SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
12/30/2007 02:28:00 PM
Let the Bowl Blogging Begin
NEW ORLEANS -- Happy bowl season, everybody.
I come to you from the New Orleans Marriott/Convention Center, media headquarters for Tuesday's Sugar Bowl and next Monday's BCS Championship game -- and, in turn, my home for the next 10 days.
My connecting flight from Houston on Saturday night was packed with giddy, green-clad Hawaii fans. Initial concerns from BCS folks about Warriors fans' willingness to make the long trip have turned out to be way, way off base. The school sold out its original allotment of 13,500 tickets to season-ticket holders and had to request an additional 1,000. Rumors are circulating that tens of thousands more (many of them island transplants who now live on the West Coast) have procured tickets through other means, with reports of some natives taking out loans or second mortgages on their homes just to make the trip.
When asked this morning whether the Sugar Bowl was the biggest sporting event in the state's history, a longtime Hawaii reporter replied, "By far."
Preparations for the game were already winding down by the time I arrived, with the teams staging their final full-scale practices Sunday morning and holding closed walk-throughs at the Superdome on Monday. (Though Colt Brennan was very adamant that Sunday was "not our last practice -- our walk-throughs, offensively, are a full-on practice").
Georgia has been practicing at the Superdome this week, Hawaii at the Saints' indoor facility, where I visited Sunday morning to conduct a few interviews. The Warriors' beat writers and TV reporters seemed very interested in discussing whether Hawaii's lack of familiarity with the dome (Monday will be its only pregame visit there) might put it at a disadvantage. The players largely shrugged it off. Hawaii actually had the option to practice there, but coach June Jones purposely chose the Saints' facility so that the NFL team's coaches and front-office personnel could scout Warriors players. (And indeed, Saints head coach Sean Payton watched at least one practice.)
I did not venture out into the streets my first night here (my mantra the next 10 days -- where the French Quarter is a literally around the corner -- is "pace yourself"), but there's a media outing at Bourbon Street's legendary Pat O'Brien's on Sunday night and I'll be very curious to see the highly unusual party mix of Georgia and Hawaii fans first hand.
· I don't know about you, but I've found many of the early bowls so far to be surprisingly compelling. From BYU's game-saving blocked kick to East Carolina running back Chris Johnson's one-man show against Boise State to the Purdue-Central Michigan basketball-game-disguised-as-a-bowl-game to the Mack Brown-stepson Holiday Bowl, it made for some entertaining viewing during my mini-holiday vacation this past week.
· I spent part of that mini-vacation in sunny, albeit unseasonably brisk Scottsdale, Ariz., where I visited with some folks from Oklahoma upon their arrival for the Fiesta Bowl. It's interesting just how much earlier and earlier the talk begins these days about the following season's preseason polls. The Sooners seem keenly aware that an impressive win over West Virginia could earn them a spot at or near the top heading into 2008. Georgia's coaches and players have discussed the same thing this week.
· One of the more underrated bowl-game traditions is the inevitable smack talk. Already this season we've seen over-cocky Arizona State QB Rudy Carpenter manage to incite the entire Texas defense and a Texas A&M yell leader temporarily lose his mind.
· My reaction to Rick Neuheisel-to-UCLA: What took them so long? Yes, the guy has an undeniably shady past, but he's also a pretty smart cookie. He waited more than four years for his chance at redemption (and it wound up coming at his alma mater, no less). He knows full well he can't afford to screw this one up.
Meanwhile, the Bruins got themselves a career 66-30 coach who's produced three top-10 teams and who knows the Pac-10 well -- and they got him for the unbelievably cheap price of $1.25 million a year. (Duke is paying new coach David Cutcliffe more than that.)
Expect the USC-UCLA rivalry to get a whole lot more interesting in the next few years.
· Meanwhile, SMU has now gone more than two months without a coach, and all indications are the long-suffering Dallas school is waiting for the opportunity to woo Hawaii's Jones, who himself has done little to dismiss the possibility, mostly brushing off such questions. It's definitely a hovering issue, as I heard one of those Warriors fans on my flight tell another, "I just hope we keep our coach."
SMU's interest in Jones makes perfect sense. His run-and-shoot offense helped Hawaii make a dramatic turnaround as soon as he arrived in 1999 (jumping from 0-12 to 9-4) and would almost certainly lift the Mustangs to their first bowl game since 1984 (pre-death penalty). I'm sure the school has some deep-pocketed boosters that could float him a sweetheart deal.
I just don't understand why Jones would want to go there. Not only is he at home, he's a guaranteed hero there for as long as he coaches. I could see him leaving to take another stab at the NFL, but not to take over a struggling Conference USA program. Maybe I'm being naïve.
· Finally, I got a huge kick out of this quote from Hawaii's Brennan about his culinary experiences in New Orleans this week. "The food has been unbelievable," said the Heisman finalist, who's been to staples Mulate's and Dickie Brennan's. "It's by far the best we've ever had on a road trip."
You're kidding me. Better than Ruston, La.? San Jose? Reno? Stop the presses, people.
That's all for now, folks. You can expect a new Blog entry from me every day from now through Jan. 8, as well as pre- and postgame columns from both games and, later this week, an opus about the "Future of the BCS" that I've been working on for much of the past month.
You flew all the way from Houston on a "kama'aina" (Hawaii locals) packed plane, and nobody even offered you any wasabi rice crackers, dried spicy squid legs, poi, Spam musubi or ling hee mui ice cream?! I call bull-lie, brah! No way you was on dat plane!
odbsol- Buckeye fan? Guilty as charged. I've always respected Michigan, but I have to admit that it's hard to watch their captains get reduced to talking senseless smack through the media. More than anything, it indicates a lack of confidence. It says that Michigan's slump is no fluke. Michigan used to do their talking on the field and take their wins and losses like grown men. I wonder why Crable didn't mention Armanti Edwards in his list of "freakish" qbs, haha.
Michigan is going to smack Florida around in the bowl game or my name is not Joey Jack Nasty. Case closed. I will bet my blue and gold Michigan sweatshirt that I wear everyday just to show everyone that I went to Michigan and am a proud Michigan MAN, that the Wolves will turn it around starting New Year's Day. And let's not forget how Michigan has been victimized year after by poor officiating. Vince Young and Troy Smith were nothing but flashes in the pan. Injuries killed us, etc. etc.
