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…

As of now, Jim Harbaugh plans to play Shea Patterson and Dylan McCaffrey in every game

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Michigan does not open training camp until Aug. 2 and does not play its first game until Aug. 31, so any “as of right now” statements are devoid of 20-odd practices worth of context.

Still, as of Big Ten media days, Jim Harbaugh plans to play both Shea Patterson and Dylan McCaffrey in every game.

“Yeah, I do (see games where they’ll both play). Where it stands right now, and that could change later or not, is I see them both playing,” Harbaugh told the Detroit Free Press. “Where it stands right now, I see it as maybe redefining what a starter is…. I’m really not talking about playing them both at the same time (on a play), when I say both in games it’d be they’re both playing quarterback during the same game. And in the way it stands now, in every game.”

Harbaugh has been a one-quarterback man for the entirety of his career, but Patterson’s inconsistency and McCaffrey’s talent may demand a change. Michigan did juggle quarterbacks in 2017 — John O’KornBrandon Peters and Wilton Speight each threw at least 81 passes — but that was due to necessity, not strategy.

Patterson completed 64.6 percent of his passes last season for 2,600 yards (on 8.0 per attempt) with 22 touchdowns against seven interceptions while rushing 76 times for 273 yards and two touchdowns. In his second year in the program, McCaffrey completed 8-of-15 passes for 126 yards with two touchdowns whilst rushing 10 times for 99 yards and a touchdown.

The son of Ed McCaffrey and brother of Christian McCaffrey is certainly the heir apparent in Ann Arbor, and it appears Harbaugh isn’t willing to wait for the future to arrive in order to unleash arguably his most talented quarterback recruit since Andrew Luck.

Big Ten could realign divisions yet again, according to PJ Fleck

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Whether he knew it or not, Minnesota head coach PJ Fleck broke news that will set certain circles of the college football blogosphere (including this one) by touching on the topic that is consistently gobbled up like Thanksgiving turkey: realignment.

“Change is inevitable,” Fleck told The Athletic. “I think we all know that. I think that the East and West have been around for a while. I like it, I like the division of it. But I don’t think it will stay the same. I think we’ll change it at some point because change is coming somehow, some way. And I think people are going to want to move it around, and shake it up a little bit.”

Fleck said the topic came up during the Big Ten’s spring meetings in Arizona; the conference did not comment on the topic.

The Big Ten split into divisions upon Nebraska’s 2011 arrival, memorably going with the idiotic Legends and Leaders alignment that was designed to protect rivalries and preserve competitive balance. That alignment lasted three years, until Maryland and Rutgers joined the party in 2014 and the conference rejiggered its alignment into a more sensible East and West split.

While a geographic divide does preserve rivalries and makes both logistical and logical sense, it has come at the price of competitive balance. The East champion has gone a perfect 5-for-5 in Big Ten title games under the current arrangement.

However, the East is a mere five games ahead of the West in regular season matchups, an average of one extra victory per season.

If — and at this point’s a very big if — the Big Ten does realign again, the conference could return to a Legends and Leaders format (hopefully with different names) or it could scrap divisions altogether, giving each school two or three protected rivals while putting the rest of the league in a regular rotation. The positive aspect of this alignment is it guarantees the top two teams would meet in Indianapolis, but the drawback is it could trigger an instant Michigan-Ohio State rematch.

It’s too early to report when and if a second realignment would happen, but as Fleck reminded us this week it is never too early to speculate.

Penn State DE Yetur Gross-Matos, RB Journey Brown suspended through rest of July

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The season does not begin today, but if it did Penn State would be without one of its best players.

Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin confirmed to the press at Big Ten media days that defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos and running back Journey Brown are presently suspended for a “violation of team rules” dating back to spring practice. The suspension is slated to end Aug. 1.

Gross-Matos, a junior, led Penn State in sacks (eight) and tackles for loss (20) while registering 54 tackles, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery on the season. He enters the year a candidate for the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award.

“I talk to him all the time,” Franklin told Lions247 of Gross-Matos, despite the suspension. “[He is] doing great.”

Brown, also a junior, posted eight carries for 44 yards and a touchdown in 2018.

Ex A&M, Arizona LB can’t walk on at Colorado because of domestic violence arrest

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Santino Marchiol‘s college football career was brief and scandalous, and now it appears it’s over.

Marchiol first joined the news cycle at Texas A&M, where he attempted to cast himself as a whistleblower against NCAA violations committed by Jimbo Fisher‘s staff. When that stick of dynamite turned into a dud, Marchiol transferred to Arizona to reunite with the coach who signed him out of IMG Academy, but he was gone from Tucson as quickly as he arrived after video surfaced showing Marchiol using a racial slur against his black teammates at Texas A&M.

Marchiol returned to his native Colorado in attempt to walk on at CU, but that comeback attempt has once again died before it could live as it turns out Marchiol was arrested for domestic violence on June 24. From the Denver Post:

According to Pueblo police records, Marchiol was arrested at about 3:30 p.m. on June 24 and booked on suspicion of second-degree assault bodily injury, a felony. Marchiol faces two misdemeanor assault charges, court records indicated, as well as a violation for contempt of a court protection order. He was released on bail June 25.

“Santino was never enrolled as a CU Boulder student,” Colorado said in a statement. “He was invited to be a walk-on for the football team this fall. Coach Tucker has since rescinded that invitation.”

Marchiol would’ve had to sit out the 2019 season due to NCAA rules, but now it seems as if he may sit out the remainder of time as it’s unlikely any other college football staffs will take on a player who attempted to narc to the NCAA on violations that, frankly, aren’t a big deal to begin with, then was caught using a racial slur against black teammates and then was arrested for suspicion of domestic violence.