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Posts Tagged ‘WAC’

Conferences and LSU Update

In College Football, General LSU, Realignment on August 25, 2012 at 9:28 PM

I had a lot of thoughts about what the conferences should do moving forward, but there were a couple of LSU issues I wanted to cover first, this being the last non-game week.

Mettenberger seems to be dong extremely well. In the final scrimmage, he completed 26 passes on 36 attempts for 336 yards. There was an indeterminate number of TD passes, but I’m not sure how relevant that is anyway. According to the stats given, he didn’t fare nearly as well in the first two scrimmages, with only 15 completions each time.

Kenny Hilliard seems to be at or near the top of the RB depth chart, so I’m excited to see him this year.

There are a couple of linemen who are “a little nicked,” according to Les, but I’m still feeling fairly positive about the offense.

Defense is a little more up in the air. There is only one real returning starter in the secondary, and there has already been an injury. FS Eric Reid is the only returning starter from that unit. The defense as a whole returns 4, although Tharold Simon had a lot of impact in more limited playing time last year. There is a lot of talent, but talent alone doesn’t stop tackles from being broken/evaded and passes from being completed by the other team.

In recruiting news, LSU has two good incoming quarterbacks, Rivals’ #4 pro-style QB and another product of the state of Georgia (as was Mettenberger), Anthony Jennings, whom Rivals ranks as the #12 dual-threat QB. It will be interesting to see how much LSU goes for the dual-threat options in the future. LSU is now ranked #5 in overall recruiting class by Rivals.

Moving from the future to the distant past, I thought this was a nice tribute to a former LSU player turned NFL Hall of Famer: http://bleacherreport.com/tb/d8jlB?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=lsu-football

Onto the conferences, I know I like to talk about this topic a lot, but the regional rivalries and series histories are important to me.

First off, I’m hoping the ACC and SEC stay at 14. The only way I would support a 16-team conference would be if 7 or maybe 8 games counted toward the conference title. With 9 games, you could have one team with two extreme lightweights from the other division as well as an extra home game, and that team could end up ahead (either by a single game or due to a head-to-head tiebreaker) a team who had an extra road game and played two of the best teams in the other division. I can countenance 8 games because there may be a natural rival in the other division anyway, and it could be used to even out the home/away situation mentioned. One game is less likely to be determinative than two. Such an arrangement might work in the ACC if it continues to poach the Big East but I don’t think it would work well in the SEC.

I did have one specific thought about the SEC. I think it would make more sense if West Virginia were in the SEC and Missouri went back to the Big XII. They’re losing a lot of good Big 8 rivalries, and except for Arkansas, I don’t know if anyone is very excited about Missouri joining, particularly not in their division, the East.

I calculated the travel times for the SEC. The benefits for the Big XII are too blatantly obvious to elaborate upon. I think most people aren’t going to drive in a car for 800 miles, so the 300-mile difference in the trip to Baton Rouge, for instance, might not be that significant, but if there are 5 divisional teams less than 600 miles apart, that’s better than the 2 divisional teams (Kentucky and Vanderbilt) that close to Missouri. If you draw the line at 550, it’s 4-2; at 500, it’s still 3-2. (Georgia is between 550 and 600 from WVU, while Vanderbilt is between 500 and 550 from WVU.)

As referenced, Missouri does provide something good in that it’s closer to Arkansas than any other team and as Arkansas had no logical interdivisional rival before (it had been South Carolina), that was a marriage made in heaven. WVU, however, does not have a logical interdivisional rival. Since the two Alabama teams are seemingly off-limits (can’t break up Alabama-Tennessee or Auburn-Georgia), the one that made the most sense was Mississippi St., whose currently “rival” is Kentucky, which in turn could be paired with Arkansas as two of the more Northern teams. This still would add significant travel times to the interdivisional rivalries for the other teams.

With an 8-game schedule, the average travel time is almost exactly the same, around 740 miles (the interdivisional games make almost a negligible difference since only one would be played per year). If a 9-game schedule were adopted, WVU would involve an average travel distance of 877 miles to Missouri’s average travel distance of 851 miles. This was calculated by only counting the non-annual distances for 1/3 since only two of the 6 leftovers would be played every year. But restricting it to permanent rivalries (including divisional rivalries), WVU is only an average of 590 miles to Missouri’s 632. And strictly looking at divisional rivalries, it’s 525 for WVU to 685 for Missouri. There is a thought out there that maybe with 14 teams, not every team should have the permanent interdivisional rival, although you would at least want to keep a few of them. The two involving Alabama teams especially, but Ole Miss-Vandy is a good tradition too, even though it’s not usually two of the better teams of course. LSU has played Florida for 40 years in a row, but this has only really meant a whole lot for the last 15 years. No one (except Lou Holtz) is going to miss Arkansas-South Carolina, and few would miss Miss. St.-Kentucky.

