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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Lineman Harris Chooses Missouri

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxMissouri received a commitment Tuesday from offensive lineman A.J. Harris from Blue Valley High School in Stilwell, Kan.

Harris gave the commitment to Missouri coach Gary Pinkel and his staff during a trip to Columbia.

“There are a lot of good things about Mizzou, but some of them are that I have a former teammates that played there, Clay Rhodes,” Harris told  ”When I talked to him about it he told me it would be the best decision I ever made.

“Also, none of the coaches BS about the recruiting process. Coach Pinkel got the extension to 2020, so that added a lot of stability to the decision, too. Plus, all the faculties and my dorm are all within a square mile.”

Harris’ home is less than three hours away from Missouri’s campus. That proximity and Harris’ familiarity with the program helped the Tigers stand out early in the recruiting process.

“I’ve known it would be Missouri for about a month, but me and my dad wanted to wait to make sure the feeling stuck and to make sure nothing would change my mind on such a big decision,” Harris said. “I also wanted to do it in person, so we waited until I came (Tuesday) and I told the coaches in person.”

Harris, who considered offers from Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska, Ohio State and Oklahoma State, is the third prospect and first offensive lineman to commit to Missouri’s 2015 class. The other two commitments are from running backs Chase Abbington and Ryan Williams.

Missouri’s coaching staff will likely pitch the early offensive commitments to quarterback Drew Lock. The Lee’s Summit (Mo.) High School standout is a high priority for Missouri’s 2015 class.

Lock told 247Sports last month he’s torn between the options of playing for the in-state school or leaving the state to experience something new.

“Missouri is up there for me as far as being the hometown school and my dad went there,” Lock said. “Then again there is a side of me that wants to get away and a side of me that wants to stay home. It is 50/50 and how anyone would feel.”


Harris releases top 10

Running back Damien Harris from Madison Southern High School in Berea, Ky., recently released a list of the top 10 schools he’s considering.

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Arkansas Losing D-Coordinator Ash To Ohio State

chris-ashWhen Urban Meyer arrived at Ohio State two seasons ago, he ruffled the feathers of then-Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema by attempting to woo committed prospects from the Badgers to the Buckeyes.  Wonder how Bielema feels today knowing that Meyer has lured away his defensive coordinator?

Chris Ash — named the Hogs D-coordinator in December of 2012 – is pulling up stakes and joining Ohio State’s staff as co-defensive coordinator.  Ash is the second key coach to leave Arkansas’ defensive staff this offseason.  Charlie Partridge became the head coach at Florida Atlantic.

Here’s the irony in UA losing two coaches from it’s defense — it’s defense struggled in 2013.  The Razorbacks ranked 12th in the SEC in scoring defense (30.8 points per game allowed), 9th in total defense, 11th in rushing defense, and 11th in passing defense.

Bielema attempted to calm any Razorback fan who might be concerned that their defensive coordinator had bolted after one year by tweeting the following: “Have always felt transition on my staff has allowed us to get even better.  Have had success hiring right people and will again.”

He then added: “Very happy for former coaches that decide to move to new challenges, the respect our staff gets nationally will continue to grow.”

Sounds good, but Bielema has previously stated that one of the main reasons he left Wisconsin — in addition to coaching in Barry Alvarez’ shadow — was that school’s unwillingness to pony up big cash to retain assistants.  One can’t blame Partridge for taking a head coaching job, but Ash’s move is different.  Granted, Ohio State is closer to a national title right now than Arkansas, but the Razorbacks — as Bobby Petrino proved — are capable of competing at an awfully high level, too.  And Ash will be moving from a coordinator position to that of a co-coordinator.  In other words, it’s likely the Buckeyes offered the ex-Hog coach more money.

This leaves Bielema in the position of trying to find a new coordinator.  Or does it?  Former Miami (FL) and NFL defensive coordinator Randy Shannon is already on the Arkansas staff, serving in the role of linebackers coach.  Ash worked with the safeties at Arkansas so there is some wiggle room if Shannon fills the coordinator slot.  Taver Johnson, cornerbacks coach, could take over the secondary in full, leaving room for a new linebackers coach to be filled.  Or Shannon could continue to work with the linebackers as coordinator and Bielema could hire another safeties coach.  Or he could just bring in a new coordinator altogether.