Stu, my wife and I have been in NO since Friday celebrating our 35 anniversary and I can confirm there are a HUGE number of Hawaii fans here. I was/am surprised, I really didn't think they would have so many come to the game.
Hey, when in New Orleans don't forget about some of the uptown treats, there is way more to this town then the French Quarter. In regards to food - Jacques-Imo's is a must fantastic modern New Orleans Food. Also the Bar's aren't too bad if you are interested in Sports - Cooter Browns and Bruno's are awesome.
I'm surprised at the blather about Crable's comments. He's right - Tebow's rushing stats are largely a function of how Meyer uses him (and doesn't use his RB's).
The fact that he praises Vince Young and Dennis Dixon, who tore up Michigan, just shows he's trying to be objective. Dixon and Young had more running highlights in one game than Tebow had all year, unless you count 3 yd QB sneaks a highlight.
for Mark - very insightful. But can you think of a player whose stats are not a factor of how the coach plays him? The fact that defenses knew Meyer was relying on Tebow and could not stop him anyway does say something, don't you agree?
Eric-Y-town: That's why I'm not crying over Carr's departure. Program needed a kick in the ass and hopefully Rodriguez can do for UM what Tressel did for OSU. Crable must've forgotten about Armanti what with all the other QBs that burned him and that raggedy D the last 4 years. Just an oversight.
You know that the level of intelligence in Michigan football has reached an all-time low when they're dissing opposing qbs (heisman winners to boot) because they succeed in a system that exploits their talents.
"Yeah, you're right guys. Tebow won't prove that he has a lick of talent until he plays in a system that is completely ill-suited to his talents. Then we'll know he's for real."
Vince Young's red-shirt sophomore stats:
PASSING 1849 yds w/ 12 tds and 11 ints.
RUSHING 1189 yds 6.5 yards per carry and 14 tds.
Tim Tebow's true sophomore stats w/ one game to play:
PASSING 3132 yds w/ 29 tds and 6 ints
RUSHING 838 yds 22 tds 4.3 yards per carry.
Heisman Trophy winner.
P.S. It should be further noted that when Young became Texas' starting qb, they switched their offense from a standard I-formation to a shotgun spread type offense with a lot of receivers. The argument that Tebow is somehow exclusive in his being a "system" qb is utter nonsense. The guy is flat out incredible and any team would love to have him and hate to play against him.
Buckeye fan needs to shut up. Crable is an idiot, freakish size and speed that has mirrored the underachievement of the entire program the past four years. But buckeye fan suggesting a lesson in class and humility?? pretty funny stuff.
Eh popologuy-- that's li hing mui, brah. Waiting for the big bowl game so I can holler for my RAINBOW WARRIORS (no matter what JJones think they should be called!) Win or lose, plenty proud of our boys, eh?
People who think all of Tebow's runs were three yards didn't watch Tebow this year. He had at least one 12-yard run in nearly every game. You don't ring up 800 yards 3 yards at a time.
Crable will see what Tebow's all about. Everyone who has opened their mouth so far this year has been forced to eat their words, yet Tebow has never been the one to actually serve the crow after the game. Unlike Crable he keeps his mouth shut.
Take a ride out to the Lakeside Mall area and have a cup of Coffee and Beignets after eating at Crazy Johnnie's! They serve the greatest Filet Mignon Po-Boy on the Planet. It's amazing and worth the side trip. Geaux Tiger's!!!!
Charles - you're right - every player's stats are a function of how they are used (and how long they are left in the game). It just bothers me when people say the equivalent of "22 rushing TD's. Nuff said." As if that means he is the best rushing QB to have played the game.
Joel - Of course you don't get 838 yds on 3 yds and a cloud of dust - it actually averages out to 4.3 yds. I'm too lazy to calculate his average on TD runs, but I would be shocked if it was more than 4ypc. His longest carry of the year was 25 yds. By comparison, Pat White averaged 6.7 ypc, and his longest run was a 64 yd TD. Dennis Dixon averaged 5.6 ypc and his longest run was a 80 yd TD. Also, (only because someone else made the comparison) in his soph season Vince Young, averaged 6.5 ypc with a long of 60 yds.
I'm not saying Tebow hasn't been a great QB for Florida or that he hasn't done everything Urban has asked of him, but I do think he's overrated and I think that pointing to his 838 yds or 22td's doesn't prove as much as his supporters think it does.
I think what anyone who calls Tebow overrated is missing is the fact that not only did he run for 800+ yards (no matter the system, that's impressive for a QB), but he is also one of the nation's better passers.
He's better than White and Dixon because he's better with his arm than he is with his feet.
Mark - Tom Brady is overrated, too. I mean, it's all the system over in New England, and he's throwing to Randy Moss. Him setting the single-season TD mark does not say as much about him as his supporters think.
The reason Tebow has a lower average is because he's ABLE to run like a fullback. Vince Young would have been killed running inside like Tebow can. Dennis Dixon couldn't finish a season running the ball.
You want to minimize Tebow, fine. Just about everyone who has actually watched the kid play knows he's as good as the guys you are saying are better than him.
folks who are surprised to see so many hawai'i folks in NO are underestimating the fact that it's an isolated island chain and has no pro sports. UH is pro sports in the 'aina. and everyone is pretty convinced that this is a once in a lifetime event so they're going all out. i live in cali now but was born and raised in hawai'i. when i was back for the holidays all my friends and family who are going to the game just kept repeating the same, "hey, it's a once in a lifetime thing right? if they win all the better."
CLA football team will never be 'allowed' any more success than that that is 'allowed' the Trojan basketball team. Adn, hiring your new coach for reasons of nostalgy won't make the cross-town rivalry any more interesting, it will just make the 'SC wins a bit more enjoyable.
i do not know what the big deal about hawaii is, it's not like they have a defense and uga's d-line is bigger than hawaii o-line. it does not matter how good or bad brennan is no one can throw from the seat of their pants, not even tebow, we proved that earlier anyway.
and another thing, all OSU and UM fans please shut up. you are after thoughts on the college football map. please stop embarrasing yourselves. you had your spot in the sun when only slow, white people played(im white) 30 to 40 years ago. wait a mnute you gauys are still slow white guys. florida will kill the wolverines and the buckeues eventhough tressel is a great coach, you can't coach speed so you will lose to the tigers as well but take heart because your conference has no balls and does not play 8 games in a conf. schedule or have a championship game and ur conference is full of sl9ow white people im sure will have to put up with you guys next year.
ugafan7, Nice comments about after thoughts on the college fottball map. Especially coming from someone whose team has only won 1 National Chapionship (1980) and I can't remember the last time they actually won their conference. Those slow Buckeyes are playing in their 3rd National Championship since 02. Nice loss to South Carolina (6-6) by the way. I guess Spurrier does still own you!
