Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Week 1 Predictions 2011 Season

Well college football is finally upon us and it is time to unleash the sure fire, biased, and usually poorly researched, predictions of this little forum. At the end of the year the "won/loss" prediction record will be near as good as most of those professional analysts. Maybe even better than a few.

The first week can tend to be pretty easy. A lot of the big time schools start off with opponents that should be beatable. Not always though. There may be a few surprises. Check it out.

1. Utah State vs Auburn: This is a no brainer. Auburn will not be near as good as last year and Utah State may be marginally better than most give them credit for but it won't matter. Auburn wins here hands down.

2. UCLA vs Houston: This will be an interesting match up. If Keenum can stay healthy and if the Coogs find a defense they may make a serious run this season. UCLA is UCLA. Middle of the pack school in the PAC12 (or whatever it is called). I will go with Houston here. May be close.

3. Colorado State vs New Mexico: A "who cares?" MWC conference opener. One of them have to win and it will probably be the school from Colorado. Go with the Rams.

4. McNeese State vs Kansas: Conventional wisdom says that KU will win here but I would not be surprised if  the IAA Cowboys keep it pretty close. Go with the Jayhawks.

5. Fresno State vs California: Both teams well coached. Pat Hill will play anyone. He just ain't skeered. I will go with the Golden Bears to pull this one out of a hat though.

6. Texas State vs Texas Tech: The Bobcats are working on a move into D1 with Franchione (of all people) at the helm. Texas Tech needs to find a new HC. That being said, go with the Red Raiders to win this one hands down.

7. Idaho State vs Washington State: Both these teams are horrible. WSU is in D1 and Idaho State in IAA so I will go with WSU to win here. Someone has to.

8. TCU vs Baylor: Dalton is gone and TCU will take a step back this year. They will still be a very good team though. A top 25 squad at the very least. Baylor may surprise this year and make it into the top 25. We will see. I will go with the Frogs to win this in a pretty close contest. Go with TCU.

9. Troy vs Clemson: Those Clemson Tigers better watch out for this crew. They are dangerous to just about anyone outside the top 10. I will go for Troy to give the Sun Belt an immediate boost here and upset Clemson. Go with the Trojans.

10. Montana St vs Utah: The Utes will see how far they can go in a "BCS" conference. I would say they will be no lower than third. Montana State has improved a good bit in the recent past but is just not near ready for this level of competition. Go with the Utes on this one.

11. Orgeon vs LSU: Interesting match up. It would almost be a no brainer to predict had there not been some recent trouble in Tigerland. I think that Miles will be able to pull this one out of the hat. It might not be easy though.

12. Miami Fl vs Maryland: How much will the distraction of the Hurricanes' troubles play a part this season. Quite a bit I would imagine. We will see shortly. The Terps have a good, albeit controversial, HC and he may be able to take the "Canes down. It may be close and I will go out on a limb and pick Maryland to win here. Al Golden will wish he had stayed at Temple when the NCAA is finished with the Hurricane program. He should probably start looking for a new job right away.

13. Louisiana Tech vs Southern Miss: This may be a very good game. The Bulldogs are supposed to be improved and a dark hose to win the WAC and USM is always in contention over in CUSA. It could be close and I will have to go with USM.

14. Montana vs Tennessee: The Vols may need a scrimmage before moving forward. Only problem is that Montana is not who I would schedule for a "sure win." They are a very good IAA program and may give the Vols a bit of a surprise. I will go with Tennessee to win but it may not be as easy as some think.

15. South Florida vs Notre Dame: May be a good game. The Irish will likely win out in the end. Go with Notre Dame.

16. Tulsa vs Oklahoma: Tulsa is a pretty good ballclub and may be in contention over in CUSA but will have problems with the big boys from Norman. Go with the Sooners.

17. Mississippi State vs Memphis: The Bulldogs are reportedly going to be good. Some think Memphis will not win a game one this season. We will see. I am not convinced the Bulldogs will amount to much and I think that Memphis will surprise a few folk in CUSA play. However, Mississippi State does not play in CUSA and will win this one. Go with the team from Mississippi.

18. Middle Tennessee State vs Purdue: The Blue Raiders were a bit of a disappointment last season. Their highly touted QB did not amount to much. Purdue is Purdue. It may be an interesting game but the Boilermakers will probably slide by.

19. James Madison vs North Carolina: Tar Heel beware. These guys will play down to the wire. I look for NC to pull it out of the hat but not by much.

20. Texas Agricultural and Mechanical vs SMU: It will be interesting to see how the Aggies perform after making collective asses of themselves recently. Wonder if it will be a distraction? They return a lot of starters and are projected to be a pretty good team but they are still Aggies. SMU is well coached and may make a run at the CUSA Championship this year. Do the Mustangs have what it takes to "upset" the Aggies? Probably not yet. I will go with the boys from College Station here.

