Friday, July 31, 2009

ACC Blogger Preseason Ballot Results

The blogosphere has spoken and apparently this year we contribute little more to the conversation than what the mainstream media predicted. The only difference between this year's media picks and the ACC blogger picks was a flip-flop of Miami and North Carolina in the Coastal standings. On second thought, perhaps that fact is significant given all the Virginia Tech voters and their disdain for da U.

It's also clear that the weight of preseason expectations has shifted from the Atlantic to the Coastal Division this year, with Virginia Tech the overwhelming pick to three-peat, Jonathan Dwyer the offensive player of the year and Jason Worilds the defensive player of the year.

Gobbler Country has the complete breakdown of this year's poll participants and results.

Predicted Standings

Atlantic Division

1. Florida State (12)
2. Clemson (3)
3. NC State (2)
4. Wake Forest (1)
5. Maryland
6. Boston College

Coastal Division

1. Virginia Tech (13)
2. Georgia Tech (4)
3. Miami (1)
4. North Carolina
5. Virginia
6. Duke

Conference Champion

1. Virginia Tech - 10
2. Georgia Tech - 4
3. Florida State - 2
4. Clemson - 1
4. Miami - 1

Offensive Player of the Year

1. Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech - 10
2. C.J. Spiller, Clemson - 6
3. Darren Evans, Virginia Tech - 1
4. Riley Skinner, Wake Forest - 1

Defensive Player of the Year

1. Jason Worilds, Virginia Tech - 4
2. Dekota Watson, Florida State - 3
3. Sean Spence, Miami - 2
3. Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina - 2
5. DaQuan Bowers, Clemson - 1
5. Morgan Burnett, Georgia Tech - 1
5. Kam Chancellor - Virginia Tech - 1
5. Mark Herzlich, Boston College - 1
5. Stephan Virgil, Virginia Tech - 1
5. Alex Wujciak, Maryland - 1
5. Willie Young, NC State - 1

Rookie of the Year

1. Greg Reid, Florida State - 2
1. Kyle Parker, Clemson - 2
1. Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech - 2
4. Josh Adams, North Carolina - 1
4. Anthony Allen, Georgia Tech - 1
4. Ray Ray Armstrong, Miami - 1
4. Tajh Boyd, Clemson - 1
4. Justin Dixon, North Carolina - 1
4. Dustin Hopkins, Florida State - 1
4. Jacobbi McDaniel, Florida State - 1
4. Brandon McGee, Miami - 1
4. Donte Moss, North Carolina - 1
4. Desmond Scott, Duke - 1
4. Jamal Womble, North Carolina - 1
4. No vote - 1

Inter-Division ACC Rivalry Games at Season End? and the Big Finish

Brian: On Monday at the ACC Media Kickoff, Tom O’Brien was quoted as saying he doesn’t like playing cross division rival North Carolina on the last weekend of the season.
"I think it's a dumb game to play at that time of the year, because you're crossing divisions," O'Brien said Monday at the ACC media kickoff."

"Certainly you don't want them or you don't want us again playing in the championship game (the next week)," O'Brien said. "We'd be much better served as a conference, I think, to work games within the Coastal Division or Atlantic Division the last game."

However, James C. over at YANCSSB has a very different take, and argues that a scenario where UNC and NC State meet at the end of the year in a game that may determine who goes to the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte would only be good for the ACC and North Carolina football.

Imagine for a second that Gene didn’t have the Syracuse game ear-marked for the annual football game after Thanksgiving starting in 2010. And imagine that Virginia Tech vs. Virginia isn't annually scheduled over the last weekend of the regular season. Then the ACC comes in and schedules Virginia Tech as the last game of the season for the Eagles.

What side do you come down on? Inter-division ACC rivalry games at the end of the season ... yea or nay?

Jeff: I am 100% on Tom O'Brien's side on this one. Boston College vs. Virginia Tech playing in the final game of the regular season and then possibly meeting in the ACC Championship Game a week later would've been absolutely terrible and I hope the ACC fixes the problem before they land in any such situation.

Brian: I also agree with Tom O'Brien, but find it hard to imagine a North Carolina vs. NC State ACC Championship Game. Ha. Besides, the one Championship Game the league brass have been praying for post-expansion - Florida State vs. Miami - has happened all of 0 times in the last four years, so how much more of a long shot is NC State vs. North Carolina in Charlotte?

If the league wanted to make games like NC State vs. North Carolina - which I'm told is the best football rivalry in the state - mean something more, then they should have placed the two programs in the same division when the ACC expanded to twelve and had them play the last game of the regular season annually. How satisfying was it for Hokie fans to defeat in-state rival Virginia on the last game of the season in a "winner-take-all" sort of game for the right to advance to the ACC Championship game?

What did the Eagles knocking off the Hokies in the regular season the last two years mean for BC? Other than another league win that did have an effect on who won the Atlantic Division, not a whole lot, since the Hokies won the rematch and consecutive trips to the Orange Bowl. The argument that pro-BCS proponents (me not one of them) hold close to their chest is the assertion that college football has the best regular season where every game counts. With scheduling these inter-division rivalry games for the end of the season, they are at least opening themselves up to the possibility of having teams face each other in consecutive weeks which, in my mind, can cheapen the value of the first matchup.

If the ACC wanted to further fuel the NC State vs. North Carolina rivalry, they should have placed them in the same division. Since they didn't do that, I'll also agree with Tom O'Brien here and say keep these inter-division rivalry games away from the last weekend. You will get more out of these matchups playing within the division on the last weekend of the year. Or the next-to-last weekend of the year, with reserving the final weekend for non-conference rivalries like Florida vs. Florida State, Georgia vs. Georgia Tech, South Carolina vs. Clemson. The league could probably more benefit from ending ACC play a week earlier, reserving the final weekend for a non-conference rivalry game, and giving programs an extra week to sell tickets to the ACC Championship Game.

Big Finish

Jeff: The Orlando Sentinel ranked the salaries of all FBS head coaches. Spaziani came in tied for 66th with a $1,000,000 salary. Who would you say is overpaid and underpaid in the ACC?

Brian: Taking Spaz and Dabo off the table because they are new, Friedgen and Groh seem to be overpaid (Fridge in particular as his post-expansion ACC record is, shall we say, lacking at 18-22) and Grobe is massively underpaid.

Brian: On Wednesday the ACC announced its 2009 preseason All-ACC football team. On the offensive line, both Castonzo and Tennant represent Boston College on the team. Anything stand out to you about this year’s selections?

Jeff: Shouldn't Herzlich be on on this list? He hasn't missed a game yet. Isn't he still technically a part of the team, university, and the league?

Brian: The omission of Herzlich didn't bother me as much as the fact that BC didn't land a single defensive player on the first team. For a team that prides itself on its defense, that's a scary thought.

Jeff: Speaking of Mark Herzlich, there were several articles out on him this week. Any new news?

Brian: The Kevin Armstrong Sports Illustrated article is a must read and last night was BC's Lift for Life event which sounds like an awesome fundraising event.

Brian: The Georgia Tech boys over at From The Rumble Seat took a look at ACC and SEC football parity in 2008 and determined that the ACC league games were closer than in the SEC. They also note that ACC teams tend to not run up the score against other conference opponents like the SEC likes to do. Surprised?

Jeff: No, not surprised by either. First of all out teams at the top are not the level of the top SEC teams most years. Additionally, if you throw out Duke, the bottom teams in the ACC might be better than SEC programs like Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and Mississippi State.

Jeff: At least one writer thought the ACC media kickoff lacked controversy. Agree?

Brian: Obviously, any other conference media day will pale in comparison to the SEC's in terms of controversy. But do I really care if someone left a player off the All-conference team ballot? Or whether Tim Tebow is still a virgin? These are manufactured headlines to fill the dead period of college football coverage.

Brian: HD interviewed Spaziani regarding the availability of BC linebacker Mike McLaughlin. It looks like now McLaughlin might not be ready to go before the start of the season. What are your expectations on when McLaughlin will return?

Jeff: I really hope he is ready on September 19th. Otherwise maybe before the Florida State game.

Jeff: Did you hear Dominique Davis is going to community college?

Brian: I did. Perhaps he'll resurface in a year on an FBS roster. Maybe not. Regardless, he has my "best wishes."

Brian: Last one, Boston College recently ranked ninth in the "Students Pack the Stadiums' category and 14th in “Great College Towns” category of a recent Princeton Review annual nationwide survey. Your thoughts?

Jeff: The students show up for football games, that's for sure. But is Chestnut Hill really the 14th best college town in America?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Over/Under: 09 College Football Preview Big East

Brian: Next up on our preview of the BCS conferences is the Big East. Yeah, I don't miss it that much either.

