Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I know that consistent, quality posts are important to each of you when you visit this site. That is why I greatly regret that I am calling a time out. My wife gave birth to our fourth child last Monday, and although the baby is doing well and the delivery had no complications, my wife's hospital stay has been prolonged for precautionary measures. Not to worry, I have full confidence that she will be fine and leave very soon. However, I am unable to provide my usual Coaching post for today, and going forward, I am on day-to-day status. Don't let this stop you from discussing amongst yourselves the important issues and current events in college football through the comments section below. You can comment on the injuries of Tim Tebow or USC running back Stafon Johnson and how they might impact this season. What about Boise State moving higher in the polls and getting a shot at the national championship. One month is in the books, so what are the surprises and disappointments for you?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Two quarterbacks will be gone after this week: Max Hall (too many interceptions) and Jevan Snead (his play is too average this year). Daryll Clark could be next. Jimmy Clausen leading the winning drive after sitting out most of the second half for his turf toe keeps him high on the list even if his numbers were not spectacular. I imagine that Tim Tebow's injury will not impact his playing time and, therefore, will not imact his circle. I am still not adding anyone, but I am still keeping my eyes open for new candidates. One final note for clarification, on quarterbacks the first TD number is the touchdown passes and the second in parentheses is rushing touchdowns in addition to the passing touchdowns, so 2 TD (2 rush TD) means the quarterback accounted for 4 touchdowns.

Tim Tebow, Florida, 5 completions 10 attempts, 103 yards, 1 TD (16 rush, 123 yards, 2 rush TD), (44-68, 643, 6 TD, 1 INT, 5 rush TD)

Colt McCoy, Texas, 28-35, 286, 3 TD, 1 INT (103-145, 1145, 9 TD, 5 INT, 1 rush TD)

Max Hall, BYU, 18-29, 241, 2 TD, 2 INT, (88-130, 1185, 8 TD, 8 INT)--will not continue to track

Jevan Snead, Ole Miss, 7-21, 107, 1 TD (35-71, 491, 6 TD, 2 INT)--will not continue to track

Jahvid Best, Cal, 16-55 (69-467, 8 TD, 1 TD catch)

Daryll Clark, Penn State, 12-32, 198, 1 TD, 3 INT (77-129, 958, 9 TD, 6 INT)

Jaquizz Rodgers, Oregon State, 16-85, 2 TD (78-427, 7 TD)

Kellen Moore, Boise State, 17-21, 247, 2 TD, (70-101, 932, 10 TD, 1 INT)

Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame, 15-26, 171, 1 TD, 1 INT (77-117, 1122, 10 TD, 1 INT)

Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State, DID NOT RECORD STATS (17-323, 4 TD, 1 punt TD)

Monday, September 28, 2009

BCS: Oklahoma--The Original Ohio State

In recent years, I have been surprised by how the college football world has turned on Ohio State and placed them in a catagory of their own. After the first national championship game loss to Florida following the 2006 season, Ohio State was only put in the same game the next year against another SEC team because no one else in the automatic qualifying conferences had one loss. After LSU beat Ohio State that year Ohio State was black listed and cries were being made that even an undefeated Ohio State should not be considered for the national championship game implying they had lost the privilege. The next year came, 2008, and Ohio State was overwhelmingly beat by USC early in the year (no one seemed to care that Chris Wells, Ohio State's star running back was injured) and the Buckeye's were further tarnished, as well as completely eliminated from the national championship, even if they won the rest of their games. As I witnessed all of this happening, I wondered why Ohio State was judged so harshly, even when they were not the first to disappoint in BCS championship games, and had a better historical record in BCS games than another team: Oklahoma. Oklahoma has been some what of a teflon team. Consider the following results:

  1. 2003--Oklahoma was obliterated by Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship game 35-7, yet somehow, they remained in the top 2 of the BCS rankings. USC was number 1 in both the AP poll and the USA Today (Coaches) poll, but they did not play for the national championship. Oklahoma went on to lose to LSU in the national championship game.
  2. 2004--Oklahoma was one of three undefeated teams (USC and Auburn were the others) from the "Big Six" conferences. Again, Oklahoma qualified to play in the national championship game. This year, Oklahoma lost 55-19 in the national championship game leaving everyone wishing undefeated Auburn had gotten the chance to play USC instead.
  3. 2006--Oklahoma was playing Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl. This marked the first time that a team from outside the "Big Six" conferences was playing a recognized national power in a BCS bowl game. (Utah's opponent in the 2004 Fiesta Bowl--Pittsburgh--was no where near elite status.) The BCS now had its chance to legitimize its witholding automatic qualification to conference champions outside the "Big Six" conferences. Rather than carrying the BCS banner proudly, Oklahoma lost to Boise State.
  4. 2007--Playing a West Virginia team that did not have its head coach (Rich Rodriguez had already left to start coaching Michigan) and that had lost embarassingly to Pittsburgh in the last game of the season, Oklahoma played its way to a 20 point loss.
  5. 2008--Oklahoma lost to Texas in the regular season. At the end of the year, despite identical win-loss records, Oklahoma held a higher BCS ranking and qualified for the Big 12 Championship game, which they won, and that win propelled Oklahoma into the BCS championship game over the team that had beaten them, as well as a slew of other one-loss teams that could argue they deserved to play in the championship game. Continuing their trend, Oklahoma lost to Florida.
  6. 2009--Now to start this year, Oklahoma became the first team ranked in the top 5 to lose to a team outside the "Big Six" conferences when it lost to BYU.

Does it seem fair to anyone that Oklahoma's failures have not blighted their perception, whereas Ohio State's failures have? The worst part of it all is that Oklahoma usually has been surrounded by controversy as to whether it should be in these games. Nevertheless, they could not win to silence their detractors. Ohio State on the other hand, was undefeated and had beated two teams during the season that were ranked number 2 when they played in 2006, and, as previously noted, Ohio State had the best record in the nation in 2007. In 2008, when most teams were being criticized for scheduling weak non-conference opponents, Ohio State went on the road against a top 5 team, without the heart and soul of their offense. To clarify, my point is that if we want to be so harsh on Ohio State (I don't disagree that Ohio State should be handicapped for their recent blunders) we have to be just as harsh, or harsher on Oklahoma. Furthermore, teams outside the "Big Six" conferences are expected to go undefeated just to play in a BCS bowl; the BCS championship game isn't even an option. Judging by past performance, everyone needs to seriously question: does an undefeated Oklahoma deserves to be in the national title game? In my judgment, Oklahoma should be disqualified from playing in the BCS championship game, and Oklahoma should have to go undefeated to play in one of the other BCS bowl games. Under that condition, Oklahoma can restore the privilege of playing in the national championship game by posting a winning record in its next 5 BCS bowl games. The point is, if the College Football world is going to establish a judgment system for the BCS and its National Championship game then the whole College Football world needs to be put through the same judgment process.