Well that's it for week one. We will see how things play out.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mountain West Conference Predictions 2011

The Mountain West is going through come major changes. Utah and BYU are gone and TCU is to head to the Big East next season. The league welcomed Boise State this season with Fresno State, Nevada, and Hawaii coming on board next year. It is not hard to predict who will be number one and two this season but as we go further down the line it becomes a bit more difficult. A lot of mediocrity in this conference on the gridiron.

1. Boise State: Could be a BCS buster this year. The schedule is really no more difficult than it has been in years past although there are some teams that could give them a problem. The opener in Atlanta against the Bulldogs may or may not be dangerous. TCU will be a challenge and perhaps one or two others. They will have a target on their backs and everyone should be up for a chance to trip up the Broncos. They return just too many players from a very good squad to be in any real danger of not being at the very least top team in this league. I would look for a BCS bowl bid when all is said and done.

2. TCU: Probably won't be quite the team they were last year and likely won't be a BCS buster but still will field a very good squad none the less. They have a relatively light non conference schedule with Baylor and perhaps SMU being the only real challenges. They may lose a couple of in conference games also. They have a lot to replace at skill positions but will likely be a very good team when the smoke clears.

3. SDSU: A dark horse for the number two slot. Should TCU falter then the Aztecs may be right there. I am not sure that Rocky Long is the man to lead this squad but we will see. Their non conference schedule is light with only Michigan posing a real threat. It would be kind of interesting to see the Aztecs clean the clock of the Wolverines. They will certainly be up for that game. I look for a solid third place finish for this years Aztecs.

4. Air Force: A pretty good squad likely. May be better than most give them credit for. They do quite well, consistently, for one of the service schools. They do return quite a number of starters from last years squad and I would look for a bowl bid. They may get tripped up by either Navy or Notre Dame in non conference play, but should handle the other two IAA squads rather handily.

5. Wyoming: The talent level goes in this conference goes fast from here. Wyoming may be the best of the dregs but it is hard to tell at this point. They may be able to handle most of their non conference schedule with the exception of Nebraska. That is not a given though. They do travel to Bowling Green and Utah State. I look for a fifth place finish here.

6.UNLV: Perhaps a somewhat better team than is currently forecast by most major publications. Bobby Hauck is a heck of a coach and may be just what the doctor ordered in Sin City. It is not the easiest place to win.

7. Colorado State: This program has gone downhill since the Lubick era. They do return quite a few starters from last years' 3-9 squad. Whether that is good or bad remains to be seen.

8. New Mexico: Rounding out the bottom again is the Lobos. A bad coaching staff, a relatively tough non conference schedule, and lack of veteran players (which may be a good thing) will likely again see them scraping the bottom.

The changes in the college ranks affect the MWC as much as anyone. It would have been nice to see Utah and BYU stick around for this year to give Boise State (along with TCU and perhaps SDSU) some competition in conference. Such is the state of the game.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Western Athletic Conference Predictions 2011

The WAC is undergoing some radical change. Boise State is gone to the MWC with Fresno State, Hawaii, and Nevada not far behind. The conference, should it survive on the gridiron, will be much weaker in the coming period. Perhaps weaker than the Sun Belt or even the MAC. Is Louisiana Tech looking for a new home? Is anybody even interested in them? These are some questions that will have to be answered. It is interesting that UTSA and Texas State will be joining the league on the gridiron in 2012. The WAC will need to find somebody to replace at least some of these teams that are departing. Montana has apparently decided, rightfully so in my opinion, to stay in the IAA Big Sky. It is hard to forecast what will happen in the coming years. Perhaps they should join forces with the MWC and become a "super conference" of sorts. We will see. At any rate let us take a look at the conference for the soon to be upon us season.

1. Fresno State: With Boise State gone and Nevada in rebuild mode the conference crown is the Bulldog's to lose. It will be interesting to see how Pat Hill's bunch take care of business in their non conference sked. It is, as usual, fairly daunting. A loss to the Cornhuskers is a given but they may have a chance in the remaining games. SDSU is pretty good and the Bulldog/Aztec contest will be one to watch on Dec 3. They should be able to handle North Dakota and very possibly California. We will see. Look for 2-2 and perhaps even 3-1 in their non conf play. They may have some difficulty with some teams on the WAC schedule but Pat Hill is an excellent coach who gets more out of his players than they really should be capable of.

2. Hawaii: The Warriors need to replace quite a few starters but that seems to be a pretty much the case conference wide. There non conference schedule is relatively easy but they won't win them all. This squad could end up number one in conference or fall as low as fifth. Hard to say.

3. Nevada: In rebuild mode also and probably won't be quite the team they were last year. They won't be a possible BCS buster but will field a pretty good team. They may end up in the top slot before all is said and done but will not fall any further than third. The opener at Oregon will be tough and will show a lot about what this squad may be capable of this year. They also meet Boise State on the blue field and will have a tough time there.

