Posts Tagged ‘College football’

Clarett didn’t sink Ohio State and Jim Tressel, but Pryor did

Maurice Clarett after snatching back a Miami interception in the Fiesta Bowl. (AP photo)

Maurice Clarett after snatching back a Miami interception. (AP photo)

Ohio State got away with one high-profile recruit who was trouble. Maurice Clarett won the Buckeyes a BCS title and stamped Jim Tressel, two years removed from Youngstown State, as the hottest coach in the land. Ohio State upset Miami in overtime in January 2003 — the freshman Clarett scored the winning touchdown — and the program of Woody Hayes and Hopalong Cassady and Archie Griffin was again No. 1.

Clarett never played another collegiate down. He wound up leaving school after filing a false police report. (It involved a car he’d borrowed from a Columbus dealership.) In 2006 he landed in jail after pleading guilty to charges including armed robbery.

Clarett was trouble, but from an OSU standpoint he was worth it: He lifted the Buckeyes to a championship and didn’t get the program on NCAA probation in the process. In the merciless world of big-money football, that constitutes a victory. And if he went on to …

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Could the Chick-fil-A Bowl replace the Fiesta in the BCS?

I'm pretty sure I know which way the cow would vote. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

BCS-wise, I'm pretty sure I know how the cow would vote. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

A column back in 2004 prompted the Chick-fil-A Bowl’s president to threaten never to offer this correspondent a game credential again. The threat, never carried through, was a response to this writer’s claim that the game was third-tier — not to say third-rate, I stipulated then and stipulate now — and therefore would not find a place in the BCS rotation, which was due to expand by one.

(My definition of tiers: First were the BCS games themselves; second were the New Year’s Day games [Cotton, Capital One, Outback, et cetera]; third was the Chick-fil-A and its ilk. The Independence Bowl would be 10th-tier.)

But now it’s 2011 and Gary Stokan and I have since actually exchanged something approaching pleasantries, and now I’m posing the question I dismissed back when: Might Atlanta’s bowl actually make the leap to Tier 1?

I ask because the BCS is the process of distancing itself from the Fiesta …

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Tressel docked, but what does it take for a coach to get fired?

Not on his To-Do List: "Find out about tatto parlor." (AP photo)

Not on his To-Do List: "Find out about tatto parlor." (AP photo)

Jim Tressel said he’d “get on it ASAP” and didn’t get on it at A-L-L, and now the famous Ohio State coach has been fined a quarter of a million bucks and precluded from coaching two games. And that giggling you hear is from other coaches who’ve long believed the man in the sweater vest is just as, er, human as anyone else in his cutthroat business.

Stipulation: Tressel is a good coach, one of the best, and seems — I say “seems” because he goes to great lengths not to reveal much about himself — to be an OK guy. But his program at Youngstown State was penalized (and Tressel cited for not investigating closely enough), and his BCS title with the Buckeyes was won largely on the legs of the infamous Maurice Clarett. Now this.

When last Tressel’s team played, it was with five players, including the noted quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who had been handed NCAA suspensions for their part in the memorabilia-for-tattoos case …

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Will the SEC rule again in 2011? Will UGA be a Top 25 team?

In 2006 and 2008 it was Florida. In 2007 it was LSU. Last year it was Alabama. Now it’s Auburn. Five seasons, five BCS titlists from the SEC. And now we ask: Will the run continue?

Early guess: Nope.

Looking to 2011, Auburn will surely lose its two best players — Cam Newton and Nick Fairley — to the NFL draft. Arkansas is losing Ryan Mallett, its best player. Alabama is losing Mark Ingram, Julio Jones and Marcell Dareus, perhaps its three best players. LSU could be losing its coach to Michigan. Florida has lost its coach to retirement. So who does that leave?

South Carolina? The Gamecocks will doubtless be favored in the SEC East, but they just went 9-5 and looked feeble in their two postseason losses. Mississippi State? Well, those Bulldogs seem the rising team in the West, but would you really count Mississippi State as a national championship possibility?

And what of Georgia?  As we know, these Bulldogs just had their first losing season since 1996 and have lost A.J. Green …

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Live via TV: Cam Newton and Auburn take on the … Ants?

So there I was, shoveling snow and ice off the driveway at stately Brad Manor, and a neighbor walks by with his dog. He says, “Why aren’t you in Phoenix?”

And I, suffering the effects of hypothermia, say, “What’s in Phoenix?”

And he says, “The national championship game.”

I felt slightly silly. (Mostly, though, I just felt cold.) But now, having been briefed by my neighbor, I’m ready to go. We’re going live here, and I’m picking Auburn, and I don’t think the game will be as high-scoring as advertised — few games ever are; remember the Saints beating the Falcons 17-14 two Mondays ago? — and my genius daughter (who takes, obviously, after her mother) has supplied the only reason necessary to root against Auburn.

“Their uniforms,” she said, “look like Army ants.”