One name to keep an eye on?  The once rising star, Manny Diaz.  Diaz has coached safeties and linebackers and became a hot name nationally while briefly serving as Mississippi State’s defensive coordinator.  Mack Brown tossed him overboard midseason in 2013.  He should have recruiting ties to the Lone Star State after three years on the Longhorn staff.

Bielema hired Samford defensive line coach Rory Segrest to replace Partridge.

Ash had worked for Bielema for four seasons, including the coach’s final three years at Wisconsin.


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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Sharpe Gives Florida Good News

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxFlorida’s offense received a boost Thursday when offensive lineman David Sharpe from Providence School of Jacksonville committed to the Gators.

Sharpe, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 2 offensive tackle by ESPN RecruitingNation, committed to Florida despite growing concerns about the program’s future. Gators coach Will Muschamp fired offensive coordinator Brent Pease and offensive line coach Tim Davis last week after Florida finished the season with a 4-8 record.

“Coach Muschamp really needed help and I really want to help turn the program around,” Sharpe told ESPN. “I think we have a special class coming.”

That’s to be determined, but Florida took a nice step on Thursday. Along with Sharpe, Florida picked up a commitment from wide receiver Moral Stephens from Taylor County High School in Perry, Fla.

The two additions gave Florida  18 commitments for the 2014 class, which is ranked No. 9 in the nation by

“Considering the down year on the field and some of the changes to the coaching staff, this Florida class is shaping up very well,” recruiting analyst Craig Haubert wrote on today.

Now Florida needs to finish with a strong close. The Gators are recruiting several highly-touted prospects, including athletes Jamal Adams and Adoree’ Jackson, defensive end Lorenzo Carter and wide receiver Travis Rudolph.

Florida is also in good position with receiver Eric Lauderdale from Saddleback Community College in Mission Viejo, Calif. It appears Oregon, which recently offered Lauderdale, will likely be Florida’s top competition.

“I like that the quarterback (Marcus Mariota) there is coming back, and you know I like that style of offense,” Lauderdale told Rivals. “I’d say they are on the same level as Florida with me.”

There are plenty of questions regarding Florida’s future. Can Will Muschamp return the Gators to their 2012 form when they won 11 games?

Muschamp is trying to convince recruits that Florida will be back to competing in the SEC next year.

“It’s still the University of Florida,” he said last month. “I think there’s some obvious reasons why we are where we are. We’re a team that won 11 games last year, and I don’t think that happened by accident. We have a really good football staff. We have some good players on our football team. We’re going to have a good football team moving forward. So at the end of the day, this is a great education and it’s a great place to come compete.”


Garrett expected to be a Tiger

Highly-touted linebacker Clifton Garrett from Plainfield South High School in Joliet, Ill., will announce his decision on Tuesday.

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The BCS Title Game: Five Teams, Two Slots, One Test Of Blind Resumes

gfx - by the numbersReaders of know by now that we’re big fans of the “blind resume” test each spring.  As SEC basketball teams jockey for position on the NCAA Tournament bubble, we lay out our own comparison of those squad by the numbers.  About 90% of the teams who earn at-large bids to the tourney can easily be determined by a simple scan of their numerical accomplishments.  RPI, SOS, wins versus top 50 RPI teams, road and neutral court wins, etc, etc.  Survey the data and you’ll be able to predict the NCAA field just like the Jerry Palms and Joe Lunardis.

In football, for now, it’s still more about the eye test than anything quantifiable.  About the only number that comes into play is the big one in each team’s loss column.  Zero losses against a so-so schedule is still better than one loss against a good schedule.  At least that’s how it’s played out in most BCS seasons.

Hopefully that will change with college football going to a new playoff system in which teams will be selected by a panel of experts, not unlike the NCAA Tournament selection committee.  For kicks, we look below at some of the numbers that might be used by future panels to fill out a four-team playoff field.  Only we’ll use those digits, facts, and figures to try and determine the two best football teams this season.  Obviously, there are still some conference championship games to be played and any four of the top five teams in the current BCS standings could lose on Saturday.  But the numbers below still provide some food for thought.

