As the Conferences Realign

Beauty Contest Standings (Week 3, 2011)

With the score tied at 13-13 in the fourth quarter…(sfx: beep, beep, beep)

Announcer: We interrupt your BCS for this installment of your favorite soap opera, As the Conferences Realign.

Yes, that really happened. Our enjoyment of Saturday’s games was put on hold while the ACC announced that it was stealing a couple of teams from the foundering Big East. Can’t these greedy jerks in suits leave us alone long enough to enjoy the actual games on a freaking Game Day? Is nothing sacred? Apparently not.

Tradition, convention, rivalries, who cares? This seems more like a series of shotgun weddings in Arkansas than a football season. Since it’s all about the conferences these days, we’ll set up the Beauty Contest that way.

The ACC had a big day, kidnapping two entire schools while simultaneously winning 3 of five games against BCS competition. Sure, one of the schools gained, Big East Pitt, dropped a game to a weaker than usual Iowa team. And another, Maryland, lost a tight game to a Big East team headed to the SEC, West Virginia. And Florida State, the best team in the conference, got shut down by Oklahoma in the Big Game of the day.

However, Miami spanked Ohio State 24-6, Clemson came back to down Auburn 38-24, and Georgia Tech romped over pitiful Kansas 66-24 in an experiment to determine what football would look like if tackling were illegal. Three wins over three power conference teams in one day. That’s a good year for the ACC.

The SEC had the good grace to postpone announcement of its presumed acquisition of West Virginia. On the field, other than the previously mentioned loss at Clemson, members claimed victories over the weak and halt, except Kentucky, which managed to lose to CUSA Louisville, 24-17. Vanderbilt, by the way, romped over Ole Miss 30-7, and served notice that these 3-0 Commodores will no longer perform their old standard, “Easy.”

Oh, and Florida beat Tennessee 33-23 for the Gators’ 8th consecutive win over the Volunteers.

The PAC-12 also had the good sense to abstain from naming new members. Good thing. If the proposed new members took the trouble to see the company they are about to join, they might have second thoughts. The PAC-12 is now 2-5 against teams from the other three power conferences. USC beat ACC-bound Syracuse 38-17, while Arizona St. lost to Illinois, Washington gave up 51 to Nebraska, Washington St. fell to San Diego State, and UCLA got stomped by Bevo. More on that later.

The B1G might have wished it stayed in bed as well. Other than Illinois’ surprise win, it was rough day. Ohio State’s 103-game streak of being ranked in the AP poll ended. Northwestern lost to Army, and #15 Michigan State was soundly beaten by Notre Dame, 31-13. Penn State needed a fake field goal and a late touchdown to beat Temple 14-10. Everybody else whipped a bunch of MAC paycheck teams.

How weak is the MAC? In 16 games against BCS teams and independents, MAC teams are 0-16. Of 12 out-of-conference wins, 8 came against FCS teams.

One could argue, based on the out-of-conference games so far, that the soon-to-be-extinct Big 12 is the strongest on the field in the land. Big 12 teams are 6-2 against BCS opposition and 11-0 against all other conferences. Tech’s Seth Doege completed 40-of 44 passes Saturday. Yes, it was against New Mexico, but that’s tough against air. Tech 59-13. Everybody won big except Kansas and Iowa State.

Iowa State needed all it had to squeak out a win 24-20 win over Big East Champion UConn and perhaps spoil OU’s best chance for a bowl win this season. Poor TCU. They’ve wandered in the non-AQ conferences for 15 years, building a program that can compete with almost anybody. They may have the best coach in the country. Now they face joining a Big East that appears to have disintegrated before our eyes. Sure the Big East is a joke now, going 1-3 so far against the power conferences, but they’ve gone a respectable 3-1 against the ACC and the indies. They’re down to 6 teams now and may be at 3 in a few days. Poor TCU. Or maybe we’ve found a home for Baylor.

Actual teams? Oh, yes, let’s put As the Conferences Realign on hold and take a look.