Boise St. should forget about the Big East and instead join the Big XII. TCU came to its senses and gave up the Big East for the Big XII before playing a down in the Big East. A coast-to-coast, Canada-to-Mexico-to-Cuba (Tampa isn’t Miami but still isn’t far) league is completely ridiculous. Of course BYU would seemingly want to join the Big XII, and this would actually make sense to give Boise a more natural rival. San Diego St. would be another possibility, but let them and the Big East be stupid together, basically the same sentiment I have regarding WVU and the Big XII.

I know that still isn’t as regional as I typically argue for, but Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas make up 8 teams. So it would still mostly be regional except with teams to the Northwest (2), North, and Northeast–enough to be a presence in those other regions without destroying the natural rivalries. And the schools in question don’t have better offers anyway.

I don’t know how Tulsa doesn’t get involved in all the changes being made, but maybe that’s because it’s not a big school (fewer than 3000 undergrads). Plus, it’s going to be a team within some reasonable distance of Louisiana Tech, which has been a misplaced member of the WAC for years. In 2005, several Texas teams bolted for the CUSA when it expanded, but Louisiana Tech (in Northeastern Louisiana) was left out, with its closest opponent all the way in southern New Mexico. Now this will finally be remedied. Tech will have Tulsa to the Northwest, North Texas to the due West (only requiring one interstate highway really), UTSA and Rice to the Southwest, and Tulane and Southern Mississippi to the Southeast. It would have had Memphis to the Northeast, but that’s another seemingly misplaced future Big East member.

The Big East still has the two NYC-area teams, and it still has the two Ohio Valley teams, but it’s not extending into the rust/coal belt in what used to be the west of the conference, and it’s not going North of the NYC area to Boston or Syracuse. Why not build on that and become a regional conference again as it should be, only this time more Southern? There are a few CUSA teams that could rejoin Cincinnati and Louisville. East Carolina and Central Florida might be good, for instance. Maybe Villanova could be convinced to make the leap to FBS. Temple is already moving back to the Big East.

But instead it’s on a ridiculous quest to become some hybrid of the original Sun Belt conference (which went from Moscow, Idaho, to Las Cruces, New Mexico, to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to Miami) and the 16-team WAC (Hawaii to Wyoming to Fort Worth, Texas). Hopefully, it will be a similarly temporary arrangement. Maybe the Big West can become more of an FBS conference again and they can draw the line of separation at the Mississippi River at least. Or perhaps several members can be the football WAC and perhaps in other conferences in other sports. It does not seem the current WAC will have enough teams for football in 2013.

I wonder if the BCS could have avoided some of this by kicking the Big East sooner and replacing it with the Mountain West. At least the MWC would have stayed together longer.

I’m unclear on why the MAC decided it needed 13 teams and replaced Temple with UMass. I fail to see how 13 is convenient, fair, or logical. Perhaps Youngstown St. can become an FBS team and they can make it an even 14. That’s another thing I wonder. We have 4 new FBS teams this season; will the new and upcoming conference shifts result in increased pressure from FBS conferences to tempt the FCS members?

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How I Would Reorganize College Football…… Part IV: West of the Mississippi

In College Football, Realignment on October 27, 2011 at 3:42 PM

Earlier Entries to Series:
Part I: Intro
Part II: SEC/Southern Conference
Part III: Big East/ACC Recombination and Big Ten+2+4

Only a few teams I’ve placed previously are West of the Mississippi: Arkansas and Texas A&M of the SEC (or soon-to-be); and Minnesota (which is actually on both side of the river), Nebraska, and Iowa of the Big Ten (+6). If you were wondering, LSU is entirely on the East Bank of the Mississippi.

Big 8/SWC Revival

Geographical notes out of the way, the more central part of the West seems the most problematic lately. Colorado has become a far-eastern outgrowth of the former Pac-10. Nebraska and Texas A&M, as mentioned, have been lost to the so-called Big Ten and SEC, respectively. There seem to be new rumors of defections and expansions every week. I don’t know if my proposal would make everyone happy, but I think it would work.

As before, there is one division on the left, one on the right…North and South work, could also be Midwest and Southwest or something of that nature. They’re lined up so that proposed annual opponents share the same line.

