TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 10:  B.J. Emmons #21 of the Alabama Crimson Tide stiff arms Juwan Gardner #14 of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Is there a dominant conference in college football in 2016? Results so far suggest no

7 Comments

If you were to rank the conferences in a power ranking using whatever metric you chose, how would it look? Odds are you would place the SEC on top, because they are the SEC and anything lower than No. 1 would be uncivilized. But how would you rank the conferences after that? At this point, it may be safe to assume there is an argument to be made for and against just about every conference from No. 2 down to No. 5 among just the power conferences.

THE ACC

Overall, the ACC had itself a pretty decent weekend. Florida State was able to put a game on cruise control after coming alive against Ole Miss earlier in the week, and the conference picked up a pair of wins against the Big Ten with Pittsburgh defeating Penn State and North Carolina winning at Illinois. Clemson was sluggish but managed to avoid an upset as we continue to wonder just why Clemson is starting things off so slowly this season. But the losses took a toll on giving the ACC too much credit this week. Virginia Tech wasn’t able to bury Tennessee after taking a 14-0 lead in Bristol. North Carolina State lost on the road against East Carolina. Virginia traveled across the country and returned with an 0-2 record after losing at Oregon a week after being demolished at home by Richmond. The hits could keep on coming this week if the ACC is not careful. Miami visiting Appalachian State could be trickier than expected. Virginia is staring at a possible 0-3 at UConn (so long as the Huskies pay attention to the clock) and Duke has to travel to Northwestern, with the Wildcats now desperate for a win. Want a possible upset alert? How about Pittsburgh traveling to Oklahoma State? Speaking of the Big 12…

BIG 12

What’s up with the Big 12? We are two weeks in and already we have seen Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU take a loss (even if the Oklahoma State loss should never have happened). The margin for error in the Big 12 in the College Football Playoff picture was already pretty thin as it was heading into the 2016 season, but with Ohio State coming to town to play Oklahoma and Pittsburgh visiting Oklahoma State, the Big 12 is in danger of a couple more potential losses to some teams expected to compete for the Big 12 title. Meanwhile, Texas is off to a good start but they hit the road to play California. This will be a good test for the Longhorns, who have jumped up the rankings quickly this season. A loss to the Longhorns would drop them down to Earth a little bit. Could the Big 12’s best playoff hope after this weekend fall on Baylor running the table? Do you trust Jim Grobe to lead the Bears to a 12-0 record?

BIG TEN

The hope for the Big Ten still falls on Ohio State and/or Michigan proving they are worth the hype. Neither has truly been tested yet, although that changes this week with the Buckeyes heading to Oklahoma. We’ll still have to wait a little longer for Michigan. Credit Wisconsin for getting the job done against LSU in the opener, but other than that there hasn’t been a tremendous amount to write home about for the Big Ten. Northwestern is 0-2 with home losses to Western Michigan and Illinois State. Penn State lost another in-state game on the road for a second straight season, this time against the ACC. Illinois also took a loss against the ACC. Iowa enters dangerous territory this week with mighty FCS giant North Dakota State looking to notch another victory against an FBS opponent. Nebraska will get a chance to boost the Big Ten a little bit this week at home against Oregon, and Michigan State travels to South Bend to face Notre Dame. To say this is an important week for the Big Ten is an understatement.

PAC-12

The season started off OK for the Pac-12, but the losses it took were tough to gloss over. USC was embarrassed by Alabama, and UCLA couldn’t finish the comeback against Texas A&M on the road. Meanwhile, Washington State is now 0-2 with losses to Eastern Washington and Boise State. Arizona was clipped by BYU, but Utah avenged that loss for the conference last night with a defensive stand to preserve the win. Overall, the Pac-12 turned in a good Week 2 despite a pair of losses to the Mountain West Conference on the road (Cal lost to San Diego State and Washington State’s road loss to Boise State). I’m still trying to figure out how Arizona trailed Grambling State 21-3 at the half (Arizona came back to win, 31-21). Some key games for the Pac-12 this week will see UCLA travel to BYU and Cal host Texas in addition to Oregon visiting Nebraska (and Colorado to Michigan). The biggest game, however, features USC hosting Stanford. Stanford is the team to beat in the Pac-12, but if USC chops them down, the Pac-12 could suddenly be on very thin ice in the playoff picture before getting into the bulk of the conference schedule.

SEC

Alabama aside, the SEC is still looking to gain some confidence points. Yes, the SEC won all the games it needed to this weekend, but Georgia being taken down to the wire by Nicholls State isn’t exactly going to go down as a quality win in anyone’s book. This is a conference that dropped seven games in the opening week and will later face some mismatches against ACC foes (Louisville-Kentucky, Clemson-South Carolina, Florida State-Florida?), and we haven’t even touched on conference play yet. Alabama has looked to be the strongest team in the country and they travel to Ole Miss this week. Ole Miss cracked against Florida State but still figures to be Alabama’s toughest test yet, and the game is in Oxford. An Ole Miss victory turns the entire SEC playoff outlook on its side, because it is unlikely anyone else in the SEC has what ti takes to go undefeated. An ole Miss victory would mean Alabama, LSU and Ole Miss each have a loss before October. Do you trust Tennessee to go 12-0, or 13-0? Or Florida? No, of course you do not.