And they do. And they’re funded by Nike. And Nike owns the world. As many reservations as I have regarding the Auburn Newtons/Louders, they’re small potatoes — obligatory Auburn agricultural joke — when viewed alongside …

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Fair warning: I’m blogging live off the BCS game, and I like …

Even friendly Frosty is coming inside for the game. (Photo by M. Bradley. Snowman by Mrs. Bradley)

Even Frosty is coming inside for the game. (Photo by M. Bradley. Snowman by Mrs. Bradley)

Update: The live blog is now open for business and can be accessed here. Sorry to make you switch channels, as it were.

With this weather, you’re not going anywhere tonight — and if you are, the only place you should venture is the insane asylum. The BCS title game is on, so here’s what you should do: Watch your TV and hang out with me. (Figuratively speaking.)

We don’t usually do live blogs off games not involving a local team, but we’re making an exception for this one. Because Auburn is semi-local and Cam Newton is absolutely local and … well, because I just feel like it.

We’ll get going around 8 p.m. — toe-meets-leather time is set for 8:30 or thereabouts — and we’ll keep going until somebody has claimed the semi-mythical national title. (TCU, my heart bleeds for thee.) And I do want to offer one bit of terrible news for AU fans up front:

I think the Tigers will win.

That aside, I …

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This NOT just in: The bowl ’system’ stinks worse than ever

Beating the worst UGA team in 15 years is cause to wave the flag. (AP photo)

Was beating the worst UGA team in 15 years really cause to wave the flag? (AP photo)

Today is Jan. 4, 2011. The 2010 college football season still has six days to run.

Of the 35 bowls — that’s correct; there are 35 bowls — six remain to be played. Among these are the Sugar Bowl (tonight) and the Cotton Bowl (Friday night), and then there’s the BCS title game next Monday. Put another way, the NFL, which completed its regular season only Sunday, will have eliminated four playoff teams before college football crowns its still-rather-mythical national champion.

The BCS title game should be a dandy. Well, shouldn’t it? Neither Auburn nor Oregon will have played in 36 days. As we know, there are those who complain about the two-week layoff the NFL imposes before its Super Bowl. In its infinite wisdom, college football has created a five-week layoff. (This is the same college football that argues a playoff system would be too long and taxing for its student-athletes.)

The point …

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College football’s theme of the week: Sorting the suspensions

They’re waiting in Columbia. They’re waiting in Chapel Hill. They’re waiting wherever the NCAA has come calling this summer, which means they’re waiting a lot of places. Teams are waiting to see just who can actually play in the season opener.

This isn’t a Washaun Ealey thing. (Ealey has been suspended for Georgia’s opener after being arrested on two misdemeanor charges.) This is bigger, and it bears deeper implications.

For reasons involving the agent-funded party in Miami and an cheaper-than-Priceline hotel stay at South Carolina to possible academic shenanigans at North Carolina, high-profile programs have been given reason to believe that some of their bigger names might not be, shall we say, fully eligible.

The price of trotting out a player found ineligible ex post facto could result in a “vacated” victory. And nobody wants that. (Except maybe John Calipari, the Kentucky coach who’s the king of the vacates. But that’s a different sport.)

South Carolina opens against …

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Great minds agree: Oklahoma could have been SEC-bound

Joe Simpson and I were talking last night at the ol’ ballpark, and we’re of like minds on one salient notion: We both believe Oklahoma could well have landed in the SEC. (What, you expected us to discuss baseball?)

Joe, as you doubtless know, is both an Oklahoma native and an OU alum. And he was saying the e-mails were already flying toward Norman — some of them written by him — asking the burning question: “Why should we follow Texas to the Pac-10?” And I’m guessing that enough other OU backers felt the same, and that the much-rumored Big 12 westward exodus might not have included the Sooner Schooner.

Yes, it’s a moot point now. The Big 12 renegotiated its TV package and Texas agreed to stay put and what one highly placed collegiate athletics administrator foresaw as “chaos” never actually occurred. But I’m still thinking a Texas move to the Pac-10 would not have induced Oklahoma to follow meekly along. I’m thinking the Sooners would have questioned the wisdom of joining a …

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Texas stays put and saves college football as we know it

Texas is staying in the Big 12, which means there will still be a Big 12, though perhaps not with a dozen members and certainly not with the same dozen.  Texas staying means the biggest card in the Great Conference Shuffle hasn’t fallen and won’t fall, which means the Great Shuffle won’t be so great after all.

Texas staying put means that Oklahoma will, too, and Texas A&M surely will as well. The Associated Press and ESPN.com are reporting that all three stand to make at least $20 million per year from the reconfigured Big 12 television package, which is more than an SEC school earns in TV money. The Big 12 will be lessened by the loss of Nebraska to the Big 10 and Colorado to the Pac-10, but lessened isn’t devastated.

And the six big leagues — the SEC, the ACC, the Big 10, the Big 12, the Pac-10 and the Big East — should now emerge from the summer shaken but not truly stirred. College football in the next decade should resemble the college football we saw this past decade. …

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