Please don’t let Boise St. play in the title game

When the AP poll was presented on Saturday, Boise St. achieved the highest pre-season ranking a mid-major has received in the BCS era. To put them in the same conversation with teams like Alabama, Texas, Florida, and Ohio St. is a joke.

In college football there is so much emphasis placed on each week. That’s why we love the sport so much. With that being said, why should a team like Boise St. ever be considered for the National Championship when the schedule they play is abysmal? Yes, I know they play Virginia Tech in Maryland week one. But should they automatically be presented with a chance to play in the title game if they squeak past the Hokies and breeze through their easy conference schedule? Absolutely not.

A two loss SEC or Big 12 team is better than an undefeated Boise St. In fact, Boise wouldn’t finish in the top 5 of the SEC this season. The last time they took a trip to the South, they were blown away by Georgia in 2005. The SEC isn’t invincible either to out-of-conference foes. USC won handily at Auburn in 2003, and again at Arkansas in 2006.

Boise’s non-conference schedule includes Virginia Tech and Oregon St. The other two games are Wyoming and Toledo. You have got to be kidding me. Why would Boise St., with all these title aspirations, not schedule two more BCS conference teams, instead of Wyoming and Toledo. Alabama plays in the toughest conference in the nation, yet they scheduled Virginia Tech last year, and have Penn St. making a trip to Tuscaloosa this season. Texas played a home-and-home with Ohio St. And by the way, both of those years one of the two teams played for the National Title (Texas in ’05 and Ohio St. in ’06).

People and media members in favor of Boise St. playing for a National Championship will point to their defeat of Oklahoma in 2007. Spare me. They needed trick plays to knock off the Sooners. Teams run trick plays when they know they are inferior to their opponents. Florida didn’t rely on tricks when they beat Ohio St. and Oklahoma for the crown. Alabama hardly needed any magic versus Texas this past season. They just ran the ball straight down their throat.

Think Boise would have success week in and week out running the ball against an SEC team? In the WAC, they won’t face one top-notch defensive lineman. Contrarily in the SEC they wouldn’t have time to rest from the caliber of players they would be matched up against.

The media loves it when a team like Boise St. upsets a power team. People were so infatuated with Utah two years ago when they defeated Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Yet, we tend to forget the hammering Florida put on Cincinnati last season. That in itself should tell fans and media that we expect teams like Florida, Alabama, Texas, etc. to beat mid-major teams. Which in turn tells me that no one really expects the mid-majors to be on the same level as the BCS powerhouses. Therefore, why put them in the title game?

Look at the recruiting from the past decade. A team like Boise St. never finishes in the top 30. And don’t be naive enough to think that Boise St. recruits mid-level talent and turns them into NFL players. Look at an NFL roster. How many of them contain the name of a player who went to Boise? The biggest name I can think of is rookie Kyle Wilson of the Jets. The reason Boise St. can dominate in their weak conference is because they recruit better than anyone in the conference. It’s the same reason Florida, Alabama, and LSU are always atop the SEC.

I like Boise St. They have a good coach and a good program. Maybe every now and then it’s exciting when they pull off a stunning upset. It’s sort of like cheering for a Cinderella run in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Yet in the end, we know neither of these teams is deserving of winning the National Title. Perhaps one day a mid-major team will play for the big prize, I just hope it’s not at the expense of a one loss BCS team.

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The Masoli factor

Ole Miss fans have to be very thankful for the past two seasons which they have endured. Back-to-back nine win campaigns culminating with two convincing Cotton Bowl wins. Not to mention they knocked off their bitter rivals from Baton Rouge both years.

With so much talent departing for the NFL, and the loss of Jevan Snead (who by the way won 18 games in two years) the 2010 outlook appeared as uncertain as the the Brett Favre saga. Throw in the dismissal of Pat Patterson and the transfer of Raymond Cotton; then you have an even more depleted offense.

In comes Jeremiah Masoli. The highly talented quarterback has had off-field issues which lead to his departure from Oregon. Houston Nutt has received a heavy dose of criticism for taking a chance on Masoli, which confuses me.

