Benton – NCAA Sports

Remember college hoops? – Dec. 30

Well, you should now. Despite the shootout in Boise, some other things happened in college athletics today. And it was more than Mike Leach.

How about Cincinnati taking down Connecticut by two in Big East conference play. A good start for the Bearcats, who are a force to be reckoned with, along with UConn. The Big East may yet be better than everyone thought.

Virginia beat UAB at home, probably knocking Mike Davis’ team out of the rankings.

In yet another mind-boggling day for Gary Williams, Maryland lost to William and Mary, at home.

And as I write this, Northwestern and Illinois are playing a tight one midway through the second half.

Just a few of the hoops happenings today.

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Some Mike Leach thoughts – Dec. 29

Dare I start this by complimenting Lou Holtz? Yes. He just made a great point: Mike Leach has been called a lot of things in his time as the head coach at Texas Tech. But never has he been accused of wrongdoing toward an athlete.

That obviously doesn’t mean this shouldn’t be investigated, especially in the midst of a season where Leach has already taken issue with his players “fat, little girlfriends.” In reality, Leach is a weird guy and these allegations seem so out there that it is easier to imagine him doing it.

But that doesn’t mean he did. Let this investigation play itself out.

And while it does, let’s look at the last year-plus in Leach’s career.

Remember last year when Leach was leading Tech to one of its best seasons ever and while it was happening, he was one of the hottest coaching prospects in the land. The job he looked the most poised to land was up in Seattle, where the Huskies seemed enamored with him. All he needed was a good interview.

As these things so often are, the entire courting process was cloaked in silence and possibly even lies. It become a, “where’s Mike Leach,” game in a hurry. At one point no one was sure if he was in Seattle or Lubbock, during the season, as the situation played at. There was a day when a Seattle reporter called Tech athletics director Gerald Myers to just ask him. Myers told the reporter that Leach was down the hall in his office, but wouldn’t transfer the call.

There is considerable evidence that Myers was lying and that Leach never left Seattle between his first and subsequent talks.

It was all mute anyway as the Huskies went with USC assistant Steve Sarkisian and here’s guessing they are pretty happy about it regardless of Leach.

The fallout, or benefit for Leach I guess, is that the flirtation with leaving Lubbock put Myers in a bind. He had to decide whether it was worth extending the head coach because he knew someone would take the chance at his offense, which has worked at both Tech and now Houston, where former assistant Kevin Sumlin is the head coach.

Myers choice was a huge extension worth more than $12 million over five years. One of the biggest clauses is the lack of a buyout. If Leach is still the head coach after Dec. 31, he will be owed $800,000.

The contract talks took about a year and were heated at times. What was most clear is how desperate Tech was to keep Leach. He got basically everything he asked for in the contract and became the third-highest paid Big-12 coach, behind guys named Brown and Stoops.

In other words, Leach had Tech by the neck. The question is why. Well, Leach is the school’s all-time winningest coach and has taken Tech to a bowl game in each of his now-ten years. He’s coached the likes of Wes Welker and Michael Crabtree, players that will help Tech raise money and broaden its profile. And finally, taking a stab at this one, but Leach has been in Lubbock for 10 years. They have to like that he hasn’t left already. Frankly, someone would hire him.

So before even looking at the current situation the school finds itself in, look at why the would even retain a coach like Leach in the first place. If these allegations prove true, they will fire him for cause and be done with it. If not and they fire him anyway, well, there will likely be more heads rolling in Lubbock for the first deal.

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Tuesday bowl updates – Dec. 29

It took a while, but UCLA has woken up in the EagleBank Bowl at FedEx Field in Washington, D.C.

For most of the first half, it looked like Temple was not only going to pull an upset, they were going to do it emphatically. Everything was going the Owls way.

But count on the master motivator, Rick Neuheisal, to get his Bruins turned around in his first bowl game since he was the head coach at Washington in 2002.

As one would expect with UCLA, the defense as Akeem Ayers had an interception return for a touchdown and, on what would be the capping drive, UCLA held Temple to a quick three-and-out for negative total yards. The drive ended with the long snap ending up near the stands and the game was over.

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Texas Tech suspends Leach for Alamo Bowl UPDATED – Dec. 28

UPDATE Dec. 29: As we watch my bowl prediction continue to go up in flames, there is new from Lubbock/San Antonio on the Mike Leach situation.

Leach, through his lawyer, has filed for a temporary restraining order that would allow him to coach in the Alamo Bowl.

This is normal course of action for something of this nature, which in itself is not necessarily normal. It is an ugly way to go into a bowl to be sure.

ESPN has this story, as Texas Tech has suspended coach Mike Leach for the Alamo Bowl.

The suspension apparently stems from the treatment of one of his players, who happens to be the son of ESPN analyst Craig James.

Adam James, a redshirt sophomore, suffered a concussion and was allegedly forced to stay in a dark closet, secluded. The complaint alleges two incidents like this.

Defensive Coordinator Ruffin McNeill will be the interim coach, for now. Leach’s lawyer has said the coach will appeal the suspension in an effort to coach the game in San Antonio.

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Bowl Picks update – Dec. 28

And it can’t be any worse than the first version. After watching the first three games, the tallying of the picks just stopped. It was a 180 degree flip from the success picking regular season games. These will go through Dec. 31, at which point the real games begin.

AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl: Texas A&M vs. Georgia – Dec. 28: Most likely this year’s winner for most ridiculously named bowl. It could also quite likely be the highest scoring game. Defense? We’re talking about defense? C’mon man. Okay, so maybe there was some creative editing there, but seriously. Georgia has the 30th-ranked defense in the country, which makes it good that they punt it better than anyone else. Of course, that doesn’t seem so bad, but they are going up against the 5th best offense in A&M. Remember all those point the Aggies poured on Texas? Right. In the same total defense stat, A&M is 107th. Ouch. So even Georgia’s 73rd-ranked offense should score some points. Honestly, this one is a toss up. The Bulldogs got a couple of nice late wins, against Auburn and Georgia Tech, but A&M very nearly clipped Texas, which is better than any team mentioned so far. Plus the A&M offense is deadly.

Texas A&M 45, Georgia 35

Eagle Bank Bowl: UCLA vs. Temple, Dec. 29: The Bruins travel all the way to Washington, D.C. to play in this one, in a game they probably shouldn’t even be in. A nice win at Tennessee made believers out of some, before a five-game losing streak was ended by the Washington schools (how many teams can say THAT in the last couple of years). Temple has some good wins as well, including Navy, but lost to FCS Villanova. They come in 112th in passing, against one of the best secondaries in the country. Try to throw and Rahim Moore, the nation’s leader in interceptions, may make you pay.

UCLA 24, Temple 17 – (And hold your breath picking the Pac-10)

Champs Sports Bowl: Miami vs. Wisconsin – Dec. 29: This one should be fun. You have the young, upstart Miami team (by the way, the ESPN 30-for-30 on Miami is a must-see, very well-done piece), against a Wisconsin team that does nothing exceptionally well, except stop the run. Well, this isn’t a Big Ten team. The Badgers can’t stack the line knowing their opponent is going to play smash mouth football. That was learned the hard way against Ohio State and Northwestern, both of whom run some version of the spread. Miami is in the top-30 in a bunch of categories and is going to spread the field and out-athlete Wisconsin considerably. And the game is in Orlando.

Miami 29, Wisconsin 20

Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl: Bowling Green vs. Idaho, Dec. 30: So yes, that should say “@ Idaho”, given the quick flight the Vandals will take to a place they have already played this year. The Vandals started the season 6-1, losing only to Washington, before dropped four of their last five. The nation’s 10th-best offense is led by senior Nathan Enderle, which should give the Vandals an advantage. That and Bowling Green lost to every good team it played this year, including a drubbing at the hands of Boise State.

Idaho 31, Bowling Green 20

Pacific Life Holiday Bowl: Arizona vs. Nebraska, Dec. 30: A game in which both teams were simply seconds away from so much more. By all accounts Nebraska and Bo Pelini’s second-ranked scoring defense had Texas beaten in the Big-12 title game. It was not to be. The same can be said about Mike Stoops’ Arizona team that needed only to beat Cal or Oregon to earn a trip to the Rose Bowl. Late in the Oregon game, the ‘Zona fans lined the field, ready to rush, but were held back, forced to wait for two overtimes and then disappointed. This comes down to whether Arizona can score on a good defense, because Nebraska probably won’t light it up. Nick Foles has proven to be an elite level quarterback since taking over the job, but the Wildcats’ running game is still a question. Plus, this just seems like one of those games the Pac-10 has been losing this bowl season.

Nebraska 17, Arizona 14

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl: Houston vs. Air Force, Dec. 31: While Air Force is playing in this game, the air attack will be coming from the other side and a kid name Case Keenum. Keenum threw for 5,449 yards and 43 touchdowns, with just nine interceptions. Houston was the best passing and total offense team in the country and the second-highest scoring. Their defense is awful, 108th, and they have some inexplicable losses (UTEP anyone?), but some very good wins against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. Those two triumphs had Keenum in the Heisman conversation for a while. What makes this such an interesting matchup is that Air Force is the best pass defense team in the land, allowing just 149 yards per game. Houston averages 450 yards in the air. Unstoppable object meets immovable force. However, in AF’s last game, Max Hall threw for 377 yards and five touchdowns. That is closer to what Keenum might do than the 149 yards.

Houston 38, Air Force 21

Brut Sun Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Stanford, Dec. 31: First get one thing clear, El Paso is actually a great place to watch a bowl game. And that’s about it. But this is an intriguing matchup of a team that just had a frustrating season against one that was a revelation. Stanford and their Heisman finalist running back Toby Gerhart, were the darlings of the Pac-10 this fall, running over USC and Oregon, only to fall to Arizona, Cal and Oregon State. Oklahoma is still fairly depleted and frankly no one has been able to stop Gerhart, who has rushed for at 123 yards in eight of his last nine games. In his last four games he has 13 touchdowns. And one more as a passer. Yeah, stop that. This would be a good win for the Pac-10 regardless of how bad the Sooners are.

Stanford 29, Oklahoma 20

Texas Bowl: Navy vs. Missouri, Dec. 31: The spread against the triple option. Either old football coaches are rolling over in their graves or brimming with excitement. Navy has a couple of awful losses, Temple and Hawaii, with wins over Notre Dame, Air Force and Wake Forest. Missouri has been much easier to figure out, beating everyone they are better than and losing to everyone that is better than them. Navy, if they play like it, is better than Mizzou.

Navy 25, Missouri 24

Insight Bowl: Minnesota vs. Iowa State, Dec. 31: Paul Rhoads is the 2009 coach of the year, taking maybe the worst BCS program and winning six games, after Iowa State had seen some of the worst football ever. They were so bad that their last coach, Gene Chizik, didn’t even get blamed when he got a promotion to Auburn. Problem is, ISU isn’t really good at anything, ranked 75th or worse in total offense and total defense. Their bad at special teams too, ranking 104th in punt returns. Minnesota isn’t a whole lot better, having scored just 13 points in their last two games. Here’s guessing this one is won on special teams, with the good Gopher return game.

Minnesota 19, Iowa State 17

Chick-fil-A Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee, Dec. 31: Call this the one where you just throw the two names into a hat. Honestly, Tennessee is on the way up under Lane Kiffin. But when you are getting caught cheating so much in recruiting that your coach is trying to spin it as a good thing, something is going wrong. Not only that, but the fans in Knoxville love it. The Vols had a rough start, but won four of their last five and six of their last eight, while only losing to Alabama thanks to two blocked field goals. They lost to Florida and Bama by a combined 12 points. They are average at just about anything, but very good at defensive pass efficiency, which won’t mean a whole lot against VT. Tech is on a four-game win streak, having beaten no one, and have a much better defense that offense. In reality, both of these teams have strong defenses, who’s speed will probably neutralize both offenses. Here is the detailed prediction: somewhere in the third or fourth quarter, Eric Berry, maybe the greatest safety in SEC history (numbers-wise anyway) will make a big play, an interception, and get a defensive score. That will decide a great game.

Tennessee 19, Virginia Tech 17

Things are gonna be better this time. More later.

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Couple of updates – Dec. 28

Just wanted to pass along two links — quickly since I’m cutting close the deadline for tonight’s game and what is sure to be another embarrassing pick.

Kentucky’s Rich Brooks has said he is 80 percent sure he will not return next season. It would be the end of the line for a long-time coach who has the field at Autzen Stadium (Oregon) named after him.

And out in Pasadena, Terrelle Pryor said that he has been playing with a torn PCL. That cannot bode well against the athletic Ducks. Outside of USC (and maybe even including the Trojans), Oregon will be the most athletic team OSU sees all year.

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Urban Meyer Press Conference – Dec. 27

Florida head coach Urban Meyer is speaking to the media right now at UF’s Allstate Sugar Bowl press conference in New Orleans.

And he is exactly that, the head coach. Meyer announced today that he will take a leave of absence instead of resigning from the program. The leave will be indefinite. Said AD Jeremy Foley, “when it’s time, it’s time.”

Meyer spoke considerably about family, saying he has to make sure to keep his life priorities in order, “Father, Husband, Coach.” He said that in the program’s plan to win, health and family come before the game plan.

What the 45-year old head coach didn’t do was speak in detail about his ailment. Pressed repeatedly about the chest pains or health issues, Meyer refused to answer. The only question he did answer was an adamant “no” when asked if had suffered a heart attack.

Meyer said at the end of the press conference that he would seek advice from South Carolina and former Florida head coach Steve Spurrier.

When asked if he would coach in 2010, Meyer was positive: “I do in my gut believe that will happen.”

If that does happen, Meyer has planned one major change.

“I have to delegate,” he said. “I just have to be smarter. I’m not very smart.”

He said he has taken too much responsibility to heart for things that he needs to let others bear. Foley echoed that sentiment, praising the work Meyer has done at Florida, but also telling stories of skipped lunch, weight loss and obvious stress.

From all of this, one can surmise that Meyer will indeed coach in 2010, after taking some significant time off. Or he may not. But Foley made it very clear that, “Urban Meyer is the head coach at the University of Florida.”

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ESPN: Meyer to step down at Florida – Dec. 26

The announcers at the Meineke Car Care bowl just announced that Urban Meyer is stepping down at Florida.

There is little detail yet, but this would be earth-shattering in college football. Many thought he would never leave Florida given the program’s success in his time there.

Updating this as I write: Meyer said it is indeed a health issue. On ESPN he was quoted as saying that he had been ignoring his health, but due to recent developments, it was time for him to focus on “faith and family.”

Shockwaves are moving through college football right now as this news starts to sink in. Without even considering what is next for Florida, Meyer’s health is the question at hand right now.

The Gators’ coach said he plans to stay in Gainesville, around the Florida community.

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Day after Christmas UPDATE – Dec. 26

West Virgina @ Seton Hall – CBK: Just wanted to throw in a note about this Big East opener. An incredible comeback by Seton Hall, which roared back from eight points down with a little over 30 seconds to play, sending the game into OT.

A guy you’ve never heard of, Jeremy Hezell, scored 41 points for the Pirates, but it would be nice to think what he could’ve done had he been better than 4-of-19 from three. He was 10-of-14 on two pointers and 9-12 from the free throw line.

But, WVU held on anyway, thanks to 22 from Devin Ebanks and 21 from Da’Sean Butler.

Emerald Bowl, USC vs. Boston College: About to begin out in San Francisco, where it is pouring at AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants.

No Joe McKnight for USC, but let’s be honest – it’s USC — they have running backs like girls have shoes. Who’s next. Also, all of this letdown stuff about USC not playing in a BCS game is ridiculous. You play to win football games. They were embarrassed several times this year, at home. They will show up tonight.

