Newton, Auburn losing credibility; more mail (cont.)
With Dan Hawkins finally getting the boot at Colorado, who do you see replacing him? Who do you think will be a good fit in Boulder?
-- Brent Winters, Longmont, Colo.
I'll tell you who wouldn't be a good fit: Bill McCartney. It's absurd that he's being considered (and I'm told he is). I understand the general idea of wanting to bring back a revered figure to unify the community, like Bill Snyder has at Kansas State and Tom Osborne (as athletic director) has at Nebraska. But Snyder was out of coaching for three years. McCartney hasn't coached since 1994. That's so long ago, it predates the 85-scholarship limit. Or the spread-option. Or Netscape.
It's unlikely the Buffs can land a big name, because they can't afford to pay a lot of dough. Their best bet is to go after a hot coordinator, and I can't think of a hotter coordinator right now than Auburn's Gus Malzahn. With Colorado heading to the Pac-10, the best way to get competitive, and fast, is to bring something unique to the table. Oregon is the king of that conference right now in part because it's running an offense the rest of the conference hadn't seen. Most still run some variation of a pro-style/West Coast offense. Malzahn's hurry-up and unconventional schemes bring an edge that may help the Buffs overcome their massive talent disadvantage a bit in the early going. Of course, I have no idea what kind of a recruiter Malzahn would be as a head coach, and recruiting was Colorado's single biggest problem under Hawkins. Therefore, another option may be to go after a noted recruiter -- someone like Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables or Utah offensive coordinator Dave Schramm.
Since 1992, 10 of the 65 current BCS teams have NOT played in a BCS game, won their conference, or had a 10 win season -- Baylor, Clemson, Duke, Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, South Carolina, South Florida and Vanderbilt. I was very surprised to see a few of the teams mentioned on this list. Who should be the most ashamed to be in this company?
-- Rob, Fort Collins, Colo.
First of all, that's an amazing stat. Secondly, we can immediately eliminate eight teams from consideration -- Baylor (until this year, the worst program in its conference), Duke, Kentucky and Indiana (basketball schools), South Florida (relative newcomer to Division I-A) and Iowa State and Vandy (no history of success). That leaves Oklahoma State, South Carolina and Clemson. You would think the Cowboys would have produced a 10-win season in there somewhere, with or without T. Boone's money, but they've long played second fiddle in their own state.
The two that really have no excuse are South Carolina and Clemson. They're in a talent-rich state, not far from even more talent-rich Southern states, with big stadiums and rabid followings. Of course, South Carolina has long been plagued by the Chicken Curse. And it plays in an extremely tough division (usually). Clemson, on the other hand, has no excuse. It won a national title. It often signs top 10 recruiting classes. We'll forgive it the '90s, when Florida State was at its heyday, but even Wake Forest has won the ACC more recently than the Tigers. Clemson wins this one, hands down.
And the sad thing is, Clemson is guaranteed to extend its streak at least another year, whereas South Carolina could finally win its conference and Oklahoma State will most likely hit 10 wins.
While I like most of the Mandel Plan, it has one major flaw: fans traveling to two destinations in two weeks. Boise State fans aren't going to fly to Pasadena, then Glendale, especially when they have to book the second flight on two weeks' notice. TCU isn't going to fly or drive to New Orleans, then to Pasadena two weeks later. You're kind of lucky on your picks this year, because they are geographically somewhat convenient, but sub in Ohio State for one of those teams, and it's a problem.
-- David, Houston
I understand that concern. I'm sure the bowl games do, too. But think of the alternative: In a 16-team playoff, 14 fan bases get no bowl trip at all. And I don't think they'll have much problem filling seats for games that determine the national championship. My guess is most fans would still make the traditional trip to the New Year's (semifinal) game because it's more convenient and there's more time to plan. I'm conceding that the title game may have more of a Super Bowl-like atmosphere, with a more buttoned-down crowd. But the Final Four is exactly the same way, and most people still believe it's a pretty darn cool event. And if Ohio State makes the title game, believe me, 30,000 Buckeyes fans will still find a way to get there.