Colorado-Texas Tech
Oklahoma-Texas
Oklahoma St.-Tulsa
Air Force-TCU
Missouri-SMU
Kansas-Houston
Iowa St.-Rice
Kansas St.-Baylor

This is the easiest solution for the West-Middle (to distinguish from Midwest and Far West). Colorado could conceivably be replaced by BYU though. But since we’re talking about what my ideal would be, I’ll just concentrate on what I’m putting up there. The Northern Division is the Big 8, replacing Nebraska with Air Force to give Colorado a more local rival. There is also national interest in Air Force, and part of my idea would be to set it up in such a way that more out of place teams like that would want to be in the newly created set-up. I think pairing Colorado with the West Texas team is more helpful to both than the alternating home-and-homes of the Big XII.

The Southern Division is 7 Southwest Conference teams plus Tulsa. Rice might be a stretch to have in a major conference, but I think their history justifies inclusion in the top 80 to start with. There is no better place to go either to the West or to the East. I think it would make sense to see who does well in the lower divisions and have that make the decision though, even assuming Rice would eventually get demoted. Just some of the teams that would make sense if they were to get promoted from the bottom 40 grouping: La. Tech, Tulane, ULL, ULM, Arkansas St., Memphis, North Texas, New Mexico, New Mexico St., UTEP, Colorado St.

As far as the other permanent rivalries, Oklahoma-Texas is a given, and Oklahoma St.-Tulsa is obvious. Air Force-TCU would be a good MWC holdover. There is no real logic for the other 4 sets of permanent opponents. Missouri-SMU aren’t that far away from one another. I believe that trying to have a selection of teams close to one another is worth adding a little bit to the distance in the other “rivalries”. For example, Oklahoma St.-SMU and Tulsa-Missouri might be less combined travel distance, but I think Oklahoma St.-Tulsa is just more likely to catch on for obvious reasons.

Western/Pacific Conference

I continued to follow the North-South model for my first draft of the Far West/Pac-whatever group, with the Arizona-New Mexico and Colorado-Utah border as the basic dividing line. I had mentioned I didn’t like California teams being place in the North. So this is the first draft.

USC-Washington
UCLA-Washington St.
Cal-Oregon
Stanford-Oregon St.
San Diego St.-Boise St.
Arizona St.-Utah
Arizona-BYU
Hawaii-Nevada

As recent BCS teams that don’t fit elsewhere, Boise St. and Hawaii are sort of obvious as additions. A lot of Pac-10 teams played Hawaii anyway. Boise St. is a natural rival of the Pacific Northwest teams (and in their short history have played at least one of them fairly regularly). BYU has history as well as strong academics. San Diego is an under-utilized market. That was more about potential than how great of a program San Diego St. is right now, although it has been improving.

BYU-Arizona is a classic WAC rivalry, although I don’t remember Arizona being in the WAC. I thought Utah-Arizona St. made a good rivalry between big city teams that happen to be almost at the same line of longitude. I wasn’t completely insensitive to television markets. Washingon-USC seemed like it worked as well. Nevada-Hawaii is another traditional WAC rivalry. Nevada would also be the closest Northern team to Hawaii. Reno might even have direct flights. It seems like there has been more of a rivalry between Cal and Oregon at least until the last couple of seasons. Maybe Oregon and Oregon St. could be switched though.

Then I had another idea. What if I took more of the model from the Western-Middle/Big XII grouping? So why not just make it traditional and leave the former Pac-8 together. San Diego St. and Hawaii would be more out of place, but it might work. The names of the divisions could refer to the conferences from which the teams are taken, such as Pacific and Western divisions. They’re also vague enough titles that it wouldn’t be weird. Hawaii would seem silly in an Eastern or even Southeastern division.

USC-Hawaii
UCLA-San Diego St.
Cal-BYU
Stanford-Nevada
Washington-Arizona St.
Washington St.-Arizona
Oregon-Utah
Oregon St.-Boise St.

USC-Hawaii and Oregon St.-Boise St. have been playing one another with some regularity anyway. Cal-BYU might work. Mormons vs. Hippies. People talked about BYU being relatively incompatible with the former Pac-10, but I thought they could just embrace it. Stanford-BYU might not be bad either, with the private-school, named-after-rich-guy thing. Nevada would be a good permanent opponent for a Bay Area team since it’s basically the closest point in Nevada to the Bay Area. I went for another big-city nexus with Washington-Arizona St. They’re both NFC West cities, so there could be some carry-over from the NFL in getting fans excited. Oregon-Utah seems reasonable since I decided to pair Nevada and Boise St. with other teams. Also (if you count Portland anyway) quasi-big markets, big enough to support NBA teams (both in the same division as well). UCLA and San Diego St. both play in major stadiums in Southern California and are more populist teams. I think that would work well. I sense there might be less complaining by the more traditional Pac-10 fans in this format overall. The non-research-oriented WAC/Mountain riff-raff would be in the other division, so they wouldn’t feel as violated.