It may seem like a desperate move to bring in a guy like Masoli. But who cares? Every team outside of the top 5 is desperate for extra talent. You can’t tell me that if Florida had uncertainty at the QB position they wouldn’t take a shot on Masoli. He would fit perfect in the Urban Meyer attack.

Houston Nutt will take a lot of heat for bringing in Masoli, but his job isn’t to groom role models. The SEC is the most powerful conference in all of college sports. And football is its bread and butter. So if I’m Houston Nutt I made sure Masoli was in Oxford this fall.

As fall camp progresses, a battle for the starting quarterback slot is brewing. My thoughts on this competition: Houston Nutt did not bring in Jeremiah Masoli to sit on the bench. The assumption is that Nutt allowed Masoli to join the team because with the departure of Cotton the Rebels had just two scholarship quarterbacks. Jeremiah Masoli is not on scholarship folks. So throw that one out the window.

Expect a heavy dose of the option with Jeremiah Masoli

Expect a heavy dose of the option with Jeremiah Masoli

Let’s compare the resumes of the the players competing for the starting spot. Here’s one stat: Against USC last year Masoli threw for 223 yards and ran for another 164. The dude can flat out run the ball. Think of a combination of the strength of Tim Tebow and the elusiveness of former Oregon QB Dennis Dixon.

The other two players vying for the spot, Nathan Stanley and Randall Mackey, have a combined 163 yards passing. Not to mention Mackey hasn’t played a down in Division I football. It’s not a knock on the talents of Stanley or Mackey. People, Jeremiah Masoli would’ve been a Heisman candidate coming into this season had he stayed at Oregon.

This won’t be a case of a guy like Brent Schaeffer, who was extremely gifted but played in a pro-style offense. Nutt is an offensive genius and will tailor the offense to fit Masoli’s talents.

The defense is more than capable of keeping Ole Miss in games. The front seven is as good as any in the SEC which should allow the secondary to develop through the first few games. If Masoli can give the offense an explosive threat akin to Dexter McCluster, this team can be every bit as good as last year’s.

Last month I wrote how I wasn’t too impressed with the upcoming season of Ole Miss football. However, the addition of a player like Jeremiah Masoli has revamped my spirit of the 2010 Rebels. Houston Nutt has a knack for stealing road wins. If the Rebs can knock off Arkansas or Tennessee on the road, (dare I say Alabama?) another nine win season is well within reach.

College football pre-season top 25

1. Alabama Crimson Tide – No surprise here. They have the most talent in the nation and one of the best coaches in Nick Saban. The duo of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson is easily the best tandem of backs in the nation.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes – Terrelle Pryor looks like a legitimate Heisman candidate. The Big 10 is deep this year with Iowa, Wisconsin, and Penn State all potential top-15 teams.

3. Texas Longhorns – The ‘Horns will be breaking in a new quarterback (Garrett Gilbert). With the exception of a trip to Nebraska, the road schedule is favorable.

4. Florida Gators – Even though the Gators lost a plethora of talent, they have a new crop coming right in. It all starts with John Brantley, but Florida will also have to replace the rushing yards that Tim Tebow accumulated.

5. Boise State Broncos – I hesitated to put them in my top 5. We’ll find out if they’re for real after a week 1 match-up with Virginia Tech.

6. Virginia Tech Hokies – If Tyrod Taylor can find a way to throw consistently, they’ll be a National Title contender. The defense lost a good bit, but Bud Foster is one of the best in the business at replacing talent.

7. TCU Horned Frogs – It really is hard finding a place for the mid-major teams. TCU and Boise State both play Oregon State this season, which should give fans a good indicator on where the two teams belong. Andy Dalton is one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the nation.

8. Iowa Hawkeyes – I would rarely put Iowa in my top ten based on the fact that I think they can be beaten by anyone on any given Saturday. But, they do boast the nation’s best defensive front led by Adrian Clayborn.

