Arizona State Introduces Todd Graham

Sun Devils prez pushing for an eight-team playoff

15 Comments

In the past several months we’ve seen the president of the NCAA, the Big Ten and the executive director of the BcS acknowledge in some form or another that a change to major college football is coming, with all heavily intimating that a four-team playoff would be palatable.  Earlier this week, Georgia president Michael Adams wouldn’t rule out an eight-team playoff as Div. 1-A’s first foray into a playoff system.

Now the president of a member of the Pac-12, which along with its Rose Bowl counterpart has long been staunchly anti-playoff, has gone public with the most “radical” concept for how the postseason should be structured.

In an interview with Craig Harris of the Arizona Republic, Arizona State president Michael Crow (pictured, right) laid out his proposal for a playoff system that would be run — our emphasis added — by the NCAA: the eight highest-ranked champions from the 11 conferences participating in a single-elimination tournament.  Crow, the Republic writes, “declined to specifically say how the playoff would work, such as seeding or where games would be played.”

There was also no mention of how independents such as Notre Dame and BYU could qualify for such a playoff system, although “get the hell in a conference” would be implied.

For as radical as it looks compared to what’s already been tossed out there for public consumption, Crow’s proposal doesn’t appear to be a case of flinging something against the wall and hoping it sticks:

He said his plan has some momentum among other college presidents inside and outside his conference, though he declined to identify them. He said he will push other Pacific-12 Conference presidents to adopt his proposal when they meet next month in Los Angeles.

If Crow’s system were in place for the 2011 season, and the BcS rankings were utilized, the playoff field would’ve consisted of LSU (SEC), Oklahoma State (Big 12), Oregon (Pac-12), TCU (MWC), Wisconsin (Big Ten), Clemson (ACC), Southern Miss (Conference USA) and West Virginia (Big East).  If seedings were based solely on BcS rankings, the matchups would’ve looked as follows:

No. 1 LSU vs. No. 23 West Virginia (a regular season rematch, of course)
No. 3 Oklahoma State vs. No. 21 Southern Miss
No. 5 Oregon vs.  No. 18 TCU
No. 10 Wisconsin vs. No. 15 Clemson

Noticeably absent?  2011 BcS champion Alabama, which did not win its division let alone its conference and thus would not qualify under Crow’s proposal.

Crow’s plan would likely meet serious resistance from, among others, the SEC, which has placed two teams inside the top eight in each of the past six final regular-season BcS rankings.  Resistance could also come from the Big Ten, which by all accounts is grudgingly being pulled into considering a four-team model; an eight-team playoff right out of the gate may cause Jim Delany‘s head to spontaneously combust.

As was the case with the Big Ten kicking around a four-team playoff with on-campus semifinals, though, the powerbrokers in college football — for whatever reason — are coming to the realization that the postseason in its sport is broken and something, anything, needs to be done to fix it.

“In the Pac-12, we are not strong supporters of the present model,” Crow said.

“The reason for this new model is the model we have right now is not conducive to the long-term success of college football.”

One other interesting note from the Republic’s piece: Bill Hancock, executive director of the BcS, stated that a final decision on what the future of college football’s postseason will look like when the current cycle ends after the 2013 season could be made this summer.

Long-needed change is coming to the top level of college football, and it appears to be coming faster than even the staunchest playoff proponents could’ve ever anticipated.

Nick Saban’s dad ‘would’ve kicked me out of the house’ if he quit team

OXFORD, MS - SEPTEMBER 17:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide questions two flags on the field after a punt return touchdown against the Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Oxford, Mississippi.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

In Nick Saban‘s official response to quarterback Blake Barnett‘s abrupt departure from Alabama, the head coach described the program as “disappointed” in the impending transfer.

Unofficially? The Nicktator appears to be somewhat agitated by not only the move itself but the overall transfer climate in the sport.

Shortly after releasing the statement on Barnett, Saban appeared on his weekly radio show. While the quarterback’s name wasn’t specifically mentioned, it wasn’t hard to crack the code Saban was using in dropping pearls of wisdom from the lessons his West Virginia-born father had taught him.

From al.com‘s transcription of the interview:

It’s one of those things where I think the culture has changed a little bit,” Saban said. “I think there’s a certain pride people have in competition. There’s certain things that I was taught growing up about not quitting and seeing things through. I think if I would have come home and told my dad that I was going to quit the team, I think he would have kicked me out of the house. I don’t think I’d have a place to stay.

