Great slate of BCS bowls awaits (cont.)
Smaller story, but I'm sure you're following it
Armanti Edwards does it again.
In a quarterfinal FCS playoff matchup Saturday, Appalachian State's record-shattering quarterback threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Matt Cline with 10 seconds left to lift the Mountaineers to a 35-31 win over defending champion Richmond, the same team that ended Appalachian State's three-year run of national titles a year ago.
Edwards had a rather modest night prior to his game-winning drive, finishing with 267 yards of total offense. Still, one can never emphasize enough the magnitude of the senior star's production over the past four years. Earlier in the season, I mentioned that he became the first player in Division I history to throw for 9,000 yards and rush for 4,000. The Charlotte Observer recently ran this great feature on Edwards' impact both on and off the field in Boone, N.C., and noted that Edwards' career production surpasses that of Tim Tebow -- one of the most decorated players in football history -- by more than 2,000 yards.
That puts things in perspective just a little bit.
In next week's FCS semifinals, Appalachian State (11-2) meets top seed Montana (13-0) in a clash of that level's two winningest programs this decade.
A positive development on the coaching front
For years, college administrators have taken heat for the lack of minority head coaches in the FBS ranks. For years, the number hovered around four or five (out of 119) before four new minority hires last offseason improved the total to seven. It appears the trend is continuing for a second straight year.
With Virginia expected to announce Richmond coach Mike London, an African-American, as its next coach at a press conference Monday, it means all three new hires to date have been minorities (the others: Willie Taggart at Western Kentucky, Larry Porter at Memphis) with a fourth, Charlie Strong, expected imminently at Louisville. If both the London and Strong hires happen, it will increase the total number of FBS minority head coaches to 11.
In the grand scheme of things, 11 out of 120 is still an extremely low percentage (9.2 percent). But these things don't change overnight, and the fact that the number will more than double in just two hiring cycles is a notable landmark.
London and Strong would also be important hires due to the fact that after the 2008 dismissals of Washington's Tyrone Willingham and Mississippi State's Sylvester Croom, Miami's Randy Shannon had become the lone minority head coach among the 66 BCS-conference schools, an incredible burden to carry.
Seven other schools still have vacancies to fill, with others likely to follow from the inevitable domino effect (which will presumably start at Notre Dame).
Devan Cunningham: The two-point conversion
If you haven't seen it yet, Fresno State beat Illinois, 53-52, on Saturday in one of the craziest endings you'll ever see, with the Bulldogs' 6-foot-5, 350-pound offensive lineman catching a deflected pass and rumbling into the end zone.
LeGarrette Blount: The touchdown
Three months to the day after his punch-heard-'round-the-world, Oregon's running back returned to game action for the first time during a crucial third-quarter stretch against Oregon State and found his way to the end zone.
Mini-previews for three big bowl games:
Oregon vs. Ohio State (Rose Bowl), Jan. 1: Jim Tressel's team gets its latest chance on the big stage, and while the 10-2 Ducks aren't viewed with the same regard as previous opponents Florida, LSU and USC, it will still be an interesting litmus test due to the teams' polar opposite offensive styles. It may also serve as a "What might have been?" game for Terrelle Pryor if Jeremiah Masoli goes off.
Cincinnati vs. Florida (Sugar Bowl), Jan. 1: Last year, an amped-up Utah team took down a deflated Alabama team in this same venue. Florida would seemingly have little motivation for this one, but it is Tim Tebow's last game as a Gator. Plus the Gators' defense should be eager to redeem itself following the Alabama debacle. Figuring out how to slow down Tony Pike and Co. would fit that bill.
Alabama vs. Texas (BCS title), Jan. 7: You'll have no shortage of material to read about this matchup in the month ahead. You probably figured out which way I'm leaning from reading the top of this column. Of course, there's also no better way to make yourself look like an idiot than to call a game the Granddaddy of All Mismatches a month before it's played. Hopefully I'll still be welcome in Austin.
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