I agree, Shawn Crable is an "IDIOT". Michigan will face ANOTHER running QB and get demolished. You would have thought since they faced Vince Young & Texas in the Rose Bowl they would have learned something....guess not!!!
for ocularfix - It will only be a 'once in a lifetime' event for Hawaii if they start playing schools like Florida next year. Two years ago Boise St mistakenly thought it could schedule top teams and win, and so they played Georgia. That experience convinced them to go back to soft regular season schedules and to then hope their bowl opponent had a letdown. I suspect that after playing Florida next year Hawaii will also do likewise and return to trying to play the weakest schedule possible.
Mr. Crable's comments re the Heisman winner Tim Tebow are illustrative of how far Michigan has fallen under Lloyd Carr. Please don't mention Carr's record as a coach, go back and survey the 'outstanding opposition' he had to surmount in his years at Michigan. I think Mr. Tebow is going to acquaint himself with Mr. Crable in ways that Mr. Crable will not enjoy.
Have to disagree re your comment on Tom Brady. He is vastly under rated. His success is predicated on the following 3 things, only 1 of which is not atributable to him; 1. an outstanding, superior, offensive line that does not get near the credit they should. Brady gets 'hours' to survey and throw the ball. 2. Brady aids and helps his receivers by having the ability to look off defenders. This causes defender to be proactive in coverage, more often than not a mistake, rather than reactive to the ball in the air. 3. Brady obviously studies a great deal of film in his own time. His work ethic and preparation are equaled only by P. Manning, and those 2 chaps are at present by far the most intellingent at playing their position.
As a Mich alum I will spare the discussion about Lloyds record at Michigan since the overall is obviously tremendous most Michigan fans are looking for the type of change that Coach Rod is going to bring.
Having said that I do think that Michigan will get hammered by Florida this year. Henne is still hurt, the team is soft and the coaching change has been a major distraction. Plus, Florida is a much better team!
Unfortunately a loss to Florida will leave Lloyd with a 1-1 mark against Florida and a 5-3 record against the SEC, including 4 bowl wins. Not bad considering the "Outstanding Opposition"
for everyones' sake, let's hope Hawaii wins, so Mandel and his media colleagues can get over their big-school bias, Hawaii is cornered into renewing Jones' contract, Jones continues to build Hawaii into a legitimate mid-major power, the BCS system loses credibility (again), LSU fans will be happy, and UH is legitimized instead of persecuted for the schedule it was forced to play. Oh yeah, and so someone, for once, humbles the big, bad SEC.
for migloto - So now you say that Hawaii is forced to set up one of the weakest schedules imaginable. I also hear that a thrilling overtime victory over La Tech is just as great as an LSU win over Fla or an OSU win over Texas. A win is a win right? I hear that a two point win over Nevada without Brennan is proof that Hawaii is loaded with stars. And I hear June Jones say that Tebow is the beneficiary of playing in a system which confirms my thinking that the only system at Hawaii is trying to identify the weakest teams possible for setting up a schedule. I cannot find a single time in Jones' tenure at Hawaii that they beat a BCS team that was ranked when they played them. Until Hawaii beats some quality opponents on a consistent basis comments like yours and the others will remain a good source of laughter.
Motivation plays a big role in college football. This year, it seemed, UF had nothing to kindle the fire. Playing in a second tier bowl against a beleaguered double-digit underdog does not provide any motivation. But here comes Mr. Crable to change it all. What a moron!
Geez, I think I agree with Crable's premise. Should have been articulated differently but Colt Brennan gets hammered for his system offense in throwing 50 plus times a game. Tebow is the goaline back in that offense getting touchdowns normally reserved for tailbacks. That being said Tebow is an incredibly talented weapon.
Yeah, I think Crabble's comments weren't articulated in a particularly intelligent way but I also think that I agree with his underlying premise. You give me a choice between Dennis Dixon, Tim Tebow and Vince Young (as a college player) and I take VY number one in a heartbeat and then it's a toss up between Dixon and Tebow.
They're all tremendous talents but Young had an "it" factor that I have yet to see from Tebow. Young just refused to allow his teams to lose. Sure Tebow's numbers may "look" nicer but numbers don't always tell the whole story. For example, the year the Longhorns won the championship, Young led the nation in passing efficiency...until the Rose Bowl. A game where he completed 30 of 40passes for 267 yards and ran for another 200 and three TDs actually LOWERED his efficiency rating. But only an idiot would argue that the game made him any less of a quarterback. Actually, even an idiot couldn't get away with that.
Tebow's rushing numbers are nice too. But second on the team in rushing was Percy Harvin, a WR. Harvin also had just one less TD than the Gators best running back. Meanwhile, Dixon was playing alongside a running back who rushed for over 1400 yards and 10 TDs. Everything has to be taken in context.
Again, not to say that Tebow isn't a great quarterback. I think that he is. I also think that he is wholly deserving of the Heisman. But I DON'T think he is (currently) a better college quartback than Vince Young was and he isn't necessarily better than Dennis Dixon.
"Again, not to say that Tebow isn't a great quarterback. I think that he is. I also think that he is wholly deserving of the Heisman. But I DON'T think he is (currently) a better college quartback than Vince Young was and he isn't necessarily better than Dennis Dixon."
What should worry opponents is when Tebow really becomes a part of a system. Once the gators have another legitimate rushing threat it will mean fewer carries for Tebow and probably fewer passes. But I suspect taking the heat off of him a bit more will improve his yds per carry and passing efficiency. For Omagus - You need to keep in mind that Vince Young had a more balanced offense.
Make no mistake. Tebow is a warrior. He is a good passer. If he becomes a better passer he will be a great NFL player. Just the entire offense goes through him. Trust me, 3 yard runs can be harder than 20 yard runs. Love his game. UF is lucky to have him. Better qb that my guy Pat White
Tebow is more of unique talent than Dixon and White and even Vince Young. He is the only QB who consistently gains positive yardage running between the tackles. Plus he has better passing stats than all 3 of those QBs.