TOP 25, WEEK 4

Can you say upset? Four of my top 10 teams lost. I didn't see that coming. Four other ranked teams lost (Florida State, Washington, Oregon State, and North Carolina) and I have dropped them from the rankings. While last week was difficult with some teams dropping significantly due to head-to-head results and identical records, this weeks results have given a better picture of teams' true stature. (Just as I predicted last week: "Any unfairness that you may feel this has caused will sort itself out by the end of the year.") After its opening week loss to Boise St., Oregon appears to have righted the ship, so they jump back into the rankings all the way at 12. Numbers 12 through 16 were difficult to order and are only separated by razon thin margins. South Carolina is the only one-loss team to enter the rankings (they beat Cal); all the other new comers are from the ranks of the remaining unbeatens. South Florida earned the last spot over Texas A&M and Wisconsin by virture of its win over formerly ranked Florida State, on the road, and without their 4-year starting quarterback. Since a top 5 team and multiple other ranked teams have lost every week, who do you predict will fall this week?

1. Florida (4-0)

2. Texas (4-0)

3. Iowa (4-0)

4. Boise St. (4-0)

5. TCU (3-0)

6. Alabama (4-0)

7. Cincinnati (4-0)

8. Houston (3-0)

9. Michigan (4-0)

10. LSU (4-0)

11. Virginia Tech (3-1)

12. Oregon (3-1)

13. USC (3-1)

14. BYU (3-1)

15. Penn St. (3-1)

16. Miami (FL) (3-1)

17. Ohio St. (3-1)

18. Oklahoma (2-1)

19. South Carolina (3-1)

20. Cal (3-1)

21. Auburn (4-0)

22. Georgia Tech (3-1)

23. Kansas (4-0)

24. Missouri (4-0)

25. South Florida (4-0)

OTHERS TO WATCH: Texas A&M, Wisconsin, Florida State, Ole Miss, Nebraska, Oregon State, North Carolina, Arkansas, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Notre Dame, Georgia, Florida St., Texas Tech

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Let's light up the comments section with our thoughts on the day's action. What surprised you, what excited you, what disappointed you? How will what is happening on the field effect the rankings? Who looks like a Heisman hero or a Heisman dud? Thursday's game started stirring the pot--South Carolina beat Ole Miss. Things will only get better today.

Friday, September 25, 2009


BYU is looking to bounce back from last weeks embarassing loss to Florida State. Meanwhile, Colorado State is looking to validate its 3-0 record. Wins over Colorado and Weber State have not been too impressive (Colorado does not look like they belong in the top 100, and the Weber State game was a squeeker). Then again, Florida State's win against Jacksonville State was a squeeker. Colorado State is coached by a "sophomore" coach who is seeing great dividends in his second year. The Rams have not been very competitive in recent years, except last year BYU had to pull out a thrilling 45-42 win with a last minute touchdown pass to Dennis Pitta. Colorado State feels they have improved and can come out and win this game. This should be a good measuring stick for both teams as they start conference play.


For those of you who are watching your first football games this year, tell me if this sounds familiar. A player on team A has the ball and runs 20 to 30 yards down the field, perhaps he even scores a touchdown. You are excited and cheering the good accomplishment, and then the next thing you know team A is lining up for the next play further back then where they started the last play. Confusing, right? Well, what you missed between the plays was a penalty committed by team A. Penalties are infractions of the rules. The officials (the ones wearing black and white stripped shirts) throw a yellow cloth called a flag when one team commits an infraction for which they are then penalized. Not all penalties are equal. They can range from 5 yards, 10 yards, and 15 yards. A few penalties are marked at the spot on the field that they occur. Most of the time when a penalty is assessed, the team with the ball get to repeat the down, however, the more severe infractions are penalized by a loss of down. If the penalty is against team A, team B has the option of accepting or rejecting the penalty. If it is strategically better for team B to accept the outcome of the play (such as an incomplete pass on third down), then the penalty against team A does not turn into a penalty for team B, too. The following list cites the name of common penalties, explains what the infraction is, and the yards penalized for that infraction.
  • DELAY OF GAME--the team on offense does not snap the ball before the 40 second play clock counts down to zero. Distance: 5 yards and repeat the down.
  • FALSE START--a player on the team on offense moves laterally before the the center snaps the ball. Distance: 5 yards and repeat the down.
  • OFF SIDES--a player on the defense crosses onto the offense's side before the center snaps the ball. Distance: 5 yards and repeat the down.
  • ILLEGAL PARTICIPATION--a team has more than 11 players on the field. Distance: 5 yards.
  • FACE MASK--a player grabs or puts his hand on another player's face mask. Distance: 15 yards and an automatic first down for the offense (repeat the down if an offensive player does it to a defensive player).
  • HOLDING--a player grabs and holds another player to stop him from making a tackle or from getting away from him. Distance: 10 yards if against the offense and repeat the down, 5 yards if against the defense and an automatic first down.
  • PASS INTERFERENCE--a player touches another player that is trying to catch a pass. Distance: 15 yards if against the defense and an automatic first down, 5 yards and repeat the down if against the offense.
  • ROUGHING THE PASSER--a defensive player hits the quarterback well after he has thrown the ball. Distance: 15 yards and an automatic first down.
  • INTENTIONAL GROUNDING--a quarterback throws the ball away to avoid getting sacked by a defensive player (no receiver can be close to where the quarterback threw the ball). Distance: ball is marked where the quarterback was standing when he threw the ball, and the offense loses one down.
  • ILLEGAL FORWARD PASS--a player can only throw the ball forward if he is behind the line of scrimmage (the yard line that the center snapped the ball to start the play). Distance: 5 yards and loss of a down.
  • PERSONAL FOUL--a hit after a play was over or unsportsmanlike conduct during a play. Distance: 15 yards and an automatic first down.
  • RUNNING INTO THE KICKER--lightly contacting the kicker after he kicked ball (unless the player blocked the kick). Distance: 5 yards and repeat the down.
  • ROUGHING THE KICKER--heavy contact with the kicker after he kicked the ball, usually presently a serious safety risk to the kicker. Distance: 15 yards and an automatic first down.
  • EXCESSIVE CELEBRATION--there are many forms of this penalty and it is most always a judgement call by the official. Distance: 15 yards.

This list can go on and on, but this is a good start for you. It is important to understand penalties are judgment calls by human officials while a play is going full speed. Therefore, they do miss some and this is just another aspect of the game that can cause controversy. Hopefully it never costs your favorite team the win.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


As much as I love BYU and as much as I like to present the up side of issues for BYU, I am seriously concerned that BYU will never go undefeated again. It is not a talent thing; it’s not a schedule thing. It’s a BYU thing. Florida State, yes THE Florida State, came to town last week, and the BYU defense was no where to be found. Maybe I am crazy, but I don’t understand how you don’t come ready to play. Consider the following:

  • If you beat Florida State you have beaten one of the upper echelon programs in all of college football.
  • Florida State is coached by the legendary Bobby Bowden. How impressed will your children and grandchildren be to know that you beat a Bobby Bowden coached team?
  • This is the first home game of the season when you can reward your fan base who has been supporting you by showing up at the airport in the middle of the night when you come home from your road trips.
  • If you win much of the college football world is willing to consider you as a legitimate national championship contender.
  • If you don’t win, the BCS is a very long shot.

