Well, college football’s regular season, save for the annual Army-Navy game, came to an end on Saturday.  Five teams in Division I finished the year undefeated, and two of them — Alabama and Texas — will play in the Bowl Championship Series National Championship game on January 7 in Pasadena, Calif.  The other three — Cincinnati, Texas Christian, and Boise State — all received nice parting gifts (Cincinnati was invited to play Florida in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, while TCU and Boise State will play each other in the Fiesta Bowl), but will not be a part of the national title picture.

We really don’t have a problem with those three teams being excluded.  After all, only two teams can play in the national championship game, and Alabama and Texas are probably the two most deserving.  But pardon us if we cannot get too excited about the game itself.  First off, the game is a month away, which is one of the true travesties of the bowl system.  After weeks of seeing teams play every weekend, they now have to wait 30 days before playing the biggest game of the year.  Secondly, Texas has no been playing all that well for the last several weeks.  Saturday night’s win over Nebraska in the Big 12 title game had an exciting finish that was preceded by 59 minutes and 59 seconds of truly awful offensive football (Texas kicker Hunter Lawrence kicked the game-winning field goal with one second remaining on the clock to give the Longhorns a 13-12 win). Third, Alabama is probably the least sexy top-ranked team we have seen in a long time.  Their defense is fantastic, but their offense is not exactly powerful.  In fact, outside of tailback Mark Ingram (pictured above and our favorite to win the Heisman Trophy), there is very little to write home about on the offensive side of the ball.

But the main reason that we can’t get too terribly excited about this match-up is because it seems so pre-ordained.   (more…)

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legarette_blount

The news out of Eugene, Oregon is that University of Oregon tailback LeGarette Blount, who had been originally suspended for the season after losing his shit and punching Boise State defensive end Byron Hout in the opening game of his senior campaign, was reinstated by the Pac-10 conference yesterday after sitting out the Ducks last eight games.  He will be eligible to play again for Oregon this Saturday when the Ducks take on Arizona State.

“After a thorough review of the situation, I am convinced LeGarrette Blount paid a significant and appropriate price for the mistakes he made on the field, and that he has learned important life-long lessons,” Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott said in accepting Oregon’s request for Blount’s reinstatement.

Blount issued a statement thanking Oregon coach Chip Kelly for giving him a second chance.

“Now it is up to me to prove to people that their lasting impressions of me are not what they saw in Boise,” he said.

We rarely applaud a college football program’s handling of internal discipline, but we have to say that we think Oregon handled this situation the right way.  Kelly said at the time of Blount’s suspension that the running back would still be a member of the team and would be allowed to practice, but would not be allowed to play. He was allowed to keep his scholarship, and although the university’s athletic department did say in no uncertain terms that Blount’s “suspension would remain in effect through any bowl games the Ducks may play in,” and that “he will not be allowed to participate in any games,” Kelly had talked to Blount and had given him an avenue to redemption.  (more…)

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This much is clear.  If Florida and Alabama win out until the Southeastern Conference championship game, and Texas wins the rest of their games as well, the Longhorns will face the SEC champion in the national championship game.

But a loss by any of those teams, particularly Texas, would open up opportunities for several other teams currently on the outside of the national championship race.  In addition to Texas, Florida, and Alabama, Iowa, Cincinnati, Texas Christian, and Boise State are also undefeated.  After their shocking thumping of USC on Saturday night, Oregon is currently the highest-ranked team with a loss. And the team that Oregon lost to this season was quarterback Kellen Moore (pictured) and Boise State.

So say Texas loses to Texas A&M or Kansas or any of the teams left on their schedule.  Florida and Alabama have to play each other, so one of them will lose.  Next in line would be either Iowa or Cincinnati.  Iowa has made a habit of winning close games, and they are only three games away from completing a perfect season.  But one of those games is at Ohio State, and although this has not been a banner year for the Buckeyes, we think they have a damn good shot at beating the Hawkeyes in Columbus.  Cincinnati has had a great year, and we have wondered about their national championship aspirations before, but their two biggest challenges of the season (home to West Virginia on the Nov. 13 and at Pittsburgh on Dec. 5.) still loom on the schedule.