UPDATE: Lost in the monumental breaking news coming out of Gainesville is one great game in Charlotte. Pitt kicked a big field goal with less than one minute left, aided by an offside penalty on North Carolina on a previous field goal attempt. The penalty gave Pitt a first down and allowed the Panthers to run more clock.

Two coaches who are close friends, so much so that one is the Godfather of the other’s oldest son, went play for play, as Carolina drove down the field trying to get into field goal range. But after two-straight passes were tipped, T.J. Yates airmailed one on fourth down to clinch the win for Pitt.

The Panthers won 10 games in 2009 for the first time in 27 years.

Despite is being in front of a nearly-empty Ford Field, the Little Caesars’ Bowl (gotta love the names) was a pretty good football game.

Marshall, with its appropriately named tailback, may have a future in Conference USA. This is a program that has seen a low the likes of which no other program in the history of sports has seen, but also seen some high highs in the last two decades. Now it has a pretty good coach in Doc Holiday and will be coming off of a nice bowl win.

One stat to take from this game: it was 11th-consecutive bowl loss by a MAC team.

Now a chance to watch UNC and Pitt, which has already been fun with Dion Lewis matched against that monster UNC defense. So far, edge Lewis.

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Poinsettia Bowl Wrap – Dec. 23

“Well, all the people that have been comparing the Pac-10 and the SEC all year have some more ammunition.

The Pac-10 too, can get blown out by Utah in a bowl game. Just like Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl, Utah took it to Cal from the opening kickoff, beating the Bears XX-XX in the Poinsettia Bowl Wednesday night.”

That was the lead from my story on tonight’s game. Utah looked great. Cal did not. The Mountain West continued its dominance over the Pac-10. In a few years, when the BCS looks at conferences that should have an automatic bid, this will be the one with the best chance. Depth should not matter as long as the Big East, ACC and Big Ten still get bids. This conference has three legit ranked teams and a couple other pretty good ones.

Oh, and it continues to beat up on BCS opponents.

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News, Notes, Random Thoughts – Dec. 23

Alright, as you can see by the date, we’ve been out for a few days. Still no clear sidewalks out here, but at least the metro is running again. Driving is hard enough in this area. Add some snow? It’s like watching the Redskins’ offense.

Anyway, some big happenings in the last couple of days.

At this point, it is really time to start looking at Texas as the number one team in the country. We’re talking basketball, which is a necessary distinction considering they have a football team set to play in some pretty important game.

Look at this basketball team. Yes, they were both in the state of Texas (but not both in Austin), but the Longhorns were extremely impressive in beating two top-10 caliber basketball teams in the last four days. Any time you drop 100 points on North Carolina, you’ve done something special. And last night, they held on just long enough to go on a spurt for the win, the exact blueprint for beating a good team.

In their last five games, which included the wins over UNC and MSU, as well as one over Long Beach State, Texas is averaging a ridiculous 96 points per game. They have overcome injuries to play great basketball in the month of December, against some good competition. Which is good, because the competition is just going to get tougher. Until last night, when Texas A&M lost to Washington, they were one of three undefeated teams in the Big-12. Now, they are one of six with one loss or less. And the reason they are not yet number one is obvious — there may be a better team in their own conference.

Speaking of that other team, Kansas looked pretty good last night in dispatching Cal by 15. There are some warning signs with the Jayhawks, however, starting with having zero players shooting better than 79 percent at the free throw line. In the Big-12, that could bite them.

The nice thing for Kansas is that, after playing Tennessee on Jan. 10, they ease into conference play. They don’t get Kansas State until Jan. 30 and Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State in February. Yes, Baylor and Texas Tech are both good, but Kansas looks to be better than both of them. So the Jayhawks should get rolling in January as they head into the real teeth of the schedule.

And a quick sport switch. BYU made a statement last night in blowing out Oregon State in the Las Vegas bowl. It was ugly, all the way down to the windy weather. Could they also be making a statement for Pac-10 expansion? Given the success of many of the BYU and Utah programs (not just football), the two Utah schools would seem to be the best choice for addition. Recognizing that the Pac-10 very much likes its pairings (Washington, Oregon, Northern and Southern California and Arizona). However, there will definitely be other issues, not the least of which are the religious ties of both schools, which don’t exist in the Pac-10.

Yes, that was a long-winded way of getting away from the game itself. Which is mostly because it was so bad. Quizz Rodgers fumbled for the first time in 622 touches. Oregon State’s punter looked like he was kicking a boomerang. It was ugly. Which is ugly for the Pac-10.

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New Mexico Bowl UPDATED – Dec. 19

UPDATE: Wow. Just wow. Despite a missed field goal that would’ve won it. A 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. And a collapsing pocket. Austyn Cara-Samuels hit David Leonard in the endzone for the game-winning touchdown for the Cowboys.

And in the bowl season’s first game, you saw maybe its biggest upset.

Wyoming was a nobody. The 99th-ranked team by Sagarin. Fresno was picked by everyone (including me) to make this one a laugher. They had Ryan Matthews, the nation’s leading back, and were just, you know, better.

But not tonight. Three HUGE fourth down conversions in the magical fourth quarter drive. A clutch, game-tying field goal. And Carta-Samuels, the true freshman who looked like Tate Forcier, except better.

The biggest winner here? That would be the Mountain West conference, which continues to look like a legit football conference.

Wyoming just tied the game after a 19-play, 54 yard, nearly eight minute drive that essentially ended regulation. It was epic, to say the least.

Headed to OT.

Hoops update:

Kansas, Texas, Michigan State, Villanova, Purdue, Duke and Kentucky all won. Oklahoma escaped Northern Colorado by a point. Tennessee wasn’t so lucky, being blown out by 22 at USC.

Georgetown is down 11 to Old Dominion in a game that is somewhat amazingly being played, considering more than a foot of snow blanketing the capitol. Basically every other game in the region has been cancelled.

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College basketball updates – Dec. 19

Let the controversy over replay begin. Xavier just fell to Butler by one, when after a Butler player hit a game-winning shot, the refs went to the monitors to take a closer look. What they found was that, during the last possession, the clock had frozen for at least the 1.2 seconds remaining.

After about 10 minutes of waiting, during which Bob Knight commented that the only body that takes longer to make something happen than those refs is the U.S. Congress (make that the Senate), the refs concluded that, had the clock run, the shot would have gotten off in time, but then expired before going through the basket.

Game over. Butler wins. Controversy ensues. You will surely hear about this one for a long time.

What you won’t hear is that the shot should never have gotten off. When you see the replay, take a look at the guy who gets the assist — sure looks like he stands up from one knee without a dribble. That is called a travel in some circles.

Where there was little controversy was at 100,000-seat Cowboy Stadium, Texas hung 103 on North Carolina — 103. Wow.

Time for football. By the way, stay out of DC. Feet of snow.

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Link – Dec. 19

Wanted to turn you toward an interesting ESPN.com story, highlighting the exorbitant spending in the SEC. Some of the raw numbers are unreal.

Also, a gameday live blog is possible today, although it will depend on the success of shoveling the driveway that is 10 inches deep in snow before the actually full storm hits. This isn’t supposed to happen in Washington…

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Knight criticizes Calipari – Dec. 18

Hard to tell if it is Bob Knight the broadcaster or coach talking these days, but a speech last night at Indiana could have been both.

Knight had some words for Kentucky coach John Calipari, saying that integrity is lacking in college coaching these days.

He was of course referring to Calipari’s last two coaching stops, UMass and Memphis, both of which faced NCAA investigations after his departure. Kentucky, his current stop, has already seen a player investigated in his tenure.

It was really the first time another coach had criticized Calipari, though many likely do in private, as do many fans and analysts. It is rare for one coach to criticize another when it comes to recruiting or others rules violations.

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Livengood to UNLV – Dec. 17

News we reported a while ago now has become official today, the Arizona AD Jim Livengood has taken the same position at UNLV.

Before you pull all of your hair out trying to figure out why he would take such a huge step down — Livengood was not going to have his contract renewed in Tucson. He left before he could be fired.

He may not be the only one making the trip, either, given that UNLV needs a football coach and Arizona has some assistants he may interested in.

Stay tuned.

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Cincinnati tapping C. Michigan again – Dec. 16

Call it a furlough day. Whatever the quick off day was, we’re back. With news.

ESPN is reporting that Cincinnati is snatching up another Central Michigan coach to be their next head coach.

Why not? Worked pretty well with that Brian Kelly guy.

Butch Jones is 26-13 in three season, including 11-2 this year. He’s a had a pretty good quarterback there for a few years now in Dan LeFevour.

Jones is the same kind of offensive coach that Kelly is, having worked with him at Central Michigan and worked at West Virginia. The guy can coach offense.

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Locker to return to UW, other notes

Washington quarterback Jake Locker has announced that he will return for his senior season, a release from the school said today.

Locker, maybe the most heralded quarterback recruit in the history of school known for great quarterbacks, took just over a week to make the decision following the Huskies’ back-to-back blowout wins over Washington State and Cal to end their season.

Most likely at some point in the first quarter of the first game next year, Locker will become the school’s all-time leading rusher for a quarterback and his 5,374 yards passing are sixth on the school’s list.

In his first season under the tutelage of Steve Sarkisian, the Ferndale, Wash. native completed 58.4 percent of his passes, for 2800 yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Locker, named by ESPN’s Todd McShay today as the likely top overall pick in the 2010 draft, only got hotter in those last two games, accounting for seven touchdowns passing and running.

By returning, Locker assures that Washington will return all but one starting skill players from its 2009 offense that scored 72 points in its final two games.

Other notes:

Staying with the Pac-10, Stanford’s Jim Harbaugh has inked a three-year extension. The brother of Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has been a hot name this offseason, but called himself a “Stanford Man” last week.

Steve Spurrier has been given a one-year extension by South Carolina.

In one of the most inspiring stories seen in college football, USC’s Stafon Johnson, the tailback that dropped a weight bar on his throat earlier this season, will apply to the NFL draft.

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Xavier takes out Cincy in 2OT

At the end of regulation, Xavier thought they had done it. They had pulled off the comeback and upset over their crosstown rival Cincinnati.

Turns out it would just take ten extra minutes.

Rebounds were even, as were turnovers, but Xavier had 11 blocks and shot 36 free throws, making 28, to win in double overtime, 83-79. Xavier outscored Cincy by 18 at the line, which made up for them making seven less shots from the floor.

The Bearcats were the second ranked Big East team to lose on Sunday, following Villanova.

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Villanova goes down – Dec. 13

It took more than a month, but Villanova become the first team to fall out of the top-3, as they were upset by Temple today.

A guy named Juan Fernandez led the way, hitting seven threes en route to 33 points. Temple also held Nova to just 24 rebounds in the game.

The Wildcats led by as much as 14 late in the first half, before Temple went on an 11-4 to the break. The Owls came out out of the locker room just as hot as they went in, pouring in 11-straight points start the second half.

A Fernandez three gave Temple the lead about three minutes into the half. The game was never tied again.

Watch out for this Temple (8-2) team, which only has losses to St. Johns and Georgetown, with wins against Villanova, Penn State and Virginia Tech.

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Saturday CBK results – Dec. 12

  • Butler finally ended its drought against the top-25, taking down Ohio State.
  • For a few minutes it looked like Georgetown was going to blow the Washington Huskies out of the gym. UW held on, but still lost to the Hoyas. They are 0-2 against the top-25 this year.
  • Wisconsin took down Marquette, a win the Badgers really needed.
  • New Mexico stayed undefeated, beating Texas A&M.
  • UNLV lost by 15 to Kansas State.
  • Mississippi State beat UCLA by 18.
  • And in today’s shocker, Loyola Marymount beat Notre Dame in South Bend.

More later

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Ingram wins Alabama’s first Heisman – Dec. 12

Check out my story here.

Ingram got 227 first place votes, Gerhart 222. McCoy was third, with Suh and Tebow after. Boise State’s Kellen Moore also made the final list.

The Flint, Mich. native is the first running back since Reggie Bush in 2005.

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Heisman – Dec. 12

The Heisman trophy award show is beginning as I write this.

Some links about the award:

On to my Heisman pick:

Everything written after this should be prefaced with this: I understand that the Heisman trophy is supposed to be an award for things that happened this season. In addition, career achievements are awarded by the hall of fame.

Now, from fifth to first.

Tim Tebow: At the risking of sounding sacrilegious, Tebow is here because of a famous name. To his credit, he led the SEC’s best offense, but just the 58th best passing offense in the FBS. Tebow was eighth in passing efficiency and 31st in total offense.

Problem is, what he does isn’t new anymore. And everyone in the country knows that Tebow’s greatest strength, leadership, can’t be measured. That leadership was tested this year by a struggling offense, a concussion and Nick Saban. Tebow beat the first two, Saban won the third.

Unfortunately for Tebow, his bar was very high and he didn’t reach it.

His Heisman Moment: Easily the LSU game, when Tebow either courageously or stupidly, returned from a serious concussion to lead Florida to a win over that bruising Tigers’ defense in a night game in Death Valley.

Mark Ingram: This is probably an unpopular pick. Sort of like an “are you crazy” pick. Because yes, Ingram had a solid game in the biggest one, the SEC championship.

But when his football team needed him, against Auburn, he was nowhere to be found. Ingram had some special games, but in another rivalry, against Tennessee, he couldn’t find the endzone. Yes, he went over 100 yards eight times. But in the games he didn’t hit the century mark, he averaged just 65 yards. Just not consistent enough, with no performance that says, “instant Heisman.” And one last thing: he put up the numbers, sure, but wonder if he is even the best player on that team. A guy named Cody comes to mind…

Heisman Moment: Another easy one, against South Carolina, one of the nation’s best defenses, when he piled up 246 yards and touchdown.

Ndamukong Suh: The most bruising defensive player in college football, period. There is no one anywhere near his ability. He had 4.5 sacks in the Big-12 Championship game. Argument done.

So why is he third? Despite 82 tackles and 23 for loss, with 14 sacks? Well it is hard to say he didn’t do enough. Honestly, there is really no reason why Suh doesn’t go higher, except gut feeling. At this point that is pretty much the case on out.

Heisman Moment: That 4.5 sack game against Colt McCoy and Texas in the Big-12 championship game. Ridiculous.

Toby Gerhart: Stanford was pretty special this year and the biggest reason is that monstrous tailback/outfielder. The nation’s second-leading rusher had 1736 punishing yards and a mind blowing 26 touchdowns. He even threw one pass, which obviously resulted in a TD.

Gerhart scored a touchdown in every game except Wake Forest, with multiple TD’s in all but three. He went over 200 yards three times.

Heisman Moment: How about his 205 yards and three touchdowns rushing, plus one pass for a touchdown in an OT win over Notre Dame. Or several other games.

And the winner is:

Colt McCoy: Before you read this, go back to the top and read my disclaimer. Then forget about it.

Remember this: by the time you get to college, sports are about winning. As Herm Edwards said so famously: “you play to win the game.” No quarterback in division I-A history has won as many football games as Colt McCoy.

So he should be in the Hall of Fame, but why win the Heisman. Well, in his first three years, McCoy came up short, with last year being especially tough. But in 2009, McCoy did what he set out to do, winning every game and leading his team to the national championship game. He may not be having an incredible season, but winning every game is what he is out there to do. It’s the reason I hope Kellen Moore gets some votes.

The nation’s sixth-rated passer didn’t have such a bad season either, passing for over 3,500 yards and 27 touchdowns, while running for three more. He once again completed over 70 percent of his passes. And in one of Texas’ toughest games, at A&M, he was simply incredible, countering everything the Aggies threw at him with a punch of his own. At this point, the numbers are so good for all of these guys that you have to turn to other factors. The one I choose is wins. They are, after all, what we play for.