P.S. To the guy who said Tebow averaged 3 yards per TD run. He actually averaged over 5 yards per TD run, which was better than is overall rushing average. Nonetheless it is often most difficult to get the 1-3 yard runs near the goal line because the defense stacks the line of scrimmage.
You guys crack me up! I love to read the witty prose penned by sad, dejected homers. It's even better when you call out another poster specifically. Keep it up!
Anyhoo, I predict Rick H. will be a huge improvement at UCLA. The guy is a proven winner, and his shady track record will only provide more incentive for him to keep everything clean. His biggest obstacle will be the tough schedule he will face annually. Look for 8+ wins each year, but never in the hunt for a title.
College football players will always talk smack, as long as there is someone to write it down and post it online somewhere. It's too bad coaches don't punish the big mouths with lots of laps around the track and extra time ridin' the pine.
Face it, the Big Ten is lame. Ohio State does NOT deserve to be in NC game. They played one or two teams that were in the top 25 and lost to one of them(Illinois). And it is easy to win your conference when it is full of cupcakes(so what if they beat Michigan). The SEC always has someone different winning their conference every year. And Ohio State has never beaten an SEC team ever. The SEC does not get enough credit for its toughness and competitiveness. LSU will run all over OSU just like Florida did a year ago and Michigan doesn't stand a chance against them either. The SEC will win all their bowls and continue to dominate for years to come. And the only way to settle this debate between the SEC and the Big Ten is to play in the season. As an avid Georgia fan and strong SEC supporter, I would love nothing more than to see UGA vs. OSU or Michigan in the regular season.
I actually believe that Michigan has a great chance against Fla. for the following reasons:
1)Redemption. This year's seniors are, by Michigan standards, some of the greatest failures in the history of Michigan football. They got their coach run out of town, they've never won anything, and they've singlehandedly changed the perception of Big Ten football. If they can beat Fla, they'll go a long way toward redeeming themselves, their coach, and their conference.
2) Time. Many of their problems this year were compounded by injuries. They've had a lot of time to heal. They've also had a lot of time to study one of them newfangled offenses and hopefully be able to hold it to less than 40 points. Of course, they've also had a lot of time to stew over their loser status. I imagine Mike Hart must be on the verge of imploding.
3) "Rich Rod." Apparently, the master of the spread is helping the outgoing Michigan staff deal with that offensive conundrum. Hopefully it will work.
4) The post-Heisman/national championship slump. Florida doesn't have a chip on their shoulder like Michigan and I'm sure the distraction of the Heisman has had some influence over their team. Michigan is hungry, make that ravenous, and Florida is well fed. I'll put my money on the deprived over the wealthy any day.
I hope and predict that Michigan wins with relative ease.
Jacob, its odd that you say OSU has never beaten an SEC team when the team they are playing this year they have a winning record against.
Someone different winning a conference doesn't prove dominance...it proves parity. And to say that the SEC doesn't get credit for how tough it is, thats completely stupid to say. Every comparison that is made says the SEC is tougher than all other conferences. And top to bottom they might be, but because the SEC 7th ranked team can beat the Big Ten 6th ranked team doesn't say much.
Which leads me to this...what is the record of Big Ten vs. SEC over the last couple years in bowl games...I believe when you research that you will find the Big Ten is ahead of the SEC, and these are typically the top teams playing eachother.
One thing I would love nothing more to see...LSU, UF, UGA come up to OHIO or Michigan and play a new years day bowl...outside...that would be fun.
for eric-y-town Yes Michigan has a chance against Florida. But Florida must play below abilities and Michigan must be near the top of their form. Michigan is healing but so is Florida. And it will take more than a month for Rodriguez to install a spread offense. You need the right personnel and Michigan does not have it. I think what Michigan does have going for it is the fact that it is their last game with Carr, and that they have embarrassed themselves since the USC game. But they have yet to fully recover from the USC game and I doubt they do it against Fla. If Fla lets down, correctly thinking that Mich lacks the talent, then Michigan has a chance. But slamming Tebow, as that idiot did, will not help their cause. I think Fla still feels it has something to prove, but we will see. If Mich prevails I do hope Fla and SEC fans show more class than Mich and Big Ten fans have shown since Mich lost the vote last year. It is time for the whining and crying to stop.
Charles- Just in case we had a miscommunication, I meant to say that Rodriguez is allegedly helping Michigan's defense prepare for Fla's offense, not helping Michigan install the spread for the Fla game. There's no way that could or would be done. We should also remember that this is all but a home game for Florida, as are so many bowl games for SEC teams. It'll be pretty sweet for the Big Ten if OSU and UM can win their games against teams playing in their home states. That will make bragging rights pretty indisputable. The Big Ten already has one of those wins from the Alamo Bowl. But what if FLA and LSU win? On their home turf? I don't know man. That's pretty shady if you ask me. I'm a big proponent of rotating the NC game between BCS conferences. One year you have it in Big Ten country, the next in SEC so on and so on.
Eric Y-Town. Your argument for playing bowl games in Big Ten country is completely undermined by the fact that the Big Ten won't even play games late in the season up there. They end their games before Thanksgiving because they don't want their teams playing in the middle of winter. Plus the bowl games are meant to be a vacation/reward for the teams. If you survery CFB players, I guarantee the majority would want to play in warm, sunny states.
Also, your argument does not explain last year's BCS title game. OSU knew they would be in the title game (which is was in Arizona, far from both FL and OH), so their fans bought the majority of tickets. Florida did not find out until over two weeks later and their fans were left to scavenge for tickets. OSU had a clear crowd advantage and Florida still dominated.
The biggest reason that the SEC is better than the other conferences comes down to the fact that the majority of top recruits play their high school ball in the south.
Yes, I agree that Young had a better team around him than Tebow, which is why I tried to avoid comparing their stats head to head. Tebow is one tough SOB, and I'd go to the trenches with him any day. But I have yet to see the leadership from him that Young exhibited even in college. Even in those games where Tebow has just put up ridiculous numbers (Ole Miss, South Carolina) you never feel that he has the "I'm about to take over this game and make it my personal playground" mentality that VY did against Ohio State or in both of his Rose Bowls.
