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FRIDAY, August 24, 2012
Coming Soon! Composite of Top 25 Preseason Predictions from Various Sources
Golden's "Don't be surprised if ..." Football Predictions
More Ways to View LSU's 2011 Season
Composite College Football Preseason Rankings

I put together a composite of seven preseason rankings:

  • Four newstand magazines: Phil Steele, USA Today, Lindy's, and Athlon
  • Three polls: ESPN, AP, USA Today

Here's the Top Ten based on the teams' average rankings across the seven polls.

  1. USC
  2. LSU
  3. Alabama
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Oregon
  6. Florida State
  7. Georgia
  8. Michigan
  9. South Carolina
  10. Arkansas

Complete list

As you can see, five of the ten are from the SEC, with two from the Pac-12, one from Big 12, one from ACC, and one from Big Ten. That accounts for five of the six BCS Conferences. The highest team from the Big East is Louisville at #26.

LSU plays three of the Top Ten: Alabama, South Carolina, and Arkansas.

Don't Be Surprised If ...

This feature will grow over the next few weeks as the football season approaches.

4. Don't be surprised if the winner of the Oregon-USC game has to face the same challenge as LSU in 2011 and beat the loser again in order to win the BCS Championship.

  • The Ducks visit the Trojans November 3. That, of course, is the day of the LSU-Alabama clash. It will be a huge surprise if both those games do not have huge BCS implications.
  • Unlike the Tigers and Tide in the SEC, Oregon and USC are in opposite divisions of the Pac-12. And both are heavily favored to win their divisions and meet again in the conference championship game, which is held at the stadium of the team with the better conference record. So the winner November 3 will likely host on December 2.
  • The only other Pac-12 squad in the Top 25 of either preseason poll is Stanford (#21 in AP and #18 in USA Today). The Trojans play in Palo Alto September while Ducks host the Cardinal November 17.
  • Neither Oregon nor USC has a dangerous non-conference foe on their slates: Arkansas State, Fresno State, and Tennessee Tech for the Ducks, and Hawaii, Syracuse, and Notre Dame for the Men of Troy. Of those six teams, only Fighting Irish are ranked (#24 in USA Today). Also, the only one of the six games that is not at either Eugene or Los Angeles is USC-Syracuse at the Meadowlands NJ.

3. Don't be surprised if the Jets jettison Rex Ryan after the 2012 season.

  • In fact, don't be surprised if Sexy Rexy doesn't make it to the end of the season.
  • He recorded a 9-7 record in 2009, his first season as a head coach, and the Jets made it to the AFC Championship Game.
  • They repeated that act the following year when they were 11-5 in the regular season.
  • Last year, they slumped to 8-8, losing their last three to miss the playoffs.
  • Now the Jets have brought in Tim Tebow to add to the excitement - and controversy - in the Big Apple. A QB controversy requires a head coach who can manage people well, and Ryan hasn't shown he can do that.
  • QB Mark Sanchez is psychologically fragile. You don't help his confidence by bringing in Tebow.
  • Rex doesn't stifle controversy; he fuels it. His act is already wearing thin with the players and his bosses, and anything less than a strong playoff run will wear out his welcome.

2. Don't be surprised if no SEC team goes undefeated.

  • LSU already faced a tough road even with the Honey Badger to finish 13-0 for the second straight season:
    Four SEC road games, any of which could result in a loss if you play poorly: Florida, Auburn, Texas A&M, Arkansas
    Two tough SEC home games: South Carolina and Alabama
    And, if you emerge from those games undefeated, you have the East champion in the title game - possibly Georgia or a rematch with South Carolina or Florida.
    And the Tigers must navigate that dangerous course with a QB who has the physical tools but has never started an SEC game.
    What are the odds of any team going 13-0 two straight years?

  • Let's look at the other candidates:
    Alabama lost most of its D starters and has two challenging road games at Arkansas and LSU. And Missouri will be fired up when it hosts the Tide on October 13. Furthermore, the bi-annual trip to Knoxville won't be a picnic since Tennessee returns 18 starters and has QB Tyler Bray healthy after he missed five games in 2011 with a broken thumb.
    It's entirely possible that the Big Three in the West defeat each other in a triangle such as Alabama over Arkansas, LSU over Alabama, and Arkansas over LSU.

    And do you really expect an East Division team to go undefeated? Georgia has the best shot since the Bulldogs, like last year, do not play LSU, Alabama, or Arkansas.

  • In fact, don't be surprised if no team in college football goes undefeated in 2012. The last time that happened was 2003.

