Posts Tagged ‘Florida’

Weekly links … NCAA Tournament style


Reminiscing about last week’s NCAA Tournament games and I can’t help but think how fun it was to watch South Carolina defeat Duke.

Of course, it is fun anytime Duke goes home the first week of the tourney but it was especially fun because all the Duke excuse makers were out in full force.

You see, it was somehow unfair for Duke to have to play South Carolina in the state of South Carolina.

But for some reason, it never is unfair for Duke opponents to have to play the Blue Devils in the state of North Carolina. How many times has Duke had two quasi-home games in the NCAA tourney?

Yet somehow it was really unfair for Coach K and his team to have to play in a different state.

Duke couldn’t play in the home state this year because the tournament was pulled from North Carolina due to that weirdo transgender bathroom law.

Do they have guards outside the bathroom checking your gender before you are allowed in? What a dumb law.

Anyway, South Carolina and star guard Sindarius Thornwell outclassed Duke. And Frank Martin outcoached Coach K.

South Carolina became America’s Team for a night as most people around the nation enjoyed watching another Duke early exit.

Go Mercer! Go Lehigh! Go South Carolina!

Isn’t Duke an elite program? Well, elite programs should be able to win anywhere.

End of story.


Interesting tidbit I dug up: Wisconsin has won more NCAA Tournament games than anyone else over the past four years.

The Badgers are looking for their 14th NCAA win in that time span when they face Florida on Friday.

Normally, I wouldn’t care who wins a game like this. Especially since my bracket has already met the shredder (thanks, Villanova).

Oh yeah, it was Wisconsin causing my bracket to become full of red ink with its impressive victory over Villanova.

But I now realize it is time for the Badgers to go home. Not their fault but I learned that the slimy politician guy named Paul Ryan is from Wisconsin.

Ryan is the dingbat who is somehow coming up with a worse health care plan than the disaster known as Obamacare (the one time Donald Trump is right). I wouldn’t trust that Ryan clown to correctly put English muffins in the toaster. Heck, my mom calls him a jackass.

Go Gators! Make Paul Ryan have a horrible Friday night.

Here is the stellar preview —


Thursday is the night that all of those Gonzaga fans will become really sad.

The Bulldogs don’t have enough ball-handlers to deal with the “Press Virginia” defense that West Virginia is famous for. The Mountaineers have forced 724 turnovers — nobody else even has 600 — and I see them creating havoc all game long.

Gonzaga also is the team with all the pressure on it. The Bulldogs have never reached a Final Four and even coach Mark Few admitted that the Final Four thing will continue to hang over the program until it reaches one.

Well, I don’t see Nigel Williams-Goss and his teammates even reaching the Elite Eight. I see Gonzaga’s season coming to an end on Thursday.

Here is the stellar preview —





Time for Weekly Links and hopefully these hot stories heat things up.

You see, it is minus-7 degrees on this Friday night and feels even colder. When my phone said feels like minus-17 last night, I really wanted to throw it out in the cold so it could find out for itself.

Oh yeah, went out to start my car tonight so the engine wouldn’t die. Too late, it was already dead. #PolarBearWeather and I don’t really get along too well.


So off to the links and I drew the preview assignment for the College Football Playoff title game between Alabama and Clemson.

I’ve been saying Alabama would go undefeated since early October so no reason to change now. Clemson has a ton of solid players and should make it a game — just as the Tigers did last season before losing 45-40 in the title game.

The Crimson Tide has NFL players everywhere. Lucky for Nick Saban, he doesn’t have to fit them under a salary game.

And Saban sent offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin packing after the semifinal win over Washington. Maybe we can change his name to Lame Kiffin.

Fits pretty well.

Here is the stellar preview of Monday’s national championship game —


My NFL preview for the week is the AFC wild-card game between the Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Dolphins defeated the Steelers 30-15 in the regular season when running back Jay Ajayi rushed for 204 yards and Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted twice.

I say quarterback play will be the bigger factor in the rematch. Roethlisberger will be making his 18th postseason start – he has won two Super Bowls – while Miami journeyman Matt Moore will be making his first career playoff start.

Not saying Moore won’t step up but it also won’t surprise me if he puts together a disastrous Brock Osweiler-like performance either (translation: rotten).

The Dolphins were badly hoping Ryan Tannehill would be recovered from his knee injury to play in this game but he appears to be another week or two away.

Here is the stellar Dolphins-Steelers preview —


I was asked recently what is the best assignment to draw and that answer was easy: College basketball remote writethrus.

