What the BCS title game means to the 2014 Heisman race

8 Comments

It’s not unusual for bowl games to serve as launching pads for Heisman campaigns.

Matt Leinart’s MVP performance against Michigan in the 2004 Rose Bowl set the USC quarterback up as the 2004 Heisman favorite. Of course, he would go on to win the trophy.

Troy Smith’s running and passing explosion against Notre Dame in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl catapulted the Ohio State quarterback into the Heisman conversation the following season. He, too, would go on to win the award.

Even Tim Tebow’s goal-line proficiency against Smith’s Buckeye team in the 2007 BCS title game made him a known quantity heading into his Heisman-winning season.

So how will this year’s BCS title game shape the 2014 Heisman race?

Well, there’s one thing we can pretty much be sure of: No matter how well 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston plays against Auburn on Monday, the odds of him repeating as the Heisman winner in 2014 are remote.

There has been only one two-time winner in the history of the award, Ohio State’s Archie Griffin in 1974-1975. The list of winners who have failed to repeat since Griffin reads like a Who’s Who of college football lore.

Billy Sims. Ty Detmer. Jason White. Matt Leinart. Tim Tebow. Sam Bradford. Mark Ingram. Johnny Manziel. None of them were able to win that second trophy.

Only Sims finished higher than third the year after winning the Heisman. You have to ask yourself: If recent legends like Leinart, Tebow and Manziel couldn’t repeat, what kind of season will Winston have to have to be any different?

Think about all that had to happen for Winston to win the award just once. Ohio State’s Braxton Miller — the preseason fave — had to get hurt early. Oregon’s Marcus Mariota had to lose to Stanford and Arizona in November. A whole combination of wins and losses and disappointing performances by a variety of players were necessary to clear the way for yet another freshman to take home the trophy (just like in 2012).

Things will be different next fall. Heisman voters will be looking for fresh faces…and reasons not to vote for the guy who already won the award.

That means the opportunity is there for Nick Marshall and 2013 Heisman finalist Tre Mason (assuming he returns) to set themselves up in the upper echelon of Heisman contenders heading into 2014.

The BCS title game is the biggest stage in college football. If Marshall and Mason play well in an upset of FSU, their roles in Auburn’s magical run will be the focus of the sport during the offseason. This will be to their benefit in the Heisman race, as it will increase their Q rating with voters. One can reasonably expect both players to improve their numbers in 2014, especially given that they’ll be in their second year in Gus Malzahn’s system — the same system that helped Cam Newton produce a Heisman in 2010. If Auburn once again has a successful season and either Marshall or Mason are seen as the key protagonists in helping the Tigers get there, one of them could run away with the bronze statue.

Even if FSU wins, Marshall and Mason should join Mariota, Miller, Baylor’s Bryce Petty and UCLA’s Brett Hundley (if he returns) among the main preseason contenders for the 2014 Heisman. And Winston? Make no mistake about it, he’ll be in the mix as well, just like Manziel was this past year and Tebow was in 2008 and 2009. But for him to win again will require lightning to strike the same spot twice.

And if you are looking for some names out of the blue who might make a run at the Heisman next fall, here’s a list of five players (so far) who’ve raised their national profile the most by virtue of their bowl performances:

Jake Waters, Kansas State — He threw for 271 yards and three scores and added another 42 rushing yards against Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. He could be one of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12 next fall.

Cody Kessler, USC — The sophomore’s 345 yards and four touchdown passes in USC’s route of Fresno State in the Vegas Bowl showed he has the potential to have a highly-productive junior season.

Davis Webb, Texas Tech — Webb, a freshman, threw for 403 yards and four touchdowns in the Red Raiders’ upset of Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl. You know he’s going to put up huge yardage in the Tech system next year.

Trevor Knight, Oklahoma — The redshirt freshman had his best game as a Sooner, throwing for 348 yards and four touchdowns in Oklahoma’s upset of Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. He could be one of the better dual-threat quarterbacks in the country in 2014.