Many people want to blame the loss on BYU being slower than Florida State. That is not true. Yes, Florida State has more speed than BYU, on both sides of the ball. If speed was the issue, why could the offense move the ball at will on the Florida State defense? If speed was the issue, why could the BYU defense stop the Oklahoma running backs from getting to the corner and limit Oklahoma to 265 total yards? Florida State’s speed isn’t that much faster than Oklahoma’s speed is it? It’s not a speed thing; it’s a BYU thing.

Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall further convinced me that it is a BYU thing when he explained BYU’s lost due to “27 simple assignment errors.” Let me say it again this way: How do you have “27 simple assignment errors” in a game that had so much on the line? It’s a BYU thing. As a life long BYU fan, and a BYU graduate, I cannot deny that BYU is a special institution with a divine purpose and mission. I even believe that this special and divine aspect reaches into all university endeavors—including football. The BYU football team feels the same way. All this is fine and dandy. There are certain things about you that you cannot change, so there is no sense in ignoring your identity. The problem for BYU comes when the players start to have an attitude of entitlement.

I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up (Doctrine and Covenants 84:88).

Players with an attitude of entitlement read the above citation and they start to think they don’t need to work as hard, they start to think all they have to do is show up and success will fall into their laps, they start to become mediocre. This is the BYU thing. We stop after we hear about our greatness and the promises for being chosen for a special purpose, and we neglect to fulfill our duty.

For of him unto whom much is given much is required; ... I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise (D&C 82:3, 10).

Therefore, after a season opening upset against Oklahoma and a way to easy blowout of Tulane, the entitlement attitude set in, the players took a mediocre approach to preparing for the next game, and the undefeated season that could have been was lost because the players “do not what I say.” Go back to 2008. By the time BYU completed its non-conference schedule unbeaten, the entitlement attitude proved costly as TCU showed BYU was not entitled to a third consecutive undefeated conference record. Go back to 1996. BYU was 2-0 and flying up the rankings. They took their show on the road to Washington and thought they should worry more about the socks they would wear than the actual game. Sixty minutes later perfection was out of the question as Washington won 29-17. That was the team's only loss that year. Unless BYU can change the prevailing attitude I am fear that I will never see BYU go a whole year without losing a game.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Are college football coaches paid too much money? That was a hot topic during the off season. Nothing drastically changed about their salaries, however, most coaches are employees of schools funded largely by state governments. As we all know, the countrywide economic recession has caused tax revenues to drop significantly and caused budget crises that led to detailed examinations of all government spending. The outcry grew louder when it was discovered that most of these coaches were earning more than the university presidents. Nick Saban, Alabama, Urban Meyer, Florida, and Pete Carroll, USC, are the most popular targets. They are all paid approximately $4 million a year. Yes, that seems like way too much money for someone who teaches 18 to 23 year old young men how to play a game, especially when you consider that the job comes with several all expenses paid trips around the country. As much as we might complain about it, there is nothing we can do about the coaches’ salaries. The salaries are a product of simple economics.
  1. A good coach that wins lots of games increases the revenues for the school. Game attendance, team apparel sales, team sponsors, donor contributions all go up. Attendance at USC home games has increase by 17,000 since Pete Carroll became the coach. This produces an extra $10 million per year for USC. In attendance at home football games alone, Pete Carroll has justified his big pay check (in reality he justifies being paid at least 2.5 times more). Now throw in all the other increased revenue streams, and a couple million dollars a year is a steal. Studies also show that applications for admissions to universities spike up when sports programs are successful, so the coach is even helps on the academic side.
  2. College football has to compete with the NFL for coaches. A year after Nick Saban won a national championship with LSU, the Miami Dolphins hired him away from college to the professional ranks. After two disappointing years in the NFL, he was not willing to leave until Alabama made an offer he could not refuse—a super fat pay check. My point is, if the NFL teams are going to pay their coaches millions of dollars annually, then the best college football coaches will bolt for the NFL. College needs to compete to keep the sport interesting and the only way to do that is to comparably compensate coaches.
  3. Time is money. College football coaches don’t have to go to classes, as do the players, so most coaches work over 12 hours a day. Factor into the equation that they travel for recruiting purposes, and their salary is similar, if not below, to the pay given to top executives who put in similar hours, who are required to spend significant time traveling away from home, and who work for companies that rake in tens of millions of dollars annually.

While society may not be reflected in the best light by college football coaches becoming multi-millionaires, it is hard to expect their pay to be any different. If it really bothers us enough, then we can always boycott the sport until changes are made.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


No one was eliminated from the list after week 3, however, Jevan Snead may be cut next week if he doesn't put up better numbers. Jimmy Clausen solidified himself as number 2 in my mind, while Jahvid Best pulled further in front of everyone else with his 5 touchdowns. The overall quarterback play is down this year, which gives Case Keenum a better chance to be added to the list in a few more weeks. He did not play this week, so his status did not change. Tate Forcier looked more like a freshman and will need some pretty impressive games to ever be added to the list, but Jacory Harris, Miami (FL), has gotten off to a good start and could be on the list next month. One final note for clarification, on quarterbacks the first TD number is the touchdown passes and the second in parentheses is rushing touchdowns in addition to the passing touchdowns, so 2 TD (2 rush TD) means the quarterback accounted for 4 touchdowns.

Tim Tebow, Florida, 14 completions 19 attempts, 115 yards, 1 INT (1 rush TD),(39-58, 540, 5 TD, 1 INT, 3 rush TD)

Colt McCoy, Texas, 24-34, 205, 1 TD, 2 INT (75-110, 859, 6 TD, 4 INT, 1 rush TD)

Max Hall, BYU, 20-31, 306, 2 TD, 3 INT, (70-101, 944, 6 TD, 6 INT)

Jevan Snead, Ole Miss, 16-28, 209, 3 TD (28-50, 384, 5 TD, 2 INT)

Jahvid Best, Cal, 26-131, 5 TD (53-412, 8 TD, 1 TD catch)

Daryl Clark, Penn State, 16-26, 167, 2 TD, 1 INT (65-97, 760, 8 TD, 3 INT)

Jaquizz Rodgers, Oregon State, 20-73, 1 TD (62-342, 5 TD)

Kellen Moore, Boise State, 18-26, 181, 3 TD, (53-81, 685, 8 TD, 1 INT)

Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame, 22-31, 300, 2 TD (62-91, 951, 9 TD)

Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State, 9 receptions 161 yards, 2 TD (17-323, 4 TD, 1 punt TD)

Monday, September 21, 2009

TOP 25, WEEK 3

This week has caused a major shake up in the rankings. The losses by BYU and USC has a bigger effect than imaginable because of who they lost to and who those teams either beat or lost to. To review, when teams have identical records I use head-to-head match ups as first determination of who to rank above another. Therefore, Washington and Florida State had to enter the rankings somewhere above BYU and USC (the teams they beat who now have identical records as them). However, BYU beat Oklahoma and USC beat Ohio State and all four have identical reocrds now, so I had to adjust the rankings for Oklahoma and Ohio State as well, even though I don't like to drop a team after a victory. To further complicate things, LSU beat Washington in week one, so even though I think LSU has not played well all year, I had to move them up significantly since, technically, they are still 3-0. Any unfairness that you may feel this has caused will sort itself out by the end of the year. Remember this is only week 3, one fourth of the season. Although rankings are fun, early in the year they can be complicated with such little data to use. Other movement of note, Miami and Michigan made major leaps into the top 10. Why don't you tell me what you think?