4. Louisiana Tech: May be a dark horse for the conference crown. They are supposed to be improved and seem to be well coached. The non conference schedule features Houston and I predict that the Coogs will be a top 20 team before all the smoke clears. They also meet USM and Mississippi State in non conference play. Another pitfall could be UCA, which is a pretty darn good IAA program. They should be able to beat Ole Miss. If they can do well with their non conference slate, then they should do well in the WAC.

5. Idaho: Akey is a good coach but must do something to replace the very good Nathan Enderle. With a little luck they may be able to avoid the bottom half of conference standings. They will need the football gods to smile on them though.

6. Utah State: They may actually be improved this year and perhaps could surprise a few folks. A fairly tough non conference schedule with an opener at Auburn being the key. If they can hang tough there then they may have some confidence to make a serious run for a bowl game or some sort.

7. New Mexico State: Either NMSU or SJSU will finish here or at the bottom. Both are probably rather interchangeable. If Walker can win his home opener against Solich's Bobcats and do well at Minnesota, then they may have at least built some confidence to stay at least out of the cellar. They do return a number of starters on defense but whether that is good or bad.......

8. San Jose State: The Spartans will either land in the last spot or get very lucky and move as high as the seventh. This is a very hard place to win and it always seems that the football program is on the verge of extinction. Perhaps with the further decimation of the WAC the powers that be in San Jose will decide to discontinue the football program. We will see. Their non conference schedule is pretty brutal with the opener at a dark horse contender for the national championship game: Stanford. It only gets marginally easier with non conference games with BYU, Navy, UCLA, and Colorado State on tap. They will likely lose them all but may have a shot against the Rams. These guys need a whole lot of luck to win more than one or two games this year.

The WAC is a league in transition and there is really no telling where it will be in the next couple of years. Time will tell.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sun Belt Predictions 2011

The Sun Belt Conference is beginning to be taken more and more seriously as time goes by. There have been some upsets and some close calls in games with the big boys in D1 college football and perhaps some of schools are thinking twice about scheduling a "sure win" against the teams in this league. This year there are at least two teams that may be a danger to just about anyone outside of the top 25.

Predicted order of finish SBC 2011:

1. Troy: Well coached by a man who is at his destination. The Trojans return a fair number of starters and should be able to maintain the top spot in conference. The non conference schedule is manageable and with the exception of Arkansas, they may do well. It would be a surprise if they are not 2-2 in non conference play with 3-1 being a real possibility.

2. FIU: The Panthers are becoming quite a good team under Mario Cristobal. There is speculation that he will be snatched up by a "bigger" program if his team has another above average year. The team returns a lot of starters from last years' pretty good ballclub. There is no real big name on tap this year in non conference play and it would not be surprising to see them go 3-1 in non conference play and lose no more than one or two in conference. A bowl bid perhaps for this team and a new coaching staff next season.

3. FAU: Florida Atlantic will be a big surprise this year in SBC play. Coach Howard will be retiring after this year and the team loses quite a few starters from a less than stellar squad. I look for these guys to play up, as they say, and send Howard out on a winning note. There non conference schedule is brutal indeed and the Owls will be lucky to go 1-3, but if they remain healthy, they may be more than ready for SBC play.

4. North Texas: Another surprise. There is no reason for the Mean Green not to compete year in and year out in Sun Belt play. They have an excellent recruiting base and an opportunity to snag a couple of blue chip players here and there, but the last few years have been horrible. They probably should have kept Dickey but mistakenly let him go a few seasons back. The Todd Dodge years were horrible. What were they thinking? New coach Dan McCarney has been around the block and did a very good job at a very hard place to win; Iowa State. He should have the Mean Green ready to compete in conference in short order. They have a tough row to hoe in non conference play and 1-3 would be a success.

5. MTSU: A bit of a toss up between MTSU and ULM for this spot. Stockstill is a good coach and probably a bit under rated. They return quite a few starters on offense but not their QB. Dasher was perhaps a bit over rated anyway. The defense looks pretty young and thin. We will see. They may go 2-2 in non conference play but no better than that. With the exception of Memphis they may have trouble with the other non conf. opponents. Perhaps even Memphis may be a problem if Porter has gotten things together in Tigerland. We will see.

6. ULM: The Indians err Warhawks return a good many starters on both offense and D. They perhaps would be ranked higher in the Bartender Cabbie System if they had a different coaching staff. I am just not convinced that Todd Berry is the man for the job here. We will see. They will go 1-3 in non conference play with the only likely win coming against Grambling of the IAA SWAC. They do face Iowa and that is a possible upset although fairly unlikely.

7. Arkansas State: New coaching staff here also. I am not sure why Steve Roberts is not on board here still but so it goes. The team must replace a good many starters on both sides of the ball with about the only good news being a somewhat manageable non conference schedule. If they play their cards right they may get out of non conf. play at 2-2. They only sure loss I see is against the Hokies of Va. Tech. The other games could probably go either way. They should beware of another Arkansas team. Central Arkansas of the IAA SLC is a danger and could trip them up. Memphis? Depends on the job that Porter is doing in that fair city. Illinois? They may be able to sneak up on  teams from the Big Ten. They will have some trouble in conference play probably but with a little luck will rank higher than 7.