I have one more of these to do. Next time, I’m just going to talk about how I would organize the bottom-40 teams.

My take on the NCAA Selection Committee

In College Basketball on March 17, 2011 at 2:43 PM

In giving itself a chance to beat West Virginia, Clemson confirmed again (as they did initially in the UNC game and again in the UAB game…I will discuss some of the other controversial inclusions and exclusions below) that they do have skills necessary to win games in this tournament, but my feeling is if you don’t beat an RPI top-50 team before the tournament, you don’t belong in the tournament as an at-large.

For the record, I began writing this when Clemson was ahead by 9 points, and it was partly written in my head before the game started. I just haven’t had time earlier this week to either watch the tournament reaction or write a blog, especially since I filled out around 30 brackets (I have two ESPN accounts, and I filled out all the ones I came across, as many as I could. It’s partly to cover my bases from not having watched enough games this year, but it’s also because I’m much better at individual match-ups than I am at, “This team is going to win this region”…of course most people who show confidence at the latter effort are frequently wrong.)

As for Clemson and its athleticism, I don’t care if they look like Bill Russell’s Celtics if they don’t beat anyone of note. There are few phrases more annoying in the football context where less than 2% of the teams can play for the BCS title at the end of the year, but in basketball, the “eye test” is arguably appropriate as an argument when it’s a close call for #40-something. But not when you can plainly rule out a team based on a lack of accomplishments. Being unable to keep a convincing lead against North Carolina was repeated against West Virginia. So maybe that game was a cause for concern as much as it was a credit to Clemson. (Roy Williams isn’t a particularly good conference-tournament coach anyway. Even his national-championship teams lost in the second game of their respective conference tournaments.)

I know the RPI is flawed, but come on. I wouldn’t require beating a top-25 or top-30 RPI team, but I think counting #50 and above gives enough leeway to factor in the RPI’s weaknesses.

Even Alabama, who had an RPI of 80, beat a top-50 team, Georgia, twice in a row right at the end. I have no reservations about leaving Alabama out, by the way. They didn’t beat anyone worth much out of conference, and they played in the SEC West, so I don’t care if they did beat Georgia twice, their 12-4 SEC record isn’t really better than Georgia’s 9-7 without even looking out of conference.

Speaking of 9-7, that’s how Clemson finished in the ACC, and given their givens, I think they had to distinguish themselves better than that. I’m definitely more impressed with Harvard (especially considering their out-of-conference accomplishments) tying Princeton for the Ivy League crown than I am with 9-7 in the ACC this year.

The other “first four” at-large winner, VCU, is a team I wanted to see in this tournament. They had three wins over top-50 teams going in. People talk about recent losses in criticism of VCU’s selection. They had 6 losses since January 3, including one to George Mason and two to Old Dominion. During that time, they also beat Old Dominion and George Mason. The win over Old Dominion was on the road.

Maybe this doesn’t make up for losses to Northeastern, Drexel, and James Madison, but that’s a different argument. It’s still true that they finished the seaon on an overall upswing despite the losses.

I would also give them credit for playing the non-conference schedule they played. That probably contributed to making them the team they are now, even though again there were some losses to non-tournament teams. Winthrop and Wake Forest have had better years (one neutral-court win, one road win), but it was clear they were not dodging competition. These are the other non-conference highlights: loss to Tennessee (neutral), win over UCLA (neutral), loss to South Florida (road), win over VMI (home), loss to UAB (road). The loss to Tennessee was by 5, the loss to South Florida was by 1 in overtime, and the loss to UAB was by 3.

I heard it said in watching the ODU game that VCU would not get an automatic bid (I had not been following “Bracketology,” which I think is silly until the last week), and although I normally am for ODU, I said aloud, “That’s a shame” that VCU lost because I felt that the tournament would be missing something without them.