To be fair though, I can't think of ANY other college quarterback in recent memory who had that same mentality to the extreme that Young did. Maybe Matt Leinart to a certain degree, but talk about being surrounded by talent...
Nick- I'm not talking about last year, I'm talking about this year. I understand that OSU lost to Fla fair and square on neutral turf. And I'm not talking about who's in the crowd as much as I'm talking about convenience. Look at Alabama. Last night they barely squeezed by Colorado in a bowl game that was a mere 5 hour drive from their home. If you don't think that's an advantage on many levels, then you've never traveled, let alone traveled with all the baggage of a major college football team. The fact remains that Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio State are playing teams who are virtually at home, while Wisconsin is playing Tennessee in SEC country. Home field is always referred to as an "advantage" for good reason. So this begs the question, are the bowl games a fair barometer of which conference is better when certain conferences have such a clear advantage? Frankly, I like it that the Big Ten is always at a disadvantage, it makes the victories that much sweeter. Heck, even Purdue had to play Central Michigan in MICHIGAN. Regarding the NC game, there are domed stadiums all across the country. I'm sure that any Big Ten team would love to play for the NC in Indy or Detroit just as I'm sure a Big 12 team would love to play in St. Louis. I think most players could care less where they play, but it strikes me as only fair to rotate hosting duties between conferences. It's also more fair to local economies to spread the game around. I'm sure that a lot of cities would love to get that financial shot in the arm every once in a while. Do you know how much money the state of Fla makes during bowl season? I don't, but I'm sure it's a lot.
This Tebow vs. Young debate is ridiculous. Anyone who thinks that they can prove that one is better than the other is obviously biased for some reason. I posted their individual sophomore stats for a good reason, to show that they're both real good college qbs and that Crable made a highly questionable statement. Tebow's posted stats are astronomically better, especially when we consider that he's a true soph while Young was a redshirt soph, but that's all very situational. On the other hand, I'll take Tebow's sophomore accomplishments in today's SEC over Young's in the Big 12 any day. If anything can be proven, Tebow is way ahead of Vince Young in terms of age and development, not to mention honors. It's also unfair and biased to suggest at this stage that Young is a better leader than Tebow. Young never truly showed those skills until his 4th year in the Texas program. Tebow's still just a kid compared to some of his teammates. I guarantee you his leadership skills will significantly increase next year, his third in the program. A guy with a Heisman and national title will only garner respect and confidence from his teammates, especially the younger ones. I'll be curious to see what kind of pro Tebow becomes. VY is a bust so far with his 68 career qb rating while throwing more picks than tds. I wonder what score Tebow will get on the Wonderlic?
for eric-y-town You say that Mich & OSU victories would be sweet, but of course that is an understatement. Whether those two results alone would prove conference superiority either way is a question. I think there is a bigger picture. I have to say I am dismayed with the fact that you would already discount two SEC victories because they are home team results. If I have one issue with Big 10 fans it is offering excuses for losses. I have heard that for a year now with Mich & OSU from the past bowls and I just don't think pride and excuses mix together in the same sentence. OSU is now playing for its third basketball/football title. No other team except Florida has ever done that. Why can't there just be pride expressed if LSU prevails instead of excuses? If Mich loses to Fla so what? They clearly have had problems and maybe Rodriguez can fix them. Crying about it being a home game for Florida is pitiful. Can you name a top program that has not been down? I don't hear Notre Dame people crying publically. I think OSU (and of course Michigan) have some work to do to get back to elite levels. This is not a great OSU team. But for the rebuilding they have faced this year I think OSU people can take pride in their results, win or lose.
Charles- I believe that you confuse excuses with being on the defensive AND operating on the side of justice. I've said over and over that the Buckeyes lost fair and square last year. They were awful against a better team. However, the anti-Big Ten media onslaught is not only overboard and exaggerated, but also smacks of corruption in its complete lack of sensical analysis. In leading us to believe that the SEC is significantly better than the Big Ten, we're also supposed to believe that the sporting press is comprised of idiots and/or shysters who can successfully traipse a fast and shoddy argument past a moronic audience who, for example, can't even add up the won-loss record of last year's Big Ten-SEC bowl matchups. Look at Stewart Mandel's gleeful and ill-informed proclamation that OSU was eliminated from NC contention after the Illinois loss. "National nightmare" for who, Stew? That phrase alone ridiculously assumes a lot on his part. I came on this blog directly after he made that statement and gave an analysis showing exactly why OSU was far from eliminated from NC contention. It was obvious. Only someone with a deep personal bias could have done something so outrageously unprofessional as ignore the facts and pronounce OSU dead in the water after that loss. This sort of clear bias is bad news for the integrity of the sport, especially when we consider that the same people who hold that bias also vote in the polls that help decide who wins the title. That, my friend, is the root of corruption. With that in mind, I've never done anything but point out the fantastic inconsistencies in the effort to vilify the Big Ten. No excuses. Just facts. And if the SEC manages to dominate the Big Ten in this year's bowls, my opinion will not change. Why? Because I don't doubt that the SEC could be better than the Big Ten, but I do doubt that real evidence has ever been used to prove it. Maybe after 1/7 you'll finally have some. Further, I discount no SEC bowl victories. A win is a win, but I feel, from an individual fan perspective, that winning in a virtual road situation is far sweeter than winning in one's own backyard, especially when those wins come against the very tough SEC. I give the SEC full credit for their current bowl wins, no matter how unimpressive they've been, and I'll be the first guy on here to congratulate them if they win the big games against the Big Ten.
By the way, what about the Michigan State-BC game? Michigan St. (3-5 in the Big Ten) pushed the ACC runner-up to the limit on a neutral field. What does that say? I'll tell you what it says: It says that the ACC is sub-par and LSU's signature win over Va Tech is nothing to write home about, either that or the Big Ten has a lot more depth than anyone gives it credit for.
Eric isn't the only person talking about an advantage with playing near home--you certainly see it with plenty of sports commentators. You don't think LSU has a significant advantage playing in New Orleans? If you don't, you're about the only person I've heard say that.