9. Nebraska Cornhuskers – The uncertainty of quarterback may keep them out of the title hunt. Bo Pelini appears to have restored the title of “black shirts” to the defense.

10. USC Trojans – Outside of Alabama, SC is as talented as any of the teams in the top 10. You’ve got to imagine Lane Kiffin will ignite a fire under his team to battle the sanctions levied upon them.

11. Oregon Ducks – How big of a blow will the Jeremiah Masoli dismissal be? Considering he was plugged into the offense and exceeded expectations should give hope to Duck fans. LaMichael James is one of the more talented backs in the country.

12. Wisconsin Badgers – At 6’1 250, running back John Clay is a monster. It doesn’t hurt that Clay’s entire offensive line returns. An away date at Iowa is their toughest game.

13. Miami Hurricanes – Randy Shannon has done an excellent job bringing elite talent back to the “U”. The opening weeks are brutal with road trips to Ohio State, Pittsburgh, and Clemson.

14. Oklahoma Sooners – Bob Stoops has always done a good job of rebounding from disappointing seasons. Junior receiver Ryan Broyles tallied seven plays of 40 or more yards last season.

15. Penn State Nittany Lions – Before they can compete in the Big 10, Penn St. must decide on a quarterback. The running attack should be one of the best in the nation if the passing game holds up.

16. LSU Tigers – Les Miles may be on the hot seat, but still has plenty of talent. Patrick Peterson is the best corner in the nation and we should have a good idea of this team’s outlook after a week one date with North Carolina.

17. Pittsburgh Panthers – Dion Lewis is looking to build on a stellar freshman campaign. The Panthers will have to perform well on the road if they are to capture the Big East title.

18. North Carolina – One of the most talented teams on defense (DT Marvin Austin, LB Bruce Carter, CB Kendric Burney). I’m still not sold on T.J. as the answer at quarterback.

19. Oregon State Beavers – The Rodgers brothers return on offense. Mid-major haters will be pulling for the Beavers to knock off TCU and Boise St. in September. I think they can steal one, but not both of these games.

20. Florida State Seminoles – Christian Ponder is quietly being mentioned in the Heisman race. Even with good linebackers, a young defensive front may keep the ‘Noles out of the ACC title race.

21. Arkansas Razorbacks – This is right where a team with a stellar offense and below average defense should be ranked. With that being said, if the defense can somehow stymie opposing offenses, the Hogs have a shot at competing for the SEC West crown.

22. Cincinnati Bearcats – It was sad seeing Florida demolish the Bearcats a season ago in the Sugar Bowl. Actually it wasn’t (I love seeing the SEC impose its will). First year coach Butch Jones looks to retain Cincy’s back-to-back Big East titles.

23. Georgia Bulldogs – Outside of Florida, the SEC East isn’t too difficult. The offense has to find a way to get the ball to all-world talent A.J. Green.

24. Utah Utes – The offense will produce points, but the defense may have trouble stopping the pass. Sophomore QB Jordan Wynn will become a star before the time he graduates.

25. Houston Cougars – This may be the most explosive offense in the nation led by Case Keenum. The defense is switching to a 3-4 in an effort to use more speed on the field.

Just missed: Missouri, Auburn, West Virginia, Texas A&M, Navy

Darrelle Revis saga continues

I don’t have a problem when athletes want more money for their talents. The Titans’ Chris Johnson had good reason to hold out from camp. However, unlike Darrelle Revis, Johnson wasn’t asking for astronomical figures. And unlike Revis’ team, Johnson’s Titans need him more than ever with Vince Young coming back. Not to mention a running back like Johnson is worth twice as much as even a talented corner like Revis.

I’m not arguing the fact that Darrelle Revis is the best corner in the game because he probably is. What I am arguing is that he shouldn’t be the highest paid corner in the league. Guys like Nnammdi Asomugha of Oakland and Champ Bailey of Denver are more valuable to their defenses than Revis is to his. Thus, they should be paid more because they’re worth more to their respective franchises. And why should the Jets fork over millions to Revis just because the Raiders are paying Asomugha so much?

