RJ's 2006-07 CFB Bowl Picks, News, and Discussion

RJ Esq

Prick Since 1974
2006-07 CFB YTD
63-41-4 (60.6%) +46.54 Units

All plays for $300 each unless otherwise stated:


TCU -11 W
BYU -3 ($150) W
Rice -4 (-115) L
USF -4 (-112) W
Utah -2 ($150) W
ASU +8 L
CMU -7 (-120) W
Rutgers -7 (-117) W
A&M +3.5 ($150) L
TTech -6.5L
South Carolina -5 W
Texas -9 ($150) L
Virginia Tech -3 ($150) L
OU -7


Miami -3
Florida +9 (-120)
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From thewizardofodds.blogspot.com--Coaching Changes

From Central to Cincy

Brian Kelly, the Central Michigan coach who was a finalist for the openings at Iowa State and Michigan State, finally got his job at a BCS school. He told his team Sunday that he would become the coach at Cincinnati and would not coach the Chippewas in the Motor City Bowl against Middle Tennessee State. Kelly will be introduced at a Monday afternoon press conference. In other coaching developments, the Newark Star-Ledger reported that Rutgers' Greg Schiano would talk with Miami about its opening. The Bergen Record earlier reported that Rutgers is preparing a new 10-year deal worth $20 million for Schiano. The Miami Herald also reported that Texas Tech's Mike Leach would be interested in becoming the Miami coach, but he has yet to be contacted by Hurricane officials.
Alamo Bowl Malaise from BurntOrangeNation.com

Football 'N Tacos: Life Ain't Bad
By HornsFan Section: Football
Posted on Mon Dec 04, 2006 at 07:58:34 AM EST


We're going to the Alamo Bowl!

Truth be told, I'm as disappointed as you are that Texas dropped its final two games of the regular season, but we are where we are. So let's have some fun with it, toast the seniors on this team, and take a look at Texas' 2006 bowl plans.

The good news is that we're going to be playing close to home. Let's be honest about this: if you're not playing in a BCS Bowl, it doesn't matter if you're in the "Almost There" Cotton Bowl or the Fitness Made Simple Montana Bowl. By slipping to the Alamo Bowl, we've landed ourselves a date in good ole' San Antone. Speaking of which, anyone else reminded of that great Owen Temple song, "When I Hit San Antone"?

Sometimes Lord you can't help but think what might have been
Would we do it all over just to do it all again?

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</TD></TR><TR><TD width=300>The next best thing to Glendale: the Riverwalk!</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>Ah, what might have been... Water under the bridge at this point, though, right? Texas got its national championship last year, and were an injury to our redshirt freshman quarterback from being in the thick of things this year. So we lost our last two and go to the Alamo Bowl instead of, potentially the Fiesta Bowl. I was none too pleased with the prospect of playing Boise State anyway, so screw it, right?

So Texas gets to play Iowa, and if you thought -our- season was disappointing, well... ask Iowa how they're feeling about going 2-6 in the Big 10. Two wins, six losses. Only four non-conference wins against Montana, Syracuse, Iowa State and Northern Illinois got the Hawkeyes bowl eligible. Talk about depressing. (And evidence that there are too many bowls.)

Iowa finished the season on a three game losing streak, including a home loss to Northwestern. That's good news, right? I mean, we should win this one! Iowa sucks! See? There's some upside to slipping down the bowl food chain. You get to play a crappier team. Which means a greater chance of winning. And considering our quarterback situation... well, that's a good thing.

The only thing we're left to ponder is whether Texas' free fall at the end of this season will affect it heading into next season. There's more than enough time to sort through that, though, so we'll just file that one in "Inconvenient Facts I Don't Want To Deal With Right Now" and get stoked about a December date in one of the nation's most underrated cities.
Seriously: is there anywhere you'd rather be on December 30th than the Riverwalk? I didn't think so.
Hook 'Em!
Yeah...if CMU played somebody other than the sun belt rep...it might make a difference...

Interesting stuff on Leach and Schiano..

That's big time money RU is going to throw at him..
Morning Coffee from BurntOrangeNation.com

Morning Coffee
By HornsFan Section: Quick Hits
Posted on Mon Dec 04, 2006 at 07:59:04 AM EST

We get a few select quotes from Mack Brown on the Alamo Bowl bid, though the comments are well short of the press conference we're all waiting for. (Or maybe I'm just waiting for.) Anyway, this seems like a good Monday for Mack to sit down with the reporters, so we'll keep our eyes and ears open.

Greg Davis confirmed that the team will not remove the redshirt from Sherrod Harris just for the bowl game. As of now, it'll be the two McCoys, though Davis notes that the team will "have a third guy ready." Presumably, that's either Billy Pittman or Quan Cosby. I'm still not sold on the upside to bringing back McCoy, and though it's very clearly a medical decision, what I learned about stingers last week has me a bit uncomfortable about letting Colt suit up to play.

Speaking of the future of Texas at quarterback, super recruit John Brantley was shut out in the state championship game, failing to record a touchdown pass. His Trinity Celtics lost the state title 25-11 to the team they defeated last year for the championship.

Note: QB Depth Chart for Texas is now 1) Colt McCoy, 1A) Walk-on Matt McCoy, and 3) Quan Cosby. Jevan Snead will not be appearing in the Alamo Bowl as either the starter or backup due to his decision to transfer.
Copying My Power Rankings and Lines Here

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
San Diego, CA
Qualcomm Stadium
December 19, 2006, ESPN2

Bowl Projection:
TCU -13
Northern Illinois

Las Vegas Bowl
Las Vegas, NV
Sam Boyd Stadium
December 21, 2006, ESPN
Bowl Projection:
BYU -2

New Orleans Bowl
New Orleans, LA
Louisiana Superdome
December 22, 2006, ESPN
Bowl Projection:
Rice -9

New Mexico Bowl
Albuquerque, NM
University Stadium
December 23, 2006, ESPN
Bowl Projection:
New Mexico -3

Papajohns.com Bowl
Birmingham, AL
Legion Field
December 23, 2006, ESPN2

Bowl Projection:
USF -2

Armed Forces Bowl
Fort Worth, TX
Amon G. Carter Stadium
December 23, 2006, ESPN
Bowl Projection:
Utah -5

Hawaii Bowl
Honolulu, HI
Aloha Stadium
December 24, 2006, ESPN
Bowl Projection:
Arizona St.
Hawaii -3

Motor City Bowl
Detroit, MI
Ford Field
December 26, 2006, ESPN
Bowl Projection:
CMU -9

Emerald Bowl
San Francisco, CA
AT&T Park
December 27, 2006, ESPN
Bowl Projection:
Florida St

Independence Bowl
Shreveport, LA
Independence Stadium
December 27, 2006, ESPN
Bowl Projection:
Oklahoma St -2

Holiday Bowl
San Diego, CA
Qualcomm Stadium
December 28, 2006, ESPN
Bowl Projection:
Texas A&M
Cal -4

Texas Bowl
Houston, TX
Reliant Stadium
December 28, 2006, NFL Network
Bowl Projection:
Kansas St
Rutgers -10

Champs Sports Bowl
Orlando, FL
Florida Citrus Bowl
December 29, 2006, ESPN
Bowl Projection:
Purdue -4

Music City Bowl
Nashville, TN
The Coliseum
December 29, 2006, ESPN
Bowl Projection:
Clemson -6

Sun Bowl
El Paso, TX
Sun Bowl
December 29, 2006, CBS
Bowl Projection:
Oregon State -2

Insight Bowl
Phoenix, AZ
Sun Devil Stadium
December 29, 2006, ESPN

Bowl Projection:
Texas Tech -4

Liberty Bowl
Memphis, TN
Liberty Bowl
December 29, 2006, ESPN
Bowl Projection:
South Carolina -4

Alamo Bowl
San Antonio, TX
December 30, 2006, ESPN
Bowl Projection:
Texas -12

MPC Computers Bowl
Boise, ID
Bronco Stadium
December 30, 2006, ESPN
Bowl Projection:
Nevada -8

Meineke Car Care Bowl
Charlotte, NC
Bank of America Stadium
December 30, 2006, ESPN2
Bowl Projection:
Boston College -4

Chick-fil-A Bowl
Atlanta, GA
Georgia Dome
December 30, 2006, ESPN

Bowl Projection:
Va Tech -7

Gator Bowl
Jacksonville, FL
Gator Bowl
January 1, 2007, CBS

Bowl Projection:
Georgia Tech
West Virginia -9

Cotton Bowl
Dallas, TX
Cotton Bowl
January 1, 2007, Fox
Bowl Projection:
Auburn -1

Outback Bowl
Tampa, FL
Raymond James Stadium
January 1, 2007, ESPN
Bowl Projection:
Penn State
Tennessee -9

Capital One Bowl
Orlando, FL
Alltel Stadium
January 1, 2007, ABC
Bowl Projection:
Arkansas -3

International Bowl
Toronto, Canada
Rogers Centre
January 6, 2007, ESPN
Bowl Projection:
Western Michigan
Cincinnati -7

Mobile, AL
Ladd Peebles Stadium
January 7, 2007, ESPN
Bowl Projection:
Ohio pk


Rose Bowl
Pasadena, CA
Rose Bowl
January 1, 2007, ABC

Bowl Projection:
USC -2

Fiesta Bowl
Glendale, AZ
Glendale Stadium
January 1, 2007, Fox
Bowl Projection:
Oklahoma -7
Boise St

Orange Bowl
Miami, FL
Dolphins Stadium
January 2, 2007, Fox
Bowl Projection:
Wake Forest
Louisville -13

Sugar Bowl
New Orleans, LA
Louisiana Superdome
January 3, 2007, Fox
Bowl Projection:
LSU -9
Notre Dame

BCS Championship Game
Glendale, AZ
Glendale Stadium
January 8, 2007, Fox

Bowl Projection:
Ohio State -8
<!-- / message --><!-- sig -->
<TABLE id=HB_Mail_Container height="100%" cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0 UNSELECTABLE="on"><TBODY><TR height="100%" UNSELECTABLE="on" width="100%"><TD id=HB_Focus_Element vAlign=top width="100%" background="" height=250 UNSELECTABLE="off">RJ- are you or anyone that you know headed to the Rose Bowl this year? The reason I asked is my Dad was a USC Alumni and he had season tickets and more often than not we went to the Rose Bowl. I loved those games! I hope you have a chance to watch a Bowl game a life long memory!</TD></TR><TR UNSELECTABLE="on" hb_tag="1"><TD style="FONT-SIZE: 1pt" height=1 UNSELECTABLE="on">
Terp--No BCS bowls this year. I've gone to the Rose Bowl the last 2 years and the Holiday Bowl a number of years. I'll be going to the Las Vegas Bowl again this year most likely to cheer on Oregon (if they are getting 6, I love the Ducks).
Aztec4Life said:
Man, your avatar is HOT!!!!


GL on your plays rj!

Thanks, DMac. Keeley Hazell kicks ass.

I'm taking it easy right now on the bowl games. But man......just 2 weeks until I leave for Vegas for Bowl season!!!

Can't wait!!!
Hey! Great Season! Here's A Piece Of Poop
By HornsFan Section: Football
Posted on Mon Dec 04, 2006 at 01:26:50 PM EST


Sometimes, things work out the way they're supposed to. Drop your final two games to unranked Kansas State and Texas A&M? Go to the Alamo Bowl. Stat!

Sometimes, though, they don't. Michigan's plight is well-documented, so I won't pile on, but what about poor Rutgers? Their reward for handing Louisville its only loss of the season and playing West Virginia within a two-point conversion of a third overtime? The Texas Bowl. Against Kansas State. 7-5 Kansas State.

For a team that was -this- close to winning the Big East title, that's a long way to fall. And before you start pounding on the validity of the Big East conference, you might want to stop and think it through. At the top, you've got three excellent teams (Rutgers, Louisville, and West Virginia). A rung below them, but well within the realm of respectability, you've got South Florida and Cincinnati. Pittsburgh and Connecticut are only decent, and Syracuse is awful. Cumulatively, though, the conference ranks as the third best, according to Jeff Sagarin.
Comare that to, say, the ACC, which got a flurry of more respectable bowl invitations due to its perennial tie-ins. This, despite being a relatively awful conference this year. I know, I know - these bowl tie-ins are set up this way long before the season starts. But it does make you wonder: you totally sure about this, Greg?
Schianno Not Going to Miami, Discussions with Rutgers

Schiano tells Miami he's not leaving Rutgers
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Associated Press

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers coach Greg Schiano will stay with the school he led to national prominence this season, rather than pursue taking over the troubled Miami program.
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"This is where I want to be. This is the job I want to have," Schiano said Monday.

Schiano, Miami's defensive coordinator in 1999 and 2000, said he told Hurricanes athletic director Paul Dee on Sunday night that he was not a candidate to become their head coach.

Miami coach Larry Coker was fired after going 6-6 in the regular season.
Schiano has orchestrated No. 16 Rutgers' rise from one of the nation's lowliest programs in the past six seasons. At 10-2 (5-2 Big East), the Scarlet Knights are heading to a Texas Bowl matchup against Kansas State.
Rutgers narrowly missed the Bowl Championship Series by losing Saturday night in triple overtime at West Virginia.
"We're just scratching the surface here at Rutgers," Schiano said. "The sky's the limit. We're going to do great things here. We haven't done it yet."

Last year, Schiano led Rutgers to its first winning season (7-5) since 1992, and its first bowl berth since 1978.

Schiano did not discuss his current contract and declined to say whether he was signing a new one. He made $191,000 last year before athletic director Robert Mulcahy gave him a seven-year extension that will max out at $350,000 -- but only if he stays until 2012.

The extension raised Schiano's annual income from private sources from $325,000 to $625,000.

Schiano recently has said he wants Rutgers to commit to upgrading its facilities, particularly its 41,500-seat stadium. On Monday he said that school officials "are all on the same page with what we want to build here."

"We just need to keep moving forward. There are people committed at Rutgers to taking it to the level we're talking about. That's what's important to me," he said.
Texas' Alamo Bowl Nightmare Scenario

Two Cents: One Game Quarterback Controversy
By aorist9 Section: Football
Posted on Mon Dec 04, 2006 at 01:41:36 PM EST


So Texas has reported that they will not break Sherrod Harris' redshirt for a bowl game, so now the rub. We've already asked if we should play Colt or not, but assuming Colt can't play, who should play quarterback in the Alamo Bowl?

