Tuesday, July 10, 2012


The Fugitive Commissioner of the FFHL
Hello Football Fans,
Once again, football news is tough to dig up these days, but let me throw out some stuff that has happened during the offseason.  Even summer American football news trumps the now-completed Euro2012 soccer action, which had a 260-minute stretch during playoff games where neither team scored a goal.  Zzzzz.  Two games ended regulation and overtime play still tied 0-0; it was playoff time, the ties had to be broken.  And what was the way to determine the winners after that?  Penalty kicks.  I’m sure glad they don’t determine NBA overtime games by shooting free throws.

Attached is some offseason college football news, and several projections for the upcoming season.  It's less than two months until the college FB season kicks off. Futher NFL and college updates will be forthcoming in Part 2 of COLLEGE OFF-SEASON UPDATES FROM THE DESK OF THE “FUGITIVE” COMMISSIONER
The Fugitive Commissioner of the FFHL
This letter is related to the college football.  As the season approaches in August, I’ll kick out another letter with rules changes and coaching changes, etc. for both NFL and college.

“Playoffs?  PLAY-offs??!!??” (Jim Mora, Sr. impression)

Yes, Division I-A football will have playoffs starting in 2014 under a new 12-year playoff agreement.
There are still some details to be worked out, but a 4-team playoff will match up seeded teams: #1 vs. #4 and #2 vs. #3 in the semifinals, and then the winners face each other in the championship game.

The four “best” teams and seedings will be decided by a selection committee.  The semifinal playoff games will be played at neutral sites, at six different sites on a rotating basis, including the four current BCS bowl sites – Orange in Miami, Sugar in New Orleans, Fiesta in Glendale, AZ, and Rose in Pasadena, CA.  The two other sites are still to be determined.  The championship game will be bid out separately from these six semifinal sites.

The selection committee will publish weekly “Top 20” rankings starting at midseason in order to provide some transparency in the selection process and create less “controversy”.  In addition to determining the Top 4 playoff teams, the committee will also rank #5 through #12, and those teams will be eligible for at-large berths in the six top-tier bowls.

For 2012 and 2013, the BCS formula and BCS bowl game setup will continue in the same manner as last year.


There is still debate as to the number of teams that should be included in the playoffs.
In less than twenty years, we have gone from mythical champions created by the final poll results to the Bowl Coalition to the Bowl Alliance to the current BCS system.

A four-team playoff is potentially going to leave one or more “deserving” teams out, so there will still be some controversy.  But it’s certainly better than the current BCS system, which narrows it down to only TWO teams vying for the NCAA title.
Is the 4-team format better than an 8-team or 16-team playoff?  Phil Steele thinks so, and I agree with him.  If you look at history, there would rarely if ever be eight teams that could lay claim to being the best team in the country after the regular season.  With eight playoff teams, at least several “weaker” teams would have a shot at the title, even though their regular season results would not warrant such an opportunity.  Thus, with an 8-team playoff, the regular season results would be less important, which in Phil’s opinion (and mine) is not good for college football.  The regular season means more in college football than in any other sport, and this should be preserved for the good of the game.

Phil Steele has been calling for the 4-team playoff system for over a decade (2000 magazine); he must be happy right now.  His playoff idea was stimulated by the results of the 1998 (Ohio State) and 1999 (Nebraska) seasons, where Phil thought the best team in the country didn’t even get to play in the title game.  (Also, remember 2004 when undefeated SEC Champ Auburn didn’t get to play in the title game?)

 Phil did a detailed analysis of the last 15 years and concluded that the 4-team playoff system would have worked perfectly in 12 of the 15 years, while the current BCS plan would have worked in only 4 of the 15 years.  A 16-team playoff would have worked in only one year – 2007, when the argument was which two or three-loss team was best.  The only year in which the #5 team could make a clear cut case to be included in the top two teams was during that wacky 2007 season.

The four-team playoff is still going to create controversy, because there may be only three teams (or two) deserving of the chance to win the championship.  In that case, it will be up to the committee to pick from among several “undeserving” teams to fill in the fourth spot.  It’s still an improvement, and will not get changed during the 12-year agreement from 2014 through 2025 (the way I understand it).

www.profootballtalk.nbcsports.com website was conducting an informal poll on how the playoffs should be structured, and I picked up the early returns after 607 visitors had voted:

                    Four is perfect                   19%
                    Eight is optimal                   54%
                    16 is optimal                      18%
                    Go Big – 32 or more            5%
                    BCS system is fine               2%+
                    True “Plus-One” ideal          2%- 


Following is a list of the preliminary odds for some of your favorite college teams to win the BCS national championship, as released by the Bovada.com website on June 20th

