There is still a chance for Oklahoma State to claim a national championship and, truth be told, this title has long been considered the most prestigious in college football.
Voters in The Associated Press poll have been crowning champions since 1936. For six-plus decades, the poll reigned supreme. Some old-fashioned folk like me still consider it the granddaddy of them all. The AP poll was more prestigious than the United Press International poll (1950-90), which begat the USA Today coaches’ poll (1991-present), which now presents its annual trophy to the BCS champion (1998-present).
Though the Cowboys fell .009 short of their quest to play in this season’s BCS national title game, a scenario still exists where they could win the prestigious AP title: If No. 3 OSU is able to convincingly defeat No. 4 Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl and No. 2 Alabama beats No. 1 LSU in a punting contest similar to their 9-6 overtime meeting on Nov. 5, it’s certainly within reason for AP voters to consider the Cowboys at No. 1 in their final poll. In last week’s AP poll, OSU trailed Alabama by 154 points. In this week’s AP poll, the Cowboys trailed the Crimson Tide by just 18 points.
Keep in mind, all national championships in major college football are mythical because there has never been a playoff. Alabama claims 13 national titles in its history, including crowns selected by Williamson, Houlgate, Football Annual and Football Thesaurus. (No kidding.) All OSU is looking for is fair consideration to be crowned national champ by somebody, anybody. If LSU beats Alabama again, all bets are off and the Tigers — coached by former O-State head man Les Miles – are soul rulers. However, if our aforementioned scenario becomes reality, this could really get fun.
OSU supporters can start campaigning now. Put AP voters on your Christmas list. Wish them happy holidays. The key is to keep this good-natured and friendly. No pressure tactics. No insults. Kill these people with kindness. AP voters rarely, if ever, get positive feedback, but all that changes now. As far as you’re concerned, these are the true Wise Men of Christmas.
The Fiesta Bowl is Jan. 2 in Glendale, Ariz. LSU and Alabama play for the BCS national championship in New Orleans on Jan. 9. If the Cowboys defeat Stanford, that gives OSU supporters one full week to schmooze pollsters. Politicking can get unseemly, but this is polliticking. Besides, how unseemly was it for ESPN to promote LSU vs. Alabama for the BCS national title a full week before the matchup was even determined?
Keep your communication with voters short and sweet. Your message could read something along the lines of: “Please consider the OSU Cowboys for your national title if LSU loses. Much appreciated. Love your work. Always have. Enclosed you will find my favorite barbecue recipe. Have a nice day.”
Here is the list of AP voters. Commence polliticking.
In our haste for hyperbole, we have lost all track of time. As a result, we are clearly running low on centuries. By my count, we are now covered until at least 3011 before college football’s next “Game of the Century.”
The latest 100-year rendition was No. 1 LSU at No. 2 Alabama on Saturday night. Turns out it was wasn’t even the best game in its time slot. Many of the 600-plus media types credentialed for LSU’s 9-6 overtime victory in Tuscaloosa must have gazed at Stillwater with envy as No. 3 Oklahoma State managed to outlast No. 14 Kansas State 52-45.
Ah, who am I kidding? SEC folk are envied, not envious. In their eyes, it doesn’t matter if the two greatest teams on Google Earth went to overtime andstill couldn’t find an end zone.
Saturday’s 7 p.m. time slot was all a matter of taste. Do you prefer a defensive standoff, or an offensive shootout? Do you seek a shot glass that’s darn-near empty, or a jug that runneth over? Do you call your editor and plead for more space, or ask him to run an extra photo to help fill the void?
- While LSU and Alabama combined for 12 points in regulation, OSU and KSU combined for 12 touchdowns.
- The Cowboys and Wildcats amassed 1,082 yards. The Tigers and Tide combined for less than half that.
- Every field-goal attempt at Boone Pickens Stadium sailed through the uprights. Alabama field-goal kickers missed 4 of 6 at home.
- In Stillwater, OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden threw for a school-record 502 yards and All-American receiver Justin Blackmon had 13 catches for 205 yards and two touchdowns. In Tuscaloosa, um, LSU’s Brad Wing had a 73-yard punt.
Come on, is there even a choice?
And yet, predictably, many scream for a rematch in the BCS championship game between the Tigers and Crimson Tide. No seconds for me, thanks. One serving of this matchup was more than enough.
Sadly, and equally predictable, Alabama sits solidly at No. 3 in this week’s BCS standings, which makes a rematch almost a certainty if the Tide wins out and OSU or Stanford doesn’t go 12-0.
