Nuclear Explosion

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.

Wisconsin extends head coach Paul Chryst’s contract through 2022

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 2: Corey Clement #6 of the Wisconsin Badgers points toward head coach Paul Chryst  as the two celebrate following the 81st Goodyear Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium on January 2, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. Wisconsin defeated Western Michigan 24-16. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
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Winning a New Year’s Six bowl and outperforming nearly every preseason expectation typically results in a nice boost to a head coach’s bank account and that is the case at Wisconsin this year.

The Badgers announced on Friday that the school’s athletic board had extended head football coach Paul Chryst another year, running through January 31, 2022. Additional contract terms such as a potential raise or incentives were not announced, meaning this was likely just tacking another year onto the former Wisconsin quarterback’s original deal in Madison.

The move isn’t new for the program, which pulled the same extension almost to the day a year ago after Chryst led the Badgers to a 10-3 year in 2015 that was capped off with a Holiday Bowl victory over USC. The coach one-upped that performance in 2016, winning the Big Ten West title and getting selected for the Cotton Bowl, which the team won over previously undefeated Western Michigan.

Chryst’s original contract he signed two years ago was for a term of five seasons through 2020. He originally made around $2.3 million a year but should be hitting the $2.5 million mark heading into 2017 with various increases incorporated.

Vol legend Peyton Manning reportedly advising alma mater Tennessee on AD search

COLLEGE STATION, TX - OCTOBER 08:  Former Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Peyton Manning walks across the field prior to the start of their game against the Texas A&M Aggies at Kyle Field on October 8, 2016 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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New College Football Hall of Famer Peyton Manning is staying busy with various ventures now that he’s retired from the NFL and apparently the Vol legend doesn’t mind returning to Tennessee to add another thing to his plate.

According to a report from the Knoxville News Sentinel, Manning will be part of a search committee for the school’s chancellor as she attempts to find a new athletic director following the retirement of Dave Hart at the end of June. Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is also expected to be part of the six-person strong committee, which will assist recently hired search firm Turnkey Sports and Entertainment in finding the right candidate to lead the department.

Hart’s retirement has known for some time and the fact that Alabama surprisingly hired Greg Byrne away from Arizona without as much as a sniff from the Vols have made many in the fan base a little anxious about the state of the on-going  (and lengthy) search. Manning’s former head coach Phillip Fulmer has reportedly been mentioned as a candidate for the gig but the hire of a search firm and advisory committee suggests that a hire may be a few weeks or months away.

There are few folks connected to Tennessee football more fondly remembered around Knoxville than Manning and you can’t help but wonder if Vols fans longing for some stability and a big name in the AD chair wouldn’t mind pushing the quarterback’s name for the position. If so, perhaps joining the search committee is the first step toward that path and a move that would certainly make a lot more sense than bringing somebody like Fulmer back into the fold.

All Oregon football players released from hospital after offseason workouts

EUGENE, OR - OCTOBER 29: defensive back Tyree Robinson #2 of the Oregon Ducks dives into the crowd before the game against the Arizona State Sun Devilsat Autzen Stadium on October 29, 2016 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
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All three Oregon football players hospitalized this week as the result of grueling offseason workouts have been released.

The news, first reported by The Oregonian,  concludes a dramatic week for the program and their new coaching staff after revelations surfaced on Monday that the three were sent to a nearby Springfield, Oregon hospital with symptoms of rhabdomyolysis. The condition primarily affects soft tissue and is triggered by overwork and can eventually lead to damage of the kidneys.

Senior offensive linemen Doug Brenner was actually released on Tuesday per the report, but it took until Friday morning for redshirt freshmen tight end Cam McCormick and offensive lineman Sam Poutasi to be sent home from the PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center.

As a result of the workouts, Oregon suspended new strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde for one month without pay and changed the structure on the staff so that Oderinde, who came over from South Florida with Willie Taggart, no longer reports to the Ducks’ coach but the school’s director of performance and sport science.

While you never want to hear about football players going to the hospital, it’s great to hear that the three players who were injured as a result of the workouts have been cleared and sent home.

Former Syracuse coach Scott Shafer hired as Middle Tennessee’s defensive coordinator

Scott Shafer
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Middle Tennessee is giving former Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer a chance to get back in the game. Shafer has been hired to be the new defensive coordinator for the Blue Raiders, the school announced Friday.

“We are all very excited about Scott and his wife Missy joining the Blue Raider family,” said MTSU head coach Rick Stockstill in a released statement. “Scott brings a wealth of experience as a defensive coordinator and we can’t wait until he gets started and puts his plan in place. He will have a positive impact on the program and university as our defensive coordinator.”

Shafer was out of coaching during the 2016 season after being fired by Syracuse after the the previous season. Shafer coached Syracuse to a record of 14-23 in his three years on the job. Now, he returns to a familiar role as defensive coordinator. Shafer has held the title of defensive coordinator at Northern Illinois, Western Michigan, Stanford (under Jim Harbaugh), Michigan (under Rich Rodriguez) and Syracuse (under Doug Marrone; Shafer replaced Marrone once the coach was hired by the NFL’s Buffalo Bills).

Middle Tennessee ranked 96th in the nation in total defense in 2016, allowing 449.5 yards per game. The Blue Raiders also allowed an average of 35.8 points per game (which ranked 109th in the nation).