They pay 2 1/2 to three times more than the previews. Heck, they pay better than most live assignments I’ve handled since living in Boise.

Not leaving the house to write about college basketball and getting paid better than covering a live college hoops game from courtside is pretty amazing. Who needs to deal with snow and sliding on icy roads? Not me.

So here is how it goes: I file first-half running copy with notes at halftime, I file a first lede about two minutes after the game concludes and I finish up with the write-thru with quotes about an hour later.

And I don’t even have to deal with the egos of any coach. Perfect.


So this week, I learned that Hall of Famer Rick Barry has a son who plays for Florida. (Yeah, I did the math too).

Oh sure, he shoots free throws underhanded just like his famous father.

Canyon Barry matched his season best of 20 points on Tuesday as the Gators knocked off Ole Miss to land my story angle.

Here is the stellar Ole Miss-Florida remote writethru —


In my other one, I really didn’t learn anything new. Already knew Gonzaga was really, really good. And the Zags beating up on San Francisco is a twice-yearly tradition.

But wow, Bulldogs junior point guard Nigel Williams-Goss keeps getting better and better. He had been sick earlier in the week but he was making the Dons feel awful with his play as he established career highs of 36 points and 11 rebounds on Thursday.

Williams-Goss was a fine point guard at Washington for two seasons before departing. He sat out last season as a transfer and now looks like one of the top players at his position in the country.

His superb performance led to him landing the angle on my story.

Here is the stellar Gonzaga-San Francisco remote writethru —

It was an abbreviated work week for me since Tooth No. 19 was called up to Tooth Heaven.

That added up to a lack of fun in my life and a diet consisting of yogurt, applesauce, pudding, mashed potatoes and chicken noodle soup.

Dang, I can’t wait to eat pizza again.

So it will be an abbreviated Weekly Links as well since I only had half a week to choose from this time.

It does make it easier that way with fewer articles to sort through. So we’re going with two conference championship games on the college football side and one also-ran NFL game from the professional ledger.


I’m still not sure why we must go through a College Football Playoff this year to determine the top college team in the nation.

The same team that was the best in September is the best at the beginning of December. And will be again when the season is over.

Alabama is the only truly good college football team this season. Actually, the Crimson Tide are great. And they didn’t miss a beat when they lost star safety Eddie Jackson with a broken leg.

The Crimson Tide meet Florida in Saturday’s SEC title game and there isn’t much of a chance that an upset will happen.

The Gators are without six defensive starters and using a backup quarterback. Heck, perhaps Alabama should play all their third-stringers to even things up.

Crimson Tide defensive end Jonathan Allen (seven sacks, two fumble return touchdowns) is the top defensive player in the nation and he and his teammates don’t look capable of losing at all this season.

But first, they look to win the SEC title.

Here is the stellar Alabama-Florida preview —


I keep hearing it said that Ohio State and Michigan are the top two teams in the Big Ten.

But when asked to write the national preview for the Big Ten championship game, I didn’t need to visit either team’s websites.

So maybe Ohio State and Michigan are the third and fourth best teams, huh?

Kind of complicates things that Wisconsin and Penn State are playing for the Big Ten title when it comes to the CFP selection committee. We are looking at the possibility of a Big Ten team that didn’t play in the conference title game making the national playoffs?

Nothing makes it more clear how worthless your conference championship game is than that fact.

Penn State won the division that Ohio State is in and if it wins the conference title game, perhaps the Nittany Lions are the Big Ten team that should be part of the CFP.

The problem, though, is that Ohio State is currently the No. 2 seed. So for Penn State to get in, either Clemson or Washington gets bumped out. Sorry, that isn’t how this whole deal is supposed to work.

But know this: If two Big Ten teams make it this season, we will quickly move closer to the eight-team playoff.

Anyway, here is the stellar Wisconsin-Penn State preview (note: that isn’t my prediction at the bottom but going with this entity’s copy because they didn’t strip off my byline) —


I didn’t write about any NFL teams headed toward a championship game this week.

The Philadelphia Eagles still have a chance to make the playoffs but does anybody really think that is happening with six losses in eight games after a strong 3-0 start?

And the Cincinnati Bengals? Not mathematically eliminated but even quarterback Andy Dalton is already trying to figure out what went wrong with five games still to go.

The Bengals made the playoffs in each of the past five seasons before this year’s miserable campaign.

The Eagles are revamping under first-year coach Doug Pederson and his tune has changed from talking about the playoffs to talking about the process.

