First Saturday of Spotlight for College Basketball

This is the first Saturday of the season where basketball is in full control of the sports calendar. Sunday will be taken up by the NFL playoffs but will still have some fun games.

Saturday is expected to be a great day in the middle of the country as three Big 12 games between top 25 teams will take place. There will be bedlam in Oklahoma and West Virginia will make the journey to Texas. The nightcap will be Kansas at Iowa State to face some Hilton Magic.

Duke at Louisville is losing luster quickly after the Blue Devils took some losses in ACC play. Kentucky traveling to Alabama will be the game with the most upset potential as the Wildcats have been shaky on the road in SEC play so far.

Here is my navigation solution for wall-to-wall basketball this weekend.
Jan 16 Navi Sol


13 Overlooked Stories from the College Football Bowl Season

Yep, the MAC just went Willy Wonka on the Sun Belt.

Yep, the MAC just went Willy Wonka on the Sun Belt.

College football is down to its final game tonight as the postseason has been underway for weeks. We all know the main headlines such the top SEC teams going down, TCU dominating and Florida State combusting into humiliating defeat in the Rose Bowl. There are facts that are not so prominent like leaving tickets for a celebrity. Trust me, it will make sense soon. Here are 13 overlooked stories from the college football bowl season.

13. Oklahoma Tries to Stay Positive

Oklahoma was pounded by Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl 40-6, but found a way to stay up beat on this Clemson touchdown.

When Oklahoma is clinging to hope of a play being reversed, you know it’s a blowout.

No. 12 Randomly meeting your favorite team on the beach

It was a great New Years for Georgia Tech with its Orange Bowl win, but a Georgia Tech fan had an even better time as she had this chance meeting with her favorite Yellow Jackets.

No. 11 Arkansas and People Watching

Arkansas really enjoyed its 31-7 Texas Bowl win over Texas and that deserves bonus points when you beat a team the bowl is named after. The Razorbacks began giving shout outs to fellow athletic teams and signs from fans that trashed their opponent.

Seriously, you don’t see any other athletic department people watch like this, but when you’re winning you can do whatever you want.

No. 10 Pep Rallies upon pep rallies

Bowl games always try to have some pep rallies for the fans, and there is also the chance of having the pep rallies turn into a band duel. Like here in the Fiesta Bowl between Arizona and Boise State.

I guess the Boise band did better as the Broncos won a close Fiesta Bowl game.

No. 9 Underdogs Dominate

It was not a good bowl season to be the favorite.

No. 8 Oregon Football Reflected in Rose Bowl Commercial

The Ducks were winners in another area too, promotional advertisements. This ad that aired during the Rose Bowl was among the best commercials for a school during bowl season as it matched the football team to the university seamlessly.

No. 7 Bowl Banners

It’s always interesting to see how the mid-majors promote their bowl teams. It’s pretty much their season for some of these teams. The Mountain West celebrated its postseason thanks to their record number of bowl teams.

Just don't mention how bad Colorado State, Fresno and Nevada looked.

Just don’t mention how bad Colorado State, Fresno and Nevada looked.

The American Athletic Conference went to the photo route to promote its 5 bowl teams. The AAC went 2-3 in bowls.
AAC bowl banner

The best mid-major conference was actually Conference USA who had a 4-1 mark in bowl season.

No. 6 West Virginia and the King

West Virginia play Texas A&M in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis. You can’t visit Memphis without an Elvis joke and that’s what West Virginia did here.

Good thing the King didn’t show as the Mountaineers lost.

No. 5 Missouri Valley Monopoly

The Missouri Valley Football Conference had its way in the FCS playoffs, as MVFC schools North Dakota State and Illinois State met in the FCS Championship game. Now that is a conference that should be boasting more than SEC fans.
North Dakota State would win a close game 29-27 to earn its 4th straight national championship. Check out the trophy presentation. Where else do the fans gather on the field and the players gather in the stands for the celebration.

When you win four straight, a football game turns into a rock concert.

When you win four straight, a football game turns into a rock concert.

No. 4 Coconut Shrimp and Bloomin’ Onion

The Outback Bowl was all about giving away bloomin’ onions or coconut shrimp based off of the winner of the bowl game. They even went so far to have people dress up as both foods.

No. 3 Marriage at the Rose Bowl

This Oregon couple had more than just a Rose Bowl victory to celebrate.

No. 2 Houston’s Comeback to Retweet

Houston had a triumphant fourth quarter comeback against Pittsburgh in the Armed Forces Bowl. The Cougars wanted everyone to know they came back from 25 points.

No. 1 #MACtion vs. #FunBelt

The MAC and the Sun Belt have all the fun in bowl season. These bowls games are what the conferences are all about in the postseason to the point where it has become a bit of a rivalry. The MAC and the Sun Belt met twice with Bowling Green vs. South Alabama and Toledo vs. Arkansas State. Both games yielded fantastic barbs between the two leagues.
Here is an example of what the Sun Belt did when South Alabama scored a touchdown on Bowling Green.

Here is the MAC after a Toledo touchdown.

