About Heismanpundit

Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of Heismanpundit.com, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.
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OU Secondary In Trouble?

Oklahoma’s secondary, which struggled at times last year, has gotten some help recently as former tailback D.J. Wolfe has moved to cornerback in the spring. He’s now running with the second team, according to the Norman Transcript.

The move of former linebacker Lewis Baker to safety underscores the further trouble the Sooner secondary may be in after losing Antonio Perkins and Brodney Pool to the NFL.

We can see the Sooners losing at least three games this year and this could be a big reason why.

Bruce Feldman of ESPN concurs:

I’m thinking OU might be headed for a couple of three-loss seasons. I predict the Sooners are headed for a dip like Miami has had the past two years — not a Penn State-type fall off the cliff drop, but more of a linger around No. 11 or 12 type of thing. We have grown accustomed to Bob Stoops overcoming most challenges, but after how the last two seasons ended, I think a little of the luster has worn off. But it’s a little bigger than that, too.

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Come And Get It

That’s the title of this piece by Sporting News’ Matt Hayes, which all but hands a third-straight national crown to USC.

Hayes gets it right when he notes how talented the Trojans are, and how the youngsters of the last three No. 1 recruiting classes are just now getting their turn.

As good as the Trojans were in the back seven last year, they’ll be even better this year because of their improved overall athletic ability. A prime example: Linebacker Keith Rivers, who played behind All-American Matt Grootegoed last season, has bulked up to nearly 240 pounds and is one of the fastest players on the team.

As I’ve said before, it will take Pete Carroll leaving, or a major scandal brewing, to slow the Trojan locomotive down.

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White Retires

Jason White was a great college player and a good guy, but he has called it quits, quietly retiring after taking a shot at making it with the Tennessee Titans, among others.

It’s this sort of result that has gone a long way towards building up the current prejudice that is inherent in the Heismandments.

The more the voters see Heisman winners failing in the pros, the more they are reticent to get too ga-ga over them when they are in college. That is why Matt Leinart has a huge hill to climb in his bid for a second trophy, fair or not.

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A&M Not Planning Any Promotions

At least not for now, not for Reggie McNeal, revealed head coach Dennis Franchione the other day.

“I don’t think today those things work,” Franchione said. “I think what works well is playing well. There’s enough national media coverage, and there’s enough understanding of who plays well. The best promotion and the [best] thing that he can do is to go out and play well.”

It is a given that you have to play well. Obviously, if the Aggies are doing well, it will help McNeal. But at some point, he will need some kind of push that will enable him to step out of Vince Young’s enormous shadow.

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Forde And Maisel Sitting In A Tree…..

The ever-raging which-is-the-best-conference debate lingers on and this time ESPN’s Pat Forde and Ivan Maisel weigh in, proving once again that the mainstream sports media–I guess in this case we’re really talking ESPN–has done very little soul searching following an entire season of being completely off base.

We’ve already posted our list of top conferences, which has the ACC at the top, followed by the Pac-10 and then the Big 10.

What’s fascinating about Maisel’s and Forde’s comments are how they so blithely encapsulate the conventional wisdom.

Says Maisel about the Big 10, which he and Forde put at the top of the conference list:

Not often do you have four teams from the same league mentioned as top-five teams. Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa and Purdue are all getting pub.

So, the justification for the league being good is that four teams get all the pub. Doesn’t seem very sound football-wise.

Then on to the SEC, which Forde and Maisel are once again in lockstep in ranking it the second-best conference:

Six teams in the first coaches’ Top 25, and Steve Spurrier to boot. Power ebbs and flows in most leagues — not this one.

Thus says Maisel. But even the most die-hard SEC fans admit that the league had a down year last year. Interesting the line about power ebbing and flowing. Is Maisel acknowledging that the same top six–unlike in other leagues–dominate year in and year out? Finally, his line about six teams being in the top 25 goes to the root of my point about SEC scheduling: Easy scheduling equals more wins which equals better records and more teams being ranked, which in turn makes the mainstream media say “Wow, look at all those ranked teams with all those wins. Must be a great conference.” As we’ve discussed, it goes deeper than that. Unfortunately, the way things are set up now tends to invite lazy analysis.

Then we get to the Big 12, which I rated fifth out of the BCS conferences:

The only thing seriously hurting this league is the dramatic imbalance in divisions. The South is loaded: Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Texas Tech are all Top 25 caliber. The North needs someone — anyone — to step forward as a viable champion.

So says Forde, not realizing exactly what he is saying, apparently, as he nonetheless rates the conference third overall. Let’s get this straight: An entire division of this conference is acknowledged as a joke, the overall champion has gotten its clock cleaned in three of the last four BCS title games and this year it has a suspect favorite in Texas (whose title hopes could be over by September) and, yet, the conference still garners such broad respect? Sheesh.