1. Florida (3-0)

2. Texas (3-0)

3. Penn St. (3-0)

4. Ole Miss (2-0)

5. Boise St. (3-0)

6. TCU (2-0)

7. Alabama (3-0)

8. Cal (3-0)

9. Miami (FL) (2-0)

10. Michigan (3-0)

11. Cincinnati (3-0)

12. Houston (2-0)

13. LSU (3-0)

14. Virginia Tech (2-1)

15. Iowa (3-0)

16. Florida St. (2-1)

17. Washington (2-1)

18. USC (2-1)

19. BYU (2-1)

20. Ohio St. (2-1)

21. Oklahoma (2-1)

22. Georgia Tech (2-1)

23. Oregon St. (2-1)

24. Nebraska (2-1)

25. North Carolina (3-0)

OTHERS TO WATCH: Auburn, Arkansas, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Notre Dame, Georgia, Florida St., Kansas, Texas Tech

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Its Saturday again. Are you ready for some football? Miami already got this week off to an exciting start by dominating Georgia Tech on Thursday, 33-17. If they can win their next two (Virginia Tech and Oklahoma) they are in the drivers seat for a BCS bowl. On tap today is Texas-Texas Tech, BYU-Florida State, and an intriguing match up between USC and Washington. Of course there are many more games as well, so don't be shy to voice your interests and what you are watching and observing today.

Friday, September 18, 2009

GAME PREVIEW: BYU vs. Florida State

If this game had been played two years ago, I feel BYU would have won—no problem. If this game had been played two weeks ago, it looked like Florida State was going to be favored. Today, an upset of Oklahoma and a squeaker against Jacksonville State has most the pundits lauding BYU as the hands down winner. Not so fast. Florida State lost three fumbles against Jacksonville State in weather conditions that appear to have been less than favorable; that is why the game was so close. College football is still a game where teams can play as different as night and day from one game to the next, and this is still a very talented Florida State football team that has its pride bruised. They will come with their A game. That game includes a lot of speed. Team speed has always been a hallmark of Florida State. My other concern is injuries on the BYU offensive line and defensive secondary. How will those injuries impact each unit’s performance? This week also poses the threat of déjà vu for the Cougars. In week 1, déjà vu was good for BYU as they opened the season against the no. 3 ranked team, just as in 1984, and they pulled out the upset. The déjà vu I am talking about this week goes back to 1996. After upsetting highly ranked Texas A&M in the season opening game, BYU followed up with a 50+ point victory in game 2. Then, BYU played a strong, nationally-recognized program—the Washington Huskies. The 1996 team’s ego was so out of control that they, reportedly, were arguing in the locker room before the Washington game about what socks to wear. After the game, the socks did not matter anymore as the team played poorly and fell to 2-1. Hopefully, BYU has more maturity than that 1996 team, has 2008 still fresh in their minds, and has the home field work its magic. Bronco Mendenhall has emphasized winning at home, and BYU has not lost in Provo for three complete seasons. This is the first chance the 2009 BYU team will have to play for the home crowd, so I anticipate that they will come out with a lot of intensity and adrenaline, if for no other reason but to satisfy those in attendance. I think the home field will be the deciding factor in this game, but not for the reasons already cited. Elevation will play a key role. Yes, I know that Florida State beat Colorado in Boulder just 2 years ago, but that was a sub 0.500 ball club. Plus, I don’t base this on science, but on experience. I have seen how the altitude affected no. 1 Miami in 1990, and Texas A&M in 1996. Anyways, the Seminoles can let the Colorado game make them complacent and give them a false sense of security. I am fine with that. In the end, I believe this will be the difference maker.


By now you have probably heard about the rankings, but do you understand them? The college football rankings have existed for many decades and have been a huge source of conversation and contention. The Associated Press (AP) poll and the USA Today poll are accepted as the two most authoritative polls, but that has not stopped several other news outlets and fans from publishing their own polls. The voters in the AP poll are comprised of media personnel across the country. The USA Today poll is tallied from ballots cast by college football coaches. Since both polls have human voters, there is a certain level of human bias that affects the poll results. This has caused mathematicians and statisticians and the like to develop “computer” polls that aim to remove human bias (personally, I feel these computer polls still have human bias in them because a human prepares the data and assigns the weight to the variables used to compute the rankings). When a team wins or losses, no standard rules exist for how far up or down a team should move in the rankings. Generally, the won-lost record plays a significant factor, but if voters do not feel that a team has played tough competition, then they may keep that team below others with a worse won-lost record. The BCS uses the USA Today poll, the Harris Interactive Poll (another poll using human voters) and the composite score of six computer polls. The teams that come out ranked numbers one and two then play for the national championship, which is the biggest impetus for fans’ obsession with the polls and where their favorite team is ranked. I appreciate the rankings and what they add to college football, but I would love to see more fairness from the voters in ranking teams based more on merit than reputation and perceived strength.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Is it just me or has the first two weeks of the college football season felt different this year than in has the last few years? I am talking about the existence of quality non-conference games. September had almost become a pre-season for college football with few good teams playing each other. They scheduled Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) teams or bottom of the barrel Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams to feast on. This year has been different. In the first two weeks alone, we have seen the following match ups that were actually meaningful:
Week 1
  • BYU vs. Oklahoma
  • Oklahoma State vs. Georgia
  • Miami vs. Florida State
  • Alabama vs. Virginia Tech
  • Boise State vs. Oregon
  • Missouri vs. Illinois

Week 2

  • USC vs. Ohio State
  • Michigan vs. Notre Dame
  • Oklahoma State vs. Houston
  • Fresno State vs. Wisconsin
  • UCLA vs. Tennessee

With the advent of the BCS, it has become evident that an undefeated conference champion from the SEC, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-10, or ACC is guaranteed a spot in the national title game (barring a situation like 2004 when 3 conference champions were undefeated). The schools in this conference found it unnecessary to schedule quality opponents out of conference because of the perceived strength of their conference schedule. Teams not part of the six conferences must go undefeated to even be recognized by the BCS because of the perceived weakness of the other conferences. The end result has been boring match ups to start the year. Fortunately, it appears that the outcries from fans have started to turn around the trend to schedule overmatched opponents. Personally, I would like to see a rule implemented that no FBS team can play a FCS team.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


With weekly attention to coaching in college football, how long did you think it would take to get to these two coaching giants? Joe Paterno at Penn State and Bobby Bowden at Florida State are the two coaches with the most sustained success in the game today. Bowden caught Paterno for the lead in the race for the most all-time wins by a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) head coach earlier this decade and they have flipped-flopped spots at one and two over the last two to three years with neither one taking more than a one or two game advantage.