                                        BCS Title
                                        Odds            Comments
TOP 11:
USC                       3-1               Trojans coming off 2-year bowl ban; better than 1-1 to win Pac12
Alabama                 11-2             Crimson Tide is defending champ; 11-5 odds to win the SEC
LSU                        11-2             Tigers lost badly in title game last year; also 11-5 to win SEC
Oklahoma               10-1             Sooners are 1-1 favorites to win Big XII
Florida State           12-1             Seminoles are 1-1 favorite to win the ACC
Oregon                   12-1             Ducks are 2-1 second choice to win 12PAK
Georgia                   14-1             Bulldogs are 11-2 third choice to win SEC
Arkansas                20-1             Razorbacks are 7-1 fourth choice to win SEC
Michigan                 20-1             Wolverines are 2-1 favorite to win the Big 10
Notre Dame            28-1             Independent Irish will not win a conference title this year
Texas                     28-1             Longhorns are 4-1 second choice to win Big XII
VA Tech                 30-1             Hokies are 3-1 second choice to win ACC
West Virginia           30-1             Mountaineers are 11-2 to win Big XII in new conference
South Carolina        30-1             Gamecocks are 10-1 fifth choice to win “over-hyped” SEC
Nebraska                40-1             Cornshuskers are 7-2 third choice to win Big 10
Wisconsin               40-1             Badgers are 5-2 second choice to win Big 10
TCU                       50-1             Horned Frogs are 11-2 to win Big XII in new conference
Boise State             65-1             Still in Mountain West; moving to Big East in 2013
Iowa                       150-1            Hawkeyes are 20-1 longshot to win Big 10
Louisville                 150-1            Cardinals are 9-4 favorite to win the Big East
Cincinnati                150-1            Bearcats are 5-2 second choice to win Big East
Arizona                   200-1            Wildcats are 35-1 longshot to win PAC12
BYU                       200-1            Away games vs. Utah, Boise, Notre Dame, GA Tech
Stanford                  200-1            Cardinal is 25-1 longshot to win the 12PAK
South Florida          250-1            Bulls are 7-2 third choice to win the Big East

Those numbers are not much to get excited about, considering only one team can win the title.
More to practical matters, here are Phil Steele and Lindy’s projections on conference winners:

Conference             Steele                               Lindy’s

SEC West               Tie-LSU/ALA                     LSU
SEC East                Tie-Florida/Georgia             Georgia
SEC title                 LSU                                    LSU

Big 10 Leaders       Tie-WISC/OH.ST               Ohio State
Big 10 Legends      Tie-NEB/MICH/MI.St         Michigan
Big 10 title               Wisconsin                           Michigan

Big XII                       Oklahoma                         Oklahoma
Big XII Runner-up    Tie-TEX/OK.St                  West Virginia

ACC Atlantic           Florida State                     Florida State
ACC Coastal           North Carolina                   Virginia Tech
ACC title                 Florida State                     Florida State

PAC-12 North         Oregon                              Oregon
PAC-12 South          USC                                 USC
PAC-12 title             USC                                  USC

Big East                  South Florida                    Louisville
Big East Runner-up Louisville                           Rutgers

Mountain West        Boise State                       Boise State
MW Runner-up       Nevada                             Fresno State

C-USA East            Central Florida                  Central Florida
C-USA West           Tie-HOU/TULS/SMU         SMU
C-USA title              Central Florida                  Central Florida

MAC East               Tie-OHIO/Mia.OH/B.GRN  Ohio U.
MAC West              Western Michigan             Western Michigan
MAC title                 Ohio U.                             Ohio U.

WAC                      Louisiana Tech                  LA Tech
WAC Runner-up      Tie-Utah St/San Jose St    Utah State

Sun Belt                  Florida Int’l                        Florida Int’l
Sun Belt Runner-up Troy                                 Arkansas State

National Rank                   Notre Dame #21                Notre Dame #33
                                        BYU #35                           BYU #39

Rose Bowl              USC vs. Wisconsin            Michigan vs. Oregon
Orange Bowl           Oregon vs. USF                FSU vs. Louisville
Sugar Bowl             LSU vs. Michigan State     Alabama vs. West VA
Fiesta Bowl             Texas vs. Alabama            Oklahoma vs. Michigan State

BCS TITLE GAME   FSU vs. Oklahoma            LSU vs. USC
in Miami, FL
Sun Life Stadium
Monday, Jan 7th


QUESTION #1: How many Division 1-A football teams are participating in this 2012 season?
HINT:  Last year there were 120 Division 1-A (FBS) schools.

QUESTION #2: Which sanctioned teams are not eligible for post-season play in 2012?

One-Hundred and Twenty-Four (124).
The additions this year are:

Entering the Mid-American Conference (MAC), from Amherst, MA:  the Massachusetts Minutemen, who do not play any FCS schools this year (unlike Alabama, who plays Western Carolina in November); that is, UMass plays 12 FBS schools.  Their home games will be played 94 miles from campus at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA where the New England Cheaters play their home games.
In the Revolutionary War, the “minutemen” were small, elite forces hand-picked from the general militia and were required to be highly mobile and able to assemble quickly (“at a minute’s notice”).  About one-fourth of the militia were minutemen, who were trained to be ready for battle with only 30 minutes notice.  The first Minutemen were from Massachusetts; they saw their first action at Lexington and Concord and gained fame from there.

Entering the Sun Belt Conference, from Mobile, AL: the South Alabama Jaguars, coached by Joey Jones, who has lead the Jags to a 23-4 record in three years as their head coach (including 2 losses last year to FBS schools NC State and Kent State, but 2-0 ATS).

Entering the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), from San Marcos, TX: the Texas State Bobcats, coached by Dennis Franchione, formerly an FBS head coach at New Mexico State, TCU, Alabama (2001-2002), and Texas A&M (2003-2007), and is in his fourth year at TX State.

Also entering the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), from San Antonio, TX: the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Roadrunners, coached by Larry Coker, who won a Division 1-A national championship while head coach at Miami of Florida (2001-2006).

Ohio State and North Carolina.
It’s difficult to keep up with NCAA investigations and enforcement actions.
Did I miss any for 2012?
USC is bowl-eligible this year, after serving its two-year bowl ban.
Miami of Florida is still being investigated, but I haven’t heard of any sanctions being imposed yet on the Hurricanes’ program.

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