Big 10 expansion — why stop at 12?

Blogs and tweets galore today about Big 10 expansion — the discussion all centering on who should be the 12th team, particularly if not ND?

I’m not in love with the idea of expansion, but if it is going to happen…it is all about money. If ND won’t join in, no single other school will make a real contribution to TV viewership. So why stop at 12 teams? Pick up 3 or 5 and really increase TV footprint. Again assuming ND won’t play:

  • If 3, go after Rutgers, BC, Syracuse. Good schools, pick up major East Coast interest. BC can’t be that committed to the ACC. Syracuse is a great bball program and can be a great football program. Rutgers is the weakest but the potential TV market is huge. And this expansion would be big big news and would drive interest.
  • If 5, add in Pitt for sure. Not thrilled about WVU as the last add, no population base for TV or recruiting. What about UConn?

These would be dramatic moves but if the Big10 wants to grab the spotlight again, a one team expansion of someone besides ND is just not going to do it. It is a “me too” move and pretty boring.

OK two more crazy ideas, but in the vein of “let’s get the spotlight of football back on the Big 1o”:

  • A 2 weekend playoff at end of season. Trim off one game from 12-game schedule, have two play-in games from the top 4 teams. Pair up everyone else in seed order for a final 12th game.
  • Heck with eastern expansion, merge with the Pac-10. The Pac-10 tv offering sucks, the BTEN network could pick up all the Pac-10 content and Pac-10 footprint.

Point being, if you can’t get ND, don’t screw around with half-measures. Go big or go home.

Rose Bowl Tickets confirmed

Hurray, got the mail from the ticket office today, we’ll be there. Not like it was hard to get them — apparently the alums didn’t snap up all the tix as there will be a public sale.

As Rose Bowl prep, some reading:

Another great Buckeye season

While this weekend’s victory over Michigan was not one for the ages, it does cap another great Buckeye season. Undisputed Big10 champs, 5 straight Big10 titles, Rose Bowl trip, 5th straight BCS bowl, 6th straight victory over Michigan, undefeated November including wins over other title contenders. It is a good era to be a Buckeye fan. Tresselball is alive and well despite opinions to the contrary — I am very happy winning games with a tough defense, special teams play (tho this has not been as strong this year), and mistake-free offense. Some writers want to see a lot of “style” points, but that is not football. If you value style points, go watch ice dancing or diving — fine sports, nothing wrong with them. I don’t watch football for style points.

The throwback unis looked good and it is super to commemorate the ’54 team — congrats Dad.

For Michigan, wow, another terrible season. The fan base is failing as well — the amount of scarlet in the Big House was astounding. Real Michigan fans are pissed about.  For the sake of the rivalry, I hope that Michigan starts to be relevant and credible again. I admit to having the thought that, if there was any year in which the pain of losing to Michigan would be small, this might have been it, and it would have been good for the rivalry. The wolverines weren’t up to it.

Also watched a lot of PAC 10 action. With USC caught up in its own undershorts, the Pac-10 is a mess. Stanford opted out this weekend. Arizona opted out. Oregon-Oregon State for all the marbles? When has that ever been the case in the past? The collapse of USC is like the death of Tito, with the Pac-10 fracturing like Yugoslavia into a bunch of warring factions, none dominant.

Still enjoying afterglow of OSU’s win

I could take the high road here and talk about the great character of the Ohio State team or the great athleticism they displayed…

…but it is way more fun to enjoy the misery of the PSU crowd —

  • teeth gnashing over at Black Shoe Diaries — “Sifting through the rubble this morning, and nothing has changed. Yesterday’s game was an absolute owning of the home team — coaches, players, fans, offense, defense, special teams — from beginning to end.”
  • declaring the season a total loss over at CentreDaily — “It probably took Ohio State’s Cameron Heyward, who had both Buckeye sacks, an extra 15 minutes in the showers to wash off the chunks of Clark left on his body from Saturday’s game.”

