PostHeaderIcon PENN STATE BOWL BAN, NOW LIFTED, SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN IN PLACE

I could say that the NCAA got it right by lifting Penn State’s bowl ban, effective this season.

But the fact is, the Nittany Lions never should have been hit with NCAA probation in the first place. At least not with the penalties as severe as they were – scholarship reductions and an original four-year bowl ban.

I have said all along: The Jerry Sandusky affair was a criminal matter (of the worst kind) – not an NCAA issue dealing with cheating or having an unfair advantage over competitive schools.

The people involved should have been punished criminally and they were. Sandusky was tried and judged and will never be free again; Joe Paterno died before the investigation played out; and Penn State’s athletic director, who was supposed to be providing leadership, was fired.

To penalize new coach Bill O’Brien, and now James Franklin, and most importantly, the Penn State players and fans, for the past two seasons was completely unnecessary. It was simply the NCAA overreacting to big-city media types who constantly beat the drum to do something severe.

For example, if an assistant coach of a major football program would commit murder, would the NCAA have the right to put the school on probation? If the assistant coach raped a woman and then a third-party told the head coach it may have happened, would the NCAA have the right to impose a bowl ban?

The point is this: These were crimes punishable by our judicial system. They had nothing to do with recruiting, extra benefits or gaining a competitive advantage.

NCAA President Mark Emmert, who has constantly bungled things over the past few years (Miami investigation), completely relied on the Louis Freeh report, felt he must act swiftly because of public pressure, then knee-jerked and got it wrong without a proper investigation.

Now the NCAA is back-tracking a bit, lifting the bowl ban, claiming the school complied with more than 100 requirements.

I say it is two years too late to come their senses. In addition to getting the bowl ban lifted, Penn State also will be allowed to have the full complement of football scholarships in 2015.

“It will have an impact on this class,” Franklin said of recruiting. “I don't know if it will be as big an impact as some people think.”

No doubt this is great news for Franklin and Penn State, but not good news for his Big Ten competitors who recruit the same players as the Nittany Lions, such as Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Rutgers and Maryland. Franklin already has those schools’ attention because he has been very successful securing commitments from many sought-after four-and five-star players in the region.

Currently, Penn State has the seventh best class for 2015, with 19 verbal commitments, according to Scout.com. By contrast, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin rank 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st so far. Signing day is in February.

MICHIGAN’s HOKE No. 1…

…Just not where he wants to be.

That is his ranking on the updated hot seat list, replacing Florida’s Will Muschamp.

Yes, the wolves are circling and Brady’s Bunch is a mess after the 31-0 whipping Michigan took from Notre Dame Saturday in the last meeting between the teams. It ended the NCAA-record 365 straight games without being shut out, dating to 1984 when the Wolverines lost six games.

One Detroit columnist already called for his firing, unless the Wolverines upset rivals Michigan State and Ohio State. Both games are on the road, where Hoke has a 7-12 record as UM head coach. Following his initial 11-2 season, the Wolverines are 16-12 in the past three seasons under Hoke.

Asked about the growing discontent from the fan base, Hoke said, "If they’re truly fans, they’ll believe in these kids and what they’ve done and the hard work they’ve put in. If they’re not, they won’t. Our goal is still there. Our goal, we’ve stated a thousand times, is to win the Big Ten championship, so that’s out there. Now, do we have to get better and work hard? Yeah, we do.”

Hoke is 20-2 at Michigan Stadium, where the Wolverines host hapless and winless Miami of Ohio Saturday.

FISHER RESPONDS IN STYLE

Florida State Coach Jimbo Fisher couldn’t have been more classy in the way he responded to losing three defensive linemen to The Citadel’s system of cut blocking. The Citadel suspended one offensive lineman after the Seminoles’ 37-12 win for comments on social media that he “was trying to take their knees out.”

"That's how that offense blocks. We cut people, too. That offense cuts," Fisher said. "I don't think they were deliberately trying to do stuff. There are always questionable blocks when you play a team like that. A lot of our guys who got injured, people fell into them. They weren't all cut blocks, things like that. There were a couple that were questionable, but that's always in every game. I don't think they're coached that way and I don't think their players are that way. I don't buy all that.

"I've talked to their coach, and we had a great conversation. They don't teach that, and I don't think that's indicative of them. They have a great program and things happen and kids do things. If you hold a whole program hostage to what one young man says all the time, then it's like if you have 10 brothers and sisters and one guy's a knucklehead, he does something or says something, your whole family is tainted. That's not how they're coached."

For the record, this is an age-old argument between coaches. Georgia Tech, which runs the same type of system, as does Navy, has been the target of opposing coaches’ wrath after games in the past.