Stewart, one scenario that I cannot find a definitive answer to online: What happens to the Rose non-AQ obligation if TCU or Boise faces Oregon in the national championship game? Is the Rose forced to take the second non-AQ team, or since a non-AQ team is in the BCS, are they released from their obligation?
-- Michael Bode, Austin, Texas
I've gotten this question a LOT over the last week, so here's hoping that every single person who e-mailed me is reading this answer.
No, the Rose Bowl does not have to select the second non-AQ team. The rule states that, "For the games of January 2011 through 2014, the first year the Rose Bowl loses a team to the [title game] and a team from the non-AQ group is an automatic qualifier, that non-AQ team will play in the Rose Bowl." Since only the highest-ranked non-AQ team is an "automatic qualifier," there is technically no one else it "has" to take. It could voluntarily choose to take the second non-AQ and thus fulfill its obligation, but there's no way the Rose Bowl would pass on 11-1 or 10-2 Stanford to take TCU or Boise State. The rule would just carry over to next year.
Hey Stewart, after watching K-State destroy Texas, I was left wondering how in the world did UT beat Nebraska. Did Texas do something after that game that has somehow made them a team that has a good chance of not playing in December?
-- Samuel Fleming, Chapel Hill, N.C.
You're not alone. I was there. And because of it, it's taken me longer than it probably should have (i.e., until last week) to fully accept that Texas really is this bad. But I don't think it's as much a matter of what the 'Horns have done since that game as what Nebraska didn't do in that game, which is: let Taylor Martinez be a true dual-threat quarterback.
Going into that Texas game, Martinez, a redshirt freshman, had started two games against BCS-conference foes and attempted 11 and seven passes, respectively. Texas ganged up and stuffed the Huskers' rushing attack, Martinez completed just four of 12 passes (though remember, Nebraska receivers dropped three wide-open touchdown catches, which could have changed the game completely) and when it came time in the second half to play catch-up, Nebraska's coaches had such little faith in Martinez's passing abilities that they benched him for Zac Lee. Bo Pelini later admitted that was a mistake, and the following week against Oklahoma State Martinez went 23-of-35 for 323 yards and five touchdowns. I don't think it's a coincidence that a week later against Missouri, with Martinez established as a bona fide passing threat, the seas parted for running back Roy Helu Jr. -- nor that the Huskers nearly lost to Iowa State last week without Martinez.
As for Texas, its defensive dominance that day masked what was and continues to be its Achilles' heel: the offense. The 'Horns were able to get off to a hot start that day thanks to an unanticipated wrinkle by the coaching staff: using quarterback Garrett Gilbert as a runner. He caught Nebraska off-guard, rushing 11 times for 71 yards. But he was just 4-of-16 for 62 yards passing that day as Texas spent most of the second half milking its lead. It was easy at the time to brush it off as a product of the Huskers' stingy pass defense, but Gilbert's struggles have only worsened. He's thrown just seven touchdowns against 14 interceptions and does not rank among the top 100 passers nationally. Throw in the nation's 79th-ranked rushing attack and you've got yourself the formula for a 4-5 season.
I work a fulltime job, run a business and have a wife and 16-month-old at home, and I could do a better job of bowl projections than this in about 35 minutes of analysis. You are not taking into account all the factors that go into projections -- rivalry games at season's end, desperate teams, overconfident teams, coaches thinking about their next job, geographic locations, traveling fan bases, powerful boosters with corporate tie-ins and just plain luck. Please reevaluate this list and put out a better product next week.
-- Julius, Ashland, Miss.
I'll tell you what, Julius. If, between running your business and raising your child, you can come up with a computer model that analyzes the remaining schedules of 70-plus teams and successfully deduces which overconfident teams with wandering-eye coaches will lose to desperate teams with powerful boosters, by all means, you can take over the bowl projections.
Until then, I'll probably stick to my more trusted method of "educated guesses."
Raymond's late goal helps Leafs rally, end Kings' win streak
Schwartz, Blues stay hot with win over Oilers