BCS shake-up reaches DEFCON 2 proportions

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Amazing how a season of build-up, theories and educated guessing can be nullified in a matter of moments. A missed field goal here, a last-second touchdown there, and just like that, everything we had formulated has changed.

In a matter of 24 hours, four Top 10 teams lost. No. 2 Oklahoma State to Iowa State Friday night; No. 4 Oregon to No. 18 USC, No. 5 Oklahoma to No. 25 Baylor and No. 7 Clemson to North Carolina State today. If the Cyclones’ win last night was a tremor, the upsets today were a full-fledged seismic shift that crumbled dreams of BCS glory among college football’s upper echelon.

No one felt those highs and lows more than Oklahoma, who coincidentally enough had literally experienced earthquakes over the past few weeks. If there was one team who shared the pain of Oklahoma State’s loss Friday night, it was the Sooners. The BCS computers love them some Cowboys, but Bedlam just wasn’t going to carry the same BCS weight now that OK State had a notch in the loss column; beating an undefeated OSU on a Saturday in December would have been far more meaningful for OU.

Think about it: a great showing against an undefeated rival in prime time one day after the Pac-12 championship game could have been enough to sway voters it was OU who deserved to play in the national championship, rather than a rematch.

But that was Saturday morning at just past midnight.

Not a few hours ago, OU got a second chance when Oregon failed to pull off a dramatic comeback against USC, missing what would have been a game-tying field goal with just seconds remaining. The Trojans would leave Autzen Stadium with a 38-35 win. A week ago, the Ducks beat then-No. 4 Stanford at The Farm to re-emerge as a national championship contender, occupying the same spot the Cardinal fell from on last Sunday night when the latest BCS standings were revealed. Come tomorrow, Oregon will be back out of the title picture.

That left the Sooners with a golden opportunity against Baylor. Although down for much of the second half, Oklahoma quickly scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to tie their game at 38 with just under a minute to play. Bob Stoops‘ bunch are frustrating to watch at times given their skill level, but Oregon’s BCS stumble was a gift for the Sooners to take. Win, and the human voters would almost certainly give OU the edge over ‘Bama provided they won Bedlam.

No rematch. Thank ya, Lord!

Then Robert Griffin III happened.

The redshirt junior quarterback needed just 43 seconds to drive 80 yards and throw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Terrance Williams in the right corner of the endzone while on the move.

And, boom. Baylor wins 45-38. Title hopes for Oklahoma? Gone. Griffin’s Heisman campaign? Welcome back. We’ve missed you. And if you think that’s a knee-jerk reaction, consider this: what other Heisman candidate has orchestrated three fourth quarter game-winning or game-tying drives this season?

We’re not giving him the trophy yet. We’re just saying his stock shot back up.

And in the spirit of buying and selling, can anyone get rid of their Clemson shares fast enough? The Tigers got all nostalgic on us Saturday, bringing back shades of old Clemson in a 37-13 loss to NC State that made Dabo Swinney turn a shade of purple that closely resembled the school’s colors. With Oregon, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State all going down, who’s to say Clemson couldn’t have made a late-season surge for a national title spot? A little lobbying with that southern Dabo charm and Clemson could have finally taken their program — and the ACC — to the next level.

Feeling equally bad, if not worse, has to be Boise State. Just make a dang field goal, Broncos, and — ah ha! — the BCS planets would have aligned for you. Those years of winning early-season games and BCS bowls could have finally paid off. A rematch? Pish-posh! Even BCS guru Brad Edwards would have had to concede.

“Eh, let’s see what these kids got.”

After all, could anyone in the right mind really allow a rematch between LSU and either Bama or Oregon when 1) those results were already decided on the field and 2) Boise was untapped and unproven?

Every game matters? BCS, you little minx.

But the reality is that Boise has a loss and their BCS championship hopes are gone, which brings us to this: how far up should undefeated Houston climb? With so many one-loss teams desperately doing everything they can to avoid playing No. 1 LSU, perhaps it’s time we give the non-AQ a shot. Two teams have already shown they couldn’t defeat the Tigers, and a handful of others showed they either can’t get out of their own way, or can’t win their division.

What about No. 9 Virginia Tech? If the Hokies win the ACC with just one loss, should they not be in the discussion? What if LSU folds against No. 6 Arkansas in one week, or No. 13 Georgia in two? Does Arkansas get in the picture? Can two SEC teams who didn’t play in their conference championship play for a BCS title?

(For what it’s worth, Edwards projects the top five BCS teams by tomorrow night will be LSU, Alabama,  Arkansas, Oklahoma State and Stanford) 

By the way, these are real questions to BCS executive director Bill Hancock. I’ll hang up and listen.

Something tells me I’m not going to get a definitive answer. Probably because there isn’t one and the one we’ll get is equally frustrating: “We’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out.”

The problem is that I know how I want it to play out, and it’s not this way.

Danny Etling holds off true freshman, named LSU’s starting QB

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Myles Brennan is, more than likely, the future at the quarterback position for LSU.  In the here and now, however, the precocious true freshman will have to bide his time — at least for now.