So say Iowa and Cincinnati both lose.  Then things get interesting. (more…)

legarrette-blountOne thing is obvious.  Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount made a huge mistake when he lost his shit on national television, punching Boise State defensive end Byron Hout and then having to be restrained from going after fans after the Ducks lost to the Broncos 19-8 on the first Thursday of the college football season. So embarrassed was Oregon coach Chip Kelly that he suspended Blount for the remainder of the season and even went as far as to reimburse a disgruntled fan after the Blount’s antics obscured what had been a dreadful performance by the Ducks.

But now the word out of Eugene is that Blount, having recently become a father and consulting with football’s new self-help guru Tony Dungy (we swear this man is going to have a syndicated television show in the next few years that will give Dr. Phil a run for his money), could be back on the field for the Ducks before too long.  Blount issued a public apology through the  University of Oregon’s daily newspaper that offered no excuses for his actions, but did request that he be given a second chance by fans and students. Blount has also talked with not only Dungy, but also former NBA player Kermit Washington, who is famous for nearly killing Houston Rockets player Rudy Tomjanovich with one punch in an on-court fracas while Washington was playing for the Lakers in 1977 (a punch so hard that Tomjanovich said later that he thought that the scoreboard had fallen on him).

Kelly said at the time of Blount’s suspension that the running back would still be a member of the team and would be allowed to practice, but would not be allowed to play.  But since, Kelly has alluded to a plan for Blount, and it now seems as if that plan was a path to reinstatement for Blount.  Kelly will address Blount’s status later this afternoon.

We here are split on what should happen with Blount.  Clocking someone on national television (even if they deserve it, which Hout clearly did) is not acceptable.  And Kelly seemed to be trying to make a strong statement by suspending Blount for the year.  But Blount is a senior, and was considered to be one of the best NFL draft prospects in the country before he lost his head.  Not playing at all this year would severely damage his prospects to become an NFL player because he would have no avenue available to him for redemption.  And this would not be about trying to save the Ducks’ season, being that Oregon has played much better in the last three games without Blount than they did in the opener against Boise State. But the university’s athletic department did say in no uncertain terms that Blount’s “suspension would remain in effect through any bowl games the Ducks may play in,” and that “he will not be allowed to participate in any games.” It’s a tough call, but in the end, we would like to see Blount reinstated.  He made a mistake. But that mistake, although it will follow him for the rest of his career, should not cost him a shot at said career.

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Nevada Boise St FootballLet’s just say out loud what we all know to be true.  College football polls are crap.

After a spate of upsets this weekend (some of which were predictable like Virginia Tech stomping Miami, while some came out of left field — seriously California, what was that?) the Boise State Broncos, after an uninspiring rout of Bowling Green on Saturday, have risen to number 5 in the rankings in both of college football’s polls.  The reason for the rise is that only four teams that started the season ranked ahead of the Broncos (Florida, Texas, Alabama, and LSU) have yet to lose this season. But being that Florida, Alabama, and LSU are all in the same conference, at least two of these teams will lose before the end of the year, while the Broncos, because they play in the very weak Western Athletic Conference, will be heavy favorites in every game remaining on their schedule and will likely go unbeaten. This will create a mess by season’s end if Texas ever loses, because Boise St. could be in line to play for the national championship despite nobody believing that they are one of the country’s two best teams.

With all due respect to Boise St., does anybody actually believe that the Broncos are better than Virginia Tech, USC, Oklahoma and Ohio St. (the four teams directly behind Boise in the rankings)?  We’re all for the little guys getting a shot at the big boys, but Boise St. getting a pass into the national championship game due to an easy schedule — while more worthy teams who played a more difficult schedule are shut out — would be a shame.

Water Cooler Cheat Sheet

As we have noted before, in a typical water cooler conversation, you will only be required to contribute one or two insightful sentences in order to appear knowledegeable.  We’re here to help.

“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  Boise St. being ranked 5th is yet another reason why preseason polls are useless and why college football needs a playoff.  If Texas loses, all hell’s gonna break loose.”

Boise St. is a fine program, and we find the blue “SmurfTurf” at their home stadium adorable.  But they have no business being ranked ahead of the four teams we listed above.  They just are not as good.  They aren’t as talented, and they would likely lose two or three games at least if they played in the SEC, Big 12, Big 10, Pac-10, or ACC (these are the powerhouse football conference.)  Boise St. should have a shot to prove themselves in a playoff (a system which, unfortunately, does not exist in college football), but giving them a pass into the title game because of their weak schedule and high preseason ranking doesn’t do anybody any favors.