On the one hand, we have walk-on Matt McCoy who, though he shares a last name with Colt, has none of the talent/experience. On the other there's Quan Cosby, and to a lesser extent Billy Pittman. Both were high school quarterbacks and would do in a pinch.

Two questions: Who should play and who will play?
For my Two Cents I'm for using a base formation of 3 wides (Sweed on one side, Pittman and Shipley on the other) with Quan in the shotgun and JC/SY offset slightly behind him, then we can experiment with the Arkansas craziness of having Pittman and Shipley coming end around where Cosby could hit Sweed or hand off to Shipley who can run and Pittman who can run and throw, and then experiment with direct snaps to JC/SY to keep the running fairly vertical, but that's just crazy.
seems kind of silly to install a new offense that you're only going to use for one game. Bowl preparations when you are playing in a crappy bowl are about getting ready for the next season.

Guess you were right about OU over the Corn. Taylor played real shitty. I hope you guys beat Iowa by 50.
<TABLE cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=0 width="98%" align=center border=0><TBODY><TR><TD class=storytitle colSpan=3>5 Thoughts - Tressel is right, so is Urban

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By Staff
Posted Dec 4, 2006

Jim Tressel was right not to vote, but not like you think. Urban is right to want a playoff, a plus one is needed, & more in the latest 5 Thoughts.
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Vote early, vote often, or just don't ruffle feathers.

[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]By Pete Fiutak
[/SIZE][/FONT]1. Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel decided not to cast a vote in the final Coaches' Poll to avoid a conflict of interests. He didn't want to give the appearance of being a Big Ten homer if he voted for Michigan, and he didn't want the backlash from the conference if he had voted for Florida. While many are going to scream about this in some way, Tressel is right, but it's not just because he didn't cast a vote for the bowl season.

The Coaches Poll is not only a sham and a farce, with most of the "voters" turning out to be sports information directors and assistants to the coaches who aren't able to know enough about the world of college football, but it's also a huge conflict of interests from day one of the voting process.

Florida head coach Urban Meyer admitted that he had seen Michigan and Ohio State play once all year; when they played each other. Obviously no voting coach on East Coast time has seen most of the Pac 10 teams, Hawaii or Boise State play all season long, but they're supposed to have an informed opinion on them. It's not fair to the coaches, the players, or to college football, and Tressel's non-vote also proves that it's just not right.

How can coaches not have their own self-interest at heart? Of course they're going to vote for the teams in their own leagues because the not only know them the best, but also because it makes wins over them look better.

The entire voting process has to be done away with. Use a committee, NCAA basketball tournament selection style, to go over the teams and be held accountable week after week, use the computers more, and make this right once and for all.

What's good for the Urban is good for the Lloyd

[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]By Pete Fiutak
[/SIZE][/FONT]. Everything is always bad when it happens to you.

All the campaigning and politicking by urban Meyer to get his team into the national title game didn't really matter, it's not like the coaches and Harris Poll voters have any beef with Lloyd Carr and Michigan, but he was right in saying the system needs a playoff overhaul. Now that Carr and Michigan got the short end of the stick, he's predictably calling for a change to how things work.

What if the situations were reversed?

What if Florida was number two all year and got lapped by Michigan? Would the arguments be the same from both sides? If you believe something's wrong, then fight for it no matter what side it favors. If you think there should be a playoff, then fight for it no matter what. To Meyer's credit, he has always been a proponent of change, and now it's time all the coaches come aboard. If one team gets the shaft, then you have to acknowledge that it could eventually happen to you.

Alright coaches, here's the deal. Either you put it in writing that your are officially casting your vote and your idea for a playoff of some sort, or you lose your whining privileges if and when you get screwed.

P ... L ... U ... S ... O ... N ... E

By Richard Cirminiello

Two words. One rather simple solution. Plus one. Say it with me, p-l-u-s o-n-e. I have long been a proponent of pitting the four best teams in the country together (1 vs. 4, 2 vs. 3) in BCS bowl games with the two winners squaring off a week later for the national championship, but never more so than right now. Sure, I believe Florida belongs in Glendale, but am I 100% certain that the Gators, and not Michigan, are the second best team in the country? Heck no. No one is after both programs from power conferences finished with one loss against a ranked opponent. The real shame about this year's edition of the BCS quandary is that we'll never know which team is truly better because they'll never face each other on the field. They'll never play on the field, despite the fact that the BCS added a fifth game this year that seemingly set the stage for a plus one format, a mini-playoff that wouldn't alter the integrity of the current bowl structure, but would have brought us light years closer to common sense. But no, common sense has rarely been the hallmark of this system. Instead, we're left with endless debates, mythical comparisons and a stadium's worth of questions. Is Florida better than Michigan? Maybe. Maybe not. Had they been able to settle that debate in the 2 vs. 3 game of a plus one format, we'd actually be able to resolve this argument where it belongs--on the field.

Time to ditch the limtations

[FONT=verdana, arial,
sans serif][SIZE=-1]Matthew Zemek[/SIZE][/FONT][FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]
[/SIZE][/FONT]While conference champions should have to play in national title games, it's also true that conferences should not have a two-team limit for BCS at-large selections in non-title games.

Arkansas, Wisconsin and Auburn all did more than Notre Dame did this season, but because of conference limitations, they can't play in BCS bowl games.
(West Virginia also has a legit case, but the 'Eers got screwed just because of Notre Dame's dollars, not because of a Big East limit on BCS bowl slots.) Notre Dame's 10-2 is less impressive than other 10-win seasons across the country. Wisconsin actually has a very poor strength of schedule--worse than the Irish, in fact--but the Badgers won 11 games.

The BCS--while adding a plus-one at the very least--needs to finally do away with the Notre Dame-friendly provisions and the two-team limits from conferences. The Irish derive more than enough benefit from their independent status as it is; the pot need not be sweetened any more.

Houston's return to glory

[SIZE=-1]By [/SIZE][SIZE=-1]John Harris[/SIZE]
5. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, the Southwest Conference was one of the strongest conferences in the nation, and the Houston Cougars were one of the major reasons why. The legacy of the program was much stronger than most people understood. Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware. Wilson Whitley. Jason Phillips. The 1984 surprising conference champs. The Run and Shoot offenses of the late 1980s and early 1990s. But, when the SWC died a painful death and the major players in the SWC merged with the Big 8, U of H was left holding the bag…and searching for a life after, so to speak. The Cougs moved out of the Astrodome, moved into Robertson Stadium, saw a few coaches come and go and toiled in relative anonymity. Even after two bowls in three years under head coach Art Briles, there were still those in the city who didn’t believe in this program.

Maybe that’s what made Friday night so special. Walking through the parking lot before the game, the atmosphere was unbelievable, hours before the game. Fortunately for the home folks, the Cougars overcame a first half time out gaffe to roll over Southern Miss to win the program’s first CUSA championship since 1996. But, perhaps more importantly, U of H got the nation’s fourth largest city’s attention, again. As the Cougars floundered in recent years and the Texans arrived in the NFL, the city’s college football programs didn’t register on the radar of many living there. But, folks rallied around Briles and his charges on Friday in a way that’s difficult to describe. The Cougars repaid the favor by outlasting a Golden Eagle squad that had beaten them earlier this year, setting off an on-field celebration that symbolized how much this title meant to everyone involved.

It was a special night and one in which anyone in that stadium wearing red and white will remember forever - a night that stirred up memories of Klingler, C Spoon and the veer. It was a program that a city once forgot, but not any more.
<TABLE cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=0 width="98%" align=center border=0><TBODY><TR><TD class=storytitle colSpan=3>Daily Briefing ... Harris out at Stanford

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Posted Dec 4, 2006

Links to all the top news stories and notes from around the college football world.
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Compiled </B>By Mark Risley<O:p>...

Got News? E-mail Mark

December 4, 2006
Harris out at Stanford

Walt Harris will not return as the Stanford Football head coach announced Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby today. A search for a successor will begin immediately.

"Let me first say that I appreciate the work and dedication of coach Harris on behalf of Stanford University," said Bowlsby. "It is unfortunate that things played out the way they did. In some measure, the change in leadership is not fair to coach Harris. But, given the situation, it is my opinion that we have to start anew and identify new leadership."

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By Richard Cirminiello

Posted Dec 3, 2006

Summa Cum Laude – UCLA – USC didn’t blow the game in the Rose Bowl. UCLA took it from them with an epic defensive performance and just enough points on offense. Much more than just a huge win over a domineering rival, the Bruins’ victory dealt another body blow to a flawed BCS system that’s still a tweak or three from being acceptable.
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2. Wake Forest – The Demon Deacons play in the same league as Miami, Florida State and Virginia Tech, yet are headed to the Orange Bowl? Maybe the world is flat after all.

3. The SEC Title Game – Any time three non-quarterbacks throw touchdown passes in a championship game, you’ve got the ingredients of an entertaining football game. Put the specter of the national championship debate lingering in the backdrop and you’ve got an instant classic.

4. Florida WR Percy Harvin – Just a true a true freshman, Harvin was the star of the SEC Championship game, picking up 167 yards and two touchdowns on only 11 touches. Tebow to Harvin could be a nightmare for defensive coordinators over the next three years.

5. West Virginia QB Jarrett Brown – With starter Patrick White injured and Rutgers smelling a conference crown, Brown performed like a poised veteran in the first extensive action of his career. He made plays late with his arm and his legs, accounting for 317 yards and two touchdowns against one of the nation’s feistiest defenses.

Summa Cum Lousy – USC – All that was left between the Trojans and Glendale was 6-5 UCLA. You know, the same Bruins that lost this game 66-19 a year ago. No sweat, right? Oops.

2. The BCS – Sorry folks, but all the debates about which team was more deserving to play Ohio State in the championship game are not good for the sport. They detract from the games and the players and will never solve a thing. For the umpteenth time, the system is broken. Maybe one day it’ll be fixed.

3. Georgia Tech QB Reggie Ball – Honestly, Mr. and Mrs. Ball, I’ve got nothing against your son. Week-in and week-out, it’s just hard to fathom that a quarterback in a non-option attack can be this feeble. Over the last two weekends, he’s gone 15-of-51 for 161 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions, despite being blessed with a pair of fine Johnsons, Calvin and James.

4. The Rutgers Defense – Facing a backup quarterback and being spared the speed of QB Patrick White, the Scarlet Knights D played its worst game of the year, failing to make stops late and losing an opportunity for a landmark trip to the Orange Bowl.

5. Arkansas PR Reggie Fish – Fish’s muffed punt late in the third quarter was recovered for a Florida touchdown that completely changed the momentum of the SEC Championship game and gave the Gators’ a lead they’d never surrender.

Offensive Coordinator of the Week – Mike Schultz, TCU – Good luck locating a hotter non-BCS team these days than TCU, which has stormed back from a couple of early-season losses to win its final seven regular season games, six by two touchdowns or more. Credit Schultz’s offense, which gutted Air Force Saturday for 38 points through three quarters and has quietly risen to No. 2 in the Mountain West in total offense and scoring offense.

Defensive Coordinator of the Week –DeWayne Walker, UCLA – Does Walker have an agent? If not, he better consider hiring one because he’s going places. The Bruins’ defensive turnaround in 2006 was never more evident than on Saturday, when Walker’s unit became the first in 64 games to hold USC to single digits. UCLA pressured John David Booty all day, kept Trojan receivers Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith from making big plays and sealed a historic win on an acrobatic pick by Eric McNeal, which will forever live in Bruin lore.

Michigan has a good case for the No. 2 team in the country, but justice was absolutely done when Florida got the nod as Ohio State’s opponent in the National Championship game. The Gators won their conference, arguably the deepest in America, and navigated the single toughest schedule in the country. The Wolverines, on the other hand, had their crack at the Buckeyes two weeks ago and lost. Why in the world did they deserve a second chance when a team like Florida was out there? Kudos to those voters that looked at the totality of both programs’ resumes and had the guts to vault the Gators into the two hole.

Oh, and enough already with the incessant chatter that Florida won ugly this year. Did the pundits, who favored Michigan in this debate, even watch the Wolverines after the Notre Dame game back on Sept. 16? Or did they conveniently forget how they struggled with 6-6 Iowa, 4-8 Northwestern and 5-7 Ball frickin’ State in successive weeks?

An unsung hero in UCLA’s stunning upset of USC was beleaguered Bruin head coach Karl Dorrell, who named Patrick Cowan his starting quarterback, resisting the temptation to go with now-healthy Ben Olson. The sophomore responded with a better-than-the-numbers-indicated performance, making some key runs in the Bruins’ only touchdown drive and playing a mistake-free game. Would Olson, in his first action since early October managed the game better? Doubtful.

Note to self for 2007 and beyond: Never, ever, ever doubt the power of a rivalry game to create a competitive situation between two teams that don’t necessarily have comparable levels of talent.

Imagine the reality show you could have had Saturday night by simply putting cameras in the rooms of various Louisville players as Rutgers and West Virginia played to a three-overtime thriller. After routing Connecticut behind four Brian Brohm touchdown passes, the Cards were taken on a four-hour emotional rollercoaster ride, rooting for the Mountaineers in order to win the Big East. All the nail biting, pacing and nervous banter was worth it when the Knights’ two-point attempt for a tie was batted away by Vaughn Rivers, giving Louisville its first-ever BCS bowl game.

The good news kept coming for the Cardinals after their season-ending victory over Connecticut, when Brohm announced he’d be back for his senior year. If the quarterback doesn’t change his mind between now and the deadline for juniors to declare, Louisville could be right back in this position next December.

Poor Big 12 Championship game. Despite featuring two former Big 8 rivals and a bunch of enticing storylines, the game was completely overshadowed by the end of the end of the USC-UCLA and the SEC Championship game, which suddenly had more meaning on a national level than anyone could have imagined. Throw in a little competition from a classic between Rutgers and West Virginia for the Big East title, and the Big 12 Championship became an afterthought for a large swath of fans on Saturday night.

