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AP Top 25 shuffles the deck after chaotic Week 7

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The votes are in, and Alabama remains a wide favorite among college football’s AP voters. The Crimson Tide took home 61 first-place votes to remain firmly atop the latest AP Top 25 released on Sunday, with No. 2 Ohio State claiming the only other AP first-place vote in the country. The Buckeyes, No. 3 Clemson, and No. 4 Notre Dame each moved up one spot this week after No. 8 Georgia fell six spots this week.

Passing Georgia in the top 10 was No. 5 LSU, who defeated the Bulldogs in Baton Rouge, No. 6 Michigan, and No. 7 Texas. The Tigers, Wolverines, and Longhorns, in addition to No. 9 Oklahoma all made moves into the top 10 this week in the AP Top 25. No. 10 UCF remained in the same spot as a week ago despite so many changes in the poll.

No. 11 Florida and No. 12 Oregon each made their moves closer to the top 10 following wins this weekend, while No. 13 West Virginia dropped seven spots, No. 15 Washington fell eight spots and No. 10 Penn State tumbled 10 spots in the poll this week. No. 23 Wisconsin also took a big drop of eight spots but remained in the poll.

Colorado, Miami and Auburn each fell out of the AP Top 25 this week, making room for new appearances by No. 19 Iowa, No. 24 Michigan State, and No. 25 Washington State.

Here is this week’s AP Top 25:

  1. Alabama (60)
  2. Ohio State (1)
  3. Clemson
  4. Notre Dame
  5. LSU
  6. Michigan
  7. Texas
  8. Georgia
  9. Oklahoma
  10. UCF
  11. Florida
  12. Oregon
  13. West Virginia
  14. Kentucky
  15. Washington
  16. NC State
  17. Texas A&M
  18. Penn State
  19. Iowa
  20. Cincinnati
  21. South Florida
  22. Mississippi State
  23. Wisconsin
  24. Michigan State
  25. Washington State

LSU, Michigan, and Texas all vault into top 10 of coaches poll

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After a chaotic Week 7 around college football, the Amway Coaches Poll saw a few teams catapult up the rankings and into the top 10 this week. LSU, Michigan, and Texas all had big gains up the ladder into the top 10 while Oregon was left just on the outside looking in.

Alabama remained a firm No. 1 with 61 first-place votes, and No. 2 Ohio State moved up one spot this week with one first-place vote received. No. 3 Clemson received a pair of first-place votes on their bye week as they also moved up one spot to stay just ahead of No. 4 Notre Dame. At No. 5, LSU re-entered the top 10 this week shortly after being dropped out of the top 10 the previous week. The Tigers moved up seven spots to fall ahead of No. 6 Georgia, who fell four spots this week.

No. 7 Michigan and No. 8 Texas each moved up six spots in the coaches poll this week following their wins and a plethora of losses by others. UCF remained at No. 9, staying ahead of No. 10 Oklahoma, who re-joined the top 10 this week. No. 13 West Virginia was knocked down seven spots after suffering its first loss of the year, and No. 14 Washington fell seven spots and No. 16 Penn State dropped eight spots after a second consecutive loss at home. No. 15 NC State came between the Huskies and Nittany Lions after being moved up four spots.

No. 19 Wisconsin took the biggest tumble, falling nine spots after a road loss at Michigan for the second loss of the year. Newcomers to this week’s coaches poll include No. 22 Iowa and No. 23 Washington State. They fill the vacancies left by Miami and Auburn.

Here is this week’s coaches poll:

  1. Alabama (61)
  2. Ohio State (1)
  3. Clemson (2)
  4. Notre Dame
  5. LSU
  6. Georgia
  7. Michigan
  8. Texas
  9. UCF
  10. Oklahoma
  11. Oregon
  12. Florida
  13. West Virginia
  14. Washington
  15. NC State
  16. Penn State
  17. Kentucky
  18. Texas A&M
  19. Wisconsin
  20. South Florida
  21. Cincinnati
  22. Iowa
  23. Washington State
  24. Stanford
  25. Colorado

Pac-12 to alter replay process after damning report showed conference official overruling decision in a game

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Pac-12 after dark is taking on a whole new meaning after this week as the conference has found itself right in the middle of another officiating scandal entirely of its own making (and not due to the incompetence of referees on the field).

The genesis of the scandal came last month when Washington State played USC at the Coliseum. The Trojans escaped with a win on a blocked last second field goal attempt by the Cougars but the far bigger story to emerge from the contest was the uproar over two potential targeting calls in the second half. One came in the fourth quarter as USC linebacker Porter Gustin nailed quarterback Gardner Minshew with a helmet-to-helmet hit that was not called for targeting (see below).

While that play came at a key moment in the game, it’s not the call that the ensuing uproar this week is truly focused on. That came in the third quarter when Trojans signal-caller J.T. Daniels took a knee trying to avoid a sack and was hit in the helmet after he had given himself up by Wazzu linebacker Logan Tago. Roughing the passer was called but not targeting. Via SB Nation: 

It seems that during the review process for targeting, according to Yahoo! Sports, Pac-12 general counsel and senior vice president of business affairs Woodie Dixon overruled the officials at the stadium and in the conference command center to claim that the call in question was not targeting — against the wishes of those whose job it is to, you know, actually officiate these things. It was documented as such in an internal report obtained by Yahoo! Sports.

“Our conference and our leadership has a deep commitment to the integrity of officiating and to protecting student-athlete health and well being,” Scott said Thursday, addressing the report during Pac-12 basketball media day. “What’s been reported was of significant concern to me. It’s new information to me that I was not aware of. There’s some things that have come out that I’ve had a chance to look into and have had discussions with the individuals involved directly.

