Notre Dame Football

National championship should excite, but this year’s BCS lineup is a snoozer


As far as the BCS championship is concerned, viewers are going to get the game they want: Alabama vs. Notre Dame.

You couldn’t pack more hate or intrigue into a single game. In one corner, you have the Tide appearing in its third title game in four years. A win would instantly bring about the term “dynasty” and there simply is no other team that represents the face of SEC dominance in college football like Alabama right now. And the insufferable “S-E-C!” chants? You better believe they’ll be loud and clear if Alabama hoists another crystal football.

In the other corner, you have the Irish. What bass-ackwards, Twilight Zone do we live in where Notre Dame — you know, the irrelevant yet extremely relevant program with its own TV deal and privileged bowl agreement — can be the team to give the SEC its comeuppance?

You can understand why any college football site *ahem* would be giddy about such a match-up for the next four weeks (hint: page views and page views and page views and page views and page views and page views and…).

Or, Jan. 7 will roll around and the game could be a total bust. Nobody in the right mind hopes that it is, but with the rest of the BCS slate looking rather ehhhhhh, the national title can have season-defining qualities.

Oh sure, there are other intriguing storylines. The Fiesta Bowl pits Kansas State and Oregon, two teams that could have met in a nonconference game that wasn’t and at one time last month looked to be on a collision course for the national title. But some other BCS games? Not as much.

Take the Rose Bowl for example. Wisconsin blew the doors off Nebraska in the Big Ten championship and made us all wonder where in the hell that was all season, but the Badgers are still a five-loss team. Even UConn didn’t have five losses when it went to the Fiesta Bowl a couple of years ago and got stomped by Oklahoma.


Speaking of the Sooners, they have to be all kinds of mad that they got bumped from the Sugar Bowl because Northern Illinois made it into the BCS top 16 (No. 15 in fact). Now, Florida will face Louisville in New Orleans and the Huskies will try to upset Florida State in the Orange Bowl. Compelling? Not overly unless you enjoy the possibility of major upsets. For some reason, that’s lost more on college football than it is in, say, college basketball. There were people who hated Boise State once the Broncos started winning consistently on the national stage.

But don’t be mad at NIU for altering the BCS lineup and start spouting off about how the Huskies don’t “deserve” to be in an upper-echelon game. Deserving went flying out the window and smashed into your car on the street years ago. Did Georgia Tech deserve a shot at the Orange Bowl this year after backing into the ACC title game? Did Michigan or Virginia Tech deserve bids to the Sugar Bowl this past year? Did Oklahoma deserve the right to get manhandled by USC while fellow undefeated Auburn sat back and watched following the 2004 season?

The answer is sort of; what ties those cases together is that each team took advantage of what the system provided them. Northern Illinois played it just like everybody else this year. When Vanderbilt coach James Franklin casts a coaches’ poll ballot — those are used in determining the BCS standings — where he ranks undefeated Notre Dame fourth and his own 8-4 Commodores 16th, there shouldn’t be a problem with NIU getting a little love.

The BCS is tragically comical, like a circus clown trying to jump through a hoop of fire on a tricycle with one busted wheel. You know that clown’s not going to make it, and it’s going to be awful when he doesn’t, but the thought of a flaming clown running around with dudes trying to extinguish him is too tempting.

In that spirit, we’ll all still watch the BCS games this year. I’ll watch because my job requires me to keep track of all kinds of football no matter how fugly it is. Remember the scene in “A Clockwork Orange” when Malcolm McDowell‘s character has his eyes pried open for the Ludovico technique? Yeah, like that was last year’s Orange Bowl for me. And you’ll watch because no matter how busted the system is, we’re all hoping that the BCS affords us some good games.

Even if it doesn’t look so good now.

Cal, Hawaii officially announce 2016 game Down Under

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 14:  The sails of the Sydney Opera House are illuminated in the colours of the French flag on November 14, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. At least 120 people have been killed and over 200 are injured in Paris following a series of terrorist acts in the French capital on Friday.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
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In September it was reported that a 2016 Cal-Hawaii game in Australia was a “strong likelihood.”  Two months later, that strong likelihood has come to fruition.

Earlier Saturday, both Cal and Hawaii sent out releases confirming that the two football programs will square off in 2016 in Sydney.  The game, which will be called the Sydney College Football Cup, will be played at the 83,500-seat ANZ Stadium in New South Wales that was built for the 2000 Summer Olympics.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime type of experience for our student-athletes and an excellent opportunity to see and learn about another culture,” Cal head coach Sonny Dykes said in a statement. “We are proud to represent the University of California at this historic event. A great deal of hard work by many people has gone into making this a reality, and everyone associated with Cal Athletics is excited to take part in it.

“It is a great day for college football and all the fans of our sport. It shows the popularity college football is gaining, and we’re ready to help further introduce the sport to many more fans.”