His Heisman Moment should be in New York.

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Kelly introduced at Notre Dame

Brian Kelly is being introduced at Notre Dame right now, a much different face from Charlie Weis.

His voice sounds a lot like a former ND coach, Lou Holtz.

Kelly was giving a speech almost, bellowing out, “you do not come to the University of Notre Dame because you want to be average.”

He talked about his recruiting pitch, how new players could be part of building the program and the Notre Dame tradition. Then he looked at the reporter who asked the question and asked: “are you in.” It was Holtz-esque.

Kelly had some kind words for Cincinnati too: “I am forever grateful to the players at the University of Cincinnati for what they gave me. The gave me this opportunity at Notre Dame.”

Some quick breaking news too: Kelly mentioned the name Tyrone Willingham. Said he wanted to talk to him. The powers that be probably will let him know not to do that again in South Bend.

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Morning update Dec. 11

Syracuse pulled away from Florida last night in showing they are well deserving of their top-10 ranking. The Gators still will be a force in the SEC, however.

Obviously the bigger story was in football, where Brian Kelly took the head coaching job at overrated, inflated expectation U Notre Dame.

It is a huge loss for Cincinnati.

And it didn’t go over too well in the locker room, either.

Brian Kelly had to take the next step.

Finally, tomorrow’s Army-Navy game, between two rivals that have nothing but respect for each other.

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Florida and Syracuse putting on a show – Dec. 10

No. 11 Florida and No. 6 Syracuse are playing one helluva basketball game on ESPN right now. The Gators hit three straight threes to erase a 10-point deficit.

It’s a one point game now with less than 10 to play.
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Kelly to Notre Dame SECOND UPDATED 9 pm – Dec. 10

SECOND UPDATE: The athletic director at Cincinnati has confirmed that Brian Kelly has left the school to become the head coach at Notre Dame.

Kelly will not coach in the Bearcats bowl game.

Also, at the actually awards ceremony, Colt McCoy took home the Maxwell award.

UPDATE: Still no official announcement from Notre Dame or Brian Kelly. Not even a peep out of Cincinnati, which is often times how these things get leaked.

Kelly was just on the ESPN awards show, picking up is Coach of the Year award, but revealed very little, simply saying that he is talking to Notre Dame.

Still, expect something as soon as tomorrow.

Just about every news outlet from the Pacific to the Atlantic is reporting that Brian Kelly has indeed been hired at Notre Dame.

This move had been expected for some time, as rumors flew about Kelly’s meeting with the Irish earlier this week. He will be the fifth coach in South Bend since Lou Holtz left in 1996.

Kelly leaves a Cincinnati program he had taken to two straight bowl games, including this year’s Sugar Bowl. No word on whether he will coach in that game.

Is this a good move for Kelly? Well, probably not.

Kelly showed earlier this year that he could handle the media well, during the “quarterback controversy” that never really was one. The scrutiny will be in another stratosphere in South Bend.

But the media isn’t the reason. It’s the program.

Kelly recruited well at Cincinnati and no doubt will at Notre Dame. But the Big East is an easier league, yet still BCS, meaning he can play a tough non-conference schedule to help him get into the the national championship conversation. But at the same time, 8-4 is okay at Cincy.

Anything less than 10 wins at Notre Dame will get you your walking papers. Just ask Charlie Weis, Tyrone Willingham and Bob Davie.

He’ll do just what the last two coaches did, recruit quarterbacks. But can he get defensive players? He couldn’t even do that at Cincinnati.

We aren’t talking about the jump from FCS or from small school to BCS. He was already at a BCS school. The only thing that draws you to Notre Dame is the lights.

Hopefully the Golden Domers don’t leave him in the dark like they has become the five-year system.

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Charlie Strong introduced at Louisville — finally

Now former Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong was introduced as the new head coach at Louisville today, a press conference 26-years in the making for him.

The stories will write insatiably about Strong’s race (he is black) and how unbelievably qualified he was, oh, about 20 years ago.

Strong said himself a couple of years ago that he thought it was his interracial marriage that held him back so criminally. So, Pat Forde probably said it best, when he talked about the one black head coach in a BCS conference: “that would be funny, if it weren’t so pathetic.”

I will certainly have more later on this subject. But just a congratulations to Charlie Strong.

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Wall leads Kentucky over UConn – Dec. 10

John Wall is special. There really is no way around it.

Recall a few years ago when a guy named LeBron James had old men like Dick Vitale calling his high school basketball games and saying his was the future of basketball as we know it. The expectations were astronomical. There was no way he could hit them.

That story is, of course, history now. It bears some resemblance to Wall’s story.

No one got more fanfare during his college recruiting than John Wall. Not in years has that been the case. Even LeBron didn’t because everyone knew he was NBA-bound (as Wall most likely would have been, if not for the new rule).

It helped that John Calipari basically had him at Memphis, the one-and-done factory, before he made the move up to Kentucky. And Wall followed.

What he hasn’t done, is disappoint. Last night being no exception.

Wall scored 25 points, including 12 of Kentucky’s last 15, to lead the Wildcats to a 64-61 roller-coaster win over Connecticut last night. Said Jim Calhoun: “He’s no freshman. He’s a great player.”

That great player took Kentucky on his back again. After missing the season’s first game due to, surprise surprise, an investigation, Wall has exploded. He hit the game-winner in his debut and has averaged 19 points, four rebounds and seven assists in his first eight games. That is a star, NBA-bound player, sharing the basketball (although it isn’t the hardest thing in Calipari’s offense).

Kentucky is no 9-0, aiming to give Calipari the best start for any coach in school history. Better than a guy named Rupp. They play Indiana Saturday, which will not be the cake walk it has been in recent years, before playing six-straight home games. The only real competition on the schedule is Louisville.

Even in Calipari’s system, which allows just about anyone to go off on any given night, Wall will be special all season. He has shown ability to play well against very good teams. Now he gets the play the worst major conference schedule in America. Even worse than the Pac-10.

Meaning Wall could put up LeBron-like numbers in a hurry.

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Wisconsin falls to Green Bay in OT

Wisconsin-Green Bay had five players in the double figures and scored 13 overtime points to take down No. 20 Wisconsin (Madison) on Wednesday.

Both teams hail from the same university system in the state of Wisconsin.

Despite 27 points from Trevon Hughes and and 26 from Jon Leuer, the Badgers couldn’t overcome a double-double by Randy Berry and their own 18 turnovers.

Wisconsin’s two losses are now both to mid-majors, having lost at Gonzaga last month.

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House committee passes bill aimed at forcing playoff

The House Energy and Commerce committee reported a bill out of its committee today, aimed at forcing the NCAA to use a playoff system in the FBS.

The bill would ban the promotion of a postseason NCAA Division I football game as a national championship unless that title contest is the result of a playoff.

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Morning update

Just a couple of notes to start the day.

First, Butler and Georgetown played a good one at MSG last night, with the Hoyas really flexing their muscles up front and showing some glaring issues for Butler. It all added up to Greg Monroe having a career night.

Also, the waters are rising in the river outside Neyland Stadium, where Lane Kiffin is embroiled in more controversy. This time it is over some reportedly “very pretty” hostesses the Vols use in recruiting. This is obviously just the latest in a long line of issues for the program that has had more violations than wins under Kiffin.

More later.

December 9, 2009 – 10:48 am
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Virginia hires Richmond’s London

After finally pulling the trigger on Al Groh a week ago, Virginia has hired Richmond’s Mike London as its new coach.

The former Virginia defensive coordinator also served as the recruiting coordinator in Charlottesville, before spending a season with the Houston Texans.

London was 24-5 at Richmond, leading the Spiders to the 2008 FCS National Championship. A Richmond alumnus, he was named the FCS National Coach of the Year in 2008 as well.

London will sign a deal worth about $1.7 million annually.

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BCS Selection Show live blog

Here is the list of bowl games:

Bowl Location Date/Time Network
New Mexico
Fresno State vs. Wyoming
Albuquerque, N.M.
University Stadium
Dec. 19
4:30 p.m.
ESPN
St. Petersburg
UCF vs. Rutgers
St. Petersburg, Fla.
Tropicana Field
Dec. 19
8 p.m.
ESPN
R+L Carriers New Orleans
Southern Miss vs. Middle Tennessee
New Orleans
Louisiana Superdome
Dec. 20
8:30 p.m.
ESPN
MAACO Las Vegas
Oregon State vs. BYU
Las Vegas
Sam Boyd Stadium
Dec. 22
8 p.m.
ESPN
S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia
Utah vs. Cal
San Diego
Qualcomm Stadium
Dec. 23
8 p.m.
ESPN
Sheraton Hawaii
Nevada vs. SMU
Honolulu
Aloha Stadium
Dec. 24
8 p.m.
ESPN
Little Caesars
Marshall vs. Ohio
Detroit
Ford Field
Dec. 26
1 p.m.
ESPN
Meineke Car Care
Pitt vs. North Carolina
Charlotte, N.C.
Bank of America Stadium
Dec. 26
4:30 p.m.
ESPN
Emerald
Boston College vs. USC
San Francisco
AT&T Park
Dec. 26
8 p.m.
ESPN
Gaylord Hotels Music City
Kentucky vs. Clemson
Nashville, Tenn.
LP Field
Dec. 27
8:30 p.m.
ESPN
AdvoCare V100 Independence
Texas A&M vs. Georgia
Shreveport, La.
Independence Stadium
Dec. 28
5 p.m.
ESPN2
EagleBank
Army or UCLA vs. Temple
Washington, D.C.
RFK Stadium
Dec. 29
4:30 p.m.
ESPN
Champs Sports
Miami vs. Wisconsin
Orlando, Fla.
Florida Citrus Bowl
Dec. 29
8 p.m.
ESPN
Roady’s Humanitarian
Bowling Green vs. Idaho
Boise, Idaho
Bronco Stadium
Dec. 30
4:30 p.m.
ESPN
Pacific Life Holiday
Arizona vs. Nebraska
San Diego
Qualcomm Stadium
Dec. 30
8 p.m.
ESPN
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces
Houston vs. Air Force
Fort Worth, Texas
Amon G. Carter Stadium
Dec. 31
Noon
ESPN
Brut Sun
Oklahoma vs. Stanford
El Paso, Texas
Sun Bowl
Dec. 31
2 p.m.
CBS
Texas
Navy vs. Missouri
Houston
Reliant Stadium
Dec. 31
3:30 p.m.
ESPN
Insight
Minnesota vs. Iowa State
Tempe, Ariz.
Sun Devil Stadium
Dec. 31
6 p.m.
NFL Network
Chick-fil-A
Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee
Atlanta
Georgia Dome
Dec. 31
7:30 p.m.
ESPN
Outback
Northwestern vs. Auburn
Tampa, Fla.
Raymond James Stadium
Jan. 1
11 a.m.
ESPN
Capital One
Penn State vs. LSU
Orlando, Fla.
Florida Citrus Bowl
Jan. 1
1 p.m.
ABC
Konica Minolta Gator
West Virginia vs. Florida State
Jacksonville, Fla.
Municipal Stadium
Jan. 1
1 p.m.
CBS
Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi
Ohio State vs. Oregon
Pasadena, Calif.
Rose Bowl
Jan. 1
4:30 p.m.
ABC
Allstate Sugar
Florida vs. Cincinnati
New Orleans
Louisiana Superdome
Jan. 1
8:30 p.m.
FOX
International
South Florida vs. Northern Illinois
Toronto, Canada
Rogers Centre
Jan. 2
Noon
ESPN2
Papajohns.com
South Carolina vs. UConn
Birmingham, Ala.
Legion Field
Jan. 2
2 p.m.
ESPN
AT&T Cotton
Oklahoma State vs. Ole Miss
Arlington, Texas
Cowboys Stadium
Jan. 2
2 p.m.
FOX
AutoZone Liberty
Arkansas vs. East Carolina
Memphis, Tenn.
Liberty Bowl
Jan. 2
5:30 p.m.
ESPN
Valero Alamo
Michigan State vs. Texas Tech
San Antonio
Alamodome
Jan. 2
9 p.m.
ESPN
Tostitos Fiesta
Boise State vs. TCU
Glendale, Ariz.
U. of Phoenix Stadium
Jan. 4
8 p.m.
FOX
FedEx Orange
Iowa vs. Georgia Tech
Miami
Land Shark Stadium
Jan. 5
8 p.m.
FOX
GMAC
Central Michigan vs. Troy
Mobile, Ala.
Ladd-Peebles Stadium
Jan. 6
7 p.m.
ESPN
Citi BCS National Championship Game
Texas vs. Alabama
Pasadena, Calif.
Rose Bowl
Jan. 7
8 p.m.
ABC

Obviously this means Alabama and Texas are playing for the national championship in Pasadena. It really was an “expect the unexpected” type of thing. Alabama opens as a four-point favorite. Considering the way Texas played against good defenses this year, it could be very low scoring. But just throw in this reminder: USC was the odds-on favorite when Vince Young led his team to the championship too. As much as they backed into it, it isn’t like they don’t deserve it. The matchup of the day: Texas defense against Alabama passing game. Everyone else is probably going to do the things they usually do.

Iowa vs. Georgia Tech in Orange Bowl. Count me as someone who thinks the Big Ten barely deserves an automatic bid, let alone an at-large one. Guessing Tech wins big.

Sugar Bowl matches up Florida and Cincinnati. People can get excited all they want, but the only top-25 defense Cincinnati has played all year is Rutgers. Florida is number four. This could be ugly. Especially if Brian Kelly is already at ND.

First pick, Boise State and TCU headed to Fiesta Bowl. An absolute fail for the BCS in this one as about the worst result is the two non-BCS teams playing each other. It’s a great scapegoat for the BCS teams because they won’t have to lose to a non-BCS program.

It, in essence, takes away the ability of a non-BCS team to prove it belongs. Should be a great football game, however, and guessing the winner finishes ranked second.

It isn’t Selection Sunday, but there is a lot more money at stake.

One we already know is that Oregon and Ohio State will meet in the Rose Bowl. The Ducks are going to Pasadena for the first time in 15 years. Amazingly, Ohio State hasn’t played in the Rose Bowl during this run they’ve been on because of their appearances in the national championship and tying with Penn State. OSU is 8-0 against Oregon.

December 6, 2009 – 8:00 pm
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Championship Saturday Redux

Most certainly the question today will be, “does Texas deserve to play in the national championship?”

Most likely the popular answer is something along the lines of, “no, not after that performance against Nebraska.” Not sure if that means people think they just didn’t deserve to win, or that the quality of opponent should have called for a bigger win.

First, let’s look at Nebraska, that opponent. The Cornhuskers, under Bo Pelini (who should be the Big-12 coach of the year – unless it is Iowa State head man Paul Rhoads), are one of the best defenses in the country. They have held nine teams to 13 points or less. In Blacksburg they gave up just 16 points to Virginia Tech. No matter how frustrating the year was for Oklahoma, allowing just three points to that team says something about your defense. As a matter of fact, with the exception of sacks and passing defense, Nebraska or Texas are the best in every defensive category in the Big-12. This team can play D.

Now, did they deserve to win the game? Well, the fact is, they won the game. In sports, the win is what matters. How you get it is irrelevant. That is, until trying to compare undefeated teams. So, let’s do that.