We’ve taken the top five BCS teams — #1 Florida State, #2 Ohio State, #3 Auburn, #4 Alabama and #5 Missouri — and tallied up eight different statistical categories for each.  We’ve removed the names of the schools just to make things more interesting for you.  If you don’t want to cheat, be sure not to click the “read more” button until you’ve studied the chart in full.

First things first, we’ve used the current BCS standings (1-125) for several of our scheduling factors.  Even for those teams not currently ranked in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll or the Harris Poll, there are still rankings produced by the six computer formulas.

Also, keep in mind that we have not included any of the data from these teams’ dates with FCS foes.  Those games haven’t been counted in any way, shape or form in the table below.

Now, for the data we did include:


*  Opponents’ winning percentage

*  Overall margin of victory for the season (with deficits in losses deducted)

*  The average margin of victory per game (with deficits in losses deducted)

*  The number of opponents currently ranked in the top 25 of the BCS standings

*  The number of opponents ranked in the top 25 of the USA Today Coaches’ Poll at the time of the game

*  The number of top 50 foes played (according to the current 1-125 BCS rankings)

*  The number of sub-75 foes played (according to the current 1-125 BCS rankings)

*  The average current BCS ranking of each team’s foes


One other note, we do include the conference championship games still on the docket for Florida State, Ohio State, Auburn and Missouri when dealing with their schedule-strength numbers.  Obviously those final figures will be impacted by this weekend’s results.

Now, without further ado, the numbers for the top five teams in the current BCS standings are in the chart below.  The teams are listed in random order just to keep you guessing.  After clicking the “read more” button, you’ll see which team is which, their current BCS rankings and their overall records.  Here goes…


  School   Team A     Team B     Team C     Team D     Team E  
  Opp. Winning Percentage   .506   .496   .604   .493   .569
  Total Margin of Victory (Season)   259   238   134   464   188
  Margin of Victory per Game   23.54   23.80   12.18   42.18   17.09
  Current BCS Top 25 Opp.   2   3   5   2   4
  Coaches’ Top 25 Opp. At Time   3   4   6   4   6
  Top 50 BCS Opp. Played   4   6   8   2   6
  Sub-75 BCS Opp. Played   3   4   2   4   1
  Avg. Current BCS Rank of Opp.   59.25   57.00   41.75   62.16   46.66


Once you take the names off the teams and you strip them of their current rankings (which have been impacted by their preseason rank), things boil down to a simple choice between two options.  If you’re looking for dominant teams against less imposing foes, Teams D, B and A are for you.  They’ve walloped their foes.  But the collective strength of their opponents is spotty at best.  Two of those teams have played FBS schedules consisting of teams that are below .500 combined.  Team A’s foes were barely over .500.

The other option is to go with teams that have played closer games, but against more challenging competition.  Team C, for example, has won its FBS games by an average of just 12 points per contest, but the average squad on that team’s schedule would be ranked right around #42 in the current BCS standings.  Team C has played eight top 50 BCS foes.  Its FBS opponents have a combined winning percentage of .604.  Team E ranks just behind Team C in terms of the schedule measures.  While Team E has played six top 50 BCS squads, it has only played one FBS opponent ranked 75th or below.  Just one.

Think you’ve figured out who’s who in our chart?  We’ll identify all the teams for you if you just click the pretty red words below…

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Preseason Rankings Making A Big Difference This Year

bcs logoSometimes they matter.  Sometimes they don’t.  When a team starts the year in the top two of the national rankings and then they win out, yeah, in those cases it’s going to matter quite a bit.  And that’s what we’re seeing in the national polls.

The USA Today Coaches’ Poll — still part of the BCS system — begins ranking teams in the preseason.  And this past August, the coaches (or their SIDs) voted Ohio State #2 in the nation behind Alabama.  Florida was #11.  The Seminoles, obviously, have jumped the Buckeyes into the top slot in the current poll.  But for teams starting outside the top 15, the top 25 or even the “others receiving votes” category, climbing isn’t so easy.

Back in August, Auburn was coming off a 3-9 season and did not receive a single vote in the Coaches’ Poll.  Neither did Missouri as Gary Pinkel’s team came off a 5-7 season.  (Laughably, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Arkansas all got at least one vote, which shows how silly preseason polls really are.)