Our previous BCS conference previews: Pac 10, Big XII, Big Ten

For reference, here is a composite prediction of how the experts think the Big East will shake down this season:
  1. West Virginia
  2. Pittsburgh
  3. Rutgers
  4. Cincinnati
  5. South Florida
  6. Connecticut
  7. Louisville
  8. Syracuse
After last season where Cincinnati came out of left field and took home their first Big East football championship, West Virginia is back on top of the preseason rankings. But do Bill Stewart and the Mountaineers have enough pieces left post-White to reclaim their stranglehold on the Big East crown?

Good things are expected of Rutgers and Pittsburgh, while looks like Connecticut will be counting down the days to Midnight Madness. The plane has officially crashed into the Kragthorpe mountain at Louisville, while Syracuse's preseason predictions from every major college football prognosticator is consistent: unanimous suckage. More the same from the Orange?

The most important question though is who will win the conference and take their Orange Bowl Hokie beatdown in stride?

First up, Over/Under – 6 1/2 regular season wins for Connecticut

Brian: Not much is expected of Connecticut in the Big East this year, which is music to my ears. Not only are expectations low for the Huskies this season in conference, but UConn didn’t do themselves any favors this year with their non-conference schedule. Right now, I see 3-4 guaranteed wins (at Ohio, Rhode Island, Syracuse, Louisville) but after that, I’m struggling to scrounge up some more wins for Edsall’s crew. A home game against North Carolina and trips to Baylor and Notre Dame look like losses to me at this point. UConn has more home games than road games in the Big East this season, which is a plus, but the downside is that they have to travel to three of the best teams in the Big East (including defending champs Cincinnati, West Virginia and Pittsburgh). Even if they manage to steal one of these Big East games on the road, it’s not a given that they can take care of both Rutgers or South Florida at home. I have the Huskies going 2-3 out of conference and as a “best, best case scenario” 4-3 in the Big East. More realistically it will be 3-4 or 2-5 in the Big East, so I’ll confidently go with the under here (-200) and not make too much cash on this one.

Jeff: The Huskies, somewhat similar to BC but on a much smaller stage, have surpassed expectations year after year and Randy Edsall is a good coach so I am going over (+160) here.

Over/Under – 7 1/2 regular season wins for Pittsburgh

Jeff: Pitt has a pretty legitimate non-conference schedule this year where they face NC State, Notre Dame, MAC Champion Buffalo and Navy. They might end up being slight favorites in all four of those so I think 3-1 is a most likely scenario. Add in one gimme against Youngstown State and they go 4-1 out of conference. From there they only need to win 4 Big East games which for a team in the preseason top 25, is not asking much. You should take the over (-165) here with reasonable confidence because even if they lose 2 OOC games they can still easily win 5 in conference.

Brian: Even though Pitt has creeped in to some preseason Top 25 polls, I’m not sold. You only have to look at our preseason blogpoll ballot from last season to caution you to use preseason polls as an indicator of future success. Cough. Auburn. Cough, cough. Clemson.

The Panthers enter the fifth season under head coach Dave Wannstedt, but the results have been mixed at best (25-23). Pittsburgh goes into this season with plenty of question marks on offense, including quarterback and running back (with the loss of LeSean McCoy), as well as breaking in a new offensive coordinator. Given all the question marks on offense, I have to expect a bit of a drop off from last season’s 9 game win total. The Panthers will have time to get off to a fast start with wins over Youngstown State and Buffalo, but Navy should at least give the Panthers a game, and I expect Pitt’s road trip to Raleigh to be an unsuccessful one. That’s probably 3 wins, and I would need 5 to go over. I’ll give Pitt the benefit of the doubt against Louisville, Connecticut, Rutgers and Syracuse, but the Panthers finish the season with Notre Dame, at West Virginia in the Backyard Brawl and vs. Cincinnati. I think this one will come down to the October 24 game against perennial underachiever South Florida. Win that game and the Panthers go over. Lose and I think it will be a 7-5, 4-3 season for Pitt. The difference I think will be South Florida’s offense under senior Matt Grothe, so I’ll take the under (+135), although I wouldn’t be surprised if Pitt gets to 8. This one is a toss up in my mind.

Over/Under – 8 regular season wins for South Florida

Brian: Speaking of South Florida ... Bull talent returns in the form of senior QB Matt Grothe and All-American DE George Selvie. While the talent is certainly there, it’s hard to get too excited about a team that started off 6-1 last season only to limp to a 1-4 regular season finish. That 1-4 mark down the stretch included a 24-20 loss at punch-less Louisville. The Bulls will get out of the gate at 3-0 with wins over Wofford, at Western Kentucky and Charleston Southern, but that will be counterbalanced with two losses at Florida State and at home to Miami Fla (but props to USF for scheduling some tough, in-state ACC competition). To go over, that would mean USF would nearly run the table in the Big East, and I just don’t see that happening. Although they are both home games, I’m predicting that both Cincinnati and West Virginia will take care of South Florida, and a trip to Rutgers in mid-November could just as easily be a loss (the Scarlet Knights handed the Bulls a 49-16 beat down in Tampa a year ago). A push would not surprise me, but I think it’s more likely that USF goes 4-3 (or worse) in conference rather than 5-2 so I’ll take the under (-120).

Jeff: You talked about the two high profile players returning to South Florida this season, but you took the under? Last season was a disappointment for the team which could've easily won the Big East in a year when WVU tripped up a little. But now the great players are gone at WVU and the league is theirs for the taking once again. I'm going to put the Miami and FSU games down as losses even though there's a chance they could steal one of those games. Then like you said all they need to do is go 5-2 in the Big LEAST. USF may very well win the league this year so why wouldn't you take them to go 6-1 or 5-2. I like the over (-110) here and will be happy to take your money.

Over/Under – 8 regular season wins for Rutgers

Jeff: Rutgers has an interesting line here at 8 when they have 4 gimmes in non-conference play. Then let's say they should be able to beat Syracuse and Louisville this year and lose at West Virginia and Maryland. This leaves them 6-2 with four toss-up type games left. But since I am more of a Rutgers hater than a Rutgers fan, I going to go ahead and put their season opener against Cincinnati down as a loss leaving them 6-3 with three toss-ups left. Those remaining games are against better coached teams - that's right - better coached teams in UConn, South Florida, and Pitt. I like taking the under especially when it's +160. The worst I'll do on this one is push.

Brian: Yes, Rutgers is hot, coming off finishing last season with 7 straight wins including stopping an equally hot NC State team in the Pizza Bowl. However, gone are Mike Teel and Kenny Britt, two of the most prolific offensive players in Rutgers history. There are plenty of questions on offense, including who will start under center. The front runner, fifth year senior Domenic Natale, threw for a whopping 36 yards last season (but hey, I guess that is 36 more yards that BC quarterbacks threw for last season). Offensive questions aside, Rutgers might have the biggest joke of a 12-game football schedule in the history of a BCS conference program. Seriously. Out of conference superpowers Howard, Florida International and Texas Southern visit Rutgers Stadium, and the Scarlet Knights also travel to Maryland and Army. I don’t think much of the Terps chances this season, so that’s 5-0. Easy. From there, a 4-3 finish in the Big East is more than possible, as Rutgers’ toughest Big East opponents all come to Piscataway – Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, South Florida and West Virginia. Three trips to Big East bottom feeders Syracuse, Louisville and Connecticut should be three more Ws, and I’ll easily give 1 of 4 of their Big East home games to RU for their 9th win. There’s a reason the over is -230 here, since I’m sure you could find I-AA teams that have a tougher SOS than Rutgers. Rutgers easily goes 9-3 or 10-2 so take the over (-230), but don’t expect me to have Rutgers anywhere near my Top 25 blogpoll ballot, EVEN if they finish 10-2. I’m not kidding. Why reward a team for beating 5 crappy non-conference teams and going 5-2 in the Big East?

Last one, Over/Under – 8 1/2 regular season wins for West Virginia

Brian: Even with Pat White gone, the Mountaineers should coast to either 6-1 or 7-0 to start the season with wins over Liberty, Syracuse, Marshall, Connecticut, Auburn and one of East Carolina/Colorado at home. The second half of the season should determine whether West Virginia can regain the Big East title, as they travel to South Florida, Cincinnati and Rutgers, and play Pittsburgh and Louisville at home. I like WVU to go no worse than 3-2 in those games and if I had to chose, I’d give them Ws over South Florida, Louisville and Pittsburgh. That’s 9 including 5 Big East wins. Go with the over here (-110), but an under with the Mountaineers finishing 8-4 would not surprise me. Anything less than 8 wins for Bill Stewart and the Mountaineers, though, and I would be SHOCKED!

Jeff: I very much disagree that Auburn is a win for West Virginia. Sure Auburn had a tough year last year but they will bounce back while the Mountaineers have slid. Also, East Carolina is a legitimate threat and Colorado is another improving team. So what you see as 6-1 at worst I see as 5-2 at best. Then in the rest of their Big East play, West Virginia is likely to split the games games against Pittsburgh, South Florida, Rutgers and Cincinnati. I'm already up to four losses for the Mountaineers. Not to mention West Virginia is also the team with a target on their back in the Big East so you never know if another team will take the opportunity to kick them while they're down and provide an upset. Under (-120).

