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August 23, 2010
We're less than two weeks away from the start of the season, and we've come not to praise your
Mid- to late August is when everyone can dream big about the upcoming season. But our task today is to temper those expectations.
We'll look at the top 10 teams in the
Oh, man, I can't stop laughing
In separate interviews recently, Boise State president Bob Kustra and athletic director Gene Bleymaier said they will ask the NCAA to mandate home-and-home football series.
Seriously. They said that.
In separate interviews with Matt Hayes of the Sporting News and Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com, Bleymaier was especially outspoken.
"I think we've really dropped the ball as an organization. The NCAA could mandate this at any time," he told Dodd.
And Kustra, who made news earlier this summer for some disparaging remarks about archrival Idaho's fan base, told Dodd this: "There is a fairly compelling case to be made that the Big Ten, Big 12, SEC and Pac-10 over the years have controlled the scheduling. All the large conferences ... There's an overwhelming number of home games for the big guys but no home-and-home. ... We want to propose to the NCAA a mandated home-and-home scheduling arrangement for I-A non-conference football games. Why should Boise State go to Georgia, but more than likely they're not going to return it?"
Well, you certainly have to admire their chutzpah, but their statements lead me to ask this: How dumb are these guys?
The "big guys," as Kustra calls them, are the big guys because of the free-market system. The Alabamas, Floridas, Ohio States, Oklahomas, Penn States and Texases of the world do control the scheduling, and the reason, Bob and Gene, is because of economics.
Asking the NCAA to force schools of that nature to play at Boise State -- and San Jose State and New Mexico State and Eastern Michigan and Kent State and Louisiana-Monroe and Florida International and ... well, you get the idea -- has about as much chance of happening as Utah changing its mind and moving to the WAC instead of the Pac-10.
Last Monday, Sam Richardson committed to Iowa State. A day later, Sam Richardson committed to the Cyclones. Say what? Yep, Iowa State has two commitments from players names Sam Richardson. One, the first to commit, is a cornerback from League City (Texas) Clear Springs; the other is a quarterback from Winter Park (Fla.) High, an Orlando suburb. Having two players with the same name isn't as uncommon as you might think. Michigan State signed two players named Chris Rucker in 2007, and Ohio State signed a Corey Brown in 2009 and another this February. At Michigan State, the Ruckers were differentiated by their middle initials -- one was Chris L., the other Chris R. -- and at Ohio State, the coaches call one Corey Brown "Pittsburgh" (because he is from that area) and the other "Philadelphia" (because he is from the Philly suburbs).
Tennessee paid $750,000 to get out of a two-year series with North Carolina and instead has signed a one-year deal with Buffalo, which will play in Knoxville next season. The flipside, of course, is that the $750,000 will be dwarfed by the revenue the Vols make from that home game against Buffalo. (And, no, Bob and Gene, there will be no return game in Buffalo.) To prove he hasn't lost his ability to take a poke at the Vols -- even if he can't beat them like he used to at Florida -- South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier chimed in from afar on his weekly radio show: "Golly, times have changed when Tennessee doesn't want to play North Carolina in football because they're too good for them. That's kind of amazing right there. We're not going to bail out from playing North Carolina [in the 2013 season] the way Tennessee did."
Staying with Spurrier, he seems mighty serious about trying to light a fire under junior QB Stephen Garcia -- or get everyone prepared for Garcia's benching. In a Thursday scrimmage last week, true freshman QB Connor Shaw opened with the first team and Spurrier later said Shaw definitely would play in the Sept. 2 season opener against Southern Miss. "Statistically, he has been the best quarterback on the team in every scrimmage, so that's where we are with that," Spurrier said of Shaw.
Michigan's secondary already looked bad; then, projected starting CB Troy Woolfolk was lost to a season-ending leg injury. Sophomore J.T. Floyd seems set at one corner, while senior James Rogers (a converted wide receiver) sophomore Teric Jones (a converted running back who was at safety at the beginning of fall camp) and true freshmen Courtney Avery and Cullen Christian are vying to replace Woolfolk. The Wolverines open with Connecticut, which has a pedestrian passing attack. But Game 2 is against a Notre Dame team that now seems likely to throw it 40-plus times against the Wolverines.
Western Athletic Conference commissioner Karl Benson was more than a little peeved when Fresno State and Nevada left his league for the Mountain West, saying they had "betrayed" the WAC and were "selfish." Funny, you didn't hear Benson saying anything negative about BYU last week when it seemed apparent BYU would leave the MWC and put all its sports except football in the WAC.
Staying with the MWC/WAC story, Utah State athletic director Scott Barnes posted an open letter to Aggies fans on the school's athletic website saying Utah State had been offered the first chance to move from the WAC to the MWC but declined. Fresno and Nevada then eagerly accepted their invitations from the MWC. In the letter, Barnes talked about Utah State being "committed" to the WAC as the reason the school turned down the invitation. That's all fine and good, but the decision has huge ramifications, not the least of which is that Utah State now risks being even more irrelevant nationally, which is a shame considering the Aggies' solid basketball program.
A news conference is scheduled for today at Arkansas' Razorback Stadium whereby a group will announce that starting this fall, the Burlsworth Trophy will be awarded to a player who began his college career as a walk-on. It will be named after former Hogs star guard Brandon Burlsworth, who went from walk-on to All-America honoree in the late 1990s. Burlsworth was a third-round pick in the 1999 draft by the Indianapolis Colts, but was killed less than two weeks after the draft when his car drifted across the center line and was struck head-on by a tractor-trailer near Carrolton, Ark. Burlsworth wore black horn-rimmed glasses under his helmet and was a punishing run blocker who earned a masters degree in business before his death.
Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.