The Harris Poll — the other human part of the BCS equation — doesn’t begin compiling rankings until Week Eight of the season.  At that point, Alabama was #1 followed by Oregon, Clemson, Ohio State and Florida State.  Missouri had climbed to #14 with a 6-0 start.  Auburn was still way down in “others with votes” group.

Yesterday, as you surely know by now, Ohio State held onto the #2 slot behind Florida State.  Auburn is third, Alabama is fourth, and Missouri ranks fifth.  Most pundits believe we’ll have an FSU/OSU clash in Pasadena if the top three teams win out.

Unfortunately for Alabama, they lost in the last week of the season rather than in the first week so their hopes are kaput, barring a Michigan State win over Ohio State and a Duke win over Florida State.

Missouri is not a traditional power but the Tigers have lost just one game this year in overtime to a top 10 foe.  If anyone should feel passed over it’s Mizzou.

Now, the fact of the matter is, we’ve seen he voters back last-minute adjustments before.  In 2008, the BCS rankings had Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas and Florida ranked one through four in the next-to-last week of the season.  Then Florida beat Alabama and leapfrogged Texas to get the BCS title game berth.  The voters could have set-up an OU/UT rematch but they did not.

In 2007, the top seven teams going into conference championship weekend were Missouri, West Virginia, Ohio State, Georgia, Kansas, Virginia Tech and LSU.  After a series of upsets, Ohio State moved to #1 and two-loss LSU jumped past Virginia Tech, Kansas and Georgia to grab the #2 slot.  That was a choice by the voters.  They could have picked Tech or Georgia (with two losses) or Kansas (with one loss).  They chose the preseason #1, LSU.

In 2006, same thing.  Ohio State and Florida finished 1-2 in the BCS standings and met for the national crown.  Michigan was #3.  But a week earlier, the rankings had been Ohio State, Southern Cal (who lost), Michigan and then Florida.  The voters could have created a rematch between Ohio State and Michigan, but they chose to go with Florida instead.

Those are just three recent examples of final-week flip-flops.  So the SEC’s run of seven straight national championships isn’t completely finito just yet.  But Ohio State’s strong start in the human polls months ago sure would seem to make title #8 a longshot.

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Ohio State’s Meyer Sidesteps Discipline (Again) And BCS Voters Should Take Note

gfx - honest opinionI don’t dislike Urban Meyer as a person.  I don’t know Urban Meyer.  He may be the best family man in America.  He might be a super-duper fellow when it comes to charity, as well.  In fact, I don’t doubt that he is.  He’s probably a good neighbor, too.

I don’t dislike Urban Meyer because he won at Florida.  I don’t dislike Urban Meyer because he left Florida.  I have no dog in such SEC fights.

What I do dislike about Urban Meyer is his split personality.  On one hand, he speaks of discipline, of recruiting good young men to represent his school, of holding players to high standards in order to grow them as young men.

On the other hand, he’d drive the getaway car for some of his thugs, punks and miscreants if it meant keeping them eligible.

He’s the exact opposite of everything he says he claims he stands for.

SEC fans know what kind of a program Meyer ran at Florida.  It was highly successful for a very brief period — the Tim Tebow period — and then it crashed down upon itself.  Meyer quit, then didn’t quit, then quit again to be with his family, then caught the first plane to Columbus when Ohio State’s last coach brought that program down on his head.  Irony: OSU has hired a guy who lets his kids get away with murder — just kidding, Aaron Hernandez was only questioned in a Gainesville shooting — to replace a guy who lost his job and landed the Ohio State on probation for letting his players do anything they liked.


George Bush's "Fool Me Once" Gaffe


What he said.

Depending on whose count you believe, 30+ Florida players were arrested during Meyer’s six-year arc at Florida.  The New York Times reported that 41 of the 121 players on UF’s 2008 BCS championship squad were arrested at Florida, after leaving Florida, or both.  That’s quite a collection of well-disciplined young men.

There have arrests at Ohio State, too.  Yeah, I know, who didn’t see that one coming?  After all, Hernandez stuck on the Gator squad despite getting into a bar fight at 17 and then being drawn into a shooting investigation.

