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Archive : August 2008

August 30, 2008

COMMENTING TROUBLE??

If you're trying to leave a comment and it won't let you...email gofridaynight@reporternews.com

tell them what's happening...I think some of you may be trying to comment and the site won't let you...Standy by.

  • mark rogers
  • August 30, 2008 12:54 AM

GREAT OPENING FRIDAY NIGHT

The first Friday night is in the books.

Abilene High played a solid game. Chris Williams set the tone early for the defense and the offense was efficient and precise.

Stephen Warren threw for 234 yards and Zach Bass ran for 111 and had 86 receiving.

Cisco came out of the gate strong, took an early 27-0 lead against Early and won big. Robert Medina and Josh Bridges were outstanding in the 47-22 win.

Stamford edged defending champ Munday by a field goal. That's a big win for the Bulldogs - will really help their confidence.

Wylie, once again, proves they can do it on the road. A solid 14-6 win against Vernon.

2A Clyde hammered 3A WF Hirschi. Clyde is going to have a good year.

Had a great time with the webcast tonight...it's a work in progress.

Make sure you check out all the action in the ARN in the morning. Those guys are still up there working and will be for a while...

Good luck to Jim Ned, Merkel, ACHS, Cooper, Woodson, Throckmorton and all the other teams playing tomorrow.

  • mark rogers
  • August 30, 2008 12:25 AM

August 29, 2008

LOOKING AHEAD

Abilene High plays my absolute most hated rival, Plano East, next week. They're the panthers and used to go by PESH (Plano East Senior High).

For everyone traveling to the game...John Clark Field is a great stadium. I think they retired my number last year - kind of like a Ring of Honor type thing.

Or maybe there was some old gum underneath one of the bleacher seats that was a likeness of me...that sounds more like it.

Speaking of Plano, they're pulling away from MacArthur. PESH is getting hammered by Flower Mound...yes!


EAGLES SLOWING DOWN TO SPEED UP

Abilene High is keeping it on the ground to run some clock...they ONLY scored two touchdowns in the third.

51-7 heading into the fourth...

  • mark rogers
  • August 29, 2008 9:50 PM

WYLIE WINS

14-6 is the final. Great win on the road to open the year. Now it gets really easy for the Bulldogs...they host #1 Libery Hill next week.

Should be a classic...

  • mark rogers
  • August 29, 2008 9:27 PM

WEBCAST WILL HIT LATE...

Thanks to the Abilene High Eagles' offensive explosion. The second half started about five minutes ago...we'll stream with the same computer that has the radio broadcast online right now.

By the way, Bass just went over 100 yards - 10 minutes to go in the 3RD.

  • mark rogers
  • August 29, 2008 9:25 PM

HALFTIME GOINGS-ON

What do high school football players do at halftime?

Usually they take their pads off and rehydrate while the coaches deliberate. The veterans will usually bring a dry undershirt to put on under their shoulder pads. After about 10 minutes, the position coaches take their players and go over halftime adjustments (if there are any).

It seems like a long time to spectators, but it really is a blur for the players.

Our coach passed out Creatine gum during half-time of the first game my junior year. What was that all about? It tasted terrible...he never passed it out again. Thank goodness...my biceps did feel a little bigger during the second half of that game.

  • mark rogers
  • August 29, 2008 9:17 PM

ARE THE VERNON STANDS EMPTY?

I love it...Wylie just scored and with the two-point conversion went up 14-0.

You could hear a pin drop...it sounds like they're playing on the moon. Gotta love taking the home crowd out of it.

Question of the night: Will there ever be a football game played on the moon? Maybe that's what I'll ask Coach Mullins and Coach Hargrove tonight...I say yes.

  • mark rogers
  • August 29, 2008 9:12 PM

TEXAS CFB ACTION

Rice is leading SMU tonight at halftime 28-13.

Game is in Houston. Owls WR Jarrett Dillard has 65 yards receiving. He'll be a Day One pick in the NFL draft...great player.

  • mark rogers
  • August 29, 2008 9:10 PM

WYLIE BROADCAST TECHNICAL ISSUES

Seems as though the boys on the Wylie broadcast are having some issues. They are broadcasting live from a cell phone...the show must go on!

Wylie still up 6-0. I'm actually picking it up more clear on my radio...must be an iPhone.

Jackson Minor just entered the game at QB. 3:55 left in the third...

