Notre Dame is playing for a BCS title and that is OK
The nightmare scenario for many college football fans around the nation has come true. Notre Dame will play for a BCS national championship in January.
It may have taken a while but Notre Dame finally feels as though their approach to college football has been justified. Running an independent football program years after other big name programs decided the time was right to align with a conference has seen more than a fair share of criticism saying the life of an independent is not the way to go and by doing so actually leaves Notre Dame in the dust in terms of national relevance. In the grand scheme of things, perhaps this will be proven to be true, but this season Notre Dame made it work.
Returning to college football’s pedestal was a long and rough road at times for the Irish. Since last capturing national glory in South Bend in the 1988 season Notre Dame has made four coaching changes and even suffered through a 12-year drought without a single bowl victory, a stretch perhaps unimaginable since the Ara Parseghian era.
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Wisconsin looks for statement game vs undefeated Buckeyes
You would not think that two-time defending Big Ten champions would need to come up with a statement win in mid-November, having already clinched a spot in the Big Ten championship game weeks before the conclusion of the end of the season. Yet, this is exactly what the Wisconsin Badgers will look to do this weekend when they welcome Big Ten Leaders division rival, and undefeated, Ohio State.
Ohio State enters this weekend with a perfect 10-0 record, but due to NCAA sanctions are ineligible for postseason play. With Penn State also on probation the path to a return trip to Indianapolis for the Badgers was more like an express lane. Wisconsin has already clinched a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game for a chance to defend their outright conference championship and guarantee a third consecutive trip to Pasadena to represent the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl.
But it is the Buckeyes that have ironically carried the conference banner this season for a Big Ten that has come up small on the national stage from week one. Ohio State is one of four undefeated teams left in the country, joined by No. 1 Oregon, No. 2 Kansas State and No. 3 Notre Dame. Because the Buckeyes are ineligible for postseason play they are not ranked in the BCS standings, but Ohio State is accepting of the position they currently sit in and are focused solely on the two final games of their 2012 season.
“You know, I could lie to you and say that I don’t,” Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said earlier this week when asked about caring about being one of the four undefeated teams in the country. “I’ll hear it and read it once in a while, and I have good friends in the profession that will make a comment, and I’ll think for a second. But then I go back to knowing exactly who we were, and you go back to how we’ve won and who we are right now, and we’re pretty fortunate where we are. Let’s find a way to get No. 11.”
Meanwhile Wisconsin has struggled at times throughout the season, with a sluggish start of the season that was thought to ruin any chance running back Montee Ball had to make any runs for individual honors and perhaps see a trip to Rose Bowl elude them in a season that was their trip to lose.
Temple ready to return to Big East this weekend
This weekend Temple will mark their official return to the conference that once abandoned them. There will be no bitter feelings when the Owls host South Florida this weekend though. Instead this weekend will be an opportunity to feel proud about the program, despite entering the weekend with a losing record.
It is easy to criticize the Big East for being put in a position to have to welcome back Temple, but the fact of the matter is this is not the Temple program that was shown the door less than ten years ago. While Temple still has some steps to take before being considered a viable threat in the Big East and accomplishing feats few would expect Temple to be able to reach, this is a program that is understanding of what it takes now to compete at the highest level.
The biggest difference in Temple now and in 2004 is the resources. The program recently unveiled their renovated football building to the media, showing off a project that cost roughly $10 million to expand and update Edberg-Olson Hall. Addazio concedes that some programs around the country will still far exceed what his upstart program has been able to do with funding and facilities but he firmly believes that Temple is now able to compete more when it comes to recruiting with the facilities and services they have available.
“I think we have a state-of-the-art facility, right now, that can compete with anybody in the conference we are in,” said Addazio.
Can Temple beat Penn State for the first time since 1941?
Last September Temple was two minutes and 42 seconds away from their first victory against Penn State since 1941. In 2010 Temple jumped out to a 13-6 lead after the first quarter but were unable to keep the momentum going in a tough 22-13 defeat in State College. Temple has shown no fear in going up against the Nittany Lions in recent years, but they have also shown an inability to deliver the final blow to end a long winless streak against their top in-state rivals.
Can this finally be the year Temple celebrates a win against Penn State?