A handful of reasons why Alabama doesn’t deserve a rematch:
1. They’ve already played. Been there, done that. Asked and answered. Nothing more to see here. Moving on.
2. LSU would have a 13-0 record in the BCS national title game. Alabama would be 11-1. The Tide would advance by not playing for its conference crown. What sense does that make?
3. Alabama already lost – at home.
4. We know what Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron can do against the Tigers, but we’re extremely curious how Weeden, or Stanford’s Andrew Luck, or Oklahoma’s Landry Jones, or Boise State’s Kellen Moore would do against LSU.
Somebody on CBS squawked that 10 defensive backs in the LSU-Alabama game would play in the NFL, which seems awfully hard to gauge playing against a steady stream of average offenses.
The SEC’s gaudy numbers on defense are easily explained by the league’s gaunt numbers on offense. This all works hand-in-hand.
Four SEC defenses rank in the top 9, but three SEC offenses rank No. 103 or lower and seven rank No. 87 or lower, including top-ranked LSU’s. The Big 12′s defensive stats stink (four in the bottom 13) because the league’s offensive numbers are astronomical (three in the top 4; six in the top 11).
5. Give someone else a crack at LSU. If the Tide were to win the rematch, then Saturday would mean nothing, and an LSU victory in Tuscaloosa should be worth more than an Alabama victory in New Orleans.
For these reasons, no rematch. It would be far better to expand the Tigers’ list of potential victims. Broaden the evidence. Leave no doubt. We’ve seen the best the SEC has to offer. Give another league a chance.
Besides, what would prove more? Weeden vs. LSU? Luck vs. LSU? Jones vs. LSU? Moore vs. LSU?
Or one more round with McCarron?
John Rohde: 475-3099. John Rohde can be heard Monday-Friday from 6-7 p.m. on The Sports Animal Network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. Follow him on Twitter @RohdeOK.
BeyondU Sports has an in-depth discussion with Mike Leach – the former Texas Tech head coach and New York Times best selling author of “Swing Your Sword” – each week. Here is part of this week’s installment:
We had some huge upsets this past Saturday, did you see that Oklahoma upset coming?
I didn’t see that one coming but I did see upsets in general coming. Not specific upsets, but as long as I have been in this it’s that kind of year. Teams define themselves as top dogs and they have a target on their backs and everyone is gunning for them. Teams with an unsatisfactory season are trying to redeem as much respect as they can. Teams that have levels of success sometimes can get complacent and not have as much respect for their opponent. All these factors come into play. I think that it’s that time of year people are taxed physically and mentally. One team’s up the other is not. There can be surprises especially in these conferences that play one team after another back to back. You know they may not be having as good a season as they like. They (Texas Tech) have big strong players that are fast, so this is really as they say any given week, anybody can beat anybody. That’s especially true this time of year. There will be more upsets this week too.”
OU has a lot of veterans with players who have played a ton of minutes at key positions. It’s really rare for Oklahoma to loose a game at home. From a mental standpoint, how does a team slip up like that?
They had a ridiculous number of wins at home. At some point there’s a sense that you are invincible. I think that’s fueled by the media, I think its fueled by the people in town, it’s fueled by the players themselves. Sometimes confidence becomes complacency. You take victories for granted. Texas Tech was not afraid of Oklahoma. We used to have a sign “respect everyone but fear no one.” Texas Tech didn’t fear Oklahoma even though they were a superior opponent. Oklahoma didn’t have enough of a healthy dose of respect for Texas Tech. Texas Tech is a good enough team that if they play for 60 minutes, Oklahoma can’t beat them playing 30. OU squandered the first half, they need more than 30 minutes of good play to beat Texas Tech.
“I think that the weather delay factored in too. It’s one of those things you get ready to play at Owen Field. If you are Texas Tech, you are relaxed. If you relax, collect your thoughts, play loose, etc. then you don’t have anything to lose. If you are Oklahoma, you are initially ready to play. You go through your workmanship ready to have a game. Then as the weather delay hits, you know the rhetoric I have overheard once in a while. Some of your weaker minded players are saying:
“This fouls my plans after the game.”
“Boy I will sure be glad when this game is over.”
“This is taking forever.”
“At least we are 24 points favorites, yeah this team can’t beat us, remember how bad we beat them last year.”
“Then you go through the motions for a half and the other teams doesn’t go through the motions in the half then you are in trouble. The trouble with those weather delays, it’s not like they are saying we aren’t go to play for 1 hour and 45 minutes. It’s constant 15 to 20 minute updates, then it’s a half hour and the storm hasn’t passed. I mean, you are sitting on ready waiting on go. It really is a nuisance.”
Do you think in a weather delay it’s actually an advantage to the away team?