8. WKU: Taggart will prove to be a good coach. The Hilltoppers will escape the cellar this year and may surprise a few folks in conference. There non conference sked is brutal. Brutal! If they come out at 1-3 that will be a very big surprise.

9. ULL: The Cajuns are apparently in total rebuild mode. A new coaching staff and replacing quite a few starters will be tough to overcome this year. The only bright spot, sort of, is the non conference sked. The do meet Nichols State which they may (or may not) prove to be a victory for them. They could possibly upset either Kent State or Arizona. They may do well to go 1-3 but 0-4 is not out of the realm of possibility. They will have difficulty with in conference play also and may be lucky to best two SBC squads. Any victory with the possible exception of the Nichols State contest will be considered an upset.

Monday, August 22, 2011

What Should a Hillbilly Do?

It is being reported that those in positions of authority at Appalachian State University are seriously considering a move up to Division I. I have noted that I believe that such a move is not a good idea for most IAA schools. There are exceptions and the Mountaineers may be one of them. If the Appalachian State program can get into the Big East it would be a major step up. Conference USA or Sun Belt? They should probably stay at the IAA level before moving to a non BCS conference. The Mountaineer football  programs is one of the best in the IAA ranks and would be very competitive right out of the gate in the Big East, CUSA, Sun Belt and perhaps even the ACC.

It will be interesting to see where this leads.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Oh No! Here we Go Again

There is a huge investigation underway concerning convicted criminal, one Nevin Shapiro, and his role as a University of  Miami (FL) athletic "booster." This one has the potential to make the recent scandal at Ohio State look like child's play. We are talking about cash payments, trips, hookers, booze; the whole nine yards. It will be far reaching before it is all said and done with a trip to the booty house perhaps in the future for the unlucky. The whole thing is disturbing indeed but not really, I suppose, all that unexpected. We probably just should not be surprised frankly.

Now Miami, or at least parts of the area, is the new Hollywood. It is flashy, affluent, and trendy. The place to be for young folk so drawn to the bright lights. The area has a lot of old money  and took off like a rocket with the nouveau riche and the advent of the drug trade. With new money and the flash of the drug business, the area has boomed. I myself recall many trips to Miami while in the service of the nation and remember being quite impressed. Ah youth!! At that time it was just taking off as the "place to be" and of course the the area was fueled by dope money. Parts of the area were built with said money. It would not be the same place now had huge sums of tainted money not been awash. The area then attracted other big money that goes hand in glove with the illicit drug business.

Why should the area not have its' fair share of Nevin Shapiro types. The wealthy, flashy, criminality is a good fit in this small area. Unfortunately a major college sports program, one that has the potential to be a collegiate power, is right in the neighborhood. It just makes sense that some of the young, impressionable athletes would be attracted to the flash. They have a chance to become instant "stars" and may even get the chance to hang with celebs, have good walking around money, gratuitous sex, and all the trappings of faux power. Sad popular culture fuels this fire with Miami Beach and surrounding areas being featured in "hip hop" videos, etc. etc.

It is easy to impress and corrupt the impressionable. Some of these college "student" athletes, coaches, trainers, equipment boys, and others will be faced with some tough questions directly. Where will it lead? It may be as deep and corrupt as the SMU scandal of the early 80's. Perhaps even more so.

One of my favorite coaches has been Larry Coker. He is now the HC of the UTSA Roadrunner program which will begin its' inaugural season in a few weeks. I applauded this decision to hire Coker to get the program off the ground. I am now not so sure. It appears that Coker is not at this time implicated in wrong doing while the HC at Miami, but a good bit of the problem seems to have been taking place on his watch. Some hard questions need to be asked.

Randy Shannon is not to be forgotten. The scandal is far reaching and includes his entire tenure as HC. He should certainly be grilled under the hot lights. It is noted that he is not implicated at this time however.

Donna Shalala was (and is) University of Miami president during the time in question and one has to wonder what knowledge, if any, she had in the affair. At this time she apparently is not implicated in this brewing scandal although, like Coker and Shannon, she needs to answer some very tough questions. Very tough questions indeed.

Al Golden may end up wishing he had stayed at Temple.

source Yahoo Sports.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

We All Have Teams We Just Don't Like

Everybody who is a fan of the college game has some teams they just don't like. Why not? It is part of the fun of being a fan.  Often the reasons for not liking a team make little sense but that does not stop us from just naturally disliking some schools. Here is my list and reasons.

Notre Dame: I dislike them because they think they are entitled and special. The refusal to join a conference (in football), special television deals, and automatic bowl tie in agreements just fuel my fire. They are not special as recent history has shown. They were pretty good last year and will perhaps even be a real contender this, but I hope to see them lose. As many games as possible. Losing them all would be nice. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.

USC: I don't like them. I just don't like them.