Will the Jets be that much worse without Darrelle Revis?

The Jets have a stout defensive front and arguably the best core of linebackers in the league. Not to mention a defensive genius as their head coach in Rex Ryan. Trading for Antonio Cromartie and drafting Kyle Wilson in the first round also tells me that even Revis is an expendable talent.

Revis would be worth top dollar on a team that couldn’t rush the passer because he would have to cover for longer periods of time. Taking nothing away from Revis; but the fact that the Jets front seven gets to the quarterback frequently makes his job a bit easier.

In reality it’s hard to plead the case for a corner to make so much money in this league. The NFL now seems to be predicated on offense. You can’t win without a quarterback, which is why they will always be paid the highest. Followed by the position which protects their blind side, the left tackle. Then there’s the offensive skill players.

Defensively, a dominant pass rusher is far more potent than a lock-down corner. And the middle linebacker position is becoming more and more important as the cog of the defense. Finally we come to the secondary. Outside of Asante Samuel, the previous Super Bowl winning teams all lacked an elite corner. It’s just not as valuable a piece to a championship as Revis seems to think. I’d bet the average NFL fan couldn’t even name the starting corners for the Colts or the Saints. Get my point.

Don’t get me wrong, Darrelle Revis has the potential to be the best corner since Deion Sanders. But it seems to me that Rex Ryan and the Jets organization are holding their ground in this debacle. Which in turn makes me love the outspoken Ryan even more.

Former USC receiver gets another chance in NFL

In an era where big, physical wide receivers are a hot commodity in the league, Mike Williams is trying to revamp his career in Seattle. The former USC star and 10th overall pick of the 2005 draft is being given another opportunity to show his skills. The coach who is providing the chance to him is none other than his former college coach, Pete Carroll.

No one ever questioned his talent coming out of college. In his sophomore year versus Oregon St. he made one of the most spectacular catches of the season snagging the ball effortlessly one-handed in the back of the end zone. In the Rose Bowl that same season he lofted a beautiful touchdown to quarterback Matt Leinart. He was a finalist to Larry Fitzgerald for the Biletnikoff Award and a consensus first team All-American in 2003.

The mistake Williams made was declaring for the NFL draft after only his sophomore year of college. Just two years removed from high school he hired an agent, thus making it impossible for him to compete in collegiate athletics ever again. Like Maurice Clarett had tried to do a year earlier, Williams could not overthrow the system of having to remain in college for at least three years before entering the NFL draft.

Even sitting out a year of college, many scouts predicted Williams to be a top 15 pick. And at the time Detroit was known for taking receivers in the top 10 (Charles Rodgers and Roy Williams). During his rookie season with the Lions Williams was inconsistent and his slow 4.76 combine time proved to hurt his ability. He was subsequently traded prior to the 2007 draft.

After bouncing around to Oakland and Tennessee during 2007, Williams soon found himself out of an NFL uniform. The same Mike Williams who torched Pac-10 defenses for two seasons. The same one who was drafted in the top 10 despite missing an entire season of college.

Williams career appeared to be over for good. His weight was now around 270 (35 more pounds than when he entered the league) and his legacy seemed to be that of an NFL bust. However, after witnessing something on t.v. Williams decided it was time to turn his career around.

This past spring he was watching a show about NFL busts with his daughter. The whole time Williams was praying his name wouldn’t appear on the list. It didn’t, but the thought of himself being linked to such players scared him enough to lose 30 pounds this off-season and make a comeback.

After being signed to a contract with the Seahawks this past April, Williams is vying for a spot in the rotation.

“Mike is really coming around,” said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll after Sunday’s scrimmage. “And I’m excited for him and for us. It’d be nice to have a big guy like that who can contribute. He continues to do well.”

Williams won’t come in and be the teams No. 1 receiver. However, just as he did in college, Williams creates a mismatch for just about any corner he lines up against.

