DALLAS -- If you've been following the news since January that the BCS commissioners are discussing a potential four-team playoff for the 2014 season and beyond, you've undoubtedly wondered about such details as, where and when would the games be played? And how would the teams be selected?
Rivals.com offers a quick glance at the BCS leagues as of late afternoon Wednesday. Check back at Rivals.com on Thursday for an in-depth look at each league.
Like most of you who live and breathe college football, I woke up Tuesday morning feeling sleep-deprived and a little bit depressed. As I wrote Monday night, Alabama's title-game performance was incredibly impressive, but the end-result made for an utterly unsatisfying season. Meanwhile, TV ratings were down for four of the five BCS bowls. Attendance was down across the board. And worst of all, after covering eight quarters and an overtime of Alabama-LSU field-goals, I was stuck in a crowded Superdome tunnel waiting to get on to the field when Trent Richardson finally scored a touchdown.
On my media credential for this year's Sugar Bowl are the words "Preserving The Past ... Ensuring The Future." That sounds like a presidential campaign slogan for a candidate who has not studied any of the issues. I assume bowl reps also considered "The Sugar Bowl: Keeping America Strong And Safe." Hey, once you're swimming in empty promises, you might as well wade over to the deep end.
Ten bowl games have been played since the last Mailbag, but there's only one I regret not commenting on until now: The Boise State-Arizona State Las Vegas Bowl.
College football has gone from the silly season before BCS Selection Sunday to the ridiculous season in the aftermath.
Every time there's been some sort of controversy over the final BCS outcome (read: most seasons), people have inevitably asked me: "Is THIS the nightmare that finally cracks the BCS?" And of course I always reply: "No. The thing's been a train wreck for 13 years. Why do you think this year would be any different?"
Sports Illustrated will announce its choice for Sportsman of the Year on Dec. 5. Here's one of the nominations for that honor by an SI writer.
The 71-year-old gentleman was shown to his table in a trendy Italian restaurant in Birmingham, Ala., the other day and seemed to slip by everyone completely unnoticed. Other than the waiter who took his order, nobody else seemed aware that, perhaps, the most powerful man in collegiate sports was sitting nearby having a quiet lunch and enjoying 90 minutes away from the hustle and bustle of life in the fast lane.
In the 13 years of the BCS, there have been only five occasions when we were reasonably certain the correct two teams played in the championship game. This isn't shaping up to be the sixth.
Monday, Nick Saban voiced his displeasure at Alabama's local press corps for daring to discuss topics beyond his team's upcoming game against Tennessee.
The bald kid in The Matrix may as well have been explaining the fallout of conference realignment when he explained spoon-bending to Keanu Reeves. For those not geeky enough to remember the exchange, here's the transcript:
Every year, people start freaking out about the possibility of some end-of-season BCS nightmare pretty much as soon as the games begin. My response is usually the same: Get back to me in early November.
As the latest wheels of conference realignment churn, it's become increasingly apparent that we've all been sucked in by another mindless reality show.
After four weeks of humiliation and disgrace, things return to normal this week for the vaunted Big Ten Conference. Which means -- for now -- the league can only be embarrassed by beating itself.
The best reader e-mail I've received still makes me a little nervous. Chris Daubert of Brooklyn sent his missive on June 8, 2010, when it appeared a semi-satirical column I'd written four months earlier might actually have been an accurate prediction of the future. I had suggested that the top 64 revenue-generating athletic departments should break free of the NCAA and form a body called the Collegiate Athletic Select Hegemony (CASH). I had suggested that when this happened, the Big 12 and the Big East would fall and that the other four power conferences would gobble up the best of those leagues. When Chris sent his e-mail, my second suggestion was about to come true:
Attorneys at the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division are requesting a "background briefing" on how the Bowl Championship Series operates, BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock said Thursday.
Every year around this time someone asks the following, admittedly intriguing question, which inevitably sets me up to look like an idiot by midseason. I swear I don't throw darts to come up with the answer -- though that may well be a more accurate method.
College football's Bowl Championship Series says it will fine the Fiesta Bowl $1 million and impose other sanctions after the bowl reported that it had, among other things, reimbursed employees for political contributions they made allegedly at bowl leaders' encouragement.
In a letter to the NCAA disclosed Wednesday, the Justice Department said it has received several requests for an antitrust investigation into the current Bowl Championship Series system, and it wants information to help it decide what to do.