EXTRA POINTS…

Cincinnati is the last major college team to open its season, Friday at home against Toledo. The Bearcats play at Ohio State in two weeks… Charlie Strong received a strong indication of how thin Texas’ talent is in a 41-7 whipping the Longhorns received from BYU in Austin. It was the second consecutive year the Cougars routed Texas. “It was embarrassing,” Strong admitted…. Speaking of which, two Cougars will tangle Thursday in BYU and Houston… Steve Spurrier, after a wait a week longer than expected, got his 200th SEC win Saturday as the Gamecocks beat East Carolina 33-23.

GAME OF THE WEEK: Georgia 30, South Carolina 20 – The Bulldogs may be on to something big this season.

UPSET OF THE WEEK: Fresno State (+10) over Nebraska – The Big Ten is bad and Cornhuskers just aren’t that good.

BLOWOUT OF THE WEEK: Oregon 77, Wyoming 10 – The Ducks roll on.

 

BEST BETS: Oklahoma (-20) vs. Tennessee; UCLA (-8) vs. Texas; BYU (-17) vs. Houston;

Last Updated (Thursday, 11 September 2014 12:52)

 

PostHeaderIcon GET READY FOR WIDE-OPEN SEASON: ONE WEEK MAY PROVE THERE IS NO DOMINANT TEAM

So what does one week tell us?

For starters, there doesn’t appear to be any 1971 Nebraskas, 2001 Miamis or 2009 Alabamas playing college football this season. In other words, there may not be a dominant team that whips every opponent in sight, marches unbeaten into the inaugural playoff and then disposes of two other playoff-worthy opponents for the national title.

But then again, one week is only one game. No. 1 Florida State’s 37-31 escape from Oklahoma State in which Jameis Winston did not appear sharp and No. 2 Alabama’s struggle with West Virginia may be just what the Seminoles and Tide needed. They may get all the errors fixed and turn into world-beaters as expected.

“We’ll get things fixed,” FSU Coach Jimbo Fisher said. “The important thing is fought and got the win.”

Meanwhile, Georgia and emerging superstar Todd Gurley seems to have jumped into the contender talk. The Dawgs were truly impressive in routing Clemson 45-21 in Athens. Throw in No. 3 Oregon and No. 4 Oklahoma and you have five teams who look to be the favorites. I still think No. 5 Auburn is overrated and will lose a few, as will No. 7 Michigan State and No. 10 Baylor.

EXTRA POINTS… Oregon is No. 1 in the Sagarin computer rankings, followed by Alabama, Oklahoma and Florida State…. After one week, it looks like the newcomers (Rutgers and Maryland) won’t occupy the bottom of the Big Ten as long as Purdue, Indiana and Illinois are still on the conference. The Scarlet Knights won at Washington State while Maryland routed Delaware. Meanwhile, the Boilermakers, Hoosiers and Illini struggled to beat Western Michigan, Indiana State and Youngstown State on their home fields … Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty’s back injury probably takes him out of Heisman contention right out of the gate. He may miss the next two games.

POLL MATTERS… Some goofball has LSU as the No. 1 team in his Associated Press ballot this week. Seriously, did he watch that 28-24 win over Wisconsin? For the record, the Tigers are ranked 12th. I have no problem with a one No.1 vote for Alabama, five for Oregon, two for Oklahoma and even two for Georgia and Texas A&M, but LSU? Writers seem to be want to be different. I know it’s a new season, but considering Florida State’s national title and the fact all of its key players return, how can you not rank the Seminoles No. 1 until they lose? … I would have dropped Clemson (23rd) from the rankings after getting spanked at Georgia….Although the Buckeyes dropped from fifth to eighth after the 34-17 struggle with Navy, South Carolina took the biggest drop (ninth to 21st) after getting spanked by Texas A&M on its homefield. Georgia took the biggest leap (from 12th to sixth).

GAMES OF THE WEEK: Ohio State 19, Virginia Tech 13 – A defensive slugfest? Tech’s defensive coordinator Bud Foster is the best in the business and he wasn’t wasting time studying William & Mary during the long off-season. Notre Dame 27, Michigan 21 – The Irish get the last laugh as the series ends. A loss could be the beginning of Brady Hoke’s downfall. Oregon 30, Michigan State 10 – Don’t think the Spartans can hang with the Ducks in Eugene.

UPSET OF THE WEEK: BYU (+3.5) at Texas – Why are the Longhorns favored without their starting quarterback (David Ash, concussion)? Austin isn’t that much of a home-field advantage.

BLOWOUT OF THE WEEK: Alabama 62, FAU 3 – Poor Owls open at Nebraska (55-7 loss) and now they land in Tuscaloosa.

BEST BETS: Stanford (-3) over USC – Trojans are overrated; East Carolina (+16.5) at South Carolina; Western Kentucky (+6.5) at Illinois.