This victory and our enjoyment of it will sow years of hatred for OSU in the PSU fanbase, which is of course one of the great things about college football.

I don't get the USC community analysis of the UW loss

Here’s a typical blog posting from the “USC community”:http://www.conquestchronicles.com/2009/9/20/1045207/play-calling-is-overrated. Whacking on Corp for Saturday’s loss. All the blogs repeat this theme as do the press like the OC Register. And I saw quotes from Pete basically throwing Corp under the bus.

Seems to me tho that “Corp was no better or worse than Barkley before him”:http://www.conquestchronicles.com/2009/9/20/1045089/comparisons-between-barkley-and. When you change QBs and results are the same, perhaps it is the other variables — receivers or coaching. And as I watched the game, the poor ball handling by Havili and McKnight, who both gave up unforced fumbles to kill scoring drives, seemed like the greater issue.

Of course as a Buckeye fan, this all just reaggravates the wound.

Post USC loss reading

* “Brutal takedown of Tressel over at Dr. Saturday”:http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/blog/dr_saturday/post/Deconstructing-The-grisly-demise-of-Tressel-Ba?urn=ncaaf,189322. Particularly on offense, Ohio State’s gameplan against the Trojans was utter rubbish, and it failed to meet the number one requirement of every gameplan: put your players in position to succeed
* Pete says “Locker is better than Pryor”:http://www.insidesocal.com/usc/archives/2009/09/better-than-pry.html. Of course he will say that this week but it is up to Pryor to make that statement seem ridiculous.
* “An OSU follower’s view”:http://www.elevenwarriors.com/2009/09/five-things-usc.html. Coaching breakdown, Pryor breakdown. And what irks me is the failure of the coaching staff to react to Pryor’s shortcomings in their gameplan.
* “A general roundup of coverage”:http://www.elevenwarriors.com/2009/09/further-reading-usc.html
* We “discover an entirely new brand of disappointment”:http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/blog/dr_saturday/post/Ohio-State-discovers-an-entirely-new-brand-of-di?urn=ncaaf,189030. Indeed

It was a great great game and I enjoyed the evening thoroughly up til the last minute. And man our team played hard and the fans gave it their all, so proud to be a part of the community. But I sure hope Tressel is learning from this and getting better, as he often talks about his teams needing to do.

Great things about Central Ohio

* “L&P Cake and Candy Shoppe”:http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&client=firefox-a&ie=UTF-8&q=bakery+bellefontaine+marion+ohio&fb=1&split=1&gl=us&cid=1148308129879636741&li=lmd. Seriously maybe the best frosted sugar cookie ever.
* “Crum Strawberry Farm”:http://www.pickyourown.org/OHcolumbus.htm. After eating their strawberries, I resolve to never buy grocery story strawberries again.
* The entire scene Saturday night at the Horseshoe. The tailgating, the friends and family, the stadium, the game. Tough ending but what a night. I thought last year’s Penn State game was the craziest ever but this was over the top. We sat down for maybe 5 minutes the entire game, the south stands were hopping all night long

Matt Barkley is a tool

OK OK, Pryor has made some ill-considered comments this week, but he is not alone. MOTSAG has these choice words from Matt Barkley:

Among other things, Barkley was asked by a reporter on the field what he had learned about himself as a quarterback.

“That this is fun. This is easy. This is what I was made to do,” Barkley said.

I asked Barkley if there was anything that was difficult.

“The run up the tunnel at halftime,” he said. “That was brutal.”

Perhaps the Buckeyes can provide him some lessons in humility on Saturday. All in the name of helping his further development as a person.

Today's USC reading

* “It is my bet you will see a physically dominant performance by Jeff Byers and his crew, and they will lead USC to a lopsided USC win.” via WeAreSC.com – Hogue Report: SJSU edition
* “Song Girl Monday”:http://www.trojanwire.com/football/song-girl-monday-9709.php. Why would you think to throw your cheerleaders in water to get their pictures? There is just no morality in Southern California. OSU has to win just to protect the moral fiber of America.
* “SC line back at full strength?”:http://www.ocregister.com/articles/practice-state-dowd-2555273-play-carroll. Maybe.