1. Don't be surprised if Boise State's streak of six straight seasons of double-digit wins comes to an end in 2012.

Here's the Broncos' records during that time.
2011: 12-1
2010: 12-1
2009: 14-0
2008: 12-1
2007: 10-3
2006: 13-0
2005: 9-4

Boise returns just seven starters (only two on D) for their second and final season in the Mountain West Conference before moving to the Big East. More importantly, they lose Kellen Moore, the all-time winningest QB in FBS history.

BSU's 2012 non-conference schedule looks like this:

@Michigan State, Miami (OH), Brigham Young, @Southern Miss

The days of sneaking up on non-conference opponents are long over. If the Broncos do make ten wins, it will be Chris Petersen's best coaching job in seven years at the helm.

Phil Steele's 2012 College Football Preview

We always save the best for last, and for 14 straight years, the best has been Phil Steele as tracked by a website that calculates how closely each magazine's preseason predictions square with the final results.

Remember: Like all the magazines, Steele's predictions came out long before Tyrann Mathieu was dismissed from LSU's team.

Preseason Top 25

  1. Florida State
  2. Oklahoma
  3. LSU
    "Had they won the title game they would without a doubt be the consensus pick to win it all this year as they are even stronger with improved QB play ... It was very tough not to put an SEC team in the title game but they do have a tougher road to face than my top 2 with games vs 6 teams that are ranked in the top 28 of my Power Poll ... I do not see any team surviving the brutal SEC (best conference in country, AGAIN) unscathed and that is why I have them #3.
  4. USC
  5. Alabama
  6. Oregon
  7. Texas
  8. Georgia
  9. Wisconsin
  10. Florida

SEC Forecast

SEC West
  1. LSU
  2. Alabama
  3. Arkansas
  4. Mississippi State
  5. Auburn
  6. Texas A&M
  7. Mississippi
SEC East
  1. Florida
  2. Georgia
  3. South Carolina
  4. Tennessee
  5. Missouri
  6. Vanderbilt
  7. Kentucky

Summary of why Phil picks LSU #1 in West

"Les Miles has caught some breaks in recent years but last year his team had one of the finest performances of any in college football history during the regular season. ... This year's team will get better QB play than they received last year ... and are deep at every position. LSU gets a key game vs Bama at home and have a bye the week prior versus Bama's on its third road game in four weeks and that makes them my favorite to get back to the SEC Title game and a legitimate National Title contender."

Comments on other teams

  • Alabama - "Saban can use '10 as a teaching example letting them know the pitfalls of defending a Title and making sure they play their 'A' game weekly. This year's team is clearly capable of repeating as Nat'l Champs and how they fare in Death Valley on Nov 3rd will determine if they get to the SEC Title game and it won't surprise me if they get back-to-back titles."
  • Arkansas - "They will miss his [Bobby Petrino's] play calling. Still, this is a team very capable of winning the West led by an improved D, QB Tyler Wilson and the return of RB Knile Davis."
  • Florida - "This year is Will Muschamp's second season, he has 17 returning starters and despite pulling LSU out of the West, the Gators are my surprise pick to get to the SEC Title game. They have one of my top rated D's in the country and will have one of the most improved offenses with more stability at QB."
  • Tennessee - "Derek Dooley is a coach squarely on the hot seat but he has by far his best team yet."

Tigers on Preseason All-SEC team

  • 1st team O: Alex Hurst T
  • 1st team D: Sam Montgomery E, Tyrann Mathieu CB/PR, Eric Reid S, Brad Wing P
  • 2nd team O: Chris Faulk T
  • 2nd team D: Anthony Johnson DL, Drew Alleman K

Comments on LSU's units

  • QBs - "Despite the loss of their top two QBs, it wouldn't surprise me and in fact I expect LSU to have a more dangerous pass attack this year."
  • RBs - "Naturally since the top four were all soph. and frosh., this unit is stronger and one of the best in the country."
  • WRs - "LSU WR's have been loaded with size and speed in recent years but spotty QB play had kept down their production. ... They are a little less experienced but could put up better numbers with more emphasis on the pass game."
  • OL - "With Dworaczyk being granted a sixth year, this unit has five back who have been full-time starterse ... and it looks to be their best unit in some time."
  • DL - "This is one of the top D-lines in the country."
  • LBs - "This unit is less experienced and is my only question mark on the team."
  • DBs - "LSU has just two returning starters [one of which was Mathieu] but remains one of the elite secondaries."
  • Special teams - "This again looks like one of the premier special teams units in college football."
  • Summary - "Unlike last year when LSU was a dog three times they could be favored in every game and are a legitimate National Title contender."
2012 Most Improved Teams
  1. Central Florida
  2. Ohio State
  3. South Florida
  4. Bowling Green
  5. Troy
  6. Tennessee
  7. Miami (OH)
  8. Fresno State
  9. Army
  10. East Carolina
2012 Surprise Teams
  1. Texas
  2. Clemson
  3. Oklahoma State
  4. Wisconsin
  5. Florida
  6. Louisville
  7. Nebraska
  8. Virginia Tech
  9. Michigan State
  10. Stanford

