CFT predicts: the Pac-12

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Briefly, there was a shift in the power of the Pac-12. After USC’s nearly decade of dominance, Oregon and Stanford had their turn as the league’s best programs while the Trojans went through a coaching change and dealt with NCAA sanctions.

Well, the Trojans? They’re not facing a bowl ban anymore.

And they might just win the whole thing (the AP agrees) with 75 scholarship players (unless Oregon has anything to say about it).

Looking ahead to the 2012 season, here’s how the Pac-12 should shake out:

(Let it be known that I reserve the right to change my mind at any time without notice.)

North Division 

1. Oregon (last season: 12-2; won Rose Bowl) 
If there’s one team in college football that overcomes player turnover better than anyone, it’s Oregon. The Ducks find a way to do the whole “next guy in” thing without much, if any, dropoff. That’s a reflection of recruiting and coaching by Chip Kelly and his staff. Darron Thomas and LaMichael James are gone, but the backfield is loaded with Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas. Bryan Bennett figures to be the starting QB, but there’s a healthy battle between him and Marcus Mariota. I was also impressed by Oregon’s team speed on defense this spring too. Bottom line: I wouldn’t count out Oregon at all just because USC is the favorite.

2. Stanford (last season: 11-2; lost Fiesta Bowl) 
Like Oregon, Stanford loses some key starters on offense, and not just Andrew Luck; tight end Coby Fleener and offensive linemen Jonathan Martin and David DeCastro are all gone to the NFL, too. The Cardinal look good in the trenches on both sides — a tribute to Jim Harbaugh — and the team’s bread and butter of running the ball shouldn’t take a hit. Stanford’s passing game — and ability to defend the pass — could be problematic.

3. Washington (last season: 7-6; lost Alamo Bowl) 
With the changes Steve Sarkisian has made to his defensive coaching staff combined with the upgraded facilities the program is receiving, it’s just a matter of time before Washington is playing in Pac-12 title games. Keith Price is arguably the division’s best quarterback. Protecting Price could come with its own cost, though, as depth along the offensive line is an issue despite four returning starters in the group.

4. Washington State (last season: 4-8)
Paul Wulff left Wazzu in a little better shape than last year’s 4-8 record indicates. Mike Leach is one hell of a coach and having him on board a big reason the Cougars should be the surprise of the Pac-12 North. Jeff Tuel has the potential to be one of the conference’s hidden gems at quarterback, but he missed almost all of last season with injuries. The team’s leading rusher (Rickey Galvin) and receiver (Marquess Wilson) are both back, so there is some firepower for Leach to work with. Overall, the Cougars return 18 starters.

5. Cal (last season: 7-6; lost Holiday Bowl)
Jeff Tedford‘s stock has been falling in recent years, and with only 11 starters returning from last year’s mediocre team, I’m not sure the ship can be righted in time. It also says something when you’re a program like Cal and the best you can do at quarterback is Zach Maynard. The good news is that the best player on the team, receiver Keenan Allen, is one of those 11 returning starters. The not-so-good news is that the Bears have a tough conference schedule, going on the road to USC and Utah (two teams that should finish first and second in the South).

6. Oregon State (last season: 3-9)
Mike Riley is a good coach and has done some great things with Oregon State. I also believe his time’s about up in Corvallis. Quarterback Sean Mannion is back after a nice freshman showing last year. Defensive back Jordan Poyer leads the defense. Don’t expect Oregon State to get off to a great start, but it is worth nothing that the Beavers get four of their final six games of the season at home.

South Division

1. USC (last season: 10-2; banned from postseason play) 
Yeah, go ahead and punch my ticket for the USC bandwagon. I mean, who else is going to win the South? Despite scholarship losses and a thin defensive line, the Trojans are stacked pretty much everywhere else with BCS championship-caliber talent. Also, Lane Kiffin is recruiting like a mad man (related: the city of Knoxville collectively pukes). His latest addition is former Penn State running back Silas Redd.

