Posts Tagged ‘College football’

Dare we dream? A college football playoff might be at hand

The BCS title game: When SEC domination became overkill. (AP photo)

The BCS title game: When SEC domination became full-blown overkill. (AP photo)

I’d long since given up on the prospects of a college football playoff. The bowls were too powerful, I told myself. (Note that the word “bowl” comes before “championship” in “BCS.”) For all the hue and cry from the chattering class and the huddled masses, I figured nothing would ever get done.

Now I’m thinking something might.

Might, I said. Might.

I’m thinking the sight of two SEC teams playing for the BCS title was enough to push the leagues that didn’t want any part of a playoff into the we-need-to-reassess camp. I’m thinking that the Pac-12 and the Big Ten, the two leagues who persisted in seeing the Rose Bowl as the only postseason game that mattered, are getting antsy over being marginalized.

(The joke among college football writers has long been that this is the only sport held hostage by a parade. Meaning the Tournament of Roses thingy.)

Back in 2008, SEC commissioner Mike Slive, of all …

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Why Bama would be better off NOT playing for the SEC title

"Best of luck against Arkansas. Seriously!" (AP photo)

"Best of luck against Arkansas. Seriously!" (AP photo)

As we discussed in this space last week, Alabama might not play for the conference title even if Arkansas beats LSU on Friday. For Alabama to win the tiebreaker and qualify for the SEC championship game, No. 3 Arkansas would have to pass No. 1 LSU in the BCS standings, and there’s no guarantee the Hogs will do that.

And if I’m Alabama, I’m thinking I’d just as soon not play for the SEC title. If I’m the Tide, I’ve already got what I need.

Assuming Alabama beats Auburn on Saturday, the Tide would surely be sitting No. 2 in the BCS rankings with one week to go. But the team that represents the West in the SEC championship game would have to face Georgia, which hasn’t lost since Sept. 10, and would have to do it in the Georgia Dome. If you’re all but assured of a berth in the BCS title game, why risk losing?

Yes, we’ve come 180 degrees since 2007, when Georgia led LSU in the next-to-last BCS standings but was passed by the …

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Vince Dooley on Joe Paterno: ‘It’s an unfortunate situation’

Joe Paterno on the day he announced his intention to resign. (AP photo)

Joe Paterno on the day he announced his intention to resign at season's end. (AP photo)

Vince Dooley has known Joe Paterno for nearly 50 years. “We’re friends,” Dooley said. “Not close friends, but we started out together [Dooley became Georgia's head coach in 1964; Paterno took over at Penn State in 1966] and we coached in a college all-star game in Atlanta, and we went on a lot of Nike trips together. We got to know him and his wife Sue very well.”

Dooley spoke Wednesday morning, moments after Paterno announced his intention to retire at season’s end. And the man who retired from coaching in 1988 at 56 said this of the man who kept going until age 84: “It probably was time for him to retire.”

Dooley won one national championship at Georgia. On New Year’s Day 1983, his Bulldogs were denied another title by Paterno and Penn State in the Sugar Bowl. A defense coordinated by Jerry Sandusky held Heisman winner Herschel Walker to 103 yards rushing and lifted the Nittany Lions to a …

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Why Joe Paterno can’t be allowed to coach another game

Penn State president Graham Spanier with his boss Joe Paterno. (AP photo)

Here's Penn State president Graham Spanier, shown with his boss Joe Paterno. (AP photo)

Penn State felt the need to cancel Joe Paterno’s news conference Tuesday, but allowed him to conduct practice later that afternoon. On Saturday the Nittany Lions will play host to Nebraska. Paterno cannot be allowed to lead Penn State onto the field.

In all likelihood, the Nebraska game would have been the 84-year-old’s last home date as coach if Jerry Sandusky had remained a footnote in Penn State’s athletic annals, but whatever Paterno wanted is immaterial now. At issue is if a proud university wants to be remembered as a school that was handed a last chance to do something and finally did it, or as an institution that again chose to do next to nothing.

The New York Times reports that, in May 1999, Paterno told Sandusky he wouldn’t become Penn State’s head coach when the incumbent, meaning Paterno, retired. Could it have been mere coincidence that, in 1998, Penn State had investigated …

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The wild scramble begins: Texas A&M is leaving the Big 12

And the Aggies come marching into the SEC. Who'll join them? (AP photo)

And the Aggies come marching into the SEC. Who'll be joining them? (AP photo)

The mad shuffle has begun. Texas A&M has told the Big 12 not to leave the light on for any Aggies anymore, and if you’re counting you’ll note that the Big 12 has been reduced to a Puny 9. That’s the way of this zero-sum game: Your loss is somebody else’s gain.

Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin said in a statement Wednesday: “We are seeking to generate greater visibility nationwide for Texas A&M and our championship-caliber student-athletes, as well as secure the necessary and stable financial resources to support our athletic and academic programs.” And if that doesn’t sound like, “Hellooooo, SEC!” … well, my name’s not Rockey Felker.