After a significant, and maybe unexpected, push from the true freshman Brennan, Danny Etling Tuesday was officially named as the Tigers’ starting quarterback in a battle that Ed Orgeron described as “very close.”  Etling, a transfer from Purdue, came into the competition as the incumbent, starting the last 10 games of the 2016 season after taking over the job from Brandon Harris.

“We believe in Danny. We hope he has a great year,” the head coach said according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

In his first season at LSU, Etling completed 160-of-269 passes (59.5%) for 2,123 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions.  In his 10 starts, the Tigers went 7-3 in a season that saw them finish 8-4.

Brennan was a four-star 2017 signee, rated as the No. 6 pro-style quarterback in the country.

Etling’s first start in his second season with the team will come Sept. 2 against BYU in the neutral-site opener.

UTSA-Texas State series rebranded H-E-B I-35 Showdown

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For those not familiar with HEB Grocery Company, it’s a grocery giant founded in Kerrville, Texas, in 1905 by a man named Florence Butt. H-E-B now owns nearly 400 stores stretching across south and central Texas and central Mexico. H-E-B essentially owns the San Antonio area and leases back to its million-plus residents, so it makes sense that when UTSA and Texas State wanted to brand their rivalry, they turned to H-E-B.

Starting this season, the UTSA-Texas State series will now be known as the H-E-B I-35 Showdown

Cue the AD boilerplate!

“We’re thrilled that H-E-B has become the title sponsor for the I-35 rivalry football games between UTSA and Texas State,” UTSA Associate Vice President/Director of Athletics Lynn Hickey said. “No matter the sport, both fan bases always show up in strong support when the Roadrunners and the Bobcats get together on the playing fields. This newly-branded name for the football games this season and next will only add to the rich history between the two schools.”
 
“It is great to have H-E-B supporting the I-35 football series between Texas State and UTSA,” Texas State Director of Athletics Larry Teis said. “H-E-B has a great relationship with the state of Texas and both universities. We have continued to play UTSA in other sports and the rivalry is strong for our student-athletes and fans.”

The two schools are natural gridiron rivals. They sit just 50 miles apart — connected by Interstate 35, of course — and compete for athletes and regular students alike. The Roadrunners and Bobcats have been Olympics sports rivals for years, primarily as members of the Southland Conference. Each football program is (obviously) in FBS now and have met only once, a 38-31 UTSA win in 2012, since the Roadrunners’ program launched in 2011.

The series will resume Sept. 23 in San Marcos, with Texas State making a return visit to San Antonio on Sept. 22, 2018.

Hugh Freeze reportedly made at least a dozen calls to escort services as Ole Miss coach

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Former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze dialed “at least 12” numbers associated with escort services through online advertisements, according to a review of open records obtained by ESPN.com. The calls took place over a 33-month period, stretching from April 2014 through January 2017, and typically lasted two minutes or less.

Those calls appear to be what Ole Miss chancellor Jeffrey Vitter referenced as “a pattern of personal misconduct” on the night he resigned. The calls are the second phone related-issue connected to Freeze’s dismissal. He also made at least 200 calls to a booster that is under NCAA investigation.

There are two puzzling aspects to Freeze’s calls to escort services: A) that he made the calls on a university-owned cell phone in the first place, and B) that Freeze did not redact the calls from the records request, since other private calls were removed from the public review of his 39,000 calls as the Rebels’ head coach.

“Any personal calls having no relation to UM business are not public records,” Ole Miss attorney Robert T. Jolly wrote in an email to ESPN. “Personal calls will be clearly marked and redacted from the documents released.”

Freeze went 39-25 in five seasons as the Ole Miss head coach, peaking with back-to-back wins over Alabama and a long-awaited Sugar Bowl victory to close the 2015 season but ending with a 5-7 mark and a self-imposed bowl ban for the 2017 season, which will be coached by interim Matt Luke. Ole Miss will sit before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions on Sept. 11, with Freeze’s character and strict adherence to NCAA recruiting rules a cornerstone of the school’s defense.

Reports: Oklahoma State RB Jeff Carr to transfer

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Jeff Carr is planning to transfer from Oklahoma State, according to a report from Pokes sidelines reporter Robert Allen. That report has since been confirmed by the Tulsa World and The Oklahoman. Carr has since been removed from Oklahoma State’s online roster.

A junior, Carr was Oklahoma State’s most experienced running back but was passed on the depth chart by sophomore Justice Hill. Hill ran the ball 206 times for 1,142 yards and six touchdowns a year ago, while Carr rushed 12 times for 83 yards and one score. His 6.92 yards per carry average led the team. Carr rushed 36 times for 142 yards and one score as a freshman in 2015. Carr also saw his touches as a kickoff returner (29 returns to three) and a receiver (11 catches to one) fall from 2015 to ’16.

After losing the Temple, Texas, native, Oklahoma State will have five running backs on scholarship — four freshmen and one sophomore, Hill.

Multiple outlets have reported Carr is headed to Texas A&M-Kingsville, a Division II school that will permit Carr to play immediately.