Mike Williams is one of those guys you pull for. He’s had zero off-field problems and had the desire to get back in shape this past spring to start his career over. While it will be virtually impossible for him to live up to his pre-draft expectations, he can contribute to a Seattle team that needs all the help they can get.

Tiger continues downfall

Things have seemingly gone from bad to disastrous for Tiger Woods. After finishing T78 this weekend at the Bridgestone Invitational, Woods’ spot in this year’s Ryder Cup event seems even more in question. The 18 over par he finished with was the worst score he’s had as a professional golfer.

The one entity which has failed Tiger over the past months has been his putting. People would be naive to think Woods saves himself with his driver. In reality, Woods’ short game has been superior to anyone’s in the game. He’s arguably the greatest putter of all-time.

It’s obvious Woods’ mind is not completely right. Putting is 50% mental, yet Woods continues to struggle with it. After he finished T4 at the Masters the majority of golf fans thought Tiger had overcome his off-season problems.

When asked what needs improving, Woods’ answer was very plain.

“I need to hit the ball better,” he said. “I need to chip better, I need to putt better, and I need to score better.”

What may be even more depressing for Tiger is that Firestone is a place where he has historically played great. In his final round yesterday he was scattered all over the course, and even hit a fan in the face with one of his drives. He hit only 22 of 56 fairways this weekend, which set the tone for his poor play.

I think now we are all realizing that Tiger Woods is human. Over the past decade, we’ve built him up as this immortal figure who can’t seem to fail. Yet, even Woods himself isn’t surprised by his recent struggles.

“No, no. … It doesn’t surprise me at all, actually.” When asked why he wasn’t surprised he responded by saying, “It’s been a long year.”

Tiger is four wins off of Jack Nicklaus’ major championship record. Jack won his last major at the age of 46, a rare feat for a golfer. Therefore, Woods who is 34 seemingly has plenty of chances left to catch Nicklaus’ record. However the biggest question won’t be Tiger’s on-course talent, but his mental state. And that makes his chase for Nicklaus’ record appear even more of a stretch.

Vikings have to retain Favre

Imagine Brett Favre having arguably his best season ever.  Throw Adrian Peterson in the backfield.  Give Favre rising stars like Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin and an offensive line with seasoned veterans and young talent.  Finally, add one of the stingiest defenses in the league.  Seems like a no brainer for a title right?

That’s pretty much what the Vikings had a year ago and failed to make it to Miami.  Now imagine that team without Favre.  Yikes.  What scares me about No. 4 not returning is not the fact that they’ll miss his 33 td tosses from last year, but that teams will once again not respect the Minnesota passing game and put eight in the box against Peterson.

Will this be one of the last images we see of Favre on the field?

Amidst all the recent speculation that he might retire, today he told the media that if he is healthy then he’s playing.  The Vikings even offered Favre a larger contract for the upcoming season with extra incentives that could see him earn up to $20 million in 2010.  With that being said, I’m going to stop speculating on if Favre is returning and start speculating on the Vikings season if he finally retires.

What Brad Childress should’ve done this off-season was either draft a quarterback in the first two rounds, or obtain one via free agency.  Unless he knows the mind games Favre is playing right now, Childress couldn’t have been positive on Brett’s return.  And I hope he’s not naive enough to think Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels is the answer.  Yet, when both Colt McCoy and Jimmy Clausen were on the board when the Vikings made their first pick, the Viking staff turned their backs.

Even Donovan McNabb was rumored to be heading to the Twin Cities.  Yet again when the Vikings made no moves on a QB in the draft and failed to acquire McNabb, I thought Favre was surely coming back.  Now the Vikes are walking on thin ice.

Although the Vikings have plenty of young talent, they do have veterans who contribute significantly to the team.  Which means Minnesota’s window of opportunity may be closing.  Don’t get me wrong, the team in purple will still be good without Favre.  But that’s as far as it’ll get.  Just good.  With him, well… we all witnessed how dangerous this team was a season ago.

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