Chris Rainey was arrested for texting his girlfriend, “It’s Time to Die, Bitch.”  Did Meyer, the father of two girls, dismiss him from the team?  Of course not.  Rainey later went to the NFL where he was cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers after a domestic violence arrest.

Janoris Jenkins was dismissed from Florida’s team when Will Muschamp took over.  A pair of arrests actually had consequences under UF’s current coach.  Jenkins — in a very damning remark — made it clear that such accountability wasn’t part of Meyer’s program (despite all of the coach’s talk).  “No doubt, if Coach Meyer were still coaching, I’d still be playing for the Gators,” Jenkins said.  “Coach Meyer knows what it takes to win.”

Indeed he does.  And he’s displaying that knowledge once again this week.

Meyer has decided not to suspend — surprise, surprise — two starters who were pitched from last weekend’s win over Michigan for fighting.  One of them left the field by throwing double birds at Wolverine fans.  Beats throwing punches, I guess.

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2013 Ohio State Buckeyes:


Michigan Ohio State fight results in three ejections


Hope you stuck around until the end of that clip.  Apparently that kind of behavior is what “Law & Order” Meyer views as the proper way to carry one’s self while on scholarship as a representative of THE Ohio State University.  His decision not to dole out suspensions to Marcus Hall and Dontre Wilson couldn’t have anything to do with the Buckeyes playing Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game with a BCS title shot on the line could it?

Now, because Meyer did a year at ESPN, many in the media look the other way when it comes to the stone cold, undeniable fact that the wins on his resume are matched only by the number of arrests, ejections, and suspensions that have occurred at his programs.

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SEC Headlines 12/2/2013

headlines-monSEC Football

1. The BCS standings show Auburn will most likely need Florida State or Ohio State to lose for the Tigers to reach the BCS title game.

2. Alabama’s chance of returning to the BCS championship game is “highly improbably, but possible.”

3. A good sign: Many Alabama fans took to Facebook to show support for kicker Cade Foster.

4. Auburn and Missouri have sold out their allotment of tickets to the SEC championship game.

5. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn has no time to relax as he and the Tigers prepare for Missouri.

6. Florida coach Will Muschamp fired offensive coordinator Brent Pease on Sunday. Offensive line coach Tim Davis was also let go.

7. Muschamp promised improvement as he plans to “evaluate himself” as well as the football program.

8. Georgia coach Mark Richt expects defensive coordinator Todd Grantham to return next year.

9. Grantham doesn’t seem to be phased by criticism. “I look at the body of work I’ve done and I’m fine,” he said.

10. The Cotton Bowl appears to be a likely destination for LSU. The Tigers thought they were headed there last year.

11. Kentucky won only two games this season. Fans will certainly expect more next year.

12. There were multiple incidents Saturday night involving South Carolina students and members of the Clemson football team.

13. For the third straight year, South Carolina defeated the winner of the SEC East.

14. Texas A&M’s season was filled with unmet expectations, writes Robert Cessna.

15. Departing senior Daniel Hood feels good about Tennessee’s future under coach Butch Jones.

16. Barrett Sallee writes that a 12-1 Auburn team being left out of the BCS title game would actually be “very American.”

17. Watch Auburn fans react to the Tigers’ win over Alabama.

SEC Basketball

18. LSU scored a key win against Butler on Sunday. The Tigers won 70-68 in overtime.

19. Center Willie Cauley-Stein blocked shots while helping Kentucky beat Providence 79-65.

20. “Their length is their strength,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said of Kentucky.

21. Mississippi State needed overtime on Sunday to edge out Loyola Chicago 65-64.


22. There’s plenty of debate surrounding the BCS following an entertaining rivalry weekend.

23. Did the SEC keep itself from winning an eighth consecutive BCS championship?

24. Ohio State can’t “come close to matching the résumé” of Auburn or Missouri, writes John Feinstein.

25. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer won’t suspend offensive lineman Marcus Hall and running back Dontre Wilson for fighting against Michigan.

26. Here’s an early update on the coaching carousel. Will Southern California go after Vanderbilt’s James Franklin?

27. The No. 1 choice in this week’s Misery Index was easy to predict: it’s Alabama.

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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Aggies Hope For Good News

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxDefensive end Myles Garrett from Martin High School in Arlington, Texas, will announce his college decision on Saturday.

