Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Catching up had that one day at Alabama

Conference realignment rabble rabble: The Big East might not be in super-excellent shape:
Boise State, San Diego State and BYU have had conversations with Mountain West membership about the possibility of returning to the league, sources told ESPN.

The talks originated after last week's decision in Denver by the BCS commissioners to award an automatic access bowl berth to the highest-rated champion to the "Group of Five" conferences. That decision in essence put the Mountain West on equal footing, as far as playoff access is concerned, with the Big East starting in 2014.
San Diego State has since reaffirmed its commitment to the Big East; the others haven't really done anything publicly, which to me serves as somewhat of an acknowledgment of veracity.

Amazingly, this stuff has nothing whatsoever to do with Big Ten expansion and is solely a result of the new postseason structure, as mentioned above. Seeing as how there's no inherent advantage to playing in the Big East rather than the Mountain West -- all the "Group of Five" conferences have equal access, so it might actually be a benefit to play in a weaker conference and have a better shot at going undefeated -- it makes sense that Boise State would prefer not to be totally isolated 2,000 miles to the West of all its conference opponents and instead retain some geographic sanity.

BYU's situation is slightly different but essentially the same in that being independent < being in a conference in terms of future BCS access. There's no highest-ranked-independent autobid, meaning BYU as an independent would never get a berth in a BCS game without getting an at-large bid (via an unbeaten season, most likely). The "Group of Five" thing offers access that doesn't otherwise exist.

Realistically, I won't be surprised if Boise and/or BYU end up back in the Mountain West, even if it means a slight pay cut in terms of TV revenue (Boise's is impossible to calculate without knowing what the Big East's new media rights deal will look like, but BYU's would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.5 million a year). I also won't be surprised if nothing happens since conference realignment and logic are pretty much mutually exclusive.

Why not? Miami did the reasonable thing Monday by self-imposing a bowl ban for the second straight year. Keep in mind that the NCAA hasn't yet come down with a ruling on the whole Nevin Shapiro thing; at this point, Miami is done whatever's necessary to proactively mitigate the damage.

What undoubtedly made the decision a little harder than it otherwise would've been: Miami is 6-5 and would've clinched a spot in the ACC title game with a win over Duke this week (likely). That said, a loss Florida State in the ACC title game (much more likely) or a loss to Duke would've resulted in a either a 7-6 or 6-6 record and a really crappy bowl game of little to no interest. What's the point of playing in a crappy bowl game this year while knowing that said crappy bowl game might be costing you (via NCAA sanctions) a potentially-much-better bowl game a few years from now? It's a worthwhile tradeoff, IMO, even without knowing the exact effect on the Committee on Infractions.

Speaking of which, I wonder how Ohio State's feeling about that 2011 Gator Bowl loss right about now.

An eventful career: Mike Price retired Friday -- effective at the end of the season -- with UTEP hanging out toward the bottom of Conference USA at 3-8. The AP lede says it all:
UTEP coach Mike Price is retiring after a 31-year career notable for two Rose Bowl bids at Washington State and a drinking binge that cost him the Alabama job before he ever coached a game for the Crimson Tide.
Ahhh yes. Mike Price: The guy who went from coaching Ala-freakin'-bama to coaching UTEP without ever losing a game. And he was good: He went 83-78 and went to two Rose Bowls with Washington State (which seems incomprehensible now) and then went 16-8 in his first two years at UTEP before hitting a wall since UTEP is UTEP. Assuming a loss next week in the season finale, he'll retire with a record of 47-60 in nine seasons (!) at UTEP and a 177-182 record overall, which doesn't seem that impressive but has to be taken in context with the craptacularity of the teams he's taken over at pretty much every stop.

There's an alternate universe in which the guy at that strip club loses his camera, Price turns into Bizarro World Nick Saban and UTEP strings together something like 20 straight losing seasons. Price probably parties a lot in that universe and blows his $10 million a year in spectacular ways yet totally gets away with it since he's Bizarro World Nick Saban.

Anyway, in this universe, he's recommended that defensive coordinator Andre Patterson be the next coach; the AD has said only that Patterson will be considered and that he hopes to have a permanent guy in place by Christmas. I won't bother trying to come up with other names since UTEP won't be picking from guys whose names mean anything to anybody.

So long, Brandon Jenkins: Brandon Jenkins's choices: (a) rehab from a broken foot and come back for a fifth year at Florida State to terrorize the left tackles of the ACC or (b) rehab and be a first-round pick. He chose the latter:
Brandon Jenkins said the past three months rehabbing a broken foot have provided ample time to think about his future, and Monday he informed Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher he was ready to enter the NFL draft.

The senior defensive end could have accepted a medical redshirt after he suffered a Lisfranc injury in the first quarter of FSU's opening game this season, allowing him to return for 2013. But after turning down an opportunity to enter the draft a year ago, Jenkins decided it's time to test the waters in the NFL.
There's not much to add here. Jenkins is/was one of the best pass rushers in the country and will almost certainly be a first-round pick as long as everything heals correctly. Can't blame a guy for taking the money, especially when there's not a whole lot more he can do at the college level.