I don’t know if it is or if it isn’t. I was thinking about it but I don’t know where I line up. If you are playing at night and you’re the visitor, you’re probably not thinking about what you are doing after the game as you know what you are going to do. You are getting a plane, going home and going to bed. If you’re Oklahoma, its like – Well, alright, I can’t meet my mom or my girlfriend so there goes that. I just think over time if you don’t have the right frame of mind winning so many in a row can on one hand be a burden if you generate pressure on yourself, which you shouldn’t. Or, if victories are being taken for granted, confident drifts into a lack of respect.”
What do you know about Texas Tech QB Seth Doege?
I know a lot about him. I’ve known him since he was in the 8th grade. He came to our camp all the time. I coached him for 3 1/2 years. He has a really good arm, not a tall guy, but a strong arm guy. Good player and it doesn’t surprise me at all to see him have success.”
Ever since Oklahoma State posted its 30-29 victory at Texas A&M on Saturday, writers and fans have weighed on the biggest victories in OSU history.
Time to get the viewpoint of a coach who was part of that program’s history. Pat Jones coached the Cowboys from 1979-1994 and was head coach the last 11 seasons.
Jones shared his Top-10 list of OSU’s biggest victories. Key factors were the quality of opponent and the end result that season.
Jones’ list does not include the Cowboys’ upsets at Oklahoma on Owen Field in 1995 and 2001, when OSU finished with records of 4-8 and 4-7, respectively. “This isn’t a list of the 10 biggest upsets,” Jones said. “That would be a completely different list.”
As for Saturday’s triumph against the No. 8 Aggies at Kyle Field, Jones said the value of that result is still pending. “For now, give it an ‘I’ (for incomplete),” Jones said.
Here are Jones’ Top 10 victories in OSU history:
1. 1984 - (No. 9) OSU 21, (No. 7) South Carolina 14 in Jacksonville, Fla. (Gator Bowl): Cowboys finished 10-2 that year, their first 10-win season in school history.
2. 1976 - (NR) OSU 31, (No. 5) Oklahoma 24 in Norman: Cowboys finished 9-3 and shared Big Eight crown with OU and Colorado.
3. 2008 - (No. 17) OSU 28, (No. 3) Missouri 23 in Columbia, Mo.: Cowboys finished 9-4 and were 9-2 at one point.
4. 1972 - (NR) OSU 31, (No. 3) Colorado 6 in Stillwater: Cowboys finished 6-5, their first winning season since 1959.
5. 1946 - (No. 6) OSU 33, (NR) Saint Mary’s 13 in New Orleans (1946 Sugar Bowl): Cowboys and All-American Bob Fenimore finish the 1945 season unbeaten at 9-0.
6. 2002 - (NR) OSU 38, (No. 3) Oklahoma 28 in Stillwater: Cowboys finished 8-5 and beat the Sooners in consecutive seasons for only the fifth time in series history.
7. 1979 - (NR) OSU 14, (No. 15) Missouri 13 in Columbia. Mo.: Cowboys finish 7-4 in their first season under Big Eight coach of the year Jimmy Johnson.
8. 1984 - (NR) OSU 45, (No. 12) Arizona State 3 in Tempe, Ariz.: Cowboys finished 10-2 in Jones’ first year as head coach. In his first game, he stunned the Sun Devils, who were ranked No. 1 in the preseason by Sport Magazine.
9. 1975 - (NR) OSU 20, (No. 16) Arkansas 13 in Stillwater: Cowboys finish 7-4, with all four losses coming against teams ranked in the top 14.
10. 2002 - (NR) OSU 24, (RV) Nebraska 21 in Stillwater: Cowboys finish 8-5 and post their first victory over Nebraska since 1961.
Depending on what transpires Thursday at its board of directors meeting, the beleaguered Big 12 will start anew: with or without a lawsuit from Baylor trying to block Texas A&M’s exit to the Southeastern Conference; with or without Dan Beebe as commissioner; with or without Chuck Neinas as interim commissioner; with or without an acceptable profit-sharing formula from The Longhorn Network; but definitely three teams short come July 1, 2012.
No matter what reform comes out of Thursday’s meeting, the Big 12 Titantic must get back on an even keel. The best way to do that would be to add three teams. Don’t keep it at nine teams and insist you can survive. Don’t add one team and deem it sufficient. Don’t add one team and promise to re-evaluate down the road. Add three teams, pronto, for the 2012-13 school year.
Conditions are ripe to pluck TCU, so do it. The school is 30 measly miles from the Big 12 office, closer than any existing member. Louisville and West Virginia are scrambling for a life raft, so throw them one. The Big 12′s ship might be listing, but the Big East has capsized and is about to go under.