2. Utah (last season: 8-5; won Sun Bowl) 
The Utes were my sleeper pick to win the South Division last season. Yeah, that didn’t happen. Jordan Wynn was hurt and life in a BCS league was a little rough on the former Mountain West members. But, one year older and wiser, Utah returns with 18 starters, including running back John White IV, who rushed for over 1,500 yards. I don’t consider the Utes a sleeper this year because I don’t see anyone overthrowing USC, but three divisional rivals are starting new eras with new coaches and Colorado is, well…

3. Arizona State (last season: 6-7; lost Las Vegas Bowl)
Replacing Brock Osweiler could be difficult for Arizona State, but the QB situation isn’t nearly as bad as UCLA’s. Plus, this team is more fit to what Todd Graham will do offensively than Pitt. The team has only 11 returning starters, but there’s some solid talent at the skill positions in Tempe.

4. UCLA (last season: 6-8; lost Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl) 
The Bruins have talent, but they’ve been a bottom feeder because of injuries and bad coaching situations. Jim Mora will try to get UCLA turned around. At least he has running back Johnathan Franklin to work with because the quarterback situation is awful. Along with Texas A&M, UCLA is one of those programs that should be better every year, but somehow isn’t.

5. Arizona (last season: 4-8)
Arizona is a good place for Rich Rodriguez. If the athletic department continues to make strides with facility improvements, the Wildcats can consistently at least be in the running for divisional titles under the former coach of Michigan and West Virginia. Historically, however, Rodriguez has struggled in his first year with a program, largely because the personnel he’s had doesn’t initially fit what he likes to do on offense. Matt Scott gives Rodriguez a weapon more tuned to the zone read, so that’ll help.

6. Colorado (last season: 3-10) 
I don’t know when Colorado’s going to get out of the football funk it’s been in for the better part of the last decade. It’s a shame too; Boulder provides a superb football environment and the program has a good tradition. The Buffs have plenty of defensive starters from a year ago, but the offense could be awful.

CFT’s Pac-12 champion: USC 

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Interested in our other 10 conference projections along with Division 1-A (FBS) Independents? View ’em all below by clicking the individual links or our projections landing page HERE. And don’t forget to check out CFT’s preseason Top 25.

ACC
Big East
Big Ten
Big 12
Conference USA 
MAC
Mountain West
SEC
Sun Belt
WAC
Independents

NCAA will allow two wins vs. FCS schools to count toward bowl eligibility in 2020

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If there is a 2020 college football season, the NCAA will make postseason eligibility a little easier for schedule-challenged schools.

Previously, FBS programs could only count one win against FCS opponents as part of the six needed to become bowl-eligible. Wednesday, however, the NCAA announced that two wins against FCS teams can count toward the required six needed to play in a bowl.  The NCAA also adjusted the minimum scholarship criteria for FCS schools down in order to help, if needed.

Those moves, though, are for the 2020 season only.

From The Association’s release:

The Division I Council approved a blanket waiver request to allow a Football Bowl Subdivision team to count for bowl eligibility and scheduling requirements two games against Football Championship Subdivision teams that meet adjusted minimum scholarship criteria. This adjustment applies only to the 2020-21 season.

Current FBS rules require an FCS opponent to have averaged 90 percent of the maximum number of football scholarships during a rolling two-year period for that game to count for bowl selection and scheduling requirements for the FBS team. The waiver allows the games to count if the FCS opponents average at least 80 percent.

Just how this season will play schedule-wise is an ever-moving target.

Already, the Big Ten and Pac-12 have gone to conference-only schedules.  The ACC and SEC are expected to make a decision later this month.  The Big 12 will probably make a decision in that same timeframe.

Additionally, a handful of FBS teams have already seen games against FCS schools canceled.  In fact, one FCS conference, the Patriot League, has already postponed all fall sports.  The Ivy League did the same.

At this point, it seems likely that the NCAA will have to drop the six-win threshold down in order to get enough teams bowl-eligible as well.  Again, provided there is some semblance of a 2020 season.

Florida WR Dionte marks makes way into transfer portal

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The Florida Gators are the latest Power Five program to see its football roster nicked by the transfer portal.

First reported by Matt Zenitz of al.com, wide receiver Dionte Marks is headed into the NCAA transfer database.  A Florida football official subsequently confirmed that the redshirt freshman has informed the program of his intention to take the [portal for a test drive.

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

Barring a waiver being granted, Marks will have to sit out the 2020 season if he moves on to another FBS school.  That would then leave the Deland, Fla., product with three years of eligibility starting in 2021.