Coaches who talk about the process typically aren’t doing much winning in the present.

That’s a fact.

Here is the stellar Eagles-Bengals preview (in the New York Times again!) —

It’s time to get ready for the inaugural College Football Playoff national championship game on Monday night.

Of course, the first thing you have to do is make sure you know which teams are playing. So I will just rely on the banter that went on throughout season and do the obvious thing.

Check to see which SEC school is playing in the big game.

You know, because the lame banter on ESPN all season told us how the SEC West was the greatest division of all-time. Not just better than other college divisions but better than the meek NFC South and perhaps as good as the NFC West.

So gosh, I can’t wait to see which SEC West team is playing in the big game. (see stellar preview here —

OK, ridiculously high-paid Nick Saban, is your Alabama squad playing in the title game?

I don’t hear anything, Nick. Oh yeah, silence. Kind of like when you walk down the halls and can’t acknowledge the lowly support people.

So sounds like no Alabama in the title game.

How about Mississippi State? Are the Bulldogs in the national title game?

Wait, did I just mention the Mississippi State Bulldogs and national title game in the same sentence? About 100 LOLs are in order for that.

We know playing in a Starkville city league title game would be a high-water mark for Mississippi State so, yeah, we know the Bulldogs aren’t in the most important game of the season. Duh.

Sure was a lot of television hype about Mississippi State, as there was for the school right down the road.

Wait, now we’re checking to see if another Mississippi school reached the title game. Ummmmmm, what was the name of that song by The Who?

Won’t Get Fooled Again?

Yeah, no surprise to see the Ole Miss Rebels nowhere near a big game. They pay their way in to see big games, they sure don’t play in them.

Well, at least since Archie Manning ended his college career in 1970.

Hmmmm, Auburn maybe? No. This year’s edition of the team wasn’t anywhere as fearsome as last year’s squad, which did reach the title game before losing to Florida State.

OK, how about LSU? No chance. Les Miles has lost the touch and he’s on his way to being a Mack Brown – someone that never recovers after losing it and eventually the school pushes out.

Oh yeah, Texas A&M. Oh no, Johnny Football is not there. That means Kevin Sumlin is back to being an OK coach and not wearing the genius tag the college football media wanted to put on him the past two seasons.

Perhaps it was all Johnny Manziel’s doing after all.

That leaves Arkansas. OK, that’s not happening. More of a chance of Bobby Petrino crashing the venue with a motorcycle than the Razorbacks being in the title game.

Hey, maybe it is an SEC East team then.

Florida used to play in big games, right? Oh, not anymore. Tennessee used to be a power. Oh, it hasn’t been good in more than a decade.

Looks like Missouri was the top team in the East. Wait, the Tigers just showed up and remember, they were supposed to get crushed because they were joining a more stout conference. Starting to realize the SEC isn’t all that tough, huh?

How about Steve Spurrier and South Carolina? Looks like the Gamecocks weren’t all that potent. And not Georgia either. The Bulldogs seem to win a lot of games but fail often when it comes to winning important contests.

We won’t discuss Vanderbilt or Kentucky. We’re trying to pinpoint a team making the national championship game, not one that would be a middle-of-the-pack team in the Mid-American Conference.

What do you know – it turns out the Big Ten has a team in the game. A conference criticized for underachievement over the past decade. And Ohio State got to the title game by beating Alabama.

Uh oh, little Nicky is going to be terror back on campus.

The other team is Oregon of the Pac-12 so it is official. The SEC was shut out of the national championship game.

All the worthless chatter, all the meaningless hype, all the shameless promotion … it all meant nothing.

The SEC wasn’t the best conference, it was the most overhyped and underachieving.

They will be watching the big game on TV – just like the common folk.

And the common folk can use the following info as a lesson: Nothing the college football talking heads say mean a thing. Nothing. Nada.

I can recall Warren Moon putting on a stirring performance while winning Rose Bowl MVP honors on the second day of 1978 when he led the Washington Huskies to an upset win over the powerful Michigan Wolverines.

Over the next few months, I didn’t understand why NFL teams had no interest in drafting Moon. It was one of those makes-no-sense-to-a-kid things.

You see, I had no idea that teams interested in winning would bypass a college quarterback just because his skin was black.

Moon had to spend six years proving himself in the Canadian Football League before any NFL team would give him a chance. The Houston Oilers signed Moon in 1984 and he went on to a Hall of Fame career despite not starting his NFL career until the age of 27.