Texas:

The Longhorns are in the top-10 nationally in seven categories, including number one in rushing defense and third in both scoring offense and total defense. Despite scoring just 13 points last night, Texas still averaged more than 40 points per game. In the ever-confusing, but important and unbiased Sagarin rankings, Texas is third. But in the part of the rankings the BCS actually uses, which doesn’t consider margin of victory, the Longhorns are fifth. But, even more interestingly, in the ranking that Jeff Sagarin himself believes in the most, the “predictor” (which is what is best at predicting how a team will do in the future), the Longhorns are second. Worth noting here that even a one-loss Florida team is second in the first two, third in the predictor. It is also worth noting that the Sagarin rankings can sometimes not take into account straight up wins and losses, with the example being that 5-7 Washington, which finished its season ranked 42nd, is ahead of UCLA, Notre Dame and Arizona State – all teams that beat the Huskies. Also, the main point of all of this is that Texas did this against the nation’s 44th-ranked schedule.

TCU:

While there is so much raving about the Longhorn’s defense, their neighbor to the north, TCU, actually has nation’s top-ranked defense and his in the top-6 in six defensive categories. TCU also averaged over 40 points per game. As a matter-of-fact, of the 17 categories charted by the NCAA, in only six of them is TCU ranked lower than sixth. They are a well-balanced team, averaging 256 yards rushing and 212 yards passing, while allowing teams barely half that yardage total on defense. So, in the raw stats, TCU looks good – which is to be expected.

One would think it is the Sagarin rankings that would make TCU’s case fall apart. And, at first glance, the 84th-ranked schedule doesn’t look so good. Neither Texas nor TCU has played another team ranked in the Sagarin top-10 and both are 2-0 against the top-30 (Texas in neutral site games against Oklahoma and Nebraska, TCU at Clemson and at BYU). In the rankings used by the BCS, TCU is fourth, ahead of Texas, but just sixth in the predictor.

Unfortunately for the Horned Frogs, it really comes down to that strength of schedule. Here is an interesting take, however: say that one can just assume that both of these teams can beat anyone outside of the top-30. That seems reasonable. Then, when it really comes to down to it, look at the two teams inside the top-30 each team beat. Oklahoma and Nebraska are 23rd and 24th, respectively. Clemson and BYU are 21st and 29th. So call that a wash. That means the difference lies in the games themselves, which gives TCU the advantage. Texas played both of those games at the new Cowboys Stadium and one was a rivalry game against a severely-depleted Oklahoma team. Both games were within three points. By contrast, TCU traveled to Clemson and beat the ACC runner-up by four. Then they again traveled to BYU, a team that beat that same Oklahoma team in the same stadium Texas did and under much the same circumstances (Sam Bradford leaving the game early) and blew them out 38-7. Looking at that, advantage TCU.

Cincinnati:

Cincinnati has the worst case of any of the undefeated teams, as well as Florida and maybe even Georgia Tech, for a national championship birth. Don’t spit out your drink, read on. Yes, they are 3-0 against the top-30, with no games against the top-10. Since the fact that Nebraska should have beaten Texas was thrown out, so should the fact the Cincy should have lost to Pitt. And yes, this is the most efficient passing team in the country, with a dynamic player in Mardy Gilyard.

However, this team is 65th in rushing offense, which is awful no matter how much you throw it. And then look at that defense. This defense allowed 36 points to an Illinois team scoring 24 points per game and 44 (should have been 45) to a Pitt team scoring just 33. Championship teams are supposed to get other teams below their averages. They are 48th in total defense and just sixth in the Big East.

All of this is probably why, despite being undefeated, Cincy is just 12th in the Sagarin projections. In other words, the house of cards will fall eventually. But, taking out margin of victory, like the BCS does, and they are third. And their 63rd-ranked schedule is better only than TCU and Boise State in the top-10. However, look at their schedule and their only “marquee” win was at Oregon State back in September and they struggled through a weak conference, something those other two teams didn’t do.

Boise State

Finally, the Broncos, who just completed their fourth undefeated season in six years. Before, Boise was an okay defensive team with an explosive offense. Now, they have the nation’s 13th-ranked defense and are second in turnover margin. In all 17 categories, there is only one that has Boise outside the top-40. This is the nation’s number one scoring offense with its most efficient quarterback. Kellen Moore has thrown 39 touchdowns with just three interceptions. Yes, you read that correctly.

The immediate response that anyone makes to Boise State is that their schedule is awful. Truer words have never been spoken. Their SOS is 98, worst in the Sagarin top-10. That said, they are ahead of Cincinnati in the predictor and has one more major thing working for them. Not only are they the only one of these teams that has played another top-10 team, they also beat them. Say what you want about Oregon, they won the Pac-10, which is the nation’s second-best conference, and Boise State beat them. That cannot be overlooked. Unfortunately, there is absolutely no one else good on the Broncos schedule, which is why it is important that they played just one close game all year, at Tulsa. Take out Oregon and Tulsa and this team averaged nearly 48 points per game. Then on defense they recorded a shutout and kept five teams under 10 points.

Breaking all of this down objectively is obviously difficult. But using some of the numbers shows a clearer picture of where some of these teams are. Obviously some stats are inflated one way or the other based on competition, which is when it helps to just look at big games, such as Boise State Oregon. In looking at this, it can be concluded that these teams deserve a national championship birth in this order: TCU, Texas, Boise State, Cincinnati. How does Cincy end up last? Well, here is guessing the Cincy could not have outscored Nevada, because their defense would have just wilted. Boise State is clearly better defensively that Cincy. So throw out their conference schedules and look really at just two games. Boise State beat Oregon at home. Cincy beat Oregon State in Corvalis. Home field should matter, but the way Boise dominated Oregon (and the fact the Broncos also won at Oregon last season) makes me think they would have beaten them anywhere Phil Knight wanted (if you remember, Oregon tried to move the game to China). What it comes down to is that Oregon beat Oregon State. So, thank you Pac-10, despite not playing in it, you could be the difference in who plays for the national championship.

Of course, this is all moot. Texas is going to play in the game. It would be shocking if anything else transpired tonight. But most certainly both Boise State and TCU should be in BCS bowls.

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Live Championship Gameday blog

8:03: That was somewhat surreal. Alabama winning was not out of the question. Alabama dominating was completely unexpected. Tim Tebow was nowhere to be found and it wasn’t his fault. It was that Alabama defense.

Dare it be said: Nick Saban vastly out-coached Urban Meyer today. It wasn’t even close. From the opening snap. That was just well-coached SEC football.

Mark Ingram became Alabama’s all-time single-season rushing leader at 1,481 to date. He broke the record on a 69-yard run.

Here is the game story. More links to come later.

For now, get ready for the Big-12 and ACC championship games, both starting now. A win by Texas and the NC game is set. A loss and, well, it could be a free-for-all in the computers. So far this year McCoy is the only one of the big three quarterbacks to make it through unscathed. Will tonight be different?

One more note – over in the wild Pac-10, Washington is blowing out Cal, 21-3, at halftime. Jake Locker has 164 yards passing and a touchdown, to go with 25 yards rushing and a couple more TD’s. It would hard to imagine Locker not being the Heisman favorite next year if he were to come back.

7:26: This one is over. Tebow incomplete down the middle on fourth down with less than eight minutes to play. Gators have been shut out in the second half.

7:04: How about this: USC lost to Arizona at home. The Trojans finished sixth in the Pac-10. Yet beat the Big Ten champion at their house. So, just a question: Boise State beat the Pac-10 champ, a league that is clearly pretty good. That isn’t a good enough win?

6:52: This might be blasphemous, but honestly Florida looks outmatched. Probably why Tim Tebow is in the defensive huddle screaming about heart. Beginning of the 4th quarter. Florida needs something.

5:48: SEC Championship halftime observations:

  • The announcers are right about Nick Saban. His coaching has been solid. As a matter of fact, he has shown his real ability, changing his “style” if you will and really punching Florida in the mouth. Clearly, Alabama had a plan that involved scoring some points and throwing the football. Their offense racked up 271 yards in the half.
  • Florida is actually in a really good position right now. Considering how well Alabama has been playing, the fact that the Gators are only one score down and get the ball to start the half means they could be leading before Alabama touches it.
  • The Heisman trophy could be won by Mark Ingram today. He already has 52 yards rushing with 2 TD’s and 76 yards receiving. In a half. If Florida can’t figure out how to stop him, a big game could be in the offing. That alone could win it for him.
  • The Florida offense looks exhausted. In that last drive Cooper had to come off the field and couldn’t take water because he couldn’t stand up. Hernandez the same. These guys are tired and there’s really no excuse for it. They’ll have to fix that.
  • And in the obvious department: Florida has to run the football. Tim Tebow has 49 yards on the ground. Three other guys have nine each, all nine yard runs. That has to change.
  • Around the country:

    Boise State had its shutout broken up in the fourth quarter, but still leads 42-7. And USC and Arizona are tied 14-14 in the fourth. Could the Trojans lose in the Coliseum again?

    Back later. Follow on Twitter.

    3:51: Cincinnati Wins. Thanks to that missed XP by Pitt, Cincy marched down the field in four plays to get the lead right back. Stull threw three incompletions before taking a sack and all that was left was passing out the hats and t-shirts.

    And maybe sitting around a tv with a particular Big-12 game on.

    USC-Arizona is right now. SEC championship game is in 10 minutes.

    3:27: Hard not to love what Pitt is doing, just marched down the field for a Dion Lewis touchdown. None of this quick-strike stuff Cincy is doing phases them. Pitt just gets the ball back and drives. BUT, a huge play as Pitt botches the XP. With 1:36 left, Cincy has 2 timeouts.

    3:00 pm: Couple of notes as the snow continues to pick up.

    First, Kentucky held on to beat North Carolina in a pretty big basketball game that was just scheduled for the worst possible day.

    And an interesting story out of Arizona, where Jim Livengood appears to be leaving Arizona to become the athletic director at UNLV. This is a big storyline. First, Livengood is already the AD at Arizona, so UNLV would be a downgrade. However, he hadn’t gotten a contract extension so this could be leverage or just him making future plans. In addition, UNLV has a coaching vacancy and UA has a guy named Mark Stoops, the third Stoops brother, who could fill it if he doesn’t look at Youngstown State.

    2:00 pm: Whew, braved the freezing cold and snow for a two hour football game and now back. Walked in just as halftime was wrapping up in Pittsburgh. A shootout could’ve been predicted, but not with Cincy two touchdowns down.

    Here’s the real kicker though: if you are watching, turn it on. Things on Brian Kelly’s sideline are getting hot. After the last offensive drive, Kelly spent some time telling Tony Pike how displeased he was, in a few more words. Then the receivers had their turn and Kelly told his backup to get ready. Zach Collaros has his helmet on and is getting loose, but Pike stays in for now.

    By the way, this game is in the same driving snow that mine was just in.

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    Championship weekend preview, picks

    Wake up. That regular season long nap you’ve been taking, it’s time to pick your head up. If the thunderous crash of USC and Oklahoma to mediocrity didn’t already set off your alarm, then the loudness of Autzen Stadium must have on Thursday night.

    But, assuming you hit the snooze button, there promises to be noise in four different stadiums on Saturday, enough to reverberate through the country and possibly a thing called the BCS.

    It wasn’t too long ago that conference championship games didn’t matter. Remember when Oklahoma played in the national championship despite being run out of the building by a weak Kansas State team in the Big-12 championship? Well, not in 2009. One, possibly two, of the top three teams in the BCS will lose this weekend. And those loser will not play in the national championship. Period.

    How about that for earth-shattering high stakes.

    Here’s a look at the five games with national championship implications on Saturday:

    #5 Cincinnati @ #14 Pittsburgh (12 pm E.T., ABC): This game is about two people: Tony Pike and Brian Kelly. On Saturday night, win or lose, Kelly may be looking at a very large contract at another school named Notre Dame. This means that Kelly may be coaching his final game in the de facto Big East championship game (they do schedule well if nothing else), assuming the school won’t let him coach a bowl game if he signs somewhere else. These things differ school to school. If the fact that he has the Bearcats competitive isn’t enough, Kelly’s coaching prowess was proven this year in his dealing with the Tony Pike situation. When the NFL prospect was injured mid-season, he went to his backup, who played extremely well. But Kelly never said Pike had lost his job, instead handing back to the senior the second he was ready. Pike responded with six touchdown passes last week.

    Pitt, on the other hand, comes in following a devastating loss in the Backyard Brawl. Leading the Panthers will be Dion Lewis, the nation’s fourth-leading rusher at 131.5 yards per game. A big game from the freshman is Pitt’s only chance. And that isn’t much of one if they can’t stop Pike and that offense. They won’t.

    Cincinnati 30, Pitt 17

    New Mexico State @ #6 Boise State (3 pm E.T.): TCU is off this week, making this Boise game the most important non-BCS matchup. However, put it this way: the tie-breaker is this week’s office pool was to guess the margin of victory in this game. Last time it was like that, Florida played FIU and ‘Bama played Chattanooga. Just sayin’. Kellen Moore could solidify his Heisman candidacy with a huge game. How can he not be considered with an absolutely ridiculous 38-3 touchdown to interception ration.

    Boise State 55, NMSU 13.

    #12 Georgia Tech vs. #25 Clemson (5 pm E.T., ESPN) in Tampa Bay: Okay, so this game doesn’t have national championship implications. It is the ACC championship game, so that isn’t unusual. Really, it is the fight for like sixth place in the SEC. And it should be a fun, up and down affair. No Virginia Tech, just the high-octane, no-passing Paul Johnson option, against the high-speed, high-flying act of ACC player of the year C.J. Spiller. Tip for Georgia Tech: don’t be offsides on the opening kickoff.

    Tech already beat Clemson and there’s no reason to think they can’t do it again. Few teams have shown an ability to stop that offense from scoring points and given South Carolina had their way with Clemson, GT should too.

    Georgia Tech 27, Clemson 20

    #3 Texas vs. #21 Nebraska (8:07 pm, ABC) in Arlington: As was evidenced earlier, the Big-12 championship can be place where great teams get trap-doored. Well, except in the recent future. Five straight years, the Big-12 North representative and rolled over and been beat down. The rea conference championship game happens in the Dallas area every year too – in the Red River rivalry.

    This is definitely the best chance for the Big-12 North – until next year that is. While Texas has the best defense in the country, Nebraska is punishing on that side of the ball. A former SEC defensive coordinator, Bo Pelini has his Nebraska team dominant on defense. They held Oklahoma to three points.

    Here’s thing though and the reason Colt McCoy should never be picked against: McCoy is the winningest quarterback in major college football history. For a reason. He just wins football games. But, either this weekend or in the national championship game, McCoy is going to have his Vince Young moment. Don’t miss it.

    Texas 19, Nebraska 10

    #1 Florida vs. #2 Alabama (4 pm E.T., CBS) in Atlanta: For the seventh time, Florida and Alabama battle for the SEC championship. The winner gets the perks, the loser may be relegated to a BCS date with Boise State. Don’t tell Alabama that – they know how to lose those kinds of games.

    The loss of Carlos Dunlap plays badly for Florida, as does a dinged up Mark Ingram for Alabama. It is the matchup of two larger than life football coaches, one of who has Notre Dame trying to real him in.

    Julio Jones has come back form the depths to contribute solidly the Alabama offense, specifically taking over that game-winning drive last week. So there is a dominant Florida defense against an okay Alabama offense that is sure to line up Mount Cody at some point.

    Again, however, the answer is quite similar to any eariler post, it lies squarely on the shoudlers of No. 15. Impossible to pick against him. Remember at the beginning of the year, when Alabama was billed as good, but not great? Well, against a team on Florida’s level, they are still a year away. Specifically Year One A.T.