It's USC Week!

Oh boy. Here is your reading list — know your enemy!

* “LA Times”:http://www.latimes.com/sports/college/usc/.
* “OC Register”:http://www.ocregister.com/ocregister/sections/sports/usc/ and “its USC blog”:http://usc.freedomblogging.com/
* “TrojanWire”:http://www.trojanwire.com/. Another usc blog
* “Reggie Bush’s Twitter Feed”:http://twitter.com/reggie_bush. Just to annoy you.
* “Pete’s website”:http://www.petecarroll.com/ to further annoy you
* “Pete’s Twitter Feed”:http://twitter.com/petecarroll.

Finally, football is here.

My picks this week (straight up):

* South Carolina vs. NC State (Thursday). SC. I’m tempted towards NC State as SC always lets me down.
* Oregon vs. Boise State (Thursday). Oregon. Hoping for a good game.
* Navy vs. Ohio State. OSU. I expect Navy to cover the spread tho, Tressel won’t show all his cards in this game.
* Oklahoma vs. BYU. Oklahoma. Oklahoma just has too much.
* Virginia Tech vs. Alabama. Bama. Tho I will be pulling for VT, I’m not a Saban lover.
* Georgia vs. Oklahoma State. Georgia. I refuse to support T Boone Pickens’ attempt to establish Okie State as the common meaning of OSU. We must crush any attempt of this program to rise out of the murk of mediocrity.
* Minnesota vs. Syracuse. Syracuse. This is a brutal game to pick. Going with the home team but these are two programs with all kinds of frothy expectations amongst their fan bases, and yet we all know they are going to crash hard.
* Mizzou vs. Illinois. Missouri. Why does everyone love Juice? By the end of the Big10 season, he will be like the 5th best QB in the big 10.
* Stanford vs. Washington State. Stanford. All the smart writers think Stanford is really stepping up, but not sure I can buy that. However they should have no problem with a pitiful WSU.
* Maryland vs California. Cal. I don’t know that I have ever picked a Cal game right tho, they continually disappoint.
* San Jose State vs. USC. USC. But SJSU covers the spread as the USC team starts to learn about itself.
* Mississippi vs. Memphis (Sunday). Ole Miss. Tho I am not on the crazy Ole Miss bandwagon.
* Colorado State vs. Colorado (Sunday). Col State. Another tough one to pick, Colorado has so often disappointed.
* Miami FL vs Florida State (Monday). FSU. Sad but true, I don’t care about either of these programs any more. I can’t even get up the energy to hate them. Oregon State, Minnesota, Rutgers all seem more relevant, and wow that is sad.
* Cincinnati vs. Rutgers (Monday). Rutgers. No idea so go with home team.

Will you see all 120 FBS teams play in 2009?

Will you see all 120 teams play in 2009? : Fanblogs College Football Blog. I’ve been wondering about this as a goal as well — just seeing a quarter of play from each team. Over 14 weeks of regular season, this is just seeing 4+ games a weekend IF you can magically pick all the games that cover all the teams. Going to need to pay careful attention to the Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday night games to pick up all the lesser programs.

This weekend alone I will aspire to see parts of

* South Carolina/NC State
* Utah/Utah State
* Oregon/Boise State
* Minnesota/Syracuse
* Ohio State/Navy
* Georgia/Ok State
* SJSU/USC
* Missouri/Illinois
* Oklahoma/BYU
* Alabama/VT
* Maryland/Cal
* LSU/UW
* Colorado State/UC
* Cincy/Rutgers
* Miami FL/FSU

OK I probably won’t get all but that would be 30 teams right there. Of course the only somewhat obscure programs would be Utah State, SJSU, and Colorado State.