Marks was a three-star member of the Florida football Class of 2019.  The receiver’s only other Power Five offers came from Florida State, Nebraska and West Virginia.  FAU and UCF were in the mix as well.

As a true freshman, Marks took a redshirt for the 2019 season.  He did, though, appear in a pair of games, but didn’t produce any stats.

This is the first known Florida football player to leave the program since offensive lineman Isaiah Walker transferred to Miami in early May.  In between, UF has picked up transfers from Miami and Mississippi State.

College Football in Coronavirus Quarantine: On this day in CFT history, including Alabama-USC confirmed for 2020 opener and a book claiming Texas, boosters offered Nick Saban $100 million-plus to leave Crimson Tide

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The sports world, including college football, had essentially screeched to a halt in the spring as countries around the world battled the coronavirus pandemic. As such, there was a dearth of college football news as the sport went into a COVID-induced hibernation.  Slowly, though, the game is coming back to life.  Hopefully.

That being said, we thought it might be fun to go back through the CollegeFootballTalk archives that stretch back to 2009 and take a peek at what transpired in the sport on this date.

So, without further ado — ok, one further ado — here’s what happened in college football on July 16, by way of our team of CFT writers both past and present.

(P.S.: If any of our readers have ideas on posts they’d like to read during this college football down-time, leave your suggestions in the comments section.  Mailbag, maybe?)

2019

THE HEADLINE: Big 12 coordinator of officials clears up when ‘horns down’ is and is not a penalty
THE SYNOPSIS: Amen.  It’s about time someone looked out for the feelings of those associated with the University of Texas’ college football team.  [/wanking motion]

2018

THE HEADLINE: Lincoln Riley suggests there is a competition for QB that nobody should believe
THE SYNOPSIS: Kyler Murray was the presumptive front-runner.  And he won the starting job.  And the Heisman Trophy a few months later.

2017

THE HEADLINE: Les Miles’ daughter is trying to convince him to be a broadcaster but Mad Hatter still wants to coach
THE SYNOPSIS: In December of 2018, Miles was named as the head coach at Kansas. But not before building up his acting résumé, though.

2016

THE HEADLINE: THE Michael Jordan to serve as honorary captain for Michigan’s opener
THE SYNOPSIS: Since becoming part of the Air Jordan apparel family in 2015, U-M has finished third, third, fourth, tied for first and third in the Big Ten East.  And has stretched its losing streak to rival Ohio State to eight straight and 15 of the last 16.  The Jumpman logo on the uniforms does look cool, though.

2015

THE HEADLINE: Clemson K charged with coke possession ‘will miss some time’
THE SYNOPSIS: Courtesy of Clemson, the first cocaine kicker in the College Football Talk collective.  What a proud moment.  Both for that and the alliteration in this synopsis.

2014

THE HEADLINE: Alabama-USC set for 2016 opener in Arlington
THE SYNOPSIS: Yeah, not so much.

2014

THE HEADLINE: New book: Texas, boosters offered Nick Saban $100 million-plus to leave Tide
THE SYNOPSIS: Saban and his wife both very vociferously stated they weren’t leaving Tuscaloosa.  Saban’s high-powered agent, Jimmy Sexton, though, reportedly played point man in at least a couple of meetings with those connected to the Longhorns football program.

2012

THE HEADLINE: Butch Davis says he wants to coach again
THE SYNOPSIS: This pronouncement came two years after his NCAA-induced departure from North Carolina. And five years prior to his return to the coaching game at Florida International.

2010

THE HEADLINE: NCAA probe into UNC football program ‘sounding very serious’
THE SYNOPSIS: Speaking of Butch Davis

2019 finalist Chuba Hubbard, 2018 finalist Travis Etienne two of the 76 Doak Walker Award watch listers

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If you’re a starting running back at the FBS level, there’s a fairly good chance you are part of the Doak Walker Award watch list.

Monday, it was the Bednarik Award kicking off watch list season.  Tuesday, the Davey O’Brien Award joined in.  A day later, the Doak Walker Award joined the burgeoning list of honors releasing their preseason watch lists.

This award, given annually to the nation’s top running back, features a whopping 76 preseason candidates.  Included in that are 2019 finalist Chuba Hubbard of Oklahoma State and 2018 finalist Travis Etienne of Clemson.  Last year’s winner was Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor.

Every FBS conference is represented on the list.  The Big Ten and Pac-12 lead the way with 10 apiece, followed by the ACC and SEC with nine each.  The other Power Five, the Big 12, landed five. Wih seven apiece, the Mountain West and Sun Belt led all Group of Five conferences.

Of the more than six dozen watch listers, 30 of them are seniors.  Another 28 are juniors while the other 18 are sophomores.

Below are all 76 running backs who make up this year’s Doak Walker Award preseason watch list.

Drake Anderson (So.), Northwestern
David Bailey (Jr.), Boston College
Max Borghi (Jr.), Washington State
Rakeem Boyd (Sr.), Arkansas
Gary Brightwell (Sr.), Arizona
Kennedy Brooks (Jr.), Oklahoma
Shamari Brooks (Sr.), Tulsa
Christopher Brown, Jr. (Jr.), Cal
Journey Brown (Jr.), Penn State
Spencer Brown (Sr.), UAB
Noah Cain (So.), Penn State
Jamale Carothers (Jr.), Navy
Stephen Carr (Sr.), USC
Michael Carter (Sr.), North Carolina
Andrew Clair (Jr.), Bowling Green
Elijah Collins (So.), Michigan State
James Cook (Jr.), Georgia
Jashaun Corbin (So.), Florida State
ReMahn Davis (So.), Temple
Travis Etienne (Sr.), Clemson
Demetric Felton (Sr.), UCLA
Alex Fontenot (Jr.), Colorado
Kenneth Gainwell (So.), Memphis
Tyler Goodson (So.), Iowa
Eric Gray (So.), Tennessee
Breece Hall (So.), Iowa State
Najee Harris (Sr.), Alabama
Javian Hawkins (So.), Louisville
Justin Henderson (Sr.), Louisiana Tech
Kylin Hill (Sr.), Mississippi State
George Holani (So.), Boise State
Chuba Hubbard (Jr.), Oklahoma State
Caleb Huntley (Sr.), Ball State
Mohamed Ibrahim (Jr.), Minnesota
Keaontay Ingram (Jr.), Texas
Deon Jackson (Sr.), Duke
Jermar Jefferson (Jr.), Oregon State
Josh Johnson (Sr.), ULM
Amare Jones (Jr.), Tulane
Lopini Katoa (Jr.), BYU
Wesley Kennedy III (Sr.), Georgia Southern
JD King (Sr.), Georgia Southern
Brenden Knox (Jr.), Marshall
Bryant Koback (Jr.), Toledo
Kobe Lewis (Jr.), Central Michigan
Vavae Malepeai (Sr.), USC
Kevin Marks (Jr.), Buffalo
Jordan Mason (Jr.), Georgia Tech
Kevin Mensah (Sr.), Connecticut
Dedrick Mills (Sr.), Nebraska
Elijah Mitchell (Sr.), Louisiana-Lafayette
Marcel Murray (Jr.), Arkansas State
Richard Newton (So.), Washington
Jaret Patterson (Jr.), Buffalo
Trey Ragas (Sr.), Louisiana-Lafayette
Miles Reed (Jr.), Hawaii
Ronnie Rivers (Sr.), Fresno State
Larry Rountree III (Sr.), Missouri
Mekhi Sargent (Sr.), Iowa
Stevie Scott III (Jr.), Indiana
B.J. Smith (Sr.), Troy
Isaiah Spiller (So.), Texas A&M
SaRodorick Thompson (So.), Texas Tech
Toa Taua (Jr.), Nevada
Corey Taylor II (Sr.), Tulsa
Xazavian Valladay (Jr.), Wyoming
CJ Verdell (Jr.), Oregon
Quardraiz Wadley (Sr.), UTEP
Gaej Walker (Sr.), Western Kentucky
Kenneth Walker III (So.), Wake Forest
Jaylen Warren (Sr.), Utah State
Nakia Watson (So.), Wisconsin
Zamir White (So.), Georgia
Charles Williams (Sr.), UNLV
Javonte Williams (Jr.), North Carolina
D.J. Williams (So.), Auburn