    Florida 17, Alabama 14

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    Civil War morning after

    It really was a full-circle story for Oregon, as the Ducks seemingly made every play down the stretch to get back to the Rose Bowl for the first time in 15 years.

    The game changed, however, when number nine stepped on the field. LeGarrette Blount went from the biggest sucker punch maybe ever, to a monster, bowling over OSU defenders in his first appearance since that night in Boise.

    Blount was the definition of a “change-of-pace” back, away from the speed and quickness of LaMichael James (166 yards, 3 TD’s), to a power game that OSU couldn’t handle. Give it to Chip Kelly – this was great coaching.

    Some links on last night’s game:

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    Quick CBK notes

    UPDATE: Texas Tech beat Washington, 99-92, in overtime.

    A couple of interesting games tonight, both part of the Big-12/Pac-10 Hardwood Challenge.

    First, No. 10 Washington trails Texas Tech by nine at halftime in Lubbock, Texas. There have been a couple of dustups in the game so far, with a technical having already been issued. Hard to be any bad blood between these teams – they haven’t played since the ’80’s.

    Later tonight, USC visits No. 2 Texas.

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    Civil War updates

  • Ted Miller looks at both teams.
  • And his keys to the game. The Oregonian has a Civil War page.
  • Sports Illustrated previews the game.
  • Given that he’s picked the Pac-10’s Rose Bowl rep., Stewart Mandel has picked his winner tonight.
  • Yahoo Sports preview.

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Hofstra cuts football after 69 years

Hofstra became the second CAA school to cut football in the last ten days today, citing high cost and low interest.

The schools expects to save over $4 million per year by making the move.

Late last month, Northeastern University also cut its football program, leaving just eight remaining teams in the CAA.

Civil War gameday

The Beavers and the Ducks play, literally, for all the marbles tonight in the Civil War, at Autzen Stadium in Oregon. Check out our morning links for some of the coverage.

A few other things not on there:

More throughout the day as we get closer to the big game.

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Wednesday Wrap

One thing before some game wrap that I haven’t mentioned yet. Drew Gordon will transfer from UCLA, leaving a year after coming in as a heralded recruit. Things have been tough for Gordon, but not as tough as for UCLA so for this year.

Duke fell on the road at Wisconsin, losing for the first time this year.

Washington State battled Gonzaga for 40 minutes, but the Zags pulled it out in the end.

Cal lost another bad one, this time to New Mexico.

Ohio State wrapped up a blowout of Florida State to clinch the Big Ten/ACC Challenge for the Big Ten. It’s the first time that conference has won the challenge, but still is overshadowed by the conference’s best team getting crushed by the ACC’s best team.

And Arizona fell in double-OT to UNLV.

And one quick note: during its trucking of Alcorn State, Kansas went on a 36-0 run. Call it the stat of the night.

Out for the night, since tomorrow is so big. The day is dedicated to football of course. A particular Civil War matchup is the biggest one since the 1860’s. Autzen promises to burn down.

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Big hoops night coverage

10:07 pm: Duke trails by six at halftime. Guess who else is losing? UNLV, Gonzaga and Texas A&M. The second half is just underway at McKale Center.

In Madison, Wisconsin has shot 53 percent from the field and 42 percent from three-point range, with their five threes accounting for the difference. They are out-rebounding and out-assisting Duke right now, mostly because the Blue Devils are running their entire offense through Kyle Singler, who has 17.

Out in Spokane, Washington State is giving the Pac-10 a much-needed boost, hold Gonzaga to 36 percent shooting and leading by 12 at half. Jesse is at the game.

9:00 pm: Thirteen ranked teams in action tonight, including two against each other in Columbus.

However, the story to begin with is at Clemson, where the Tigers blew a 23-point lead, then missed a layup at the buzzer, to fall to Illinois. Bruce Webber’s team outscored Clemson 49-27 in the second half to get the win.

That should have been an easy win for the ACC in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. But with the loss, it continues to look like the Big Ten may win the challenge for the first time.

Elsewhere tonight, Duke is at Wisconsin right now and got off to a pretty slow start. Top-ranked Kansas outscored Alcorn State 53-12 in the first half. No. 24 UNLV is at Arizona in a game that looms large for Pac-10 credibility. Right now, Washington looks like the only real basketball team in the conference. Another game that would help is at the McCarthey Center in Spokane, where Washington State, who can score a little bit under Ken Bone, plays Gonzaga. One person told me the only way WSU wins that game is if Klay Thompson scores 50. Not out of the realm of possibility.

Stay tuned and follow Twitter.

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TCU locks up Patterson through 2016

One name that will definitely garner mention for every open job this offseason may have just come off the market — sort of.

TCU’s Gary Patterson inked a contract extension that would keep him in Fort Worth, Tex. through 2016. In nine years at the Helm of the Horned Frogs, Patterson is 85-27, with five 11-win seasons. Despite playing in the Mountain West, Patterson’s two-loss 2008 team finished ranked No. 7 in both polls.

TCU overtook Boise State as this year’s non-BCS darlings, leap-frogging the Broncos, as well as Cincinnati, in the BCS standings. Their strength of schedule is mostly thanks to two road wins in the ACC, including one of championship game participant Clemson. The alma mater of San Diego Chargers’ running back LaDanian Tomlinson expects to be named to a BCS bowl on Sunday.

SMU back to a bowl game for first time in 25 years

It has been a long road for one of college football’s former powers. And it ends in Hawaii.

Southern Methodist, the only major football program ever to receive the NCAA’s “Death Penalty” is headed to a bowl game for the first time since 1984. The Mustangs will play in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24.

The game will be homecoming of sorts for SMU head coach June Jones, who left Hawaii for the ‘Stangs two seasons ago, after leading the Warriors to an undefeated regular season and BCS bowl bid.

In just two short seasons, Jones has built the program like Lazarus. This season they were one quarter away from their first 3-0 start since that ’84 season, before pulling the come-from-head loss to Washington State. But unlike the Cougars, SMU rebounded, finishing the regular season 7-5 to earn the bowl bid.

No. 11 Carolina takes down No. 9 Michigan State

At the end of the night, the score doesn’t tell the story. Not even close.

The game that is.

From the opening tip, 11th-ranked North Carolina was in control, allowing No. 9 Michigan State only one lead, before taking over, en route to a 89-82 win in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge in Chapel Hill.

The Tar Heels went on a furious run to nearly put the game out of reach at halftime, capped of by Dexter Strickland pullup three-pointer at the buzzer.

In the second half, MSU clawed to within six, but UNC took over on the glass as the game progressed, seemingly snatched an offensive rebound whenever it was needed.

Ed Davis had 22 points and eight rebounds, while Larry Drew chipped in 18 points and five assists. Marcus Ginyard, back after missing much of 2008-09, had nine points and eight assists.

North Carolina shot a blistering 58 percent on the night, even hotter during their lengthy runs, while the Spartans were just 2-21 from the long range.

After the Big Ten took the first three games in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Tuesday, Maryland took down Indiana and the national championship rematch in Chapel Hill gave the ACC two wins. Virginia Tech was leading Iowa late.

Late touchdown leaves Alabama perfect

AUBURN, Ala. — No. 2 Alabama found its championship form in the nick of time.

Outplayed most of the game, the Crimson Tide stayed unbeaten with a 26-21 victory Friday over Auburn, taking the lead with a nearly perfect drive that was capped by Greg McElroy’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Roy Upchurch with 1:24 left.

Alabama (12-0, 8-0 Southeastern Conference) completed a second straight perfect regular season in the Iron Bowl, but did it the hard way against its bitter rival. The Tide fell behind in the opening minutes, but came out ahead to do its part to set up 1 vs. 2 showdown with top-ranked Florida in the SEC championship game.

But forget the national and league championship, the state title almost slipped away.

Auburn (7-5, 3-5) pushed the ball to the Alabama 37 on the final drive, but Chris Todd’s pass to the end zone was batted down by the Tide defense.

For the second straight day, one of the three teams at the top of the BCS standings and in control of the national title race was knocked woozy, but did not fall. Much like No. 3 Texas, which held off Texas A&M 49-39 on Thanksgiving night, Alabama found out being a big favorite against an archrival sometimes doesn’t matter much.

TCU and Cincinnati, the unbeaten teams behind Florida, Alabama and Texas in the BCS standings, are left to hope Florida State can pull an upset against Florida on Saturday that might open the door for them to reach the national title game.

The Tide survived a shaky effort by it’s usually stellar defense and a sub-par game from Heisman Trophy contender Mark Ingram.

The SEC’s leading rusher was held to 30 yards on 16 carries and was on the bench for most of the game-winning drive apparently having his left arm checked out by trainers.

McElroy and Julio Jones took over without him, aided by five runs and a 17-yard catch by freshman Trent Richardson on the 15-play, 79-yard drive that consumed more than seven minutes.

McElroy, who has been criticized at times as a weak link in an offense with a powerful running game, completed his final seven passes for 62 yards on the climactic drive after opening with an incompletion. Jones made four catches, three for first downs.

Auburn fans remained in the stands for several minutes when it was over, some seemingly stunned and others applauding a closer-than-expected game, while a sizable crimson-and-white contingent celebrated. A handful of ‘Bama players later returned to the field briefly.

Until the final minutes, Auburn had supplied most of the big plays and its maligned defense largely outplayed the nation’s top unit.

Auburn outgained Alabama 332-291 and, more surprisingly, dominated on the ground 151-73. McElroy was 21 of 31 for 218 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He was sacked three times.

The Tigers stunned the Tide by rocketing out to a 14-0 lead in the first 9:18 when every trick seemed to work. Alabama hadn’t allowed a touchdown in the previous two games.

Alabama tied it up by halftime but then Todd pump faked and hit Darvin Adams for a 72-yard touchdown on the Tigers’ first drive of the second half to make it 21-14.

Alabama had three straight trips across midfield, ending with two field goals by Leigh Tiffin and Ingram’s failed fourth-and-1 run. Tiffin had earlier had a 42-yard attempt fall well short, another unfamiliar sight this season for the Tide season.

That left Auburn nursing a 21-20 lead going into the fourth.

The Tigers had a solid chance to extend the lead after taking over at Alabama’s 44 following yet another defensive stand. But the Tide defense tackled Ben Tate for a 7-yard loss and then buried Todd for another 10-yard loss.

That set the stage for McElroy, who must have won over even his most ardent doubters with the poise and precision he displayed as the clock wound down.

Hawkins to stay at Colorad0

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — What does University of Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn have to say to doubters and detractors who contend he’s sticking with football coach Dan Hawkins only because he couldn’t come up with the $3.1 million buyout and the millions more it would take to replace him?

Twelve seconds of silence.

“Yeah,” Bohn responds when asked if he’s still there. “I’m thinking about what I want to say.”

Another 18 seconds of silence.

“Our financial, uh … Can you ask me the question again so I can get a little excited? I slept in my clothes last night. I’m a little slow,” asks Bohn, who flew back into Denver early Thursday after accompanying the men’s basketball team to the Maui Invitational in Hawaii.

So, what does he have to say to those critics who will insist that money and not merit guided his decision to keep a coach who is 16-32 with a 2-20 road record and a 10-21 mark in the Big 12?

“Well, money is always a consideration in big-time college football,” Bohn said. “It wasn’t THE determining factor. The bottom line was Dan Hawkins is the right coach for CU at this time.”

Hawkins has cleaned up a program tarnished by scandal under Gary Barnett, but he’s been unable to find success on the field and has endured four straight losing seasons, which usually lead to moving trucks, not reiterations of support.

The Buffaloes (3-8, 2-5) wrap up their season Friday against Big 12 North champion Nebraska (8-3, 5-2) at Folsom Field in a game that many thought would be Hawkins’ farewell.

Chancellor Philip DiStefano and Bohn informed the team after its walkthrough on Thanksgiving Day of their coach’s status to quell doubts about his future.

“It was really important for me to look these kids in the eye and Dan in the eye rather than being out in Maui” and doing it by phone, Bohn said.

DiStefano said he supports Bohn’s decision to honor Hawkins’ contract, which runs through 2012.

“Dan represents the university’s values on and off the field, and his team has been competitive this year,” DiStefano said. “He has done all that we have asked him to do, and although we all desire more victories, we also recognize starting over with a new coach right now takes us away from, not closer to, our goals for CU football.”

Of the Buffs’ eight losses this season, three have been by a touchdown or less and two others, at West Virginia and Texas, were competitive before fourth-quarter flameouts.

Hawkins signed a five-year contract in 2006 after leaving Boise State, where he was 53-11, and was given an extension 13 months ago before injuries unraveled the Buffs, who finished 5-7 last year.

Hawkins declared “10 wins, no excuses” as his mantra for this season, but the Buffs quickly rendered that goal laughable, leading to widespread dissatisfaction with Hawkins, who became increasingly defensive.

Bohn asked that Buffs supporters now rally around the program and its players, if not Hawkins.

“The program is bigger than any one individual and the institution is bigger than any member of the leadership team or anybody associated with this outstanding university,” Bohn said. “And I recognize that there’s a schism among the fan base. We’re going to work hard to close that.”

Bohn said he expects some backlash.

“I’m certainly aware that people on both sides of this issue are passionate,” he said. “And that’s why I believe one of my biggest challenges will be trying to collectively put that passion together because when we are unified, Folsom Field and our football program can compete with anybody in the nation.”

Hawkins will almost certainly have to have a winning season next year to keep his boss’s trust and his job.

“Clearly, I believe the longer a coach or anyone is associated with a program that the scoreboard ultimately becomes an important barometer,” Bohn said.

Hawkins had more votes of confidence than wins this season, but as the losses piled up, more and more calls came for his ouster, and the din heightened when blue chipper Darrell Scott bolted the Buffs at midseason.

Hawkins acknowledged this week that he regretted recruiting his son, Cody, to Boulder to be his quarterback because his kid unfairly became a lightning rod for critics before his benching at midseason.

Some students took to wearing powder blue to games this season instead of gold and black to protest the program’s slide into mediocrity. It was the color the team wore from 1981-84 when they went 10-34 overall during one of the worst stretches in school history.

That stretch is now rivaled by Hawkins era, and the question now is about the color green: Will alumni and boosters open up their wallets with Hawkins given a fifth season instead of a pink slip?

Tennessee freshman reinstated

Freshman safety Janzen Jackson has been reinstated to the team and will start Saturday against Kentucky, Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin said Tuesday.

Jackson, who had been barred from team activities, had the attempted armed robbery charges against him dismissed earlier this week after the Knox County district attorney said there wasn’t sufficient evidence to proceed.

Jackson’s two former teammates, Nu’Keese Richardson and Mike Edwards, still have charges pending from the Nov. 12 incident outside a convenience store in Knoxville.

“As I’ve said before, we wanted to take our time. These were very serious allegations,” Kiffin said. “We wanted to make sure we handled this properly. After an extensive and thorough investigation by the Knoxville Police Department, they have cleared Janzen of any wrongdoing. He will join the team activities today.”

Jackson has missed the past three games, including the Memphis game prior to his arrest. He was suspended for that game for what Kiffin said was a violation of team rules. Sources have told ESPN.com that a failed drug test was one of the factors leading to Jackson’s suspension.

Prior to that suspension, Jackson had started in every game but the opener. The last game he played in was against South Carolina on Oct. 31, and he had a career-high seven tackles in that game and forced a fumble.

Vols dismiss two after armed robbery charges

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Two of three Tennessee freshmen football players charged last week in an attempted armed robbery have been dismissed from the team.

“Clearly, their actions have no place in our program,” coach Lane Kiffin said Monday.