Ohio State: Often disliking a team has to do with knowing an irritating fan. While in service one of my leading petty officer's was a huge Buckeye fan. That is all the guy talked about. He even had a tape of the Ohio State marching band and he played it for our enjoyment. Constantly! Who does that? It is not like the Buckeye band is near as entertaining as the bands of  Grambling or Southern. That at least would make sense. Anyway, ever since the Buckeye Band episode(s) I am happy to see Ohio State lose. Their latest problems have been quite enjoyable. With Nebraska now playing in their neck of the woods it is hard to see how they will be a top contender for "national champion." That would be great if Nebraska was not also on my list.

Nebraska: I never liked these guys. In the fourth grade a kid moved to the neighborhood from Nebraska. All we got to hear about was how great the Huskers were and how sorry our team was. OK he had a point at that time but we sure did not want to hear it. The son's arrogance was passed down from his father. The kid got it honestly at least. Funny thing; I remember his father as one of the most profane men I have ever known. It was quite a shock for a nine year old to hear a grown man yell "you dingy son of a bitch" at a driver who cut him off. I must admit that I found that rather humorous. My mother did not think it so funny though.
Anyway, I had actually softened somewhat on these guys until they decided to take their act to the Big Ten. I understand the reasons for, but just find it a bit pansy. They won't have it near as tough.

Texas A&M: I don't like these cats either. Never have. The recent move to try to leave the Big XII just adds fuel to the fire. The Aggies seldom field a competitive team (although they may this season) and I would classify their desire to leave the conference as cowardice except they want to bolt to the best conference in the game. I guess it is just stupidity. They won't compete there very often. That is not the reason I dislike them though.
I live among these Aggies and tire of hearing about the greatness that is TAMU. Their little ceremonies and songs are a bit odd also. The whole thing borders on the cultlike. Just like Wal Mart. Now we come to the crux of the matter and I must tread carefully. I don't like the Corps of Cadets. Why? Not all of the members of the Corps actually receive a commission into the armed forces. A great many do not. For those that move into the armed forces; they have my respect and gratitude. For those who choose to not go for a commission I say to you this: "Quit playing soldier. You are not one and choose not to be one. It is an affront actually to your fellow Corps members who will serve, former members who have served and paid the ultimate price, and to real troops who are already in harms way." Also many of the uniform items worn are non regulation. It just strikes me as odd. Very strange indeed.

BYU: Notre Dame Lite. They should be forced to affiliate with a conference same as the "Golden Domers." Unlike the some above, these particular Cougars are rather insignificant when one thinks about the potential for a "national championship." At least at this point.

Well these are the schools I just don't like. Never will I am sure.

How about you?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Well If You Looked at it From The Point of View Of an Aggie...

It is being reported by some that the Aggie move to the SEC is a done deal. It is also reported that some say "not so fast." It is further reported that the SEC may not even really be all that interested at this point. We will all see in the next few days I suppose.

Now if we just looked at this from the point of view of the Aggie, it is easy to see why they would want to leave. In the last couple of years there has been a good deal of improvement in the football program but that will be temporary. They may even compete this year for the "Big XII" title although in reality they probably are still a bit of a long shot. When the program can not even field a competitive squad in the Big XII (most years), then how do they think they can compete in the SEC? They won't of course and most likely they know this, but then there will be no Texas to contend with. Will there? It is far less humiliating to be stomped week in and week out by those east of the Sabine than to be demolished by teams in the Big XII. That is the rub I am sure. Those in Aggieland want to get away from Texas and by extension, the other Big XII schools at all costs. It is an ego thing. Better to be a third tier SEC team than a second tier Big XII. Or something.

You see, Nebraska chose to leave for the "Big Ten" in order to dominate. The motivation behind that doesn't take much thought. Colorado left for the "PAC 12" in order to just have a chance to compete occasionally. Another no brainer. The Aggies? They are attempting to leave a good conference for not arguably the best conference in college ball. It is apparently more important to get away from the Longhorns than it is to have a chance of competitiveness. Talk about shooting oneself in the foot....

After all, it is the fault of the University of Texas that Texas A&M can not seem to compete well on the gridiron. Or so they say.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hubris and Stupidity In College Station

As usual the folks in College Station are being bit by the "we are better than everyone else" bug. Of course that is bluff. For the most part Aggies feel inferior it seems. At any rate, there is serious speculation that Texas Agricultural and Mechanical  may want to make a move to the SEC. As a Southeastern Conference man I think that makes little sense frankly. The SEC is certainly an east of the Sabine league and the Aggies are not a good fit. It is also reported that the SEC is interested in making the move to become a super conference. Not sure I agree with that, but if they want to go raiding then there are some ACC, Big East and perhaps even a school or two in CUSA that would be a better fit.