  • mark rogers
  • August 29, 2008 9:07 PM

ALMA MATER IN THE LEAD

I'll give quick shout-outs to my alma mater, Plano Senior High, every now and then. They're leadng Irving MacArthur at the half 12-7.

If you haven't heard of Rex Burkhead...google him. Plano and Abilene High both lost in the semi-finals last year. If either team had won, I was headed to San Antonio for a state championship. Hopefully we can try it again this year...

For the record, my team lost to Selvin Young (Univ of Texas and current Denver Broncos RB) and the Jersey Village Falcons in the quarter-finals...I will never forgive him.

  • mark rogers
  • August 29, 2008 9:04 PM

NEW DISTRICT 3-5A UPDATE

Halftime scores:

Haltom 6 - Irv. Nimitz 7

Weatherford 16 - The Colony 7

North Crowley 7 - Mans. Summit 7

FW Paschal 8 - Arl. Sam Houston 14

Have fun with all those "near-by" non-district games Burleson, Weatherford, Haltom and Richland...the three-hour drive to Shotwell Stadium awaits. It's not going to well for Dunbar...

  • mark rogers
  • August 29, 2008 8:57 PM

CISCO/EARLY SURPRISE

According to the ARN website, Cisco is leading Early in the 2ND quarter 27-0.

Cisco is ranked #1 in the state. Early is #3. On first glance that is a bit of a surprise. But Early is very inexperienced up front on both sides of the ball, and Cisco returned a bunch on both sides of the ball.

As a general rule in high school and college football, teams with more experience play better early in the year than teams with inexperience all over the field, even if they're great athletes.

Early still has a half to go, but it just goes to show how important the "big nasties" are...

  • mark rogers
  • August 29, 2008 8:50 PM

WYLIE HANGING IN THERE

That is a sarcastic headline. They have the lead on the road against a very good Vernon Lions team. 6-0 at the half.

Every year is the same for Wylie. They play a ridiculously hard non-district schedule, toughen up and go on a long playoff run. It's a testament to the type of program Hugh Sandifer has built over the last two decades. Those kids have no choice - they expect to win...no matter what.

  • mark rogers
  • August 29, 2008 8:37 PM

GREAT START FOR ABILENE HIGH

I played defense in high school and college and there's nothing better than starting off the season - first play from scrimmage - with a TFL...tackle for loss. Reigning Defensive MVP of Texas Chris Williams had the honors.

The Eagles game is creeping along at a very slow pace for two reasons: 1) they started late and 2) the Eagles are scoring every three plays.

Williams also had a fumble recovery on a play that ended in an AHS touchdown...he is a man-child...there's no other way to put it. If I was 1/8 of the athlete he is I definitely would have had more than eight career tackles at ACU.

 

  • mark rogers
  • August 29, 2008 8:31 PM

THURSDAY NIGHT OBSERVATIONS

I had a little party for myself last night when Vandy and Miami OH kicked off at 6:30 PM. This is my favorite time of year...no question. Observations from the first round of games:

NC State has a TERRIBLE offense.

South Carolina's didn't play much better last night but their defense is absolutely legit.

Vandy coach Bobby Johnson made the right choice starting QB Chris Nickson...he's a solid athlete.

Stanford, believe it or not, will give some Pac-10 teams a run for their money this year. They have a very solid defense with great pash rushers and linebackers. Watch for yourselves if you don't believe me. They've got athletes and beat a pretty good Oregon State team last night. What a way for that game to end...a great start to the Pac-10 season.

Wake Forest has a good chance to win the ACC. Riley Skinner is some kind of efficient and has a good corps of receivers and a good RB. They're defense is arguably the best in the conference, too. Alphonso Smith will be a Day 1 pick in the draft. OLB Aaron Curry is a beast, too.

Jesse Palmer looked ridiculous on the NC State/SC broadcast. Anyone notice his tie didn't even come close to his belt? My wife can't stand him because of what she saw on the Bachelor...I wouldn't know...I've never watched the Bachelor...(sheepish grin)...

And amidst all the CFB hubub...the Cowboys wrapped up the pre-season. Non-eventful game except we got our third WR injured...great. Just what we need. Adam Jones is reinstated, too...in case you were in a cave yesterday.

 

  • mark rogers
  • August 29, 2008 10:23 AM

BIG COUNTRY CONNECTIONS

Every week I'll try to stay up-to-date on the Big Country athletes who are doing things at the next levels (college, NFL, etc...).

