July 31, 2012

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Top College Football Games Of 2012

By: Joe Williams

We are officially less than a month away from kickoff of the 2012 college football season. Can’t wait! (Thank you Bart Scott) College football always provides the most entertaining regular season of the major sports in America. We don’t know which games are going to mean the most or be the best, but here are a few that I’ll have marked on my TV watching calendar.

You can bet Mountaineer Field will be rowdy when Oklahoma visits this season.

Boise State at Michigan State

Friday, August 31

The Broncos came out of nowhere to become a major force in college football in the last few years. Boise St. has gone on the road against some big-time schools in recent years; Georgia, Virginia Tech, Oregon and Oklahoma have all paid the price for taking the field against the Broncos. Fortunately, that didn’t stop Michigan State from agreeing to play in the opening week of the season. If the Broncos win, (despite having to replace the majority for their starters), they could be in for another season of BCS debate.

Alabama at Michigan

Saturday, September 1

The defending national champs have a huge test right out of the gate. Michigan is on the way back to the top of college football and a win here would be a huge step for the program. The Tide will have to run the table if they lose. Both of these storied programs have their sights set on the BCS title game in January. The winner of this game could be there.

Clemson at Florida State

September 22

Who’s going to win the ACC? Will it mean anything in the national championship picture? If anybody from the ACC will make a run at a title, I think it starts here. Of course, Virginia Tech will have something to say about that but I’ll take this game.

Oregon at USC

November 3

College football will have a playoff system but not this year. This game ought to be as close to a playoff game as we get in 2012. Both teams enter the season as national championship contenders. Both teams could be undefeated. Both teams want home-field advantage for the Pac-12 title game. Only one team will be left standing.

Oklahoma at West Virginia

November 17

One of the good things about all the realignment happening in college football is that we will get to see some different matchups. Two BCS game regulars are now conference rivals (West Virginia is now in the Big 12) and the winner here could be in the national championship discussion.

LSU at Arkansas

November 23

The rest of the country should be tired of the SEC dominating college football. That’s not likely to change much but this game could at least provide a different SEC team for the nation to root against. Will this be the year the Razorbacks make the jump to the top of the SEC? It will take a victory over the Tigers to make that happen.

May 30, 2012

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Why The ACC Is Still Relevant

By: Anson Whaley

With news a few weeks back that the Big 12 and SEC were planning a major bowl game tie-in similar to the Big Ten and Pac 12 Rose Bowl, all sorts of guns were jumped in relegating the ACC to the Big East’s status. And when rumors floated that Florida State and/or Miami and Clemson could soon exit the conference for presumably greener pastures in the Big 12, the ACC’s death was all but written on a tombstone.

What would become of the ACC if Florida State left?

The only problem was that common sense was somehow lost in the melee.

The biggest factor is that considering Florida State, Clemson, and Miami all but gone is really taking a leap of faith. While it’s well known that Florida State wasn’t exactly in a state of euphoria about the ACC’s new long-term deal with ESPN, it’s still no guarantee they’re leaving the conference. Florida State is a better fit geographically in the ACC and all three leaving is an even bigger long shot.

Here’s one fact often forgotten in this whole mess. Many will quickly point to the schools’ distaste for North Carolina and Duke receiving special treatment in the ACC, but the trio would quickly discover that Texas reigns supreme in the Big 12. If they think they’d receive much more respect in a midwestern conference where Texas and Oklahoma are considered kings, they’ve got another thing coming.

The concern amongst fans of other ACC teams about the conference being left out of the discussion when it comes to playing in a potential playoff pitting four teams is also a bit misguided. Those making decisions in college football already get a ton of heat for not making the national championship open to enough schools. So now, they’re going to risk litigation by shutting out even more programs? Sorry, I just don’t see it. Right now, there are six power conferences that receive automatic bids – the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, ACC, and Big East. If the ACC were left out of a playoff scenario, you can bet that the Big East would have no shot at it as well. It’s difficult to imagine a national championship playoff with even fewer teams given access.

Florida State, Clemson, and Miami should all recognize this. Problem is, though, there’s another factor in play – money. If those schools can make considerably more money in the Big 12 or SEC, they’d almost certainly consider it.

So with that in mind, let’s set up a hypothetical situation – say all three leave the conference … then what? Technically, I still think the ACC could survive. While those three are a large part of the conference, the basketball side of things would remain virtually unaffected. With North Carolina, Duke, Pitt, and Syracuse still around, the ACC would continue to be one of the most dominant basketball conference in college basketball. That’s got to count for something, right?