And Florida State has been OK without him: first in the country in total defense, fifth in scoring defense, first in rushing defense, seventh in pass-efficiency defense, 25th in sacks, etc. It's nice when the loss of Brandon Jenkins just means you have to put Bjoern Werner on the field; he has 14.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks across from Tank Carradine, who has 13.5 and 10.5, respectively. Carradine's a senior and therefore will need replacing next year, but Werner's only a junior and should be back (unless he isn't, in which case Jimbo Fisher will have some serious work to do on the D-line).

The Minnesota weirdness: Weirdness. Yes. So Minnesota receiver A.J. Barker -- who was easily leading the team in catches, yards and touchdowns even after missing the past three games with an ankle injury -- went OFF on Jerry Kill in an epic 4,000-word Tumblr rant that served as his farewell to Minnesota. A relatively mild excerpt:
In light of that pathetic, manipulative display of rage and love you put on this past Thursday, I have come to the decision, with the guidance of my parents and my closest friends, that my time on this team has come to an end. It kills me that I have to do this before the season’s over, but this is the only way I can protect myself against the manipulation and abuse I’d have to endure from you the rest of this season. ...

It was during this discussion (with the trainer) that you came over and exploded on me in front of the entire team in our indoor facility.  “YOU DON’T FUCKING GET TO TELL THE TRAINER WHAT YOU DO!” followed by a 20 minute tyraid where you attacked everything about me, from an athlete to my character as a person. ...
I’m being told that if I wanted to, I’d be healthy. I’m being told that “I don’t have a say” in my own injury or rehab?

Well, Jerry Kill, this is 2012, not 1974 in small town Kansas, I do have the right to have a say in my own body and how it is being treated. ...
OH SNAP. Barker has officially quit the team and intends to transfer, which won't be an issue since he's technically a walk-on and therefore won't have to sit out or deal with any of the typical red-tape stuff.

But ... like ... WTF happened? Kill finally came out with his side of the story the other day, with the implication being that Barker wasn't totally thrilled with (a) the way the trainers were handling his injury and (b) not being offered a scholarship despite being the obvious No. 1 receiver.
Barker said he was forced to practice by Kill last Tuesday -- another allegation that Kill denies -- but he was unable to get through warmups. An MRI test the next day revealed ligament tears and a bone bruise above his heel, he said.

Kill said Barker's actions toward the training staff disrupted practice. That's when Kill admitted to dressing Barker down.

"Nobody wants to see a kid not play or get his dreams or those kinds of things," Kill said. "But at the same time, I can't let him do something different than everybody else. You can't be having a confrontation with an adult trainer and it's OK. That's not what we ask of everybody else."
So stuff happened, at which point LOUD NOISES ensued and everybody got angry. I don't doubt that there was some ... umm ... unpleasantness. I've been at D-I football practices; unpleasantness is everywhere because motivating 100 guys to not do things the lazy way is really hard. The issue apparently was whether Barker was doing his own thing (acupuncture, etc.) rather than the trainers' thing, and I can see a guy like Jerry Kill freaking out if people aren't following directions/orders/whatever; there's a reason guys like Jerry Kill make their way from the Southern Illinoises of the world to the Minnesotas of the world.

Given the nature of the dispute, it's pretty unlikely anything comes of it other than maybe the Minnesota administration suggesting he tone things down a bit in practice. Beyond that, Barker's just the bajillionth casualty in the history of football of a coach saying probably-meaner-than-necessary things.

Seems reasonable: Phil Bennett was definitely drunk after Baylor's WTF win over K-State last week:
“Alabama? We would have beat them tonight!” Bennett said in the postgame fray. He continued on that thread by giving a rare shout-out to a once-bitter conference rival of Baylor’s when he said, “That’s why Texas A&M is doing well in that league … SEC teams don’t face anything like us.”
Mmmkay. This would be the appropriate time to point out that Baylor is still 119th in total defense and 114th in scoring defense.

That was fast: Jordan Wynn has himself a job: He was named quarterbacks coach at Hawaii last week under Norm Chow, who was Wynn's O-coordinator at Utah.
Utah QB Jordan Wynn’s playing career came to an end in September after a season-ending injury to his shoulder in a loss to Utah State, his fourth major injury in college. Now, just over two months later, his college coaching career is already starting.

On Thursday, the 22-year-old Wynn was named the quarterbacks coach at Hawaii — where his old offensive coordinator, Norm Chow, is the head coach — starting in January.
Serious question: Has anybody every gone from playing at one school to coaching at another in the same season (although Wynn doesn't technically start until after the season)? I mean ... that's crazy. It's also awesome for Wynn, who was a pretty good player when his shoulder was attached to his body and already has a degree. I have nothing more to add except this: Those glasses are utterly spectacular.

OK, Sports Illustrated: The Notre Dame helmet would probably be sufficiently identifiable without the superimposition of Jesus and the Latin and whatnot:

Good thing there's no SI jinx anymore, right? RIGHT?


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