Purely from a competition stance it is difficult to see how the Aggies will do well in the SEC. They are supposed to be "trending up" this year but that will be  temporary. Every team in big time college ball has a good year at some point and makes a run for a conference championship. Look at Indiana (or was it Illinois) that won the Big X a few short years back. These things happen. It won't happen but perhaps once every quarter of a century for the Aggies though should they leave for the SEC. Aggie football will be on the same historical level as Ole Miss, UK, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State. Those schools also have a good year once in a while but usually are discounted out of the gate in the hunt for the SEC title in football. The Aggies are always braying about "reaching the next level." They are at the next level now. The perhaps might even compete this year in the Big XII. They should be happy with that.

What it really boils down to is the collective inferiority complex that those in College Station seem to have. A perpetual chip on the shoulder as it were. They are always looking for an excuse as to why they do not generally field competitive football teams and of course the fault is not their own. They point to the "Longhorn network" as the last straw. It is always something.

The reality is that Texas A&M is not the flagship university in the state. That will always put them at a slight disadvantage in recruiting. Slight is the watchword. If they think that the kitchen is a bit hot in the Big XII then they will believe themselves in Hell should they move to the SEC. They will have more 4-8 seasons than 8-4. That should go without saying.

Maybe they should consider the Sun Belt or the WAC (now that Boise State has bolted). They at least would be able to field consistently competitive squads in these leagues. Most years.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Moving Up? More Cons than Pros?

Some programs in IAA ball are about to move up to the "big time" in college ball. Does this make sense? In some cases and for some schools perhaps so. Other programs should perhaps stay where they are. Let's explore this briefly.

Texas State (San Marcos) is poised to move out of the ranks of IAA and move into whatever is left of the WAC. They have hired (unfortunately for them) Dennis Franchione to guide their team during this transition. Does it make sense for the Bobcat program to move out of the IAA Southland Conference into the WAC? I would think not frankly. This, their last year in IAA, will prove again that this school has trouble fielding a team that even can compete in the mediocre IAA Southland. The hiring of Franchione will only damage their progress as they move into D1.

UTSA is about to field a football team and will take it into D1 next year. Is this a good move? I would think that playing in the D2 Lone Star Conference or the IAA Southland would be a better move than a jump into the D1 WAC. Perhaps they ought to emulate Lamar which has recently resurrected football and is now a full member of the Southland. They (UTSA) have hired Larry Coker as HC to get things going and that, at least, is a smart move.

It may actually make some sense for South Alabama to move into the D1 Sun Belt. The program could have taken a look at two (or three) IAA conferences to affiliate with but a move into D1 might be a good move on their part. The teams in the Sun Belt are, for the most part, a good geographical match and the league has made great strides in being taken seriously as a D1 conference. The schools' surprise the "big boys" at times and some big time programs probably are starting to rethink the wisdom of scheduling a Troy or Florida International for their Homecoming "sure win." Who can forget the ULM beat down of the Crimson Tide just a few years back?  It just might make sense for South Alabama to make the move into the Sun Belt.

It is also being reported that UMASS will transition into the MAC soon. Now the MAC does indeed need another program to make the two divisions equal. One has six and the other division seven, but it does not make much sense for UMASS to be the evener. The Minutemen play in one of the elite conferences of the IAA ranks and usually put a pretty competitive team on the field. The good East Coast IAA squads (and there are a bunch) are often on just about the same talent level as a middle tier ACC or Big East team. Why the move into the MAC for UMASS? It makes little sense. Why not focus on working toward the IAA Championship instead of going to some "bowl" game that the MAC is involved with. Unless it is the contest the MAC Champion plays in, then it will be a "bowl game" no one watches. It is much more prestigious to be the IAA Champion than to play in a third tier "bowl game."

Some of the elite (and not so elite) schools in IAA football perhaps need to think very carefully before trying to transition to D1. Are the rewards really worth it in the long run? In most cases I would think not.

Monday, August 8, 2011

What Are They Thinking in San Marcos?

Texas State University (San Marcos) is a fairly large institution and will be moving from Division IAA to D1 next year and affiliate with the Western Athletic Conference? Whether this is a good move or not is debatable and perhaps an issue to be explored at another time. At this time the Bobcats play in the IAA Southland Conference and generally are not very competitive even in this mid level league. Now they want to move to D1? Ok the school is certainly large enough for D1. Well, let me just wait on this subject.

What I really want to discuss is the hiring of Dennis Franchione as their HC. Now he has been here before when the school was knows as Southwest Texas State where he compiled a 13-9 record. Nothing special but not real bad either. He has coached some major programs along with small ones with varying levels of success. He really got on the radar with fair stints at both New Mexico and TCU (which were seen as collectively miraculous at the time) and that propelled him to the "big time" in D1 football. This is where things begin to go south. He left Alabama high and dry for Texas A&M which I have no problem with not being a Bama  (or Aggie) fan particularly, but it was seen as playing dirty pool by a large segment of the college football watching population. The reasons given (by Francione) were that he was making a move "up" in the college football coaching world and some probation problems with the Tide. Texas A&M a step up from Tuscaloosa? Come on! I got the distinct impression at the time that he was running from his pending failure and taking his below par act to College Station. That proved to be exactly correct.