Which coach is better? Who would you rather have coaching your team? This is an endless debate rooted in opinion. Nevertheless, here is a quick analysis of each coaches’ resume:
  • 385 wins 127 losses 3 ties
  • 23-11-1 Bowl Record (23 wins is a record)
  • 44th year coaching
  • 2 National Championships
  • 5 undefeated seasons
  • 5 losing seasons


  • 383-124-4
  • 21-10-1 Bowl Record (21 wins is second most to Paterno)
  • 44th year coaching
  • 2 National Championships
  • 1 undefeated season
  • 2 losing seasons


A few other interesting facts:

  1. Bowden’s teams were ranked in the top 5 for 14 straight years (1987-2000).
  2. Paterno has had one undefeated season each decade (1968, 1969, 1973, 1986, 1994)—note: the 2000s have not concluded yet, maybe he gets one this year.
  3. 31 of Bowden’s victories came in four year at Samford, a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) school.
  4. Paterno’s style of play has been more traditional, balanced pass-run attack.
  5. Bowden’s style of play has been flashy and spread out to take advantage of great team speed.

This off season, the Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden duel for the wins record took a strange, unforeseen twist when the NCAA sanctioned Florida State University for a student academics scandal. Part of the sanctions was to vacate 14 Florida State victories. Florida State has relentlessly appealed this decision by the NCAA, and to my knowledge the appeals are still ongoing.

Although it seems an oxymoron that one of these two has to be a loser in the battle for most wins, I am quietly rooting for Paterno to ultimately end up on top, even with Bowden’s 14 wins restored. Nothing against Bowden. My feelings are mostly to avoid controversy and endless debate for the next 100 years. First, Bowden has 31 wins at a FCS school. Personally, I can’t penalize Bowden for his 31 wins at a FCS school. Technically, FBS and FCS are the same division in NCAA sports, but more importantly, how many of Paterno’s wins have come against FCS teams? Second, the NCAA’s ruling to vacate 14 Florida State wins. If Paterno ends with the most wins, then Bowden supporters will argue it was the vacated wins. If the wins are restored and Bowden ends with the most wins, then Paterno supporters will argue that Bowden cheated for his wins. Both of these men have had such great careers, their retirements do not deserve to be tainted.

In any case, the Bowden vs. Paterno battle is great for coaching in college football. Perhaps the more important issue is what will happen when they are gone. Coaching is evolving with the rest of the sport and we may never see a 300 win coach again.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Week 2 helped clear the Heisman picture. Jimmy Clausen played very well, but his team lost, so that moves him down a notch or two. Jahvid Best is my new number one--over 10 yards per carry and almost 300 yards in two games. Max Hall did what he needed to do against Tulane, but a few more TD passes without that interception would have helped. Colt McCoy does not look like his 2008 self, and what was that 13-10 score to Wyoming at halftime? Dropping from the list this week will be Eric Berry (he has not done anything yet this year), Terrell Pryor (he has great talent, but still very raw), Zac Robinson and Kendall Hunter for Oklahoma State (Robinson is a hybrid QB who is slighly above average in a high powered offense, and Hunter isn't even the leading rusher on his team, so far). As for adding new candidates, Case Keenum, Houston, and Tate Forcier, Michigan, are close, but I am more about trimming the list than making it grow. If they continue to impress and consistently outperform the rest on this list, they will be added. One final note for clarification, on quarterbacks the first TD number is the touchdown passes and the second in parentheses is rushing touchdowns in addition to the passing touchdowns, so 2TD (2 rush TD) means the quarterback accounted for 4 touchdowns.

Tim Tebow, Florida, 15 completions 24 attempts, 237 yards, 4 TD (1 rush TD),(25-39, 425, 5 TD, 2 rush TD)

Colt McCoy, Texas, 30-47, 337, 3 TD, 1 INT (1 rush TD), (51-76, 654, 5 TD, 2 INT, 1 rush TD)

Max Hall, BYU, 24-32, 309, 2 TD, 1 INT, (50-70, 638, 4 TD, 3 INT)

Jevan Snead, Ole Miss, DID NOT PLAY, (12-22, 175, 2 TD, 2 INT)

Jahvid Best, Cal, 17-144, 1 TD (1 TD catch), (27-281, 3 TD, 1 TD catch)

Terrell Pryor, Ohio State, 11-25, 177, 1 INT (25/46, 351, 1 TD, 2 INT, 2 rush TD) will not continue to track

Daryl Clark, Penn State, 20-31, 240, 3 TD, 1 INT (49-71, 593, 6 TD, 2 INT)

Jaquizz Rodgers, Oregon State, 26-166, 1 TD (42-269, 4 TD)

Kellen Moore, Boise State, 16-26, 307, 4 TD, 1 INT (35-55, 504, 5 TD, 1 INT)

Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame, 25-42, 336, 3 TD (40-60, 651, 7 TD)

Eric Barry, Tennessee, will not continue to track

Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State, 5 receptions 85 yards, 1 punt TD (8-162, 2 TD, 1 punt TD)

Monday, September 14, 2009


For at least the second time, the United States (US) Congress meddled in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) called for an anti-trust hearing. This sparked a sideline debate on whether Congress should take the time and the tax dollars to address this issue. Personally, I don’t have a problem with Congress giving attention to the BCS for two reasons.

  1. Congress is made up of elected officials. They are put there by the people to represent the interests of the people. The US electorate is very interested in college football and the BCS.
  2. A lot of tax payer money is used on college football and the BCS. They deserve to have some of the tax dollars generated by the multi-billion dollar industry used to regulate the sport.

Since Congress is not spending an inordinate amount of time or requesting huge appropriations for BCS issues, we should not fuss about what happened this summer.

TOP 25, WEEK 2

This week there was more of a shake up. Notre Dame was replaced by Michigan. I still maintain that Notre Dame is a pretty good team this year, but I have to say I am impressed with Michigan's start. Houston has entered at number 22 after defeating Oklahoma State, and Cincinnati has replaced Oregon who has had a very uninspiring start (Cincinnati has beaten Rutgers 47-15 and Southeast Missouri State 70-3). Ohio State dropped to 13 (5 spots) after losing to USC. I have to say Ohio State did play better on the big stage, and I thought they would pull it out, so I didn't want to drop them too far. LSU and North Carolina both moved down a couple spots after their mediocre performances. Go ahead and weigh in on what you like and don't like.