Raise your hand if you thought Oklahoma’s Paul Thompson would win a Big 12 title this year after Rhett Bomar was suspended before the season began. Yeah, me neither. Yet, he did a solid job all year, finishing 24th nationally in passing efficiency and leading the Sooners to the Fiesta Bowl. Having WR Malcolm Kelly at his disposal didn’t hurt. Kelly was brilliant Saturday night, catching 10 passes for 142 yards and two pivotal touchdown passes.

After watching Wake Forest LB Jon Abbate in the ACC Championship game, you can see why the junior is considering early entry to the NFL and is being called by some scouts as the next Zach Thomas. In the biggest game of his life, Abbate contributed 15 tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack to the Deacons’ 9-6 win over Georgia Tech that catapulted the program to its first conference title in 36 years.

Michigan State hasn’t played defense in a long, long time. That’s going to change now that Mark Dantonio is in East Lansing. The Spartans have never had a problem attracting talent to the school, but haven’t had a coach in a long time that could turn those players into sustained excellence. Dantonio is about to change that trend. He’s a stickler for sound defense, solid special teams and a strong running game, the same formula that’s working pretty well at the coach’s former employer, Ohio State.

On Thursday night, Central Michigan beat Ohio to win its first MAC championship in 12 years, quite an accomplishment considering the Chippewas were picked to finish near the bottom of the West Division and had to replace record-setting quarterback Kent Smith. It won’t take another 12 years for the Chips to wear the crown, particularly since head coach Brian Kelly is staying put for now and QB Dan LeFevour is just a freshman. LeFevour was magnificent in the title game, throwing for 314 yards and three touchdown passes in an improbable Freshman All-American season that began with him No. 2 on the depth chart.

When you’re compiling your list of biggest shoes to fill in 2007, be sure to mention Houston QB Kevin Kolb, who just led the Cougars to the Conference USA Championship with a 34-20 defeat of Southern Miss. The four-year starter has accounted for 31 touchdowns and just three interceptions this fall, a dramatic turnaround from the last two seasons in which he was picked off 21 times.

Here’s a viewing tip for Army-Navy games for the foreseeable future: Before the game is inspirational. After the game will give you goose bumps. During the game? You’re not missing that much, largely because of Navy’s recent dominance. After beating the Cadets 26-14 on Saturday, the Middies have now won the last five games by an average score of 40-13.

On some level, was anyone other than Oregon State not a disappointment out of the Pac-10 this year? In a conference that was billed by some as the next-best-thing to the SEC, so many teams underachieved in 2006. The Beavers were the exception, solidifying a spot in the Top 25 by upsetting Hawaii Saturday night and finishing the regular season as the league’s third best team, which was at least three places higher than anyone predicted before the season began.

Congratulations to Dick Tomey for winning eight games and earning a New Mexico Bowl invitation in just his second season at perennial doormat San Jose State. Tomey is getting the last laugh after so many, present company included, questioned his sanity for leaving a cushy job as a Texas assistant to take over a program that had just one winning season in the 12 years before he arrived.

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By Matt Zemek
Posted Dec 4, 2006

Days like this past Saturday make college football fans rightly furious. While coaches and coordinators deserve a lot more leniency than they usually receive, it must also be said that these highly-paid men sometimes make the kinds of decisions a rookie Pop Warner coach would never make. This is the story of a rousing conclusion to yet another regular season that's in the history books.
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By Matthew Zemek

The world of college football is a world in which coaches have only so much control over their 20-year-old man-children. They can give players perfect instructions, and yet huge mistakes can--and will--still ensue. Just see the SEC Championship Game, in which Reggie Fish of Arkansas and Chris Leak of Florida made blunders that came from nowhere. Fish was not taught by Houston Nutt to try to catch a punt over his shoulder on his own three-yard line. Leak put together a superb first half and a solid fourth quarter, but in the third stanza, he forgot how to play the position. The SEC title game was but one example--from the weekend, the season, and the whole 138-year history of this sport, for that matter--of young men turning to mush in the heat of battle. My mind is anxious and fragile along with every other human organism; the only difference is that I don't put my body or reputation on the line in front of a crowd of over 70,000 and a national network television audience. If you don't experience anxiety or stress, well, you're not a human being. Coaches deserve a lot of slack in this industry because they exist in a sport where mistakes will always come out of the blue and sabotage the best laid plans of highly-paid men.

Speaking of highly-paid men, though, the money factor is central to understanding why fans, the media and coaches constantly coexist (barely) in a white-hot emotional cauldron that never seems to cool down. While football coaches do lack a lot of control in the college game (in the NFL, life is appropriately less forgiving and much more of a zero-sum game), they still make a ton of money, and this means that when college coaches don't take care of the few things they can control, they come in for a firestorm of criticism they legitimately do deserve.

Fans go overboard when they demand firings of play callers on generally successful teams; that's something I've been hinting at--if not saying outright--for a number of years here at CFN. However, a point that I've under-emphasized--and will talk about today--is that on numerous occasions, coaches will make decisions that are so woefully and evidently impoverished that even writers like me or fans like you could have done better... a lot better. Coaches have the hard job of trying to pull together a whole program, a job which has hundreds of layered responsibilities great and small. However, on game days, there are times when coaches look like first graders who seem utterly incapable of performing the most basic game-management and play-calling tasks. When an adult is paid seven figures (or very high sixes) to take care of these fundamentals of football coaching and strategy and can't get the job done, it's totally understandable as to why fans demand firings... even for coaches and coordinators on nine- or ten-win teams. After all, the money issue cuts deep in the human psyche--especially in these pre-Christmas weeks: if Joe Six-Pack managed the deli section at the local market the way Chan Gailey managed Saturday's ACC title game against Wake Forest, he WOULD be fired. If Suzy Q. Pineapple cleaned floors as an overnight janitor the way Lane Kiffin called plays for USC against UCLA, she'd be handed her walking papers. This is the most legitimate reason and explanation for the anger fans carry--and then vent--on message boards and other forums. It is the most righteous and valid source of the movements to fire coaches and coordinators... even those on teams playing in or winning championship games.

Some fans are candid enough to acknowledge these complexities and emotional difficulties on message boards, in the hours after big-game losses. A visit to Scout.com's Georgia Tech site on Saturday evening revealed at least a few responses in which Yellow Jacket fans simultaneously acknowledged that: A) Chan Gailey shouldn't be fired for winning nine games and making the ACC title tilt after winning his division; B) his coaching was nevertheless the main reason Tech lost to Wake Forest; and C) as a result of A and B, Tech fans would always have to live with the discomfort of knowing that while Gailey will probably not allow the Tech program to slide downward, he is also just as likely to prevent the program from attaining the proverbial "next level."

The frustration Tech fans feel today lies not just in the sense that they won't become a powerhouse under Gailey, but in the strongly-felt view that the team will always play the same style of ball, have the same combination of strengths and weaknesses, and display the same personality on an annual basis. Fans (and in my private moments, I am one; I just can't display that in my writing or any public persona) know these moods, and in many respects, are right to feel these kinds of thoughts. As has been written many times by this columnist over the years, one of the unendingly fascinating elements of college football is how the same programs manifest the same behaviors over long stretches of time, as though they were psychiatric patients with well-defined mental health issues. For Georgia Tech, the "let's show no imagination in an all-or-nothing offensive approach, and sprinkle in some bad situational decision making" loss is and has been a recurring feature of the Chan Gailey era, especially against Georgia and in Saturday's war with Wake. Yellow Jacket fans are experiencing a feeling that's worse than frustration in the face of defeat; they're undergoing that sickening yet numbing sensation brought about by the realization that they're probably going to remain trapped in this cycle, with no hope of escape... even if Tech continues to churn out eight-win seasons at a program with a bigger (recent) pedigree in hoops, not football. Chan Gailey won't be fired. Moreover, he won't deserve to be fired. And yet, Tech fans--who, in many cases, understand and even accept these realities--will still be bitterly disappointed. This is why fan base-coach relationships are so understandably strained, with media members getting heat from both sides because--well--they usually take one side or the other whenever a coaching controversy crops up.

The same dynamic works at USC, where offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin--despite putting together two generally high-quality seasons under Pete Carroll's watch--must still be forced to confront a massive failure in a huge game that demands substantial adjustments in his future as a play caller. USC has achieved its preseason goal of making the Rose Bowl, which means that Kiffin--on a larger, collective level--has succeeded along with his fellow coaches and the players he teaches. Yet, when one considers the stakes involved in Saturday's UCLA game--combined with the fact that Kiffin makes a salary much greater than a lower-middle class worker at a carniceria (Spanish for "butchery") in Los Angeles--one can understand why Cardinal and Gold Angelinos would be up in arms about Kiffin's performance against the Bruins.

While it's undeniably true that USC's offensive line played horribly against UCLA, and while it's equally true that a play caller has only so many options when faced with an intimidated (yes, intimidated; no O-line commits that many false starts if it's not intimidated) set of blockers, it still stands that Kiffin--so good against Notre Dame (when his O-line blocked well)--had an absolutely brutal game from the press box.

It should have been obvious very early on in the Rose Bowl that UCLA was playing very physical defense, and was likely to sustain its effort for a long time. The Bruins were playing with supercharged, rivalry-fed emotion, a fact that should not have remotely surprised anyone on the USC staff. Accordingly, the smart move--made even more obvious by SC's poor line play--was to use misdirection plays while running the ball very sparingly and using wrinkles to get touches to skill people in open space. It didn't take a Rhodes Scholar to figure that out. Yet--and there were times throughout the 2006 season when I got this feeling--it seemed as though Kiffin, without Matt Leinart, tried to baby John David Booty and give his new quarterback a very simplified package. Only in the Oregon and Notre Dame games did it seem as though SC's offense really shot the works and made a concerted effort to ruthlessly attack a defense. Even then, the offensive framework was very simple on a conceptual level. What made everything okay, though, was the fact that against those opponents, such an approach was good enough to win. You couldn't knock Kiffin's results, even if you could find a lot to nitpick in his performances.

Against UCLA, though, a naked failure to make ballsy adjustments--or install creative plays--exposed the full extent of Kiffin's limitations, and since coaching is about preparation, Trojan fans--while insane to demand Kiffin's ouster--are very appropriate in their demands for better play calling by Monte Kiffin's son.

The one play call that typified Kiffin's horrible afternoon was the fourth and two at the UCLA 36 at the beginning of the fourth quarter. The whole USC braintrust had the between-quarter break to figure out what to do in a very crucial situation. Now, it needs to be said that the business of assessing play calling is prone to a lot of second guessing. Being fair as a critic demands that play callers and coaches be given a lot of credit for making good decisions that don't work out. The lack of a play's success is not the sole basis for evaluating the quality of the call or decision. If there's a solid thought process at work, the decision maker deserves credit even if things don't work out. Safe to say, there was no solid thought process at work in this case.

People who have watched both college and pro football for at least 20 years might very well remember an NFL game in which the Cincinnati Bengals--coached by Sam Wyche--led the San Francisco 49ers by four to six points with very few seconds remaining in regulation. The Bengals had a 4th and short around their own 30, and rather than chance a blocked punt, they decided to go for it. That was a shaky enough decision, but if they had a good play on for the fourth down, no big deal. Well, instead of taking a safety or using a power run or employing a bootleg with a run-pass option, Wyche and the Bengals ran the one play that definitely made zero sense: a slow-developing toss play to the short side of the field that the Niners quickly stuffed for a loss. On the next play, Joe Montana found Jerry Rice, who outjumped a Bengal corner (I think the name was Eric Thomas; I could be wrong) in the end zone for a stunning game-winning touchdown in Riverfront Stadium. Wyche lost because he ordered up (or approved of) the one play that made no sense on a 4th and short.

Lane Kiffin, as you can see, was obviously thinking along the lines of Sam Wyche on that 4th and 2. Given USC's nonexistent line play, the tremendous physicality and pursuit of the UCLA defense, and the down-and-distance--two solid yards, not one or one and change--the one call that made zero sense was a slow toss play to the short side. The old "anything but that!" refrain legitimately applied in this instance. The reverse mini-option--called a "trendy flip play" by other football commentators such as Gregg Easterbrook of ESPN.com-- that was used against Notre Dame got junked against UCLA. The simplicity--and stupidity--of the play revealed the plainness of the Trojans' playbook in a game that demanded creativity. Yes, USC--with an expectation of solid line play and physical running--does not want to be in positions where it must trick the opposition or become unnecessarily complex with its offense. Over 95 percent of the time, the Trojans rightly want to do the basic things well and win with a simple formula. Fair enough--the results affirm their strategy over the past five years. But there will be one or two games a year when a creative package must be brought to the dance, and UCLA was that kind of game. The fact that Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian couldn't come up with even remotely interesting answers to DeWayne Walker's questions is an indictment of their play calling... not all season long, but in this game. USC fans should be grateful for the efforts of Lane Kiffin over the course of two exceptional seasons, but it's entirely fair for this same fan base to demand a lot more from their play caller in big games.

It's worth pointing out that while losing coaches and play callers sometimes merit vigorous criticism when their performances are abnormally subpar, it's also true that some coaches can win and--for that simple reason--avoid a firestorm even if they made shockingly bad mistakes. Such was the case in the SEC Championship Game.

Yes, Urban Meyer's a stud coach, case closed. Yes, he's probably going to compile a resume that will rival Steven Orr Spurrier before it's all over. Yes, Meyer is quickly amassing the credentials that will mark him as a legendary coach if he maintains his current pace in Gainesville. Yes, he's already proven his worth as the Florida coach in just two seasons. But with all that having been said, it still stands that Meyer used all three of his timeouts before the end of the third quarter in a positively Gailey-esque display of game management. Moreover, Meyer's offensive coordinator, Dan Mullen, had a Kiffin-esque ability to call the wrong plays for much of the contest, until finally breaking free of an obsession with the Chris Leak option attack. Florida's staff coached hard, motivated well, and used a number of appropriate and clever wrinkles to turn back Arkansas. But had Reggie Fish not made his huge blunder, game management and play calling issues could have created a different storyline. The point of this is not to somehow "pile on" Meyer or Mullen. The point is that while coaches do deserve credit in victory and blame in defeat, there's a very easy tendency for victory to wipe out discussion of deficiencies in coaching, and for a defeat to eliminate mention of any of the good things a coach, coordinator or staff might have done on game day.