As for excuses, IMO you have demonstrated a pretty consistent bias against the Big 10 (especially OSU) throughout the season, so frankly I think you're selectively perceiving things. It sure seems to me that finding "excuses" for why teams lost can be found from fans in every conference. And there is a difference, by the way, between making excuses and finding explanations. I believe that the layoff last year was problematic for OSU's focus, but that's an explanation, not an excuse. Florida played great last year, and OSU played what was probably their worst game, and that leads to results like 41-14. It's not an excuse...to win the big game you've got to be ready. You know you've got the time off, for example, and you need to prepare and it's that simple. Explanations help us understand what happened...they only become excuses (IMHO) when someone takes it to the next level, like "if it hadn't been for _________ we'd have beat you!". I'm certainly not saying that, only that they played more poorly than normal, but that's nobody's fault but their own.
I'm not going to make excuses if my favorite teams lose, and I'll give credit to the teams that won...that's the whole idea of sportsmanship. But I think to pretend that playing what is essentially a home game (and it's not just me saying this, but sports commentators as well) doesn't provide some advantage is just not very objective. That said, it's part of what you have to do to prepare, and that's that.
As for OSU, I'm VERY proud of what they've done this year, and if they get beat they get beat. They didn't lobby to get into the NC game, they just played ball and they got in due to how others rated them. Just keep your eyes open, though, for the comments from OSU haters if they DO get beat...while I'll express pride no matter what, you can bet there will be no end to the crap comments from OSU haters, which at least in my mind is every bit the poor sportsmanship you suggest exists in those making "excuses" for losing.
I think what the MSU/BC result tells us is the second explanation (which is what I think you think it means as well). Hopefully we'll have some additional wins this year, but in any case I think the Big 10 is trending up and we'll see that...if not this bowl season then next year (even if some believe that conference strength cycles have now stopped with the SEC forever on the top :) ).
for Larry & Eric-y-town There are excuses and there are explanations, but I think that someone with pride says simply that on that day we were beaten by a better team. I have never read any comments by Tressel that could be called either excuses or explanations. I have never heard him say that the 51 day lay off was a factor. I have never heard him suggest that if Ginn had not been injured that the results would be any different. If in fact he has failed to make any excuses for the Florida game, and he has failed to make explanations then I think it can be said that he has taken the high road. I think college football would be served better if all fans followed that example. If I have been hard on the Big 10 it is only in response to comments that have been made by fans offering excuses and explanations. I have tried to be factual. For too long the Big 10 has measured itself against Notre Dame. A home and home contest with Texas is hardly something for a conference to take pride in by itself. Most professional observers state that the Big 10 had no quality non-conf wins this season. That is pitiful, and a loss to Big 10 fans. I have never stated that the SEC non-conf schedule is all that much better. But there are at least a half dozen good non-conf games which the SEC has played. These games did not garner the attention of OSU vs Tex, but Clemson, FSU, Louisville, OK St, USF and Kan St are at least respectable opponents. I have stated that it would be fairer for LSU to play OSU somewhere else. I am a Fla fan who has not offered one excuse or explanation for a 3-loss season. I have made no claims about the SEC being a superior conf but I have said that I would take last year's SEC bowl results in preference to the Big 10's any time, and so would you if you were being candid. I stated this in response to the nonsense I read that a 2-1 Big 10 over SEC bowl result was proof of Big 10 superiority. I try to respond intelligently to thoughtful comments. I have tried on several occasions to divert attention away from OSU's failures to their record of success. I think all programs would be better off if they follow the Tressel example and focus on how to improve and not excuses and explanations for failure.
We apparently disagree on there being a difference between trying to explain/understand something and making excuses (I believe there's a difference). In the NC game last year, Florida played better than OSU and they won the game, period. Anybody worth their salt, though, is going to try and understand what happened and why...or don't you try and learn from YOUR mistakes? Do you really think Tressel believes that losing Ginn had no impact on the game? That they prepared correctly? That they didn't lose their focus? Just because he doesn't come out and say it doesn't mean he doesn't think it, and he SHOULD be doing just that so he can do things differently this time. Tressel has in fact done exactly this, and has changed things for this year. The difference is that this is a blog, full of comments from people who are NOT experts (including you and me) stating our opinions, whereas Tressel keeps his own counsel.
And yeah, this season has been hard for Big 10 fans, and it started with last year's OSU and Michigan bowl games. But just as you find it annoying that Big 10 fans (in your opinion) offer excuses, I (and others) find it annoying and amusing that many SEC fans are so short-sighted that they believe that football was/is/always will be played nowhere but the South, that the Big 10 is full of slow teams and slow players, blah blah blah....which is a patently ridiculous belief. Right NOW the SEC is the deepest conference in my opinion, but these things cycle through and I'm very optimistic about the Big 10 in the next few years (in fact I think you'll see increasing parity overall in the NCAA in the years to come).
I'm also puzzled by your comment "I have tried to be factual. For too long the Big 10 has measured itself against Notre Dame". I'm not even sure where that comes from but I can assure you nobody that I know uses Notre Dame as a measuring stick (I've never even HEARD of that), and if that comment is intended to be "factual" I'd love to see the basis for it. We prefer to use our record against other major conferences (which might be tough this year--ouch), just like you would, hopefully.
Lastly, this was admittedly a light year for OSU in terms of scheduling, but starting with next year and in years following they are much better, and they've been better in the past as well, so please try and consider more than this year when you make statements.
P.S. The 2-1 thing from last year is simply in response to nonsense statements like "the Big 10 can't compete with the SEC" from SEC fans. Can we at least agree that there are idiotic (or, euphemistically speaking, testosterone-induced) statements from fans in BOTH conferences?
And while I appreciate your attempt to "divert attention away from OSU's failures", losing two games over the last two seasons is nothing I'm even remotely ashamed about. Wins and losses are part of playing the game, and I'm proud of OSU as a team. Like Florida, I think they'll be even better next year, and I would love to see a rematch.
In any case it's time to run, so Happy New Year, and I hope you (and everyone else) has a safe and enjoyable New Years holiday!
I can tell you exactly why June Jones would want to come to SMU. It's not just the money, it's the cost of living and the size of the TV market.
He's making about 800k at Hawaii right now. However, the cost of living in Hawaii is astronomical. Living in Dallas is a lot cheaper. Doubling his salary to coach at SMU would really be about like quadrupling it.
Furthermore, if he could turn around the moribund SMU program he would be a hero in the Dallas area - a much bigger market than Hawaii. His visibility and coaching opportunities would be much better than if he kept winning at Hawaii.