I think of Moon today not because of his superb playing career and all that he had to overcome to become a starting NFL quarterback. But because a guy like Moon should know better than to make the comments he did last week when he said that Auburn quarterback Cam Newton is being criticized because he is black and held to different standards than white college quarterbacks.

Makes me wonder if Moon was in hibernation in Siberia last spring when Florida’s very-white Tim Tebow was perhaps the most publicly scrutinized draft hopeful quarterback of all-time. Moon sure didn’t come to Tebow’s defense, did he?

I get that Moon might be a bit sensitive due to his own experiences of being shunned by NFL owners and general managers after his own standout college career. I threw out questions to Moon on conference calls on two occasions but won’t pretend to know how painful that process was to him and fully accept that I can never possibly know what it feels like to be stereotyped against due to skin color.

But Moon is now 54 years old and played 17 NFL seasons. He once was the highest-paid player in the NFL so there’s no way he doesn’t know what the business side of the NFL is like. He also knows no position in the game comes under more scrutiny than a quarterback.

If all positions were considered equal in stature, then rookie quarterbacks entering the league wouldn’t land richer contracts than All-Pro linebackers and offensive linemen. Once he made it into the NFL, Moon benefitted from the system that treats quarterbacks different than any other position.

What peeved Moon in recent days was a scouting report written by Pro Football Weekly’s Nolan Nawrocki that said Newton was “fake,” and “immature” and “lacks accountability, focus and trustworthiness.”

The scouting report also listed positive things about Newton’s athletic ability and pro potential but Moon only felt like reacting to the things he didn’t like. And guess what – Moon is on Newton’s payroll, helping prepare Newton for the upcoming draft.

So if you want to thin the debate down to who is more objective about Newton, Moon is going to lose by a landslide to the Pro Football Weekly writer.

So is Newton fake? Perhaps so, perhaps not. If he is fake, he’s far from the first NFL athlete. I covered the San Diego Chargers in the mid-to-late 1990s when Junior Seau was the star linebacker for the Chargers. Never saw a player change into a happy mood faster than Seau did when the camera lights were on him.

All of a sudden, No. 55 would spend three minutes answering a question he was too busy to entertain three minutes earlier.

Is Newton immature? Perhaps so, perhaps not. Cam doesn’t turn 22 until May so it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he’s still maturing. I covered an immature 22-year-old quarterback named Ryan Leaf who was a complete bust on the field and a complete buffoon off it.

Newton was involved in a well-publicized scandal last season at Auburn and left Florida earlier in his college career under circumstances that allegedly include academic fraud and a stolen laptop. Yeah, he has some integrity issues and some of it may be due to immaturity.

As for comments about lacking accountability and trustworthiness, I know of many people twice Newton’s age who fit that description. Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel seems like more of a snake than Newton when those are the standards, wouldn’t you say? Connecticut basketball coach Jim Calhoun is three times Newton’s age and I can’t say Newton is any more disingenuous than Calhoun, the best reason to root for Butler to beat UConn in Monday’s NCAA title game.

In fact, there are adults all over the college landscape – namely football and basketball coaches and athletic directors – who match up pretty well with Newton in that regard.

I’m open to Newton becoming a good NFL quarterback but it’s hard to say for certain whether or not he will be. Add in signs that he appears to be a bit of a me-first self-promoter and it would be hard for me to bet my future on him if I was an NFL general manager.

If you think about it, Newton is one of four quarterbacks considered to be worthy of being selected in the first two rounds of the 2011 NFL Draft. The others are Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert, Washington’s Jake Locker and Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett.

Gabbert doesn’t have a long track record as a productive collegian, Locker has impressive athletic ability but was an underachiever prone to erratic throws in college and Mallett has been raked over the coals for some personal issues over the last two months.

In fact, you could easily make the case that Mallett has experienced rougher criticism than Newton. How come Moon hasn’t come to defense of Mallett and uttered similar opinions about unfair critiques?

And if there’s a black sportswriter somewhere who criticizes Mallett and questions whether he’s trustworthy or calls him fake, do we call that black sportswriter a racist?

Of course, we wouldn’t. That would be silly. The same way it is ridiculous that Moon has decided to play the race card in a situation that has nothing to do with skin color.

If I was running an NFL team, I wouldn’t draft any of those four quarterbacks in the first round. But of course I never understood why an NFL team would pick Alex Smith first overall in the same draft that Aaron Rodgers was available (and yes, people who know me heard over and over again as the 2005 draft approached that Rodgers would be a much better pick than Smith).