It did not take very long for the Aggies to realize that far from "taking the program to the next level" Franchione was ruining it. He was basically run out of town and rightfully so. Now I don't have much problem with a coach who has trouble winning but I certainly have a problem with lack of character. This Franchione seems to certainly fall short in the character dept.

What I really find hard to believe is that any major program (or minor for that matter) would consider hiring Franchione for anything more important that latrine duty but apparently he was a finalist at San Diego State and UNLV. It is good that they chose to pass him up. Why he was interviewed at all is a mystery.

Why the administrators at Texas State chose to give this guy another shot is beyond me. There are plenty of other good coaches from the college and even HS ranks who would be just as good if not better and would not bring the baggage to campus that comes with Dennis. Just take a look at UTSA which is getting their own program together. They hired non other than Larry Coker.

If I were looking to make a move up with my program I would certainly never consider Franchione.

 The guy is destructive

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bartender Cabbie System Preseason Top 25 (2011)

Here is the Bartender Cabbie System (BCS) preseason top 25. There may be a surprise or two here. A couple of unlikely candidates sneak in and of course most of the usual suspects are here.. Enjoy

1. Alabama: He who shall remain nameless knows how to recruit and coach. Look for the Tide to be ready to roll.

2. Oklahoma: Ready to take top spot. Conference competition level is down a bit with Texas trying to figure it out and of course Nebraska gone. The Aggies and Cowboys are probably not quite up to their level this year.

3. Nebraska: Could be ready for number one if they can get the QB situation  decided. They have settled, by a change in conference, for a bit of an easier road. Better look out for the Badgers though.

4. West Virginia: Just watch and see. An easy Big East schedule and a bit of luck is all they need. Surprised to see them here? A loss to LSU in non conference play would not destroy them and a win over the Tigers would put them over the top.

5. Oregon: Perhaps a bit over rated. Time will tell.

6. Wisconsin: Quality coaching is what this school is known for. A bit boring and old school and yet may have what it takes to keep the Huskers from totally embarrassing the conference.

7. LSU: Miles will have the team ready for action.

8. Boise State: A top contender no matter which conference they happen to be in.

9. Utah: It would have been interesting to see them stay in the MWC for another year to fight it out with Boise State, TCU and perhaps Air Force.

10. Notre Dame: Hate to say it but this team is well coached and is back to challenge for a national title. The HC has character issues but that does not seem to matter much in anymore in South Bend.

11. South Carolina: This may be the year that Spurrier and Co. really make a run for the SEC title. It is not the easiest place to win in the SEC but the "Ball Coach" still has some magic left.

12. Arkansas: Like South Carolina, it is not the "top" destination for SEC recruits. Petrino, while having some major character issues, knows his business and can get the most from those not so talented. They have to find a good QB though. Ryan is gone and that is the only thing that keeps them out of the the real BCS (Bartender Cabbie System) Top 10.

13. Texas A&M: The bunch in maroon may finally be back. They lost some top players but retained even a good many. It has taken a good bit of time to rebuild after the disastrous Franchione era and Sherman is not the best of coaches, but the Aggies will field a very competitive team. The only thing keeping them out of the Top 10 is a slightly below par HC and the fact that they are, after all, the Aggies. They just have perennial bad luck it seems. Can they overcome? We will see.

14. Stanford: Probably the best QB in the nation but a new look in the coaching dept. Perhaps being a little generous placing them at 14, but a little luck, helped by a PAC 12 schedule, will have them getting close, and maybe even cracking, the top 10.

15. Oklahoma State: A well coached team that is often overlooked.

16. Florida: The Gators have fallen off a bit, but they are still the Gators. Despite a new coaching staff and many unanswered questions, they will field easily a top 20 squad. Perhaps surprise some folk and crack the top 10.

17. USC: They would be placed higher perhaps if they were coached by someone other than this Kiffin. He will prove to be a loser.

18. TCU: A very good team still without Dalton. If he was back for another year I would put them in the top 10. Still a well coached team and a danger but I would look for a step back this year. They won't be a BCS buster this season but will certainly make some noise and play in a respectable bowl.

19. FSU: Most pundits put the "Noles up there a bit higher this year. Not quite. Give it a year.

20. Ohio State: The program has come apart at the seams. Look for a drastic drop off but they still should be able to field a top 25 squad.

21. Texas: Mack will have this squad scratching back. They may surprise everyone and be a top 10 contender before all is said and done. Never count out Mack Brown and the Horns. Ever!!

22. University of Houston: Surprised? Don't be. Well coached and led by a Keenum. He is perhaps one of the top QB's in the country.

23. Baylor: Another surprise? Watch and see. Much like the Coogs of Houston, this squad is well coached and has a true field general behind center.

24. KSU: And yet another surprise for you. Snyder is a weird little dude, but he knows how to do a lot with a little. They make make some noise. Don't be shocked if they do so.