Just to be clear, I am not saying that because they looked really good in this game, that they deserved an at-large bid. I’m not discussing them to the exclusion of any contender who did not make the field. I’m not here to argue that they belonged ahead of Colorado, Virginia Tech, and St. Mary’s. Certainly had those three made it and VCU went to the NIT along with UAB and Clemson, VCU would not have had a right to complain. As a side note, from the two St. Mary’s games I’ve seen recently, VCU looked better even in the loss to ODU than the Gaels did during the WCC tournament. My objection is to the statements made on ESPN (by Jay Bilas for example) that VCU doesn’t pass the laugh test. I think dismissal of VCU to that extreme is a continuation of the bias against mid-majors. I don’t know how many Butlers or George Masons or Bradleys these people need. Incidentally, VCU’s profile is not a whole lot different from that of the George Mason team that went to the Final Four. Granted, that team making the Final Four was a bit of a fluke, but George Mason could have easily been excluded from the tournament that year, and few would have been outraged or even moderately annoyed.

It is not an aberrant event for a team to look like a tough out in losing a conference title game and having that team end up in the tournament. About 7 years ago, Utah St. barely lost in the final and surprised most (including Lunardi, if I remember correctly) by making the field. The defense from the committee (which used to take more questions, by the way) was the type of game they played, and obviously some consideration was given for the quality of the WAC and the narrow loss of an automatic opportunity. The committee did seem to move away from that in recent years (Mississippi St.’s snub after the 1-point overtime loss to Kentucky in the SEC tournament final last year, for instance), but I don’t believe they should have. In the case of VCU, I think it’s worthwhile to consider that losing in a rubber match to a clear tournament team (ODU is seeded 9th, and you could easily argue they should be higher) by five points is a good showing even though obviously it does not result in an automatic bid.

I think UAB’s inclusion was a somewhat misguided show of respect for winning (in the regular season of course) a Conference USA that has highly respectable programs including UTEP and Memphis, and a recognition of the type of program at UAB in recent years. However as far as this season, there is no way one top-50 win goes ahead of the six that Colorado had. I don’t care if Colorado played no non-conference games or if they were the ugliest six games since the shot clock was implemented, that’s still more impressive. So I think I’m with the UAB critics, but the people outraged about VCU (especially if they’re not also complaining about Clemson) didn’t give this a fair hearing, they just over-reacted due to having assumed VCU was not on the committee’s menu. The committee got this one wrong, but I think I understand where their impression of UAB came from at least.

Final 2010 Conference Report

In College Football, Conference Reports on February 5, 2011 at 5:36 PM

I had this mostly completed before the national championship game. I just hadn’t gotten around to finishing and posting it. Things were really tough with work for a few weeks after the holidays. With the last game of the NFL season tomorrow, I thought it wasn’t too late to write a little more about college football.

The only other thing I might do in reference to the 2010 season is to analyze pre-season predictions and how they worked out. I have some thoughts about LSU’s new offensive coordinator and their recruiting class, but those are 2011 preseason topics. I also have a baseball series I was working on, but I don’t know when I’ll get to that.

I’m trying to get into college basketball, but that’s not something I often blog about. I had a rankings system I last used a couple of years ago, less complicated than the one for football (I could never input that many specific results), but if I post rankings, it would probably only be around tournament time. There are too many games to see, and things are in constant flux. One reason I like to blog about football is that usually you have a full week to take a step back and gain perspective on everything. There are a few weekday football games of course, but their significance is slight as compared to basketball.

Anyway, here is my final confernce report:

Final rankings
Rank, conf., overall, FBS, AQ
1. SEC 44-12, 34-11, 14-10
2. Pac-10 23-12, 16-12, 12-7
3. Big XII 42-13, 35-12, 11-9
4. Big Ten 38-14, 29-13, 10-9
5. ACC 30-17, 18-16, 6-12
6. MWC 21-20, 17-20, 7-10
7. Big East 28-18, 19-18, 6-14
8. Ind. 22-13, 20-13, 7-6
9. WAC 25-19, 18-18, 6-9
10.CUSA 20-32, 14-32. 6-24
11.MAC 17-38, 9-36, 3-25
12.Sun Belt 6-31, 4-31, 0-24

Bowl results
ACC 4-4
Big East 4-2
Big XII 3-5
Big Ten 3-5
CUSA 2-4
Independents 2-1
MAC 2-2
MWC 4-1
Pac-10 2-1
SEC 4-5
Sun Belt 2-1
WAC 1-2

Explanation
The Mountain West had the best bowl season by record at 4-1, with the only loss being to one-loss Boise St. But that doesn’t make it the strongest conference. Going into the bowls, it was 17-19 overall against other conferences, only 13-19 against other FBS/I-A conferences. So 21-20 or 17-20 clearly isn’t the best.