But if I were considering picking Newton, I would be getting a bit concerned about one thing: If Newton is having trouble dealing with criticisms from people who don’t really matter in February and March of 2011, then I would be very concerned with whether or not he’ll be able to handle the pressures of December and January during NFL seasons.

I trust that Warren Moon is schooling Newton on such pressures in the months leading up to the draft. It’s just sad that Moon is now adding to the scrutiny Newton must endure with ill-advised comments.

As I said at the outset – Moon has firsthand experience of what real stereotyping is like and it still seems silly to me that he was bypassed in the 1979 NFL Draft solely because he was black.

But Newton being scrutinized prior to being a first-round pick in a few weeks is not something that is a different standard than what white quarterbacks go through.

If Warren doesn’t believe me, I’m sure he can figure out how to get ahold of Tebow now that he’s no longer in hibernation.

I just gave thanks for the first time in 2011 – thanks that the Rose Bowl is on New Year’s Day.

It will be the only college football game I watch from start to finish on the first day of the year.

Sadly, the contest between TCU and Wisconsin is also the only one that is worth 3 1/2 hours of my time.

Didn’t use to be that way. New Year’s Day used to be one of the top football-watching days of the year.

It was a day where you woke up, watched the Rose Bowl parade and then turned on the Cotton Bowl to set the tone that you wouldn’t be leaving the house all day. The back-to-back Rose Bowl and Orange Bowl matchups later in the day were always scintillating matchups with the Big Ten, Pac-10 and then-Big Eight champs always playing in the two games. The Sugar Bowl had the SEC champion.

New Year’s Day was saved for the elite. No exceptions.

Here in 2011, there are six bowl games on New Year’s Day. In the first four games, five of the eight teams  that played in them had 7-5 records. That’s one win above being a .500 team.

None of the six teams playing in the Gator, Outback and TicketCity bowls featured a team that even had a winning record in their own conference. Mississippi State, Florida and Penn State all went 4-4 in their respective leagues. Northwestern, Texas Tech and Michigan all were 3-5.

Purely pathetic for teams like that to be playing in New Year’s Day bowls. Period.

The Capital One Bowl – featuring Michigan State (11-1) and Alabama (9-3) – had the only matchup of deserving teams and it quickly turned into a Crimson Tide rout.

Interestingly, there was a Big Ten team playing in each of those first four bowls of the day. Hmmmm, now I understand why it was a mediocre day of football.

New Year’s Day is now like a run-of-the-mill college football Saturday. Full of middling teams that have no business playing on what used to be a day for elite bowl matchups.

Blame the BCS, blame greedy ESPN, blame the Big Ten … actually, blame them all.

Think about it, that Rose Bowl matchup that rates as the most intriguing contest of the day includes a non-BCS team in TCU, the undefeated squad from the Mountain West Conference.

As for the BCS, only that entity can turn the Fiesta Bowl into no-reason-to-watch TV. Oklahoma against Connecticut would be fine with me if it was a first-round playoff game but an 8-4 Big East team like UConn doesn’t excite me in terms of how to spend the initial night of 2011.

On the other hand, an undeserving squad is the perfect nightcap for a day now reserved for worthless bowl games.

It was lining up to be a great Friday for college football. Then Ohio State president Gordon Gee opened his mouth and his wacky words began to overshadow the games.

That is one of the major problems with the BCS. The chatter about the system often does overshadow what happens on the field.

Three of the top four teams in the nation are playing pivotal contests on Friday that could decide who plays in the national title game. Auburn and Alabama meet in the afternoon, followed by Oregon and Arizona, followed by Boise State and Nevada (the stellar preview of the game in Reno can be found here

Oregon and Auburn can take another step towards meeting in the title game if both squads win. A stumble by one or both teams opens the door for Boise State and/or TCU to perhaps end up in the championship contest.

That’s something Gee has a major problem with.

Gee’s opinion is that neither Boise State nor TCU is worthy of playing for the title.

The funniest thing – and perhaps also the saddest – was Gee’s comments about both teams regularly playing Little Sisters of the Poor.

Gee apparently doesn’t like the fact that Boise State played a nonconference game against Toledo from the Mid-American Conference.

Perhaps Ohio State coach Jim Tressel does a good job of hiding conference affiliations from Gee when talking about the Buckeyes’ schedule. Because Ohio State played TWICE as many MAC teams as Boise State did this season.