Derrick Henry, Alabama — Sure, the Crimson Tide lost to OU, but the freshman tailback was electric, rushing for 100 yards and a touchdown on eight carries while also adding a 61-yard touchdown catch. It’s going to be hard to deny Henry carries next fall, even if the Alabama backfield is crowded.

Top seven remains the same in latest CFP rankings

Getty Images
7 Comments

The third edition of the 2019 College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday, and the top seven teams remained the same from last week’s rankings. This means, as expected, Alabama remained No. 5 following the devastating loss of Tua Tagovailoa.

Minnesota remained in striking distance following their loss to Iowa (now at No. 17) at No. 10, with No. 12 Wisconsin and No. 2 Ohio State (potentially) still on their schedule. Oklahoma and Penn State moved one spot apiece, keeping the Top 10 stagnant.

Auburn fell three spots to No. 15, one spot behind No. 14 Baylor, who will spend the week wondering how high they would’ve climbed if the rankings were taken at halftime on Saturday night.

Memphis swapped spots with Cincinnati as the highest-rated Group of 5 team at No. 18; the Tigers and Bearcats SMU rejoined the rankings after falling out last week. They were joined by Iowa State at No. 22, who replaced then-No. 19 Texas, and USC at No. 23.

The full rankings:

1. LSU
2. Ohio State
3. Clemson
4. Georgia
5. Alabama
6. Oregon
7. Utah
8. Penn State
9. Oklahoma
10. Minnesota
11. Florida
12. Wisconsin
13. Michigan
14. Baylor
15. Auburn
16. Notre Dame
17. Iowa
18. Memphis
19. Cincinnati
20. Boise State
21. Oklahoma State
22. Iowa State
23. USC
24. Appalachian State
25. SMU

Georgia photographer hospitalized by Brian Herrian shares final photo before collision

Getty Images
1 Comment

It’ll be a fun story to share for years to come, and thank God for that. Because at the time it looked so much worse.

Late in the first half of No. 4 Georgia’s 21-14 win over No. 12 Auburn, Georgia running back Brian Herrien ran into a photographer on the sideline. The photographer’s identity was not immediately known, but the game stopped for several minutes as she laid motionless on the Jordan-Hare Stadium sideline before she was eventually carted out of the stadium.

She was later identified as Chamberlain Smith, an intern in the UGA sports information department. Smith was taken to the East Alabama Medical Center in nearby Opelika, where she was diagnosed with a concussion, an eye bruise and a cut above her right eye, presumably from when her camera forcefully collided wither her head.

“I haven’t had a chance to respond to everyone, but I just wanted to say thank you all so much for the overwhelming outpouring of support in the form of kind comments, messages & prayers!! .. last night was very scary, but I’m so glad to be walking away with nothing more than a concussion & some bruises,” Smith tweeted Sunday. “I will be home resting & recovering for the next several days, but I’m looking forward to being back on the sidelines soon!”

Smith is recovering in her Ringgold, Ga., home recovering, and on Tuesday she tweeted the photo she paid such a price for.

Herrien retweeted the image with a message of support.

Smith, thankfully, will make a full recovery, and now she’ll have a photo to hang on her wall and a heckuva thousand words to go with it.

Mark Dantonio to return in 2020, per Mark Dantonio

Getty Images
3 Comments

From 2010-15, Michigan State was one of the very best programs in all of college football. Mark Dantonio‘s Spartans won 11 or more games five times in those six years, with Big Ten titles in 2010, ’13 and ’15. They finished in the AP Top 6 from 2013-15, and in ’13 and ’15 they knocked off undefeated teams in the Big Ten Championship — Ohio State in 2013, thereby knocking the Buckeyes out of the final BCS title game, and Iowa in 2015, knocking the Hawkeyes out of the College Football Playoff and lifting themselves in. The 2013 team finished 13-1, beat Stanford in the Rose Bowl and finished No. 3 in both polls, the program’s best season since 1966.

But it’s not 2013 anymore.