BYU would be isolated in the Big 12, the only team in the mountain time zone, way up there in high altitude, just like Colorado, which couldn’t take it anymore and headed for the Pacific Ocean. BYU just claimed its major independence and created its own network. The school no doubt wants to prove these decisions were wise. Besides, the Big 12 already has experienced enough headaches with the Bevo Network and doesn’t need to invite another.
Adding TCU, Louisville and West Virginia would make the Big 12 simpatico again, not only in name but also in scheduling, which is crucial. The Big 12 could return to its six-team, North-South alignment and rekindle its football championship game, which has long been a money maker. Dallas Cowboys Stadium could host the Big 12 football championship. Kansas City could host the Big 12 basketball tournaments. Same sites as before, only with three new entries.
Replace Texas A&M with TCU and schedule accordingly against the opposite division — just like before. Pair Texas with Texas Tech, Oklahoma with Oklahoma State, Baylor with TCU, Kansas with Kansas State, Iowa State with Missouri and West Virginia with Louisville. Like a glove.
While other conferences freak out and form 16-team mega-conferences, the Big 12 can stabilize itself and show an even dozen is a far more manageable number.
The Big 12′s existing deal with ABC is up for renegotiation in the next two years, so there’s no time to waste. Make the Big 12 whole again. Twelve means 12. Enough squabbling. It’s time for the Big 12 to act, pronto.
The Associated Press has determined Southern California will retain its 2004 national championship even though the NCAA declared Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush ineligible during that season.
“The 2004 poll stands,” AP sports editor Terry Taylor confirmed in an e-mail to the Los Angeles Times on Friday. “The poll is intended to measure on-field performance. If teams are allowed to play, they’re allowed to be ranked and USC certainly played in 2004.”
The NCAA ruled the Trojans must vacate victories in which Bush played. As a result, former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said his Tigers should be proclaimed 2004 national champions.
“We never complained when they went by the process the last time, and they should go by the process this time,” said Tuberville, who is now at Texas Tech. “If they were ineligible, I think they should have a revote and let people vote on it and decide who they think was the best team that year. If everybody thinks it was Oklahoma, that’s fine. If everybody thinks it was Auburn, that’s fine.”
USC finished unbeaten in 2004 and destroyed Oklahoma 55-19 in the BCS Championship at the Orange Bowl. The Tigers went unbeaten and finished No. 2 in the country after defeating Virginia Tech 16-13 in the Sugar Bowl.
I was an AP voter in 2004 and had Auburn No. 2 in my weekly poll (behind USC and ahead of Oklahoma) until Nov. 21, when I swapped OU and Auburn.
Taylor is right when he says the AP poll measures on-field performance. I saw OU, USC and Auburn play in-person in 2004, and the Trojans were by far the best team. Not even close.
Taylor said declaring a different champion in 2004 would be too difficult. “It would be impractical to revote,” Taylor said, according to the Times. “It’s been six years. Memories have faded and the poll board from that year is no longer intact.”
I remember USC’s massacre of OU quite clearly.
Nebraska football coaches are cashing in on last season’s 10-4 record that included a 13-12 loss to Texas in the Big 12 championship game and finished with the No. 14 national ranking.
Head coach Bo Pelini has a new deal worth $2.1 million per year (up from $1.851 million last season) and will keep him with the Cornhuskers through Feb. 28, 2015. If Pelini is still NU’s coach on Jan. 31, 2015, he will receive a $500,000 retention bonus.
Brother Carl Pelini, the team’s defensive coordinator, will now receive $375,000 annually, up from $208,000 last season. Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson is the highest-paid NU assistant at $380,000, a hefty sum for an offense that ranked 11th in the Big 12 in total offense and passing offense.
With two new arrivals in Turner Gill at Kansas and Tommy Tuberville at Texas Tech, it’s time to update the Big 12 football coaches’ salaries as best we can. With so many facets involved in contracts, it’s difficult to compare apples to apples. The following figures are based on available information via open records, tax returns and published reports:
1. Mack Brown (Texas) $5,100,000
2. Bob Stoops (Oklahoma) $4,275,000
3. Gary Pinkel (Missouri) $2,525,000
4. Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State) $2,200,000
5. Bo Pelini (Nebraska) $2,100,000
6. Turner Gill (Kansas) $2,000,000
7. Bill Snyder (Kansas State) $1,850,000
8. Mike Sherman (Texas A&M) $1,801,000
9. Art Briles (Baylor) $1,800,000
10. Tommy Tuberville (Texas Tech) $1,500,000
11. Paul Rhoads (Iowa State) $1,150,000
12. Dan Hawkins (Colorado) $1,000,570
Interviewing Mike Leach is like chatting with Forrest Gump. You never know what you’re going to get. Quotable responses are anticipated, but there are no guarantees. Sometimes Leach will be charming. Sometimes he’ll give you attitude. Sometimes he’ll respond with a mumble or groan. Sometimes he won’t shut up.