Yes, Gordon, your so-called powerful football squad played both Eastern Michigan and Ohio University. Rolled up 73 points on Eastern Michigan, too. Anyone ready to say Ohio State played Little Infants of the Poor?

Ohio State plays two MAC teams in 2011, too. Yeah, look it up – the Buckeyes open with Akron and follow up with Toledo.

Hmmmm, Boise State plays Toledo next season too. So Gordon, how did you classify Boise State’s schedule?

I’m guessing Gee had a problem with Boise State playing Wyoming of the Mountain Western Conference as well. Well, I covered San Diego State’s football program for seven seasons in the recently concluded decade and the Aztecs made THREE TRIPS to Columbus to play the Buckeyes.

San Diego State didn’t go to a bowl game the entire decade. Nice scheduling, Gordon.

TCU played Tennessee Tech this season, something that must have caused Gee lots of anxiety. But Arkansas of the SEC – the most powerful conference in the land – also played Tennessee Tech.

Why is it OK for major-conference teams to play the Tennessee Techs of the world but not teams from non-BCS leagues?

Since Gee feels Boise State and TCU are inferior foes and Ohio State excels at scheduling second-rate nonconference competition, then I suppose it’s only a matter of time before he orders coach Jim Tressel to get both teams on the future schedules.

I mean, there’s nothing to be afraid of, right Gordon? Hey, why did Tressel just run out the door?

The truth of the matter is that there are only four teams worthy of playing in this year’s title game and two of the four – Boise State and TCU – aren’t part of the BCS. You see, the system was set up to keep the lesser conferences out of the title mix as the power leagues won titles and made bushels of money.

A dimwit like Gee can’t grasp that two teams from outsider leagues have a chance at playing in the title game when his one-loss Ohio State team doesn’t. He also doesn’t feel that either Boise State or TCU could give a powerful SEC team a solid game.

Teams from the SEC have won the last four national titles. Guess which school got blown out in two of them?

Yeah, Ohio State. Perhaps you remember Florida pounding the Buckeyes 41-14 and LSU cruising to a 38-24 win over Ohio State?

So we already know Ohio State can’t compete with the SEC. Why not find out if Boise State or TCU can if it ends up that way?

Look, nobody is saying that the Western Athletic Conference or the Mountain West is a tougher league than the Big Ten. I don’t need anyone to explain to me that Iowa and Penn State – the two teams tied for fourth place in the Big Ten – would have better than 7-4 overall records if they were playing in the WAC or Mountain West. I get that Iowa wouldn’t have three conference losses in either of those leagues.

But aren’t there flaws in the debate when people get heated about how neither Boise State nor TCU would go undefeated in the Big Ten or the SEC?

There are 23 teams playing as members of those two conferences and only one – Auburn – is undefeated this season. So if co-Big Ten leaders Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State can’t go undefeated in the Big Ten, why should that be the expectation of a Boise State or TCU?

If Alabama, LSU or Florida (4-4 in SEC play this season) couldn’t go undefeated in the SEC this season, than why would the Broncos or Horned Frogs need to?

What Gee’s comments really do more than anything is help the argument of the non-BCS leagues that the BCS violates antitrust laws. All I know is that the politicians of the states of Idaho and Texas need to join Orrin Hatch of Utah in creating a major fuss after the season.

It is time for the non-BCS schools to make a major stand. And not settle for anything less than the plus-one model (a playoff game after the bowls) becoming part of the college football landscape.

Gordon Gee has provided an opportunity for the little guys of college football. All by not having a clue of what he was talking about.

Unfortunately, he has been also receiving more publicity than any of Friday’s three marquee games.

If you haven’t already figured this out, the college football establishment can’t wait for Boise State to either be upset or trampled by a traditional power in a BCS bowl game. The power brokers certainly don’t want the Broncos anywhere near its so-called national title contest.

They would be elated and popping champagne corks if Louisiana Tech could somehow upset Boise State on Tuesday night.

The latest example of “Boise State can’t win by winning” is comments by ESPN college football analyst Robert Smith.

Smith, a former Ohio State star, isn’t impressed with the little boys from somewhere out West. His dig was that he doesn’t think Boise State could beat Virginia Tech if the two teams were to meet again now. I’m still trying to figure out how that is even relevant to the national title discussion.

This isn’t a comparison between two teams that didn’t play – the main reason all these meaningless analysts have jobs in the first place. Boise State and Virginia Tech actually played each other. The Broncos won.

Since this is college football and not an NFL home-and-home division rivalry, I don’t understand how a non-BCS team beating a ranked team once in a season isn’t good enough.