Kiffin said wide receiver Nu’Keese Richardson, 18, and defensive back Mike Edwards, 18, were permanently dismissed from the team, while former starting safety Janzen Jackson, 18, will continue to be barred from team activities while Kiffin awaits more information in his case.

Richardson was the player whose recruitment first got Kiffin in trouble with the Southeastern Conference. Kiffin joked in February that Florida coach Urban Meyer cheated in trying to keep Richardson as a Gator, earning Kiffin a reprimand from the SEC.

All three players were out on bond but kept home Saturday when Tennessee traveled to play Mississippi.

Three victims told police they were sitting in their parked vehicle about 2 a.m. last Thursday outside a convenience store near Tennessee’s campus when two males dressed in hooded jackets, one brandishing a handgun, approached and demanded, “Give us everything you’ve got.”

“The victims stated that they all presented their wallets to the suspects and showed them that they did not have money,” a police report said. “The victims stated that a third black male then approached and told the other two black males, ‘We’ve got to go.”

The three freshmen were arrested shortly afterward with companion Marie Montmarquet, 22, also a UT student. She allegedly drove their getaway Toyota Prius in which police found a pellet gun and hooded jackets.

The victims identified Richardson and Edwards as the men who approached their vehicle, and Jackson as the one who told them to leave, the police report said.

“After extensive and thorough research of the situation … and considering various disciplinary options, I’ve decided it’s in the best interest of our program to remove Nu’Keese and Mike,” Kiffin said in a statement.

“We hold our student athletes to an extremely high standard on and off the field. Our student athletes must be responsible members of society, and this type of conduct will not be tolerated.”

Kiffin said he hoped Richardson and Edwards “will learn from their terrible decision.”

Richardson, a highly touted recruit from Pahokee, Fla., finished his Tennessee career with six catches for 58 yards. Edwards, a Cleveland, Ohio, native, played in eight games and registered five tackles.

Jackson, a Lake Charles, La., native, has started seven games this season, logging 33 tackles and a forced fumble. He was suspended for the Memphis game for undisclosed reasons, a week after he was named SEC freshman of the week for a strong performance against South Carolina.

Shaking things up around college football

As TCU rolls the bus over Utah, over and over again, let’s take a highlight look back at the second Saturday of November. Stories courtesy of the Associated Press and ESPN.

– Ohio State somehow pulled off an OT win against Iowa and came up roses.

– USC gave up the most points in its history – against Stanford.

– Florida survived a trip north.

– Texas actually played a football game, if you can call it that. The Longhorns led 40-0 as Colt McCoy tied a record.

– Boise State dropped 63 on Idaho.

– Houston was upset by Central Florida.

– North Carolina took down Miami, while Duke was blown out by Georgia Tech.

– And boy, life got even tougher in Ann Arbor. Could South Bend be next?

Biggest shocker? Definitely Stanford’s 55 points on USC, the most the Trojans have ever given up. Not in Pete Carroll’s tenure. Ever. There has been a changing of the guard in the Pac-10, but don’t give up on SC. Despite probably not even finishing in the top-2 in the Pac-10, the Trojans are young offensively. They’ll fix it. It isn’t a USC problem. It’s more what Pete Carroll said: the rest of the conference is catching up.

Heading into halftime, the game in Fort Worth is over. Looks like it is between ‘Bama and MSU too. However, at the Bottle, Pitt and ND are tied. Second half football baby…

Cal’s Best leaves game on stretcher

California running back Jahvid Best, a one time Heisman trophy candidate, left the Memorial Stadium field on a stretcher during the second quarter of Cal’s game against Oregon State.

Best attempted to jump over a player into the endzone and was propelled even higher by another Beaver defender, before coming straight down on his head and back from about six feet up.

Best hit the ground and his head swung back, slamming into the turf and knocking his helmet off. His body immediately went frigid, arms up in the air away from his body and a blank expression on his face. He didn’t move.

The entire California team stood on the five yard line as Best was lifted onto the stretcher and onto a cart. The Oregon State defensive team all went to its knees in prayer immediately after the play ended.

Best, who is in the top-10 on basically all of Cal’s all-time rushing charts, was on the turf for more than 15 minutes, during which time he was given oxygen. His body was completely immobilized as he left the field.

College Football Preview: Week 10

Well, thanks to such star-studded competition from San Jose State to Tulane, last week was a breezy 6-1 performance. That loss though was anything but for the USC Trojans, who didn’t just lose in Eugene, they were embarrassed inside and out. Worst loss in the Pete Carroll era. Likely end to streak of Pac-10 championships and possibly even BCS berths. In other words, it was a loss worse for them.

This week there are actually a couple of big ones that require going out on a limb. However, when #3 Alabama and #8 LSU get together, you expect it to not yield much scoring. It will look good too. But when #14 Ohio State gets together in Happy Valley with #10 Penn State, people will cringe at the lack of scoring and the Buckeyes’ Mr. highly touted QB, Terrelle Pryor, will hope to be a little bit than he has, well, all season.

Most intriguing game, however, takes place in Ruston, when Boise State travels to face Louisiana Tech. Yes, it seems like that has been said about every Broncos’ game. That is because it is true. Another long flight for Boise and a place where they have lost a couple of times.

Really all that matters is that with that near-perfect week, the record sits at 63-15, or roughly the score prediction of #2 Texas and Central Florida. On to it:

#1 Florida vs. Vanderbilt: In case you didn’t know, a guy named Brandon Spikes plays for Florida. Except this weekend. The future high NFL draft pick suspended himself for this weekend’s game in Gainesville. So, with its 10 remaining starters on the best defense in the country, Florida should struggle. Yeah. Right. Florida 38, Vandy 7.

#2 Texas vs UCF: Who scheduled this? Really? Texas already did the cake walk at the beginning of the season, then watched as the rest of the Big-12 crumbled around them. Now it’s November. Seems like the perfect time for a non-conference patsy, right? Come on: Texas 55, UCF 10.

#3 Alabama vs. #8 LSU: Biggest game in the country this week. An LSU win would completely change the landscape of football, opening the door for every SEC team to have one loss. The Tigers could actually sneak into the SEC title game as well. This LSU defense is fast. There is a lot of talk about Alabama and Mark Ingram, but LSU has one of the, if not the fastest defense in the country. They have killed immobile quarterbacks. And it isn’t like Alabama scores a bunch of points. If LSU can somehow manage to push across two touchdowns, they’ll probably win. Especially if Bama keeps kicking field goals and not scoring touchdowns in the redzone. Oh, and Tuscaloosa has also been good to them: LSU 20, Alabama 17.

#4 Boise State @ Louisiana Tech: All the way to Ruston go the Broncos, a place they have lost a couple of times recently. And LaTech had a pretty good start to the season, before struggling, but they are a legit football team. This Boise team, however, is just so good. It is special. And this won’t be close, per orders of the WAC’s new P.R. firm: Boise State 29, LaTech 10.

#5 Cincinnati vs. Connecticut: Three weeks ago, this game would have required some in-depth analysis and the Huskies may even have been looking at an upset chance. Not anymore. This team is playing so emotionally right now and that just hurts. When you play such close games, on top of the brutal emotion of a teammate dying, they just wear on you. Running into Cincinnati will not help: Cincinnati 30, UConn 17.

#6 TCU vs. San Diego State: Yes, an easy one. These are SEC/Texas games. In other words, midseason pansies. Even SDSU baseball coach Tony Gwynn couldn’t help here: TCU 42, SDSU 3.

#7 Oregon @ Stanford: In the college football world this is called a trap game. Huge, nationally televised win over USC last week and head to play a bruising Stanford team in California. Two of the conference’s best running games will square off here, which benefits Oregon since Stanford’s defensive strength is in the secondary. Ducks will never throw if they don’t have to. And Stanford is known to give up some yards on the ground. They will again: Oregon 28, Stanford 17.

#9 Iowa vs. Northwestern: Two years ago, this was possible. Northwestern is just the type of team that could sneak up on Iowa. The Hawkeyes play down and they just are not that good. Are you noticing the attempt to justify a pick of Northwestern while writing the details? You know what, just going for it. Iowa is not undefeated-good. Or really good at all. Can’t throw it. Can’t run it. Their only real positive stat is turnover margin. That changes on Saturday: Northwestern 19, Iowa 13.

#10 Penn State vs. Ohio State: The Big Ten. Conference of Bad Offenses. Jim Tressell is under some fire right now for Pryor’s lack of progress. This Ohio State team just is not scoring points against real football teams. Penn State is better offensively and defensively and playing at home. A no doubter you say? Not so much. Talent-wise, Terrelle Pryor is the best player on the field. One has to guess that eventually he will just break out and have a great game. This weekend seems prime for that. But, alas, we already went out on a limb once: Penn State 27, Ohio State 19.

NCAA denies Bryant again, college career done

OKLAHOMA CITY — The NCAA has rejected a final appeal to reinstate Dez Bryant, and Oklahoma State (No. 19 BCS, No. 18 AP) probably has seen the last of its All-America receiver.

The NCAA rejected Oklahoma State’s appeal to reinstate Bryant on Thursday, meaning he won’t be back this season. The junior is considered a top NFL prospect and few expect him to return for another season in Stillwater.

Bryant sat out the past five games for Oklahoma State (6-2, 3-1 Big 12) after the school ruled him ineligible for lying to an NCAA investigator looking into Bryant’s offseason meeting with former NFL player Deion Sanders.

The NCAA decided last week that Bryant should be suspended until next September, and OSU appealed to the NCAA’s Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee. That group announced Thursday that it had rejected Bryant’s appeal in a two-paragraph statement that included no explanation.

The NCAA indicated in its initial decision that it was showing leniency toward Bryant, because it could have taken his eligibility away entirely.

Bryant caught 87 passes for 1,480 yards and 19 touchdowns last season while also scoring twice on punt returns. He was the only one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award left in school this year.

In a letter to the NCAA that accompanied his request for reinstatement, Bryant had asked to be allowed to play again this season and that his “punishment is not so bad that I do not get to play football again at OSU.”

“We’re obviously disappointed for Dez. As a team, we’ll move forward from here,” Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said in a statement.

Gundy had allowed Bryant to skip some team activities, including practice, because Bryant found it difficult emotionally to be around the team while ineligible. He was in Dallas for an interview last week when the NCAA’s initial decision came out.

“He’s been in and out and around and in touch,” offensive coordinator Gunter Brewer said this week. “It’s just been a struggle mentally and it’s just been a tough time for everybody.”

“He’s still working out and doing some things and somewhat on his own and somewhat with us,” Brewer added.

While Bryant was away, Brewer said, he had been “really trying to get with his family and make some decisions for him for the long haul.”

The Cowboys lost to Texas 41-14 last Saturday to fall out of a tie for the Big 12 South lead.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt it’s been very, very emotional thing. It’s a dream of his to play in games like that against Texas. It was very hard,” Brewer said. “That’s been his life, playing ball, and he loves playing college football. It’s been taken away and that’s just something we’re all dealing with.”

CFB Gameday blog

7:17: Well you can forget USC running away with it. “High drama” as the announcer said in South Bend, but on a bad pass and bad play call that would have a route not even go into the endzone, the Irish have fallen. This was once a 20-point game, but ND clawed back into it, just in time for that USC defense to make a stand.

The way the sideline reporter put it after her interview with Charlie Weis “Charlie having never beaten USC,” made it sound like his coaching fate was sealed.

And Florida escaped as well. Something to be said for wild drama ending just the way it was all expected to end in the first place.

6:37: And Florida just punches it in after receiving basically 30 free yards on awful penalties. The aforementioned PI was actually pretty good coverage and just a horribly underthrown ball that the DB actually made a play on. But maybe even worse was the unnecessary roughness call on an Arkansas lineman, who laid a hit on a guy who was running full speed at him to block him. Flag came out, but the replays clearly showed that the other guy was going to hit him. Just an atrocious call.

6:33: Paying close attention to two games here: Florida has given up a touchdown and trails 20-16 midway through the fourth quarter. They do have the ball and just got a PI penalty.

And Notre Dame needs to watch out. USC can make this one really ugly if it wants to. Already up 20 early in the fourth quarter..

5:56: USC had a big stop on 3rd and 4th down and is now marching for what would be a huge score. And they got it. A 41-yard touchdown pass to Damien Williams.

Arkansas is hanging out for dear life AND FLORIDA FUMBLED AGAIN! Wow. This is getting scary for Florida, who is still down four…

Boston College is absolutely destroying NC State and Penn State is actually looking good.

Tough ball game for Nebraska, down 24-3 in the 3rd.

And a barn burner in College Park, where Maryland leads 6-3 at half.
4:34: Pretty good one, for now, in South Bend. Tied at 7 after the Irish converted a fake FG into a touchdown. UPDATE: USC just kicked a FG to take the lead 10-7.

Nebraska is down 14-0 early to that high-octane Texas Tech offense.

Cal and UCLA have combined for 35 points in about 18 minutes to start the game.

TCU trails Colorado State after a quarter.

And what is going on in Gainesville? Well, the Gators trail 7-0 and already have a pair of lost fumbles.

One score overlooked as well, was the Clemson-Wake Forest game, in which the Tiger crushed the Demon Deacons. Big result in the ACC.

3:36: Boy is USC fired up for this one in South Bend. This is obviously a must-win for both of these teams and for Jimmy Clausen’s Heisman campaign.

Best quote of the week had to come from Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian, who said that his Huskies (who all, but beat ND) should not have been able to go toe-to-toe with the Irish and that USC’s 11 is much better than the Huskies’.

3:29: Well, Ohio State laid its yearly egg during Big Ten play this time, falling to Purdue. Terelle Pryor had four turnovers all by himself and that OSU offense is just bad. Hard to argue that. Now Iowa is the clear Big Ten favorite, having won 11-straight now.

Delaware State went from a crowd of 3,000 to one of 106,000 at the Big House, where they were blown out.

Couple of big games now, USC at Notre Dame and Florida plays at home for the first time in a month. Should be fun.

2:59: Well Ohio State gets back in it, cutting the lead to eight, on what was basically a hail mary pass by Pryor. These announcers are fired up, but face it: Pryor just threw the ball up. That isn’t good offense.

2:53: Things are getting more bleak for Ohio State as Purdue has pushed the lead out to 16 points. The worst part about this is that the Buckeyes are answer their big question with a big negative: this offense just cannot score.

2:21: Biggest story so far: Sam Bradford out. The Sooners go back to Landry Jones and take the lead into the half.

Biggest game: Iowa is beating Wisconsin on ESPN with the Hawkeyes undefeated in the Big Ten. Should they win, they may be the only one left as:

Biggest possible upset: Purdue is beating Ohio State by two touchdowns. Yes, you read that right. Watch that one very closely.

And Iowa continues to impose its will. What an incredible throw to the TE down the middle, between two defenders. This Iowa team is pretty good.

Cincy loses QB, beats South Florida anyway

TAMPA, Fla. — Even with starting quarterback Tony Pike on the sideline, Cincinnati’s quick-strike offense kept rolling.

The eighth-ranked Bearcats got two touchdown passes from Pike before he left in the third quarter with a sprained left wrist, then backup Zach Collaros ran 75 yards for a score in a 34-17 victory over No. 21 South Florida on Thursday night.

Collaros squirted through an opening in the middle of the defense for the long touchdown three plays after replacing Pike. The senior was injured late in the first half, then left after being hit as he released an incomplete pass on Cincinnati’s first possession of the second half.

Pike threw scoring passes of 3 and 8 yards to Armon Binns in the second quarter, helping the Bearcats (6-0, 2-0 Big East) to a 17-10 halftime lead over South Florida (5-1, 1-1).