Fan bases have been known to be excessive in their criticisms and the emotions that fuel them. Fans at Alabama, Ole Miss, Notre Dame never seemed to give Mike Shula, David Cutcliffe, or Ty Willingham enough credit for the big seasons each of those coaches produced. But after thinking about matters of money, endlessly depressing cycles, and the insanity of really lousy coaching, I can understand why fans are so outraged on some occasions. In the end, I can appreciate the depth of anger and the intensity of frustration, given that poor decision making isn't compensated by a seven-figure salary for most of us. However, the reality of money does not change fundamental laws or principles of human behavior: all people demand equal treatment as autonomous beings who each possess the same level of human dignity.

A solution to all this? Here's a groundbreaking proposal, submitted to both coaches and fans alike (and I would encourage fans to take this idea to their coaches and ADs): given that college sports are a billion-dollar business, and given that money differentials form the basis for so much of the frustrations fans feel (legitimate in their intensity, but excessive in their personal nature), there needs to be a way for fans to get some sense of justice when a coach--one that does not deserve to be fired, but who still prevented a program from reaching a higher plateau--performs poorly. Guys like Chan Gailey--people who are appropriately safe and secure as the head coach for a fairly successful but not hugely successful program--should donate money to socially significant charitable or philanthropic outlets when they make abnormally large and overwhelmingly visible mistakes. If a blue-collar worker who is just barely scraping by must suffer through bad coaching in his alma mater's big game, how appropriate would it be, then, if the coach donated a large chunk of change to a local hospital that could use the funds to provide extra health care services in the future... services that might wind up benefiting that very same blue-collar worker.

From a coaching standpoint, this idea would work because it would be a very emotionally healthy and socially profitable way for coaches to acknowledge their mistakes in public. The pressure smothering coaches these days--obviously tied into money--prevents coaches from being too candid about their gameday failures. Initiating this kind of a program would prove to be enormously cathartic for everyone who cares about college football, and it would even provide a somewhat humorous component to the college football coaching profession, which--like the NFL (only to a smaller degree)--is dominated by stress to an unprecedented extent these days.

Fans and coaches will always have a guarded, fragile, two-way coexistence. However, this doesn't mean the dynamics of the fan-coach relationship can't be substantially improved when the offseason starts and the run-up to the 2007 season begins.

NOTE: The Monday Morning Quarterback will have one more edition next week, on December 11.

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By Matt Zemek
Posted Dec 4, 2006

After a year of necessarily detailed and elaborate columns, here's a season review awards and rankings show.
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By Matthew Zemek

NOTE: For those expecting commentary on the BCS, see the sidebar story published Sunday evening, titled "Florida over Michigan: Necessary but Unfair." It's in our story archive. -MZ

Coaching Awards

Best Coach, elite division: Greg Schiano, Rutgers. Best Coach, small-fry division: Todd Graham, Rice. Runners-up, elite division: Jim Grobe, Wake Forest; Lloyd Carr, Michigan; and Bob Stoops, Oklahoma. Runners-up, small-fry division: Dick Tomey, San Jose State; Phil Bennett, Southern Methodist; Larry Blakeney, Troy.

Best un(der)publicized coaching job for a team that wouldn't qualify as a "little darling" (San Jose State, Rice, SMU, etc.): Mike Riley, Oregon State. Runners-up: Ralph Friedgen, Maryland; Joe Paterno, Penn State; Ron Prince, Kansas State.

Best scrambling act by a coach that salvaged a deteriorating season: Mark Richt, Georgia. Runners-up: Glen Mason, Minnesota, and Karl Dorrell, UCLA.

Best maximizers of talent, elite division: Pete Carroll, USC, and Jim Tressel, Ohio State. Runner-up: Stoops. Small-fry division: Paul Johnson, Navy, and Jim Leavitt, South Florida. Runner-up: Terry Hoeppner, Indiana.

Most inspiring coach: Frank Solich, Ohio. Runners-up: Schiano, Grobe, Graham.

Best offensive coordinator: Gus Malzahn, Arkansas. Runners-up: The Petrino Brothers, Louisville, and David Cutcliffe, Tennessee.

Best defensive coordinator: Ron English, Michigan. Runners-up: Jon Tenuta, Georgia Tech, and Charlie Strong/Greg Mattison, Florida.

Best single game as a play caller on offense: Malzahn against Tennessee, Nov. 11. Runners-up: Tressel against Michigan, Nov. 18; Bill Callahan, Nebraska, against Missouri, Nov. 4; Malzahn against Auburn, Oct. 7.

Best single game as a play caller on defense: Schiano against Louisville, Nov. 9. Runners-up: Wally Burnham, South Florida, against West Virginia, Nov. 25; DeWayne Walker, UCLA, against USC, Dec. 2; Joe Kines, Alabama, against Tennessee, Oct. 21.

Best-coached game of the year, one coach: Schiano against Louisville. Runners-up: Tressel against Michigan; Carroll against Notre Dame, Nov. 25; Stoops against Texas A&M, Nov. 4.

Best-coached game of the year, two coaches: Tommy Tuberville and Steve Spurrier, Auburn at South Carolina, Sept. 28. Runners-up: Rich Rodriguez and Bobby Petrino, West Virginia at Louisville, Nov. 2; Urban Meyer and Philip Fulmer, Florida at Tennessee, Sept. 16; Jim Grobe and Ralph Friedgen, Wake Forest at Maryland, Nov. 25.

Play call of the year: Tuberville's chip-kick kickoff, Auburn at South Carolina. Runners-up: Dan Mullen's winning touchdown pass play from Chris Leak to Dallas Baker, Florida at Tennessee; Malzahn's hidden run using Reggie Fish to gain 29 yards, Arkansas at Auburn, Oct. 7; Tressel's 2nd and 1 long-bomb touchdown pass against Michigan.

Player and Team Awards

Team with the most guts and grit: Oklahoma. Runners-up: Rutgers, Wake Forest, Florida.

Team/unit with the highest football IQ: Ohio State. Runners-up, whole team: Rutgers, Wake Forest, Wisconsin. Runners-up, offensive units: Louisville, West Virginia, Navy. Runners-up, defensive units: USC, Florida, Maryland.

Smartest offensive player: Billy Latsko, fullback, Florida. Runners-up: Gary Barnidge, tight end, Louisville; Troy Smith, quarterback, Ohio State; Brian Leonard, running back, Rutgers.

Toughest offensive player: Mike Hart, running back, Michigan. Runners-up: Steve Smith, flanker, USC; Marshawn Lynch, running back, Cal; Pat White, quarterback, West Virginia.

Smartest defensive player: Reggie Nelson, safety, Florida. Runners-up: Jon Abbate, linebacker, Wake Forest; C.J. Ah You, defensive end, Oklahoma; H.B. Blades, linebacker, Pittsburgh.

Toughest defensive player: Justin Harrell, defensive tackle, Tennessee. Runners-up: LaMarr Woodley, defensive end, Michigan; Tom Zbikowski, safety, Notre Dame; Paul Posluszny, linebacker, Penn State.

Most underappreciated player: Pat White, West Virginia. Runners-up: Brian Leonard, Rutgers; Marcus Monk, flanker, Arkansas; Kaipo Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, quarterback, Navy.

Team with talent that can win big with mental toughness in the future: Oregon. Runners-up: Arizona State, Michigan State, and Texas A&M.

Team with mental toughness that simply needs more talent to win big in the future: Rutgers. Runners-up: South Florida, Indiana, and Maryland.

NOTE: The Weeky Affirmation will have two more season-ending editions, concluding with a Dec. 18 finale.

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By Pete Fiutak
Posted Dec 4, 2006

With so many bowls to watch, which are the ones to see and which cam be skipped? Pete Fiutak ranks the bowls from one to 32 along with early predictions for all including Chris Leak and Florida's showdown with Ohio State in the BCS Championship.
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</B></EM>Get picks for the top games for every sport[FONT=verdana, arial,
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Which bowls are the ones to see and which ones can be missed? With so many to watch, here are all the bowls ranked from the must-see to the ones you might be able to skip if you need to do some holiday shopping. These rankings are based on fun as well as importance. [/SIZE][/FONT]
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Can't miss no matter what. Cancel all other plans and send the family off to the mall.

These games promise to be fun

1. Rose Bowl presented by Citi Michigan vs. USC January 1, 2007, ABC
The BCS Championship game is bigger, but this is the one you really want to watch. It's a matchup of the 2007 preseason No. 1 vs. preseason No. 2. Which one's which? Not sure yet, but this could be a showdown of the 2008 BCS Championship game between two teams with something to prove. Michigan, with an impressive performance, wants to prove once and for all that it's the definitive number two team in the nation, while USC wants to put the UCLA debacle in the past and show that things really haven't changed all that much from the national title seasons.
[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) Mike Hart, RB Michigan, 2) Dwayne Jarrett, WR USC, 3) Mario Manningham, WR Michigan
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction: Michigan 24 ... USC 20

2. BCS Championship Game Ohio State vs. FloridaJanuary 8, 2007, Fox
Will Florida earn the number two spot and the shot at the title? Will Ohio State be tight and rusty after several weeks off since beating Michigan? The buzz won't be there for this for a few weeks with everyone certain to be talking about the BCS process and not the actual game. Florida is far better, especially defensively, than it'll probably get credit for, while Ohio State isn't quite as good as everyone will make it out to be. Don't just assume a Buckeye coronation with the Gator defense certain to keep this close.
[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) Troy Smith, QB Ohio State, 2) Ted Ginn, WR Ohio State, 3) Chris Leak, QB Florida
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction:
[/SIZE][/FONT][SIZE=-1]Ohio State 27 ... Florida 17[/SIZE]

3. Sheraton Hawaii Bowl Arizona State vs. Hawaii December 24, 2006, ESPN
Leave the defensive battles for late November rivalry games. What do you want in a December bowl game? Offense, offense, offense, offense, offense. Arizona State has the potential to get hot an throw big yards and points on the board, while Colt Brennan and the Hawaii offense are guaranteed to amass 400 passing yards and over 35 points. If you haven't seen the Warrior offense yet, this is your shot. This will be the most fun bowl game you'll watch all year.
[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) Colt Brennan, QB Hawaii 2) Davone Bess WR Hawaii, 3) Rudy Carpenter, QB Arizona State
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction:
[/SIZE][/FONT][FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif]Hawaii 48 ... Arizona State 41[/FONT]

4. Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Oklahoma vs. Boise State January 1, 2007, Fox
Remember, these aren't playoffs. If you're not in the BCS Championship, you're playing in a glorified exhibition game. While you might not be ecstatic to have a team like Boise State get into one of the big money games, it's one of only two unbeaten teams and has earned its stripes after an amazing run of wins over the last eight years. This might be among the most important games of the last few years to possibly change perceptions about how good the non-BCS conference teams are.
[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) Boise State RB Ian Johnson, 2) Oklahoma LB Rufus Alexander, 3) Oklahoma WR Malcolm Kelly
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction:
[/SIZE][/FONT][SIZE=-1]Oklahoma 23 ... Boise State 16[/SIZE]

5. Capital One Bowl Arkansas vs. Wisconsin January 1, 2007, ABC
Considering Arkansas blew out Auburn at Auburn, you could make the case that this is the best game between teams that didn't make the BCS. Wisconsin has the best record of any non-BCS team going 11-1 with the one loss coming to Michigan, but Bret Bielema's boys didn't play anyone. This is huge for both the Big Ten and SEC bragging rights. With the Big Ten considered down this year, the Badgers have to come up with its second straight Capital One Bowl win after beating Auburn last year.
[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) Arkansas RB Darren McFadden, 2) Wisconsin RB P.J. Hill, 3) Arkansas WR Marcus Monk
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction:
[/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT][SIZE=-1]Wisconsin 24 ... Arkansas 20[/SIZE][FONT=verdana, arial,
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Great matchups. Don't miss ... disown the family if they're annoying you.
[FONT=verdana, arial,
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6. AT&T Cotton Bowl Nebraska vs. Auburn January 1, 2007, Fox
One of the best of the non-BCS matchups, it wouldn't have been a shock if these two had been playing in one of the big money games. Nebraska is looking to get its first really big win since beating Michigan in last year's Alamo Bowl, while Auburn is looking to show that it's better than it played all year long. Even at 10-2, Auburn was one of the year's bigger disappointments coming off a flop of a bowl performance against Wisconsin in last season's Capital One Bowl.