Expect the choice to be Texas A&M.

Garrett, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 2 weakside defensive end by Rivals, is considering the Aggies along with Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State and Texas Christian.

Garrett will visit Texas A&M on Saturday, although he told the visit will be to see his sister, who attends Texas A&M. Still, Garrett plans to attend the Aggies’ game Auburn and will likely do so as an Aggie commitment.

There won’t be a big ceremony for Garrett’s announcement. He told AggieYell he wants to create a little suspense before he calls each school to inform the coaches of his decision.

“I just want the last little bit to be a surprise,” Garrett said. “I don’t want to name a favorite.”

Damon Sayles of ESPN RecruitingNation agreed that “all signs are pointing (Garrett) to wear Aggie maroon next year. But let’s not count out TCU just yet.”  Sayles pointed to TCU’s proximity to Garrett’s home and the fact TCU scored an upset commitment from Dallas offensive lineman Ty Barrett.

Garrett would be an important commitment for any school. He’s one of the nation’s top prospects from a key recruiting area. ESPN’s scouting report wrote in part:

“Garrett possesses a lot of natural ability and tremendous upside. He is a good player with some exciting upside. Possesses a lot of tools to work with and can potentially develop into one of the top defenders in college football.”

Texas A&M is still developing into one of the nation’s top destinations for recruits. The Aggies’ 2014 class, which has 14 commitments, is ranked No. 14 in the nation by Rivals. No school ranked ahead of Texas A&M has fewer than 15 commitments.

Garrett is one of several highly-touted prospects remaining on Texas A&M’s board. Other key targets for the Aggies include defensive back Jamal Adams from Carrollton, Texas, defensive end Qualen Cunningham from Chandler, Ariz., and wide receiver Speedy Noil and defensive tackle Gerald Willis from New Orleans.

Texas A&M hopes its commitment from Scottsdale, Ariz., quarterback Kyle Allen might help influence Cunningham and offensive tackle Casey Tucker, Cunningham’s teammate at Hamilton High School.

Cunningham has been considered a “longtime Aggie lean,” according to 247Sports, but Tucker is favoring Stanford.

“A&M is still working diligently to get Tucker down for a visit this fall, hopefully the Vanderbilt game, but that’s not set in stone at this point,” Taylor Hamm wrote for 247Sports.

Garrett’s commitment isn’t set in stone yet either. But Texas A&M will go into Saturday feeling good about its chances.



Auburn commit Williams planning all five visits

Linebacker Tre Williams from St. Paul’s Episcopal School in Mobile, Ala., remains committed to Auburn.

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With The Playoff Selection Panel Set There’s Only 1 Question: How Do They View The SEC?

gfx - honest opinionThe Southeastern Conference has thrived under the BCS system.  Nine national titles in 15 years to date.  That’s unmatchable stuff.

But now college football’s means for determining a national champ is changing.  Starting next year a four-team playoff will finally come to college football.  Yesterday the men (and woman) tabbed to handle the selection of playoff teams was officially announced.

There are ex-coaches and sitting ADs on the panel.  A former Air Force general and a former Secretary of State are on the committee as well.  One ex-sportswriter is in the group.  Of the 13 members, ten played college football.

For now… all’s good.  Anyone asking a question about the exclusive club will be painted as a grumbler.  Question the inclusion of Condoleezza Rice for any reason and you’ll be labeled as a knuckle-dragging cave man (even if you suggest that there are more qualified women out there).

So be it.  We’ll play along.  To quote Rip Torn from “Men In Black,” the following group is the best of the best of the best.  Their belonging on the committee is self-evident:


Chairman Jeff Long (current Arkansas athletic director)

Barry Alvarez (current Wisconsin athletic director and former head coach)

Lt. General Mike C. Gould (retired Air Force general and former superintendent at the Air Force Academy)

Pat Haden (current Southern Cal athletic director)

Oliver Luck (current West Virginia athletic director)

Tom Jernstedt (former supervisor of the NCAA’s board of directors)

Archie Manning (member of the College Football Hall of Fame)

Tom Osborne (former Nebraska athletic director and former head coach)

Dan Radakovic (current Clemson athletic director)

Condoleezza Rice (former Secretary of State, former National Security Adviser, and former provost at Stanford)

Mike Tranghese (former Big East Conference commissioner)

Steve Wieberg (former college football writer)

Tyrone Willingham (former head football coach)


Thumbs up.  Love it.  Geniuses, one and all.