The Bulls led early on B.J. Daniels’ 28-yard touchdown pass to Jessie Hester, and closed within 24-17 late in the third quarter when safety Nate Allen intercepted an ill-advised pass by Collaros to set up a 1-yard TD run by Daniels.

But Collaros, one of two freshmen quarterbacks who bailed Cincinnati out after two starters — Dustin Grutza and Pike — were injured early last season, was not rattled by the mistake. He came right back to lead a six-play, 70-yard scoring drive that restored the 14-point lead.

The big play in the march was a 43-yard completion to Ben Guidugli, who stretched out to get the ball over the goal line for an apparent touchdown. The tight end was penalized for taking his helmet off in the ensuing celebration, and things got worse for the Bearcats when officials reviewed the play and determined his elbow was down at the 1.

The penalty, which would have been walked off on the kickoff if it had been a touchdown, moved the ball back to the 16. After USF gave the stalled drive new life with a pass interference penalty on third down, Collaros scored on a 3-yard run, making it 31-17.

Collaros finished with 132 yards rushing on 10 carries. Pike, who threw a TD pass for the 16th consecutive game, was 12 of 25 for 140 yards without an interception.

Pike injured his non-throwing arm when he was hit as he released a pass on Cincinnati’s last possession of the opening half. He went to the locker room ahead of his teammates, then returned for the first possession of the third quarter, wearing a protective sleeve over the wrist.

Last season, Pike broke his left forearm and played with a plate and six screws that are still in place.

Moving up the polls hasn’t been a problem for USF, which has climbed into the top 10 each of the past two seasons before tumbling out of contention when they got into the heart of the Big East schedule.

The Bulls started 6-0 in 2007 and were ranked No. 2 before three consecutive losses dropped them out of the Top 25. They were 5-0 last season before losing four of their next five, including their third straight loss to Cincinnati.

The Bearcats have one of the most prolific offenses in the nation, but they’ve been so efficient in moving the ball and scoring quickly that coach Brian Kelly has been concerned by a time of possession imbalance that’s kept his defense on the field for too long this season.

The defending Big East champions had the ball for just 16 and 19 minutes in victories over Fresno State and Miami (Ohio). They had one scoring drive of 4 seconds on Thursday, set up by Aaron Webster’s interception and 83-yard return to the USF 3.

Binns had one career touchdown reception before Pike’s first TD pass gave Cincinnati a 10-7 lead less than a minute into the second quarter. The junior from Pasadena, Calif., stretched out in the back of the end zone to make the diving 8-yard catch that put the Bearcats up 17-7.

Boise State visiting Tulsa

10:27: Well, the former happened. Boise came out firing on all cylinders. Its ground game has been dominant in the third quarter, the reason the Broncos kept the ball most of it. Had they punched in a touchdown on that last possession, this game would’ve been iced. Instead, certainty will wait another possession. Just have fun watching that defense though…

9:41: Halftime and Tulsa just dodged a huge bullet by only allowing a FG after turning over the ball on downs near mid field. Dumb coaching decision. The announcers are right in this one: Tulsa has gotten a bunch of breaks and is still down. If Boise State comes out strong in the second half, this one is over. If they don’t wake up, the topic of conversation for most of the second half will be TCU.

9:14: After such a great start for both of these quarterbacks, neither looks good right now. The difference is that Tulsa is being pressured. Moore is sitting back there tossing back throws. That has to change.

Reminder, BCS poll comes out Sunday. Where will Boise be?

8:24: Can you say ‘momentum changer’. The dropped punt by Boise State leads immediately to a touchdown by Tulsa and the Broncos trail for the first time all season. Breathe. It’s the first quarter.

8:31: The difference? Boise just marched down the field easily, no turnover or trick play needed. Just pushed Tulsa around. Then converted for two. This is a good football team. And what a throw by Kellen Moore. Back corner of the endzone, over two defenders, to a tight end.

Bama says NCAA wrongly vacated 21 wins

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — The University of Alabama contends the NCAA wrongly forced the football program to vacate 21 victories, describing it as an “unprecedented penalty” in cases involving abuse of free textbooks.

The university, in a 14-page rebuttal released Tuesday, spelled out several reasons why the wins should be restored, including the NCAA committee on infraction’s improper citing of Alabama’s repeat offender status.

The university said no other textbook case led to wins being vacated and that the committee’s brief failed to mention even one textbook case to use for comparison.

A call to an NCAA spokeswoman seeking comment was not immediately returned.

The case that led to Alabama’s penalty involved 201 athletes in 16 sports obtaining textbooks they weren’t entitled to under their scholarships. The violators included 22 “intentional wrongdoers” – among them seven football players – who obtained more than $100 in supplies for other students.

Alabama was placed on three-year probation in June, fined $43,900 and also forced to vacate one postseason tennis victory and several individual and team records in track and field.

Alabama’s appeal said the penalty vacating football victories was “so excessive as to constitute an abuse of discretion.”

The rebuttal, dated Sept. 17 but not made public until Tuesday, said the NCAA described Alabama as having an “abysmal” history of infractions and that the university’s poor record was “the driving force behind” the penalty vacating the football victories.

The university argued that the repeat violator status shouldn’t have been a factor and that the committee cited it in a way that “ignores bylaws and precedent addressing repeat violator penalties.”

According to Alabama, the NCAA said the university’s “extensive recent history of infractions cases is unmatched by any other member institution in the NCAA.” Alabama said the NCAA database includes at least 27 Football Bowl Subdivision schools with as many or more infractions cases.

Oklahoma State WR Bryant Ineligible

All-America wide receiver Dez Bryant has been ruled ineligible by Oklahoma State for an improper interaction with a former NFL player.

Bryant said Wednesday in a statement released by the university that he “made a mistake by not being entirely truthful when meeting with the NCAA.” He also apologized to his teammates, coaches, fans and the NCAA.

A top NFL prospect, Bryant caught 87 passes for 1,480 yards and 19 touchdowns last season while also scoring twice on punt returns. He has 17 catches for 323 yards and four touchdowns this season, but sat out Oklahoma State’s last game against Grambling State.

Williams to the bench

Illinois quarterback Juice Williams is headed to the bench, following the team’s 1-3 start, ESPN reports.

The senior and member of the 2009 Davey O’Brien Award watch list, was expected to lead Illinois to the top of the Big Ten this year, along with Penn State, Ohio State and now Iowa. However, last week the Illini were shutout by Ohio State and this week lost at home to PSU.

Saturday, week five, live blog

11:28: Doesn’t get much better than that for the ACC, huh? Miami just did what Virginia Tech has not been able to do. Beat a BCS powerhouse. With or without Sam Bradford, Oklahoma is good. Really good. However, their national championship hopes? Gone. Should they beat Texas? Well that would seriously hurt the Big-12. Could this be a year like two years ago that sees a two-loss team in the NC game? Very likely. Or maybe not. But watch out for Florida’s trip to LSU next week.

And watch out for the SEC West in general as Auburn is now 5-0. So you have Alabama, LSU and Auburn all undefeated and that Ole Miss team is pretty good too.

Out in California the Bears got embarrassed. USC ran all over Cal for 174 yards a couple touchdowns. Throw in a punt return for touchdown and Cal never had a chance. How’s this for a stat: 72-6. That is the combined score of Cal’s last two games. Ouch.

10:47: Can Tennessee get back into this one? Oklahoma trails Miami by 4 as we start the fourth quarter. And the USC game is just way out of reach and the Trojans dance in Berkeley.

9:46: The big games are all at half now. USC is stomping Cal, who has now allowed 62 consecutive points after opening the scoring in Eugene last week. 20-0 USC at half…Miami and Oklahoma got a lot closer going into the locker room, just a three-point game now…and Tennessee actually looked like an offense, marching down the field for a TD just before half against Auburn. Of course the XP was blocked. Baby steps okay.

Miami needs to protect J. Harris a little better and not get out-physicaled by OK, which happened in the first half. Tennessee flat needs to throw the ball better. They showed on that last drive what that can do for them. No shame in giving up 13 points to that offense. And Cal, well, they probably don’t have a chance. Not unless Aaron Rodgers shows up with eligibility.

And, in case you are catching it elsewhere, they Twins beat Zach Greinke today to cut Detroit’s lead to a half game and those Tigers trail in the ninth in Chicago.
8:42: Okay, absorbed the pain of the Washington loss in South Bend. USC is turning their trip to Cal into a joke already. Ten first quarter points…Jacory Harris just got thrown down and Miami trails 7-0…and Erin Andrews just said about Jonathan Crompton “he really tries to do a good job”, also a buddy just sent a text, “we are so imcrompetent.” That should tell the current state of the UT-Auburn game. Also, Boise was held scoreless in the first quarter…

8:00: Alright, going to stick around for the time being, but possibly leave before the Miami-Oklahoma game ends. Should be fun at Da U.

7:35: Wow, what a finish. Washington had two very makable plays on 3rd and 4th and 19 to end that game. Two catches that should’ve been made. But the difference is the ND made those plays and Washington didn’t. The Irish move to 8-0 against Washington and win at the last second for what seems like the 100th time this year.

7:18: If you are not by a tv, get there. This UW-ND is coming up on 4 hours and is on NBC. Six seconds left in regulation. Tied.

6:54: Two amazing finishes. LSU and Georgia both with big TD’s and LSU leads by 7 with :43 to go…in South Bend, ND had TWO goal line stands against Washington to force a FG and they have 2:52 to go and need a TD..Also, in the GA-LSU game, two absolutely ridiculous celebration penalties.

6:40: What a battle in Athens. LSU punches one in, then Jefferson gets sacked on the conversion try. 12-7 LSU with 2:53 to play…Penn State has taken control, up 35-10…Stanford moves to 4-1, probably should be 5-0…Washington knocking on the door.

6:20: Huge play by ND with a goal line stand on Washington.

6:08: For some reason Jimmy Clausen cannot stay on his feet. Not sure why. Seeing as how ND is his home field, you would think he would know how to play on wet grass right? Surely you’ll hear about turf toe after the game. Especially if his Irish lose…Georgia HC Mark Richt was exactly right when he said it would only take one play to get the lead. But right now LSU is going to get great field position right here. Also, despite the absolute idiocy of the announcers, there was a receiver standing right next to the where the pass Cox threw landed when he was being thrown to the turf in the endzone, hence no intentional grounding.

5:24: What a start to the second half for the Georgia defense: three plays, three sacks, all the way back to the LSU 1 yard line. Bulldog ball, hoping to double their total yardage on one drive…

5:19: Wild sequence near the end of the half, with turnovers on back-to-back plays in the WASH-ND game. Then Jake Locker showed why he is as dangerous a QB as any in the country, marching his team down the field for the go-ahead FG…Georgia was hearing boos as we have a good SEC baseball game in Athens starting the second half, 6-0 LSU…Penn State still cannot figure out how to score, leading just 7-3 at half…Toby Gerhart already has 91 yards and two TD’s to lead Stanford over UCLA 14-6…

4:41: Some hotly contested first halves in the 3:30 games this afternoon as ND leads Washington by 2 thanks to three FG, despite doing what it wants on offense…LSU has a pair of field goals against Georgia…and Penn State is up 4 in Champagne.

3:55: Washington opens up the game with a huge drive against ND, capped by a Jake Locker draw for a touchdown…other big games right now include Penn State at Illinois, LSU at Georgia and UCLA at Stanford.

3:17 For the first time in 42 years, Michigan State has topped Michigan two years in a row. With all of the momentum seemingly on the Michigan side, the Spartans came up with a pick and a huge touchdown run from a true freshman to clinch it. Larry Caper pounded through the Maize and Blue defense to win the Paul Bunyan trophy.

In other Paul Bunyan action, the Axe went to Wisconsin. Precursor to the MNF game between Green Bay and Minnesota? Ask Mike.

3:30 games coming up…

3:14 All MSU has to do is kick a FG after Forcier throws at INT. But wait, a pitch to start MSU’s drive and it’s on the ground. All the way back to the 35…

3:04: TOUCHDOWN MICHIGAN! Wow. Tate Forcier hits a wide open receiver in the back of the endzone to tie the game with two seconds left. This Michigan team is something special and after being non-existent on offense for three and a half quarters, Forcier has taken over this game. He drove the Wolverines 92 yards with zero timeouts to tie this game..

3:01: Tate Forcier is 11 yards away from legendary status in Ann Arbor. Look at this kid’s face. He is dog tired. But with no timeouts left, he has led his team down field. First down at the 11, 21 seconds left…

2.58: Uh oh. In the now driving rain in East Lansing, Michigan is driving. Currently third down on the MSU 24 and Forcier just missed a wide open receiver in the endzone. Another comeback?

2:38: One thing Spartan fans need not worry about? Maize and Blue shenanigans. Sparty is almost toying with MIchigan right now, looking nothing like the team we’ve seen all year. But this is what happens in rivalry games. And for the first time since the Beatles were famous, we’re talking before Bo Shembechler, it looks like Sparty may win back-to-back games in this rivalry…

Elsewhere, don’t look now, but Virginia is winning in Chapel Hill. This would be classified as a huge letdown, especially considering it is homecoming at Carolina…Eight miles up Tobacco Road, Duke is hanging around against Virgina Tech…Maryland is showing why Clemson is so overrated as a program (maybe not anymore)…and Wisconsin, South Florida and Alabama have all busted their games open.

2:16: Apparently Michigan is not interesting scoring points. One thing we haven’t seen too much this year are wild fourth quarter comebacks. Michigan, however, has one of them. Is this just a setup for that?

1:07: You have to like the way Michigan State is moving the ball. Gaining yards in significant chunks against Michigan…

12:38: If you get a chance and have the channel, check out ECU-Marshall in Huntington. Doak Walker Award candidate Darius Marshall is really good. He’s averaging almost eight yards per carry on the season and running all over the Pirates right now.

12:16: Was about to say that was looking great on its opening drive, but two personal fouls? One time is way more fired up that the other…Good starts for both Wisconsin and Iowa with early TD’s.

First, check out this week’s picks.

The story just shared on College Gameday about Mark Herzlich was incredible.

That, however, does not at all answer the question as to why in the world Gameday is in Boston and not, oh, Berkeley, Miami, or Athens. Just seems weird. Obviously for the SEC there can be some television contract issues, but if ESPN wants a Pac-10 game, they take it.

Big 12 pm game, Michigan and Michigan State in East Lansing. First road game for a supposedly healthy Tate Forcier and his 4-0 Wolverines. They should win this game, as Sparty has really struggled, losing three straight.

Another major one in South Bend, where Washington is taking a “business trip” to take on the Golden Domers. Notre Dame is favored and better in this game. But every week Jake Locker gets more and more respect and could have a real breakout game against the nation’s 107th-ranked secondary. Would be a huge win for a 2-2 Washington team that has never beaten the Irish. It would also show that Notre Dame will probably lose to USC again. Not sure that is going to happen, but it should be close.

A&M takes down #19 Clemson

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—B.J. Holmes and Texas A&M passed their first test.

Holmes scored 20 points and Texas A&M upset No. 19 Clemson 69-60 on Thursday in the first round of the 76 Classic.

David Loubeau added 12 points and nine rebounds and Davis had 10 points for the Aggies (4-0), who will face No. 8 West Virginia in a semifinal game on Friday.

“I think it’s good early in the season to (play a lot of ranked teams) to see where we’re at,” Holmes said. “It’s great to play back to back teams that’s a high caliber and I think doing this is going to get us ready for the Big 12 and hopefully the post-season.”

Trevor Booker scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half for Clemson (4-1).

Texas A&M led by as many as 17 early in the second half before Clemson pulled to 58-56 when Tanner Smith made two free throws with 5:14 remaining. Smith finished with 14 points.