So basically, we have to go to the Big Six/BCS/AQ conferences. The Pac-10 had a strong bowl showing, but going in, it had three more losses than the SEC did, in 15 fewer games. The SEC played only 4 more I-AA/FCS opponents, so that doesn’t really alter the calculus. So, not surprisingly, I’m going to go with the SEC as #1 despite the mediocre showing in bowl games.

But I’ll give the Pac-10 the benefir of the doubt for second. Arizona had no business beating Oklahoma St., the best non-BCS Big XII team in my opinion. Washington upset Nebraska. Notre Dame, who beat USC (who was of course not bowl-eligible) and lost to Stanford, really made itself look good as the season went on. Stanford of course beat Virginia Tech, which isn’t all that impressive, but it wasn’t a cupcake either.

The Big XII, which was #2 almost all season, holds onto third, as the Big Ten didn’t do much to improve its standing. The three Big Ten co-champions were 1-2, and the win by Ohio St. was not against the SEC Champions. Ohio St. beating the #2 SEC team going in doesn’t trump Michigan St.’s loss to the #4 SEC team going in. I’m not going to be too harsh about Wisconsin. It was a good match-up. The Big Ten and Big XII had identical bowl records.

#5 is the highest spot I think you can realistically argue for the MWC. It barely had a winning record and only if you factor in I-AA/FCS teams. It won only 41.2% of games against AQ conferences, better than the ACC and Big East, but over 10 points behind the Big Ten. I decided to put the ACC ahead though. It just didn’t have the ugly losses. The MWC lost to Colorado, UTEP, Miami U., Idaho, Utah St., and New Mexico St. Apart from James Madison and Kansas, every other loss suffered by the ACC was to a bowl team (USC is a bowl team to me even though they didn’t play in one).

I do give the MWC the nod over the Big East. Best of luck to the Horned Frogs, by the way.

I put the Big East ahead of the Independents. The Big East beat Maryland, Miami, Clemson, and Kentucky. Even though it’s quantity ahead of quality (it’s also more teams getting the wins), I think that’s just a little better than beating Utah and USC. Tulane was a bad loss by the Big East, but Duke and Rutgers (a member of the Big East) were bad losses by the Independents

I’ll put the WAC in at #9, followed by the CUSA, the MAC, and the Sun Belt. I don’t think there is anything inexplicable there. It is worth considering how good the AQ opponents (especially) were, not just whether they were AQ, but it’s still useful in a superficial analysis.

Below are the results since the last Conference Report:

ACC
Duke beat Navy
Boston College beat Syracuse
Florida St. beat Florida
Wake Forest beat Vanderbilt
N.C. State beat West Virginia
Maryland beat East Carolina
North Carolina beat Tennessee
Florida St. beat South Carolina
U. Miami lost to South Florida
Clemson lost to South Carolina
Georgia Tech lost to Georgia
Georgia Tech lost to Air Force
Clemson lost to South Florida
Miami lost to Notre Dame
Virginia Tech lost to Stanford

Big East
South Florida beat U. Miami
Louisville beat Southern Miss
Syracuse beat Kansas St.
South Florida beat Clemson
Pitt beat Kentucky
Syracuse lost to Boston College
West Viginia lost to N.C. State
Connecticut lost to Oklahoma

Big XII
Kansas St. beat North Texas
Texas Tech beat Houston
Texas beat Florida Atlantic
Oklahoma St. beat Arizona
Texas Tech beat Northwestern
Oklahoma beat Connecticut
Missouri lost to Iowa
Baylor lost to Illinois
Kansas St. lost to Syracuse
Nebraska lost to Washington
Texas A&M lost to LSU

Big Ten
Iowa beat Missouri
Illinois beat Baylor
Ohio St. beat Arkansas
Illinois lost to Fresno St.
Northwestern lost to Texas Tech
Michigan St. lost to Alabama
Penn St. lost to Florida
Michigan lost to Mississippi St.
Wisconsin lost to TCU

CUSA
Tulsa beat Notre Dame
Tulsa beat Hawaii
Central Florida beat Georgia
UTEP lost to Arkansas
East Carolina lost to Navy
Houston lost to Texas Tech
UTEP lost to BYU
Southern Miss lost to Louisville
East Carolina lost to Maryland
SMU lost to Army

Independents
Notre Dame beat Utah
Notre Dame beat USC
Navy beat East Carolina
Navy beat Central Michigan
Navy beat Arkansas St.
Army beat Kent St.
Army beat SMU
Notre Dame beat U. Miami
Army lost to Air Force
Notre Dame lost to Tulsa
Navy lost to Duke
Navy lost to San Diego St.