Previous Previews: USA Today College Preview | Athlon Sports Southeastern Preview
Lindy's Sports Southeastern 2012 Preview

ESPN the Magazine on Mathieu

ESPN the Magazine's college football preview issue arrived the day before Tyrann Mathieu's dismissal from the LSU team hit the news. The issue contains a lengthy article on him. Some of the passages ring eerily prescient. I've boldfaced those below.

  • "... the Honey Badger is actually a bit shy."
  • "The most visible player in college football, a spotlight-hogging iconoclast, works hard to reveal little."
  • "It's a contradiction, but hardly the only one for the LSU CB. ... He's overrated ... yet underappreciated. He's cocky ... but riddled with self-doubt ... He's the most important player in the SEC ... but not even the best CB on his own team. He's a reckless gambler whose lack of discipline hurts his team ... He's a T-shirt-slogan-ready national brand ... and a young man struggling for identity. ... Is Mathieu worthy of all the attention?"
  • "The LSU Tigers are afraid of Tyrann Mathieu ... Over the course of several months ... The Mag attempted to persuade the Tigers to let us talk to Mathieu. Each request was politely declined. ... LSU, we also learned, would not be conducting a Heisman campaign for Mathieu this fall. ... That may be a first. When Miles left Mathieu home for SEC Media Days in July, he brushed off questions about the decision with a joke. 'If we brought Tyrann, no one else would have any time to talk.'"
  • Les Miles last October after announcing Tyrann's one-game suspension: "Ty is a wonderfully good-hearted man. He wants to please his team, please the coaches, please the press, please the people in the state. He wants to please everybody. And many times, you can't. You can't be everything to everyone. You have to realize what's important. Many times, what's important is realizing you can't please somebody who really wants you to be something you can't be."
  • "The CB is one of college football's most prolific tweeters, averaging 11.8 tweets per day. ... With more than 135,000 followers, he's by far the most popular college football player on Twitter. ... to read his entire timeline (some 3,600 tweets and counting) is to watch a man fighting a war of his own making. 'I hate when ppl say they love me. ... Can y'all tell me why the hell the devil after me? What the hell I did to him?!'"
  • "This is why becoming the Honey Badger was almost the worst thing that ever happened to Tyrann Mathieu: too much, too soon."
  • The author (Kevin Van Valkenberg) relates how D-coordinator John Chavis showed a viral YouTube video to his D on the plane ride home from the game at West Virginia last year. They immediately applied the name to their teammate. Morris Claiborne: "Tyrann deserved the nickname because the honey badger takes what it wants, and Tyrann takes what he wants on the field."
  • "There was just one problem: Tyrann Mathieu did not want to be the Honey Badger. ... He was annoyed by the nickname. It sounded too feminine. He said as much on his Facebook page: I'm NOT the Honey-badger ... I am TM7!!! get it right."
  • "In time, perhaps sensing that there was no stopping it, Mathieu made his peace with it all. You can call me what you wanna call me!! Then ... he actively embraced it."
  • "Kids in Baton Rouge swarmed to him after games. They loved his head bob, his cocky smile, his relentless energy. Few of them seemed to notice how frequently he was getting burned on coverage."
  • KC Joyner, football analyst for ESPN: "He's made his name off instincts and amazing return skills. He's excellent at diagnosing plays and covering stuff thrown in front of him. But the jury's out on him being able to run with and cover high-level receivers."
  • "Maybe he lacks discipline. Maybe he's immature - a slow-motion car wreck waiting to happen."
  • The author traces Tyrann's second long punt return against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. "Then, with another two would-be tacklers driving toward him - the members of the coverage team in a mad frenzy by now - he suddenly hops backward, causing the two to slam into each other like cartoon goons being tricked into shooting each other in an alley. Every cut Mathieu makes, he leaves an amalgam of flailing arms and twisted knees in his wake. He seems to feel defenders before he can see them. And instead of running, he's dancing and darting, being yanked about by an invisible string."
  • "And that's the last thing about Tyrann Mathieu: You just never know what's coming next."