But what do they think about the Southeastern Conference?

You see, in the end, that’s all most of you are going to care about.  If next year, your favorite SEC school doesn’t make the playoff field despite being ranked inside the top four or five in the national polls, you will lose your ever-lovin’ mind.  You know it.  I know it.

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The SEC’s BCS Championship Game Hopes Are Already Dimming

crystal-ball-soothsayerOne quarter of the way through the 2013 football season, the hopes for another SEC win in the BCS championship game seemed to have dimmed.  Yes, there are currently four league squads in the top 10 with one more sitting just outside that pack, but a quick check of the loss column should cause some concern.

Here is the current AP Poll (with USA Today Coaches’ Poll rankings in parentheses when different):


1.  Alabama 3-0

2.  Oregon 3-0

3.  Clemson 3-0 (#4)

4.  Ohio State 4-0 (#3)

5.  Stanford 3-0

6.  LSU 4-0

7.  Louisville 4-0

8.  Florida State 3-0

9.  Georgia 2-1 (#10)

10.  Texas A&M 3-1 (#9)

11.  Oklahoma State 3-0

12.  South Carolina 2-1 (#13)

13.  UCLA 3-0 (#14)

14.  Oklahoma 3-0 (#12)

15.  Miami, FL 3-0

16.  Washington 3-0 (#20)

17.  Northwestern 4-0 (#16)

18.  Michigan 4-0 (#17)

19.  Baylor 3-0 (#18)

20.  Florida 2-1 (#19)


Now let’s look see who in that list plays one another:


* In the SEC, undefeated Alabama will face undefeated LSU later in the season, so that means one of those squads will have a loss.  Missouri and Ole Miss are also undefeated at this point and they, too will play this season.  Ole Miss, of course, will play both Alabama and LSU, too.  So the odds are stacked against the Rebels finishing unscathed.  Mizzou isn’t expected to come close to an undefeated season, either.  Which means the SEC needs for the winner of the Alabama/LSU game to finish undefeated and win the SEC Championship Game in order to “guarantee” the league a spot in the BCS title game.  Could a one-loss SEC team make it?  Certainly.  But the more undefeated squads there are across the country, the tougher it will be for a one-loss SEC team to make that jump.

* In the Pac-12, Oregon and Stanford will meet.  So basically one of those squads already has a loss.  UCLA and Washington — who are also clean at this point — will have to meet the Ducks and Cardinal, too.  UCLA will play Stanford and Oregon back-to-back and then Washington.  The Huskies also draw Stanford and Oregon back-to-back before their date with UCLA.  Oregon and Stanford appear to be the best hopes for the Pac-12.  One of those teams will need to survive the other, UCLA, Washington and the Pac-12 championship game to finish unbeaten.

*  In the ACC, we’ll slash Miami from the list as they’re not expected to keep winning.  Clemson and Florida State will play one another which means one of them already has a loss.  Should the winner of that game run the table and win the ACC title game, it could be bad news for the SEC (especially if the undefeated champ is a Clemson squad that’s already knocked off Georgia).

*  In the Big Ten, Ohio State appears to be on cruise control.  They’ll face Wisconsin this weekend and Michigan to close the season.  They will also face Northwestern.  The Big Ten Championship Game is also on the horizon.  But it appears as though the Buckeyes are the best bet from north of the Mason-Dixon line.  While their weak schedule might hurt them when the BCS system spits out its final championship game matchup, an unbeaten Ohio State squad will be hard to keep out of the national title game.

*  In the Big 12, Baylor would have to be a shock team to climb all the way into the BCS championship picture.  That leaves Oklahoma and Oklahoma State who will play one another.  The Big 12 will need one of those two squads to finish unscathed to nab a slot in the BCS finals.

*  Finally, Louisville of the American Athletic Conference faces these eight foes the rest of the way: Temple, Rutgers, UCF, South Florida, UConn, Houston, Memphis, and Cincinnati.  Uh, yeah.  You’d have to say that the Cardinals will be favored in all of their remaining contests.

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