MAC
Ohio beat ULL
Northern Illinois beat Fresno St.
Miami beat Middle Tennessee
Central Michigan lost to Navy
Kent St. lost to Army
Ohio lost to Troy
Toledo lost to Florida Int’l

MWC
Air Force beat Army
BYU beat UTEP
San Diego St. beat Navy
Air Force beat Georgia Tech
TCU beat Wisconsin
Utah lost to Notre Dame
UNLV lost to Hawaii
Utah lost to Boise St.

Pac-10
Washington beat Nebraska
Stanford beat Virginia Tech
USC lost to Notre Dame
Arizona lost to Oklahoma St.

SEC
LSU beat ULM
South Carolina beat Clemson
South Carolina beat Troy
Arkansas beat UTEP
Georgia beat Georgia Tech
Alabama beat Michigan St.
Florida beat Penn St.
Mississippi St. beat Michigan
LSU beat Texas A&M
Florida lost to Florida St.
Vanderbilt lost to Wake Forest
Tennessee lost to North Carolina
Georgia lost to Central Florida
South Carolina lost to Florida St.
Arkansas lost to Ohio St.
Kentucky lost to Pitt

Sun Belt
Troy beat Ohio
Florida Int’l beat Toledo
ULM lost to LSU
ULL lost to Ohio
North Texas lost to Kansas St.
Arkansas St. lost to Navy
Troy lost to South Carolina
Florida Atlantic lost to Texas
Middle Tennessee lost to Miami U.

WAC
Fresno St. beat Illinois
Hawaii beat UNLV
Boise St. beat Utah
Fresno St. lost to Northern Illinois
Hawaii lost to Tulsa

More Conference Changes? + My Bowl Projections

In College Basketball, College Football, Realignment on November 29, 2010 at 6:19 PM

Surprise, surprise, TCU is changing conferences again.

The Horned Frogs will join their fourth conference since the dissolution of the SWC in 1996. First, it joined the WAC superconference. Shortly after the MWC teams left the WAC, it moved to the CUSA. Then it jumped to the MWC. Now it will be in the Big East, starting in 2012.

I understand that football teams must start in a new conference by 2012 in order for its statistics to count in the new conference for BCS purposes. The current evaluation period is between 2008 and 2011.

It has driven me crazy that a team in Fort Worth, TX, belonged to the Mountain West Conference since they joined, but they’re moving to a conference that, at least as compared to the current MWC, makes even less sense geographically.

Plus, TCU has a basketball team, so that will be 17 members of the Big East. That’s beyond ridiculous. I think they should make it two separate conferences for the purposes of other sports. Will there now be a play-in game to reach the 1st round of the basketball tournament, where the four winners then get a chance TO PLAY FOR a spot in the quarterfinals?

The travel times listed below are based on Google Maps driving directions.

TCU will leave a conference whose closest rival was 10 hours, 19 minutes away to join one whose closest rival will be 13 hours, 48 minutes away. (South Florida, in Tampa, may be closer in the air than Louisville, but I’m not sure.)

The longest trip will be 28 hours away (it doesn’t give minutes when you go over 24 hours). In the MWC as currently constituted, the longest trip (San Diego St.) was 21 hours, 19 minutes.

But to be fair, it could have gotten worse had TCU stayed. Boise will be 26 hours away, but Hawaii (if they choose to join the MWC) would have been even farther away, about 2900 miles, almost 1200 more than the distance to Connecticut. There is of course no driving time to Hawaii. Confirmed new additions to the MWC, Nevada and Fresno St., would have also been farther away than any current MWC team.

Obviously, there are other reasons, but it’s interesting that three teams have now left the MWC since it was announced that Boise St. was joining. No one wants to play them, unless it’s another team that wants to go out its way to prove itself (I’m sure Fresno St., for instance, was happy to follow them to the MWC).

As I referenced in the second paragraph, I also read that apparently these moves are all about jockeying for automatic qualifier status. TCU’s BCS appearance last year will count toward the Big East, Boise’s will count toward the Mountain West, and Utah’s in the 2008 season will count toward the Pac-10.