[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) Nebraska QB Zac Taylor, 2) Auburn RB Kenny Irons, 3) Auburn DE Quentin Groves
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction: Auburn 27 .... Nebraska 17
7. Chick-fil-A Bowl Virginia Tech vs. Georgia December 30, 2006, ESPN
If you like big-time offense, this won't be for you with both defenses on display for what should be one of the hardest hitting games of the bowl season. Can Georgia use the home crowd advantage to get by a red-hot Virginia Tech team who's won six straight? Georgia can bounce back after a rough season with its third straight impressive win after beating Auburn and Georgia Tech, and can set the tone for 2007 with a big win.
[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) Virginia Tech LB Vince Hall, 2) Georgia DE Charles Johnson, 3) Virginia Tech LB Xavier Adibi
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction:
[/SIZE][/FONT][FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif]Virginia Tech 13 ... Georgia 9[/FONT]

8. Outback Bowl Penn State vs. Tennessee January 1, 2007, ESPN
Fine, so this game might sound better on name recognition than it does in practice, but Penn State's defense, and the running of Tony Hunt, could be enough to battle the overall athleticism and speed of the resurgent Vols. Tennessee can finish with a ten-win season and officially erase all memories of last year's nightmare, while Penn State is looking for its first decent win of the season while looking to prove that 2005 wasn't a fluke.
[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) Penn State LB Paul Posluszny, 2) Tennessee WR Robert Meachem, 3) Tennessee QB Erik Ainge
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction:
[/SIZE][/FONT]Tennessee 23 ... Penn State 13

9. Toyota Gator Bowl Georgia Tech vs. West Virginia January 1, 2007, CBS
It's the ACC's second best team against the Big East's second best team. Georgia Tech's run defense, outside of the loss to Clemson, has been strong all season long finishing 11th in the nation, while the West Virginia rushing attack finished the year second in the country. It's strength vs. strength in what should be a good game for four quarters.
[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) Georgia Tech WR Calvin Johnson, 2) West Virginia RB Steve Slaton, 3) West Virginia QB Pat White
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction:
[/SIZE][/FONT]West Virginia 23 ... Georgia Tech 16

10. Pacific Life Holiday Bowl California vs. Texas A&M December 28, 2006, ESPN
The Pack 10 is overdue for a good Holiday Bowl performance having lost four of the last five, while Cal will try to erase memories of the last time it played in San Diego losing to Texas Tech 45-31 in 2004. The Golden Bears get a ton of hype with not many big wins to back it up, while Texas A&M is gunning for its first ten-win season since 1998 and prove that the Dennis Franchione era is truly headed in the right direction.
[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) California RB Marshawn Lynch, 2) California WR DeSean Jackson, 3) Texas A&M RB Jorvorskie Lane
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction: California 34 ... Texas A&M 31

11. Allstate Sugar Bowl Notre Dame vs. LSU January 3, 2007, Fox
Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's Notre Dame vs. LSU so it's must-see college football TV, but it also has the potential to be a dog with fleas if Notre Dame doesn't do something major to address the pass protection and secondary issues. This will be like a home game for LSU in the first Sugar Bowl back in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina.
[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn, 2) LSU QB JaMarcus Russell, 3) Notre Dame WR Jeff Samardzija
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction:
[/SIZE][/FONT]LSU 38 ... Notre Dame 20

12. Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl Oregon vs. BYU December 21, 2006, ESPN
The second bowl game of the season is a killer. Oregon lost its last three games of the season and can turn things around in a hurry and get some major momentum going into next year, while BYU is one of the hottest teams in the nation winning nine straight. If the Mountain West wants to be taken seriously on a national scale, the Cougars have to not only win, but win impressively against a Pac 10 also-ran.
[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) BYU QB John Beck, 2) Oregon RB Jonathan Stewart, 3) Oregon WR Jaison Williams
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction
[/SIZE][/FONT]: BYU 34 ... Oregon 20

13. Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl Kentucky vs. ClemsonDecember 29, 2006, ESPN
The average fan will have no interest in this. You're not the average fan. This will be a shootout of the highest order with the Kentucky defense totally incapable of handling the Clemson offense, while Andre Woodson and the Wildcat attack should be able to crank out big yards and at least thirty points on a Tiger defense coming off a rough outing against South Carolina.
[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) Clemson RB C.J. Spiller, 2) Clemson RB James Davis, 3) Kentucky QB Andre Woodson
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction: Clemson 45 ... Kentucky 31

14. Alamo Bowl Texas vs. Iowa December 30, 2006, ESPN
Traditionally a solid bowl team, Iowa is looking to finish off an awful season with the type of win that can generate a buzz throughout the following eight months. Texas lost two straight going from national title contender to Big 12 title favorite to Big 12 South also-ran to the Alamo Bowl. A loss to the Hawkeyes would make the off-season as unpleasant as the last off-season was fun.
[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) Texas QB Colt McCoy, 2) Texas CB Aaron Ross, 3) Iowa QB Drew Tate
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction: Texas 37 ... Iowa 13

15. Meineke Car Care Bowl Boston College vs. Navy December 30, 2006, ESPN2
Easily two of the best bowl teams over the last few seasons, Navy has won its last two post-season games while BC has won six straight. This would easily be the best win of the season for the Midshipmen, who's coming in hurting after losing thunderback Adam Ballard to a broken leg in the Army game. After winning nine straight in three of the last four seasons, the Eagles can win ten games for the first time since 1984.
[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) Boston College QB Matt Ryan, 2) Navy QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, 3) Boston College DB DeJuan Tribble
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction:
[/SIZE][/FONT]Boston College 30 ... Navy 17

Bowl Games. Nothing more, nothing less.
You're a college football fan, so you're going to watch, but they have dud potential

16. Sun Bowl Missouri vs. Oregon StateDecember 29, 2006, CBS
The two teams were on the hot list in their respective races in the middle of the season after Oregon State beat USC and Missouri got by Texas Tech, but
the Tigers lost four of five before thumping Kansas. The Beavers won seven of their last eight and are going for a ten-win season after holding on against Hawaii. Expect lots of passing, plenty of big plays, and a game worth taking the day off of work for..
[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) Oregon State RB Yvenson Bernard, 2) Missouri QB Chase Daniel, 3) Oregon State WR Sammie Stroughter
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction: Oregon State 30 ... Missouri 27

17. Orange Bowl Wake Forest vs. Louisville January 2, 2007, Fox
Everyone keeps disrespecting Wake Forest and everyone keeps looking silly. It just doesn't seem like the Demon Deacons should be any good, but they just keep winning and winning and winning. Louisville has too much offense to Wake Forest and too much defensive pressure to lose this. Wake Forest has heard it all before and still came through with an ACC championship, but the Cardinals will show why they should've been in the discussion for the BCS Championship.
[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) Louisville QB Brian Brohm, 2) Wake Forest LB Jon Abbate, 3) Louisville DB William Yag
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction: Louisville 31 ... Wake Forest 13

18.[/SIZE][/FONT][SIZE=-1][/SIZE][FONT=verdana, arial,
sans serif][SIZE=-1]Texas Bowl Kansas State vs. Rutgers December 28, 2006, NFL Network[SIZE=-1]
Rutgers came within a triple-overtime battle of going to the Orange Bowl, and now it's in the ... Texas Bowl?! The Scarlet Knights have to pick their spirits up off the ground or they'll get tagged by a rising Kansas State team hoping for a big momentum boost going into the off-season. Chalk this one up to who has the better attitude.[/SIZE]

[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) Rutgers RB Ray Rice, 2) Kansas State QB Josh Freeman, 3) Rutgers DB Courtney Greene
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction:
[/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT][SIZE=-1]Rutgers 24 ... Kansas State 20[/SIZE][FONT=verdana, arial,
sans serif][SIZE=-1][FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2][/SIZE][/FONT]
19. Papajohns.com Bowl East Carolina vs. South Florida December 23, 2006, ESPN2
This will be a much better game than you think. East Carolina won five of its last six games only dropping a tight 18-17 battle to Rice while South Florida is still buzzing after shocking West Virginia to close out with a strong eight-win season. Still the unknown and disrespected program in the Big East mix, the Bulls will try to win its first bowl game ever.
[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) South Florida QB Matt Grothe, 2) East Carolina QB James Pinkney, 3) South Florida LB Stephen Moffett
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction: South Florida 23 ... East Carolina

20. PetroSun Independence Bowl Oklahoma State vs. Alabama December 27, 2006, ESPN
The Joe Kines era begins, and likely ends at Alabama against an up-and-coming Oklahoma State team gunning for the first bowl win in Mike Gundy's watch. Can the Bama defense handle the Cowboy attack? Will OSU overcome a rough two-game losing streak to set the tone for 2007? This should be an interesting contrast in styles.
[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) Oklahoma State QB Bobby Reid, 2) Alabama WR D.J. Hall, 3) Oklahoma State WR Adarius Bowman
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction: Oklahoma State 26 ... Alabama 23

21. AutoZone Liberty Bowl Houston vs. South Carolina December 29, 2006, ESPN
The Cougars could make this extremely interesting as long as QB Kevin Kolb is able to bomb away and keep pace with a Gamecock offense that should be humming. Each team will try to make amends for a bad bowl game last year with Houston getting destroyed 42-13 by Kansas and South Carolina losing a heartbreaker to Missouri. The Ball Coach won't lose two straight bowls.
[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) Houston QB Kevin Kolb, 2) South Carolina WR Sidney Rice, 3) South Carolina LB Jasper Brinkley
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction:
[/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT][SIZE=-1]South Carolina 35 ... Houston 20[/SIZE][FONT=verdana, arial,
sans serif][SIZE=-1]

22. Champs Sports Bowl Purdue vs. Maryland December 29, 2006, ESPN
Sometimes the best bowl games come when two uninteresting teams square off. Maybe this is one of those instances. The Boilermakers have an offense, but no defense. The Terps have an inconsistent offense and a decent defense, and can't hang on to the ball.
[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) Purdue WR Dorien Bryant, 2) Maryland LB Erin Henderson 3) Maryland LB Wesley Jefferson
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction:
[/SIZE][/FONT][FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif]Purdue 26 ... Maryland 23[/FONT]

Serious Dog Potential ... hang with the family, but keep the TV on
You'll watch, but you won't go out of your way. These matchups just aren't compelling and/or could be blowouts. Worse yet, these games could be boring.

23. Emerald Bowl Florida State vs. UCLA December 27, 2006, ESPN
Move this up ten spots if Florida State actually decides to show up. UCLA, fresh off its stunning win over USC, can keep the momentum going in what should be an off-season pf promise. The Seminole defense has been solid all season long, but the offense hasn't shown up over the second half of the season. Can the FSU O line keep its quarterbacks clean? Nope.
[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) UCLA DE Justin Hickman, 2) Florida State LB Buster Davis, 3) UCLA DE Bruce Davis
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction:
[/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT][SIZE=-1]UCLA 24 ... Florida State [/SIZE][FONT=verdana, arial,
sans serif][SIZE=-1][FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif]10[/FONT]

24. Insight Bowl Minnesota vs. Texas Tech December 29, 2006, ESPN
The two teams might have big names, but the matchup doesn't work out well. Texas Tech is third in the nation in passing, Minnesota is 115th in the country in pass defense. Thank you very much, good night. Tip your waitresses. Unless Minnesota can get its ground game rolling this might not be pretty.
[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell, 2) Minnesota QB Bryan Cupito 3) Texas Tech WR Joel Filani
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction:
[/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT][SIZE=-1]Texas Tech 38 ... Minnesota 20[/SIZE][FONT=verdana, arial,
sans serif][SIZE=-1]

25. MPC Computers Bowl Nevada vs. Miami December 30, 2006, ESPN
Miami in Boise? Is it even possible to travel further for a bowl game? The Hurricanes will have a fight on their hands if they're not taking a decent Nevada team seriously. The Canes might be struggling, but the Wolf Pack and the WAC could use the win for more national attention for each.
[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) Miami DE Calais Campbell, 2) Nevada QB Jeff Rowe, 3) Miami S Brandon Meriweather
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction:
[/SIZE][/FONT][FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif]Miami 31 ... Nevada 10[/FONT]

26. San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl TCU vs. Northern Illinois December 19, 2006, ESPN2[SIZE=-1]
If the Northern Illinois team that rocked over the last two weeks of the season shows up, this might be a decent game unless the TCU team that rocked over the last two months gets rolling. The Horned Frogs have been fantastic led by the nation's fourth ranked run defense trying to stop Huskie star Garrett Wolfe, who needs 100 yards to reach 2,000.[/SIZE]

[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) Northern Illinois RB Garrett Wolfe, 2) TCU QB Jeff Ballard, 3) TCU DE Tommy Blake
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction:
[/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT][SIZE=-1]TCU 31 ... Northern Illinois 10[/SIZE][FONT=verdana, arial,
sans serif][SIZE=-1]

27. International Bowl Western Michigan vs. Cincinnati[FONT=Arial,Helvetica, sans-serif] [/FONT]January 6, 2007, ESPN
The inaugural International Bowl might not be all that bad. It'll have a hard time getting any love being played three days after the first four BCS days, but it should be a decent game with a good Western Michigan team playing a Cincinnati squad in transition with head coach Mark Dantonio off to Michigan State. This is WMU's first bowl appearance since 1988.
[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) Western Michigan LB Ameer Ismail, 2) Cincinnati DB Dominic Ross, 3) Western Michigan DB Londen Fryar
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction:
[/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT][SIZE=-1]Cincinnati 20 ... Western Michigan 13[/SIZE]

[FONT=verdana, arial,
sans serif][SIZE=-1]28. New Mexico Bowl New Mexico vs. San Jose State December 23, 2006, ESPN
New Mexico might be the least deserving team in the bowl mix. It gets a home game in the inaugural New Mexico Bowl after thumping San Diego State 41-14. San Jose State's defense has been stout all year long, and now head coach Dick Tomey can make the resurgence complete with a win in the program's first bowl game since 1990. This might turn out to be among the tightest and most competitive of the early bowl games, but will you be interested?
[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) San Jose State CB Dwight Lowery, 2) New Mexico LB Quincy Black, 3) San Jose State RB Yonus Davis
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction:
[/SIZE][/FONT][FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif]New Mexico 24 ... San Jose State 20[/FONT]

29. Armed Forces Bowl Utah vs. Tulsa December 23, 2006, ESPN
This would've been far more interesting last season when the two teams won their respective conferences. Tulsa struggled over the second half of the season losing three straight before thumping Tulane, while Utah got hot winning three straight before losing to BYU in a classic. Neither team has done anything to make the non-college football fan want to watch this.
[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) Utah CB Eric Weddle, 2) Tulsa QB Paul Smith, 3) Utah QB Brett Ratliff
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction:
[/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT][SIZE=-1]Utah 31 ... Tulsa 20[/SIZE][FONT=verdana, arial,
sans serif][SIZE=-1]
[SIZE=-1]30[/SIZE]. New Orleans Bowl Troy vs. Rice December 22, 2006, ESPN
Rice is one of the feel-good stories of 2006 with first year head coach Todd Graham leading the program to its first bowl game since 1961. Troy stunned Middle Tennessee and then beat FIU to win the Sun Belt title, but it doesn't do any one thing particularly well.

[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) Rice WR Jarett Dillard, 2) Troy QB Omar Haugabook, 3) Rice RB Quinton Smith
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction:
[/SIZE][/FONT][FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif]Rice [/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT][SIZE=-1]34 ... Troy 16[/SIZE][FONT=verdana, arial,
sans serif][SIZE=-1]

31. GMAC Bowl Southern Miss vs. Ohio January 7, 2007, ESPN
Consider this your appetizer before the BCS Championship. The dumping ground for the losers of the MAC and Conference USA title games, this should be a low scoring, defensive battle. While it might be tight, it one offense struggles to get rolling, this won't be one to stick around for.
[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) Ohio RB Kalvin McRae, 2) Southern Miss OG George Batiste, 3) Ohio LB Matt Muncy
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction:
[/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT][SIZE=-1]Southern Miss 23 ... Ohio 10[/SIZE][FONT=verdana, arial,
sans serif][SIZE=-1]

32. Motor City Bowl Central Michigan vs. Middle Tennessee December 26, 2006, ESPN
If Central Michigan plays like it did in the MAC title game win over Ohio, this won't be much fun. The Blue Raiders were stunned by Troy 21-20 in the regular season final to blow a shot at the Sun Belt championship and the New Orleans Bowl, but the 7-5 record got them to the Motor City. Having yet to come close against anyone with a pulse, Middle Tennessee has to show far more than it did in its D-I non-conference slate.
[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Stars of the show: 1) Central Michigan QB Dan LeFevour, 2) Middle Tennessee RB Eugene Gross, 3) Central Michigan WR Bryan Anderson
The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction:
[/SIZE][/FONT][FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif]Central Michigan 38 ... Middle Tennessee 7[/FONT]

Coaching Changes by EDSBS.com


In brief:

–Schiano, staying at Rutgers. Frickin’ awesome.