Brian: Surprisingly, no line on this site for Cincinnati, as well as - more predictably - no lines for Louisville and Syracuse. And looking back, Jeff and I disagreed on every Big East team this year. Should have labeled this segment good cop / bad cop.

2009 ACC Blogger Preseason Predictions

For the second straight year, the Virginia Tech blog Gobbler Country is polling the ACC blogosphere for some preseason predictions:
  • Predicted order of finish for both divisions (no ties please)
  • Conference champion
  • Preseason Offensive Player of the Year
  • Preseason Defensive Player of the Year
  • Preseason Rookie of the Year
This year, unlike last year, we are assured that there is adequate Atlantic Division representation so it won't be another Coastal Division tongue-bath. We hope, anyway.

On to our ballot (and note, we retain the rights to change these predictions between now and our series of season preview posts later in August).

ACC Atlantic
  1. Florida State
  2. Clemson
  3. Boston College - Some are quick to forget that this is still a defensive league and despite the losses we still have one of the best. Plus, NC State and Wake have to come to us. We'll get our Ws, don't worry about it.
  4. NC State
  5. Wake Forest
  6. Maryland
ACC Coastal
  1. Virginia Tech - not 100% sold on Hokies, certainly won’t be dominant and has little-to-no shot at the MNC with that non-conference sched, but until someone proves otherwise ...
  2. Miami (Fla.)
  3. Georgia Tech
  4. North Carolina
  5. Duke
  6. Virginia

Predicted ACC Championship Game Winner: Virginia Tech (yeah, it pains me too)
Offensive Player of the Year: C.J. Spiller (he'll be scoring TDs on the reg. Atlantic Division. Represent.)
Defensive Player of the Year: Mark Herzlich (yes, I know he's not playing this year. Doesn't matter. He's that good.)
Rookie of the Year: Desmond Scott, RB, Duke (who knows. As Russell Wilson proved last year, an injury here or an injury there could thrust some no-name rookie into the spotlight in a hurry.)

BONUS: Coach of the Year: David Cutcliffe (Triples ACC win total in year 2. Six wins but no bowl for the Dukies.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Headlines: BC Athletics Ranks 32nd In 2007-2008 Revenues

Brian: Curious as to how BC Athletics revenues compared to other F.B.S. athletic programs in 2007-2008? The Orlando Sentinel's College Gridiron 365 blog has your answer:

RankSchoolTotal RevenueConference
1stTexas$120,288,370 Big 12
2ndOhio State$117,953,712 Big Ten
3rdFlorida$106,030,895 SEC
4thMichigan$99,027,105 Big Ten
5thWisconsin$93,452,334 Big Ten
6thPenn State$91,570,233 Big Ten
8thAlabama$88,869,810 SEC
9thTennessee$88,719,798 SEC
10thOklahoma State$88,554,438 Big 12
11thKansas$86,009,257 Big 12
12thLouisiana State$84,183,362 SEC
13thGeorgia$84,020,180 SEC
14thNotre Dame$83,352,439 Independent
15thIowa$81,148,310 Big Ten
16thMichigan State$77,738,746 Big Ten
17thOklahoma$77,098,009 Big 12
18thStanford$76,661,466 Pac-10
19thUSC$76,409,919 Pac-10
20thNebraska$75,492,884 Big 12
21stTexas A&M$74,781,640 Big 12
22ndKentucky$71,186,184 SEC
23rdDuke$67,820,335 ACC
24thSouth Carolina$66,545,953 SEC
25thUCLA$66,088,264 Pac-10
26thVirginia$65,400,485 ACC
27thArkansas$64,197,470 SEC
28thCalifornia$63,884,710 Pac-10
29thMinnesota$63,782,454 Big Ten
30thPurdue$62,093,614 Big Ten
31stNorth Carolina$61,263,269 ACC
32ndBoston College$61,203,340 ACC

Towards the end of the post, I found this quote interesting:
"As the figures indicate, the athletic departments with the highest revenue typically are from schools that fill 80,000- to 100,000-seat football stadiums on autumn Saturdays and come from conferences that receive an automatic Bowl Championship Series bid."
While the is statement about the 80,000 to 100,000-seat football stadiums is largely true - the four athletic programs with 100,000+ capacity football stadiums ranked 4th (Michigan), 6th (Penn State), 2nd (Ohio State) and 9th (Tennessee), respectively - it certainly seems strange to see BC hovering around the top 25% of this list.

Indeed, of the top 32 earners, only Duke's Wallace Wade Stadium - with a capacity of 33,941 - is smaller than BC's Alumni Stadium (although something tells me Duke is able to make up for its football stadium's capacity shortfall with the financial success of their men's basketball program). The average stadium capacity for the 31 programs that made more money than BC is 78,821.

Here is how the twelve ACC athletics departments stacked up to one another in the rankings:

RankSchoolTotal RevenueConference
23rdDuke$67,820,335 ACC
26thVirginia$65,400,485 ACC
31stNorth Carolina$61,263,269 ACC
32ndBoston College$61,203,340 ACC
34thClemson$59,126,212 ACC
37thVirginia Tech$56,029,172 ACC
41stMaryland$54,171,741 ACC
49thGeorgia Tech$47,126,247 ACC
51stMiami (Fla.)$46,849,990 ACC
53rdFlorida State$45,414,953 ACC
55thNorth Carolina State$44,553,795 ACC
60thWake Forest$39,961,624 ACC

If the numbers for programs like Miami (Fla.) or Florida State seem low, this is likely because of the small number of varsity sports sponsored by these schools (Miami sponsors 15, the lowest number in the ACC, and Florida State sponsors 17, the second lowest). However, the number of sponsored varsity sports doesn't tell the whole story either. Take a look at Virginia at 2nd in the ACC with $65 million in revenues compared to NC State at 11th in the ACC with $44 million in revenues. Both programs sponsor 25 varsity sports. If you look at revenue per varsity sport sponsored, though, these numbers tell a very different story.

Still, in the ACC, only Duke, Virginia and UNC took in more athletics revenue than Boston College did last year. So for those BC haters out there that say that the move from the Big East to the ACC was a financial failure, don't bust balls. (The first Big East program on the list is Connecticut at No. 39).

If you take one thing away from this list though, it does accurately shows you just how uneven the financial playing field is in college athletics. For example, note the 6 SEC programs in the top 13. Clearly, there will be a separation between the "haves" (the BCS conferences and Notre Dame) and the "have-nots," but it's almost scary to see how wide the divide is in college athletics.

Here's how the conferences stack up to one another:

ConferenceAvg. RevenueHighestLowest
Big Ten$76,419,044Ohio State (2)Northwestern (59)
SEC$71,149,219Florida (3)Mississippi St. (75)
Big XII$66,480,752Texas (1)Iowa St. (63)
Pac-10$58,767,200Stanford (18)Washington St. (62)
ACC$54,076,764Duke (23)Wake Forest (60)
Big East$45,553,455Connecticut (39)Cincinnati (67)
Mountain West$30,755,578TCU (57)Colorado St. (88)
C-USA$25,706,808Memphis (68)Southern Miss (111)
WAC$20,452,529Hawaii (70)La. Tech (115)
MAC$19,997,769Temple (79)Ball State (107)
Sun Belt$13,807,386FIU (95)La.-Monroe (118)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Headlines: 2009 ACC Preseason Media Predictions

Brian: Despite never finishing worse than 2nd in the Atlantic Division over the past four seasons, and despite having won 2 ACC Atlantic Division crowns outright and sharing a third in our first four seasons in the league, Boston College continues to move backwards in the preseason media football predictions.

The 2009 Eagles were selected by the media to finish 6th in the ACC Atlantic as part of the ACC Football Kickoff festivities this week. Here is the complete preseason media poll results:

Atlantic Division

1. Florida State (56)
2. Clemson (14)
3. NC State (10)
4. Wake Forest (7)
5. Maryland
6. Boston College

Coastal Division

1. Virginia Tech (78)
2. Georgia Tech (9)
3. North Carolina
4. Miami
5. Virginia
6. Duke

First place votes in parentheses.

ACC Championship Game Winner: Virginia Tech (69 votes)

Is this new news? No, definitely not. Will this be used as bulletin board material? Maybe a little, says Matt Tennant.
"It's sort of the mentality that we have now," said Tennant. "Nobody is really counting us into anything, and that's fine. We'll talk about that at the end of the season."

Here's how the Eagles have stacked up against the ACC preseason media predictions from 2005-2009.

Eagles ACC Preseason Predictions and Results, 2005-2009

YearPrev. SeasonPlacePredictionFinishPlace
20059-3 (4-2)T-1st Big East2nd9-3 (5-3)T-1st
20069-3 (5-3)T-1st
3rd10-3 (5-3)T-2nd
200710-3 (5-3)T-2nd2nd11-3 (6-2)1st
200811-3 (6-2)1st4th9-5 (5-3)1st
20099-5 (5-3)1st6th??????