Last night in Baylor's 41-13 loss to Wake Forest, Brownwood native Kirby Freeman started at QB and connected on 4 of 11 passing for 31 yards and two picks. The first INT was absolutely the receiver's fault. It bounced off his chest pads right into the hands of the NCAA's interception leader in 2007, Alphonso Smith.

Tough situation for Freeman. Commits to Miami right when the program is declining - but you wouldn't have known that when he committed. Then he transfers to Baylor the year the Bears land star-recruit Robert Griffin, the Big XII's 400 meter hurdle champion and Vince-Young-look-a-like.

Bangs product Jacoby Jones had three carries for 17 yards and the Bears' first touchdown of the year. I watched him play as a senior at the Gordon Wood Classic in Brownwood. He was/is a beast and should get more carries as the year progresses.

Other Big Country connections to look out for this weekend:

Texas Tech's Taylor Potts (AHS) will probably see some action against Eastern Washington. Last year Potts completed 65.3% of his 49 attempts and three TDs. WRs Lyle Leong and Landon Hoefer will probably get in the game as well...unless they're injured and I don't know about it.

And don't forget about Texas QB Colt McCoy...the Longhorns host Florida Atlantic who have a very good QB of their own in Rusty Smith - a 6'5" 212 pound Junior from Jacksonville, FL. The Owls are a much better team than many give them credit for and beat Memphis in the bowl last year.

Colt needs to put up some big numbers to vault him in to the Heisman race early.

More numbers after the weekend...I have 35 hours set to record on my DVR!!!!!

  • mark rogers
  • August 29, 2008 9:09 AM

August 27, 2008

NIGHT BEFORE THE FIRST GAME

Having played through nine football seasons in my life time (Grade 6 - 2nd year at ACU) I've had the "night before the first game" experience nine times.

Most Pop Warner athletes don't have pre-game rituals or crazy superstitions that they MUST do or they just know they'll break their leg or miss a potentially game-winning tackle.

However, that all changes when you start playing games that mean something...that the whole city/region is going to be talking about...when there's real pressure.

Beginning my junior year in high school at Plano Senior High, every Thursday night my parents would take me to a Chinese food restaurant and I would order Sweet & Sour Pork. Probably not what I would eat today if I was still playing football, but when you're 16 you can eat anything.

After the meal I would drive my 1984 Chevy Blazer up to the field house for our mandatory film session with the coaches. We'd all show up in basketball shorts and flip flops with Slurpees or some other huge beverage from 7-11.

We'd go over the main keys to what we had practiced all week and maybe watch a motivational video the coaches had put together. It was all business on Thursday nights. The coaches would leave and we'd have a team meeting where various team leaders would say something about the next day's game.

I'd go home, go straight to my room and put in the Rudy soundtrack. I'd listen to the whole song they play at the end of the movie when Rudy gets in and makes a tackle. During the song I would visualize the game...formations, splits, pursuit, audibles, stunts.

Then I would try to go straight to sleep...about 9:30 PM. It was always tough to sleep on Thursday nights.

Waking up on game day just felt different than any other day. It's like when you wake up the morning of your birthday or Christmas...something is just different. Your brain is somewhere else all day.

It was really hard to pay attention in class, too (sorry parents). You didn't smile as much. There was no clowning around. It was all business. It was game day.

A bunch of the guys would come to my house and we'd have some type of noodles at around 2 PM and watch a little more film before heading up to the field house to get taped.

I had a few rituals, too. I HAD to eat a Power Bar on the bus on the way to the stadium. I HAD to have the head trainer tape my ankles. I would ALWAYS take a short nap using my pads as a pillow before we had to suit up for warm-ups. I ALWAYS put my pads on in the same order. There were some others, too, but I'm not at liberty to discuss them...

Thousands of football players around the Big Country will go through something like this tonight, tomorrow or Friday.

Some will experience this for the first time. Others will fall into their old routine from last year or the year before (or for the Villanueva brothers the last ten years). But everybody gets to start over. Everybody gets a clean slate. Everybody is as ready as you can get.

So here's a message to all the gridiron warriors out there: Try to get some sleep over the next few days, and we'll see you when the dust settles sometime in December. Good luck...