The most innocuous questions often result in the greatest answers from Leach — his thoughts on global warming, Geronimo, his favorite book, did actor Johnny Depp make a good pirate on the Carribean?
Expect the unexpected with Leach. That’s why him getting fired as Texas Tech’s football coach on Wednesday should not have been a total shock.
Leach’s brain is tuned to its own frequency. Only he understands his own brilliance, but Leach claims even he can’t understand why he longer is coaching the Red Raiders.
Leach was fired for his treatment of backup receiver Adam James, a sophomore who complained of a mild concussion and alleged Leach twice confined him to small, dark spaces while the team practiced. James is the son of former NFL player and ESPN analyst Craig James.
Adam James hasn’t budge with his accusations, Leach firmly believes he did nothing wrong, and now neither party will be in Lubbock for long. Tech officials last week tried to shove Leach into an apology. Leach refused and shoved back. Leach initally was suspended Monday and then fired Wednesday morning.
Leach getting launched could be a blessing for both sides. Texas Tech apparently had grown tired of Leach, and the feeling appears to to have been mutual. It’s best they parted ways, but it’ll likely cost Tech. Leach agreed to a five-year contract worth $12.7 million last February.
Support has been expressed for both James and Leach. Like most controversies, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. James has been described as arrogant and stubborn. At times, Leach has been described the same way.
Look for Leach to return to coaching soon, perhaps as early as next season if the job is right and his new employer is willing to let Leach be Leach. Because Leach isn’t about to change.
Sent my Heisman ballot in before the strike of midnight Sunday. (The process is done electronically these days.) The deadline is 4 p.m. Oklahoma time on Monday.
In the oddest Heisman race I can recall, here’s who did NOT get my vote:
QB Tim Tebow (Florida): One of the most clutch players in the history of college football ran out of miracles Saturday against Alabama. He also struggled in other key games this season.
QB Colt McCoy (Texas): Absolutely love this kid, but closing out your career with three interceptions, no touchdown passes and nearly costing your team the game by letting the clock run out in a 13-12 fistfight against Nebraska is no way to win votes.
QB Case Keenum (Houston): Rolled up some impressive passing numbers (43 TDs and nine interceptions in 13 games), but the Heisman Trophy shouldn’t go to someone who lost three games in Conference USA.
RB/RET C.J. Spiller (Clemson): I was so captivated with his 301 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns against Georgia Tech while battling turf toe, I nearly sent in my ballot the instant the game ended with his name on top. Upon further review, Spiller disappeared as frequently as he reappeared this season while battling that nagging injury. Do you really want to give a Heisman to a running back with 57 rushing yards COMBINED against Middle Tennessee State, Coastal Carolina and South Carolina this year?
WR/RET Mardy Gilyard (Cincinnati): If you’re going to consider Spiller, and many people are, Gilyard’s numbers are even better and more lethal (No. 2 nationally in all-purpose yards). He’s the reason the Bearcats are 12-0 and not somewhere around 8-4.
QB Kellen Moore (Boise State): This lefthanded sophomore is poised beyond his years. The Broncos are young and unbeaten. This guy figures to make some serious noise next season for the award.
QB Jeremiah Masoli (Oregon): Ask Oklahoma State how good this kid was in the Holiday Bowl last season. Inconsistent at times, but this dual threat really came through in the clutch when the Ducks needed him.
Here’s who DID get my votes:
1. RB Toby Gerhart (Stanford): Tough as nails. Led the country in scoring with 26 touchdowns. Ten 100-yards games. Three 200-yard games. Has 311 carries so far and will likely carry 30-plus times against OU in the Sun Bowl. A stud.
2. DT Ndamukong Suh (Nebraska): If ever there was a time a defender should win the Heisman, this was the season and this was the player. Unfortunately, Midwest bias won’t be nearly enough for a boy named Suh to win the award, but he deserves to be on every ballot.
3. RB Mark Ingram (Alabama): The Crimson Tide, believe it or not, never has had a Heisman Trophy winner and it appears Ingram will fall just short this season. He averaged 6.2 yards-per-carry against the nation’s toughest defenses. There is hope Alabama won’t be shut out next year. Ingram is only a sophomore.