ESPN's Power Rankings in the issue:

  1. USC
  2. LSU
  3. Alabama
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Oregon
  6. Georgia
  7. Florida State
  8. Michigan
  9. West Virginia
  10. South Carolina
  11. Arkansas

On its website, ESPN has not changed the ratings since Mathieu's departure. It summarizes LSU with this paragraph.

A team that came so close to having one of the great seasons in the BCS era in 2011 might be more talented this time around. Four defensive starters, including defensive end Sam Montgomery, are projected first-round NFL draft picks. There is, however, a lingering question: After last season's 21-0 BCS title game debacle against Alabama, will this team generate the passing offense to beat an elite defense? For that, an LSU team so full of veteran stars rests its hopes on a player who has never taken a meaningful SEC snap: new starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger, whose powerful right arm delivers perfect passes to receivers and, LSU hopes, a crystal trophy to Baton Rouge.
-- Gary Laney, GeauxTigerNation

Goodbye, Honey Badger

The Badger couldn't stay off the honey called synthetic marijuana.

My main reaction to the news is that I'm proud of my alma mater for applying the rules even if it means dismissing your most prominent player from the team. This goes right up there with LSU ranking second in the SEC in percentage of football players graduating (after Vanderbilt, the only private school in the league).

  • You're always better off in the long run enforcing your stated rules and never, ever excusing a player because he's a star.
  • Let's face it. Mathieu was becoming a distraction in many ways with his tweets and sometimes unwise oral pronouncements.
  • He apparently thought he was invincible and could violate team rules with impunity. (That guy Impunity sure causes lots of troubles, leading others to perdition.)
  • Also, Tyrann displayed the ultimate stupidity - he didn't learn from his mistakes. According to one insider report, LSU rules call for a yearlong suspension for a third failed drug test. That means his one-game suspension in 2011 occurred after a second violation and a warning following the first one. Three strikes, you're out applies to football as well as baseball.
  • As commentators were quick to point out, LSU can replace Tyrann Mathieu the 5'8" CB. But it will have great difficulty finding someone to take the Playmaker and punt-returner roles the Honey Badger filled better than any other defensive player in the country.

Since we try to tie current events to history on this site, I'm reminded of another Tiger DB who ruined a promising career by failing drug tests.

  • Nick Saban kicked senior FS Damien James off the 2002 LSU team.
  • After the Tigers beat South Carolina 38-14 for their sixth straight victory after an opening loss at Virginia Tech, James disappeared and missed all practices the following week leading to the Auburn game.
  • It turned out that Damien flew the coop because he was scheduled for a drug test and knew he would fail it, which would not be his first violation.
  • Stung by the loss of one of their leaders (and the season-ending injury to QB Matt Mauck), the Tigers lost at Auburn and two more of their final five games before dropping a 35-20 decision to Texas in the Cotton Bowl.

The Miles Haters undoubtedly blame him for Mathieu's failings because they blame Les for everything. But if they say "St. Nick wouldn't have let that happen," they have selective memories, which is a hallmark of prejudiced people.

UPDATE [8/18]

Tyrann has wise step parents (his uncle and aunt). They know that he has a shaky future in football and in life if he doesn't lick his drug addiction. So insisting he get treatment to deal with his personal demons before resuming his football career is the way to go. Maybe he'll return to LSU next season after all, if that's what he wants after, hopefully, developing a clearer, more mature view of his future as a result of rehab.

Ways to View LSU's 2011 Season

There are at least five different slants one can take on LSU's last season. As the 2012 season nears, we're exploring those. The numbers indicate the order in which they were posted and do not reflect any order of importance.

