Arizona State Introduces Todd Graham

Sun Devils prez pushing for an eight-team playoff


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.

Stanford hands keys to offense to QB Keller Chryst

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30:  Quarterback Keller Chryst #10 of the Stanford Cardinal looks downfield to pass against the Washington Huskies on September 30, 2016 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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With things not going anywhere close according to plan this season, Stanford head coach David Shaw is in need of a change. This week that change will come at quarterback, where Keller Chryst will get a chance to start his first game with the Cardinal. Chryst will replace Ryan Burns, who has been picked off seven times this season.

”I hate to get to this point,” Shaw said. ”But it’s the best thing for this offense. We need more production at that position. It’s our challenge to support Keller.”

Chryst has attempted 18 passes this season, completing seven for 63 yards with one interception. He has also rushed 11 times for 11 yards.

Stanford’s offensive woes are not to rest squarely on the shoulders of Burns, but one of the biggest ways to spark a struggling offense is to change the quarterback. Shaw hopes this change will turn things around before things get too much worse this season. Stanford’s offensive numbers are down much more than anyone would have expected this season. The Cardinal are averaging just 17.0 points per game and 299.1 yards per game. Stanford has reached the end zone on offense just 10 times. Oklahoma and Texas Tech combined for 17 touchdowns on Saturday.

”I’ve been working with both all year and they’re both great people,” Stanford wide receiver Trent Irwin said. ”Sometimes you just need a change. We’ll see where it goes and have fun with it.”

Stanford takes on Arizona in Tucson this Saturday night.

Mizzou loses LB Mike Scherer and DL Terry Beckner Jr. to torn ACL injuries

COLUMBIA, SC - SEPTEMBER 27:   Tailback Mike Davis #28 of the South Carolina Gamecocks tries to outrun linebacker Michael Scherer #30 of the Missouri Tigers during the second quarter on September 27, 2014 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Todd Bennett/GettyImages)
Photo by Todd Bennett/GettyImages

Missouri’s defensive depth just got hit with a serious injury big. Missouri head coach Barry Odom announced today linebacker Mike Scherer and defensive lineman Terry Beckner Jr. have been lost for the rest of the season due to ACL injuries.

“It rips my heart out that he’s done everything he’s done and it ends for him with that injury,” Odom said when reflecting on the injury to Scherer. The senior also suffered a torn MCL in addition to the ACL injury. Scherer’s season comes to an end after leading the Tiger sin tackles this season.

This is the second season in a row Beckner has injured his ACL. Beckner tore his ACL and MCL last November, but the latest injury was to the opposite knee.

While Scherer will be forced to call it a career, Odom said Beckner will most likely be able to make a return to the team in 2017. It is just a matter of when he will be able to rejoin the team, as his rehab would likely linger into the winter and spring months. As noted by Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Beckner did not miss any preseason camp activities this year.

There was some positive injury news for report from Missouri. Defensive back John Gibson and safety Thomas Wilson each returned to practice on Tuesday after having a strained knee and taking a hit that required a concussion test, respectively. Wilson was not diagnosed with a concussion, allowing him to return to practice.

Navy QB Tago Smith denied extra year of eligibility by Naval Academy

ANNAPOLIS, MD - SEPTEMBER 03:  Quarterback Tago Smith #2 of the Navy Midshipmen celebrates after rushing for a first quarter touchdown against the Fordham Rams at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on September 3, 2016 in Annapolis, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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It was considered a bit of a long shot for Navy quarterback Tago Smith to receive an extra year of eligibility from the Naval Academy, but today it became official. Smith was denied an extra year of eligibility by the academy, meaning his college football career is over.

Smith suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first game of the season. Had this been almost any other college football program, Smith would have had little problem filing the paperwork to the NCAA to apply for an extra year of eligibility given the circumstances. Things work differently in the service academies, however, and Smith needed to get approval from Vice Admiral Walter Carter, the superintendent of the Naval Academy. After reviewing the situation, Carter’s decision was made, and it was not what Smith had probably hoped.

“The mission of the Naval Academy is to graduate officers for the Navy and the Marine Corps,” Commander David McKinney said in a statement to The Capital Gazette. “This is a four-year academic institution and midshipmen are expected to graduate in that period of time unless the superintendent determines there is a significant reason why they cannot do so.

“Vice Admiral Carter looked at this particular situation and decided that is not the case with Midshipman Smith. While we are sympathetic to Tago’s athletic career, we aren’t an institution that exists to develop professional athletes, we exist to develop leaders.”

Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo could not help but feel for Smith upon learning of the decision. After backing up Keenan Reynolds for three years, Smith’s time as starter could not even last one full game this season.

“I would have loved for Tago to have the opportunity to come back, but I have to support the superintendent’s decision,” Niumatalolo said. “I just feel really bad for the kid. Tago has worked so hard and it’s heartbreaking to see his career end this way.”

Helmet sticker to The Capital Gazette.

Herm Edwards visits Illini to give pep talk

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 30: Head coach Herm Edwards of the Kansas City Chiefs looks on against the Oakland Raiders during an NFL game on November 30, 2008 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
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Former NFL head coach and current ESPN analyst Herm Edwards paid a visit to another former NFL coach on Tuesday. Edwards was in Champaign to visit Lovie Smith and his Illinois football program. While there, Edwards was scheduled to give the Illini a good old-fashioned pep talk. He’s good at that.

This is a reminder that the NFL coaching fraternity remains a strong bond over the years. Smith and Edwards were never a part of the same coaching staff in the NFL, but the two have remained friends over the years. Smith having these types of connections should be exploited at every opportunity to help promote the Illini program and boost it when needed. Edwards has been a vocal supporter of Smith, so it makes sense Smith would have his pal stop by and do what he does best. And he’s done it a number of times…

At Alabama in 2013…

Or the previous year before the Las Vegas Bowl…

Or this past summer with NC State…

Illinois is 2-5 this season and now flirting with the likelihood of not going to a postseason bowl game in Smith’s first season on the job. We’ll see if Edwards is able to give the program the extra juice it needs.

Here’s hoping we get some video footage of Edwards speaking to the Illini.