  • mark rogers
  • August 27, 2008 2:14 PM

August 26, 2008

MARK YOUR CALENDARS - SEPT 12 & 13

Just happened to be looking ahead a few weeks...check these games out for the 12th and 13th of September:

Friday, Sept 12:

Kansas at South Florida

Abilene High at Cooper

Stephenville at Brownwood

Clyde at Early

Haskell at Albany

Throckmorton at Woodson

Saturday, Sept 13

Iowa St at Iowa

Arkansas at Texas

Georgia at South Carolina

Michigan at Notre Dame

Oregon at Purdue

Ohio State at USC

Yowzas...just two short weeks away!!!

  • mark rogers
  • August 26, 2008 10:43 PM

GOFRIDAYNIGHT.COM Webcast Special Guests

According to a reliable source, the gofridaynight.com webcast (Friday night from 10:30-11 PM) will have two special guests.

Merkel head coach Kieth Mullins and Jim Ned head coach Walter Hargrove are scheduled to appear online with me, your host, Mark Rogers. Mullins is in his fifth season with the Badgers, Hargrove in his fourth. Two really classy guys I'll be happy to have with me on the web. I was covering sports for the local media when both of them took over some pretty big shoes. I think they've both done a fantastic job...

Just to show you how crazy the high school football season is: Merkel started last season 0-3 and made the playoffs - Jim Ned started 3-0 and was barely left out.

All that to say these non-district games are important, but they won't make or break your season.

By the way, Jim Ned and Merkel are playing on Saturday...I'm thinking about asking both of them a non-football related questions...any ideas?

  • mark rogers
  • August 26, 2008 10:33 PM

T-MINUS TWO DAYS!!! (S'water vs. Burkburnett)

We are officially two days away from the start of football season. We'll have some drama on Thursday night...a HUGE night on Friday night...then a handful of great week 1 games in the college ranks on Saturday (Missouri/Illinois, USC/Virginia, Clemson/Alabama).

Sweetwater plays Burkburnett on Thursday night on the road. The Bulldogs are coming off an 8-4 year that Wylie ended, and it's looking like they should have another playoff team.

They're going to try and run it down the throat of every opponent they play all year. Look out for the Beach brothers in the backfield. The thing I'm excited about this game is that Sweetwater has seven starters on defense including fireplug of a linebacker Rufus McCann, an All-State selection last year.

That'll be the matchup to key in on - if the Sweetwater defense can stop the run and give the Mustang offense decent field position, I think Coach Jackson's squad has a better than good chance of pulling one off on the road.

I'll use a phrase I learned from Coach Jackson and figure that playing a team in the opener on the road that you're supposed to lose to is sure to "get your grease hot!"

48 hours from now - that game will be in the books.

 

  • mark rogers
  • August 26, 2008 10:20 PM

August 24, 2008

BIG COUNTRY "HEISMAN" CANDIDATES

We are T-minus four days away from the start of high school and college football season!!! I'm beside myself with excitement and wish there was some way to fast-forward until Thursday. NC State and S Carolina play, Baylor plays Wake Forest and Oregon State and Stanford will kick off the Pac-10 season.

Games of note in the high school ranks are Sweetwater at Burkburnett, Duncanville at Permian (wouldn't mind if that game ended with both teams losing) and Olney at Coleman.

If you read my last post, you know what a big fan I am of the Heisman Trophy. It's hard enough to determine that award because comparing conferences and levels of competition is impossible.

Same goes for high school only in high school we have six different classifications which further adds to the confusion.

That being said, some athletes still stand out and should be on your "players to watch" list. Other players were not on the radar last year but are poised to have big years in 2008. Those players are a little more difficult to identify unless you are a coach, parent or someone directly associated with a program.

Players on the radar include Abilene High LB Chris Williams and QB Stephen Warren, Cooper DB Will Ford and DL Brandon Henderson, Brownwood QB Casey Pachall and DB Kenny Vacarro...and the list goes on.

Abilene High, Cooper and Brownwood are all poised for huge years, which will benefit their "star" players.

The Eagles play seven games at Shotwell Stadium and are in a much weaker district than the one they've dominated the last few years.

Cooper is down a classification and would almost certainly be a playoff team if they were still in 5A.

Brownwood is in the same situation - a 4A playoff team down a class (much to the chagrin of Wylie, Snyder, Sweetwater, Breckenridge and Graham). District 2-3A will be a knock-down drag out to the end. I can almost guarantee that one will come down to the last quarter of the last game. It reminds me of the 4-3A battles a few years ago between Wylie, Sweetwater and Snyder.