Last Updated (Wednesday, 03 September 2014 14:31)

 

PostHeaderIcon BUCKEYES GET OUT OF DODGE WITH WIN OVER NAVY -- THAT'S ALL THAT MATTERS AFTER THE STRUGGLE

BALTIMORE – Fifth-ranked Ohio State came to the East Coast Saturday without their Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback, but still with a ton of talent and just as much hope to have a championship-type season.

Facing a tough-to-defend, triple-option that is the Naval Academy’s unique signature, Urban Meyer wanted to get out of town with …

Improvement on offense and defense as the game progressed. Check.

A solid performance from his first-time starter, redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett  as Braxton Miller’s replacement. Check.

And no significant injuries. Check.

Oh, and most importantly, a win. Check.

But none of it came easy or without a fight.

The Buckeyes trailed for much of the day, including 7-6 at the half and 14-13 late into the third quarter.

But the defense stiffened, holding Navy to only a field goal over the last 26:15 of the game – and the offense showed consistency and scored three touchdowns over the final 19 minutes on the way to a very deceiving 34-17 win in front of 57,579 fans – an estimated 40,000 of them wearing scarlet and gray – at M&T Bank Stadium.

“That’s the way I look at it – get a win and get the heck out of dodge,” Meyer said. “That’s the most important thing.”

Meyer’s revamped defense with new coordinator Chris Ash running the show had been working on the Middies’ triple option since the spring. But Navy ran outside a will through much of the game, coupled with an unstoppable counter play that led to 370 yards rushing and a great game of keep-away for much of the game.

It just didn’t translate to points for Navy.

“It seems like we have been working on (Navy’s offense) forever,” Meyer said. “I am glad we are done with. Now we just start from scratch.”

Because nobody else on the Buckeyes’ schedule runs anything similar to Navy. In fact, while Buckeye fans may be fretting over what they think is a problematic run defense, Ohio State could turn around and limit Virginia Tech to less than 80 yards rushing and the coaches wouldn’t be surprised one bit.

And they won’t be able to unveil Ash’s new pressure-filled, attacking defense until next week.

Navy is just that different.

On the other side of the ball, the Buckeyes’ new offense line struggled for the first two and a half quarters.

“I wanted to take some shots (downfield) but didn’t and it had nothing to do with J.T.,” Meyer said. “It had to do whether we could protect him.”

But as the game wore on, the offensive line meshed a bit and the Buckeyes churned out 154 yards rushing and 168 passing in the second half alone.

Barrett, although possessing little explosiveness in the run game as Miller does, was solid in his first start – with only a first-down interception from Navy’s 8-yard line as the lone huge blunder.

He finished 12-of-15 for 226 yards and two touchdowns. He rushed for 50 more on nine carries.

“He was good – he never got rattled,” Meyer said of his redshirt freshman. “He will get better. I am more worried about the guys in front of him.  We didn’t resemble an offensive line at Ohio State.”

Now the Midshipmen are in Ohio State’s rear-view mirror, exactly where Meyer waited for them to be so he can get down to business with the “normal” preparations.

“When I was at Notre Dame (as receivers coach), preparing for them was always the worst week of the year,” he said. “But I have so much respect for them and the tradition. I told my son to look up at all those white uniforms and respect the tradition.”

Now it’s on to Virginia Tech, next Saturday night in prime time at Ohio Stadium.

“It’s a whole different deal next week,” Meyer admitted. “We need to get better and play better to make a dent in the Big Ten this season. But the first one is over and we won it. That’s what matters today.”

 

 

 

PostHeaderIcon SEMINOLES REPEAT AS CHAMPIONS, BUT WINSTON DOES NOT MATCH ARCHIE GRIFFIN

 

More than 130 years of major college football have been played and at the end of each of those seasons, national champions were crowned -- either by poll or after a bowl game.

With the Rose, beginning in 1901, followed by the Orange and Sugar some 35 years later and then the Cotton, Fiesta, and even the Florida Citrus (Georgia Tech, 1990) and Holiday (BYU, 1984), bowls have hosted teams about to be crowned national champs.

In a little more than four months from now, the first-ever true playoff will change all of that.

Four teams, three games and one champion.

Times are a changin' in college football.

It’s been a long wait.

I am not one of the majority hailing this as a greatest thing since high-def TVs. Make no mistake, the playoff will be wildly popular, because, let’s face it – American loves a playoff in any sport -- but if it leads to expansion such as an eight-team or 16-team playoff in years to come, college football and college athletics in general will suffer in many ways yet to be determined.

As it is, 2014 is here, so we’ll save the second-guessing for later years.

I see Alabama, Florida State, Oklahoma and Oregon becoming the first four teams to make the inaugural playoff, with the Seminoles repeating as champions. That is, unless Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston suffers some sort of season-ending injury.