1. Alabama. Who knows. After Penn State squeaked out a win over mighty Temple, it appears the Tide has played exactly nobody worth their salt. This is an act of faith.

2. Oklahoma. Oh, yes. I was going to lead with this. The Sooners beat an FSU team with what appears to be a very good defense in front of a hostile crowd 23-13, pulling out the game with a strong 4th quarter. They may be the best team in the land. On the other hand, FSU simply did not appear to be the fearsome tribe of old.

3. LSU won an ugly 19-6 game over a desperate M’sippi State team that’s now 0-2 in conference play.

4. Stanford beat Arizona 36-17. It wasn’t close. I guess it’s nice to have a good D, a good OL and the best pro-style college quarterback since that Manning kid was playing for Tennessee.

5. Wisconsin destroyed Northern Illinois 49-7. What does that mean? What if I told you the Huskies had lost to Kansas 45-42?

6. Okie Lite played Tulsa after midnight and won 59-33. Most of the Tulsa points came late. Like after 2 AM. This is a scary offense.

7. Boise State beat Toledo 40-15, a week after Toledo put a scare in tOSU. Is Ohio State that bad or is Boise State that good? Both.

8. Nike. The Ducks hammered mighty Mizzou State 56-7.

9. Florida State lost a close game at home to Oklahoma. That ain’t a sin.

10. South Carolina needed everything Marcus Lattimore had to beat Navy 24-21. Lattimore had 246 yards and 3 touchdowns. It was just barely enough.


A&M beat Idaho 37-7. Idaho is a WAC team. The WAC is currently 1-7 against BCS teams, 0-7 against other conferences, and 4-1 against FCS schools. Enjoy your paychecks, Vandals.

Before Wisconsin signed the stud QB transfer, I thought Nebraska had the stuff to win the Big 10. No more. The Huskers beat the Huskies 51-38, but Washington is so bad that they literally may not win another game before the season finale against Washington State.

Florida may replace SC if they keep winning. Alabama on October 1 in the Swamp looms large.

Not so close but looking better…

For the first time since 5 offensive snaps into their last game in the Rose Bowl, the Texas Longhorns resembled the Texas Longhorns. I know. UCLA, despite their talent, is a bad team that sings Kumbaya until the second quarter, but still. 49-20 is a laugher, and there have not been many giggles among the faithful lately. If this team, as one would expect of a very young team just learning new systems on O and D, continues to get better week by week, November could be a lot of fun this fall.

While you join me in a moment of well-earned hatred for the people who are rearranging conferences in the middle of the season, let’s remember to save a little for the NCAA’s enforcement staff. As a matter of fact, let’s save a lot for these guys.

Last week, the NCAA announced findings of repeated “major” violations and the dreaded “lack of institutional control” against Boise State and handed down sanctions including loss of scholarships. What terrible things had Boise State done? Well, it seems that they’d repeatedly asked players to put up visiting recruits and show them a good time while they’re on campus. In other words, football recruits slept on players’ couches and (gasp) were carried around in players’ cars—without chipping in for gas!—while visiting. All this amounted to a reported $4,900 and change over a 5-year period. Seriously. That’s a slow day in the SEC. And if that’s all Boise did, they have the cleanest program in the country at any level.

Meanwhile, the NCAA actually sent out a press release last week announcing that they are “investigating” Oregon for paying a “street agent” (I prefer the term “talent pimp”) $25,000 for a running back from Texas. Since spring, we’ve known the amount, we’ve seen the bogus “recruiting info,” the pimp has confessed, the player has transferred, and we’ve got the cancelled check. What’s to “investigate?”

I try to keep politics out of this, but I just have to say this. Compared to the NCAA, I have a lot of respect for Congress. I mean how much time and effort was devoted to finding out that Billy Don at Boise let a recruit crash on his couch and gave him a free ride to McDonalds and (gasp) bought him a soft drink? While without Yahoo Sports we still wouldn’t know a thing about Nike, er, I mean Oregon.

But that’s the Beauty Contest, brought to you by those wonderful folks that gave us liar’s loans and financial derivatives. Evidently.


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