Friday, July 24, 2009

2012 Fantasy Scheduling and the Big Finish

Brian: With the official announcement adding Army to the schedule in 2014 coming on Wednesday, the schedule for the next five years becomes just a tad bit clearer. What I thought would be fun is to fill in the non-conference scheduling blanks over the next 5 years and suggest opponents for the Eagles to play, starting in 2012 (the 2010 and 2011 seasons are set as of now). Below are the future schedules to the best of our knowledge (relying heavily on Patrick Reilly’s unofficial BC Eagles football page) complete with BCI approved suggestions for how Gene and the department should fill in the scheduling holes.

2010 - Kent State (9/25), Notre Dame (10/2), Hofstra (10/9), @ Syracuse
2011 - Northwestern (9/3), @ Central Florida (9/10), UMass (10/1), Buffalo (10/8)
2012 - @ Northwestern (9/15), OOC #2, OOC #3, OOC #4

First, suggestions for 2012.

In 2012, we have 3 spots to fill and with the return trip here to Evanston already on the schedule, hopefully these are three Eagle home games for a total of seven. The ACC schedule breaks in our favor giving us what I would consider the second most optimal home ACC slate of games - Clemson, Virginia Tech, Miami and Maryland. I would like to see one more big time BCS opponent visit BC in 2012 for a return visit in 2013 (to fill the hole left from Syracuse opting out of the 2011 and 2012 games). Penn State is the first school that comes to mind but it looks like they already travel to fellow ACCer Virginia in 2012, and I doubt the Nittany Lions would be willing to make two ACC road trips in one season. So while a team like Vanderbilt isn’t a marquee BCS opponent, it is a BCS opponent nonetheless and an SEC one at that. The Commodores have two slots open in 2012 and in the spirit of smart schools facing off on the gridiron (Northwestern-Vanderbilt, Stanford-Duke, Stanford-Northwestern and BC-Northwestern all have future home-and-home series scheduled), let’s schedule Vanderbilt to come to Chestnut Hill in 2012 for a return trip to Nashville in 2013.

My assumption is that the I-AA scheduling trend will continue for the foreseeable future so let’s schedule an interesting team, someone new. It turns out that Fordham will begin offering 60 scholarships starting in 2010, making them eligible to schedule teams from the FBS nee I-A. Fordham has already scheduled games with Connecticut, Army and Navy and the Rams actually have a lot of history playing football with Boston College (albeit not recent history). I say bring Fordham into the cupcake rotation in 2012.

One of the neat little loopholes in the NCAA football scheduling process concerns their treatment of Hawai’i. If a I-A team agrees to travel to Oahu to play the Warriors, they get the opportunity to schedule a thirteenth game to offset the cost of traveling to Hawaii. I say BC should take advantage of scheduling a 13th game by scheduling a trip to play Hawaii. Since Gene has rumored that we are going to make the Syracuse game the annual game after Thanksgiving and Syracuse opted out of the 2012 game, it would be logical to schedule this game at that time of the season to replace the 'Cuse game. The problem would be that the ACC Championship is the next weekend, and you don’t want the team traveling across the entire country a week before the ACCCG. So I say we should play Hawaii the third week of September, and give our one yearly preference to the league office to have our BYE week fall on the following week.

Finally, in the spirit of renewing series with familiar teams a la Fordham, I say we should bring Navy back to the Heights in 2012. Navy apparently has four slots left on the 2012 schedule and just as we are renewing with Army in 2014, I think we should throw a service academy we have a good deal of history with back on the schedule to (at least temporarily) stop our annual MAC-love fest.

@ Northwestern
@ Hawaii

Jeff: I like the idea of playing Vanderbilt, but I am not particularly a fan of playing 13 games. We suffer enough injuries throughout the season and will hopefully be headed to the ACC Championship Game and a bowl that year as well so that leaves a possibility of playing 15 games that year which is just far too many.

So let's go with Vanderbilt and a I-AA team which leaves one slot left. We'll already have played two BCS bottom feeders. After the crappy 2011 schedule of Northwestern, Buffalo, UMass and Central Florida, DeFilippo will have to pull out all the stops to get some national attention. He'll need to keep buzz going for the football program in case we don't continue to win the Atlantic Division annually ... not to mention keeping the donors and alums happy in the process. So Gene is going to call Michigan and sign a one year deal to play at a neutral site like Philadelphia or New York. That game is guaranteed to be on national TV and Gene can even agree to give Michigan all the revenue from the game because they would really be saving his behind from having a terrible non-conference football schedule back to back years.

@ Northwestern
Michigan (neutral field)
I-AA team (no preference)

Brian: I'll concede on the Hawaii game but a neutral site game against Michigan? Who are we, Notre Dame? That will really silence the "BC wants to be Notre Dame" critics, given that Notre Dame is scheduling neutral site games left and right in locations that don't make a whole lot of sense in my opinion, e.g. Washington State in San Antonio. Of course I like the idea of playing Michigan, but I'm not crazy about this neutral site proposal. How about scheduling a Big XII team? When was the last time we ventured into Big XII territory? I'd suggest a home-and-home series with Missouri, with the Tigers visiting BC to open the season on September 1, 2012 and the Eagles returning to Columbia in 2015 (in 2013 and 2014 we'll play both Syracuse and USC from BCS conferences). Besides, Missouri and Illinois have called off their season opener after 2010. Sounds like a great opportunity to swoop in and gain some national attention with a marquee opening weekend matchup, and 3 of 4 teams on the non-conference slate coming from BCS conferences.

@ Northwestern

Jeff: Playing a Big XII team doesn't work for my one year neutral site idea.

Brian: It's hardly an original idea, which is why I'm against your neutral site idea. Besides, we get a "neutral" site game two years later with Army at Yankee Stadium.

To round out years 2013-2014, the schedule currently looks like this:

2013 - @ Southern California, Syracuse, OOC #3, OOC #4
2014 - Southern California, @ Syracuse, New Hampshire, @ Army (Yankee Stadium)

I'm guessing one of the two slots in 2013 will be filled by a I-AA team, so 2013 would be a good year for a return to Nashville to avenge last year's Music City Bowl loss. That would give us a respectable three BCS conference opponents in 2013 and one I-AA team. Make it happen, Gene.

Big Finish

Brian: Not only is Yankee Stadium snapping up Army home football games left and right, but it is now rumored that Steinbrenner and the Yankees are looking to host a bowl game. Good idea?

Jeff: Great idea. Bowls have evolved past playing in only warm climates so why not have one in New York City? If you can't make a trip to a warm climate it might as well be to a great destination and NYC certainly qualifies.

Jeff: BC is listed as 20-1 to win the Atlantic Division this season. Is it worth it to throw $10 on the Eagles?

Brian: Sure. $10. Much more than that though? Well, questionable.

Brian: The 2009 ACC Football Kickoff is almost here. This year fans can interact with the Kickoff as the event will be streamed online. You excited?

Jeff: Um, sure, maybe. Or perhaps I'll just catch the highlights.

Jeff: Football Outsiders picked BC to finish 9-3, 5-3 and second in the Atlantic Division. Surprised?

Brian: Surprised? A little. Hard to imagine a three-way tie atop the Atlantic Division at 5-3. I'm assuming Football Outsiders have the Eagles losing to Clemson, Virginia Tech and ... Wake? UNC? NC State?

Brian: HD ranks our defensive backs third in the conference behind only Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. Agree? Disagree?

Jeff: I'm good with that. They are better than most that's for sure.

Jeff: Down here in my part of the world, Spiller for Heisman posters were distributed by the Clemson athletics department starting this week. Do you think he has any better than 50-1 chance of winning?

Brian: Better than 50-1? Sure. Will he get an invite to NYC? Absolutely not. I can think of at least 10 players off the top of my head that have better chances and will be on a team that finishes better than Clemson in 2009. Spiller isn't even arguably the best player in the conference.

Brian: Last one, gather round your laptop screen for the first two games of the season. ESPN announced their college football lineup and the Northeastern and Kent State games will be on You surprised BC at Clemson in week 3 isn’t getting picked up by the Worldwide Leader?

Jeff: Not really surprised about that one. Clemson is not a national draw at all and they are on ESPN on Thursday night the week before. It's certainly a no-brainer to televise Nebraska vs. Virginia Tech over BC vs. Clemson, anyway.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Over/Under: 09 College Football Preview Big Ten

Brian: Next up on our preview of the BCS conferences is the Big Ten, the redheaded stepchild of BCS football conferences that I am forced to show a mild interest in since I'm attending Northwestern this year.