All I know is Boise State and Virginia Tech played under the same exact circumstances in terms of a season-opening game and time to prepare. In fact, the game was held close in proximity to Virginia Tech where Boise State had to fly 2,000-plus miles to play in front of a largely pro-Virginia Tech crowd.

Seriously, Smith couldn’t come up with anything better to analyze Boise State’s BCS chances?

Making the situation funnier – or perhaps sadder – is when October began, all we heard over and over from the shallow folks at ESPN was that Virginia Tech wasn’t that good this season and Boise State’s victory over the Hokies was no longer impressive.

Yeah, Boise State can’t win for winning.

On the other hand, I’m glad to know Smith is suddenly such a deep thinker. Can’t wait until two or three weeks from now when he says things like …

–“I’m not so sure South Carolina could beat Alabama if the two teams played today…”

–“I’m not so sure Kansas could beat Georgia Tech if the two teams played today.”

–“I’m not so sure Mississippi State could beat Florida if the two teams played today…”

–“I’m not so sure Iowa State could beat Texas if the two teams played today…”

–“I’m not so sure Missouri could beat Oklahoma if the two teams played today…”

And of course, the one you know the former Ohio State star can’t wait to say:

“I’m not so sure Wisconsin could beat Ohio State if the two teams played today.”

One thing I learned long ago as a sports reporter, anytime an athlete or coach begins a sentence with “I’m not so sure,” they usually aren’t so sure. In other words, they weren’t prepared to answer the question or hadn’t done their homework.

If Smith is going to accept money to be an analyst, it would be nice to see him develop his abilities to where he could actually enlighten people. Perhaps doing a little homework before a show would help.

But remember, ESPN hires these guys because they were big-name football players – Smith was a fabulous NFL running back with the Minnesota Vikings – and not because they spent years developing their craft or are experts in what they are discussing.

Since Virginia Tech is rolling now with six straight wins, I can’t wait until the eve of the ACC Championship Game when ESPN requests Smith to break down the game. You just know this famous line will roll off his tongue.

–“I’m not so sure James Madison could beat Virginia Tech if the two teams played today.”

Now that Boise State has survived the glamorous part of its schedule, it is time for the Broncos to start laying down harsh whippings on the lesser teams on the slate.

It is time for style points if the No. 3 Broncos don’t want to slip in the national rankings. That means keeping the accelerator down against overmatched Western Athletic Conference foes.

There’s no reason to play nice – Boise State is leaving the league for the Mountain West Conference anyway. So might as well put a few more shoe prints on the pants of the New Mexico State Aggies before departing Las Cruces for the last time.

Another reason not to be good sports: Any perceived lackluster win puts the Broncos in jeopardy of losing votes and coming up short in terms of playing in the BCS national championship game.

Boise State (3-0) begins the just show up and win part of its schedule when it plays New Mexico State (0-3) on Saturday. The Aggies aren’t just bad, they are horrific. That’s why Boise State is six-touchdown road favorites (yeah, really).

You could merge New Mexico State with in-state rival New Mexico and let former Lobos star Brian Urlacher join in as well and there would still be no chance of Boise State losing this contest.

You might have noticed Boise State is featured on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated. You may have heard that there’s a cover jinx.

No, don’t waste your time dreading the jinx.

New Mexico State couldn’t win this game if you let Aggies coach DeWayne Walker trade his Marcus Allen – a talented receiver – for the Hall of Fame running back by the same name.

Another reason for Boise State to pour it on the poor Aggies is that two high-profile games involving four Top 10 major programs will be going on at the same exact time.

Top-ranked Alabama hosts No. 7 Florida and a fast-rising Oregon team ranked fourth hosts another solid Pacific-10 squad in No. 9 Stanford.

Say Florida beats the Crimson Tide, the Ducks defeat Stanford and Boise State wins by only a measly 17 points against a team that lost by 32 to Texas-El Paso. There will certainly be voters fretting over putting Boise State in the No. 2 spot on the ballot with Oregon playing so well.

Broncos coach Chris Petersen might say all the right things publicly but he’s not a dummy. He’s aware that the power conference supporters will be on the airwaves – that’s you, Mark May – proclaiming how much better BCS conferences schools are in comparison to any WAC program.

Think about it – people have downgraded Boise State’s victory over Virginia Tech because the Hokies were upset by James Madison five days later. Also, there has been a lot of scuttlebutt that the Broncos’ 13-point win over Oregon State – a Pac-10 team that was ranked No. 24 entering the contest – wasn’t overly impressive.