Perhaps my goal should be to just see the BCS teams — that is 66 teams, a very doable goal. And probably less painful than having to watch lower-division Sunbelt conference teams.

OSU's reloading challenge; helmet schedules

The BigTen Network has a nice page summarizing all the watch lists for this season. Which nicely highlights OSU’s challenge this year — compared to years past, OSU has way too few players on these lists. For OSU to achieve the top 5-10 finish predicted by a lot of pollsters, some relative unknowns are going to have to have breakout seasons. OSU certainly has the talent but will it develop and gel?

BTW, get your helmet schedule here

Demographics and long term competitiveness in college football

Article in today’s WSJ about “Fasting Dying Cities” and Ohio is all too well represented (though Canton is growing, what is the story there??).

So let’s look at the big picture — college football competitiveness. It is not so much that Ohio and neighboring states are losing population — in fact they are staying pretty constant. So on the one hand, there is no reason to think that the talent pool will get any worse for the recruiting grounds that OSU tends to dominate.

However…the population in Texas, Florida, California continues to grow significantly and therein is a problem. Assuming that physical skills and coaching quality is distributed similarly in both sets of states, the top of the bell curve in the southern states will just continue to have even more great candidates while the midwest states will be flat.

Thankfully we are in a scholarship cap regime, so the leading schools in the southern states just can’t sweep all these kids up — OSU has 8-10 kids on the roster from Florida this year, a couple more from Georgia and Texas. And as population countrywide grows, while scholarship limits stay flat, you have to believe that talent will continue to spread out as it has done in basketball, creating greater parity throughout Division I in the long run.

Also, the southern states are not dominated by a single school the way Ohio is — Florida has UF, Miami, FSU, and all the up and comers like FIA, FAU, UCF, etc; Texas has UT, A&M, Texas Tech, Baylor, SMU; California has USC, UCLA, Cal, Stanford, SJSU, Fresno State, etc. And every neighboring state is trying to poach from these states — Oklahoma and OSU and LSU poaching into Texas, Arizonas and Oregons and Washingtons poaching into California, etc. This happens in Ohio too of course, Michigan and ND and PSU poach into Ohio, and increasingly Pitt and MSU and Cincinnati. Thankfully IU and Kentucky are kind of moribund.

So long term — I suspect OSU can hold its own; however, you have to assume that the lead institutions in the fastest growing, high population states will have a builtin advantage due to a greater talent pool around them — UF, UT, and USC. OSU will have to work hard to maintain at this level — continuing to dominate Ohio recruiting, picking up great talent from neighboring states, and having a healthy flow of kids from Florida, Texas, California, etc. The pipeline from Florida seems to be working, and there is some representation from Texas though we could do better there. California is thin, and boy that is a long way culturally and geographically for an 18 year old to travel.

Less than a month to kickoff!

Preseason coaches poll is out, OSU at 6th, SC at 4th. Man I am fired up for the opener against Navy in less than a month, and for the SC rematch.

Other teams and stories I’m excited about:

* Michigan. Can they take steps back to respectability? The best rivalry in sports needs drama to sustain itself.
* SC. How good how fast, and will they learn to win the games they ought to win?
* UW. My adoptive hometown team, will a new coach get them off the mat?
* Florida. Hoping the rest of the SEC mans up and pins a couple losses on them.
* Denison. Go Red Raiders! Only because a member of extended family is on the team.

Gearing up for football…

CFN’s Big Ten Preview is up. OSU gets the requisite amount of love. Though OSU needs some defensive players to surprise to achieve the promise of the team.

OSU picked to finish first at Media Day.

Here are my hopes for the season:
* OSU of course defeats SC and goes on to win the Big10
* Michigan takes steps towards respectability. You can’t have the best rivalry in sports if one of the programs sucks.
* Someone rises in the west to challenge USC.
* UW gets up off the mat and makes some progress.
* Florida and Tebow take a dive. I am so sick of the Tebow-gasm in the press every day. My 2nd favorite team every weekend will be whoever is playing Florida.