Now I obviously can't mention every good player on every team, but other standouts to look out for this year are Breckenridge RB Troy Roberson, Cisco QB Josh Bridges and RB Robert Medina, Clyde QB Jacob Gonzales (Clyde's another 3A playoff team dropping in classification meaning they are poised for a great year) and it wouldn't be a Big Country "Heisman" post without the mention of the Villanueva brothers from Roscoe.

It has to be frustrating as a Roscoe opponent to have these guys back for a fourth and final year. The last time these guys weren't in the lineup was 2004 - Lance Armstrong still had two Tour de Frances to win and we were about to kick-off the last presidential campaign.

The Villanueva twins are unbelievable talents, fun to watch, composed, competitive and eager to finally lead this team to a win at the end of the season.

Those are the names that come to mind at first thought, but the Big Country has a TON more athletes out there who deserve pre-season recognition. Check out the Reporter-News insert in today's paper "Football 2008" for the comprehensive list. I can't live without that piece of information...schedules, rankings, more info than you can digest in a single reading.

This is one of the most interesting football seasons we've headed into in a long time with the crazy realignment. Should be a great year...

I'd love to hear of some more players to watch out for that aren't on the radar yet...if you know of one that isn't listed here or hasn't received much coverage that should, let me know.

  • mark rogers
  • August 24, 2008 10:28 PM

August 16, 2008

HEISMAN HOPEFULS

We are officially 12 days away from the start of football season. The first games in high school and college are August 28.

So I think it would be a good time to talk about the Heisman hopefuls in the Division Formerly Known as 1.

I know every Heisman Trophy winner ... ever. You see me in public, come up to me and say a year and I GUARANTEE I can tell you who won the award that year. I'm a huge nerd, but feel I have an interesting perspective on the annual "NFL Jinx."

We all know the names - Florida's Tim Tebow, Georgia's (and Highland Park's own) Matt Stafford, Missouri's Chase Daniel, West Virginia's Pat White...and on and on and on.

But who really has a realistic shot at the Heisman?

Obviously I'm no fortune teller, but there are some facts that will weigh heavily for or against many of the national contenders.

First, the Heisman usually goes to an athlete in a big market. USC and Notre Dame have each received the most trophies - 7. USC is a huge market and Notre Dame is the only team with national TV rights.

That is bad news for Chase Daniel, Pat White, Clemson's Cullen Harper and Texas Tech's Graham Harrell. Now, I'm definitely not saying those guys can't win - most of them should be in the running for most of the year. The TREND is for the award to go to a big market.

The caveat to that is that some mid-market (and by mid-market I mean smaller than LA and New York) and non-BCS teams are able to produce players that become household names because of the national prominence of the program, i.e. Ohio State, BYU, Nebraska, Michigan, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, etc...

See Eric Crouch (Nebraska 2001), Rashaan Salaam (Colorado 1994), Andre Ware (Houston 1989) and Barry Sanders (Ok State 1988). These players were able to win in a smaller market or a non-BCS school because they had unbelievable careers and junior or senior seasons.

That could be the case this year for White, Harper or Harrell. If those guys put up huge numbers and their teams are in their respective conference championship discussions - they have a legitimate shot.

Another factor is having someone on your team that will take votes away from you. In 2002 Ken Dorsey and Willis McGahee were the Heisman favorites at the beginning and throughout most of the year. They both played for Miami, split the east coast votes and a little-known QB from USC, Carson Palmer took home the trophy. I think most of you know who that is now - but had you heard of him prior to the 2002 season?

This could be the case in 2008 for Georgia's Stafford and RB Knowshon Moreno, Texas Tech's Harrell and Michael Crabtree, Ohio State's Todd Boeckman and Beanie Wells, Oklahoma's Sam Bradford and rising star DeMarco Murray (if you don't know that name, memorize it and enjoy).

Those are eight really strong candidates that could take votes away from their teammates thus letting a player from another team take the most votes. Now if one of those teammates gets injured, it could be different - but an injury of that magnitude might take a team out of contention and take the non-injured candidate out of the lime light anyway.

The other thing I like to factor in is if I think the player is going to be a good/great pro, they won't win. The last great - I mean GREAT - NFL Heisman Trophy winner was Barry Sanders and he won 20 years ago. You could make arguments for Palmer, Eddie George and Charles Woodson (since 1988) but I wouldn't put them in the "great" category. And the jury is still out on Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart.