He might stay at Hawaii, but they're going to have to up his pay a lot to make that worth his while.
for Larry - Only the rabid SEC fan would say that SEC dominance is here to stay. I suspect most SEC fans ignore the blowhards. And that is all it is, a big wind. Also ignored are those who would claim that the SEC is a super conf simply based on six or seven teams consistently ranked in the Top 25. I do think the SEC will do well in the bowls but that may mean 5-3 or 6-2. Even 7-1 or 8-0 will not prove that the SEC is far ahead of the rest. Tressel keeps his own council, but when he talks I suspect it is about what can be done tomorrow, and not bemoaning what happened yesterday. It is one thing to mention the 51 day lay off as an area that needs improvement, and quite another to suggest that with a shorter lay off OSU would have won. It is one thing to say that the Ginn injury hurt, but quite another to suggest that had it not happened OSU would have prevailed. And you won't hear Tressel saying word one about the game being played in New Orleans. He obviously does not want his players to think it matters and OSU fans should follow his example. You and some others may not have given the negative impressions that I have listed above, but it has been said often. Instead of saying that an LSU victory would not mean the same since it is a home game I think you should be saying that it would be a tremendous victory for LSU to defeat the likes of OSU. You get my point. Whatever happened to the idea that we were beaten by one of the best? There is no shame. I am not an expert but it does appear that the consensus is that the Big 10 has fallen on hard times by standing still. Three yds and a cloud of dust does not seem to be the best way if you have the talent to do otherwise. It was not long ago that a team with Florida's absence of a running back would not have fared well. Now look. But if two teams go head to head with the 3 yds approach I suspect OSU is about the best there is. It does appear on paper that the Big 10 has speed and quickness. But apparently the Big 10 systems negate some of that speed or otherwise it would be more apparent on the field. The Big 10 is adjusting. But the majority of the Top 25 recruiting classes are going south. Just glance at Rivals. OSU will always get its share, and maybe Michigan with Rodriguez, but I do suspect that northern schools in general are going to find it tough to compete. That's just an opinion.
Some things I think I think (to quote Peter King):
1. The SEC is dominant this year. As of this writing, SEC teams are 2-0 in their bowls and the Big 10 is 0-2. I think that particular argument is spurious (not "Steve" Spurious) but it is clear.
2. I don't think (1) above matters in the NCG. I think Tressel will have the Bucks ready this year. I think Miles will have some healthy Tigers ready as well. I look forward to the game.
3. I have to agree with Charles that location matters little. Yes, you can say it is a "home game" for LSU . . . and in some ways it is and other ways it is not. It is the NCG after all, against a good opponent. Go ahead and give the Tigers 3 points, but the game is more important than location (unless you are one of those idiots who think it should be played on an ice rink). Again, I look forward to the game.
Actually, I think as of your writing the Big 10 was 2-2 (Purdue and Penn State won) and I think the SEC is 4-0.
We're probably all closer to agreeing than it seems. I think the SEC is the strongest conference this year, but like Ozymandias' empire I think those things change--at least they have in the past--so regardless of how the Big 10 does this year, I see positive signs for next season.
And one last time, I'm not bemoaning anything...I'm not saying OSU would have won if Ginn hadn't gone out, if they'd prepped better, etc., but I think they would have played quite a bit more competitively. They simply played their worst game of the season in the NC game, and from what I saw Florida (and in particular Leak) played their best. That makes all the difference and kudos to Florida for doing what they needed to do, but more importantly understanding what happened helps you prepare better for the next time.
As for recruits, well, we'll see. I think the Big 10 and Big 12 will continue to do just fine, especially if they continue to improve.
Finally, we'll just have to disagree on the location thing. I'm not saying it makes a huge difference, but if you don't think USC has a psychological edge when playing in the Rose Bowl, for example, well...we simply disagree. And if location doesn't matter any, then both you and Charles would endorse (I would think) having bowl games up north as well. The Auburn/Clemson game was played indoors, and there are plenty of domed stadiums up north. I think Y-Town Eric suggested (and I agree) that it would be nice to disperse the games some, particularly those that are in domes...kind of shares the travel load (both teams and fans) across conferences. Any reason why you couldn't have bowl games in Indianapolis, Chicago, NYC area, etc.? Of course the vacation aspect of it is nice, but Atlanta? I don't think that's quite the same thing as sunny SoCal.
Okay, like you probably are, I'm switching across channels to watch the games, and so far Michigan and Wisconsin seem pretty competitive--hopefully it will continue.
One last! :) comment on the location thing...while both of you might not think it means anything, it once again came up as an issue with the commentators in the Tenn/Wisc game (along with the comment that in bowl games the last 8 years, head to head, the SEC and Big 10 are 11-11.). If OSU loses, I will NOT be saying "well, if it weren't for location" because frankly that's just how you prep. But I think it's a larger psychological advantage than you guys think--and based on commentator comments it seems like they feel the same way.
Sas, I agree that Tressel will have them ready this year, so I'm looking forward to a great NC game. And Charles, I also feel as you do that regardless of the outcome, the winner will have beaten a great team.
I'll also back off just a BIT on the bowl location thing...I have to admit that palm trees in January would be nice to see!
for Larry - It is one thing for a conf to be said to be better than another, and quite something else to say that one conf cannot be competitive. When you scan the BCS confs there aren't many teams that are not competitive. Minnesota, Northwestern, Duke, Stanford and Ole Miss are some of the ones we might generally agree are outclassed. But once you start talking about teams like Purdue and Indiana they are at a level where it would not pay to take them lightly. In that sense I believe all BCS confs are ones to be reckoned with. I think that the SEC is better top to bottom now than most, but in no way do I think the SEC could steam roll through another major conf. I wish that there was a power above who would force us to place big money behind our claims. So that when a supporter from Kansas claims greatness based upon winning out with a weak schedule they would be forced to give great odds and put big money on Kansas vs Texas in a match game. I think these blogs would be more quiet and reasonable if that were the case.
Some honor has been restored, and it was earned. The Mich win should be a good starting point for Rodriguez. Congrats to the Mich people. But it does appear that the Rose Committee may have made a poor decision. Hopefully Illinois will regroup and make a game of it.