Viewpoint #1

2. The end of LSU's 2011-12 season was payback for the way the 2007-8 campaign ended.

  • LSU's 2007 regular season ended with Arkansas S Matterral Richardson intercepting Matt Flynn's 2-point conversion pass to seal the Hogs' 50-48 triple OT victory in Tiger Stadium. CBS announcer Vern Lundquist intoned: "The dream dies for LSU."
  • LSU's second triple OT loss while ranked #1 that season dropped them to #7 in the second-to-last BCS rankings.
  • The Tigers still won the SEC West and beat Tennessee 21-14 in the championship game with backup Ryan Perrilloux replacing the injured Flynn under C. As SEC champ, the Tigers were guaranteed a spot in the Sugar Bowl.
  • However, some strange events happened later that day.
    • #1 Missouri (11-1) lost in the Big 12 Championship Game to Oklahoma, 38-17.
    • #2 West Virginia (10-1), a 28-point favorite, lost its QB Pat White in Q2 and was upset at home by Pittsburgh, 13-9.
    • #3 Ohio State (11-1), #4 Georgia (10-2), and #5 Kansas (11-1) were idle.
    • #6 Virginia Tech (10-2) defeated Boston College 30-16 in the ACC Championship Game.
  • As a result, Ohio State finished #1 in the final BCS standings, and LSU vaulted to #2.
  • Given another chance at the BCS championship, the Tigers dispatched the Buckeyes 38-24 in the Superdome.

The contrast with 2011 is obvious.

  • The Tigers started #1 in the first BCS rankings on October 16 and stayed there the entire season, ending with three straight weeks of perfect 1.000 rankings, meaning they received all first place votes in the two human polls and were #1 in every computer ranking - a feat that never happened since the BCS began in 1998.
  • But this time the football gods smiled on Alabama in the final poll. Despite not even winning the SEC West, Bama finished #2 at .9471 over Oklahoma State's .9231. The computers had the Cowboys a solid #2 but enough human voters put the Crimson Tide second to give them the edge. To further indicate how Fate intervened for Nick Saban, OSU's lone loss came on the road in OT at Iowa State less than 24 hours after an airplane crash killed two of the Cowboys' women's basketball coaches.
  • Alabama was the only other team that was anywhere close to LSU in talent and probably was more talented. With all the psychological edge in their favor, the Tide dominated the Tigers in the rematch for the BCS Championship.

1. LSU had a better 2011 season than Alabama or any other FBS school.

  • LSU finished 13-1, Alabama 12-1.

  • LSU beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

  • LSU's non-conference schedule was much stronger:

    LSU: Oregon, Northwestern State, West Virginia, Western Kentucky
    Alabama: Kent State, Penn State, North Texas, Georgia Southern

    The strength of schedule explains why LSU finished #1 in the final Golden Football Rankings even after losing the BCS Championship Game.

  • Most of all, LSU accomplished much more winning the SEC championship, going 9-0 in the conference, than Alabama did in winning the BCS championship, which entailed winning a rematch game in which the Tide had all the advantages.
Quotations from Lindy's

"Last season was like getting five numbers on the Powerball, but not getting the Powerball. You still had a great season, but you just didn't get the last one." LSU G Josh Dworaczyk

"College football is about at halftime of the whole realignment movement." Dennis Dodd

"You can make the case that no coach in the SEC has squeezed more out of his talent the past few years than Steve Spurrier, especially last season when he reversed course at QB and lost his star RB at midseason ... and still won a school-record 11 games."

"I think the Paterno thing and Tressel had a profound impact on this country. It changed college presidents, ADs and boards of directors who are saying, 'I don't care who this guy is. We cannot (let him) take the program down.'" Jack Stark, clinical psychologist, who applies that principle to Bobby Petrino's chance of becoming a head coach again: "I think it's going to take him a very long time. He's done two things. He burned his bridges pretty good at the pro level in the middle of the season, which is unheard of. There is a lot of anger there at the pro leve. At the collegiate level ... the thing that distinguished him is he repeatedly lied. That seems to be the new line in the sand for athletic directors."

"Over the last two years he was there, the players had taken complete control of the team." Former Florida player on Urban Meyer