Our previous BCS conference previews: Pac 10, Big XII

For reference, here is a composite prediction of how the experts think the Big Ten will shake down this season:
  1. Ohio State
  2. Penn State
  3. Michigan State
  4. Iowa
  5. Illinois
  6. Michigan
  7. Wisconsin
  8. Northwestern
  9. Minnesota
  10. Purdue
  11. Indiana

Who will emerge from the Big Ten this season, only to get their annual beatdown at the hands of USC in the Rose Bowl or the champion of God's Conference in the BCS National Championship game? Who will be this year's Daniel Murray, the Hawkeyes field goal kicker that put the rest of college football out of their misery by preventing a third straight Big Ten slaughter in the BCS National Championship game?

First up, Over/Under – 6 regular season wins for Michigan

Brian: Wow. How the mighty have fallen. I don’t think Wolverine fans can be too thrilled with an over/under line set at a mediocre 6-6. Hopefully for Michigan fans, though, the bottom fell out with last season’s 3-9, 2-6 Big Ten debacle. That 3-9 record included going 1-3 out of conference, losing to Utah at home in the opener, getting beat up in South Bend 35-17 and getting shocked by a 2-6 MAC team. At home. In front of 100,000+. So how does Rich Rodriguez and bump up the win total by 4 games from a year ago? Water down the out of conference schedule! UM has done precisely that this season. This year, Michigan gets two directional Michigan teams (and not the best of the three in Central Michigan), Notre Dame and I-AA Delaware State – all in the Big House. Last year’s Toledo game gives me pause, but let’s say for sake of argument that Michigan comes out of the out of conference portion of their schedule at a healthy 3-1.

That leaves me looking for 4 wins on their Big Ten sched … which I just can’t do. I can’t. Their Big Ten road sched is formidable, with the Wolverines having to travel to Michigan State, Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. All likely losses. At home in Big Ten play I see Michigan going 2-2, with wins over Indiana and Purdue, and losses to Penn State and Ohio State (yet again). (It certainly doesn’t help Michigan that they miss both Minnesota and Northwestern this season. Well, at least Minnesota. I actually expect Northwestern to be competitive this season. But I digress.) That gets me to 5-7 in a best case scenario. Even with an eight game home schedule, I only see UM winning 5 games at most, and losing all of their road contests. I will go with the under here (+165) with a fair degree of confidence, although it wouldn’t shock me if Michigan plays in a bowl and pushes on this line.

Jeff: It's very tempting to push this one but I will not. I am going over here. Michigan can go 4-0 in out of conference play. If they do, they easily go over. Michigan could go 2-2 on the road in the Big Ten. If they do they easily go over. Finally, Michigan could easily go 3-1 on the road in the Big Ten. If they do any one of these three things they cover the over. I see 7-5 for Michigan because they have plenty of toss up games on their schedule and they could even get to 8 or 9 wins. Over (-185).

Over/Under – 7 1/2 regular season wins for Illinois

Jeff: Illinois plays an interesting out of conference schedule where they only have one guaranteed win in Illinois State. Missouri, Fresno State and Cincinnati are all potential losses but it's here that determines where you go with this pick. If Illinois goes 4-0 in non-conference play then 8 wins seems to be a very strong pick if not a done deal. But Cincinnati won the Big East and Missouri won the Big XII North last year so would saying Illinois goes 4-0 out of conference be a little aggressive? No. This is not 2008 we're talking about and I do think 4-0 for Illinois in non-conference play is how things will shake out. It is not an extremely confident pick but I am going OVER (-150) for Illinois.

Brian: Hard to predict 8 or more wins for an Illinois team that went 5-7 a year ago, missing out on going bowling. It’s also hard to believe this is the same team that two years ago made a Rose Bowl appearance (and subsequently got dismantled by USC as the Illini had no business being in that game). The Illini will certainly put up some points with QB Juice Williams and WR Arrelious Benn (67 catches, 1,000+ yards) leading the way. But arguably the defense will be worse than it was last year. The schedule this year is fairly front loaded. Illinois starts with the Arch Rivalry against Missouri in St. Louis, where Missouri has won the last 4 and leads the all-time series 15-7. (No wonder this series has been discontinued after 2010!). If Illinois can’t escape St. Louis with a W, they are likely staring down 1-4 by mid-October with losses at Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan State. From there on out, Illinois would have to run the table and I just don’t see that happening with home games against Michigan, Northwestern and Fresno State, and a late November road trip to Big East champion Cincinnati. I have to believe they’ll lose 1 if not 2 of those games down the stretch. Most experts have the Illini at 2, 3 or 4 in the final Big Ten standings this season, but I just don’t see the reasons for such optimism. After all, this is the same team that lost three straight down the stretch to Western Michigan, Ohio State and at Northwestern to miss out on the postseason. And it’s not like Ron Zook has an amazing track record in his first four years in Champaign (18-30). Therefore, I’ll confidently go with the under (+120) here. Sure, they’ll be improvement, but I think improvement will have to come in the form of 7-5 or 6-6, not 8-4 or 9-3.

Over/Under – 8 regular season wins for Iowa

Brian: Even with the departures of running back Shonn Greene and DTs Mitch King and Matt Kroul, much of the pieces on a team that went 8-4, 5-3 Big Ten a year ago return. The biggest hurdle this season will be the Big Ten schedule. For some odd reason, the Hawkeyes have to go back to East Lansing for a second straight year. Much like my diagnosis for Michigan, the Hawkeyes Big Ten road schedule isn’t doing them any favors. Iowa’s Big Ten road schedule is absolutely brutal, with stops in State College, Madison, East Lansing (again) and Columbus. I know the Hawkeyes like to boast that they were 12 points away from an undefeated season last year, but 3 of those 4 losses came on the road. And this season’s road sched is much more daunting. Off their Big Ten schedule this year are Purdue and Illinois in favor of Ohio State and Michigan. This is probably a wash, with the Hawkeyes going 1-1 against Purdue/Illinois in 2008 and likely going 1-1 against Ohio State/Michigan in 2009. Iowa should go 4-0 out of conference with wins over I-AA Northern Iowa, Arizona, Arkansas State and at Iowa State, but I’m struggling to get Iowa to 5-3 in the Big Ten this year to go with the over. I’ll hesitantly take the under (+100) here, banking on Iowa losing their four Big Ten road games (Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State) and banking on either Arizona or Northwestern to pull off the upset on the road. 7-5, 3-5 for the Hawkeyes this season. Go with the under (-130).

Jeff: Iowa won 8 games last year and a lot of those were after Shonn Greene emerged as a beast of a running back. Greene is gone this year though and Iowa has 2 BCS conference teams on their schedule out of conference so there is really no way in your right mind that you would put some of your hard earned money on Iowa to win at least 9 games. No way. Under (-130).

Over/Under – 8 regular season wins for Michigan State

Jeff: Michigan State is one of the top three teams in the conference and avoids one of the other top three, Ohio State, on their conference schedule this year. Then, they don't play any BCS conference teams out of conference, however they do play Notre Dame. Why would you not take the over with Michigan State!!?? Especially at +140, this is a no-brainer. Michigan State would have to lose to Notre Dame and go only 4-4 in conference to not at least push. I very much like the over (+140) when it comes to Michigan State this year and I do expect them to beat Notre Dame as well.

Brian: Over. Over. Over. I have Michigan State winning no less than 9 games this season. The Spartans will likely go 4-0 out of conference with wins over Montana State in the opener, Central and Western Michigan and at Notre Dame. From there, 5-3 in conference is definitely possible with very winnable games against the likes of Michigan, Northwestern, and Iowa at home, and Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota on the road. Missing Ohio State on the schedule this year certainly helps matters out for Mark Dantonio and MSU. It won’t come easy, and I would not be surprised if Michigan State pushes at 8, but I don’t see any red flags preseason that would lead me to believe the Spartans can’t at least reproduce last season’s 9 game regular season win total. I usually don't say this, but go with what Jeff said on this one. Go with the over (+140).

Over/Under – 8 regular season wins for Wisconsin

Brian: This one has to be the toughest line of any of the Big Ten team’s lines. I am definitely not sold on the Badgers under Bret Bielema as he’s gone from 12-1 to 9-4 to 7-6 in three seasons in Madison. That being said, Wisconsin is certainly capable of matching its regular season win total from 2008 and surpassing it by a game or two. Lucky for Bucky Badger, UW misses Penn State on the schedule this year, and plays all 5 of the teams projected to finish towards the bottom of the Big Ten standings (at Indiana, Purdue, at Minnesota, at Northwestern, Michigan). Sure there are more road games than home games in that group of five, but those are all very winnable Big Ten matchups. Out of conference, Wisconsin draws Northern Illinois, Fresno State, Wofford and Hawaii. I certainly hesitate taking UW in all four of those matchups after last season’s 36-35 win in OT at home over Cal Poly, but will give the program the benefit of the doubt and give them 4 wins. 5 + 4 = 9, so I’ll reluctantly take the over here (-115), although my gut tells me this looks a lot more like a push than any of the other lines.

