Ranking the 10 best bowl games of 2012-13

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Before the postseason began, we asked y’all to vote on which bowl games you felt would be the best and worst of the non-BCS group.

Thirty-five bowls later, the only thing we’ve confirmed is that you might be better off picking games by throwing a dart blindfolded. With that in mind, it’s time to go back and rank the 10 best bowls of the 2012-13 postseason (note: there’s no need to rank the 10 worst because, well, why would you want to relive cruddy bowls?).

1. Outback Bowl: No. 8 South Carolina 33, No. 24 Michigan 28

A back and forth game between the Big Ten and SEC that came down to the final seconds on New Year’s Day would be enough by itself to warrant the top spot on our list. Then Jadeveon Clowney made arguably the best individual, game-changing play of the bowl season. Of course, if you argue with Clowney, he’ll form tackle you into a fine powder.

2. Chick-fil-A Bowl: No. 11 Clemson 25, No. 14 LSU 24

Tajh Boyd‘s heroics against LSU’s blitz-happy defense were amazing until you realize he was actually a test subject in a real-life episode of ESPN’s “Sports Science.” Today, we ponder how many times a quarterback can get hit with the same amount of force per square inch exerted by a space shuttle on liftoff… and live to tell about it.

3. Alamo Bowl: No. 19 Texas 31, No. 20 Oregon State 27

“Texas back?!?!?!?” will undoubtedly be the theme for the Longhorns this year after a come-from-behind win over Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl. Defensive end Alex Okafor went Oka-BEASTMODE with nine tackles, 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble, most of that damage coming in the third and fourth quarters. The win makes UT’s offseason tolerable, but 2013 is a critical year for Mack Brown.

4. Belk Bowl: Cincinnati 48, Duke 34

Oh, Duke. Y’all were so close to winning your first bowl game since 1961. Unfortunately, the Blue Devils “Belk’d it” by allowing Cincinnati to score on an 83-yard touchdown pass and a 55-yard pick-six within the final minute of the game. For 59 minutes though, this game was awesome.

5. New Mexico Bowl: Arizona 49, Nevada 48

Nobody circles the wagons like the fightin’ RichRods. Down 13 with under two minutes to play, Arizona scored not once, but twice with the help of a successful onside kick to win the first bowl game of the season. I can only imagine the shock of the loss played a role in Chris Ault‘s retirement. Okay, it didn’t really. But still.

6. New Orleans Bowl: Louisiana-Lafayette 43, East Carolina 34 

America demands offense in games that have no national implications because we don’t give a single damn about your defensive coordinator’s job security, even in the worst of economies. The New Orleans Bowl understood that and obliged by racking up 45 points in the second quarter. The sacrifice was complete.

7. Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas: Texas Tech 34, Minnesota 31

Comebacks are always welcome in bowl games and Texas Tech scored 10 points in the final 1:10. However, we can only speculate that had Tommy Tuberville been on the sidelines, the Red Raiders would have elected to take a knee and play for overtime rather than attempt a risky 28-yard, game-winning field goal.An opportunity missed to jump up our rankings, to be sure.

8. Rose Bowl: No. 7 Stanford 20, Wisconsin 14 

This was the only BCS bowl where the game was decided by a touchdown or less. That should give you an idea as to how the BCS bowls played out this year. Defense lovers will point to the low score; cynics like me who only wish they were athletic enough to play football will point to some iffy execution by both offenses. But a close one in The Grandaddy of Them All? We’ll gladly take it.

9. Capital One Bowl: No. 5 Georgia 45, No. 25 Nebraska 31

The irony of an “SEC defense” and the “blackshirts” giving up a combined 76 points and over 1,000 yards was too much for us not to include this game. This was old man football… if the old man was in better shape than you and could probably beat you up.

10. Military Bowl: No. 21 San Jose State 29, Bowling Green 20 

I’m gonna miss you, WAC. At least San Jose State was able to get you a win before you went peacefully into that big ‘ol bowl game in the sky. Also, there were, like, four blocked punts because weird things tend to occur when #MACtion and #WACtion happens at the same time on the same field.

Illinois adds longtime NFL assistant; DC Hardy Nickerson given beefed-up title

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There was some movement on the coaching staff front for Lovie Smith Friday.