If we were to follow the logic that the best college football teams produce the most NFL draft picks, we would be left to deduce that the 2010 season did not go according to plan. Apparently in some parallel universe -- or at least one without NCAA investigators -- USC and North Carolina were meant to play for last season's national championship, while Auburn and Oregon were meant to play in the Music City or Las Vegas bowls.
NEW ORLEANS -- Jim Delany had a flight to catch, but for the moment, he couldn't even make it off the fourth floor of the Windsor Court Hotel. As a group of reporters surrounded the Big Ten commissioner in front of an elevator bank and pestered him with questions -- about the Fiesta Bowl, BCS antitrust issues and Ohio State's NCAA case -- one elevator after another stopped, but remarkably each one was going up, not down.
It figures to be a jolly week in New Orleans, with the Hornets locked in a thrilling playoff series against the Lakers and Jazz Fest set to begin Friday. Amid the revelry, however, a set of visitors will descend upon the city to discuss more dour circumstances.
It's 2011, and everything about college football moves faster now, from the offenses to the recruiting calendar to the media cycle. (One notable exception: NCAA investigations.) In that spirit, the Mailbag is making the earliest debut of its nine-year history this week, for two reasons. One, I'm getting married May 29, at which point I plan to vanish for a month, so I figured we'd squeeze a few more editions in beforehand. And two -- most college football fans want to read about college football no matter what time of year. Duh.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Another season is in the books and another SEC school took home the crystal trophy. Suffice it to say, the conference of sundresses and slacks is gradually destroying my long-held beliefs about cyclical conference strength. One could justifiably argue the league had a down year this season (5-5 in bowls, a terribly mediocre East Division) -- and yet there Mike Slive was on the podium again Monday night.
As a huge fan of college football, I waited all year for the crowning of a national champion.
As you may have heard, a historic blizzard crippled New York City earlier this week. I didn't leave my Brooklyn apartment for two days. Once I did, I arrived at our midtown offices to find 50th Street shut down while snowplows tried to dig out evidence that it still existed. All the while, I kept reminding myself of the light at the end of the tunnel: Within a few days, I'd be in sunny Southern California for the Rose Bowl.
The Bowl Championship Series may be the least popular postseason format in modern sports. Legions of college football fans, influential media, and politicians deride it as anti-competitive and ill-conceived. The complaints are well documented and only feed an underlying frustration that college football lacks a playoff system. The BCS' complicated ranking methodology, exclusionary system of automatic bowl bids and lack of guarantee that the two best teams compete for a national title are frequently cited. Related gripes center on the disproportionate share of BCS wealth received by BCS-affiliated conferences and the selective access to publicity generated by playing in BCS-sponsored bowls.
Eighteen years ago, Jeff Anderson and Chris Hester were just two roommates at the University of Washington, frustrated with their beloved Huskies always being disrespected in college-football poll rankings.
Nebraska hired Bo Pelini to bring pride back to its sullen program, and three years in, he's right on the cusp. The Huskers came within a second of winning the Big 12 last season, and will likely get another title shot next month. They'll be an immediate contender upon joining the Big Ten.
BYU fashions itself the Notre Dame of the West, a church-affiliated institution with a national following. In search of greater exposure for its global television network, BYUtv, it's reportedly prepared to ditch the Mountain West to become a football independent. A national brand wants to play a national schedule.
As a longtime observer of -- and former participant in -- preseason rankings, it's a great mystery how certain teams seem to garner a universally agreed-upon spot in the preseason hierarchy as early as January.
For a few precious hours last Saturday, it felt like the college football season had begun two months early. Or at least it did in my Brooklyn neighborhood, where fans in U.S. soccer jerseys spilled on to the sidewalks outside of several overflowing sports bars. The atmosphere inside my chosen viewing locale, Downtown Bar and Grill, was every bit as intense and electric for USA-Ghana as a September game day in Ann Arbor or Tuscaloosa.
It's the script of nearly every romantic comedy: Guy pursues girl. Girl resists because he's a bad boy/player/comes from the wrong side of the tracks. Guy eventually makes a romantic gesture so grand that the girl can't help but see that love's been sitting under her nose the whole time.
The Obama administration is considering a probe into the legality and fairness of college football's Bowl Championship Series and "the current lack of a college football national championship playoff."