Jeff: What do I know about Wisconsin this year? Nothing. I honestly know nothing about this team. But, in general I expect the Big Ten to be improved this year and maybe the Badgers will bounce back from the beatdown they suffered at the hands of Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl and I'll take the over (-115).

(What would have made this wager more interesting is if Wisconsin took advantage of the NCAA rule that allows teams that schedule a game at Hawaii to schedule a 13th game. It doesn’t appear that Wisconsin took advantage of this though with only 12 games on the schedule in 2009.)

Over/Under – 9 regular season wins for Penn State

Jeff: I love Penn State to head back to the Rose Bowl. OVER (-225)!

Brian: Jeff, you always love Penn State. The line here could be 10, 11 or even 12 games and I'd bet you'd still take the over on this one. I'm not as optimistic about Penn State as you are this year, especially if what they are saying is true about offensive line experience. The Nittany Lions only return 39 starts on the O line this year. Still, it's not like Penn State is straining themselves this year with a non-conference schedule composed of Akron, Syracuse, Temple and Eastern Illinois. From there, to think that Penn State will go less than 5-3 in the Big Ten is certainly a stretch. They have some tough games mixed in there, including at Northwestern on Halloween (don't laugh, I'm serious), Ohio State (November 7), and at Michigan State for the Land Grant Trophy. Still, I see Penn State at no less than 8-0 before coming to Evanston on Halloween, and for JoePa and the Lions to go 0-4 or 1-3 in November seems unfathomable at this point. Take the over (-225).

Over/Under – 9 1/2 regular season wins for Ohio State

Brian: Ohio State loses a lot of talent from last year’s 10-2 season. But then again, they are Ohio State ... in a thoroughly mediocre conference. As mentioned earlier, the Buckeyes miss Michigan State and Northwestern this season, not that they were much competition for OSU a year ago (the Buckeyes beat those two teams by a combined 90-17). The biggest tests for Ohio State will be USC at home on September 12 and at Penn State on November 7. Other than those two games, not much stands in the way of another 10-2 season and either a Rose Bowl or BCS at-large berth. With 7 home games and a virtual 8th home game in Cleveland (the Patriot Bowl – remember that? – against Toledo), the schedule sets up nicely for Ohio State to make another run at the Big Ten title and a National Championship Game berth. Take the over (-125).

Jeff: The Buckeyes have a guaranteed loss in the second week of the season when they play USC. After that at Penn State is another likely loss so in order for Ohio State to go under all they have to do is lose one more game somewhere on their schedule. I like the chances of Ohio State losing one more game somewhere and going UNDER (-105).

Brian: No lines were available for Indiana, Purdue, Minnesota, and Northwestern as apparently not much is expected for these programs in 2009. But just for fun, how many games do you have my grad school Northwestern winning this season?

Jeff: 7 or 8 wins for your Northwestern Wildcats.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Source: BC to play Army at New Yankee Stadium in 2014

On Monday came news that Army and Notre Dame agreed to play the first college football game at the New Yankee Stadium in 2010. Of course Notre Dame wanted to be the first college football team to play at the new Stadium as they take their three-ring traveling circus of neutral site games to the City that doesn't sleep.

But wait, Notre Dame in 2010 was just the tip of the iceberg for Army, as they move their football operation from West Point to 161st and River. Scheduling the Irish seems to have opened the Army football scheduling floodgates for The House That Steinbrenner Built. Release the hounds!
Army will play a college football game against Air Force in 2012 at Yankee Stadium, the Times Herald-Record has learned.

This will be the first time the teams have played at a neutral site since 1965. Air Force beat Army 14-3 at Soldier Field.

The game was originally scheduled to be played Nov. 3, 2012 at West Point’s Michie Stadium, according to Air Force’s sports web site. It is not clear if the date will remain the same for the Yankee Stadium game.

Army will also play Rutgers in 2011 and Boston College in 2014 at Yankee Stadium, according to a source.

The Yankees have a press conference scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday to announce more college football games, including Army home games in 2011, 2012 and 2014.

Army senior associate athletic director Bob Beretta wouldn’t confirm the games.

“To make an announcement at this time would be inappropriate,” Beretta said. “We will have a major announcement on future games and sites Wednesday.”

Your thoughts, Eagles fans?

Like the move? Disappointed we are getting Notre Dame, Air Force, and Rutgers' seconds? Will the novelty of playing in New Yankee Stadium have worn off by 2014? What about the fact that a majority of you are - you know - Red Sox fans? How about the fact that we play in the Bronx before our I-90 rival, New York's College Team, gets to play there?

Your turn. Go.

H/T Troy Nunes...

Headlines: Economic Crisis or Opportunity in College Athletics?

Brian: Last Friday, AD Gene DeFilippo was featured in an article on college athletics in this current economic downturn. Both Gene and Arizona AD Jim Livengood are lobbying for leveling the financial playing field in which college programs compete.
"These are very, very tough times for us economically," Boston College athletics director Gene DeFilippo said. "But the silver lining in this dark cloud is we've really started to look at ourselves and see where we can save money and cut costs and work smarter. College athletics has been growing as far as facilities and staff size. The economy isn't going to stay like this forever, but we need to be smarter in how we do things."

A "think tank" of athletic directors from Alabama, Boston College, California, Duke, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Stanford want to see the financial playing field leveled because once the economic downturn subsides, the game will be more skewed towards the "haves" in favor of the "have-nots."

The flipside of this argument is that schools such as Minnesota and Louisiana Tech are using the current economic conditions as an opportunity for greater future returns. The Golden Gophers inaugurate their new 50,000, $300 million on-campus stadium this fall, while Louisiana Tech has "added eight new tennis courts, a new bowling alley in the intramural center, and new scoreboards at both the football and baseball fields. Plus, the school has resurfaced its track, installed new FieldTurf in the football stadium, improved tailgating areas, built a new press box for baseball, and renovated the locker rooms for football, men's basketball and baseball."

So the question is which school of thought do you subscribe to? Using the current economic crisis to push college athletics financial reform, or using the crisis as an opportunity to gain in the arms race of college sports.

Jeff: I think both schools of thought have major flaws. Clearly, Minnesota and Louisiana Tech had these plans for improved facilities long before just the past two years and therefore the decision to build/remodel was made without considering the economy as a factor. When the economy took a turn for the worse, they looked at their cash flow and decided to push forward. At Boston College, the new baseball and softball facility on the Brighton Campus is still a go despite the economy and new high definition screens that are 3x the size of the old videoboards are being installed in Conte this summer for when basketball and hockey start the fall.

The arms race deficit that smaller schools are going to cry about is not going to be able to be measured until many years from now because it is now that schools are putting off new projects, not 3-4 years ago which is when the projects being finished now were planned.

The current economy is a great time for GDF and others to talk about leveling the playing field but do I think that it is something that needs to be done? No. I like the David vs. Goliath matchups that college athletics set up. BCS conference schools are all getting pieces of large television contracts so I think the playing field is as level as it ever needs to be.

Brian: I largely agree with Eagle in Atlanta. The ship has sailed when it comes to implementing the types of reform that Gene and this group of ADs are looking for. In terms of NCAA-mandated changes created to slow the arms race, the NCAA will never be able to do enough to effectively limit competition and level the playing field. If the NCAA levels the financial playing field in one way, e.g. putting an end to football teams staying in off-campus hotels the night before home games, athletic programs will find other ways to compete. You don't think programs like USC and Florida won't find other ways to gain a competitive advantage on other Pac-10 and SEC schools? Hardly. That's simply the nature of competition.

Hoping that the NCAA will one day become this model league that has a level financial playing field (i.e. revenue-sharing) and great parity like the NFL essentially slaps the history and tradition of college football across the face. The sport is and always will be a sport of "haves" and "have nots" (see: Georgia Tech Engineers 222, Cumberland 0). No amount of NCAA mandates to level the playing field financially will change the core principles of the sport.

Another thing that rubs me the wrong way about the DeFilippo-Livengood "think tank" is its representative members. It would be one thing if these were mid-major programs clamoring for financial reform, but these are BCS conference programs, and fairly prominent ones at that (including Alabama, Duke, Ohio State and Oklahoma, among others). Where is the non-BCS conference participation? I hope for the "think tanks" sake that they do have non-BCS representation, because otherwise this just sounds like a bunch of cranky old white guys because the two-caste system of BCS conference programs and non-BCS conference programs is already inherently financially inequitable. You simply can't bitch about leveling the financial playing field in college athletics with the gaping inequity of BCS vs. non-BCS staring you in the face.

One thing I will agree with Livengood on is this group of ADs must be selective. "We can't have a laundry list of 30 items," Livengood said. "We need to pick out a few things, and they need to be drastic." This group can't be lobbying the NCAA to mandate reform on small budget items like hotel rooms, travel policies and building facilities.