1. Florida (2-0)

2. Texas (2-0)

3. USC (2-0)

4. BYU (2-0)

5. Penn St. (2-0)

6. Ole Miss (1-0)

7. Boise St. (2-0)

8. TCU (1-0)

9. Oklahoma (1-1)

10. Alabama (2-0)

11. Cal (2-0)

12. Georgia Tech (2-0)

13. Ohio St. (1-1)

14. Virginia Tech (1-1)

15. Miami (FL) (1-0)

16. Oregon St. (2-0)

17. Nebraska (2-0)

18. Iowa (2-0)

19. Michigan (2-0)

20. Arkansas (1-0)

21. Cincinnati (2-0)

22. Houston (2-0)

23. LSU (2-0)

24. North Carolina (2-0)

25. West Virginia (2-0)

OTHERS TO WATCH: Oklahoma State, Oregon, Notre Dame, Georgia, Florida St., Kansas, Texas Tech

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Week 2 is here. The games are about to begin. Here is your forum to discuss them. Talk about an astonishing play, a surprising score, or just brag about your team being the best. We have Michigan-Notre Dame at the Big House, USC-Ohio State to finish things off in the Horseshoe tonight. Can Duke point guard turned Syracuse quarterback lead the Orangemen over Penn State? Everything is fair game.

Friday, September 11, 2009


If you are new to college football, you might be asking: How does a team win 72-0 (Air Force) or 54-0 (Boston College) and not be ranked in the Top 25? That is a good question with a simple answer: Not all teams are created equal. Maybe it is better said that not all divisions are created equal. Schools that participate in college athletics governed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) are divided into three divisions: Division I, II and III. For college football, Division I is subdivided into the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). A wide valley separates the level of competition between each division, and even between the division I subdivisions. The FBS teams are significantly better than the FCS teams. To clarify my answer to the original question, Air Force plays in the better subdivision in the best division of college football (FBS) while its opponent Nicholls State is from the FCS. Boston College is a member of the FBS, too, and it played Northeastern—another FCS school. It is similar to the high school varsity team playing the junior varsity team. Therefore, such a lopsided score can be more indicative of an inferior opponent and not a superior ball club. These cross-divisional and cross-subdivisional match ups are not uncommon in the first three weeks of the college football season.


The most important thing to watch in this game is how BYU follows up its stunning upset of Oklahoma. Will BYU suffer a letdown and lose or win narrowly? Or will BYU come out with the same intensity and light up the scoreboard en route to an easy win? Tulane is coming off a 2-10 season in 2008, and 2009 started with a 37-13 loss to Tulsa. While BYU cracked the top 10 this week, Tulane has a home in the Bottom 10. As odd as it may sound, this game could provide the greatest insight as to how good this Cougar team will be. The way they play will reveal their maturity and how they handle success, which are essential ingredients that separates a physically gifted team from a great team. If they jump up early and don’t let up until the final whistle, this could be the dream season we hoped for last year. If they struggle and pull away late, or not at all, to win, I would not count on this team going undefeated.

GAME PREVIEW: USC vs. Ohio State

This is the marquee match up this week. Last year USC trashed Ohio State 35-3. However, these are not the same teams that met in Los Angeles last year. USC has lost most of its suffocating defense to the NFL and graduation, as well as star QB Marc Sanchez. Since 2002, these losses have not mattered as USC plugs in new names and new faces only to get the same old results. This year is a little different. The new QB is true freshman Matt Barkley, and although his stats from last week were good, that was against San Jose State. This might be deja-vu. In 2006, Ohio State played number 2 ranked Texas who was led by freshman quarterback Colt McCoy. McCoy had looked good in his week one debut, but in the end Ohio State won handily. What is not deja-vu is that Ohio State almost lost its openers to Navy last week. Nevertheless, I am not so willing to chalk up a USC victory because of Ohio State’s struggles. First, I am not naïve enough to think that Ohio State focused a lot of attention on preparing for Navy. (Personally, I think that they did not prepare at all, and trusted on superior talent level to win the game.) Second, the option offense can be difficult for anyone to defend, which negated some of Ohio State’s talent advantage. Third, this is a new game. How a team plays from one week to the next can be as different as night and day. After this game, we should have a much better feel for each team and their chances for a conference championship and a national championship game appearance.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Skill positions (quarterback, running back, wide receiver, etc.) get a lot of attention. They become household names. We talk about what they did, and even give them credit for winning or losing a game. While the skill position players are the ones that score and turn the ball over, there is a group of players who dictate how easy or difficult it is for the skill positions to make their big plays. Quite literally, there’s a fine line between good and great teams. The way the offensive and defensive lines play is the X factor. The team that controls the line of scrimmage wins the game. Anyone can run for 5 yards if the offensive line does its job. Let a quarterback stand in the pocket long enough and a receiver is bound to break open sometime. Does Sam Bradford post such impressive numbers last year en route to winning the Heisman Trophy without his offensive line protecting him so well? I think we got our answer last Saturday in the BYU game. Speaking of that game, line play was the determining factor in BYU’s win.

  1. Oklahoma's plethora of false start penalties
  2. BYU's defensive line making its 4th quarter goal-line stand forcing Oklahoma to kick a field goal and keeping it a one possession lead.
  3. Oklahoma could not establish a ground game.
  4. Max Hall completed 68 percent of his passes for 329 yards.
  5. Sam Bradford was knocked out of the game.

Everything starts with the men up front. When they do their job right, quarterbacks and running backs that were good become great. When the line does not do its job, even the great quarterbacks and running backs appear to be good, at best.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Except when a head coach voluntarily retires, coaching changes are usually made when a team has poor win-loss record. The new coach is expected to come in and improve that record. Even when coaches retire on good terms, the successor coach is expected to take the team to the next level (unless the team is already at the top—in that case the coach only needs to maintain the formers’ level of success). More often than not, coaches achieve the expected improvement incrementally, and school athletic directors realize this and allow new coaches 3 to 5 years to accomplish the desired success. For example, if a team won 6 games the year before, we expect 8-9 wins the next year, and maybe 10-11 wins the following year. However, some coaches surprise everyone and skip a step or two on the ladder of success in year 2. Some examples of this sophomore success for coaches was achieved by the following:

Nick Saban, Alabama, 2007: 6 wins 6 losses, 2008: 12-2

Urban Meyer, Florida, 2005: 9-3, 2006: 13-1 (SEC and National Champions)

Bronco Mendenhall, BYU, 2005: 6-6, 2006: 11-2 (MWC Champions)

Pete Carroll, USC, 2001: 6-6, 2002: 11-2 (Pac-10 Champions)

Bob Stoops, Oklahoma, 1999: 7-5, 2000: 13-0 (Big 12 and National Champions)

My point is that as the 2009 season starts we should keep an eye on second year coaches. Their Teams can easily fly under the radar. However, some of them might be primed for a breakout year, including the following:

Rich Rodriguez, Michigan, 2008: 3-9

Bobby Petrino, Arkansas, 2008: 5-7

Huston Nutt, Ole Miss, 2008: 9-4

June Jones, SMU, 2008: 1-11

(While Urban Meyer’s 9 wins can be considered a success in his first year, I included him because no one expected his 2006 Gators to contend, let alone win, the national championship his second year. The same can be said for Houston Nutt. He was surprisingly successful last year, but no one is taking Ole Miss serious as a national title contender. If the Rebels do win the national championship, then I would say he fits the unexpected sophomore success lebel.)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Week 1 has changed the Heisman Trophy race more than anyone expected. We have gone from a closed three man race to a wide open race. Sam Bradford is out by all accounts, not only because of his injury, but he did not look Heisman-esque in the half he did play. Jimmy Clausen is the early leader. I don't care who you played, you don't put up those kinds of numbers without being legit. Jahvid Best has started strong as well. Max Hall has to be included as an early front runner. His two interceptions don't look very good, but how much can we penalize him for that? Even Tim Tebow threw two interceptions against Oklahoma. In addition to Bradford, Tyrod Taylor will no longer be tracked. His performance shows he still needs to mature as a player, but for the others, I am willing to give them a few more weeks to prove themselves before axing them. As for adding new candidates, I will wait to have other players justify their amazing week 1 performances. One final note for clarification, on quarterbacks the first TD number is the touchdown passes and the second in parentheses is rushing touchdowns in addition to the passing touchdowns, so 2TD (2 rush TD) means the quarterback accounted for 4 touchdowns.

Tim Tebow, Florida, 10 completions 15 attempts, 188 yards, 1 TD (1 rush TD)

Colt McCoy, Texas, 21-29, 317, 2 TD 1 INT

Sam Bradford, Oklahoma, 10-14, 96, 1 TD, injured and will not continue to track.

Max Hall, BYU, 26-38, 329, 2 TD, 2 INT

Jevan Snead, Ole Miss, 12-22, 175, 2 TD, 2 INT

Jahvid Best, Cal, 10 rushes 137 yards, 2 TD

Terrell Pryor, Ohio State, 14-21, 174, 1 TD, 1 INT (1 rush TD)

Daryl Clark, Penn State, 29-40, 353, 3 TD, 1 INT

Jaquizz Rodgers, Oregon State, 16-103, 3 TD

Kellen Moore, Boise State, 19-29, 197, 1TD

Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech, 9-20, 91, will not continue to track.

Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame, 15-18, 315, 4 TD

Eric Barry, Tennessee, 3 total tackles (1 solo)

One of the Oklahoma State trio (Zac Robinson, 11-22, 135 2 TD (1 rush TD), Kendall Hunter, 23-75, Dez Bryant, 3 receptions 77yards, 2TD)

TOP 25, WEEK 1

Not a lot of movement after week 1. Mostly due to the fact that in my years of playing experience a win is a win, so I don't penalize a team for winning by a smaller margin than expected (Ohio State). Besides, this is a long season and if a close win is significant, the team will have some close or big losses. BYU jumped to number 4 after upseting former number 3 Oklahoma (now #11), and Boise State replaced Oregon at number 8 (Oregon is now #18). Miami (FL) and Florida State flip-flopped spots (Miami beat FSU 38-34), and Alabama and Virginia Tech did almost the same. Go ahead and weigh in on what you like and don't like.

1. Florida (1-0)

2. Texas (1-0)

3. USC (1-0)

4. BYU (1-0)

5. Penn St. (1-0)

6. Ohio St. (1-0)

7. Ole Miss (1-0)

8. Oklahoma St. (1-0)

9. Boise St. (1-0)

10. TCU (0-0)

11. Oklahoma (0-1)

12. Notre Dame (1-0)

13. Alabama (1-0)

14. Cal (1-0)

15. Georgia Tech (1-0)

16. Virginia Tech (0-1)

17. Miami (FL) (1-0)

18. Oregon (0-1)

19. Oregon St. (1-0)

20. Nebraska (1-0)

21. Iowa (1-0)

22. LSU (1-0)

23. North Carolina (1-0)

24. Arkansas (1-0)

25. West Virginia (1-0)

OTHERS TO WATCH: Georgia, Florida St., Kansas, Texas Tech

Monday, September 7, 2009


With the various BCS debates raging on, staunch BCS supporters are now turning to a new line of reasoning to justify excluding the Mountain West Conference (MWC) from being an automatic qualifying conference: overall conference strength. In 2008, the MWC champion and runner-up were ranked above the Big East and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) champions. Naturally the question has followed: Is the MWC better than the Big East or the ACC? Most people seem satisfied that the ACC is clearly better than the MWC. However, when compared to the Big East, many feel that the MWC is slightly better on top (BYU, TCU, and Utah), but the bottom 2/3 of the Big East is better than the bottom 2/3 of the MWC. Therefore, the Big East automatic BCS bid is justified.

Can any other argument be more bogus? Name a “Big Six” conference that does not experience significant drop off after its top three teams.
  • ACC:
    The ACC has never fielded two BCS teams. Virginia Tech is the preseason favorite. A lot of people are high on Georgia Tech, and Florida State seems to be a quality team again. In this case, the drop off starts before we leave the top three teams. Only Virginia Tech is considered as good enough to play in a BCS game.
  • BIG 12:
    Texas and Oklahoma are neck and neck at the top of the conference, and this year Oklahoma State looks to be number three. After that, Texas Tech has a lot of question marks, and the whole North Division is closer to mediocrity than being contenders.
  • BIG 10:
    Historically, the Big 10 has been dominated by Ohio State and Michigan, with one other team always making a strong showing. The rest are not considered competition. Why else is everyone assuming the Big 10 race title will be decided by an undefeated Penn State playing undefeated Ohio State (at least undefeated in conference play)?
  • PAC-10:
    USC is the undisputed number one followed by Oregon and Cal. Again, the drop off starts immediately. That is more because USC is so dominant and not so much because Oregon and Cal are weak. Is there any other Pac-10 team that you expect to post more than 8 wins?
    The parity in the Big East is so great, how do you start with three teams as the top three? I guess West Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Rutgers are the three best, but is there much difference between them and South Florida, Cincinnati, and Connecticut? This is not an all-star line up that screams “elite conference” to anybody.
  • SEC:
    Here you might have a case that beyond the top three. Florida, Ole Miss, and Alabama seem to be the top three this year, followed by Georgia, and LSU. The teams after that are not considered to be on the same plane.

The point is the BCS is about conference champions. The conference champions of these six conferences get automatic bids, not the third place team, the sixth place team, or the last place team. The champions are not scrutinized on who they lost to, either. They could lose to the worst team in the league or the second place team, it does not matter.

My biggest concern is that the MWC will fight this criticism by expanding to include Boise State. With all due respect to the Broncos, that is the wrong way to go. The MWC is good the way it is. As I have explained three strong teams at the top is as good as everyone else. It is time to stop the hypocrisy.

Top 25, Week 1

Yes, the schedule indicates my updated top 25 should be posted today, but there are two games left on the college football schedule for Monday, so come back tomorrow for the top 25.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Alright, here is your forum for discussing everything under the sun about college football today. Who is your team playing? What players are you watching? Did you see the Boise State-Oregon game and post game fallout? These are just starters, this is an open forum. While you are here take time to check out some of the previous posts.