Otherwise, the Seminoles will romp through a relatively patsy schedule …  especially with the rival Florida Gators being down and out. Miami is average at best. Notre Dame comes to Tallahassee. Clemson will drop off a bit.

Other big items to expect as the season kicks off tonight in Columbia, S.C….

HEISMAN WATCH RANKINGS

Jameis Winston, Florida State – He has to be ranked No. 1 after winning the bronzed stiff-armed last year, bidding to match Archie Griffin as the only two-timer. Can he succeed where Tim Tebow, Mark Ingram, Sam Bradford and Johnny Manziel failed?

Marcus Mariota, Oregon – Doesn’t it seem like he was been in Eugene for eight or nine years.

Brett Hundley, UCLA – This QB is a stud – can run it and throw it. He could lead the Bruins to a surprising playoff berth.

T.J. Yeldon, Alabama – With the Tide breaking in a new quarterback, expect this lightning-fast running back to roll up big numbers.

Todd Gurley, Georgia – If he can stay healthy and survive a brutal schedule, the Dawgs’ tailback may reach 1,500 yards.

Mike Davis, South Carolina -- Underrated as anyone in the country.

DECEMBER’s WINNER – Hundley. I believe he will roll up numbers that make voters take notice by October, while Winston won’t be as sharp as times.

THE CONFERENCE CHAMPS

Big Ten – Ohio State (even without Braxton Miller).

ACC – Florida State (it’s the Seminoles and everybody else in the basketball conference).

Big 12 – Oklahoma (Sooners rolling from Sugar Bowl win over Alabama while Texas will be rebuilding).

Pac-12 – Oregon (Could be the toughest conference this season with Stanford, UCLA and USC all formidable).

SEC – Alabama (Not a cinch to win it; Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina, LSU could contend).

 

THE INITIAL HOT SEAT

Will Muschamp, Florida – Nobody’s backside is hotter than the Gators’ fourth-year coach. He may need to win nine games to save his job. Make no mistake, the gap between No. 1 and the rest of the pack is huge.

Mike London, Virginia – I expected him to be fired at the end of season, but his splendid recruiting continues to save him.

Charlie Weis, Kansas – Not sure the Jayhawks can win three games, and it’s long time for a change at this hoops school.

Tim Beckman, Illinois – Normally, you get three years to turn things around, but the Illini have shown no signs of improvement.

Ron Turner, Florida International – Not that this is a plum job by any means, but Turner was a curious hire to begin with.

 

GAMES OF THE WEEK: Georgia 33, Clemson 19 – The Tigers may be in for a fall this season, after last year’s Orange Bowl championship ending; Florida State 30, Oklahoma State 20 – Cowboys may hang tough into the fourth quarter against defending national champs.

UPSET OF THE WEEK: Western Michigan (+12.5) over Purdue.

BLOWOUT OF THE WEEK: Oklahoma 59, Louisiana Tech 10 – The Sooners open what could a march toward the inaugural playoff.

BEST BETS: Texas A&M (+10.5) at South Carolina; Western Kentucky (+7.5) vs. Bowling Green; Arkansas (+21.5) at Auburn; Rice (+24) at Notre Dame; Navy (+17) vs. Ohio State.

 

 

Last Updated (Thursday, 28 August 2014 03:08)

 

PostHeaderIcon IF BUCKEYES' MILLER OUT FOR SEASON, REDSHIRT - NOT NFL - SHOULD BE HIS FUTURE

With the shocking and sad news that Heisman Trophy candidate Braxton Miller likely is lost for the season, it’s now official: the Buckeyes’ quarterback’s legacy likely will be as one of the most talented ever to play in Ohio Stadium – and definitely the most injury-prone.

Granted, his right shoulder injury is an extension of the injury he sustained at the end of last season and warranted what was called then “minor” surgery. But since he injured it Monday in a non-contact drill, how minor could it have been?

Either he wasn’t healed or ready to return to practice, or there is a serious issue with the shoulder.

Even though he was spectacular when on the field, Miller just could not stay healthy for long stretches of time. He’s had leg injuries, a concussion (Purdue, 2012) and now this. Where’s Kenny Guiton when you need him? (For the record, in the Arena Football League).

If Miller truly is out for the season, I hope he has solid plans to redshirt and get healthy to play the entire 2015 season, rather than declaring himself eligible for next April’s NFL draft.

Since he played as a true freshman in the disastrous 2011 season and did not redshirt, he would automatically be granted a medical redshirt by the NCAA for next season. And let's face it, most NFL insiders consider him a fourth-round pick at best.

Whatever the case, the Buckeyes’ hopes of qualifying for the first college football playoff, and they were one of four heavy favorites along with Alabama, Florida State and Oregon, just took a huge hit.

Last Updated (Tuesday, 19 August 2014 17:17)

 
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