If this group of ADs really wants some bang for their buck in college football and college athletics financial reform, a humble suggestion: college football scheduling reform. As Heisman Pundit points out, no college football playoff proposal is feasable without some sort of scheduling reform. And with the BCS programs race to be the first program to have 12 home games, the payouts given to Sun Belt, MAC and I-AA opponents to take their requisite beatdown in your home stadium are starting to add-up. Why not lobby the NCAA to make some sort of scheduling reform to reduce the cost of scheduling cupcakes and neutral site games?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Headlines: Yes, Andre Ware, We Take Offense

Jeff: Last Friday, I finally got around to watching ESPN's College Football Live featuring Massachusetts on their 50 States tour... all I can say is WOW! Could Andre Ware be any more wrong? I think the Eagles could go to Tampa again but a 7-5 or 6-6 season certainly wouldn't shock me. But 5-7 or worse would. That means only 2 ACC wins. Let's be honest. The ACC just isn't that good.

Brian: I was a little taken aback by what Ware predicted as well. Here is specifically what he said.

Ware talked about how Coach Spaziani was dealt a tough hand with a new quarterback, a new running back, and his star All-American linebacker having been diagnosed with cancer.

He then goes into analyzing the schedule, commenting on how the schedule is very back-loaded with games against Wake Forest, Florida State, Virginia Tech and NC State in the middle of the season. Conclusion:
"After the first two games of the season with Northeastern and Kent State, it's going to be tough to find another win for BC."

Ware is predicting the Eagles go 2-10, maybe 3-9.

First, what is wrong with Montel Harris and Josh Haden? A new running back? Do your homework. You are doing a tour of Massachusetts and BC is the ONLY Division I team in town. You should have known we aren't replacing our running backs and, in fact, they are one of the better 1-2 running back tandems in the conference.

Second. 2-10?! When was the last time an ACC team not named Duke finished 2-10 or worse? You have to go all the way back to 2003 to get there with North Carolina. That season, the Tar Heels went 2-10, 1-7 ACC. OK, OK. It is true that Gary Tranquill was the offensive coordinator for UNC that season, but still. It's just not going to happen. If you have any doubt, simply look at the parity in the Atlantic Division last season, where no team finished below .500 in ACC play.

Wake Forest and Central Michigan at home, and Virginia, Maryland and Notre Dame on the road are all very winnable games. If we finish 2-10, I will write Andre Ware a personal apology letter. For now though, I'm simply chalk up Ware as another ESPN talking head that has no idea what he's talking about.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

HD's Preseason Predictions and the Big Finish

Brian: ESPN’s ACC blogger HD has her three predictions for the Eagles in 2009. Namely,
  1. Dave Shinskie will be a better quarterback than people think.
  2. The Eagles’ running game will flourish behind one of the best offensive lines in the conference.
  3. The losses up front and in the linebacking corps will be too much to overcome.

Care to pick apart any of these statements?

Jeff: As usual HD's statements are vague so that we can never truly say "I told you so!" at the end of the season.

First, I agree with her that Shinskie will be the guy and will be a decent ACC quarterback. Tuggle and Boek had their chances to be "the man" but in all likelihood that time has passed.

Secondly, we know our backs are young and pretty good and our O-line is almost becoming overrated now after being very good for over a decade.

But to her third point, will the losses on defense be too much for the team to overcome and win ANY conference games? Will it be too much to overcome and win the Atlantic Division again? Will it be too much to overcome and be the 5th best defense in the country? What does she mean?

If she means that we won't be the 5th best defense in the nation again, well, duh!!! ...

If she means we won't win the division again, then she is just joining the crowd of Boston College football naysayers ...

But if she thinks that's the reason we won't go to a bowl game or won't win a bunch of games, she is very, very far from being right. BC went without B.J. Raji in 2007 and did fine. We've dealt with Toal's extensive injury problems over the last several years and have been fine. Good players graduate and move onto the NFL. BC has had good players leave before and we have rebounded, and they will again this year. It's just as simple as that.

The quarterback position is somewhat questionable but the running backs should be the best we've had in a since Derrick Knight and William Green. The linebacking corps has injury issues but the secondary will be the best it has been in years. The defensive tackles won't be as good but the defensive ends will be much improved. The only thing that might be too much to overcome in 2009 is HD's terrible predictions when she hopes to keep her job.

Brian: Whoa. Settle down there. Well I don't think HD has to worry about job security by making a uninformed season preview of Boston College, because it seems every college football prognosticator (with the exception of Phil Steele, who thinks we'll finish 3rd in the Atlantic) has made a similar assessment. Safety in numbers I guess.

The only thing you said that I will slightly disagree with is your assessment of the secondary. Our defense led the country in interceptions last season. I think this was largely due to the strength of our line (particularly Raji and Brace in the middle) and our linebacking corps of McLaughlin, Herzlich and Akins putting pressure on the opposing QB. While I have great faith in the secondary this season, I wouldn't expect a better performance than last season's performance given that we've lost a lot of talent in front of them.

Also, the running game will be strong, but this is predicated on having a capable quarterback under center than can move the ball through the air. As you mentioned, this remains to be seen whether we have such a capable signal caller.

Big Finish

Brian: The ACC announced game times and networks for the 2009 Big Ten/ACC Challenge. BC will travel to Crisler Arena and play Michigan on Wednesday night, December 2 at 7:30pm on ESPN2. Do you like the time slot and network selection, or are you disappointed because you’ll be attending the Illinois at Clemson game that night starting at 7:15?

Jeff: That sounds like a perfect two TV setup night. BC can't complain about being on the Deuce when playing Michigan in basketball.

Jeff: BC and the ACC also announced that Matt Tennant and Jim Ramella will represent the Eagles at this year’s ACC Football Kickoff weekend. That cool with you?

Brian: You bet. It’s a great honor for the seniors and is a testament to the offensive and defensive line talent our school consistently produces.

Brian: Pittsburgh Penguin Brooks Orpik is bringing the Stanley Cup to Boston College. If you had one day with the most famous trophy in sports, where would you take it?

Jeff: If I were a well-known alumni, I'd take it to the Heights, but since I'm not, I don't know. I might have to go to South Beach and drink out of it all night.

Jeff: The Carolina Hurricanes agreed to terms with ex-Eagle Andrew Alberts. With all the recent player movement of various Eagles in the NHL, who has the best chances to hoist the Stanley Cup this season?

Brian: You have to still like Orpik's chances with Pittsburgh, but Patrick Eaves and Andrew Alberts have a good shot in Carolina.

Brian: Last season, the Eagles finished dead last in offensive turnover rates, turning the ball over 26 times on 637 offensive plays. Will we see any improvement in that category this season?

Jeff: Yes, even if for no other reason than that we go to more conservative play calling with Logan gone.

Jeff: HD thinks we have the 5th best running back corps in the league. Objections?

Brian: Considering that Montel Harris had nearly as many rushing yards and TDs last season as Miami's Graig Cooper and Javarris James combined, I am surprised to see Miami (Fla.) ranked ahead of BC. Georgia Tech shouldn't even be ranked (their entire offense is rushing!) and Clemson at #8? I thought C.J. Spiller was a darkhorse Heisman candidate?

Brian: Last one, Matt Ryan indeed won the ESPY for Breakthrough Athlete (the ESPY’s will be aired on Sunday). I believe you had this one right. Time to gloat. Have at it.

Jeff: No need. That one was too easy.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Over/Under: 09 College Football Preview Big XII

Next up on our preview of the BCS conferences is the Big XII. Last week, we took a look at the Pac 10. We are slowly working our way east, with the goal of wrapping up with the ACC and a preview of the Eagles 2009 football season dropping some time in mid-to-late August.

Last season, the Big XII (specifically the Big XII South) was at the center of controversy in the college football world, with Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech locked in a three-way tie atop the division. Oklahoma was selected to go to the Big XII Championship and later the BCS National Championship game based on tiebreaker rule #413 (highest in the BCS Standings).

Texas doesn't forget.

Can a three-way tie atop the Big XII South standings happen again this season? Who will emerge from the South - Texas or Oklahoma? Anyone not excited for this year's Cotton Bowl?

First up, Over/Under - 7 1/2 regular season wins for Missouri

Brian: Missouri certainly won’t have the offensive firepower we are used to the Tigers showcasing over the past two seasons, with the departure their offensive coordinator, receiver Jeremy Maclin, tight end Chase Coffman, and (oh yeah) the school’s all-time leading passer, Chase Daniels. To be successful on offense, the Tigers will probably have to rely on running the football with junior RB Derrick Washington (177 carries, 1,036 yards, 17 TDs) carrying most of the load. While I don’t expect the Tigers to again win the Big XII North this season, I don’t think they will fall off the map entirely either. The schedule is manageable, and the Tigers should easily go 3-1 or 4-0 out of conference with games vs. Bowling Green, Furman, the opener vs. Illinois in St. Louis and a trip to Nevada. I’ll assume for a minute that Missouri will again get past Illinois and Juice Williams in the opener, and from there the Tigers would only have to go 4-4 in the Big XII to hit the over. I’ll do just that and take the over (+180), but just barely, as there are enough pushovers in the Big XII (especially the North) to get to that 4 win mark. And by the way, missing Oklahoma and Texas Tech from the other side can’t hurt either. Tigers take down Baylor and Iowa State at home, and Colorado and K-State on the road to get to 4-4 in conference, finishing the season 8-4. Then they’ll get smoked in their bowl game to finish 8-5. Not bad for a “rebuilding” year, eh?