It's not easy to come up with good ideas for column leads. (I only make it look easy.) So I am always grateful to all you Hoop Thinkers for coming up with terrific suggestions to start the day off right. So let's tip off this week's Mailbag with an intriguing question from Shane Hale of Las Vegas:
ARLINGTON, Texas -- They didn't open the roof at Cowboys Stadium so God could watch Saturday's Big 12 title game, but as the clock struck zero and a great red wave descended onto the field to celebrate, Texas defensive end Sergio Kindle prayed that heaven gets ABC. "Hopefully," Kindle said, "the Lord saw the clock at one, and the ref was going to stay true to his morals and give us the second."
Thousands of coaches will descend on Orlando, Fla., this weekend for the annual American Football Coaches Association convention. If they're smart, all but a few will come, resume in hand, to the hotel room of South Florida athletic director Doug Woolard.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Here's the thing I don't understand: Why can't Boise State be national champion? No, I'm not talking about writing another BCS rip job. I don't blame the BCS. I actually think the system worked pretty well this year. The BCS is supposed to give the nation a viable and compelling national championship game, and I think it did that. I suspect most people will believe in Alabama vs. Texas and will accept the winner as national champ.
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- While it doesn't formally say so in the name, Thursday's "BCS National Championship Game" is most definitely a bowl game. Alabama and Texas both spent part of the day Saturday at Disneyland (Colt McCoy's favorite ride was the Tower of Terror) and will both visit Rose Bowl staple Lawry's in the coming days.
For the past three years, whether attending conferences with colleagues or simply walking through an airport, Boise State President Bob Kustra knows to expect an inevitable conversation.
The new decade begins this week, and since it's never too early to be wrong, here is a prediction:
The University of Alabama's Crimson Tide may be the top ranked team heading into college football's national championship game on January 7. But in one key measure, the team clearly trails the No. 2 University of Texas: money.
Attention, BCS commissioners: Those pesky insurgents at the Mountain West have one more, tiny request for you. They'd like you to add this year's bowl record to next year's BCS standings.
1. The Statue of Liberty play; Jan. 1, 2007. The final down of the 2007 Fiesta Bowl was the American Dream rolled into one play from scrimmage. Using a play (the Statue of Liberty) mastered by millions of boys in their backyards, David (Boise State) scored on a two-point conversion to slay Goliath (Oklahoma) in overtime. The running back who scored the conversion (Ian Johnson) then ran down the sideline and proposed to his cheerleader girlfriend (Chrissy Popadics). Johnson and Popadics wed that July, and they have lived happily ever after. The fairy-tale ending also changed college football. Boise's win, which followed Utah's Fiesta Bowl-crash after the 2004 season, earned immeasurable respect for the sport's mid-majors and brought them one step closer to a legitimate shot to compete for the national title.
As you've probably heard, the Bowl Championship Series has hired Ari Fleischer, former White House Flack-of-all-Trades, to spiff up its image. Under the guidance of Fleischer's communications firm, the BCS has launched a wide-ranging p.r. campaign that includes a Facebook page, a Twitter account (sample tweet: "We love college football as much as anyone, believe it or not") and a round of aw-shucks interviews for executive director Bill Hancock.
Texas Rep. Joe Barton's BCS-busting bill made its way out of subcommittee Wednesday.
After poring through 1,087 unread e-mails, I now know I'm not a very popular man in Austin, Texas. And apparently I'm not among the 99 percent of the population that seems to feel the TCU-Boise State Fiesta Bowl is nothing short of a crime against humanity.
Welcome to my seventh annual ranking of this year's bowl games, No. 1 through 34, in order of anticipated entertainment value. Much like the bowl business itself, these rankings are based only marginally on the teams' actual merits. They also take into consideration star quality, fan appeal, evenness of matchup, aesthetic appeal of the two teams' colors and whether or not any NCIS reruns will be airing at the same time.
This should feel like a just reward for an offseason where the non-automatic qualifiers extolled their virtues in front of Congress, then reached unprecedented heights in the BCS era on the field.
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 2 Texas -- the first-ever BCS Championship clash of 13-0 teams -- seems to warrant some grandiose, hyperbolic, "Game of the Century"-type nickname.
We literally came within one second of seeing complete BCS anarchy Saturday night. Had Colt McCoy thrown the ball way one second later -- or had replay officials not come to his rescue -- Nebraska would have knocked off No. 3 Texas in Saturday night's Big 12 championship game.
Hopefully, Bill Hancock negotiated a huge salary. Because he just took one of the worst jobs in the world.