It’s more than a little bit funny that a WAC team beating a nationally ranked Pacific-10 team is no longer a notable victory.

So basically, that 43-point spread against the Aggies needs to be exceeded, and that might not be overly tough to accomplish if Boise State’s solid defense pitches a shutout. But if New Mexico State scores 10 or 14 points, Boise State better score in the high 50s. Wouldn’t hurt for Kellen Moore and company to just put 63 on the Aggies and call it a day early in the fourth quarter.

It’s no longer solely about winning if Boise State wants to participate in the national championship game. It’s about style points and the thrashings need to start Saturday against a putrid New Mexico State squad.

It has been 12 long years since San Diego State last played in a bowl game. That is a horrendous streak in the era of six-win bowl teams.

But the Aztecs are halfway toward bowl eligibility after improving to 3-1 on Saturday by obliterating Utah State 41-7.

Obviously, Utah State (1-3) isn’t very good but the Aggies did lose by just 31-24 to national power Oklahoma.

San Diego State could be 4-0 but suffered a last-minute loss to Missouri a week earlier when two defenders collided into each other to help T.J. Moe turn a short pass into a game-winning 68-yard scoring play.

The Aztecs have been helped by having a real-live running game for the first time in several years. Freshman Ronnie Hillman has already rushed for 532 through four games, a total that is just 26 shy of Brandon Sullivan’s team-leading output (558) in 2009.

The passing game is fine with quarterback Ryan Lindley and receivers Vincent Brown and DeMarco Sampson. We’ll learn more about the defense in coming weeks when the schedule gets tougher.

San Diego State has a bye this week so it has two weeks to prepare for its Mountain West Conference opener against Brigham Young in Provo, a place where the Aztecs typically get blown out.

Wild WAC

Perhaps the Western Athletic Conference has two powerful teams this season.

No. 3 Boise State has beaten two BCS-conference schools in Virginia Tech and Oregon State and Nevada is ranked for the first time since 1948 after winning at BYU over the weekend.

The Wolf Pack (4-0) routed California 52-31 earlier in September and will be rolling up plenty of huge winning margins in WAC play behind superb dual-threat quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Perhaps that late November contest in Reno between Boise State and Nevada will feature two teams with BCS aspirations.

The Broncos kept alive their hopes of upsetting college football fans all around the country by defeating Oregon State 37-24 for their 57th consecutive regular-season home win. Kellen Moore, a Top-5 Heisman candidate, passed for 288 yards and three touchdowns.

Big Ten or Little Chickens?

Ohio State rolled up 73 on Eastern Michigan, Wisconsin scored 70 on Austin Peay and Michigan tacked on 66 against Bowling Green this past Saturday

Iowa (vs. Ball State) and Michigan State (vs. Northern Colorado) each posted 45 points against overmatched opponents.

Ten teams from the great Big Ten were in action on Saturday and not a single one of them scheduled a tough program. And two conference teams lost to weaker-conference Mid-American foes – Northern Illinois ran all over Minnesota during a 34-23 upset and Toledo stunned Purdue 31-20.

And defenders of the BCS system like to say every game in the regular season means something. Not in the league of Little Chickens – oops, I mean Big Ten.


–Stanford is 4-0 for the first time since 1986 after walloping Notre Dame and the Cardinal have the best quarterback in the Pac-10 in Andrew Luck, who is significantly better than Washington’s Jake Locker.

–What got into UCLA? A team that looked so inept against Stanford earlier this month put a major licking on an obviously overrated Texas team.

–Can we drop the Big East down to Division II status? All eight Big East teams have at least one loss and none of them have beaten a good team yet with only two good nonconference opportunities left – Pittsburgh at Notre Dame in October and South Florida at Miami in November. The Big Least is embarrassing.

–Arkansas let a big opportunity to upset top-ranked Alabama get away and quarterback Ryan Mallett made some bad decisions in the latter half of the fourth quarter.

–Is there a more disappointing program in the country this season than Georgia? The Bulldogs are 0-3 in Southeastern Conference play after losing to Mississippi State, a team it normally whips.

–Can we just cancel the 2011 meeting between Florida and Kentucky now? Gators have won 24 straight meetings against the Wildcats with the last three decided by an average of 42 points. Think that’s bad? Consider this: Florida has outscored Kentucky 73-0 in the first quarter in the last three games. And this most-recent rout didn’t include Tim Tebow playing for the Gators.