Jeff: The chances that Missouri will be 4-4 through their first 8 games is slim. Missouri plays Illinois and at Nevada out of conference and then plays Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Texas, and Colorado in their first four conference games. A 3-5 record at that point wouldn't shock me but even if Missouri is 4-4 they would have to run the table from there in and I just don't see that happening. Side wager Brian? I'll take the under (-220).

Over/Under - 8 regular season wins for Kansas

Jeff: Compared to Missouri, Kansas has a much more managable out of conference schedule even though I will be hoping that Duke knocks them off on September 19th. But then when it comes to in conference schedule, the Jayhawks draw the toughest possible opponents from the South division in Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech. Maybe they'll knock off Texas Tech this year but the other two are certain losses. The Big XII North race is going to come down to Colorado and Nebraska this year so I am going under (-160) here even though a push would not surprise me at all.

Brian: There is a ton of offensive production coming back for the Jayhawks in 2009. Senior QB Todd Reesing (32 TD), wide outs Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier (22 TDs combined) and senior running back Jake Sharp (12 TDs) will all be back. The biggest question for Kansas going into the season will be their defensive unit, which isn’t a great think in the pass-happy Big XII North. Still, KU should be able to coast through their first 6 games going into their October 24 matchup at home vs. Oklahoma. Oklahoma at home and a trip to Austin are likely losses, but even with a questionable defense, I don’t see many other losses on the schedule. Kansas should be able to go 5-3 in the weaker Big XII North and be in contention for the Big XII North crown. Also, the Jayhawks have the benefit of hosting Nebraska and playing Missouri on a neutral field (Kansas City). Take the over (+130).

Over/Under - 8 regular season wins for Texas Tech

Brian: Mike Leach will have a very tough time repeating Tech's 11-1 regular season performance from a year ago without Harrell-to-Crabtree. Some of the pieces are still there from a season ago (namely, the running game) but there just seems to be too many questions on defense and under center for me to get the Red Raiders up over 8 wins. Texas Tech is notorious for scheduling a weak slate of out of conference games, and this season is no exception. Even without Harrell or Crabtree, Tech should coast to 4-0 out of conference with home games against North Dakota, Rice and New Mexico and a short road trip to Houston. In Big XII play, I am finding it nearly impossible to get Tech to 5-3, considering they have to travel to Texas, to Nebraska, and to Oklahoma State. Tech could get to 3-5 with wins over Kansas State, Texas A&M and Baylor in the new Cowboys Stadium, but anything more than that is a stretch. The Big XII schedule does Tech no favors this season, as the Red Raiders miss Iowa State, Colorado and Missouri. Overall, I think it is 7-5 or 8-4 at best for the Pirate Captain, so I’ll take the under here (-180).

Jeff: When I look at Texas Tech's schedule I see 8 wins and 3 losses and I'll give them a toss up for their game at Nebraska. I'm going to take the over here (+150) but not put any real money on it because I see no way where the Red Raiders can get to 10 wins. They either barely cover or push this year.

Over/Under - 8 1/2 regular season wins for Nebraska

Jeff: Nebraska plays 3 out of conference gimmes this season, leaving them having to win 6 of their remaining conference games and one game at Virginia Tech. Nebraska catches a huge schedule break by not playing Texas and Oklahoma State, two of the top three teams in the conference this year. Oklahoma is the best team on their schedule and is a sure loss. Virginia Tech is also likely to beat them. In their remaining conference games, I can't see them going any better than 6-2 which would be good enough to head to the Big XII championship game but still only barely cover the over. This is a best case scenario though so I am going to go with the under (-120) without much confidence.

Brian: A cursory glance over the offensive and defensive units leaves a lot to be desired for Cornhusker fans. The first thing Pelini will have to do is find a successor for Joe Ganz under center. The favorite to take over the job - junior Zac Lee - has thrown exactly two passes in his collegiate career. Lee will be throwing to a new set of wide receivers and handing off to the junior Roy Helu Jr., who returns with 510 yards and 5 TDs in the last four regular-season games. The defense is a mix of young, inexperienced guys (the LB corp) and experienced, more senior units (the line anchored by NT Ndamukong Suh and the secondary). Still, the swagger seems to be back at Nebraska under Pelini, and hey, they're Nebraska. Their Big XII schedule sets up nicely with the Huskers avoiding both Oklahoma State and Texas, and with the exception of their return trip to Blacksburg and hosting Oklahoma, there isn't another sure loss on the schedule. Not to mention Nebraska plays in the weaker of the two divisions. I will optimistically predict that Nebraska wins 9 games this year (losses to Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, and either at Missouri or at Kansas). 6-2 is good enough to get Nebraska to the Big XII Championship Game in Arlington on December 5. Over (-110).

Over/Under - 9 regular season wins for Oklahoma State

Brian: Oklahoma State returns almost everyone on offense next season with a unit that finished Top 10 nationally in total yards and points. If any year is to be the Cowboys breakout season, this be the year. OSU actually went out and, you know, scheduled a decent BCS opponent out of conference in Georgia, but they should be able to catch Georgia in a bit of a down year. After the Bulldogs, the Cowboys should get to 4-0 in September with out of conference wins over Houston, Rice and Grambling (the 'Boys got all of their out of conference games at home this year. Weird.). Last season, the Cowboys played well in conference, finishing with a 5-3 record. Those 3 losses came against the three teams that tied for first atop the Big XII South standings, with OSU traveling to both Texas and Texas Tech. This season, they get both Texas and Texas Tech at home, and if they can convert one of those two losses from a year ago to a W, that gets them to 6-2 in Big XII play. I’ll take the over here (+105), but again just barely. It’s 10-2 (6-2 Big XII) for the Cowboys in 2009 and a Cotton Bowl win gets them to 11-2.

Jeff: Speaking of Georgia, I applaud them for scheduling three BCS conference opponents this season - Georgia Tech, Arizona State, and Oklahoma State. But I digress. Back to the Cowboys, it's hard to imagine that the line is set at 9 and they have Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Texas Tech on their schedule and we're both going to take the over here. Oklahoma State will easily get to 8 wins and probably easily a ninth when they start the season with a inexperienced Georgia team at home. After eight wins a ninth is highly likely as is a tenth, but figure an upset in there somewhere and it might take a win against either Texas or Oklahoma for them to get there but that is a possibility as I see it. OK St is the only team in the Big 12 this year that will be able to compete with Texas and Oklahoma. Over (+105).

Over/Under - 10 regular season wins for Oklahoma

Jeff: Why would you take the under here? You really think Stoops will only win 9 games with a Heisman trophy winner? Over (+125).

Brian: It is tempting to take the under here. The season opener vs. BYU in the new Cowboys Stadium will be a test (there is some precedence for a Mountain West team to take down OU early in the season, see: TCU), as well as their end of September road trip to Miami (but likely a win), the Cotton Bowl and their trip to Lincoln on November 7. However, there is simply way too much talent on both sides of the ball for me to think that Oklahoma will lose any more than 1 regular season game. I’ll reluctantly take the over here (+125), but it wouldn't surprise me if the Sooners push or even drop more than two games for the under.

Over/Under - 10 regular season wins for Texas

Brian: Smart money is on the over here, with expectations higher than ever for Texas to challenge for a spot in the BCS National Championship Game. On this one, I’m going to go with the people and take the over (-155) with Texas. Their out of conference schedule is a snoozer (UL Monroe, at Wyoming, UTEP and UCF) and from there I then need the Longhorns to go 7-1 or 8-0 in the Big XII for the over. Their toughest matchups early appear to be the Red River Shootout vs. Oklahoma on October 17, and their trip to Oklahoma State on Halloween. Hard to imagine Texas dropping both games to Sooner State foe, so I’ll predict a split or 2-0 against OU and OSU. Besides, Texas has never lost to Oklahoma State under Mack Brown (11-0) and Texas beat Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl a season ago. I fully expect Texas to be in contention for a BCSNCG berth and I would be foolish to think they will get there with anything less than a 12-0 or 11-1 record. Over (-155)!

Jeff: Less than 11 wins for Texas this year would be a huge disappointment. As big of a disappointment as them playing Central Florida during BC's bye week so that potential trip to Austin for a game would be to see a blowout. Over (-155).

Iowa State, Baylor, Kansas State, Colorado and Texas A&M sit this one out. Jeff and I largely agree on most of the Big XII South lines and disagree on nearly every team in the Big XII North.

Your thoughts, southwest Eagles?