A free throw and then Holmes’ 3-pointer gave the Aggies some breathing room and Clemson could never recover.

Before the season started, the Aggies were picked to finish fifth in the coaches’ preseason Big 12 poll. By beating Clemson, the team may have taken steps to get noticed nationally, but A&M head coach Mark Turgeon cautioned that it was just one game.

“We played OK, maybe Clemson didn’t have their best day so it’s just one day,” Turgeon said. “I like our team, I think we’re just going to get a lot better.

“How good are we? I don’t know. If we guard like that (again), we’re going to be pretty good.”

With the game tied at 18, Khris Middleton and Holmes made 3-pointers during the Aggies 15-2 run that included three layups from Donald Sloan to take a 33-20 halftime lead. Clemson’s 20 points in the first half were the fewest the Tigers have scored since getting only 17 against Florida State on Feb. 19, 2008.

Texas A&M head coach Mark Turegon said his team played “about as good as we could play defensively” for about 17 minutes in the first half to overcome a shaky start.

Texas A&M extended its advantage to 44-29 before Clemson used a 13-4 run to get back into the game. The Tigers were done in by poor shooting (33.9 percent) and 18 turnovers.

“It was quite a physical ball game,” Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell said. “I give Texas A&M a lot of credit. They came out with a lot of physical toughness and really guarded us pretty well. When we went in those droughts it affected us defensively.”

Magic, Bird enter college hall

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Larry Bird finished his speech, walked back to his seat and received a fist bump from the man sitting next to him on the dais.

Had to be Magic Johnson.

If college basketball’s hall of fame is going to open its doors to one, the other has to be there.

Thirty years after their NCAA battle reshaped college basketball, Bird and Johnson were inducted into the National Collegiate Hall of Fame Sunday night.

Bird and Magic, Magic and Bird — forever linked.

“We always had a mutual respect for each,” Bird said. “You always thought you had to have an edge, at least I did, but we always had that respect for each other. It’s kind of fitting that we go into college basketball’s hall of fame together.”

Bird and Johnson were given automatic entry into the collegiate hall for being members of the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. Johnson was joined in the college hall by his coach, Jud Heathcote.

Former Oklahoma star Wayman Tisdale got in, too, as did Travis Grant, college basketball’s career scoring leader. Longtime coach Gene Bartow, Walter Byers, the first executive director of the NCAA, and USA Basketball executive director Bill Wall also got the nod.

The marquee names were Bird and Johnson.

From their time together at the 1978 World Invitational Tournament to the Dream Team to their rivalry in the NBA, the two stars have had a connection.

One magical game in Salt Lake City provided the defining moment.

The self-proclaimed “Hick from French Lick” vs. the flashy city kid. Undefeated Indiana State against unstoppable Michigan State. A nation’s eyes turned toward one game, the two best players on the best teams facing each other in the NCAA title game.

That one hype-filled game gave the NCAA tournament a larger-than-life aura, made it must-see TV, a multimillion-dollar conglomerate. It even helped save the fledgling NBA.

All because of Bird and Magic.

“We put the madness in March,” Johnson said.

Grant put the ball in the basket like no one else.

Arguably the best basketball player many people haven’t heard of, he scored more points than Pete Maravich, anyone else for that matter.

Once a kid living below the poverty line in the segregated South, Grant honed his jump shot with a tennis ball and a cutout bucket tacked to the house. He later became known as “The Machine” after hitting the first 10 shots of his career at little Kentucky State, went on to score 4,045 points, still the all-time all-division NCAA record.

Now, Grant finally gets the recognition he deserved.

“This is an honor I will always cherish,” Grant said. “I’m proud to take my spot among the greatest players in college basketball history.”

Tisdale was a three-time All-American at Oklahoma during the Billy Tubbs era of the 1980s and won a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics. The sweet-shooting left-hander averaged 15.3 points during his college career before playing a dozen years in the NBA and becoming an accomplished jazz musician.

Tisdale was diagnosed with bone cancer in 2007 after breaking his leg during a fall at his home and died from the disease in May at 44.

“One of the best things for me is that he was aware of this,” Tisdale’s widow, Regina, said. “He was excited, called a few people after he found out and told the people who called him: ‘We’re going in with a pretty good class.”

Heathcote made his name by winning the 1979 national championship at Michigan State. He was more than a one-hit wonder, though, leading the Spartans to seven 20-win seasons and sprouting a coaching tree that includes current Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, Utah’s Jim Boylen, Tom Crean of Indiana and Dayton’s Brian Gregory.

“I’m proud to be involved with what’s been called the greatest game in history and pleased that two of the prime players in that game are here to be inducted at the same time as I am,” Heathcote said.

Bartow had the unenviable task of being John Wooden’s successor at UCLA. He handled it pretty well.

A veteran of 34 years as a coach, Bartow took the Bruins to the Final Four in 1976 and later went on to build a successful Alabama-Birmingham program from scratch. Diagnosed with stomach cancer earlier this year, Bartow won 647 games at six schools, including Memphis State, which he led to the 1973 national championship game against Wooden’s Bruins.

“It’s been an interesting few months, but it’s really an honor for me to be here,” said Bartow, currently president of the company that owns the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies. “It’s truly a humbling experience and I’m grateful to be here.”

Wall did most of his work behind the scenes.

He was executive director of National Association of Basketball Coaches and later had the same title at the organization that became USA Basketball. Hall was driving force behind USA’s basketball success at the Olympics and other international competitions, including the 1992 Dream Team with Bird and Johnson.

“People ask me, how did it happen?” Wall said. “Well, I was lucky. I was in the right place in the right time.”

Byers was the first executive director of the NCAA, landing the job as a 29-year-old and holding it until he retired in 1987. He helped turn the NCAA from a small organization into one with over 1,000 member schools and increase the number of championship sports (men and women) from 11 to 74.

Byers also was responsible for transforming the NCAA tournament, turning an eight-team event into the current multi-million-dollar-generating March Madness field of 64 teams. He wasn’t able to attend the induction ceremony.

‘Cuse takes down North Carolina at MSG

NEW YORK — Jim Boeheim has always made a point of telling the media not to get too caught up in runs because basketball, especially on the college level, is a game of runs.

He could only smile as he was asked about Syracuse’s 22-1 run to open the second half of an 87-71 victory over North Carolina (No. 4 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) on Friday night in the championship game of the 2K Sports Classic.

“That’s about as good as it gets,” he said, “and it was against North Carolina and it was here.”

The Orange (4-0) were the only team unranked by the AP in the semifinals of the tournament that benefits Coaches vs. Cancer but they left Madison Square Garden with blowout wins over California (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 13 AP) and the Tar Heels (4-1).

North Carolina had a 39-37 halftime lead but that was gone in a hurry as Brandon Triche and Arinze Onuaku had field goals in the first 40 seconds. By the time the run ended 8 minutes into the second half Syracuse had a 59-40 lead.

“We had to get rebounds and get out and push and they wanted me and Arinze to be more aggressive,” Triche said of the start to the second half. “We definitely responded and Wes played a tremendous game.”

Tournament MVP Wesley Johnson had 25 points for the Orange (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today), who beat California 95-73 in the semifinals. Onuaku finished with 15 points and Triche had 11.

Johnson, a 6-foot-7 junior transfer from Iowa State, was 10 of 17 from the field, including making half of eight 3-point attempts, and had eight rebounds.

He was proudly wearing an orange — what else? — T-shirt that said “Shut It Down.”

“It’s all about energy,” he said. “We let up at the end of the first half. `Shut It Down,’ that’s the motto. We knew they would make a run and we had to counteract it and we did.”

Ed Davis had 16 points and 10 rebounds and Marcus Ginyard added 15 points for the Tar Heels, who lost almost all of a 19-point second-half lead before beating No. 15 Ohio State 77-73 to reach the title game.

North Carolina missed its first 13 shots of the second half and turned the ball over six times as the Orange just didn’t miss. Syracuse started the half by making 10 of its first 14 shots and the baskets were coming down low from Onuaku and from the perimeter including a 3 by Johnson that made it 57-40.

“Two air balls on our first two shots and then two turnovers. Our first four possessions of the second half we don’t even hit the rim,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. “We didn’t have an answer for guarding Wes and it was the snowball effect from there. It’s frustrating no question about that. We’ve got to play better and they’re good.”

The Tar Heels closed to 68-60 on a 3 by David Wear with 7:04 left, but Onuaku had the first and last baskets of a 6-0 run that ended any thoughts of a comeback for the ages.

“We made two really good plays right in a row and got it right back up because they’re going to keep coming at you,” said Boeheim, who earlier this month became the eighth Division I coach to reach 800 wins.

The first half had the crowd, which was split almost evenly between Carolina Blue and Syracuse Orange, on a ride of runs that kept Madison Square Garden in a constant roar more accustomed to late in the season than late November.

Syracuse scored the first eight points of the game and was up 11-2 when Andy Rautins hit a 3.
It didn’t take long for North Carolina to get right back in it as the Tar Heels scored 11 straight points, including two 3s by Will Graves.

There were four lead changes and four ties the rest of the half, which ended with the Tar Heels leading 39-37. It wasn’t a perfect half as both teams had 10 turnovers.

Syracuse lost 82-79 to Division II LeMoyne in an exhibition game earlier this month. The Orange fell off the national radar after that and were even an afterthought when the best teams in the Big East were listed. Not anymore.

“I’d hate to play that non-Division I team that beat them,” Williams said.
Ohio State beat California 76-70 in the third-place game.

College basketball opens, some teams didn’t notice

Mississippi State? Lost to Rider.

Oregon State? Uh, Texas A&M Corpus Christi. Bet if you asked the Beavers where that was, they wouldn’t know.

How about Utah. Nope, Idaho got ’em.

Then there is Stanford, which lost to San Diego.

In other words, some teams really didn’t show up to start the season. But the season is here nonetheless. At least no ranked teams have lost yet. That should not change today, although Washington, which only got past a depleted Wright State team by five last night, should be on alert. The Huskies play giant-slayer Belmont in their second game of three in three days. Last night they showed that replacing Jon Brockman in the rebounding game is going to be the tall task that everyone though it would be.

Another interesting one to look at today will be Seattle University at Oklahoma State. No way the Cowboys should lose this game, but the Redhawks, formerly the Chieftains, alma mater of Elgin Baylor and the only team to beat the school formerly known as Texas Western (now UTEP) during that magical national championship run under Don Haskins (see Glory Road if you’re lost here), well, they are your dad’s SU team again. Under first year head coach Cameron Dollar, former national champion at UCLA and longtime UW Associate Head Coach, the Redhawks have signed a former Washington recruit and have some serious talent on a roster that was pretty good against Division-I opponents last year.

Either way, this is the best time of the year, when football and hoops overlap, thankfully for Kentucky, whose is not currently fielding an actual football team, but is sure to be on probation soon anyway – thank you John Calipari.

Hopefully some of these big time teams show up for it.

Kansas dominates opening polls

For the second time in its storied basketball history, Kansas is No. 1 in The Associated Press’ preseason Top 25.

The Jayhawks were a runaway choice Thursday, receiving 55 first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel to easily outdistance Michigan State, which was No. 1 on five ballots.

There was little suspense as to which team would top the preseason poll. Kansas has all five starters and the top nine scorers back from last season’s team that went 27-8 and reached the third round of the NCAA tournament. The Jayhawks also feature a recruiting class considered among the nation’s best.

“I’m not surprised,” said Bill Self, who was also the coach the other time Kansas was the preseason No. 1 in 2004-05. “But I know this – we aren’t practicing like a team that’s preseason No. 1 in the country. It has been a very few good days of practice but we do have good players. … There’s a lot of excitement surrounding these guys.”

The Jayhawks received great news when guard Sherron Collins and center Cole Aldrich, last season’s leading scorers, decided to return to school rather than test the NBA draft. Then brothers Xavier and C.J. Henry decided to enroll in Lawrence, making the Jayhawks the early national favorite as well as the choice to win a sixth straight Big 12 title.

“My goal for this team isn’t to play to that ranking early in the season,” Self said. “My goal is to play to that ranking when it counts the most. I hope it happens soon.”

Michigan State has seven of the top nine scorers back from the team that lost to North Carolina in the national championship game.

Texas, Kentucky and Villanova rounded out the top five, while North Carolina, a unanimous preseason No. 1 last season, was sixth. Kentucky received three first-place votes and Texas and North Carolina got one each. Purdue, West Virginia, Duke and Tennessee completed the top 10.

While Kansas’ showing this preseason many not have been as impressive as North Carolina’s a year earlier when it became the first ever unanimous preseason pick, both had plenty of reasons to claim No. 1.

“There are some similarities, but that North Carolina team had been through a lot more experiences than our guys have,” Self said. “The North Carolina team had been through Final Fours, had been to Elite Eights, had had some heartache, been through some tough times. I don’t know that this group has been through tough times like they had. The fact we return nine guys and a good recruiting class is the reason people are so optimistic about us.”

Butler was 11th in the poll followed by Connecticut, California, Washington, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Mississippi State, Louisville and Georgetown. The last five ranked teams were Dayton, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Clemson and Minnesota.

Kentucky, under new coach John Calipari and with a loaded freshman class, Georgetown and Georgia Tech were the only teams in the preseason poll not to play in the NCAA tournament last season.

Texas, Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee lead the 13 teams in the preseason poll who were not ranked in the final poll of last season. Louisville and North Carolina were Nos. 1 and 2 in that final poll. In addition to those two, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, Duke and Connecticut all were ranked No. 1 at some point in the season.

The Big Ten has six teams in the preseason poll, one more than the Big East. The Atlantic Coast Conference had four and the Big 12 and Southeastern Conference three each.

Binghamton head coach placed indefinite paid leave

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — Binghamton men’s basketball coach Kevin Broadus has been placed on an indefinite paid leave of absence.

Interim athletic director James Norris said the decision announced Wednesday was reached after discussions with university president Lois DeFleur and vice president James Van Voorst.

The move comes after Friday’s announcement that Broadus admitted having contact with prospective recruits that violated NCAA regulations.

“There have been continuing incidents of concern related to the men’s basketball program that do not measure up to the university’s high standards,” Norris said in a statement. “I have every confidence in his [Macon’s] ability to provide strong leadership to the team.”

DeFleur called for an audit of the entire athletic program after the releases last month of star basketball player Emanuel “Tiki” Mayben, who’s facing drug charges, and five of his teammates.

Retired New York Chief Judge Judith Kaye will lead the independent review and investigation. It will be overseen by the executive committee of the SUNY board of trustees.

Mayben was arrested last month in Troy, N.Y. A sealed indictment charged Mayben with selling cocaine twice on June 29, and police said they found 3.4 grams of cocaine on him when he was arrested. He has pleaded not guilty.

Broadus signed a contract extension in June through the 2013-2014 season, on the heels of a season that featured the team’s first-ever conference championship and NCAA tournament berth.

The Bearcats went 23-9 last season and won the America East regular-season and tournament titles. They were 13-3 in league play and won a school-record 11 straight games before losing to Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

The 40-year-old Macon, a native of Saginaw, Mich., played college ball at Temple alongside Aaron McKie and Eddie Jones and was selected by the Denver Nuggets as the eighth pick on the first round of the 1991 NBA draft.

Macon played for the Nuggets and Detroit Pistons in six NBA seasons and also played overseas for several teams. In 2001 he took a job in Philadelphia as sports program director for a local YMCA and two years later returned to Temple as an assistant.

After John Chaney announced his retirement in 2006, Macon moved to Georgia State but was let go after one year when the school hired a new athletic director. Broadus offered Macon a job at Binghamton two years ago.

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