Hawaii’s BCS appearnce in the 2007 season apparently doesn’t matter, so the WAC could really be deprived even if Hawaii stays. The WAC might be the new Sun Belt when all is said and done. Idaho, Utah St., and New Mexico St. were all Sun Belt teams at one point, incidentally. San Jose St. isn’t much better. Louisiana Tech (another severely out-of-place team) actually won the WAC in their first season in the conference, but it’s been pretty much downhill since then. Those five teams are the only ones left if Hawaii also leaves. Maybe they’ll add some California FCS teams, but I think the last thing we need is more FBS teams. The Sun Belt is getting bloated, maybe a some of them will go out West (there are two Louisiana teams and one Texas team who might go well with Louisiana Tech).

The Sun Belt is currently scheduled to have 10 football teams with the addition of South Alabama in 2013. I don’t know if Denver plans to field a football team, but they are moving to the WAC, where BYU will also play in sports other than football.

The Big East is also considering adding Central Florida and Villanova, should the latter choose to move up to FBS. Central Florida would increase the number of basketball teams to 18.

I don’t know if there is any interest in bringing Temple back to the Big East, but that would be a more logical fit than the MAC, especially since the Owls have been improved in the last couple of years. It would also be a good basketball program to add, though its previous membership in the Big East was football-only. Temple would also of course be a natural rival with Villanova. The teams have already played each other multiple times in recent years and have an intense basketball rivalry.

Bowl projections

National championship:
Oregon vs. Auburn

I don’t think either team will have it easy this week, but I expect both to come out on top. I just don’t think the opposition is good enough. On the other hand, just ask Bobby Bowden how tough it is to face a rematch with Steve Spurrier.

A Pac-10 or Big Ten national-championship-game team would automatically send TCU to the Rose Bowl. It’s not right for Stanford, but that’s the breaks. So the Rose Bowl doesn’t really get to pick a team.

So there is the second match-up: Wisconsin (projected Big Ten champion based on BCS standings) vs. TCU.

This would probably leave an automatic #4, probably Stanford, Oklahoma or Nebraska as the Big XII champions, Virginia Tech or Florida St. as the ACC champions, and probably either Connecticut or West Virginia (Pitt would only make it if both lose) as the Big East champions. This leaves open the possibility of two non-automatic at-large teams.

The Sugar Bowl gets the first two real picks, the replacement for Auburn and the regular first pick. I think they’d definitely pick Arkansas (leaving only one other non-automatic slot). They might like to pick the Big XII champion, but they’re contractually obligated to the Fiesta Bowl, so my guess is they knock out that last non-automatic spot and pick Ohio St. The Buckeyes were in a New Orleans bowl game in 2007 (the national championship game), but I still think the team and fan base are the most attractive option. I don’t think there is enough of a gap between Stanford and Ohio St. to ignore all the other positives for Ohio St.

So there is our third match-up: Ohio St. vs. Arkansas

The Orange Bowl will have the ACC champion automatically, and they’ll get to pick a second team. Especially if it’s Connecticut, I don’t think they’d want the Big East team instead, so my guess here would be they’d take Stanford. Even if WVU wins the Big East, I don’t know if you pick a team that’s 20 spots worse because their fans are better.

So the fourth match-up: ACC vs. Stanford

The Fiesta Bowl will automatically get the Big XII champion, and they’d be stuck with the Big East Champion, assuming no one else selects that team.

Fifth match-up: Big XII vs. Big East

Select other bowl projections:
CapitalOne: LSU vs. Michigan St.
Cotton: Oklahoma St. vs. Alabama
Outback: South Carolina vs. Penn St.
Peach: Virginia Tech vs. Florida or Florida St. vs. Mississippi St.
Gator: Florida or Mississippi St. vs. Illinois or Iowa (The Ron Zook Bowl sounds interesting, but if it’s Mississippi St., they might go with Iowa instead)
Alamo: Texas A&M vs. Arizona
Insight Bowl: Nebraska vs. Michigan
Texas Bowl: Baylor vs. Illinois or Iowa
Holiday Bowl: Missouri vs. Washington
Champs Sports Bowl: Notre Dame vs. U. Miami (I don’t know why they’d pass that game up, I don’t care how bad Miami looked against South Florida)

I also think it would be interesting if maybe the Sun Bowl (which used to be somewhat important) matched Notre Dame and Boise St., since there aren’t enough Pac-10 teams and Notre Dame can go to the Big East bowls, but Notre Dame would probably prefer not to play Boise St. anyway. It would be a shame for Boise St. to have to play a team that’s even worse than that. Boise St./Utah would be a good out-west game (the Las Vegas Bowl would be a possibility, since that’s another open Pac-10 spot), but Boise might be possessive and the Broncos could be stuck on the blue field for the Humanitarian Bowl.