–Stanford accomplishes what Voldemort could not do, ends Harry Potter era, says Avada Kedavra! to Walt Harris. Hope they ditch the biohazard couch, too.

– NC State’s coaching options look very, very interesting.

–Brian Kelly to Cincinnatti. MAC coaching corps again proving to be hell of a finishing school for larger conferences.

–Norm Chow is all over the place, including the persistent ASU rumors. (Though Pete Carroll’s pushing Sarkisian for the job, too.) We’ve given up trying to find out where he’s going. Speaking of complete and total mystery…

–When Finebaum says he’s clueless, you know the Alabama coaching search just entered a level of security clearance we can’t hope to crack. We need a double-O to get some intel, because it’s radio silence out of T-town right now.


We need a double-O, stat.

that guy for CFN above did not pick one upset lol....there is always upsets!
that guy for CFN above did not pick one upset lol....there is always upsets!

Yeah, CFN is bad about that. They usually pick a few upsets but they are mostly favs and the margin is very close to the line in almost all games.
Louisiana Tech fires coach Bicknell

Posted: Monday December 4, 2006 12:50PM; Updated: Monday December 4, 2006 9:10PM

RUSTON, La. (AP) -- Louisiana Tech fired football coach Jack Bicknell on Monday following a 3-10 season.

Bicknell leaves after eight seasons and an overall record of 42-53.

"It was a good ride," Bicknell said. "We battled extremely hard and did the very best we could every single day. This team never backed down from anybody. We took on all comers all of the time."

The school will buy out the remaining two years of his contract. The contract was extended by two years last January, and the school said then that his base salary was $150,000 per year.

"This was a very difficult decision," Tech athletic director Jim Oakes said in a news release. "Jack Bicknell has led this football program with class and integrity. He is an outstanding coach who has achieved success here.

Unfortunately, a change has to be made with the direction of our football program."

During his tenure at Tech, Bicknell led the Bulldogs to the program's first Associated Press Top 25 ranking in 1999 when the program went 8-3 and recorded a 29-28 win over No. 18 Alabama, the eventual SEC Champion.

Two years later, Bicknell led Tech to the 2001 Western Athletic Conference championship and an appearance in the Humanitarian Bowl.

"This is a very difficult for me because coach Bicknell is the reason I came here," said junior linebacker Quin Harris. "It's very difficult to take, knowing how much I respect him as not just a coach, but as a person. He's made a huge impact on my life, both athletically and as a person."
12/5 Reporters from thewizardofodds.blogspot.com

Reporters' Notebooks

Susan Miller Degnan, Miami Herald: Rutgers' Greg Schiano said thanks but no thanks to Miami, saying he will remain as the coach of the Scarlet Knights. Texas Tech coach Mike Leach was scheduled to talk with Hurricane athletic director Paul Dee (registration).

Brent Schrotenboer, San Diego Union-Tribune: San Diego coach Jim Harbaugh is set to interview Wednesday for the vacant head coaching job at North Texas.

Jon Wilner and Darren Sabedra, Mercury News: Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby said he hopes to have a replacement for Walt Harris within a few weeks. Possible candidates include Boston College's Tom O'Brien.

Sack the BCS: A site devoted to putting an end to the Bowl Championship Series. Thanks to Dan for this!
Morning Coffee
By HornsFan Section: Football
Posted on Tue Dec 05, 2006 at 08:42:28 AM EST


If you needed further proof that a majority of mainstream football writers are dim-witted, look no further than this year's Bronco Nagurski Award choice - James Laurinaitis of Ohio State. The sophomore linebacker won the award - presented annually to college football's "best defensive player overall" - ahead of actually worthy nominees like Leon Hall (Michigan), Gaines Adams (Clemson) and Reggie Nelson (Florida). The Bronco Nagurski Award is voted on by members of the Football "Writers" Association of America (FWAA). (It's seriously about time that we switch that 'W' to an 'R' - these are Reporters, and many, many great football Writers are excluded.) Anyway, the FRAA is clueless; Laurinaitis wasn't even the best defender on his team, let alone his conference, or the entire freaking country.

AAS's Suzanne Haliburton summarizes the Chizik replacement rumor mill, which we're proud to be a part of. Speaking of cocahing carousel rumor alerts, SMQ is in (Mike Leach to Miami?). And BlockU's got the entire coaching carousel covered.

We covered Vince's greatness in detail yesterday, but here's one more nice VY article, via The Tennessean. Money stat: in his last two games against the Manning brothers, Young completed 39-of-60 for 412 yards and four touchdowns against two interceptions. He also ran for 147 yards, one of his 19 carries going for a touchdown. He's picked up eight first downs on third down - six running, two passing. Niiiice.

Around the Blogosphere

If you're not reading EDSBS, well, you should be. Here's a nice introduction to the site: 10 reasons why Michigan fans should be happy. Classic.

Benny and Yost at the MZone get the real story behind the Harris Poll.

Carolina March spends some time contemplating many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, and decides that one of the possible outcomes is TH March as NCAA President! Hooray for us, as we get a college football playoff out of it. I'll be participating in his bracket challenge, breaking down one of the games in the coming days.

Rakes has one of the best comprehensive bowl previews I've seen; worth checking out as you prep for bowl season.
Todd at RBR is seeking Oklahoma State bloggers to exchange questions with for the bowl game with Bama. Might be a long search, Todd.
Great thread as always RJ

Disagree about Hawaii line projection by yourself.

Game was 10 at Pinny on Sunday night...now 8...it gets to 7 and i will hammer Bows....situational my man
I like ASU in that one at anything over a TD. Last two games just show how Bows do against BCS conf competition.
Thats fine for regular season. We are talking about ASU(who shaved last years bowl game against Rutgers) on the Island away from Family for Xmas. I think last tow games gave UH value here.

They shouldc have had 40-50 points with stats they had the other day.

Your choice...but you could of had ASU at +10 Sunday night.

GL bud
We usually on same page..no big deal...

Good discussion is always warranted. We'll talk more about this game later.
Blog Roundup from EDSBS.com


Mike Leach has been trawling us about the harbor, mateys, and a fine net of fishy goodness we’ve found. And how appropriate a word is fishy for whatever you’re finding on the internet, aye? Aye.

–Eric Wilbur lived up to the flaky pedigree of most punters by mocking a flaky punter. On the final punt of the SEC Championship, Wilbur lined up and performed what resembled a parody of Arkansas punter Jacob Skinner’s pre-kick visualization routine, which to those of you who’ve fallen and grunted your way through a few Rodney Yee videos should look a lot like a Sun Salutation from yoga. (HT: Allhegator.)
Zoom in on Wilbur to get the full effect.

–Texas no tiene un quarterback, since Jevan Snead is transferring and Colt McCoy’s still waiting for some Texas fan to show up and give him a new shoulder for the bowl game. (Again, Longhorns: Lowe’s, aisle 7.)

Texas is also shopping for new defensive coordinators and looking down Aisle 11, where they keep all the defensive guys with ties to the state of Georgia. He has the mustache. He has the talent. And when Bryan Van Gorder took over at Georgia, Georgia players suddenly became very, very mean. Put with Duane Akina and Texas trainer Jeff Madden, and you’ve got the makings of a mandatory mustache Super Troopers style staff.


Jesus, Jeff Madden scares the shit out of us.

–Moving a bit north up the Lonesome Dove trail to Nebraska…Bill Callahan’s
beating himself up nasty over Nebraska’s performance in the Big 12 Championship game.

“I’m looking at it really hard,” he added. “I’m just upset at myself for that particular performance. I don’t think our fans deserve it. Our fans waited a long time for that (game), and I apologize to them.

“I’m really, really upset. I’m really upset for that performance, and it all falls on my shoulders. I’m pretty aggravated, to say the least.”
Bill needs a hug. Or maybe he needs to build a snowman to cheer himself up!
–Andy thinks we need to thank [NAME REDACTED.} We’re not that far enough along in our walk with Jesus yet to do that, metaphorically speaking. Or perhaps better phrased, we don’t know if that’s correctable in our hearts…

–Navy tops the nation in APR for bowl-bound teams. (Auburn’s sociology department had a down year, we guess. )

–Dan Wetzel thinks Florida’s Bernie Machen is the right warrior to charge at the gates of the corrupt BCS. Even if he fails, that’s fine with us, since it could potentially distract him from his other quixotic quest: reducing drinking on campus during Gameday.

–Go vote for the Wiz’s cheap shots of the year. We’re endorsing the delayed flattening of Colt McCoy after the whistle for sheer malicious intent and flagrancy points.

–Elkon’s still got the UM/Florida bit in his mouth, and is pulling with all the lawyerly ferocity he can muster. This time he’s got quotes from a Florida booster from throughout the season where the booster evidences severe doubt in the team, worries, and rips the coaching staff for inane tactics and gameplanning. Nope, doesn’t sound like any fans we know anywhere.

–Lucious Seymour is a bit upset about all the attention he’s received. It may be because he changed his name from “Lucious Pusey.” Will from Deadspin received this email from the man, the legend, Lucious:

ooo so yall mother fuckers dont have shit else to say bout me huh… damn you know the funny thing is that mother fuckers like yall wont have the balls and say it to my face.. when i make it to the league i willshoot a middle finger at yall and say fuck all my haters.. i am the realest, and my name is Lucius Seymour get it right!!

We’ve already filed the plagiarism complaint with Eastern Illinois, because that’s lifted straight from the conclusion to our Senior Honors Thesis, “Man and Mandingo: Frontin’, Stuntin’, and Why We’re Changing Our Name To Lucious Pusey,” Orson Swindle, University of Florida Press, 1999. Prepare to be sued, asshole.
B.A.R. said:
Thats fine for regular season. We are talking about ASU(who shaved last years bowl game against Rutgers) on the Island away from Family for Xmas. I think last tow games gave UH value here.

They shouldc have had 40-50 points with stats they had the other day.

Your choice...but you could of had ASU at +10 Sunday night.

GL bud

Don't get me wrong. My line predictions are just my first step of capping and seeing where the value is. Very little value straight up in the bowls so far and now just have to look at picking right sides and guaging motivation and conference comparisons.
<TABLE cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=0 width="98%" align=center border=0><TBODY><TR><TD class=storytitle colSpan=3>Tuesday Question - Three Best Non-BCS Bowls

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By Staff
Posted Dec 5, 2006

What are the three non-BCS bowls you're most looking forward to?
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[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]Pete Fiutak [/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2][/SIZE][/FONT]<?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = O /><O:p> </O:p><O:p> </O:p>[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2][/SIZE][/FONT]<O:p> </O:p><O:p>[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]
[/SIZE][/FONT]</O:p>Q: Which three non-BCS bowls are you most looking forward to?
A: Capital One Bowl - Wisconsin vs. Arkansas
I'm a big fan of great running games and can't wait to see the lightning of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones vs. the thunder of P.J. Hill. This will be played in about 73 minutes and is as big as it gets for the pride of the two power conferences.

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl - Arizona State vs. Hawaii
If you haven't seen Hawaii play, here's your chance to catch the Colt Brennan-Davone Bess show. It'll be a shock if this isn't the highest scoring, wildest bowl game of them all with both offenses able to combine for close to 1,000 yards.

Pacific Life Holiday Bowl - California vs. Texas A&M
Each team has a lot to prove and should play one of the highest-level bowls of the pre-BCS season. Cal's DeSean Jackson and Marshawn Lynch are worth the price of admission, while the Texas A&M ground game should pound the ball for at least 250 yards.

<O:p><O:p><O:p>Richard Cirminiello </O:p> </O:p>[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]</O:p>[/SIZE][/FONT]<O:p> </O:p><O:p>[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]
[/SIZE][/FONT]</O:p>Q: Which three non-BCS bowls are you most looking forward to?
A: Las Vegas Bowl – Oregon vs. BYU – If the Ducks can correct their problems at quarterback from now until Dec. 21, this has the potential to be the most entertaining bowl game of the month. There should be plenty of points to go along with an inspired, surging Cougar team that’s determined to make a statement with a win over a name brand opponent from a major conference.

Chick-fil-A Bowl – Georgia vs. Virginia Tech – The Hawaii Bowl between Arizona State and Hawaii will end with a basketball score, but a chance to get a sneak peek at two of next year’s potential powerhouses is an even bigger treat. Both Georgia and Virginia Tech finished very strong, meaning the winner in Atlanta will have some serious momentum heading into 2007. Dawg true freshman Matthew Stafford is showing signs of maturing, but will need to make a quantum leap to put a dent in a Hokie D that allowed 29 points over the second half of the season.

Capital One Bowl – Arkansas vs. Wisconsin – Their record is as good as all but three teams in the country, but just how good are the Badgers, the forgotten one-loss team this year? We’ll finally get an answer, after they play a top-notch Hog squad that features stars on both sides of the ball and darn near won the SEC title. After playing an awful schedule that included just three teams that finished above .500, Wisconsin has a chance to bag the respect that’s escaped it all year.

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[/FONT]John Harris [FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2] [/SIZE][/FONT] <O:p> </O:p> [FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2][/SIZE][/FONT]<O:p> </O:p><O:p> </O:p>[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2][/SIZE][/FONT]<O:p> </O:p><O:p>[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]
[/SIZE][/FONT]</O:p>Q: Which three non-BCS bowls are you most looking forward to?
A.1. New Orleans Bowl – Rice vs. Troy – Just to see Rice playing this late in December for the first time since 1961 is cool as heck. On paper, it doesn’t have much in the way of excitement, but for a team that has come as far as Rice has this season under head coach Todd Graham, it’ll be exciting to see them finish the year off with a bowl win. Wow, who’d have thunk it?