25. Virginia Tech: Not this year. The ACC is just not a good football conference at this point and I look for the Hokies to take a plunge. They will lose perhaps 3 conference games and be surprised by either Appalachian State, ECU, or Marshall in non conference play.

Others that were considered for the Bartender Cabbie System top 25:

Nevada: A wonderful season last year, but they have lost too many starters to crack the top 25 this year.

Miami: Give it a year or two and they may well be in contention for a "BCS Bowl."

SMU: Well coached and could crack the top 25.

Georgia: They better do well or the coach is history. He probably should start packing.

Mississippi State: May make some noise. Well coached but just not sure if the talent level is up to par.

Tennessee: As above

Louisiana Tech: May be ready to make a bit of noise in the WAC.

Fresno State: Pat Hill is a good coach and does a whole lot with very little.

SDSU: May have cracked the Bartender Cabbie System top 25 if Hoke had stuck around.

Michigan State: Pretty good but just not ready for prime time.

Michigan: The place damaged, perhaps even destroyed,  Rich's career. Hoke will likely wish he stayed in sunny SoCal before all is said and done. A decent program but nowhere near the power they once were. They won't be a national contender again.

PSU: Perhaps it is time for Paterno to go but he has earned the right to stay as long as he wants.

BYU: Perhaps could crack the top 25 but it is doubtful.

UCF: O'Leary has done a good job here and they may have what it takes to take CUSA again.

Southern Mississippi: Not to be counted out in CUSA play.

Auburn: Last year's "National Champion" will fall off in a drastic way and may not even crack the top 25. I really don't think they will. They lost just a bunch of top players. Of course they could surprise and be back in the hunt for the SEC. We will see.

Air Force: Pretty good program. Does quite well for a service academy.

Naval Academy: As above.

Temple: If Al Golden had stayed I would have had to consider them a top 25 contender strange as that sounds. At least Golden left for a place where he has a legitimate chance to field a national contender, unlike many other coaches, who just leave for the money it seems. Coach Rich R. and Brady Hoke come to mind along with the non entity Todd Graham.

Arizona State: Some say they will be pretty good.

Missouri: With a little bit of luck perhaps.

Georgia Tech: I guess so. Maybe.

Northwestern: There are those that put them in the Top 20. Probably a pretty good squad and I may be doing them a disservice by not giving them more of a look.

The college season fast approaches. I am looking forward to a fun year.

Friday, August 5, 2011

BCS and FCS? Nonsense

I am still going to go with Division IA (or just D1) and IAA on this little forum. I think most of us still refer to the divisions that way and I am just not going to play ball with the marketers who are doing their best to ruin the game. BCS and FCS? Nonsense. It is D1, IAA, D2, and D3. That's about all I have to say about that.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Just What is Scott Smith Saying?

In the 2011 Sporting News College Football magazine, editor Scott Smith, has a little op-ed entitled Independent Thinking. If I am not mistaken, he seems to think that college programs going the "independent" route may be for the best. He points out the similarities between Brigham Young and Notre Dame; he mentions the powers that Penn State, Miami (FL), FSU, and Pitt were before affiliating with a conference. He has a point there. The Miami's and PSU's of the world find the road a bit tougher when they become a member of a "power" conference and have to play a whole bunch of talented in -conference foes. Of course, I must admit that the ACC can not in any form be considered a power football conference......While the dramatic fall off in the prowess of the Hurricanes and the Seminoles is somewhat of a mystery, it probably has little (or nothing) to do with conference affiliation. Anyway, I get the distinct impression that this Smith is an advocate of schools going it alone.

I disagree.

As a college football purist, I must say that I think that any school that wants to play NCAA football must be required to be conference affiliated. Notre Dame has been skating by for eons without affiliation. As if they were something special. BYU apparently wants to follow in their footsteps. This is wrong and a detriment to the integrity of the game. It would have been much better had Notre Dame been forced into the Big 10 if they wanted to continue their football program. It makes geographical sense. Now of course that conference has 12 teams and there really is no room for another. I would now mandate that they joint the Big East along with the two unaffiliated D1 service academies. It makes geographical sense, and in the case of the Big East, it would ramp up the league's credibility a bit. As it stands, the Big East is somewhat of a joke. The addition of Notre Dame, West Point, and the Naval Academy would certainly make the league at least somewhat respectable.

In the case of BYU it just seems a bit like sour grapes. Those folk believe themselves to be a legitimate football power (they're not) and collectively (let's be honest), believe that they are just a cut about the schools that they were affiliated with in the MTN West. A bit of delusional thinking. While BYU has had, and will have again, some good years, they are at best a tier three program along the same lines as say a Boston College or Missouri. They should be mandated to stay affiliated with a conference. The MWC or the WAC is where they belong. Perhaps the MWC and the WAC should again become one, but that is a different subject for another time perhaps.

Perhaps if the NCAA tossed the whole BCS system then these school administrators would not constantly be looking for greener pastures. A fair and equitable path to a national championship is way overdue. Ditch most of the "bowl" games and let the issue be decided on the field.