Finally we get to the mandatory under-ranking of the Pac-10 by ESPN. Just to recap, practically the entire television network, the dot-com and the Magazine predicted an Oklahoma win in the Orange Bowl. Part of the reason was because of USC coming from such a ‘weak’ conference as the Pac-10. The conference has three teams ranked in the top 25–roughly the same ratio as the Big 12 does–yet still does not garner any respect. Does it matter that the venerable Phil Steele ranked the Pac-10 as the best conference following the 2004 season? Of course not! This lack of respect is important, since it permeates the media and trickles down to how rankings are compiled. As a result, we get a 6-6 Alabama team with nary a first-round pick to speak of (and a lousy coach to boot) sneaking into the top 25, while a 6-6 UCLA team with pleny of talent (and a lousy coach) doesn’t get a sniff. Arizona State, meanwhile, can go 9-3, destroy Iowa and beat Purdue, yet end up ranked well behind them coming into the next season, despite having most of its team back. Is it fair? Well, I don’t know. But I do know that it is primarily lazy.

And that’s inexcusable.

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A Heisman Voter’s Thoughts

John Lindsay of the Knoxville News is a Heisman voter who shares his thoughts on the 2005 Heisman race here.

Interestingly, besides his favorites and darkhorses, he includes a list of ‘pretenders':

PRETENDERS (These five won’t finish in the top five)

– Ohio State CB-WR Ted Ginn Jr.: At 6-0, 170 pounds, we can’t see Ginn staying healthy enough to play and star both ways. And that’s the only way a two-way player can win the way Charles Woodson did in 1997.

– Pittsburgh QB Tyler Palko: The weakened Big East doesn’t have enough national karma and Palko must break in a new coach in Dave Wannstedt.

– Texas A&M QB Reggie McNeal: The Aggies’ back-loaded schedule (November trips to Texas Tech and Oklahoma and the season-ender with Texas) will be too much for McNeal to overcome.

– Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn: New coach, not enough talent around him.

– Memphis RB DeAngelo Williams: Maybe the best-kept secret in college football, Williams is stuck at a too low-profile school. But watch him become a star in the NFL.

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A Response To Orson

Orson Swindle, who puts the BS in EDSBS, responded down below to our blog regarding programs with the most revenues.

What Orson said and our rebuttals:

Michigan plays a full Big 10 schedule, that’s how they make money. And their OOC scheduling is nothing to crow about–Brian from MGoBlog admits as much. Check out their schedules–Miami of Ohio, San Diego State, and Northern Illinois are their “free” out of conference schedules. Notre Dame plays the part of their perennial OOC regional rival. Brian from MGoBlog has said as much on our blog.

First off, I can care less what a self-loathing Michigan fan has to say. If he won’t stick up for his team, I will. The fact remains that in the last five years, Michigan has managed to play road games at UCLA, Washington and Oregon, which means that the Wolverines have left their region to play more OOC regular season games in the last five years than Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, LSU and Auburn combined. And while Michigan played a total of 25 regular season road games in the last five years, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida played 21. And yet, Michigan STILL managed to make a hell of a lot of money. So, since it is now firmly established that it is possible to make a lot of money for your program while playing a legitimate OOC schedule, the question remains: Why won’t most SEC teams try it?

Ditto for your lame Texas example: Rice and North Texas? They scheduled the Buckeyes, but that’s about it.

Again, Texas has managed to play at Stanford, at Houston, at North Carolina, at Tulane, at Rice and at Arkansas in the last five years. The Longhorns playing at Tulane, Houston and Rice is as if Florida played at UCF or Georgia played at UAB. In other words, it would never happen. But the point is that Texas gave up more chances to make revenue from a home game and went on the road and STILL made a ton of money–more than anyone else, in fact. So, once again, it has been firmly established that it is possible to go play OOC regular season games on the road and make a lot of money.

And SEC ADs always talk about the same thing most other ADs talk about–home and home arrangements. Find me the interview where an SEC AD says they won’t schedule “legitimate” teams, and you may color me surprised.

First off, if you want a nice summation of the whole situation, go here.

As for proof of SEC AD’s not wanting to schedule legitimate teams, here’s an interview with the Tennessee AD in which the following Q&A takes place:

Q: With the NCAA now allowing Division 1 schools to schedule a 12th football game each year, you have said that UT will focus on a “mid-major” team for that slot. The first team you signed up was Northern Illinois… not a big name school, but one that beat Alabama and Maryland just a couple of years ago. Is this the type of team Vol fans can expect to see on UT’s schedule? And what other teams would you consider to be “mid-major?”