2. Capital Bowl – Wisconsin vs. Arkansas – The second of two New Year’s Day SEC-Big Ten battles (Penn State vs. Tennessee in the Outback) takes place in downtown Orlando and is one game to look forward to for no other reason than the stark contrast in offensive styles. Bruising Wisconsin RB P.J. Hill vs. Arkansas do-everything Heisman candidate Darren McFadden will front the marquee, but keep an eye on the underrated defenses on both sides. Wisconsin dominated a highly confident Auburn team last year in the same game, but no one will find the SEC West champs disrespecting the Badgers this year.

3. Chick-fil-a Bowl – Virginia Tech vs. Georgia – Ball carriers in this game will be hit hard and hit often. It won’t be pretty from an offensive standpoint, but sometimes watching stout defenses lay the wood down for a full 60 minutes is fun to watch. Well, at least for me. The scoreboard operator won’t have much to do, but whoever is carrying the smelling salts had better get ready. This one won’t be 40-3 like last year’s LSU-Miami matchup.

[FONT=verdana, arial,
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[/FONT] [/SIZE][/FONT] <O:p> </O:p> [FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2][/SIZE][/FONT]<O:p> </O:p><O:p> </O:p>[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2][/SIZE][/FONT]<O:p> </O:p><O:p>[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]
[/SIZE][/FONT]</O:p>Q: Which three non-BCS bowls are you most looking forward to?
A: 3) Citrus (Yeah, I know the corporate name). Arkansas-Wisconsin is a heavyweight SEC-Big Ten battle. The bragging rights in the matchup are enough to sell this showdown, but a confrontation between the Badgers'
defense and Darren McFadden takes this game over the top.

2) Holiday. Virtually a federal law for this game to be an attractive non-BCS bowl. Jeff Tedford and Dennis Franchione are two creative minds but sketchy big-game resumes. How they coach--and how their teams respond to this occasion--will be very interesting to watch.

1) Cotton. Tommy Tuberville and Bill Callahan are two impressive football minds who have done solid work at their programs. Seeing Auburn and Nebraska play is a rare experience that--sadly--doesn't occur very often in the sport and its non-conference September portion of the schedule. It's a treat to have such a confrontation on January 1. And oh, get this: if you still don't think much of watching the Cotton Bowl early in the morning on New Year's Day (11:30 a.m. in the East, 8:30 on the West Coast), consider the fact that the legendary Pat Summerall will call this game for FOX. Great matchup and a great broadcaster. Can't beat that combo.

<TABLE cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=0 width="98%" align=center border=0><TBODY><TR><TD class=storytitle colSpan=3>Cavalcade of Whimsy - 10 Bowl Storylines

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By Pete Fiutak
Posted Dec 5, 2006

Can P.J. Hill and Wisconsin show that the Big Ten is better than it looked all year? Will Florida earn its big break? The big storylines going into the bowl season, why Michigan didn't get into the title game, the Heisman vote and more in the latest Cavalcade of Whimsy.
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By Pete Fiutak

If this column sucks, it’s not my fault … This was the second-ranked column for most of the season, but when push came to shove, the voters didn’t want to read it again on January 8th.

Out of sight, out of their minds … Don’t let anyone get away with the lazy analysis of “Michigan played two weeks ago, so everyone forgot how good it is,” and/or, “if Michigan vs. Ohio State was played on Saturday, the voters would’ve put the Wolverines number two.”

No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, and has Harris Poll voter Jim Walden, who put Michigan number three and Florida number one would say, “nope.”

If the Michigan-Ohio State game had been played this last weekend, the voters would’ve put the Wolverines third. They just assumed that they could put Michigan two after the close loss and everything was going to work itself out. It didn’t happen that way, so they corrected the system, for right or wrong, a few weeks after the fact.

No one forgot how good Michigan is. No one is even saying Michigan isn’t the second best team in America. The final BCS ranking was a statement made by the voters that they didn’t want to see a rematch and/or they believe a team that didn’t win its conference shouldn’t have a shot at the national title. The voting had nothing to do with Florida. No one actually thinks this Gator team is the be-all-end-all (more on that in next week’s column). This was a vote against something, not for a team, and there’s a big difference. However it worked out, it's another black eye for the system.

There’s no truth to the rumor that ballots are being counted by Lindsey Jacobellis … Didn’t anyone learn anything from last year when Reggie Bush won the Heisman but Vince Young turned out to be the signature player of 2005? Of course, the Heisman balloting is done a month before the bowl games are over, but the votes shouldn’t be accepted until after the regular season is actually finished. Several votes were in before last weekend’s games were played, and the Heisman people shot out e-mail reminders last Friday suggesting to vote as soon as possible (but they did acknowledge that voters might be waiting until after the December 3<SUP>rd</SUP> games were done).

What if Darren McFadden ran for 294 yards and four touchdowns in a scintillating Arkansas win over Florida? What if Colt Brennan threw seven touchdown passes against Oregon State? What is Steve Slaton went ballistic in a West Virginia win over Rutgers? I’m not saying they’d buck Troy Smith out of the number one spot, but finishing second and third is still a very big deal.

Also, feel free to completely dismiss and All-Conference or All-America teams put out before last weekend’s games from publications looking to be first rather than right.

The 23<SUP>rd</SUP> flavor - love … Here’s the real Dr. Pepper Million Dollar Challenge: get more then 57 people to show up for an ACC Championship game between Georgia Tech and Wake Forest.

“I hearby designate as my First Choice Troy Smith to receive the Heisman Memorial Trophy awarded to the most outstanding college football player in the United States for 2006. To the best of my knowledge he conforms to the rules governing this vote.” … I actually cast my Heisman ballot at 3:19 AM EST on Sunday after Colt Brennan threw a bounce pass on the Hawaii final drive. I can’t believe how much I agonized over who I was going to put in the second and third slots with Brennan, Darren McFadden, John Beck, Brady Quinn and Mike Hart all on my personal list, but since I could only pick two …

First Place – Troy Smith, QB Ohio State. He was the signature player of the year. Never faltering and never imploding, he came through despite shouldering all the pressure of the season, and the wacky Columbus faithful, by himself. The Michigan game ended all doubts.

Second Place – Mike Hart, RB Michigan. The statistics didn’t tell the entire story. Because of his workhorse, 100-yard efforts game in and game out, the passing attack opened up time and again allowing Mario Manningham, and others, to see single coverages at key times. He was also instrumental in helping the Wolverines finish second in the nation in time of possession, which was obviously a huge boost for the defense. 142 yards and two touchdowns against Ohio State didn’t hurt.

Third Place – Colt Brennan, QB Hawaii. There’s no way anyone out there watched him play more than a half, so I felt the need to stick up for him. Yeah it’s the system, yeah it’s the WAC, but he’s the real deal. 53 touchdown passes and 4,990 yards, while completing 72% of his passes, is impressive no matter what league you play in. If it’s so easy, why doesn’t everyone in the WAC, Sun Belt, or other non-BCS league do it?

However, no one asked my opinion on anything … Putting Paul Maguire on the sideline TV crane thing is like banishing that weird, slightly inappropriate, unshaven, unshowered uncle to the basement on Thanksgiving weekend with a tray of cookie bars, a leftover turkey sandwich and a remote control. Wait a minute, my sister-in-law kept suggesting that I go sit in the basement over Thanksgiving weekend to "relax and unwind." Come to think of it, people kept coming downstairs with food in one hand and Fabreze in the other. It also seemed odd that they checked the batteries in the remote three times.

And worst of all, the bars close at one … During a late third quarter lull of every bowl or conference championship game, every announcing team feels the need to kiss up to whatever city they're in saying, “(insert bowl/championship site here) did a great job of hosting this game showing first-class hospitality the entire week.” Just once I’d like to hear someone go off. “This city was awful. It had a weird combination of smells alternating between beet soup and wet dog, the Starbucks ran out of soy for my extra-hot, no foam, half caf, three Splenda latte, and there wasn’t any place to get a rub and a tug for less than $100.”

Even so, the hit was really, really cool … Obviously you can’t fine college players, but before someone gets really hurt, something has to be done about the helmet-to-helmet shots like the one USC LB Rey Maualuga nailed UCLA QB Patrick Cowan with in what appeared to be a tone-setting moment for both teams in the 13-9 Bruin win. Use replay to confirm before punishment is metered out, and then throw the player out of the game and suspend him from the next one.

How Richard Kline, in the role of Larry Dallas, isn’t in the TV Hall of Fame is one of the world’s great tragedies … Since they don't get paid, I have a personal rule to never rip on the players above and beyond simply criticizing their play. With that said, watching Georgia Tech QB Reggie Ball throw is like watching and old episode of Three’s Company. Every week there's a new, quirky, bizarre, could-only-happen-here misunderstanding that should be figured out and resolved right off the bat, but isn't. Still, you return either to watch Suzanne Somers in a tight t-shirt or Calvin Johnson in single coverage.

At least Greg Schiano doesn't have to watch MPC Computers Bowl tape this off-season… At the end of the day, Rutgers is still Rutgers. How much do you hate the bowl setup if you’ve lived and died with the Scarlet Knights all year? Rutgers took West Virginia to triple overtime coming agonizingly close to going to the Orange Bowl to play Wake Forest, but the Mountaineers pulled it out banishing Ray Rice and company to the Texas Bowl against Kansas State. Worse yet, it’s on the NFL Network, which still doesn’t have a deal with the New York City cable market meaning about 14 people will watch this with Cal and Texas A&M playing at the same time in the Holiday Bowl.

But it's not worse than when someone says they don’t want fries and then eats half of yours … Sorry, but your team isn’t big-time if another program can hork your head man. The Big East has to be particularly grouchy at everyone thinking they can swoop in and take their coaches. Cincinnati’s Mark Dantonio is off to Michigan State, Louisville’s Bobby Petrino, Greg Schiano, West Virginia’s Rich Rodriguez and South Florida’s Jim Leavitt were all on Miami and Alabama's think-about lists.

The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
Depending how you look at it, the bowls can be an end to the season or the start to the next year and a time for programs to identify their places in the college football world. Here are ten big storylines going into one of the most glorious times of the sports year.

10. Can all the sucky matchups produce decent games?
I’m trying, baby, I’m trying. I’m supposed to love all 119 college football teams equally, but to be honest, it’s hard getting jazzed up for the New Mexico Bowl between New Mexico and San Jose State and the Motor City Bowl between Middle Tennessee and Central Michigan. I’m the only person outside of Boise and Winston-Salem who’s excited to see Boise State and Wake Forest get national stage games, and even the national title is likely to bring out little more than a polite nod from the rest of the sports world with Ohio State vs. Florida not quite in the same stratosphere as the titanic USC – Texas Rose Bowl of last season. There were a lot of bad teams in a stepping-stone year, and that produces mediocre bowl matchups, but that doesn’t mean the games won’t be entertaining … hopefully.

9. Next step or step out time for California and Texas A&M in the Holiday Bowl, and springboard time for Wisconsin and Arkansas in the Capital One.
Cal is the Battlefield Earth of teams with a big budget and lots of flash and special effects, but has a plot that goes nowhere. For all the bells and whistles, it’s time Jeff Tedford’s team actually beats a good team on a national stage. Texas A&M spent most of the year fattening up on cupcakes before taking the Dennis Franchione era to another level by beating Texas. A win over the Bears would send expectations sky-high for next year. On the topic of hot teams, Wisconsin and Arkansas will be ranked in everyone’s 2007 preseason top ten, so the winner of the Capital One Bowl will likely get the recognition and buzz West Virginia received coming into this season because it’ll be a big …

8. … Momentum builder
Coaches love bowl games because 32 seasons are finishing up with splashy wins. West Virginia lived off the Sugar Bowl victory over Georgia to be everyone’s “it” team. Wisconsin came of age in a Capital One Bowl win over Auburn and went 11-1. Missouri’s fan base and program were energized after a thrilling win over South Carolina. Which teams build for 2007 of a win?

7. All the lame ducks
Greg Schiano isn’t taking the Miami job, but that doesn’t mean he's not still a red-hot commodity. Rich Rodriguez is even hotter on the rumor mill. Even if those two stick and their schools, Miami, Central Michigan, Cincinnati, Arizona State and Alabama all have big changes to deal with this off-season. How will they respond?

6. Who’s into it and who isn’t?
Only week one games are harder to predict than the bowls. Who’s going to be rusty after the long layoff? Who’s going to benefit most from healing up the bumps and bruises? Who’s going to take the game seriously, and who’s going to enjoy all the free stuff and the spiffy vay-cay? You can have all the inside info and all the on-field analysis in the world, and you’ll still get left fielders like last year’s Emerald Bowl when a mediocre Utah team applied an atomic wedgie to Georgia Tech.
5. The 400-pound gorilla is wearing burnt orange
Fine, I’ll bring it up … the spotlight is back on Mack Brown. When one of the five most talented teams in America plays in the Alamo Bowl after gagging away the Big 12 South, the pressure is back on. If the Longhorns lose to Iowa, it might then be back to the pre-Vince days when Texas was known as the million dollar program with the ten-cent big-game head. Ask Lloyd Carr, Phil Fulmer and Larry Coker how much time a national title buys you before criticism kicks in.

4. Time for the little guy to prove itself
Boise State gets a seat at the adult table, and while it doesn’t have to beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, it can’t soil itself or the non-automatic BCS leagues will be set back three years. Hawaii (vs. Arizona State), BYU (vs. Oregon), Northern Illinois (vs. TCU), Houston (vs. South Carolina), Navy (vs. Boston College), and Nevada (vs. Miami) are all carrying the torch.
3. Is the Big Ten any good?
Wisconsin beat almost no one this year, Penn State, Iowa, Purdue and Minnesota were mediocre at best, and the rest of the non-Ohio State/Michigan teams were awful. Now’s the chance to prove the Big Two/Little Nine can actually play. The Buckeyes and Wolverines get the high-profile games while Wisconsin plays Arkansas, Minnesota plays Texas Tech, Purdue plays Maryland, Iowa plays Texas and Penn State plays Tennessee. Only Ohio State and Michigan are favored.