Illinois announced earlier today that Gill Byrd has been hired by Smith as the Fighting Illini’s safeties coach.  Byrd will also hold the title of passing-game coordinator.

“I’m very pleased to have Gill Byrd join the Illini coaching staff,” said Smith in a statement. “We’ve spent several seasons together in the NFL and I envision Gill bringing a great combination of knowledge and enthusiasm to our program. He will be a terrific influence on the young men he coaches, and, as good a coach as he is, he is probably an even better person.”

Byrd, who played his college football at San Jose State, has spent the past 19 seasons at the NFL level, coaching defensive backs during stops with the St. Louis Rams, Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and, most recently, with the Buffalo Bills last season.  This will mark Byrd’s first-ever job at any level of college football.

In addition to the hiring of Byrd, the football program also confirmed that Hardy Nickerson has been given the additional title of assistant head coach.  Nickerson has served as the Illini’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for each of the past two seasons.

Texas to give Todd Orlando raise to $1.7 million per year

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Everything’s bigger in Texas — including the raises.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that the University of Texas System Board of Regents are set to approve several athletics-related contracts next week, headlined by athletic director Chris Del Conte’s multi-million dollar six-year deal and a hefty raise for Longhorns defensive coordinator Todd Orlando.

Orlando, who joined Tom Herman when he came over from Houston prior to last season, was already one of 15 assistants who were making over $1 million in 2017. He was courted by several programs this offseason however and the cost to retain him on the 40 Acres didn’t come cheap as his amended contract is set to pay him a reported $1.7 million as part of a new four-year deal.

Also on tap for the board? The Statesman notes that new offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator Herb Hand has a three-year contract awaiting approval worth nearly $640,000 annually.

While all those new contracts do add up for the Longhorns, it’s not like the burnt orange can’t afford it all as one of a handful of programs who topped $200 million in revenue last year.

Texas A&M athletic director: ‘Resource issues in ACC vs. SEC’

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CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd recently stopped in College Station to do a deep dive on one of college football’s biggest storylinesJimbo Fisher’s $75 million move from Florida State to Texas A&M.

While the money — some $90 million for the Aggies when all is said and done — is one of the more eye-catching parts of the story that are broken down, the comments from some at the school probably won’t go unnoticed by those in Fisher’s former conference.

“I’m not going to put words in Jimbo’s mouth, but there are resource issues in the ACC versus the SEC,” Texas A&M athletic director Scott Woodward told CBS Sports, answering part of the question as to why the national title-winning head coach made the move from one of the sport’s blue-bloods to one of the oft-labeled “sleeping giants.”

We’re guessing those in ACC territory will not take kindly to those comments and note that some schools in the league have no problem raising cash, such as Clemson when it comes to their new football facility that has everything from mini-golf to sleep specialists. They also would probably point out that the conference has just as many national titles in the past five years as the SEC does too.

Still, when you look at the larger picture, there’s little question that the SEC is ahead of the ACC when it comes to revenues as a whole and the slow pace of facilities upgrades in Tallahassee was one of the many public grumbles that Fisher made known about before leaving FSU.

Something says all those ACC-SEC football games in 2018 will see Woodward’s comments brought up again — especially when Clemson heads to College Station to play Texas A&M in Week 2.

UCF’s Shaquem Griffin wins inaugural Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award

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UCF has won another trophy for last season and this is one they can very proudly display in the school trophy case.

That’s because recent Knights linebacker Shaquem Griffin was named the winner of the inaugural Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award during a ceremony in the Dallas area on Thursday night. Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph were also finalists for the new award.

Griffin was one of the best players in college football for UCF despite the fact that his left hand was amputated when he was younger because of a congenital condition called amniotic band syndrome. A tenacious pass rusher, he was the AAC’s defensive player of the year in 2016 and was recently named the defensive MVP of the Peach Bowl as his team capped off a perfect season.

The award honors “exemplary leadership” on and off the field from a Division I college football player and was presented by Witten’s foundation. The former Tennessee star and All-Pro tight end with the Dallas Cowboys started the award last year and serves somewhat as the college version of the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award.