Even in Canada, Jared Zabransky cannot go many places without someone mentioning his claim to fame. Yes, right, he is that guy who ran the Statue of Liberty to beat Oklahoma in 2007.
The question we need to ask in the wake of TCU's 55-28 win Saturday against Utah isn't, "Does TCU deserve to play in a BCS bowl?" It's this one: Of the three presumptive favorites to fill the two spots in the BCS title game, how many would struggle with TCU?
The season's first bowl bid has already been accepted. Following its upset of Notre Dame last Saturday, Navy (7-3) accepted its preexisting invitation to the Texas Bowl, where it will meet a Big 12 opponent. On Saturday, Iowa (9-1) and Ohio State (8-2) will meet in Columbus, to decide the Big Ten's automatic BCS berth (presumably to the Rose Bowl).
Football Insiders: Check out Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback.
• Will BYU spoil TCU's bowl bid? There are a few things you should know about TCU defensive end Jerry Hughes: He used to be a great running back, he's since blossomed into the nation's best collegiate defensive end, and he tends to hunt BYU QB Max Hall like a man possessed. Last season, TCU spoiled BYU's BCS bid, and Hughes' four sacks and persistent disruption were a big reason why. This year, the roles have reversed. The Frogs head to Provo ranked eighth in the BCS standings, and the Cougars hope to spoil those bowl dreams. TCU needs this win to remain neck-and-neck with Boise State in the BCS conversation, and deploying Hughes and the rest of a speedy, athletic defensive front is the best way to set up Hall for a repeat of his seven-sack, two-pick performance from 2008.
The SEC holds the first two spots in the initial BCS standings. Florida and Alabama are 1-2, while Texas is third, followed by Boise State and Cincinnati.
Most football fans want the so-called Bowl Championship Series detonated because, by employing only polls and computers to determine its title game opponents, an awful lot of fun is denied us. Hey, we want something like March Madness to determine a genuine national football champion.
Thursday night brings the return of an old tradition that has spent the past couple seasons on the backburner: a must-see Big East game.
Loyal Mailbag readers know well I'm not one for speculating about end-of-season BCS scenarios until late October. This season, however, there's one particular possibility that's simply too fascinating to ignore. It practically jumps off the page when looking at the current polls.
Football Insiders: Click here to read Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback.
Well football fans, the season is officially upon us.
A major reshuffling of several conferences' bowl arrangements beginning with the 2010 season could land the Big Ten a third New Year's Day bowl slot and result in new homes for the Pac-10 and Big East's No. 2 teams.
The final chapter of the 60th annual Senior Bowl was completed on Saturday night after the team from the South defeated the North 35-18. Like the preceding week of practices, the game provided several performances of note and a few to forget.
LOS ANGELES -- As if Penn State's coaches and players won't have enough on their hands against No. 5 USC in Thursday's 95th Rose Bowl Game, there's this added little burden.
There's no disputing the fact that many of the once-sacred traditions of bowl games have irreparably changed over the past decade. In this, my sixth-annual ranking of all 34 bowl games (there were 28 when I started it, including the Silicon Valley Classic), I think you will find that the date a game is played no longer bears any correlation to the quality of its matchup.
Kyle Whittingham calls it the lowest point of his career. Brian Johnson can remember the looks on the faces of his Utah teammates as they met hours after a humiliating 27-0 loss at UNLV last September. It was the first time the Utes has been shutout in 167 games.
Bob Stoops is a defensive-minded coach. Or so we're told.
If forced to choose, Chuck Riggs, a CPA from St. Petersburg, Fla., would cancel any vacation so he and wife Linda could take seven weekend trips to a not-so-exotic destination less than three hours' drive from home.
At his conference's preseason media event last month, SEC commissioner Mike Slive stood before a room full of reporters and rattled off his league's impressive list of recent accomplishments -- three BCS championships in six years, an NCAA-record seven bowl wins in 2007 and the first 1-2 finish in the polls by a single conference (No. 1 LSU, No. 2 Georgia) since 1971.
All summer long, I've been getting several thousand variations of the following question, and all summer long, I've been dodging it. Explanation to follow ...
You know that college football season must be getting closer -- or at least closer than it was in, say, March -- when the first wave of preview magazines start hitting the newsstands. I've seen two, Athlon and Phil Steele, and both have the same team at No. 1.
On April 30, I sat around a conference table with about a dozen other writers at the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood, Fla., and listened as the lords of the BCS discussed their decision to extend the system's current format through 2014.