“First, I’ve come to the conclusion that we’ve made mistakes with regards to our procedures involved with replay review in the command center. We mixed administrative oversight and leadership with real time replay review calls made by experts — on the field, in the stadium and in the command center. More over, we’ve allowed for ambiguity about who has the final call.”

The Pac-12 will now launch a more through review of how replay works in the conference and will immediately be changing procedures, starting with Friday’s games, and remove administrators from the replay review process entirely. 

“It was not (Dixon’s) intention — and he didn’t believe — he was making a decision. He was trying to offer a point of view on the calls,” Scott added. “From the replay official in the stadium’s perspective, and other people’s perspective, they clearly interpreted it as a decision or directive. From my perspective, that’s enough. Even if it wasn’t intended as he’s making the decision… none of that matters from my perspective. If there was a perception that he was involved in making the decision, that is inappropriate.”

While it goes without saying that every fan believes that their conference officials are some of the worst around, the Pac-12’s issues have been generating headlines for well over a decade. This episode though, goes well beyond a blown call. It’s a full on intervention on behalf of the conference office on an officiating decision. This is the kind of stuff fans and coaches have rumored happens all the time and is now documented publicly as something the Pac-12 has done, all but confirming a widely held conspiracy.

It also calls not only the decisions made in the Washington State-USC game into question, but also those of any controversial call of the past several years and especially since the conference command center was put in place last season. Whatever shred of credibility the Pac-12 had when it came to officiating is not only gone, but it will take significant changes to get even a shred back. This is an absolute nightmare scenario for the league and rebooting the entire system (to say nothing of a potential resignation or two) seems like the bare minimum that needs to occur over the coming weeks and months. 

Dixon will no longer be involved in the replay process and the conference office will be exploring additional changes to the entire officiating process going forward. But make no mistake, this yet another huge black mark on Scott and the Pac-12 itself. There’s already a growing basketball scandal that is sweeping up nearly half of the conference’s schools and this is yet another thing on the commissioner’s plate that he will have to deal with directly as fans remain up in arms and skeptical about the entire administration of the league.

Calls for Scott to resign as part of a wholesale house cleaning will grow by the day and you can certainly bet that the forthcoming investigation and resulting changes won’t do much to change the minds of many on the West Coast after a league’s worst fears were revealed for all to see this week.

NCAA show-causes no longer applicable to California schools following judge’s ruling

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The NCAA has been locked in several major court battles in the state of California but a judge in Los Angeles Superior Court just dealt a huge blow to the organization’s ability to sanction coaches caught up in infractions cases.

According to the LA Times, judge Frederick Shaller finalized an earlier ruling that said that show-cause penalties given to coaches violated state law as “an unlawful restraint” on pursuing a lawful profession. At the heart of the matter is former USC assistant Todd McNair, who has been battling the NCAA over the one-year show-cause he was handed as part of the Reggie Bush case involving the Trojans over a decade ago.

“McNair’s ability to practice his profession as a college football coach has been restricted, if not preempted, not only in Los Angeles, but in every state in the country,” Shaller wrote in his decision.

The ruling is significant far beyond USC and McNair’s case as it essentially strips the NCAA’s ability to give coaches and administrators a show-cause (as in, schools must show-cause why they should hire individuals) in major infractions cases. While a few figures, like Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, wrote into the court saying this could affect the ability of California schools to remain in the NCAA, nobody expects the front office folks in Indianapolis to start kicking out UCLA, Stanford, Cal and others starting next week.

“The NCAA disagrees with the court’s ruling, which is wrong as a matter of law and does not impact Todd McNair’s show-cause order that expired more than six years ago,” the NCAA said in a statement. “We will explore all avenues for relief to ensure that NCAA member schools in California can continue to abide by the same rules as the rest of the NCAA’s membership.”

We’ll count this as a big ‘L’ for the NCAA in court even though the decision figures to be appealed going forward. Something says a few other states might take notice of the ruling though and wonder if NCAA bylaws and decisions may be at odds with other laws either way. 

Alabama a massive Bovada title favorite, while Michigan, Texas make sizable moves upward

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One sportsbook is as impressed with Alabama as pretty much the rest of the college football world is at the midway point of the regular season.

A week ago, Bovada.lv had the top-ranked team in the country and the defending champ as a 4/5 favorite to win the 2018 College Football Playoff national championship. Following a curb-stomping of Arkansas in Week 6, ‘Bama is now a 5/7 favorite for this year’s title.

Of all the numbers you could use to illustrate the Crimson Tide’s utter dominance thus far, and impress the books in the process, this is my personal favorite: Alabama is averaging 37.9 points in the first half through six games. If they hadn’t played any second halves at all this season, they’d still be ranked 31st in the country in points per game, right behind No. 30 Michigan (38.2). As it stands now, they’re the highest-scoring team in the nation at an even 56 ppg and their starting quarterback hasn’t taken a fourth-quarter snap in any game; Appalachian State, at 51.8, is No. 2. The next-best Power Five teams are Penn State (49.6) and Ohio State (49).

Oh, and UA’s defense is a, ahem, “pedestrian” 11th in scoring defense at 16 ppg, so they have that going for them. Which is very nice.

As for the rest of Bovada‘s title odds? Clemson and Ohio State are up next at a distant 15/2; a week ago, both the Buckeyes and Tigers were at 11/2.

Michigan and Texas both made the most notable jumps as well, with the former moving from 25/1 to 16/1 and the latter from 85/1 to 33/1. Just five teams are ahead of the Wolverines now — the three already mentioned, plus Georgia (15/2, same as last week) and Notre Dame (12/1, up from 15/1) — while the Longhorns now have the same odds as the rival they just vanquished in spectacular fashion and just ahead of Penn State, which moved from 50/1 to 33/1.

Below are the rest of the current CFP championship odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv: