New Orleans, Louisiana
First things first Byron, LSU has to get by Arkansas and win the SEC Championship game. That's a tall order, even for the top ranked team in the country. If the Hogs can run the football with Darren McFadden and Felix Jones they will give the Tigers all they can handle. They will also have some extra motivation, as this could be Arkansas Head Coach Houston Nutt's last conference game. The Tigers should win a close, hard fought battle but with the season we have had, who knows?
LSU has their ticket punched to Atlanta and the big question is who will they play? We do know it will be Georgia or Tennessee and if you are LSU you hope the Volunteers beat Kentucky this weekend because the Dawgs are arguably the hottest team in the country right now. It's going to be tough for Tennessee because they play the Wildcats in Lexington and I would give Kentucky the edge in this one. The Vols have been up and down all year long. I just think the Wildcats have more firepower and I see them beating Tennessee. This means Georgia would play LSU for the SEC Championship.
As I stated before, I honestly believe that today, Georgia is playing the best football in the SEC and perhaps the country. Running back Knowshon Moreno has been incredible in the second half of this season and quarterback Matthew Stafford gets better and better with each start. The big improvement for the Dawgs is their young offensive line, as they have really come into their own. Georgia is balanced and they are playing loose and with a tremendous amount of confidence right now.
In addition, I see all the pressure being on LSU. They are the No. 1 ranked team in the country and they will be playing essentially in Georgia's backyard, the Georgia Dome. Lets not forgot about distractions, like all the rumors having LSU Head Coach Les Miles headed to Michigan.
So I wouldn't quite put the Tigers in the BCS Championship game just yet. They have two monster games ahead. If they do get by the Hogs and Dawgs they will certainly be worthy of the top spot and a chance to win a National Championship. Don't get me wrong, I think LSU is probably the most talented team in the country. They have won some huge games already this season.
But are they playing up to their ranking? To be honest, I am not so sure there is a sure fire top team in the land. I believe there are about a 10-12 teams that are all pretty equal. It really boils down to when you lose. Where would Ohio State be ranked if they lost early in the season and not in week 11? Virginia Tech and Georgia, two two loss teams, are real hot right now and playing as well as anyone.
If LSU gets to the title game, there could be any number of teams that could get there. Obviously, the biggest game of this weekend is in the Big 12 North between Kansas and Missouri. The winner will likely get Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game. So Missouri and Kansas will have to get by a really good Sooner team to get a shot at LSU.
If OU wins the Big 12, that could open up the door for West Virginia, Arizona State or Ohio State. The Buckeyes are in the clubhouse, done at 11-1. Sure the Buckeyes need help but with the wild and crazy season we have had thus far, who knows what lies ahead for the Mountaineers and Sun Devils. West Virginia still plays UConn and Pitt. (both at home) while Arizona State has a huge game with USC this weekend before closing out their season against an improving Arizona team (both at home).
Based on the '07 season I have no idea who will play in the title game. Heck, I am not even that confident that LSU will get there, especially if they have to play Georgia in their conference championship game. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see West Virginia and Ohio State play for it all.
Jamie, regarding your answer on the subject of why some conferences like the Pac-10, for example, don't have a championship game while some others do... isn't the real issue here about cold, hard cash? I mean, nobody forces those other conferences to hold a formal championship game while allowing certain others to "skate by riding the easy road." Some conferences chose to sell their souls for the extra buck generated by that game, plain and simple. Neither they, nor their fans, should whine now about how much tougher they have it. They should know they can't have it both ways. These conferences did it to themselves. Shouldn't that have been the real basis for your answer?
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Just a comment; you failed to mention that the SEC, ACC and Big 12 chose to have a playoff game - to make more money - no one forced them to do so !
Little Rock, Arkansas
Phil and Jim, you are absolutely right. You are 100% correct and I apologize for not mentioning that last week. But that wasn't the crux of the question asked. Money is what everything boils down to and that's why I can't understand why more conferences don't expand and add a championship game. Remember, college football is a business and the SEC, ACC and Big 12 have expanded over the years and are drawing record revenues to their respective leagues. Do you see that has been detrimental to the game? I certainly don't.
Do you know what kind of revenues could be generated with a college football playoff? It would be mind boggling. A big reason why we don't have a playoff yet is that all the college presidents wouldn't be able to agree on how to divide up the big pay day.
With all of the press, positive and negative, regarding Tim Brewster, what do you see ahead for the football future at the University of Minnesota?
I think the future is bright for the Gophers and Tim Brewster. Just remember, they only have one way to go and that's up. Minnesota is basically going through a makeover, as they changed their systems both offensively and defensively. They are doing this with players that don't necessarily fit these systems. It will take time and I fully expect two things to happen for the Gophers.
First, they are going to recruit well. Brewster and his staff will work as hard as anyone in terms of recruiting. They don't have a great base in the state and they will have to work other areas of the region and country. Right now Minnesota currently sits sixth in the Big 10 recruiting rankings, as they have committed players Florida, Illinois, Texas, New York, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania in addition to the state of Minnesota.
Second, I think Minnesota can follow the same path as what Ron Zook has done at Illinois. They will take their lumps for a few years until the get the right personnel in place. Once that happens then it just comes down to making plays and winning games. That's certainly attainable fairly quickly in the Big 10 because after Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Illinois and Wisconsin, what does the conference really have? By no means I am trying to disrespect that league but there is no reason why Minnesota can't catch and pass teams like Indiana, Purdue, etc.
Give Coach Brewster and his staff the proper time and I think you will see a vastly improved program over the next few years.
With all the unexpected success in college football from teams like South Florida, Kansas, UConn, etc, should we expect these coaches to be in the conversation for jobs like Nebraska or Texas A&M? Who are the most likely prospects for some of the struggling major programs in the Big 12?
St. Joseph, Missouri
Good question. USF Head Coach Jim Leavitt has been courted by some schools (Alabama a few years ago) but he seems quite happy in Tampa with the Bulls. UConn coach Randy Edsell has done a very nice job with the Huskies and I would suspect you will hear his name pop up a lot for some jobs in the next six weeks. If Georgia Tech opens up, I think that's a name you will hear tied with the Yellow Jackets (as well as Jimbo Fisher, Terry Bowden and Charlie Strong). In terms of Mark Mangino at Kansas, he has done an incredible job. To have a program like Kansas in position to possible play for a national title in football is amazing. As good as a job as he has done I see him staying put, at least for the time being.
So what happens at the other Big 12 schools that will likely have openings like Baylor, Texas A&M and Nebraska? I think Baylor comes down to Art Briles and Mike Singletary. A&M will make a run at Steve Spurrier, Tommy Tuberville and perhaps even Butch Davis. Would one of this trio leave for the Aggies? Hard to say right now. I think it's easy to say that if Nebraska opens that it will be Bo Pellini, Turner Gill or possibly both. But don't be surprised if interim AD Tom Osbourne makes a big pitch for Barry Alvarez or Glen Mason. What happens at LSU if Les Miles gets the Michigan job? Do the Tigers make an offer to Pellini. If so, does he take it or does he go back to Lincoln? Maybe LSU makes a run at Spurrier or even Tuberville and they let Pellini go, if he is offered the Nebraska job?
Who really knows? All I know is at this time of year with all the potential job openings I hear some crazy, crazy stuff. It will certainly make for a very interesting December and January within the coaching carousel. Stay tuned.
I don't understand something, last season Scout.com ranked defensive end Everson Griffen as the top prospect in the nation. Daquan Bowers is every bit as good as Griffen so why he Bowers No. 5 overall? Would Griffen rank the same this season or would he be lower? Or do you feel Bowers simply isn't as good as Griffen?
Anderson, South Carolina
First, I would rate Everson Griffen ahead of Daquan Bowers in comparing the two. Don't get me wrong, Bowers is a big time talent and a great prospect with a ton of upside. He has size, speed and quickness and is a tremendous athlete. But I honestly believe Griffen is the top rated defensive end this decade and then some. I think he's more of an explosive player than Bowers.
How would Griffen fit in with the top prospects of this season? Wow, that's a very tough call. Personally, I would probably rate him No. 1 over Arthur Brown, Julio Jones, Darrell Scott and Terrelle Pryor. They are all super prospects with tremendously high ceilings. But the dominant ends are just too hard to find. I also think these prospects mentioned above have superstar potential written all over them. These guys are all that good.
What do you think of Damien Holmes and does he stick with UCLA?
First, I think Holmes (Colton, Calif.) is one of the top defensive linemen in the nation. Holmes, 6-2.5 and 254 pounds, has committed to UCLA and I guess his future depends on what the Bruins decide to do with their coach. I suspect that if defensive coordinator Dewayne Walker is still at UCLA that Holmes will stay put. If not, all bets are off.
Now he did take a visit to Oregon a few weeks ago and came away impressed. In fact, Holmes says he is only currently speaking with the Ducks and Bruins and that he is solid with UCLA.
Holmes stars on both sides of the ball and also plays tight end. The first thing that jumps out at me while watching Holmes is his quickness and first step. Holmes stays low and fires off the ball, getting a great jump on any OL. He uses his hands well to shed blockers. After that Holmes is chasing, whether it's the quarterback or running back he will get after it. Holmes then shows off his speed. He is a good pass rusher and run stopper. He holds contain against the run and will make the play. When the play goes the other way Holmes is very effective in pursuit and moves very well down the line of scrimmage. As a tight end, he gets a quick release off the line of scrimmage and is a very formidable receiver. He shows soft hands and toughness. Holmes will find the soft spot in the defense, make the grab and then take the hit. But usually he will dish it out to the defense as he runs with authority with the ball in his hands.
Where does Shayne Hale end up?
Farmington Hills, Michigan
Staying with the defensive end theme, you bring up a question on one of the country's finest prospects and one of my favorite players, Shayne Hale (Monroeville, Pa.). Hale, 6-3.5 and 240 pounds, is considering West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio State and Michigan. He has already officially visited Virginia and is slated to trip officially to Morgantown in early December. He currently says West Virginia is his leader. It's hard to determine where the Wolverine's currently stand with Head Coach Lloyd Carr announcing his retirement yesterday. So that leads me to believe it's a three horse race between West Virginia, Ohio State and Virginia.
Something else to monitor is his teammate, running back Cameron Saddler. He also likes Michigan, West Virginia and Virginia as well as Syracuse and Pittsburgh. Saddler will officially visit the Panthers this weekend. You know those two would love to play together and the two common schools are the Cavaliers and Mountaineers. Right now I would give the edge to West Virginia.