Football drives the bus, though, and I get it. The simple fact is that if all three bolted, the conference could be in serious trouble. But Virginia Tech has been the class of the conference on the gridiron and the ACC would still have them as a foundation. There’s also Georgia Tech, Pitt, North Carolina State, Virginia, North Carolina, Boston College, and Maryland. All of those teams have had solid seasons in recent memory and while none are powerhouses, there’s enough talent there to justify a playoff spot being given to an undefeated team. The ACC could also try to pluck additional mid-card schools such as UConn, Louisville, or Rutgers from the Big East. Smirk all you want at that group of schools, but the Huskies and Cardinals would bring even more basketball talent to the conference and Rutgers would include more eyeballs in the attractive New York/New Jersey market.

It’s still entirely too early to figure out how all of this plays out. But the safe bet is that the ACC stays alive throughout all of this.

September 19, 2011

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NCAA Football Conference Realignment: Selecting the Top 64 Schools

By: Anson Whaley

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about NCAA Football Conference allignment and how superconferences could be good for college football. My point was that if six such conferences existed, the BCS would be more accessible to a greater number of teams. But with the Big 12 possibly on the verge of an epic collapse, the more likely scenario is a sport with only four of those 16-team conferences.

That got me to thinking – if it did happen, who would likely be included? Rivals/Yahoo had some writers discuss the issue with each one coming up with their list of NCAA teams. It’s safe to say there were some notable omissions – Duke, UConn, and Indiana all were left off some of the rosters.NCAA football rules college athletics, but is it really fair to leave out such NCAA basketball powerhouses?

Well, I’ll get to that in a bit. But for the record, basketball programs that don’t play FBS football were left out of consideration. So Villanova, Georgetown, Xavier, Marquette, Gonzaga, et al? No dice.

So here’s my list of 64 teams:

The Absolute Locks– There’s absolutely no discussion on these guys. The fact that I even have to list them is borderline insulting. Call them first-ballot Hall of Famers, if you will. If there was only one superconference, these guys would be the first ones in: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Miami, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas, USC

Next In Line- These schools aren’t the cream of the crop, but they’d definitely get in without any question. Any NCAA conference would be glad to have them and there’s as much of a chance of Oddibe McDowell getting into the Hall of Fame as there is of these schools being left out: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Kansas, Kansas State, Michigan State, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Penn State, Pittsburgh, UCLA, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Wisconsin

Still In With Little Question – This is the third tier…NCAA schools that no sane conference would leave out. There could be some trivial questions about a few of them, but these institutions would certainly all be in as well. Arizona State, Boston College, Cincinnati, Clemson, Colorado, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisville, Mississippi, Mississippi State, North Carolina State, Purdue, Oregon State, Syracuse, Texas A&M, Virginia, Washington

The “Basketball” Schools– Personally, I don’t see how you have superconferences without including some of the most storied basketball programs around. Sure, we all get that despite March Madness, in terms of money, NCAA basketball takes a back seat to football. But as the second biggest college sport, these schools have got to be in. After all, are you really going to turn down these schools that not only each have won multiple basketball championships for someone like Baylor? Didn’t think so: UConn, Duke, Indiana

The “Non-BCS Football Schools”– These guys have all had incredible success without being in a BCS automatic qualifying conference. I can listen to the argument of not moving them to the front of the line for various reasons such as market size, but they’ve all been ranked in the top ten in recent years on the gridiron and are too good to leave out: Boise State, BYU, TCU, Utah

The Final Five In

Minnesota – Mediocre football and basketball programs, but has had respectable years in each.

Northwestern– Here mostly for their academics and market (Chicago). Oh yeah, and Michael Wilbon.

Rutgers – One of oldest universities and recent football success with average of nine wins from 2006 – 2009.

South Carolina – Are you gonna be the one to tell Steve Spurrier he’s not invited?

South Florida– Football program on the rise after only being in Division I for ten years and brings the Tampa market.

Left Out – Can’t find room for everybody and these would be the unlucky schools if I were putting the conferences together. Would they be on someone’s list? Absolutely. But on mine, they just miss the cut: Vanderbilt, Baylor, Iowa State, Washington State, Wake Forest

March 1, 2011

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Let the Madness Begin

By: Joe Williams

Insanity. Frenzy. Intense excitement. These words aren’t just a description of the Macho Man Randy Savage. They are also in dictionary.com’s definition of “madness”. Savage frequently referred to himself as “The Madness” and said “The Madness is running wild!”

The Macho Man may not be the world champion anymore, but every March the madness returns in the form of the NCAA basketball tournament. Every year millions of people around the country fill out their brackets and enter the office pool for one of the biggest sporting events in the world known as “March Madness”.

The 2011 edition of this tournament promises to live up to the “madness” billing and give us an exciting and unpredictable tournament. This year the madness started a couple weeks early. Kansas, Georgetown, Wisconsin, Texas (three times), Pittsburgh (twice), Notre Dame, Ohio State, Arizona (twice), Duke and San Diego St. are all top 10 teams in the poll who have lost in the last two weeks. Four of the top six lost this weekend, and the upsets should continue throughout the tournament.

The tournament itself will be different this year as well. The NCAA has increased the number of teams from 65 to 68. The last four at-large teams selected and the four lowest ranked automatic qualifying teams will play in the “First Four” on March 15-16. The at-large winners will advance to the main draw of the tournament, most likely as an 11 or 12 seed. The two winners of the automatic qualifiers will advance to face a No. 1 seed.

Television coverage of the tournament will also be different this year. The NCAA agreed to a new deal with CBS Sports and Turner Sports. Now, every game of the tournament will be televised nationally on CBS, TNT, TBS or TruTV.

As of today, Duke, Kansas, Ohio State, BYU, and Pittsburgh are likely in the discussion to be the four No. 1 seeds. The fight for the final spots in the tournament is much less clear. 31 teams will qualify by winning the automatic berth from their conference. That leaves 37 spots for the selection committee to fill.

Assuming the top teams in each conference win the conference tournaments, (which we know is not going to happen), there another 24 teams who should be a lock to make the field of 68. This leaves 13 tournament bids and somewhere in the neighborhood of 35-40 teams fighting for them.

The road to the Final 4 begins today with the Big South and the Horizon League conference tournaments getting underway. The first three teams will punch their tickets for the big dance on March 5, and when Selection Sunday rolls around on March 13 the field will be set, and the madness will be running wild. I’m sure the Macho Man will be watching.

Teams thought to be locks:

BYU, Connecticut, Duke, Florida, George Mason, Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, San Diego State, St. John’s, Syracuse, Temple, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA, Villanova, Wisconsin, Xavier

Teams in the conversation:

Alabama, Arizona, Baylor, Belmont, Boston College, Butler, Cincinnati, Clemson, Cleveland State, Colorado, Colorado State, Florida State, Georgia, Gonzaga, Harvard, Illinois, Kansas State, Marquette, Maryland, Memphis, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Missouri, Missouri State, Nebraska, Old Dominion, Penn State, Richmond, Saint Mary’s, Southern Miss, Tennessee, UAB, UNLV, USC, Utah State, Vanderbilt, VCU, Virginia Tech, Washington, West Virginia, Wichita State

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Fathead’s Top Trends in Sports this Week

February 25, 2011

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Fathead’s Top Trends in Sports this Week

By: Lionel

Here’s some proof that school spirit is stronger than the success of a school’s basketball team.  Below are the 50 best selling colleges on Fathead.com over the last month.  By our estimates, only about half of them will make the NCAA Tournament.

The top selling colleges of the last 30 days:

1. Ohio State

2. Michigan

3. Texas

4. Florida

5. Notre Dame

6. Penn State

7. North Carolina

8. Alabama

9. Nebraska

10. LSU

11. Michigan State

12. Auburn

13. Iowa

14. Tennessee

15. Miami (FL)

16. Wisconsin

17. Kentucky

18. Georgia

19. West Virginia

20. Duke

21. Oklahoma

22. Missouri

23. Oregon

24. USC

25. Clemson

26. Kansas

27. Purdue

28. Arkansas

29. Florida State

30. Oklahoma State

31. Louisville

32. Virginia Tech

33. Pittsburgh

34. Boise State

35. Syracuse

36. Connecticut

37. BYU

38. Arizona State

39. Illinois

40. TCU

41. Washington

42. South Carolina

43. California

44. Georgia Tech

45. Kansas State

46. Butler

47. Iowa State

48. North Carolina State

49. U.S. Naval Academy

50. Oregon State

And, of course, here is the weekly list of top Fathead sellers.  The Super Bowl hype is beginning to fade, and with it, the NFL’s stronghold on list.  While many NFL Fatheads remain, the league has given up some ground to the NBA on the heels of a great NBA All-Star Weekend.

The top selling Fatheads of the last 7 days (Feb. 18 – Feb. 24):

1.  Kobe Bryant

2.  Troy Polamalu

3.  Aaron Rodgers

4.  Dwyane Wade Drives

5.  Dallas Cowboys Logo

6.  Aaron Rodgers Super Bowl XLV MVP

7.  Blake Griffin

8.  Rajon Rondo

9.  Drew Brees Quarterback

10.  Derrick Rose