In the end the MAC won both games and went into boast mode.

Big Picture College Football Predictions

It’s prediction time as the college football season is here. Here are a few big picture forecasts for season, or ammo for you guys to make fun of me for in December. Take your pick.

Four teams will enter, 14 more will argue they should enter instead

Four teams will enter, 14 more will argue they should enter instead

Florida State is guaranteed to win the ACC

Simply put, the ACC is a disaster and Florida State is the only team with firepower. Clemson and North Carolina are good but don’t have the horses for FSU. The toughest conference game for Florida State will probably be at AAC import Louisville on a Thursday night. Maybe Miami can do something but FSU has everyone else outclassed on paper.

PAC-12 is more likely to have two teams in the playoff than the SEC.

The PAC-12 plays nine conference games a year while the SEC still does eight. Last season, that trait alone boosted the PAC-12’s rankings and they’ll be right there with the SEC this year. All 14 SEC schools play a FCS opponent compared with eight of the PAC-12 schools. If the selection committee values non-conference schedules then the PAC-12 has the inside edge.

SEC champ will come out of the East division

The East division has been pushed around by the West lately and I’m calling that to change this year. Georgia was banged up last season and look for them to be deeper this season as a result. South Carolina is waiting to break through after three-straight 11-2 seasons. Luck should come to one of these schools and upset Auburn or Alabama in the SEC championship. I give the edge to Georgia.

Everyone in the Big Ten will have at least two losses.

With Ohio State losing quarterback Braxton Miller the Big Ten is lacking a power team. Look at this candidate for the most depressing tweet of the year.

If Michigan State loses to Oregon (Sept. 6) and Wisconsin loses to LSU this Saturday in Houston then the conference is out of options. Will the committee select a Big Ten team with two losses? Highly unlikely. Maybe the Spartans can run the table in conference play and get in with just the Oregon loss. Hard to see that happening though.

Oklahoma is a lock to be in the playoff.

Oklahoma is coming off a huge win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and should be favored in every game this season. OU gets Baylor at home, the team in the league with the most explosive offense. With Texas rebuilding and Oklahoma State having to replace most of its team this has to be Oklahoma’s year.

The mid-majors will struggle for attention

The “Group of Five” has little chance of breaching the playoffs and that’s a problem. The top mid-major will get into a BCS level bowl but that’s not part of the playoff. Schools like Boise State, Central Florida and Louisiana have loaded up on their non-conference schedules but that will only help them if they go undefeated. Marshall is the favorite to win Conference USA but plays nobody. The MAC is the most unpredictable conference as its schools will beat each other up. These five conferences are going to have to reevaluate things soon.

The playoff format will work… for the most part.

Four is better than two but someone is going to be upset when the selections are announced. I predict that will be Big Ten fans as the odds are shaky for them in getting a spot. The mid-majors might have to make their own subdivision soon as the power conference schools are taking things over. Still, this will be better than last decade of postseasons. New Year’s Day matters again without compromising the regular season.

As for the championship I’m picking Oregon to beat Georgia. Hey, the more things you guys have to make fun of me for the better.

No, the NCAA is Not Falling Apart

Everyone PANIC!

Everyone PANIC!

There was plenty of overreaction Thursday to the 16-2 vote from the NCAA Board of Directors giving the power five conferences more autonomy. Banter ranging from Athletes being paid to the death of the NCAA was controlling the news. Some punks in the media even called it the creation of “Haves and Have Nots in college sports.”

My response is simple.

Where the heck have you been?

The NCAA has always been operating in a “haves and have nots” system. Especially in football. The Sun Belt has never been equal to the SEC. The same for the MAC and the Big Ten. In terms of resource disparity, Thursday’s vote changed nothing.

In a lot of ways, the vote will do some immediate good. The NCAA has never been able to police the institutions in charge. The cheaters who launder money know how to get around them. The power five conferences (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, PAC 12 and SEC) are more nimble in making preventive measures around cheating. Stipends, not paying players thousands of dollars, are long overdue. You can’t eliminate cheating but you can place players in a less vulnerable position financially.

Seeing Oklahoma self report itself for giving players too much pasta has to end. Heck, South Carolina self reported itself for having too much icing on a cake. The system is broken and the power five are more qualified to fix it than the overwhelmed enforcement staff in the NCAA.

The NCAA is still needed as there has to be a governing body for all schools, and Thursday’s vote didn’t change that either. The bigger conferences have different needs than the rest and the Board of Directors recognized that. That doesn’t mean the NCAA is going to disappear.

As much as the SEC wants to just be by itself, it will always need competition from around the country to validate its prestige. That keeps the NCAA safe from elimination.

The real issues will be how much compensation the power five will agree to disperse to players? Will mid-majors drop down in competition? Staple issues, like Title IX, are not going away either.

But don’t expect the sky to fall because of Thursday’s vote. Intercollegiate athletics is not going to blow itself up. The “Star Trek” clip resembles the situation as Scotty thinks the cloaking device will overload. However, sometimes you just have to throw the switch.