It’s all but certain the SEC will seek to balance the Aggies’ arrival by enfranchising a 14th team, but these endeavors can assume a momentum unforeseen. (Back in 2003, who’d have thought the ACC would wind up with Boston College and not Syracuse?) The SEC might …

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My college football Top 25: UGA is No. 11, and LSU is …

Will Loquacious Les and his Fightin' Tigers be singing in January? (AP photo)

So: Will Loquacious Les Miles and his Fightin' Tigers be singing in January? (AP photo)

File this under Adventures in Prognosticating. Due to print schedules, this list was compiled and submitted several days ago. It was printed — the special Sunday football section had an early run — the day LSU wide receiver Russell Shepard was suspended and the day before charges were brought against Tigers quarterback Jordan Jefferson, who was then himself suspended.

I supposed I could have changed the Top 25 for AJC.com purposes, but that way I’d inevitably wind up being wrong twice. Better to remain mulishly consistent, I say. (This time, anyway. Where mulish consistency is concerned, I’m sometimes inconsistent.) And besides: It would be just like LSU to win the BCS title without two key contributors. I mean, who among us doesn’t have great faith in Zach Mettenberger?

But enough. Here’s the Top 25, at least until somebody else gets arrested/suspended.

In keeping with the Les Miles Way of …

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The key word at Miami isn’t ’sleaze.’ It is, as ever, ‘money’

Paul Dee and Donna Shalala: What didn't they know? Why didn't they know it? (AP photo)

Paul Dee and Donna Shalala: What didn't they know, and why didn't they know it? (AP photo)

If you look beyond the salacious details — strippers and prostitutes and a booster-funded abortion and a Ponzi scheme to boot — you’ll find that the crux of this Miami case is positively old-school. Since Biblical times, the zest for money has been identified as the root of all evil. Why else would a proud university turn its head as it allowed a rogue like Nevin Shapiro to stand on its sideline, wear its colors and pay for its athletes to engage in sexual congress?

Forget everything else in the celebrated Yahoo! Sports report by Charles Robinson. (Actually, don’t forget it. If you haven’t read it, please do.) Just scroll down a bit. See the second picture from the top? That’s Shapiro in the middle, wearing a Miami polo shirt. That’s Frank Haith, who was once the Hurricanes’ basketball coach, on the left. And that person standing on the right, gazing down at a small piece of paper in her …

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SEC expansion: It’ll happen soon, and there’ll be a 14th team

One of these teams would balance Texas A&M nicely. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

One of these teams would balance Texas A&M, and not the one in gold. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

For a dizzying minute, it seemed Texas A&M might land in the SEC soon enough to qualify for the 2011 conference title. Then the SEC offered no invitation and the Aggies decided to take a moment to assess options, and some folks are taking this to mean the whole deal — not there ever was an actual deal, but you take my meaning — is off.

To such folks, I offer this from Jackson Browne, who may or may not have ever seen a college football game: “Don’t think it won’t happen just because it hasn’t happened yet.”

The key point: Texas A&M wants out of the Big 12 because it hates the thought of sharing a shrunken conference with the overweening Texas Longhorns, who are about to launch their own TV network in collaboration with, wouldn’t you know, ESPN. Before it jumps, A&M wants to find a soft place to land. The SEC has made it clear it’s willing to be that place.

No, the SEC hasn’t …

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Texas A&M to the SEC will happen; what about Oklahoma?

One of these schools could be SEC-bound. The other might be, too. (AP photo)

One of these schools figures to be SEC-bound. The other school might follow. (AP photo)

Let’s go ahead and make the call, Election Night style, and give Texas A&M to the SEC. On Wednesday, Texas governor Rick Perry, a former Aggie yell leader, told the Dallas Morning News, “As far as I know, conversations are being had.” A&M soon released a statement that was in no way a denial, and Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe told the Austin American-Statesman he was taking the reports “very seriously.”

That’s an awful lot of hullabaloo for one August day, but it only underscores the rickety nature of the Big 12, which is technically down to 10 members — Colorado’s in the Pac-12, Nebraska in the Big Ten — and has no place to expand. Indeed, the Big 12 as is might as well be renamed Texas And Everybody Else, seeing as how the tent-pole school has struck its own deal with ESPN to launch the immodestly named Longhorn Network.

If you’re Texas A&M, what’s your motivation to remain in a dying …

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Guess which team that played for the BCS title is in trouble

Cliff Harris intercepted a Cam Newton pass in January. He has since been suspended. (AP photo)

Cliff Harris after intercepting a Cam Newton pass. He has since been suspended. (AP photo)

It has been a bad summer for championship-caliber football programs. Southern Cal, the 2004 BCS winner, has been stripped of its title. Ohio State, the 2002 BCS winner, has seen its coach resign under duress. And one of the schools that played for the 2010 BCS title has been rocked with allegations that indicate its presence in Glendale, Ariz., might not have been the feel-good story of the winter.

And no, that school is not Auburn.

The Oregon Ducks lost the BCS title to Auburn on a field goal. In the run-up to the game, the scrutiny fell on Cam Newton, the Auburn quarterback from Atlanta. In the months since, no evidence has come to light to indicate that Auburn broke any rules in its recruitment of Newton. (Yes, Mississippi State sources have said Cecil Newton wanted money for his son to play – for Mississippi State.)

As for Oregon … whoa, Nellie.

Eyebrows were raised when Duck …

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