2. Will there be more controversy after the fact?
Let’s say Michigan obliterates USC by three touchdowns and Ohio State annihilates Florida. Will everyone be wishing we had the rematch? What would happen if Florida wins by some fluky, quirky, controversial play and Michigan wins in a walk; will the AP vote Michigan No. 1 to prove a point? What happens if the Gators stink and Louisville beats Wake Forest by 35 and/or Boise State beats Oklahoma? There might be a very unsatisfying feeling when all is said and done.

1. Captain Miller to Private Ryan: “Earn this.”
Alright Florida, a skeptical nation awaits you. Even though the Gator defense should make this a better battle than expected, after Michigan was left with the Jake Gyllenhaal role, Boise State got ignored, and Louisville was an afterthought, Urban Meyer’s team had better be worth all the trouble.

Provocative musings and tidbits to make every woman want you and every man want to be you (or vice versa)

- How nasty is the coaching profession? Chris Scelfo, thanks for doing whatever you could to navigate the Tulane program through the nomadic journey that was 2005 and for trying to pick up the shattered pieces this year ... you're fired.

- Soon, the wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/all of the above will ask you want you want for Christmas. Being a typical American man, you honestly have no idea, but I have your answer: the rainshower head from one of those Bed, Bath & Beavis places. It’s like showering in a warm hug. You want this.

- The Miami and Alabama jobs aren't the plums many think they are, and both fan bases will be in for a shock when top name after top name turns them down. At Miami, the fans only show up for Florida State, the facilities are mediocre (more on that in a moment), and either you win the national title or you’re a bum. At Alabama, national titles are expected when just winning the division title is a major feat. Who wants the hassle?

- All coaches use facilities as an excuse to buy time. Unless everything is state-of-the-art, blaming the weight room, the practice field and the locker room makes it easy to say, “we’ll be better in two years when the (name the facility here) is built.”

- Colt Brennan, you have my vote for the single season touchdown pass record holder with 53. Houston's David Klingler set the mark at 54 helped by throwing for 11 scores in the 84-21 squeaker against D-IAA Eastern Washington. Brennan didn’t play the fourth quarter in several games.

- The Oklahoma home uniforms are my favorite in the game at the moment. The no-name on the back, Sooners on the front, and color scheme all work for me. I’ll now turn off What Not To Wear and go kill a small animal.

- Todd Graham had a terrific year at Rice and Greg Schiano had a heck of a season, but Jim Grobe is the coach of the year, and possibly the decade. Winning the ACC title at Wake Forest with this team is a bigger accomplishment than Northwestern’s Big Ten titles in the 1990s.

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world1) Overrated: Steve Spurrier at Florida ... Underrated: Urban Meyer at Florida
2) Overrated: Rumors about Steve Spurrier leaving South Carolina … Underrated: Steve Spurrier getting an extra half-mildo of salary out of South Carolina
3) Overrated: Jim Walden … Underrated: Jim Tressel
4) Overrated: Michael Richards' apology ... Underrated: The warranted hissy fit the Black Coaches Association is about to throw if Miami’s Randy Shannon, or any one of several well qualified African-American candidates, doesn’t at least get an honest interview for one of the top job openings.
5) Overrated:
2006 Florida... Underrated: 2004 Auburn

Sheer hubris run amok … The early bowl game lines this week that appear to be a tad off. I’m 17-19 in the regular season. I will go over .500 I will go over .500 I will go over .500 … 1) Miami -3 over Nevada, 2) Florida +8 over Ohio State, 3) Texas Tech -7 over Minnesota

Sorry this column sucked, but it wasn’t my fault …
My goal was to take this column to the Rose Bowl. UCLA head coach Karl Dorrell was happy to oblige.


Sources: NC State's search focused on Johnson

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<!-- begin text11 div --><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD style="PADDING-TOP: 10px" vAlign=top><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->North Carolina State's search for a new football coach has focused on Navy's Paul Johnson, sources close to the situation said early Tuesday.
<TABLE id=inlinetable cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3 width=240 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR><TH style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"><CENTER>Johnson's head coaching career</CENTER></TH><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=224>


Paul Johnson won two Div. I-AA championships with Georgia Southern. While at Navy, he was named the 2004 Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year and is 9-1 against the other service academies in his career. COACHING RECORD:
With Navy: 37-24 (2002-present)
With Georgia Southern: 62-10 (1997-2001)

Johnson, who has guided the Midshipmen to an unprecedented four consecutive bowl games, has spoken with Wolfpack athletics director Lee Fowler and Chuck Neinas, the coach head-hunter hired by the school to help identify fired coach Chuck Amato's successor, the source said.
Johnson hasn't been offered the N.C. State job. The source said Wolfpack officials hope to hire a new coach by the end of the week.

Johnson, who hasn't been contacted by Alabama officials about the Crimson Tide's coaching vacancy, is mulling over an extension to a six-year contract with Navy that pays him more than $1 million per season. The contract includes a buyout of less than $500,000, a source close to Johnson said.

Johnson, 49, has a 37-24 record at Navy, including a 35-14 record the past four seasons. His first Midshipmen team went 2-10 in 2002, but each of the last four squads have won at least eight games, a first in academy history. He was named the 2004 Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year after guiding Navy to a 10-2 record.

Johnson is a native of Newland, N.C., in the northwestern part of the state, and received a bachelor's degree from Western Carolina and a Master's degree from Appalachian State in North Carolina.

Navy went 9-3 this season and swept Army and Air Force to win the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy for the four straight season.

The Midshipmen play Boston College in the Dec. 30 Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, N.C.

Johnson was hired at Navy in December 2001 after leading Georgia Southern to a 62-10 record in five seasons and winning two consecutive NCAA Division I-AA national championships in 1999 and 2000.

A former offensive coordinator at Hawaii and Navy, Johnson has earned a reputation of an offensive guru, running a pass-happy spread formation with the Rainbows and triple-option running attack with the Midshipmen. Navy led the country in rushing in three of the last four seasons.

LSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher also has expressed interest in the NC State job, although he hasn't been contacted by Neinas or Fowler.

East Carolina coach Skip Holtz and Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Norm Chow, a former Wolfpack assistant, also have been mentioned among candidates to replace Amato. Tennessee offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe hasn't been contacted by the Wolfpack.

Amato, who was fired Nov. 26 after compiling a 49-37 record in seven seasons at his alma mater, had an annual salary of about $995,000 at N.C. State. The school will pay him more than $1.15 million to buy out the remaining three years of his contract, according to a copy of the agreement obtained by ESPN.com. The buyout includes a $600,000 annuity that was established for Amato by The Wolfpack Club, the school's booster organization in January 2002.
Kelly to coach Bearcats in International Bowl

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<!-- begin text11 div --><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD style="PADDING-TOP: 10px" vAlign=top><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->CINCINNATI -- For a second time this season, Brian Kelly will oppose Western Michigan in a football game.

One day after being named Cincinnati's new football coach, Kelly on Tuesday learned his first game with the Bearcats will come at the International Bowl next month.

Kelly guided Central Michigan to a 9-4 record and Mid-American Conference championship this season. The Chippewas, who will face Middle Tennessee in the Motor City Bowl on Dec. 26, beat Western Michigan -- Cincinnati's bowl opponent Jan. 6 -- 31-7 on Nov. 10.

"Our goal was to put the best opportunity for success on the sidelines for our student-athletes," Bearcats athletic director Mike Thomas said. "Coach Kelly and his staff have a wealth of knowledge regarding our opponent in the International Bowl and are ready to lead our team against Western Michigan. I am excited that we have Cincinnati coaches leading our Bearcats on the field as that is how it should be."

It is not the first time that a new coach has taken over a team after the regular season and led that squad in a bowl. David Cutcliffe did so for Mississippi after the 1998 campaign, guiding the Rebels to an Independence Bowl win over Texas Tech.

In 16 seasons as a coach, Kelly has compiled a 137-51-2 record. He is replacing Mark Dantonio, who left to take the Michigan State job after three seasons in Cincinnati.
shit..think they put a new offense in for cincy RJ?

No, but he'll have them prepared for WMU like a conf opponent.

These coaching rumors and switches are interesting little folds for capping these games.
completely at the rumor stages but I have found this site to be very reliable...whaddya think BIG 12 guys?

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Leach To Be New Miami Coach?
After being spurned by Rutgers Coach Greg Schiano on Monday, there are strong indications that Miami will soon announce that Texas Tech coach Mike Leach will get the open Hurricanes gig.
Leach, who we noted Friday was in the running for the head job, is a fall-back candidate but should help the Hurricanes overcome their brutal offense.
Leach is to coach Texas Tech in its December 30th Insight Bowl game against Minnesota.
The only thing that may cause Leach not to live in Miami the next few years? Bob Stoops of Oklahoma.
Sources tell us that Stoops now thinks he will not get the Arizona Cardinals job since it looks like that gig will eventually go to USC coach Pete Carroll. That fact, coupled with what appears to be looming NCAA sanctions against the Oklahoma program incident to Cargate -- and the fact that Mrs. Stoops is getting tired of having tumbleweed and steers running across her lawn in Norman -- has led to Stoops having interest in the Hurricanes' head job.
Look for Leach's agent to accelerate contract negotiations with Miami in the next 24 hours so he can stop any last minute soliciting by Stoops.
CFT has also learned that Miami AD Paul Dee actually met with Schiano in New York on Monday to discuss the Miami job.
After the pow-wow, Schiano told Dee to take his name off the list of coaching candidates.
"Rutgers is where I am going to be and Rutgers is where I want to be. I am not a candidate for that job and I won't be a candidate for that job," Schiano said.
As we previously noted, Rutgers will now up the coin on Schiano's approximately $1 mill a year contract incident to all the interest he is getting this off-season.
I've been reading that for the last 2 or 3 days. I think it is a strong possibility. Leach's personality fits Miami.

Only other possibility I see right now is Rodriguez. But that won't happen.

Leach is a stronger possibility.
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Johnson to Get NC State Gig
Barring some unusual circumstances (uh ... the world ends?), sources have told CFT that Navy Coach Paul Johnson will be named the new coach at NC State.
Johnson, who has a 35-14 record at Navy the last four years, is also receiving interest from Alabama and Stanford.
Johnson took over a Navy program that had posted a 1-20 record the previous two years before his arrival in 2002. He also has coached at I-AA Georgia Southern compiling an overall record of 99-34 (.744) for his coaching career.
Look for an announcement in the next few days.
Navy is slated to play Boston College in the Muffler Bowl on December 30th.
Johnson has been offered an extension to his present six-year contract with Navy, which pays him more than $1 million per season. The contract includes a buyout of less than $500,000.
A former offensive coordinator at Hawaii and Navy, Johnson has earned a reputation of an offensive guru, running a pass-happy spread formation with the Rainbows and triple-option running attack with the Midshipmen. Navy led the country in rushing in three of the last four seasons.
Wrong....looks like O'Brien.

Sources: Wolfpack hire O'Brien over Johnson

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Boston College coach Tom O'Brien has been hired as North Carolina State's new football coach, multiple sources close to the situation said Wednesday night.

The Wolfpack chose O'Brien over Navy coach Paul Johnson, who was contacted about the job earlier this week. O'Brien, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, led the Eagles to a 9-3 record this season. He had a 75-45 record in 10 seasons with the Eagles. Boston College plays Navy in the Dec. 30 Meineke Car Care Bowl.

The board of governors has scheduled a Friday meeting to approve O'Brien's contract. Terms of the deal weren't immediately known.

An announcement is expected Thursday.
Other Notes--

Cincy: While the new head coach Kelly from CMU will coach Cincy against WMU in the bowl, he will not have 9 assistant coaches to help him from the prior regime. Those coaches will be going to Michigan State.
Ore to return for Virginia Tech's bowl

Posted: Wednesday December 6, 2006 7:20PM; Updated: Wednesday December 6, 2006 7:20PM

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Virginia Tech's young offense should be at full strength for the Chick-fil-A Bowl game with Georgia following injuries late in the season, coach Frank Beamer said Wednesday.

Star rusher Branden Ore is recovering from a high ankle sprain and should be ready to play, Beamer said following a news conference at which Tech formally accepted the bowl game offer. Ore, who had more than 1,000 yards rushing for the season, was injured in the first quarter of the game at Wake Forest and missed the final game of the regular season with archrival Virginia.

"Getting that rest was probably best for him," Beamer said.

Guard Ryan Shuman, who missed the last four games for the No. 14 Hokies (10-2) with a knee injury, also is expected to play the Dec. 30 game with Georgia (8-4) in Atlanta, Beamer said.

Guard Sergio Render was injured in the Virginia game, and tackle Brandon Frye said Tuesday the ankle he sprained earlier in the season is almost fully recovered.

Bowl president Gary Stokan said he expects the game to be a good matchup. Georgia beat No. 10 Auburn and Georgia Tech in its last two games of the season, while Tech won its last six games.
Dec. 6, 2006, 8:32PM
UT offers Miami defensive coordinator same job in Austin
Shannon also a candidate for Hurricanes' top job

Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

The Texas Longhorns have offered their defensive coordinator job to University of Miami defensive coordinator Randy Shannon, multiple people close to both programs said Wednesday night.

Shannon has not accepted and the offer is said to be contingent upon whether he gets the vacant head coaching job with the Hurricanes.
Shannon and former Texas All-American Jerry Gray are considered the leading candidates to replace Gene Chizik, who left last week to become head coach at Iowa State.

Gray, who is in his first season as secondary/cornerbacks coach for the Washington Redskins, told the Chronicle on Nov. 30 he would be interested in the job.

The Longhorns remain interested in Gray if Shannon does not accept the offer.

Shannon has had a formal interview with Miami athletic director Paul Dee, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Texas coach Mack Brown said Monday he has not contacted or interviewed any candidates for the position.

Brown said he would not begin the hiring process until after the Longhorns' Alamo Bowl game with Iowa.

Shannon has spent the past six seasons as defensive coordinator at Miami and was a starting linebacker on the school's 1987 national championship team. Except for a three-year stint with the Miami Dolphins, Shannon has been a coach with the Hurricanes since 1991.

Under Shannon, the Hurricanes have been in the top five in total defense three of the last four seasons and led the nation in pass defense twice. Miami was fifth in total defense this season and third in rush defense.