“My dad used to always say ‘The grass is always greener on top of the septic tank,'” Saban said. “So it always looks better someplace else. So you think, instead of facing your fears and really overcoming adversity and making yourself better through the competition, you go someplace else thinking it will be better there. But until you face your fears, you’re always going to have some of those issues or problems.

Exactly what Saban’s father would’ve thought of his son leaving the Miami Dolphins after just two years and his first losing season as a head coach to make the move to Alabama is unknown.

No determination yet for ‘appropriate discipline’ of arrested ‘Bama LB

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 15: The flag girls of the Alabama Crimson Tide marching band perform before the game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 15, 2008 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

An off-field incident involving one of his Alabama football players has drawn a public response from Nick Saban.

Very early Thursday morning, Tim Williams was arrested university police officers and charged with carrying a pistol without a permit. Williams and another unidentified male were sitting in the linebackers’ vehicle in a Publix parking lot when an officer who approached the vehicle smelled marijuana. A search revealed said marijuana, which the other man, who was seated in the driver’s seat, claimed; a gun was also found, which Williams claimed.

However, Williams could not produce a permit, leading to the misdemeanor charge.

In a statement, Saban said that “[t]his kind of behavior is not condoned in our program.” That said, the head coach was not ready to say one way or the other what if any punitive measures the senior may face.

“This kind of behavior is not condoned in our program,” the coach’s statement began. “We are currently in the process of reviewing all of the information. Once we have a complete understanding of the situation, we will determine what we need to do in terms of the appropriate discipline.”

Entering the 2016 season, Williams was viewed by many as a potential, or even likely, first-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft. He has just 1.5 sacks in four games this season after totaling 10.5 in 15 games in 2015.

Josh Sweat should be good to go for FSU vs. UNC

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 24: Josh Sweat #9 of the Florida State Seminoles runs with a first half interception against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium on October 24, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

Derwin James is still at least a couple of weeks or so away from returning from his injury, but Florida State will likely get a talented defensive player back on the field this weekend anyway.

When asked Thursday if defensive end Josh Sweat will be available for the North Carolina game this weekend, Jimbo Fisher responded, “oh yeah.” Sweat sustained a meniscus injury in practice leading up to the Louisville game in Week 3 and, after it limited him in that contest, underwent surgery to repair the damage shortly thereafter.

At the time, the prognosis for a return was 1-2 weeks. Sweat missed the win over USF last weekend, but could see the field this weekend as he’s practiced the past couple of days.

“Healing really well, looks great” Fisher said in quotes distributed by the team. “We’ll see [Friday] morning, but [the knee] looks great.”

Sweat started nine of 13 games as a true freshman last season, and started the first two games in 2016 before the knee issue surfaced.

Greg Ward Jr., to Heisman voters: ‘Psssttt, I’m still here, don’t forget’

Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. (1) runs past Connecticut defensive lineman Folorunso Fatukasi, left, en route to a 30-yard touchdown in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Associated Press
1 Comment

Deservedly so, most of the Heisman focus these first four-plus weeks of the 2016 season has been squarely on Lamar Jackson and the stunningly phenomenal season the Louisville quarterback is putting together. There are others, though, who merit mention.

Case in point? Greg Ward Jr.

In No. 6 Houston’s Thursday night 42-14 romp over UConn, the quarterback completed just over 84 percent of his passes for 389 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 65 yards and two scores for good measure. The win was the Cougars’ eighth in a row, with the last loss coming Nov. 21 of last year to… these very same Huskies.

On at least one occasion in avenging the loss, though, Ward Jr.’s sterling completion percentage got a little help from one of his receiving friends.

The latest virtuoso performance, which included his third 300-yard passing game of the season, pushed Ward Jr. to 1,503 yards of offense (1,325 passing, 178 rushing) and 13 total touchdowns (eight passing, five rushing) in four games while also battling a lingering shoulder issue. For comparison’s sake, and you know we’re not alone in doing so, Jackson will enter Week 5 with a statistical ledger that’s straight from a teenager’s video game: 1,856 yards of total offense and a ridiculous 25 total touchdowns in his four games.

While it’s still quite a ways down the road, Ward’s Cougars and Jackson’s Cardinals will square off in what’s shaping up to be a monumental mid-November Thursday night game that could go a long way in determining not only the Heisman race, but helping to shape the playoff picture as well.  In between, voters, don’t forget about the kid from Houston.