors it can't afford to give them money it had already promised them. This is going over every bit as well as you might imagine:
"A student doesn't come to Rutgers to attend a football game. They come here to get an education — and then maybe attend a football game," says Patrick Nowlan,executive director of the Rutgers teachers' union.Relations between faculty and athletics at BCS schools aren't always friendly even in the best of times, and now that the country's economic troubles are hitting the former harder than the latter, it's no surprise Rutgers is far from alone in seeing its faculty publicly angered by the money spent on sports. But what, in practical terms, does this -- and the situations like it across the country -- mean for college football?
Our honest guess is: not a heck of a lot. As long as the sport exists in its current arms-race state, big-time college football is an all-or-nothing proposition; you simply can't compete -- even in the Big East, as Rutgers has discovered -- without a complete commitment to the sport. The faculty have a perfectly legitimate gripe, but unless something fundamental about college football's finances changes, it'll be something of a shock if they amount to anything more than a few saved nickels here and there.
Of course that "something fundamental" might be happening right now in the form of full cost of attendance scholarships. (For more on this from John Calipari, see our last post.) This is where the issue of subsidies could really rear its ugly head--while it's one thing to pay for player stipends with athletic money and supersized TV contracts (a windfall Rutgers seems to be counting on to solve its current issues), it's another to pay for them out of the pockets of the very teachers who will be instructing the players in question. And that goes double once you leave the cozy confines of the BCS conferences; according to the USA Today database, the top 50 schools in terms of lowest 2010 percentages of budget subsidies were BCS schools. (Fresno State was the top non-AQ school, with "only" 28 percent of its athletic funding subsidized.)
So if the full cost of attendance bandwagon continues to pick up steam, yes, you can expect the athletics-vs.-academics funding battle to really pick up steam, particularly at schools like Rutgers or USF that have BCS memberships and still find themselves heavily subsidized. But until then? As ugly as the numbers in places like Piscataway might be, it'll be pretty much business as suual.
Posted on: June 24, 2011 12:18 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2011 1:03 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Posted on: June 17, 2011 10:11 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Former Miami running back Storm Johnson has decided to take his talents from South Beach and transfer to UCF, multiple outlets reported Friday night. The talented back toured campus in Orlando earlier in the day and felt comfortable enough to commit shortly thereafter.
"Yes sir, Storm committed today and he will start classes on the 22nd," Wesley Johnson, Storm's father, told The Orlando Sentinel. "It actually feels quite good just to get the pressure off and be able to resume his college career. He starts off with a clean slate. Coach [George] O'Leary met with us today and coach felt good about [Storm] and Storm felt good about being there."
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Johnson was third on Miami's depth chart following spring practices and with a new coaching staff, felt it was best to move on to a better situation. A Georgia-native, he was restricted as to where he would be able to transfer to by Hurricanes' head coach Al Golden and many thought UCF and USF were the favorites to land him.
Johnson rushed for 119 yards on nine carries last season as a freshman and was also featured as a kick returner on special teams. He was a big part of Miami's recruiting class of 2010 and was an Under Armour All-American coming out of Loganville (Ga.) High School. All three of the Knights current running backs will be upperclassmen this year and the situation should allow for Johnson to be a featured part of the offense when he becomes eligible in 2012 after sitting out a season.
"UCF is on an upward swing and doing some great things and we just hope Storm can help them out," the elder Johnson told the paper. "We just thank Coach O'Leary a lot for his diligence and his understanding of some things that have happened. He understands Storm is 18 years old and things happen."
Once he is allowed to play next year, Johnson will be a redshirt sophomore and have three years of eligibility left following his transfer.
Posted on: April 29, 2011 12:11 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
UCF and USF may share a big chunk of middle Florida, but it hasn't seemed like they've wanted to share a lot else of late; between the Bulls' public distaste for scheduling the Knights to UCF's not-so-subtle insinuation USF was trying to keep them out of the Big East, tensions between the two athletic programs have unquestionably risen since the teams' four-year gridiron series ended in 2008.
But tensions or no, that series may be back on again if UCF head coach George O'Leary is to be believed. Per the Orlando Sentinel and other outlets, O'Leary told a Tampa-area UCF alumni gathering that the Knights and Bulls would meet again for a two-year series starting "in 2014 or 2015," with an eye (well, UCF's eye, anyway) on continuing the series past those two years.
We wouldn't suggest UCF and USF start booking their hotels for Tampa or Orlando just yet, though, and not just because of that whole "those hotels might not even be standing in 2014" thing. An alumni gathering isn't the most formal of venues to make such a key announcement, suggesting that whatever O'Leary may have said, not all the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed just yet. A UCF spokesperson declined to confirm Thursday night if any agreement had been reached between the two schools.
The guess here is that the programs are close to signing a scheduling contract, and that O'Leary wanted to go ahead and give his team's fans some good news -- in particular as regards theur standing vis a vis USF -- as they wait on a potential expansion invite from the Big East.
But we're also guessing that until an announcement is made in a more official venue, with the ink on the contract, neither side should assume the "War on I-4" is back on just yet.
Posted on: April 26, 2011 1:19 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
UCF has sworn they'll be part of of a BCS conference one day, a day that could come sooner rather than later if the Big East and Villanova can't get on the same page (and the alleged backroom efforts of USF to keep the Knights outside the league fall on deaf ears). But whatever argument the Knights might like to use, there's one that's always talked louder than any others: money.
And fortunately for the Knights, they've got it, as Forbes.com contributor Kristi Dosh illustrates in this report on the 2009-2010 financial picture in C onference USA. UCF leads the way in the conference with more than $15 million in football revenue, a number greater than several BCS schools and two Big East programs--UConn and Cincinnati.
Dosh points out that UCF's football profit wasn't necessarily a result of overwhelming fan interest so much as UCF's simple overwhelming size; at 56,000 students, UCF is the second-largest school in the country, and all those student fees and alumni donations add up. The Knights also boosted their bottom line by not immediately re-investing all their grosses back into the program, as the school's football spending (at approximately $8.5 million) lags in the middle of the conference.
But if anything, those details probably only emphasize why the Big East might take an interest. If the Knights can turn such a substantial profit even without a horde of ticket sales, what happens when interest both on- and off-campus receives the kind of spike that comes with BCS competition? If UCF's athletic department can turn out a C-USA champion and BCS top-25 team even while keeping their spending relatively in check, how good could they be with the budget boost that comes with a distribution check from a BCS league?
The Big East may still let some other conference find that out, of course. Adding UCF means adding yet another basketball team to an already over-swollen 18-team (hoops-centric) conference, and unless Villanova joins up as well, it still wouldn't give the conference the necessary 12 for a lucrative championship game. There's a reason the conference is taking its time in expanding beyond its TCU addition.
But there's also little doubt UCF's friendly bottom line will give the league's decision-makers some food for thought.
One other note on Dosh's report: it would be tempting to look at SMU's conference-leading spending and assume that explains their quantum leap forward under June Jones and C-USA division championship last year. But the next two schools on that list -- Rice and Memphis --suggest that it's not as easy as simply throwing money at the problem.