All that being said...who are my Heisman favorites based on the above factors?

I've narrowed it down to three (in no particular order): Florida's Tim Tebow (last year's winner), USC's Mark Sanchez (who I think will be back from injury sooner than expected) and Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen.

Why?

Tebow - already a household name after 2007's record-setting performace. He's the only sophomore to ever win the award, will get a ton of east coast votes and doesn't really have anyone on the team that could take votes away from him. Quick side note - I thought Darren McFadden should have EASILY won the Heisman last year after his great career and performance in the upset of #1 LSU, but Tebow won because he picked up all the east coast votes and McFadden was stuck in the middle of the country...it does make a difference.

Sanchez - HUGE market. USC is a national power and will be in BCS contention all year. Sanchez also has a lot of "vote splitters" out there who will be good for him. If he puts up better than average numbers and USC is ranked #1 all year headed into the title game when the votes are final, he's got a great shot.

Clausen - Another HUGE market. And believe it or not, Notre Dame hasn't ended the year on consecutive wins in many, many years - they did that last year and have some momentum headed into 2008. They will win 10 or 11 games this year and if they knock off some big teams, say USC maybe? Clausen has a great shot.

That's who've I've narrowed it down to, but I do have some players that I think will be in the discussion if they put up big numbers and their teams win some big games.

Those players are Texas QB Colt McCoy, Florida State QB Drew Weatherford and Pittsburgh RB LeSean McCoy (if you haven't heard of this sophomore, trust me, watch some Pittsburgh games this year - he is UNBELIEVEABLE). I think if Texas can beat OU in Dallas and take care of Arkansas in Austin, Colt will be invited to the Downtown Athletic Club. And look out for Weatherford, a senior on a rising team on the east coast - he's a sleeper that many will rule out early.

Also included in the "could be in the discussion if their teams do well and they have outstanding numbers" are Harper, White and Daniels.

So there it is - I could also write a novel on surprise teams in 2008, but here is a short list to save your eyes from staring at the computer any longer:

Pittsburgh, Florida State, North Carolina, Notre Dame.

Thoughts on the Heisman discussion?

Big Country "Heisman" post coming soon...

  • mark rogers
  • August 16, 2008 12:24 PM

August 4, 2008

Weekly Updates

Throughout the year I will be getting some information from some "inside sources" for my blog. For instance, my father-in-law is a Texas Longhorn...lives in Georgetown...bleeds burnt orange. So I may use him to get some Texas Longhorn football info that he hears about in Austin about an upcoming opponent or something going on within the team. He knows now. He knows the future. He knows the past. He knows all.

I'm also friends with a guy who bleeds Crimson for Alabama and is a big-time SEC "know-it-all". He may be referenced periodically throughout the year, too. He's the kind of guy that when you email and ask him about a certain SEC football player's recent motorcycle injuries...he'll email you back a picture of said player in the trainer's room with all the bandages on. Don't know where or how he gets it...but it's good info! (I'll be attending the Tennessee/Alabame game with him on October 25 - that should lead to some interesting posts!)

I'll also be asking you - the reader - to keep us all informed of what's going on with Big Country football teams around the area. I LOVE Big Country football and one of my biggest frustrations is that each team doesn't have it's own media relations department that can keep me up to date on who's injured, who's expected to have a big game, etc...So I'll ask you guys to keep us ALL informed by commenting on the posts in which I ask for info. Make sense?

Keep in mind - I'm not asking for "inside information" that's going to hurt your team or give someone a huge advantage. You know, game film type stuff that everybody knows...we'll keep it fair.

We're not going to post video of Wylie practicing trick plays or anything like that...we're not the Patriots.

I'm also working on a few other good sources to give us information about college football. I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime - go to your team's practices, learn about the players and let's get ready for some High School Football!!!!

  • mark rogers
  • August 4, 2008 2:53 PM

WHO'S TOUGHER? PAC-10 OR SEC?

Let's get one thing straight right here at first: I'm a Big XII guy. Born in Fort Worth. Live in Abilene. If a Big XII school is playing a non-Big XII school, I root for the Big XII. Having gone to a Division 2 university, I have no ties to any Division 1 school so I can root for them all the same...Texas does get more of my attention, however, because my wife's family are Longhorns and they did win a National Championship in 2005 and have some of the best athletes in the country in all sports...that makes it a little easier.