This contest will be the first college football game to ever be played in Sydney and the first in Australia since games in Melbourne — Wyoming-UTEP in 1985 and BYU-Colorado State in 1987.

Cal has previously played outside of the United States just once, in Japan in 1987 against Washington State. This will mark UH’s first-ever game outside the country.

“The University of Hawai‘i is thrilled for this wonderful opportunity to open the 2016 college football season in Sydney against the University of California, Berkeley,” UH athletic director David Matlin said in his statement. “Our football program has tremendous pride in not only representing the state of Hawai‘i, but all of the Pacific region. From a cultural perspective, this game will afford our student-athletes an experience they will always remember and give most of them the chance to travel outside the United States for the first time in their lives. Traditionally, the University of Hawai‘i has been fortunate to welcome many student-athletes from Australia and we hope this game opens doors for many more.”

Reports: Justin Fuente leaving Memphis for Virginia Tech

Justin Fuentes

Those within the college football industry said Whit Babcock and Virginia Tech would be the first major program with a head coaching vacancy to make a hire. It appears they were correct.

As his team beats SMU down something fierce, reports indicate Memphis head coach Justin Funete is on his way out the door for Blacksburg.

Fuente, 39, arrived from TCU following the 2011 season and brought Memphis out of the college football abyss and into the national consciousness. The Tigers went 7-17 in Fuente’s first two seasons, then skyrocketed to 10-3 with a share of the American Athletic Conference championship in 2014 and a (soon to be) 9-3 mark in 2015.

Memphis opened this season 8-0 — running its overall win streak to 15 games — with a win over Ole Miss, rising as high as No. 13 in the College Football Playoff poll.

In Virginia Tech, Fuente inherits a program many described as the best current opening outside of USC, as the Hokies battle for Virginia for a berth in their 23rd straight bowl game.

And keeping around one of the most respected defensive coordinators in the business? That’s a heck of a start to get the Hokies back on top again.

With LSU rumors swirling, Jimbo reportedly tells FSU prez he’s staying

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01:  Florida State Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher reacts to a play against the Oregon Ducks during the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2015 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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Tonight’s game against Texas A&M will reportedly be Les Mileslast at LSU. Unless it’s not, depending on who or which reports you want to believe.

Regardless, speculation has been rampant that, if/when LSU pulls the trigger and dismisses Miles, their No. 1 target by far is Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher. The former LSU offensive coordinator has publicly brushed aside the speculation of late, but now is reportedly telling those in positions of power at his current university that he has no intentions of leaving.

From a report by the Palm Beach Post‘s Tom D’Angelo:

Jimbo Fisher met with Florida State president John Thrasher this week and told Thrasher he does not have to worry about losing his head coach.

Sources have told the Post that Fisher, whose name has been connected to the expected opening at LSU, has made it clear he is happy with the administration, the support he receives and the direction of the program, and has no intentions of leaving Florida State for another coaching job at this time.

It seems likely that Miles’ time in Baton Rouge is quickly coming to an end, even as an ESPN report intimates that he could save his job with a win today, as does It doesn’t appear, though, that Fisher will be riding in on his white horse to “save” the Tigers football program if Miles is jettisoned.

Then again, Nick Saban was not going to be the head coach at Alabama before he was, sooo

Ohio State leads Michigan after tight first half

Jim Harbaugh, Urban Meyer
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No. 8 Ohio State leads No. 10 Michigan 14-10 at the break in Ann Arbor.

Ohio State struck first with a seven-play, 94-yard march late in the first quarter, aided by a highly questionable flag. The Wolverines had forced a Buckeyes punt from their own 9, but a roughing the kicker call, on a play where Ohio State punter Cameron Johnston didn’t appear to make contact with a Wolverine, kept the drive alive. Ezekiel Elliott broke free for a 66-yard run to plays after the flag, and J.T. Barrett scored from seven yards out two plays later.

After mounting drives of 43 and 28 yards on its first two possessions, Michigan answered Ohio State’s score with a short field goal. The Wolverines moved to the Buckeyes’ 6 until two straight incomplete passes forced a 25-yard Kenny Allen field goal at the 9:25 mark of the second quarter.

Ohio State immediately answered, moving 75 yards in nine snaps — all but the first carries by Barrett or Elliott — to push the lead to 14-3 with 5:01 remaining before the half. Michigan, though, answered that answer with a five-yard Jake Rudock touchdown pass to Jehu Chesson on 3rd-and-2 with one minute remaining.

Rudock threw 24 times in the half, completing 14 for 178 yards and a touchdown. Jabrill Peppers led the Wolverines with five rushes for 21 yards and two grabs for 25 yards. Chesson caught four passes for 53 yards and a score, and Jake Butt nabbed three grabs for 43 yards.

Elliott charged Ohio State with 10 carries for 99 yards and a touchdown, while Barrett rushed eight times for 64 yards and a touchdown while completing 3-of-6 throws for 18 yards.

Ohio State will receive to open the second half.