After going 65-16 (41-9 Big Ten) from 2010-15, Michigan State has slunk to 24-24 (15-19 Big Ten) from 2016 on, including a 4-6 mark to date this season. The Spartans went just 7-6 in 2018, causing Mark Dantonio to play musical chairs in his offensive staff room in hopes of fixing an offense that finished 126th nationally in scoring. The move hasn’t worked; this year’s team is 110th. Don’t ask him about it, though, because Dantonio doesn’t like talking about that move.

All of this has cumulated in speculation that, rather than hit the reset button heading into Year 14 in East Lansing, Dantonio would call it quits. That thought never reached Dantonio’s mind.

On Tuesday, the 63-year-old told local media he plans to remain the Spartans’ coach in 2020.

Asked bluntly if he plans to lead the team onto the field for their 2020 opener against Northwestern, Dantonio responded bluntly. “Yes,” he said.

“My intentions are to be the head football coach here. I’ve always said I live in the present. I’ve always said that. There’s certain things that you have control of, there’s certain things you don’t have control of. I can’t control anything, but my intentions are there, yeah, absolutely,” he said, via the Detroit Free Press.

“My father always talked to me complete the circle, complete the circle. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

With that question, the conversation now turns to whether his shuffling-of-the-deck-chairs offensive staff can survive another sunk season.

“I don’t make decisions on that until I weigh out everything to the best that I can,” Dantonio told MLive. “Because probably I have the most knowledge in terms of what’s going on within our football team as to who did what in terms of was that a player, structure, coaching, officiating, all the underlying things that go along with that.”

The tipping point of this conversation seems to be Michigan. After going 7-1 against the Wolverines from 2008-15, Dantonio is now 1-3 since, including the 44-10 whipping in Ann Arbor that led many to openly wonder if the game has passed Dantonio by.

At 4-6, Michigan State will need to sweep Rutgers and Maryland (combined Big Ten record: 1-13) to avoid missing a bowl game for just the second time of his 13-year tenure… and the second time in the past four seasons.

City of San Diego entering negotiations for San Diego State to purchase Qualcomm Stadium site

Getty Images
3 Comments

You are reading the words of a person who cares not one lick about most of the creature comforts we have convinced ourselves are now necessary features of the modern football stadium. You’re there to watch a football game, after all. What more do you need besides a bleacher seat, maybe some popcorn, and a restroom close enough that will let you return to your seat before the second half kickoff? In my mind, the best place in the world to watch a football game is the Cotton Bowl — no, not AT&T Stadium during the Cotton Bowl Classic, the actual Cotton Bowl.

That said, I’m also not someone who believes that the past was always better, just because it was the past.

So, with all that said, Qualcomm Stadium is the worst football venue these eyes have ever seen. The upper decks might as well be in space, and if you’re sitting in the corner of the end zone, game action taking place just yards away is completely obstructed from view.

That’s why it’s a good thing that, according to the Times of San Diego, the San Diego city council on Monday authorized the city’s negotiators to proceed with discussing the sale of Qualcomm Stadium — sorry, SDCCU Stadium — to San Diego State.

The school originally offered to purchase the stadium site for $68.2 million back in 2017, but the city now has an offer for $86.2 million.

“The city currently spends about $11 million a year to maintain and operate the Mission Valley stadium site,” City Councilwoman Barbara Bry told the paper. “That’s over $30,000 a day in taxpayer money every day that we delay this transaction with San Diego State. We can’t afford not to move the project along in a timely manner.”

Negotiations are expected to begin in earnest in January, with closing happening by the end of the year. Once San Diego State takes possession of the site, the school would raze SDCCU Stadium and replace it with a 35,000-seat stadium that will serve as the anchor to what will be known as SDSU Mission Valley, home to a satellite campus, a park and commercial and residential space.

“The project is about the transformation of a community and the revitalization of public land,” San Diego State president Adela de la Torre said. “With your support, this can go down in history as one of the most meaningful San Diego milestones of the 21st century.”

The new SDSU stadium would be expected to open in time for the Aztecs’ 2022 stadium. Not one moment too soon.