Re Arnold's comments about why June Jones should leave Hawai'i for SMU. I'm actually a '71 SMU alum-- who lives half the year in Dallas & half the year in Hawai'i-- and I would hate to see June Jones leave Hawai'i for SMU (and God knows the Ponies need a kick-start coach big time!). June fits into the Hawai'i culture & relates to his players better than probably 99.9% of any other coaching prospects out there today. It's tough to fit into the culture here for the average haole (non-Hawaiian)-- let alone some guy who is going to be bossing around these big boys in the Warrior uniform. You have to feel it in your heart & spirit. It's not something you can fake, and the locals will know it in a heartbeat if you try to fake it. History, culture, 'ohana (family) are hugely important factors here. June Jones "got it", and the kids respect him for it... the kanaka (people) respect him for it. It would be really really hard to find a replacement who could fit in as well as he does.
Yeah, the cost of living (especially housing) is higher on the islands, but other things lower the over all costs so that it's not overwhelming. Besides, at the salaries most coaches make, do you think they really worry about the cost of a gallon of milk or a new pair of slippahs? :-)
And "wealth" and monetary trappings aren't as important here on the islands as they seem to be on much of the mainland. Jones is a "state employee" at UH, and he is the highest paid employee of the state. That $800K is base, too, so he's really making more than that when you factor in other "perks".
Jones survived a near fatal auto accident here a few years back, and he says he feels like God gave him a second chance at life. Maybe he's thinking he should enjoy it right here.
If you had to choose between $800K + living here on the islands or twice that in the mainland rat race, which would you really prefer?
The only reason we still have the place in TX is because of family there... otherwise, I'd be on island 365. It's a special place. I once read this quote about the Big Island where we live: "There is a sacred energy here that defies description and it permeates the culture and the landscape."
Hawai'i truly calls to some... maybe June Jones is one of those who felt the call.
Did you hear Colt Brennan's excuses after the game?
Brennan ran up against a swarming Georgia defense that was in no mood to give the "little guys" another day in the sun. In the first half alone, he was sacked five times and turned it over twice, losing a fumble and throwing an interception. After the game he said, "We've never played in this element. We got here and we tried as hard as we could to keep it as normal as we're used to, but it just seemed like we weren't used to this kind of venue. We weren't used to the crowd noise. We couldn't get our audibles. Georgia was the fastest team I've probably ever seen," Brennan said. "We just couldn't get into our groove and do what we wanted to do. They're a great football team, I'm just really disappointed that we didn't show up and at least play our type of football. We're such a better football team than what we showed tonight."
In all fairness to the Hawaii star, this wasn't really a fair fight. The Bulldogs were so much stronger, so much faster, so much better in so many areas. So what does a game like this prove? First, it proves that just being undefeated doesn't mean you should be in a BCS Bowl game. Second, it proves that Hawaii needs a much more challenging schedule to ever make any national title claims in the future. Third, it shows the quality of Southeastern Conference Football. Georgia didn't even win their division, much less the SEC Championship and they rolled over Hawaii almost like they weren't there.
My last comment on this Sugar Bowl game is on the poor announcers from Fox Network assigned to this game. One continually made excuses for Hawaii, even in the thrid quarter he was "wondering" why Georgia would try to score on 4th down from the 6 yard line?? Answer: This was a "Football game" not "patty cakes!" The idea is to play your best for 60 miuntes, not 45. The announcer was an obivious Hawaii fan - and you can bet he wouldn't have been saying the same thing if Hawaii had been ahead by 3 touchdowns and in the same position. VERY BAD ANNOUNCING FOR THIS GAME!! Hopefully he won't be announcing the National Championship game!!!!!!!!!!!
Now that Georgia has proved that Hawaii never belonged in a BCS Bowl, should have been a Missouri- Georgia Sugar Bowl, Georgia now claims they should be in the BCS Championship game??? Hey Georgia, you played a great game, really great, but you didn't prove a thing toward the BCS Championship. Why? Because you "punked out" within the SEC during the regular season, didn't even win your Division and lost to two teams that the SEC Champion beat. Anyone with football sense knows if two teams haven't played each other, then you look at how they did against other teams both played. Georgia looses in that comparision. Goergia will be great next year (and they should be) but the only people in this country that believe you should be in the Championship game this year are rabbid "Dawg Fans". LSU played a tougher schedule, beat the teams you didn't, and only lost their two in triple overtime, not in regulation like you did. GET OVER IT GEORGIA!! This isn't your year - maybe next year. Great Sugar Bowl game, if you want to complain you guys should complain about the TV announcer for your game. He looked for any way possible to excuse Hawaii's defeat right down to criticizing you guys for trying to score from the 6 yard line at the end of the thrid quarter. You need to tell these armchair quarterbacks and coaches that the game is played for 60 minutes, not 45. And the score doesn't mean anything until the end of 60 minutes. Go Dawgs! (and I'm an LSU fan.)Great Game!
Michael, Yeah, you sound like an LSU fan. Get over the Sugar Bowl, hon. You're just looking for something to grouse about. I think Hawai'i looked at least as good against Georgia as Oklahoma did against West Virginia last night... maybe better. Chill out & enjoy life. You'll live longer. Aloha!
June Jones Contract Negotiations I hope June Jones will stay in Hawaii, but I don’t think the University of Hawaii should break the bank in trying to keep him. If June Jones is not satisfied with $800K per year, then maybe it is time for him to move on. Yes, June Jones had a wonderful season in 2007 and is to be congratulated. But, as everyone in the nation who watched the Sugar Bowl, we all seen that the University of Hawaii is not in the same league as the other BSC ranked teams.
West Virginia has made Bill Stewart their new head coach of the West Virginia Mountaineers football team and is paying him $800K per season. Bill Stewart led the West Virginia Mountaineers football team to a victory in the Fiesta Bowl. The West Virginia Mountaineers football team is ranked ninth in the nation.
I wish June Jones all the best in his future endeavors and hope he is satisfied with the $800K he is currently receiving at the University of Hawaii. If not, its see you later
Big Island Girl, Get over the Sugar Bowl?? I was over it after the first quarter, it was obivious Hawaii had no chance. That is no insult to the Hawaii football team, they tried, but they just had not faced the competition level during the regular season to get them ready for a team like Georgia. Hawaii needs to schedule some "real football teams" during their regular season - win or lose. That's the only way they will ever become NC material.