Top four is top plan; more mail (cont.)
Stewart, who are your top five breakout players this year? The guys who are not on the national radar but will generate some great highlights this year.
-- Weber, Chicago
The problem with a question like this is that there are many more than five candidates, and, by the definition of breakout, plenty more I don't even know about. So I'll throw out five and then wait to hear from you about all the other names I unforgivably excluded.
1. Oklahoma receiver Trey Metoyer. Not only did the five-star recruit and early enrollee make an immediate impression this spring, but with Bob Stoops indefinitely suspending three returning receivers, Metoyer has no choice but to step up and become a go-to guy right off the bat.
2. Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon. Another early enrollee, he'll get his fair share of carries, and possibly even become the Tide's primary rusher (though Eddie Lacy is the top guy going in) in place of Trent Richardson.
3. USC defensive tackle George Uko. The one concern about an otherwise loaded Trojans lineup is its interior line, but those who attend practice regularly rave about the 6-foot-3, 285-pound sophomore, who became part of the rotation last season and will start this year.
4. Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk. To this point, the Oregon transfer is known primarily for his link to the infamous Willie Lyles. But it looks like Seastrunk has found a home at Baylor, where he'll step in for Terrance Ganaway and provide a big-play threat in Art Briles' reloading offense.
5. Florida State receiver Kelvin Benjamin. The 6-6, 242-pound redshirt freshman could be the elite receiver and difference-maker the Seminoles have been missing for years.
Stewart: Not having a conference championship requirement for the playoff is like not requiring each contestant in Miss USA to be from a different state. Should we just have the 50 hottest and most talented women in the competition, even if they're all from Los Angeles or New York? I would say no. Sure it makes it harder to get to the finals if you're from California, but then maybe hot women will move to different states to get a better chance and we'll have a geographically more balanced higher level of competition. Isn't this a better outcome overall?
-- Brian M., Singapore
It absolutely is ... for the male population of Bangor, Maine. Another big winner: The self-tanning industry.
As a Wyoming alum, should I be that sad Boise State is leaving the Mountain West for the Big East? Yes, my conference gets a better TV deal with Boise, but the bulk of the televised games will feature Boise, not UW, and to get it to stay, BSU would have taken the lion's share of the revenue. Now, my team, maybe in a worse time slot, gets three nationally televised games and has a better chance to win the conference and go to a bowl, which helps my recruiting. Am I nuts, or is this a half-empty, half-full scenario?
-- Scott C., Portland, Ore.
Seeing as Boise will end up spending a grand total of two years in the Mountain West, I wouldn't be too torn up about it. The prior defections of Utah, BYU and TCU were far more damaging, in my opinion, because the conference was just starting to build credibility nationally. Now, if you're a Wyoming fan, you might as well set your sights on trying to become the next Boise State.
Some program has the chance to fill that void and become the conference's flagship program, and while Air Force (if it doesn't defect, too), Nevada and Fresno State have more recent history of success, any program can make the same climb as Boise with the right coach and institutional support. Granted, it's going to be harder after two rounds of realignment that widened the perceived chasm between the SEC/Big Ten/Big 12/Pac-12/ACC and everyone else. And there will no longer be thresholds that guarantee a Mountain West team a spot in a major bowl game, the way the BCS did. But for Wyoming, just winning the conference would be a major step at this point, and Boise's departure removes a significant impediment.
Stewart: Avid reader of your columns. I have an idea that would never in a million years be allowed by the NCAA/school presidents: The selection committee to pick the four playoff teams should be a Las Vegas casino. They know more about football than the football coaches, and they would be totally unbiased.
-- Chris G., Melrose, Mass.
I couldn't agree more. Absolutely no one is more skilled at rating teams than the Vegas oddsmakers, and their livelihood depends on being completely unbiased. But as you know, casinos have absolutely no place in college athletics, unless of course it's to host a conference basketball tournament or football media days.
Sept 27, 2003 ... any idea the significance on this date? Well let me help you. That is the last time Texas Tech played a nonconference game against another BCS-conference opponent. How is this possible?
-- Jason, Ankeny, Iowa
And in that game, the Red Raiders knocked off Eli Manning-led Ole Miss, 49-45, in Oxford. Maybe the school decided to quit while it was ahead.
That's pretty astounding, but it's worked out well for Texas Tech. In 2005, it played FIU, Sam Houston State and Indiana State, won nine games and played in the Cotton Bowl. In 2008, it played Eastern Washington, Nevada, SMU and UMass, started 10-0 and advanced to No. 2 in the BCS standings. Had Tech finished undefeated, I have no doubt it would have played for the national championship. The way the BCS and bowls work today, there's really no incentive to play tough nonconference games, especially if the primary goal is simply to get bowl eligible. The most encouraging thing about the current playoff negotiations is the universal desire among the conferences to emphasize schedule strength. While Texas Tech is rarely a national title contender, perhaps postseason reform will incentivize a scheduling change. But as long as fans keep turning out for the cupcake games, it might not.
Did you really just write this? "It's also a disservice to the [Big Ten], which has actually been a leader in innovation, from popularizing the spread offense in the late '90s and early 2000s ..." Who in the Big Ten runs or ever ran the spread offense? I don't think you have a clue about college football.
-- Greg Liss, Chicago
Well let's see. Joe Tiller brought the spread to Purdue in 1997, and the school has been running it ever since. Northwestern has been running it since 2000. Michigan ran it under Rich Rodriguez. Penn State ran it with quarterbacks Michael Robinson and Daryll Clark. Ohio State will now be running it under Urban Meyer.
I'm not sure you have a clue what the spread offense is.
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