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.

Temple adds recent NFL assistant, long-time college coach

MIAMI - 2009:  George DeLeone of the Miami Dolphins poses for his 2009 NFL headshot at photo day in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by NFL Photos)
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With the Cleveland Browns (again) changing regimes, George DeLeone found himself on the outside of the coaching profession looking in.  A couple of weeks later, DeLeone is back on the inside, and in a familiar locale at that.

While the school has yet to officially confirm it, the Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that DeLeone has been added to Matt Rhule‘s coaching staff at Temple.  Bruce Feldman of FOXSports.com subsequently confirmed the report.

According to both outlets, DeLeone will serve as the Owls’ running-game coordinator.

The past two seasons, DeLeone worked as an assistant line coach with the Browns.  Prior to that, however, the vast majority of his 46-year coaching career had been spent at the collegiate level.  And a sizable chunk of that time was spent in the Northeast.

DeLeone’s first FBS job came at Rutgers from 1980-83.  Two different stints at Syracuse (1985-96, 1998-2004) were sandwiched between his the job at the NFL level with the Miami Dolphins (1997).  Temple was his home from 2006-07, and then UConn from 2011-13 before the Browns called.

Demoted by BC, Todd Fitch takes over as LaTech’s OC

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 19:  Head coach Skip Holtz of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs objects to a call during the first half of the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl against the Arkansas State Red Wolves at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 19, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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A promotion in 2015 was quickly followed by a demotion a year later for Todd Fitch.  Not long after the latter went down, Fitch left town for a fresh start to his coaching career.

Friday, Skip Holtz announced that Fitch has been hired as his offensive coordinator at Louisiana Tech.  Additionally, Fitch will serve as the wide receivers coach for the Bulldogs.

Fitch had spent the past three seasons at Boston College, first as receivers coach and passing-game coordinator in 2013-14 before being promoted to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2015.  However, BC head coach Steve Addazio announced in mid-January that he had hired Scott Loeffler as his coordinator, effectively demoting Fitch back to receivers coach.

Three weeks later, Fitch headed south.

“I am excited to be joining a staff that is part of growing something special,” Fitch said. “This coaching staff has laid the groundwork for a program that has already done some great things and is building a foundation for future success. I am excited for the opportunity to be on a staff with Skip Holtz again and to keep growing this program.”

In addition to BC, Fitch had also been a coordinator at East Carolina and USF. Holtz was the head coach at both of those stops.

San Jose State QB Malik Watson latest to take grad transfer route

SAN JOSE, CA - NOVEMBER 29:  The San Jose State Spartans marching band plays their fight song against the Fresno State Bulldogs in the second quarter on November 29, 2013 at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, California.  The Spartans won 62-52.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a college football player has decided to ply his final season of college football wares elsewhere.

The latest to take that tack is Malik Watson, who announced via Twitter that he has “decided that I will not be returning to San Jose State for my senior and will be seeking elsewhere to pursue my dream.”  As Watson will graduate from SJSU this May, he will be eligible to play immediately in 2016 if he lands at another FBS school and enrolls in a grad program not offered at his former school.

Watson added that, as he awaits a new destination, he “will continue to train with my private QB coach in this meantime.”

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A California high school product who was born in Hawaii, Watson transferred from the junior college ranks to SJSU in 2014. After redshirting that first year, the 6-3, 208-pound Watson played in two games as the No. 3 quarterback on the depth chart.

In that time, Watson completed 9-of-15 passes for 59 yards and an interception. Of the 15 attempts, 14 came in the Week 3 loss to Oregon State.

Illini grad transfer T.J. Neal to visit WVU, Auburn

LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMPER 27: Linebacker T.J. Neal #52 of the Illinois Fighting Illini arches of running back Ameer Abdullah #8 of the Nebraska Cornhuskersduring their game at Memorial Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Lincoln, Nebraska.  (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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T.J. Neal does not yet know where he will continue his collegiate career, but it appears the linebacker has significantly narrowed the field.

A little less than two weeks ago, Neal, after being told by the coaching staff that they were planning to move him from middle to strongside linebacker, decided to transfer out of the Illinois football program.  As he will be a graduate transfer upon earning his degree in May, Neal will be eligible to play at another FBS program in 2016.

Enter West Virginia and Auburn, two teams which have been in contact with Neal and vice versa.  According to al.com, Neal will visit Morgantown this coming Monday, then head to The Plains a week later.

Upon the announcement of an impending departure, Illini head coach Bill Cubit said the Pennsylvania native “was talking about playing closer to home.”  Even as a move to Auburn would be the exact opposite of that, Neal seems genuinely excited over the prospects.

“Being able to play down there in Alabama, it’s like a dream come true,” Neal told Brandon Marcello of al.com. “From my high school, I never thought I’d play at a big-time school like Auburn. To have a chance now, it’s exciting to play against some of the top players in the country.”

According to blueandgoldsports.com, Penn State and Pittsburgh are/were also in play. It’s unclear if he’s visited or plans to visit those schools in his home state, although it was originally thought that the Nittany Lions could be high on Neal’s to-do list.

Not only is Neal a native of McKeesport, Pa., but Tim Banks, the Illini’s co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach the past four seasons, left in December to become the Nittany Lions’ coordinator.  PSU has also seen a pair of linebackers, Troy Reeder and Gary Wooten Jr., transfer out this month, meaning the opportunity for a starting job would certainly be on the table.

Regardless, Neal expects to make a decision shortly after the Feb. 15 visit to Auburn. He would then enroll in his new school of choice shortly after his graduation from Illinois.

Neal was a two-year starter for the Illini who finished second on the team in tackles (109) this past season.  He was named honorable mention All-Big Ten for his play in 2015.