Interesting Facts from Lindy's
  • Frank Wilson, now LSU's RB coach and recruiting coordinator, recruited his fellow St. Aug. alumnus Tyrann Mathieu while working for Tennessee. Wilson begged then-head coach Lane Kiffin to offer Mathieu but no go.
  • As of last April, Lindy's O Player of the Year, USC QB Matt Barkley, had 53,000 followers on Twitter. D Player of the Year Mathieu had 115,000.
  • Arkansas State has "the most head-scratching job change of the offseason." Gus Malzahn made $1.3 million last year as Auburn's O coordinator before taking a half-million-dollar pay cut to take over the Red Wolves when their coach moved to Ole Miss. If Malzahn had stayed at Auburn, he would have been in position to replace Bobby Petrino at Arkansas, where Malzahn was an assistant under Houston Nutt, the outgoing coach in Oxford.
  • Half of the national championship teams in the last 10 years ranked in the national top three against the run. Only one champion, 2005 Texas, ranked worse than 15th nationally against the run, and that Longhorns team had Vince Young to score as many as needed.
  • Oklahoma QB Landry Jones was named for Dallas Cowboys coaching legend Tom Landry. However, Jones is not a Cowboys fan.
  • In the 75-year history of the wire service era, only two schools with national championships have never had an NCAA major violation in football: BYU and Penn State. And now you can cross Penn State off the list.
  • The new Penn State coach is a graduate of Brown, the alma mater of Joe Paterno.
  • Paul Chryst is Pittsburgh's fourth head coach in 13 months. The departed coach, Todd Graham, is at Arizona State, the fourth team he leads in seven years.
  • Texas A&M's first-ever SEC game is against Florida, whose head coach, Will Muschamp, was the D-coordinator at Texas, A&M's former chief rival, before taking the Gator job last year.
  • Les Miles has had five 10-win seasons in seven years at LSU, which had seven in school history before he arrived.
  • Florida did not have a first-team All-SEC selection last season for the first time in 40 years.
  • The last time Missouri went to what are now called the BCS bowls was the 1970 Orange Bowl. Currently, Mizzou is on a school-record streak of seven consecutive bowl games.
  • Tennessee has lost 27 games since the start of the '08 season, the most in a four-year stretch in school history.
  • Knowing head coach Derek Dooley was in trouble, six Tennessee assistants left for lateral jobs after last season and another retired.
Future of College Football?

Tim Stevens of the Orlando Sentinel conveyed some interesting thoughts on the future of college football while participating in a forum for USA Today.

  • On the motivation of the conferences in creating the new four-team playoff:
    The BCS leagues just don't want to "invalidate the value of their regular-season TV contracts," which are all theirs, or create a system that might increase the value for competitors. It's not even about the money, because a playoff would generate a lot more money. It's about keeping the money in the hands of the club members.
  • On whether the new system will be fair:
    Fairness is going to be irrelevant soon. The "BCS-ification" of college football will be the undoing of college sports as we know it. Economic Darwinism will be carried out to the extreme. What everyone is missing in that equation is the dramatic overhaul of the American collegiate system to cover over the next decade as brick-and-mortar compauses give way to electronic learning and austerity measures ravage both the state and federal funding systems. This is going to accelerate rapidly as we move toward conference-owned networks.
  • On whether the playoff will eventually be expanded to include more teams:
    The power conferences will never go for a 16-team playoff that includes 11 conference champoins. We're going to have five, perhaps four power conferences, when this is all done. Conference semifinal games, orchestrated within their own television contracts as part of their seasons, will serve as the expanded playoffs. The Big East will no longer be a major conference. And how iconic would it be if the ACC, the league that really started the predatory conference moves, ended up being the most vulnerable to future raids?

Based on Stevens' vision, would we see the following scenario in the future, perhaps even before the 2025 end of the new Final Four system?

  • The SEC, Big 12, ACC, and Pac-12 expand to 16 teams. The Big East, its members stolen by the other four "BCS conferences" (a term that will fade from use in two years), no longer exists as a football conference.
  • Notre Dame is forced to join one of the 16 team leagues or get left out of the national championship post-season.
  • Each 16-team "mega-conference" splits into two divisions of eight. Each team plays seven conference games, one against each of the other members of its division and none against the opposite division.
  • The dropped conference game is not replaced in the schedule so that the regular season ends the weekend before Thanksgiving. (Teams might still play 12-game schedules but without a bye week, although there would be pressure to start the season a week earlier in August to allow for an open date.) That opens space for the conference semifinal games over Thanksgiving weekend. In the SEC, for example, West #1 hosts East #2 and East #1 hosts West #2.
  • The winners of the semifinal games play the first Saturday of December at a pre-selected neutral site for the conference championship. If two teams from the same division win the semifinal games, the title game is a rematch of their regular season contest. (But that happens already from time to time in the present system. For example, in both 2001 and 2003, LSU won the West and played an Eastern team they had already met - Tennessee in '01 and Georgia in '03.)
  • The Final Four then consists of the four conference champions.
  • If all this reminds you more of the NFL than of traditional college football, so be it. At least, that's what the money-hungry leaders of the new conferences would say.

About This Site
This site is devoted primarily to college and pro football. The unique feature of this site is the publication each fall of the author's rankings of all FBS college football teams and similar rankings for the NFL. I live in New Orleans and am a graduate of LSU and FSU. So I present a Southern and particularly an SEC point of view but one that is reasonably objective. Twice a month, I also publish a Football Magazine with stories from the past and a Baseball Magazine with a similar format. Less frequently, there's a Basketball Magazine.
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