Normally, the headlining teams for the final polls of the season would be the first and second-place teams. But Notre Dame and Alabama are on a path to the BCS championship game. You knew that part.
The Irish and the Tide remained No. 1 and No. 2 in the latest USA Today coaches’ poll, a factor in the BCS rankings. Non-division winners Oregon and Florida came in at No. 3 and No. 4. If the BCS rankings reflect the coaches’ poll, the Ducks and the Gators will automatically go to a BCS bowl — likely the Fiesta and Sugar Bowls, respectively. Georgia, seconds away from toppling the Tide and making its own BCS championship appearance, drops to No. 5. Big 12 champion Kansas State comes in at No. 6 and Pac-12 champion Stanford moves up one spot to No. 8. The Cardinal will play Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl after last night’s Big Ten championship blowout. Texas A&M and South Carolina round out the top 10.
This is where things get more interesting. Oklahoma ranks at No. 11 and has a share of the Big 12 championship. However, non-automatic qualifier programs Boise State and Northern Illinois come in at No. 15 and No. 16. BSU did not move in the coaches’ poll, but NIU jumped up two spots from No. 18. Those two received assistance from UCLA losing to Stanford (the Bruins dropped three spots to No. 19) and Nebraska getting rocked by Wisconsin (the Huskers dropped eight spots to No. 21). Louisville, the Big East champion, is ranked 18th. A non-AQ team only needs to finish in the BCS top 16 to receive a berth so long as it finishes ahead of a champion from an AQ conference. If that happens, it would likely knock Oklahoma out of a Sugar Bowl appearance.
Could some coaches’ poll positioning mean an Orange Bowl trip for either Boise State or Northern Illinois? We’ll find out tonight. Final standings will also depend on Harris Poll results.
In other coaches’ poll news, Wisconsin (the Big Ten champion) and San Jose State moved into the top 25 while Kent State and Rutgers dropped out.
A serious medical event has caused a shakeup on Derek Mason‘s Vanderbilt coaching staff.
The football program revealed in an article posted to its official website Tuesday night that outside linebackers coach Osia Lewis is battling cholangiocarcinoma, a form of liver cancer. The 54-year-old coach was diagnosed in mid-January after undergoing a battery of tests the last couple of months.
Lewis, who is married with two children, has already started chemotherapy, although the school writes that, “[f]or now, the tumor is inoperable due to its location, but doctors are hopeful treatment will make an impact.”
As Lewis continues to battle, he will move from his on-field role to what the program describes as the chief consultant to the head coach and senior defensive assistant. “But as soon as I’m ready to go, I’ll be back,” the coach said.
“Osia is family,” Mason said. “Some people run from these things, but we’ve chosen to run to it. I believe Osia and Darlene, with what they’ve poured into this program, their journey is a testament to what it means to be family. They’ve given everything they have to this program, moving from San Diego to Nashville because I asked them to. I truly believe it’s important for us to take the journey with them.
“That’s exactly what we’re going to do.”
An NFL team has once again cost a Power Five program an assistant coach.
Tennessee announced in a press release Wednesday that Zach Azzanni has stepped down from his job with the Volunteers in order to take the job as wide receivers coach with the Chicago Bears. Azzanni had spent the past four seasons as UT’s receivers coach.
He also carried the title of passing-game coordinator the last two years.
“We are really excited for Zach and his family,” said head coach Butch Jones in a statement. “I have known Zach for a long time and this is a path he has wanted to pursue for some time. We can’t thank him enough for his loyalty, dedication and hard work over the past four years to our football program.
“We will begin the process of filling this position immediately. It’s a position we want to fill as quickly as we can, but we also want to go through the detailed process, which we will.”
This will mark Azzanni’s first job in the NFL as his previous 18 years in the profession have come at the collegiate level.
Not long after Scott Pagano decided to transfer from Clemson, three dozen or so teams expressed interest in the defensive tackle. A short time later, that list had been whittled down to seven by the lineman.
Just a couple of days later, Pagano has a list of teams he will officially visit. From Ryan Bartow of 247Sports.com:
Pagano… said he will officially visit Notre Dame March 24, Oklahoma March 31 and Arkansas April 7.
Pagano has completed his official visit plan by lining up a trip to Texas for April 14 and Oregon April 21.
The graduate transfer also listed Cal and Nebraska as two of his seven finalists. He could still “unofficially” visit those programs, or any others for that matter, even as they are not part of his current official visits schedule.
Pagano is expected to make a final decision that would allow him to enroll in his new school in May.
Coming out of high school in Hawaii as a four-star 2013 recruit, Pagano was rated as the No. 24 tackle in the country and the No. 2 player at any position in the state. Pagano started 13 games the past two seasons, four of which came in 2016.
The reports of a couple of weeks ago have indeed come to fruition.
Earlier this month, speculation had Devin Asiasi considering a transfer from Michigan back closer to his home on the West Coast. Tuesday night, the tight end’s head coach confirmed the transfer part of the equation.
“Yeah, he’s moving on, transferring,” Jim Harbaugh said according to mlive.com. “He leaves in great status. He was doing great in school, doing great in football, really popular and well-liked by his teammates.
“We wish him well.”
USC and UCLA are currently rumored to be among Asiasi’s potential landing spots. One of Asiasi’s former high school teammates, Boss Tagaloa, plays defensive tackle for the Bruins and the two players had talked of going to the same school when they were recruits. The Trojans were a finalist before Asiasi opted for the Wolverines as well.
As a 6-3, 287-pound true freshman last season, Asiasi played in all 13 games. He caught two passes for 18 yards and a touchdown.
A four-star recruit in last year’s class coming out of high school at Concord De La Salle High School, Asiasi was rated as the No. 3 tight end in the country and the No. 12 player at any position in the state of California. In addition to UM, USC and UCLA, Asiasi held offers from, among others, Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Auburn, Miami, Notre Dame, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington.