Old Glory

Should one-loss SEC champ jump unbeaten Buckeyes?

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It began quickly, perhaps even before the first fan’s foot hit the Jordan-Hare turf en route to celebrating yet another miraculous finish. “One-loss Auburn should get the nod ahead of undefeated Ohio State for a BCS title game slot because, well, S-E-C!!!  S-E-C!!!”

One-loss Missouri was soon added to the mix, with AU athletic director Jay Jacobs ever-so-swiftly going on the offensive by playing what amounts to the “do you know who I am?” card.

“An SEC team can’t get left out of the (championship game) with one loss,” Jacobs told USA Today in the afterglow of the Tigers’ upset win of top-ranked Alabama. “We just beat the No. 1 team in the nation, and a team ahead of us struggled today, I understand,” the AD said, referring to Ohio State’s one-point win over hated rival Michigan on the road.

“And a one-loss SEC team that wins in Atlanta — if it’s us or Missouri — you can’t get left out of the BCS after you beat the No. 1 team. We have a better argument because we beat the No. 1 team. … It’s already happened in 2004, and it would be a disservice to the nation if we got left out.”

On ESPN‘s SportsCenter Sunday morning, he called such an outcome “un-American.”

Just a couple of things before moving on.

One, Auburn was unbeaten when it got left out in 2004, so that’s an apples-to-carrots argument.  Two, I’ve scoured the BCS rulebook and failed to find any stipulation which states a one-loss SEC champion is automatically guaranteed a spot in the title game.  And, three, it’s unclear if, as Jacobs was stating his case, there was a video monitor just over his shoulder showing a father having a catch with his son as the sun set on a freshly-plowed field, an American flag wafting in the background.

This, though, is what the whole of college football will be facing over the next six days: Ohio State, assuming it passes what will be a tough test against one-loss Michigan State in the Big Ten title game, of the plodding and downtrodden Big Ten vs. the SEC and its seven consecutive BCS titles.  The SEC office is already in full campaign mode.  So is a certain regional-radio-host-turned-ESPN-personality.

I’ve already made my opinion very clear on the matter.  Now it’s your turn to vent and vote your conscience/conference allegiance.  But, before we get to that, here are the respective résumés of Auburn, Missouri and Ohio State; I would’ve included Florida State but, when you’re waylaying opponents by an average score of 54-11, you’re recused from these proceedings based on a preponderance of the evidence that you’re hands down the best damn football team in the land.

Anyway, here’s a snapshot look at the résumés of each of the three teams, which includes this week’s conference championship opponents when applicable:

AU-Mizzou-OSU

Before getting to the poll, here are a few notes that didn’t fit neatly into the chart:

  • Florida State’s strength of schedule is ranked 85th by the NCAA and 66th by Sagarin.
  • Ohio State had Vanderbilt scheduled for a 2013 game before the Commodores backed out, with OSU replacing them with San Diego State.  Vandy is Sagarin’s 45th-ranked team, SDSU 96th.
  • Auburn’s lone loss was by 14 on the road to LSU.  Missouri’s lone loss was at home in double overtime against South Carolina.
  • Much like the SEC’s seven straight BCS titles, the fact that Ohio State has won 24 straight dating back to the beginning of the 2012 season is a non-factor.  This is about 2013 and 2013 alone.
  • Current conference championship lines, per Danny Sheridan: Ohio State -6 vs. Michigan State; Auburn -2.5 vs. Missouri; Florida State -29.5 vs. Duke.
  • As it constitutes one-third of the BCS rankings, the coaches’ poll released today was utilized for this endeavor.

Now, onto the our little poll…

Former East Carolina WR Jason Nichols returns to alma mater as RBs coach

GREENVILLE, NC - OCTOBER 04:  Justin Hardy #2 and Anthony Scott #3 of the East Carolina Pirates celebrate after Scott's touchdown against the Southern Methodist Mustangs during their game at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on October 4, 2014 in Greenville, North Carolina. East Carolina won 45-24. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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Once upon a time, Jason Nichols was a school-record holding receiver at East Carolina. On Tuesday, he officially returned to campus — as running backs coach.

“Not only does Jason bring a wealth of coaching experience to East Carolina, he knows first-hand of the special bond that exists between Pirate Nation and our program,” head coach Scottie Montgomery said in a statement. “To have the opportunity to impact young men on the same campus and playing field where he earned his degree and competed is immeasurable. From a recruiting standpoint, I’m not sure if there’s anyone else who could tell a more compelling story of what it means to be a Pirate.”

After leaving East Carolina in 1998, Nichols deposited a couple years in the CFL and Arena Football League before returning to campus as a graduate assistant in 2001.

From there, Nichols went on to coach wide receivers at Sacred Heart, Appalachian State, Toledo, Louisiana-Monroe and, in 2016, at Western Carolina.

Nichols takes over a running game that finished 110th nationally at 132.4 yards per game and 101st in FBS at 3.93 yards per carry. The Pirates’ leading returning rusher stands as rising senior Anthony Scott, who carried 79 times for 384 yards and two touchdowns in eight appearances.

Virginia AD Craig Littlepage returns to work full-time for first time in four months

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - NOVEMBER 26:  Kris Burd (R) #18 of the Virginia Cavaliers is greeted by Craig Littlepage (L), director of athletics for the University of Virginia, during Senior Day festivities prior to the Cavaliers' game against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Scott Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
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Virginia athletics director Craig Littlepage has been on a quasi-sabbatical for the past four months, but that period is now over.

Littlepage announced in late October he would work on an “adjusted” schedule through Jan. 2 to attend to personal matters involving a family member. January eventually turned into February, but the school announced Monday Littlepage is now back at work on a full-time basis.

Executive associate AD Jon Oliver served as the Cavs’ acting AD during Littlepage’s absence.

“I would like to thank the University administration, our student-athletes, coaches, staff and especially Jon Oliver for their support and hard work while I was away,” Littlepage said in a statement. “It’s great to be back and I look forward to a successful and productive spring semester for Virginia Athletics.”

Nick Saban hosts meeting with Mark Zuckerberg

MENLO PARK, CA - APRIL 04:  Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during an event at Facebook headquarters on April 4, 2013 in Menlo Park, California. Zuckerberg announced a new product for Android called Facebook Home.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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Mark Zuckerberg is in the midst of a self-guided tour of America, and on Tuesday his travels took him to Tuscaloosa. And when you’re Mark Zuckerberg visiting Tuscaloosa, you have to go see The King.

Nick Saban hosted the Facebook founder and his wife, Priscilla Chan, at the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility for a chat on leadership, Saban said. “I just met with Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook guy,” Saban told a luncheon in nearby Hoover, Ala., according to AL.com. “He wanted to know about leadership, and what do you do to affect people.

“It was kind of interesting that he saw the spirit that we have in this state relative to supporting athletics as something that is very special, very unique, and very wholesome in terms of people having the opportunity to create hope whether it’s in competition, or something they believe in or a spirit.”

Wrote Zuckerberg:

We stopped by the University of Alabama and sat down with Coach Saban. We talked about what it takes to build a world class football organization. Many of the same things go into building a good company and a winning football program — a focus on recruiting, developing talent and setting high expectations.

We also got lunch with some of the Alabama Football players who come from all over the country to be part of this program. We talked about about the pressures of being a student athlete — not only the personal pressure of achieving their goals of making it to the NFL, but also having the hopes of their community ride of their success.

We all need to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Communities can form around all kinds of things — churches, schools, teams — and it’s clear that for a lot of folks in Alabama, college football is an important part of their community.

It’s hard to imagine a meeting of two people with a greater mastery of their respective fields that have absolutely zero knowledge in the other’s field. But it does create an interesting hypothetical prop bet: Who could give a longer seminar: Saban on the mechanics of coding, or Zuckerberg on the basic tenants of the 3-4?

Michigan reportedly adds ex-Vikings QBs coach as offensive analyst

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Jim Harbaugh has added more experience and another “name” to his Michigan football staff.

According to NFL.com‘s Albert Breer, Harbaugh has hired Scott Turner as an offensive analyst.  Harbaugh’s nine-man on-field coaching staff is already full, but Turner could be in line to join that group if/when the NCAA approves a 10th assistant.

Turner, the son of former Washington, Oakland and San Diego head coach Norv Turner, spent the past three seasons as the quarterbacks coach of the Minnesota Vikings.

Turner has spent the past six seasons in the NFL.  His last job at the collegiate level came as the wide receivers coach at Pittsburgh in 2010.

It was previously reported that Harbaugh had, controversially in the eyes of some, hired former NFL offensive coordinator Michael Johnson Sr. to an undetermined off-field position.  Johnson, the father of the top-rated dual-threat quarterback in the Class of 2019, ultimately took an on-field job at Oregon.