Game Preview: BYU vs. Oklahoma

First game of the year, BYU plays the number 3 team in the Country, at a "neutral" site in the new Dallas Cowboys stadium. I am excited that BYU is playing a Big 12 team, the Pac-10 non-conference games need a break. Most people are forecasting an easy Oklahoma victory. Maybe it will be that way. BYU has opened the year against high profile teams before and lost handily (Florida State in 1991 and 2000). In 2004, BYU played the number 1 ranked USC Trojans and lost 42-10 (third game of the year). However, the year before, BYU played the Trojans in LA and had the game close late in the 4th quarter, but still lost. On other occasions, BYU had performed well against high ranked opponents. BYU beat Texas A&M in 1979 on the road in the first game of that season. BYU beat number 3 Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh to start the 1984 season. We all remember number 1 Miami coming to Provo in 1990 and falling to the Cougars 28-21. Finally, the 1996 season started with an upset of highly ranked Texas A&M. That season also ended with BYU playing Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl, which amounted to a "home" game for Kansas State (BYU won 19-15). This will feel like a home game for Oklahoma. Even with all this past success, this is a new generation in BYU football. LaVell Edwards was coaching the team when it won these games, and Gary Crowton was coaching the team when they gave USC a run for its money. This is Bronco Mendenhall's first game against such a high profile non-conference opponent. No one knows how his teams will compare with Edwards or even Crowton. Utah was a top ten team last year when they played, and turnovers turned what appeared to be a BYU come from behind win into a blowout loss. As a true blue Cougar, I want to believe that BYU will shock the world today and win, which will complete the final piece of the puzzle in the return of BYU football to the glory days. Let the game begin!

Xs and Os: Game Basics

For the new football fan, following the game can be tricky, so let's start with the very basics.

  1. Each game is divided into 4 quarters of 15 minutes each, with a 20 minute break called halftime between the second and third quarter.
  2. Each game is played on a field 100 yards long with two 10 yard end zones (one on each side).
  3. 11 players from each team are allowed on the field at any given time.
  4. The team controlling the ball is on offense, and the one trying to stop the team in control of the ball is on defense.
  5. The goal of the offense is to take the ball into the end zone.
  6. The offense has 4 tries (downs) to move the ball a total of 10 yards. If they move the ball 10 yards in 4 tries or less, then the offense has earned a first down, and has 4 more tries to move the ball 10 more yards.
  7. Each down or play is started by the center snapping the football to the quarterback.
  8. The offense can move the ball in two ways: running and throwing.
  9. After three tries, if the offense has not moved the ball 10 yards, they may opt to kick the ball to the defense, rather than use their fourth try. This is a strategic move. If the offense fails to earn a first down on its fourth down, then the other team gets control of the ball at that spot on the field. By kicking the ball, the other team normally gets control of the ball 30 to 40 yards further away from the end zone.
  10. If the defense catches one of the offense's throws the defense has intercepted the pass. If the offense drops the ball while running, the offense has fumbled the ball, and the defense can grab the ball. In each case, the offense has lost the rest of its four downs and the offense for the other team takes control of the ball.

This should be a good start for those of you watching one of your first games this weekend. Welcome to college football!

Thursday, September 3, 2009


To kick off the 2009 college football season, let me pay tribute to this magnificent game. College football is the best game on earth! The NFL and NCAA are different, and I find the college game to be better. Therefore, before I am called for delay of game, I answer the burning question: What makes college football so special?

  1. Eternal Optimism. With college football players limited to four years of eligibility, college football teams have enough turnover each year that weaknesses can be turned into strengths in just one year. Right now, everyone has identical records. Fans everywhere have reasons to believe that this year will be THE year. A year of experience and maturity, a new freshman recruit, or a junior college transfer can make the difference in a team being middle of the pack and a contender. Whatever the end was to last year—a disappointing bowl performance, a losing record, or a win for the ages—time has dissipated the sorrow or escalated the ecstasy, and it is easy to talk ourselves into believing the best case scenario will become reality for our team.
  2. Blowouts. Who has not enjoyed watching big play after big play on the way to a 63-0 final score? You are watching a highlight video, no editing necessary. The game might lack competition, but the perfect execution and beautiful precision is captivating in its own right.
  3. Rankings. After a game ends, fans transfer all their interest in the final outcome of the game to the updated rankings. No blown call by the referee, no bad play call, no fumble, interception, or dropped pass generates as much discussion, debate, and interest for the next week than the rankings. As imperfect as they are, where would college football be without them? What else is more coveted by fans than to see their team “properly” ranked? Finally, without rankings, we could not have …
  4. Upsets. On the opposite end of the spectrum from blowouts, we find that rare occasion of the team that does not match up in hype, size, speed, or prominence, yet it rises to the occasion and beats a team that is highly ranked. This is why we tune in every week, because on any given Saturday, anyone can beat anyone. As we know, who does not like an underdog? Upsets, while they are happening, draw in casual fans and gets them to stop what they are doing and become emotionally attached to a no-name team, if only for a day, hoping they hold on and pull off the win.
  5. Schedule Variety. Teams have control of their schedules outside of the annual conference games. In the NFL, the league officials set the schedule and the fans are familiar with all 16 opponents in any given year. Colleges, however, make agreements with whoever they want. This brings a whole new element of mystery and intrigue to the season. The schedule of your favorite team may include a school you have never heard of, or it may include one of the traditional powers. Either way, it enhances the overall experience.
  6. Rivalries. Do I really need to say anything about this one? No matter how the season has gone in September and October, the win-loss records are thrown out as rivals square off for year-long bragging rights, for the upper hand in recruiting battles, for pride. Style points no longer matter, you are just happy to escape with the win. The difference between a 9-3 and an 8-4 season does not look like much on paper, but it is a huge difference when that fourth loss is a loss to your rival. No matter how successful a year is, you still feel like something was missing if you lost to your rival.
  7. Awards. End of the year accolades uniquely pique fans’ interest. From all-conference teams all the way to the Heisman Trophy, players’ every move is analyzed all year long. Debate rages from level of competition to intangible qualities to philosophically identifying the intent of the award so that the right player is selected. Players from every position are recognized as the best at their trade, whereas, in the NFL the accolades are limited to a handful of MVPs and Players of the Year. Some college awards take into account elements beyond play on the field—community service, academics, citizenship, and leadership. Players make so much effort and sacrifice throughout the year, it is good to see so many of them recognized for being exceptional.
  8. Bowls. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” For about two weeks in late December and early January, on any given day, you can find a match up of teams that had winning records, and that may never play each other again. Yes, the bowls have over multiplied and are now excessive, and January 1 is not what it used to be, but from a fan’s standpoint this is still the best way to satisfy your appetite for the game that you can make it through the long off-season. They also serve as a stage for legendary performances that stay etched in our memories forever: Boise State vs. Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, Vince Young in the 2005 and 2006 Rose Bowls. The bowls are the closest thing in college football to March Madness in college basketball.