So this is a fun season for college football, because there is no dominant force, other than Alabama I suppose. Every conference has holes, from coast to coast. That’s what we have learned through just two weeks of the college football season. Let’s see which conference does the best job plugging those holes.

Ex-LSU AD repeats claim Les Miles turned down Michigan, more money in 2011

BATON ROUGE, LA - OCTOBER 03:  Head coach Les Miles of the LSU Tigers leads the team on to the field at Tiger Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

One of the biggest open secrets in all of college football has been confirmed (?) by a person who purportedly had a front-row seat to the spectacle.

Shortly after Rich Rodriguez was fired following the 2010 season, Michigan put on the full-court press to land Les Miles as his replacement.  It was known at the time that then-UM athletic director David Brandon and other school officials flew down to Baton Rouge to meet with Miles, who played his football for the Wolverines in the mid-seventies and was an assistant at his alma mater a decade later.

The open secret many still swear by?  That on that trip south Brandon had offered the job, along with a significant raise to what he was making at LSU, to Miles, who ultimately decided to turn it down and stay with the Tigers.

During a radio interview Wednesday, Skip Bertman, LSU athletic director from 2001-2008, confirmed that version of events

“Les Miles turned that job down for more money at Michigan. He turned it down,” Bertman told the ESPN Radio affiliate in Baton Rouge. “He would never say that because he’s a very humble guy. But I was there; he turned it down.”

Renowned Michigan historian John Bacon, however, disputes not only the 2011 claim, but the 2007 claim by Kirk Herbstreit and one made in 2014 as well.

The football program hired Rodriguez in 2007 and Brady Hoke in 2011, then stuck with Hoke through a rough 2014 season that had Miles-to-Ann Arbor speculation flying yet again. Ultimately, though, the university finally landed its Michigan Man in Jim Harbaugh.  I’m thinking that’s working out just fine for the program, regardless of how exactly things transpired with Miles in the past.

Big Ten to use commemorative coin to honor Sam Foltz, Mike Sandler

sam-foltz-cleats
Nebraska athletics
Leave a comment

Tributes to Nebraska punter Sam Foltz and former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler have seemingly been a weekly occurrence across college football the first four weeks of the season, and the players’ conference will get on board in Week 5.

A commemorative coin will be used to honor both Foltz and Sadler at all seven Big Ten games this weekend, the league announced Wednesday.  As this is the first full weekend of conference action, the coins, with Foltz on one side and Sadler on the other, will be used for the coin flip prior to each league matchup.

The Cornhuskers have decided to use the coins for the remainder of the season.

Folks and Sadler were killed in a July car accident on their way home from a kick camp in Wisconsin. LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye was injured in the wreck, but is kicking this season for the Tigers and honoring both by wearing special cleats.

Below are the coins that will be used, courtesy of the Big Ten:

sam-foltz

mike-sadler

Nick Saban would ‘love’ for Blake Barnett to stay at Alabama

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 05:  Blake Barnett #6 of the Alabama Crimson Tide throws before the Advocare Classic against the Wisconsin Badgers at AT&T Stadium on September 5, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

At least from Alabama’s side of it, the door’s not completely shut on Blake Barnett‘s future being in Tuscaloosa.

Earlier Wednesday, a report surfaced that Barnett had decided to leave the football program and transfer out.  In meeting with the media a short time later, Nick Saban confirmed that Barnett had “expressed some concern about his future” at a meeting earlier in the day.

The head coach said he “didn’t know” when asked if Barnett, who lost the starting quarterback job to true freshman Jalen Hurts earlier this year, was still a part of the team, although he made it clear that the redshirt freshman was still welcome in the locker room if he changes his mind.

“Blake is a fine young man,” Saban said. “He’s done a great job with his program, and we’d love to see him be a part of the program in the future, but we also want him to do what’s best for him.”

Barnett, who started the opener against USC but held on to the job for just tw series, was a five-star 2015 recruit who 247Sports.com rated as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the country.  The California high school product originally committed to Notre Dame in November of 2013 before decommitting from the Irish in June of the following year.

SEC overturns Florida WR Brandon Powell’s half-game suspension for phantom punch

GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 03: Brandon Powell #4 of the Florida Gators scores on a 77 yard touchdown reception during the second quarter of the game against the Mississippi Rebels on October 3, 2015 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

Fortunately for both Brandon Powell and Florida, common sense in the league office prevailed.

In the fourth quarter of UF’s loss to Tennessee, Powell was flagged for an unsportsmanlike call and ejected from the game for seemingly throwing a punch at a Vols player.  Because of SEC rules, Powell was also set to be suspended from the first half of this Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt.

The conference, however, overturned the suspension upon review, no doubt determining that Vols safety Rashaan Gaulden performed a flop of such magnitude that it would’ve made an international soccer star stand up and cheer, then bow down and claim they’re not worthy.

We’ve received word that he’ll go,” head coach Jim McElwain said Wednesday. “Nothing from there, so he was full go from Monday afternoon on.”

Powell is currently second on the team with 15 receptions for 145 yards and two touchdowns.