Tennessee AD Mike Hamilton: Yes. We want to play teams that we don?t have to return a visit to. I want us to have 7 home games. I think we have some good match-ups in the next few years.

Is he saying that he is ‘afraid’? No. Not literally. But it’s clear from the following what the mentality is.

Here’s a quote from Tommy Tuberville in this story on the 12th game:

….that means I’m not going to play a Michigan or a Michigan State or somebody like that. You just can’t do it. It’s not feasible.

“That’s right before I play Georgia and Alabama, so I’d be a little bit foolish to put our kids in that sort of situation. So I would suggest if they want us to play premier teams, somebody go out there and start lobbying for another date either before or after the season.”

Now you:

Your point: SEC schools schedule weak OOC opponents. They do this to boost win totals and ensure primo bowl slots. Other conferences, like your beloved Pac-10, don’t do this and still play good-and sometimes better-football. What’s missing here is the WHY-the causality, as a social scientist would say.

Uh, didn’t you just encapsulate the point? They, as you said, schedule lousy teams to boost win totals and go to good bowls. That attracts better recruits and makes the program look good. That’s how they make their money. That’s the ‘why.’ But what’s clear is that that is not the only way to do it, as shown by Michigan and Texas.

We say it happens because it’s a model that’s worked for a long time and yields high operating budgets for programs. You say it happens because…well, we’re not sure. Cowardice gets mentioned a lot, but deep at the heart of your argument lies this assumption: they’re all chickenshit rednecks afraid to leave home.

I do think they are chickenshit. They won’t play tough teams on the road because they want a chance to win more games, as Tuberville alludes to. Show me an SEC coach who has an “I’ll play anyone, anywhere attitude” and I’ll show you a pig flying. If Bobby Bowden and FSU in the 1980s and USC in the current times can get credit (including even from you) for having ballsy teams that weren’t afraid to play anyone, then why can’t the converse be applied? And I’ve never said anything about anyone being rednecks. As someone who has lived in several Southern states (how many Western states have you lived in?), I resent that implication. My question for you is, if the money is all that matters here (as you seem to admit), then why are some SEC teams trying to schedule better OOC games for that 12th game? Why not play eight home games? I mean, if you take your logic to its inevitable conclusion, why would an SEC team schedule any home and home, since it loses them money? I gave you my ‘why’, now you show me yours.

Your argument is consistent–consistently vague. SEC schools have been scheduling this way for years.

Which is funny, because you seem to take offense when people point that out. What’s vague and shady is your objection to my argument–it started out as being against the facts of the scheduling (remember when you used to harp about ‘facts?’), then meandered over to admitting that the scheduling happens, but that it means nothing in the big scheme of things, to now it being necessary for SEC schools to make money. All along, I’ve seen the money issue as secondary, and merely pointed out how the easy schedules create more bowl teams and more ranked teams and how that itself is what creates the perception of SEC hegemony, as shown by Forde and Maisel today.

According to Walters’ data, so has the Pac-10, whose OOC scheduling is better by a hair. And analysis? Walters has analysis. You have a single stat and one program that pissed you off-Georgia.

Well, let’s see, I’ve shown the following:

1. That the SEC and Big 12 get a significantly higher percentage of their wins against non-BCS teams.

2. That the SEC is a top-heavy conference where the Top Six feed upon the Bottom Six.

3. That the argument that the SEC needs to schedule extra home games against non-BCS foes to make money is bogus, since schools like Michigan and Texas don’t follow the same model.

4. That the style of play in the SEC is behind the times, as evidenced by the success of Spurrier and Borges.

Through it all, I have consistently pointed out how the SEC has the best athletes and is poised to become the best conference due to an influx of great coaches. Yet, through it all–and despite my ranking of the ACC as the top conference–you see everything through a message-board prism of assumed homerism and bias. It never occurs to you that you are the one practicing what you decry.

But you’ve not provided a single reason why these programs should change, because they won’t until they start seeing a dent in their profits. You ask successful programs to act against their own interests. Good luck.

Again, why is Georgia scheduling a home-and-home with Colorado? Was that in their best financial interest? Why not schedule another two home games against bad teams, if that is what you claim makes them all that money? You see, it is your argument that is inconsistent and illogical.

But then, you resisted when we here at HP and CFR talked about the offensive revolution getting underway in college football. You didn’t shut your trap in acquiescence until it appeared in Sports Illustrated, then you had the gall to write the following:

Considering that in the college blogosphere we spent most of the offseason talking about new-wave offense….

Like hell you did! You spent most of the offseason being a naysayer. Now you talk about what ‘we’ were discussing. Same with the scheduling issues, which once again made their way into the MSM, much to your chagrin.

I hope you continue being a nattering nabob of know-nothingism, since it seems to be a gauge of the influence of this blog.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go put on my turtleneck.

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