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- With its luxuriant, two-level pool and oceanfront view, the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa serves as a tranquil escape from the realities of everyday life.
If you happen to be among those who have yet to embrace the existence of the PapaJohns.com Bowl and the International Bowl, or if it makes your skin crawl to see 6-6 teams square off against each other in the postseason, you're probably not going to like what I'm about to tell you.
ATLANTA -- Not much has changed for Paul Johnson. The new Georgia Tech coach stands on the sideline with his hands on his knees, looking out onto the practice field. With their plain gold practice helmets and blue and white jerseys, the Yellow Jackets look very similar to the Navy team that Johnson coached for six seasons.
The two freshmen speedsters and the homegrown coach sat at a podium inside the Georgia Dome collectively beaming. A West Virginia team that was a preseason afterthought had just delivered arguably the most monumental win in the program's history, but already the conversation had shifted to what appeared to be a future of limitless potential for Rich Rodriguez's team behind star running back Steve Slaton and quarterback Pat White.
More than 325 of the top prospects available in April's NFL draft descend upon Indianapolis this week for the annual combine. The coaching staffs, scouting departments and medical staffs from the league's 32 teams will join them. Over the course of six days teams will test the players physically, mentally and medically. Here's a look at the players who have a lot hanging in the balance.
It was Dec. 1 and Steve Orsini was sitting in his Dallas home watching unbeaten Hawaii, which had designs on crashing the BCS party, clawing its way back from a three-touchdown deficit against Washington.
Sifting through this week's final batch of Mailbag submissions, I think I have a new appreciation for what it must be like to work as a customer service rep for an airline. Or the person who answers the phone when your cable goes out.
If LSU proved anything last week in New Orleans, it was this: If you navigated through the Southeastern Conference this year and won the championship, you were going to be ready for anything.
With a record 32 games played over 19 days and broadcast on six networks, the bowl season was anything but easy to navigate. Here's what you might have missed from games involving the 62 schools that did not play for the national championship.
NEW ORLEANS -- One of the main reasons there was so much attrition at the top of the polls in 2007 was that, with the exception of national champ LSU, most of the teams that populated the top 10 were highly dependent on young, inexperienced players.
Click here for five reasons why LSU will win.
While the 2007 college football season will conclude with Monday night's BCS National Championship Game between Ohio State and LSU, a different sort of season is about to commence -- one that will take place in conference offices, network suites and hotel board rooms.
There has never been a better year for upsets in college football than 2007. But there's one place where the traditional powerhouses still dominate - in the rankings of revenue and profits.
For hardcore college football fans, New Year's Day 2008 was essentially upside down.
Last April, the Kansas athletic department passed out over 700 Virginia Tech T-shirts to its student-athletes and officials as a tribute to the 32 victims of the tragic shooting spree on the Blacksburg, Va., campus on April 16. Women's basketball coach Bonnie Henrickson, who worked at Virginia Tech for 14 years before coming to KU, spearheaded the effort, and the baseball and track teams wore the shirts in competition that weekend.
Just before Christmas, the organizers of the Fiesta Bowl received a package from West Virginia University. 'Twas not a present, but a pre-holiday return: nearly 7,000 unsold tickets for the game, left over from the school's allotment of 17,500. Mountaineers fans did face geographic hurdles, with Glendale, Ariz., being more than a 24-hour drive from Morgantown, W.Va., but the low ticket sales were also a sign of discontent with the way WVU's dream season turned into a nightmare during the month of December.
College football's Year of the Cinderella came to an abrupt end Tuesday night at the Louisiana Superdome.
As thrilling and memorable as last year's Boise State-Oklahoma Fiesta Bowl turned out to be, there was very little buzz nationally leading up to it. For whatever reason, the nation was not yet enamored with Ian Johnson and the Broncos (though it certainly would be shortly thereafter), and the game garnered the third-lowest Nielsen rating of 37 BCS bowls played to date.
Back in September, Pasadena was the last place USC thought it would be spending New Year's Day -- and it's most certainly not where Illinois thought its season would come to a close.
NEW ORLEANS -- He's broken or tied 29 NCAA records. He finished third in this season's Heisman voting. Yet for all he's accomplished in 34 starts as a college quarterback, Colt Brennan's career is almost certain to be defined by how he performs in his final game.
Juice Williams never dreamed of this moment. Even in his imagination this seemed too far fetched to visualize.
SI.com's Gennaro Filice analyzes the matchup.
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