The rise of the Temple Owls has been a positive story incollege football over the last few years, starting with former Nittany Lion and current Miami Hurricanes head coach Al Golden breathing new life in to the Philadelphia program. A lot of what Golden did in running the Owls was in a lot of ways a mirroring of the way Joe Paterno ran Penn State’s program. For as much progress Temple has made, they have filed to record what many would call a signature win, other than a New Mexico Bowl victory last season against Wyoming.
There is no other way to say it. For Temple, beating Penn State would be that signature win no matter how depleted Penn State may be in some areas and no matter what the future holds. While the program is now in a much better position than they once were, joining the Big East this fall years after being forced out, one of the top goals right now for the program is to beat Penn State and begin to make a legitimate claim that college football does live in Philadelphia, and should be respected throughout the state.
Do they have what it takes to take that next step this weekend?
SEC Media Day Notebook, Day 1
The SEC culture is a unique one in which the commissioner is applauded for his state of the conference address and a player is given a standing ovation after an entertaining and genuine question and answer session. Such was the case in Hoover, Alabama as over 1,000 credentialed members of the media and other representatives soaked in the first of three days of SEC football conversation.
All is well in the SEC
It all started with the annual state of the union address for the conference, in which SEC commissioner Mike Slive provided his thoughts on a wide range of topics without really breaking any news. Slive opened by commenting on the success of the SEC over the past ten years, with a total of 62 national championships across 16 sports. This, of course, includes the past six BCS championships in football. Since accepting the position of commissioner, Slive says the SEC has tripled their revenue but what he seemed to be most proud of was the increasing emphasis on the hiring of minority coaches in the conference.
“I am very grateful that hiring minority coaches in the SEC is no longer a story,” Slive said. “It’s who we are.” The SEC has three minority head coaches in football. Slive also noted that a television program honoring former Mississippi State head coach Sylvester Croom is in production and will air this fall. Croom was the first minority head coach to be hired by an SEC football program in conference history.
Slive was focused on the future of the conference andcollege football in general as well. With the four-team playoff model lined up to replace the current BCS format, Slive looks forward to the impact it will have on his conference. The commissioner admitted there is still work to be done to make the four-team model a success, including revenue distribution but he expects things to work out nicely. Slive also noted that the four-team model began to be discussed in the SEC after Auburn was left out of the BCS Championship in the 2004 season. The Tigers were passed over by USC and Oklahoma that season.
Slive confirmed that the tentatively named Champions Bowl, the bowl agreement between the SEC and Big 12, will be played in prime time on January 1, 2015 but did not confirm the location of the game. Slive said those details are still to be determined.
The plans for an SEC network, similar to the Big Ten Network and Pac-12 Networks, continue to develop as well. Slive noted that the SEC reaches 80 million homes in the early SEC window, and the code name for the television network have changed from Project X to Project SEC.
But the story of the day remained the additions of Texas A&M and Missouri. The Big 12 programs officially joined the SEC as full conference members on July 1 and were the stars of the first day in Hoover. Slive feels the former Big 12 schools are a solid fit in the SEC.
“We are all looking forward to September 8 when Missouri hosts Georgia and Texas A&M hosts Florida,” Slive said commenting on the new members’ official SEC debut on the football field.
“They fit. We welcome them into the conference family.”
Alcorn State breaks a different kind of color barrier
Alcorn State broke a different kind of color barrier on Monday. Jay Hopson, former Memphis defensive coordinator, was hired by Alcorn State to take over the head coaching duties for the program. In hiring Hopson, Alcorn State becomes the first SWAC program to hire a non-black as head football coach.
“It was a great process, Jay came out on top of the pool every step of the way,” said Alcorn President M. Christopher Brown. “There was never any question about his ability to coach, or his ability to fit the criteria for the job. The question was if Alcorn was ready to meet the challenge of hiring a different kind of coach, and we absolutely were.”
One of the goals that placed Hopson on the top of the short list for Alcorn State was his emphasis on academic progress ratings, which is monitored by the NCAA. The NCAA recently stripped SWAC members Jackson State, Southern and Texas Southern of postseason eligibility due to lacking APR scores. Jackson State and Southern later had their bans lifted due to an NCAA decision to give “low-resource institutions” more time to comply with stricter APR requirements.
Hopson, at one point, took his name out of consideration for the Alcorn State job, but warmed back up to the job as he became a leading candidate for the job through the hiring process organized by the school.
“I’m very excited and thrilled. It’s a home to me, and many dear friends of mine are Alcornites,” said Hopson following his introduction.
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