BUT...I believe the debate for the toughest conference has to be between the SEC and the Pac-10. And I don't base my arguments on the conference's overall records against other BCS conferences or records in bowl games. I base my arguments on who plays the toughest schedules top to bottom.

If you think about it, a conference with the toughest schedules might have somewhat of a down year in the bowls because they're completely exhausted, beat up and worn down from the regular season. Now, I don't completely throw those stats out the window...they are on the window sill if I need them.

Let's look at the Pac-10. Since 2000 it has produced some pretty good teams. USC comes to mind - an AP National Title, a BCS National Title, a BCS Championship game loss and a few seasons that just a few points kept them from playing for the national title - see 2006 UCLA (13-9).

USC opens the 2008 season at Virginia, a team that was a win away from playing for the ACC title last year, then they host Ohio State and will host a much-improved Notre Dame team in November. That's a pretty tough schedule.

Let's also keep in mind that the Pac-10 is the only BCS conference where every team plays every team. That's nine conference games. That does make a big difference some years. Look at Kansas in 2007. A Big XII North team that didn't have to play Texas, Oklahoma or Texas Tech out of the South Division last year. No wonder they were 12-1. The only non-cream puffs they blew out were Baylor, Nebraska and Iowa State...impressive.

Washington has a case for playing the toughest schedule in 2008. They, of course, play the entire Pac-10 with road games at Oregon, Arizona, USC, Washington State and California. Then on top of that they host BYU (arguably the best team in the Mountain West), Oklahoma (arguably the best team in the Big XII) and Notre Dame, which will surprise this year and be WAY better than its 3-9 record from 2007 - but that's another article.

Arizona State plays Georgia on September 20. California plays Michigan State, Maryland and Colorado State. Oregon goes to Purdue early in the year and hosts Boise State the next week. Oregon State goes to Penn State week 2 then hosts Hawaii and has a road trip to Utah a few weeks after that. UCLA plays Tennesee to open the year, then goes to BYU. Stanford plays TCU and Notre Dame. Washington State plays Oklahoma State and Baylor (I know...Baylor's terrible, but they do have a new coach). Those are tough, tough, tough non-conference games.

Let's go through the Big Ten like that...Ohio State opens against Division IAA Youngstown State then hosts Ohio before they're biggie with USC. Penn State opens against Coastal Carolina. Wisconsin begins its year at home against powerhouse Akron. They do end the year against Cal Poly, though. Iowa plays Maine (they have a football team?) and Florida International. You get the picture... I will give Michigan State credit for playing at California and hosting Notre Dame.

Now let's look at the SEC. Last year the conference finished the year with two teams on top of the final AP poll - Georgia and LSU. That hasn't happened in a while. They also had 35 NFL draft picks - best of any conference.

The SEC teams play each team in their division and then draw three teams from the other division. That's eight conference games, and really the only "bad" teams in the whole conference are Vanderbilt and Kentucky. But even those teams have made some noise lately. Vanderbilt had a good year with Jay Cutler and Kentucky beat a #1 team last year. Those kinds of years help with recruiting and bring in quality athletes. And you may not be a good team, but if you have athletes on the field, you can beat anybody if the chips fall right. See Stanford vs. USC last year.

In other words, the SEC doesn't get a break in conference no matter who they play.

Florida draws Ole Miss, Arkansas and LSU from the West Division and plays Hawaii, Miami and Florida State in non-conference. That's a top 10 tough schedule if you ask me. Georgia draws Alabama, LSU and Auburn from the West and plays Arizona State and Georgia Tech. South Carolina has NC State and Clemson on the non-conference schedule, and Arkansas plays Texas on the road.

Keeping it fair, LSU and Auburn are known for playing cream puff non-conference schedules and they live up to the billing this year with teams like Troy, Louisiana Monroe and Tennessee-Martin on the list.

But I have to say, after writing this article and flipping through my schedules...top to bottom, the Pac-10 has the tougher schedules.

We could look back at the end of 2008 and change our minds, though. You never know, The Citadel might contend for a national championship then Tennessee looks a lot better...stuff like that might happen. Especially if 2008 is anything like 2007 in the way of absolute crazyiness and chaos every week. For the record 13 different teams in the top 5 lost to unranked teams last year...unbelievable. Makes for good TV.

OK, we're at the end. I vote Pac-10 is the toughest conference. Agree? Or Disagree?
  • mark rogers
  • August 4, 2008 2:37 PM