Delany no fan of non-division winners in playoffs

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Yeah, you know exactly where this one is headed.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, long a staunch anti-playoff proponent, has suddenly found himself at or near the forefront of a move toward revamped postseason as he, along with his fellow commissioners, attempts to position their respective conferences in the best possible way for 2014 and beyond.

One of the proposals offered for public consumption by Delany and his conference — aside from the asinine “three semifinals” embarrassment — is one that would include a four-team playoff, with participants consisting of the four highest-rated conference champs provided they were rated inside the top six at the end of the regular season.  If there are fewer than four conference champs in the top six, however, Delany’s proposal would call for a “wildcard”, the highest rated team that didn’t win its conference, to fill the fourth spot.

At least as far as Delany is concerned, though, that “wildcard” would have to at least won its division and are your ears ringing Tuscaloosa…

I don’t have a lot of regard for that team,” Delany told the Associated Press Wednesday when asked about a non-divisional winner qualifying for the revamped postseason in major college football. “I certainly wouldn’t have as much regard for that team as I would for someone who played nine conference games in a tough conference and played a couple out-of-conference games on the road against really good opponents. If a poll doesn’t honor those teams and they’re conference champions, I do.”

As is ofttimes the case when it comes to the commissioner, Delany wasn’t done.

“Some people think it should just be the top four teams; some people think it should just be the four highest-rated champions,” Delany said. “I was just floating some ideas of how you might have a hybrid where champions were respected and there was still room for at-large.

“The polls don’t always measure strength of schedule. Some conferences are playing nine games, some are playing eight. The Pac-12 is playing nine and then to go out and play a round-robin game against us, that’s 10 and some of them are going to play Notre Dame — that’s 11 difficult games. If they’re ranked fifth in the country and they won a conference championship, I think that’s quite an accomplishment. Some teams don’t even win their own division. They started off highly in the rankings, lose early, don’t play a championship game and they might end up at four.”

Hey, didn’t Alabama start off the 2011 season highly-rated?  Yes they did, coming in at No. 2 in the preseason coaches’ poll.  Didn’t the Tide lose (in) early (November)?  Why yes they did, to SEC West rival LSU, and at home no less.  Didn’t the Tide miss out on playing in a conference championship game because they didn’t even win their own division?  As a matter of fact, that’s accurate as well.

Wait a minute, you don’t think Delany’s referring to Alabama’s 2011 season when he talks about not having “a lot of regard for that team”, do you?

Of course he is and there it is.  Delany doesn’t have a lot of regard for what Alabama did in 2011 and, in essence, confirmed what many have suspected all along — the rematch between the Tide and LSU in the BcS title game last season played at least some type of role on some level in pushing the sport toward a revamped postseason.

Delany has it right with his idea for on-campus semifinals, but he’s dead wrong in this regard, especially with the inherent limitations of a four-team playoff.  Make it simple.  Take the four best teams and move on, regardless of whether two — or more — may come from that evil Southern football empire.

Alabama QB Jalen Hurts uses photo of Clemson celebrating title win as motivational phone background

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Nick Saban said last week that the loss to Clemson in the the national championship game earlier this year is one that he’ll never get over, although he didn’t go so far as to compare it to a death in the family. One playing member of Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide team is taking to steps to ensure that he never forgets, either.

Jalen Hurts was the Tide’s talented true freshman starting quarterback who helped lead ‘Bama into the title game and, with a 30-yard touchdown run with just over two minutes left, gave his team a 31-28 lead. That lead was short-lived, however, as Deshaun Watson led his Tigers on an epic 88-yard drive that was capped by his two-yard touchdown pass with just one tick left on the clock for the 35-31 win.

The stunning last-second loss is something that Hurts makes a conscious effort to remind himself of daily as the rising sophomore, as the background on his smartphone, has a picture of Clemson players celebrating their win.

“We’re obviously all on our phones all the time,” Hurts said according to al.com after this past weekend’s spring game. “Every time I unlock it, it’s kind of a reminder. It kind of humbles me and keeps me motivated. …

“It’s not a grudge at all. It’s just something that keeps it on the back of your shoulder like, yeah, it’s still there. Remember why you’re doing it because at the end of the day, the goal for this team is to win the national championship.

Father of former Florida State WR Travis Rudolph killed in accidental shooting

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The father of Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph was killed Friday in an accidental shooting, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Monday.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Darryl Rudolph was working on repairs inside a West Palm Beach, Fla., when a gun accidentally fired in an adjacent room, hitting him in the back/neck area. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 55 years old.

The younger Rudolph was Florida State’s leading receiver over the past two seasons before becoming an early-entrant into this week’s NFL Draft. He gained viral notoriety after a photo snapped of him sitting at lunch with an autistic elementary school student hit Facebook.

“When I used to coach and help other kids with football, basketball and sports, Travis was small but he used to pay attention to what I was doing,” the elder Rudolph said in an interview with ESPN last year. “I told them get your education. You can be the best athlete in the world, but without an education, you’re not going very far. That’s what Travis followed through on.”

LSU QB Danny Etling undergoes back surgery

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LSU quarterback Danny Etling has undergone surgery to relieve back pain, the program announced Monday.

“Danny had a minor back procedure this morning and everything went alright,” head coach Ed Orgeron said in a statement (and not in an Arrested Development way).

Etling has played through back pain for months, according to Ross Dellenger from The Advocate, and this procedure should remove that pain.

In a possibly related story, Etling went 4-of-11 for 53 yards in LSU’s spring game.

A transfer from Purdue, Etling appeared in 11 games for the Tigers last season, completing 160-of-269 passes (59.5 percent) for 2,123 yards (7.9 yards per attempt) with 11 touchdowns against five interceptions.

Etling’s recovery from Monday’s procedure is expected to be a short one.

Willie Taggart defends Oregon’s offseason workouts in interview

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Things got off to a rocky start for new Oregon head coach Willie Taggart. Among the issues Taggart was forced to deal with soon after accepting the job of head coach at Oregon was players falling ill during and after offseason workouts.

Three Ducks were hospitalized in January to treat symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a product of overworking leading to soft tissue and possible kidney damage. Oregon suspended strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde following the hospital treatments to players, and questions about his certification were thrust under a microscope. Despite the unfortunate situation in Eugene, Taggart has defended his program’s workout routine in an interview with Stewart Mandel of FOXSports.com.

“We know we didn’t do anything to try to hurt our kids. We’d done [the same program] everywhere we’ve been and never had a problem,” Taggart explained in the interview. “I think our guys just overworked themselves and didn’t hydrate. … They were trying to impress the new coaches.”

It seems Taggart has been trying to raise the bar at Oregon and find a way to make his new players tougher overall. That is a common strategy for a new coach in a new program, so Taggart’s mission is not unique in that sense.

Maybe it was just a tough physical transition in the approach to workouts after years of Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich running the show. Will this all pay off in the end? Taggart sure hopes so.