Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Final College Football Rankings 2006/2007

Gators 41 Buckeyes 14. Florida became the first Division I-A school ever to hold the football and basketball crowns at the same time. Well, nearly. The 2006-2007 football crown is not undisputed - at least, not at Boise State, home of this season's only unbeaten team in Division I-A football.

What a coaching achievement by Urban Meyer.

Just imagine if UCLA had not defeated USC and if the pollsters had not moved Florida above Michigan in the polls in order to avoid an Ohio State vs. Michigan rematch. Where would we be then? Except for the question of money regarding bowls vs. playoffs, playoffs are the only correct way to determine a true national champion and we show how to do that here at LawPundit.

ESPN is today the first to have the final college football polls up online after the bowl games, whereas CNN Sports Illustrated and Yahoo Sports still have only the old polls (11 a.m. European time).

As one would expect after their 41-14 win over Ohio State, the pollsters rank the Florida Gators of Urban Meyer Number 1 in both the AP and USA Today polls, except for one pollster who justly gives the only undefeated team in NCAA Division I-A football, Boise State, one vote, a team that Urban Meyer is quoted as follows about: "I love Boise State. We don't want to go play them. We're done, we're done, we're finished." Here are the AP and USA Today ratings at ESPN:

Associate Press Final Rankings

1. Florida (64) 13-1 1,624
2. Ohio State 12-1 1,492
3. LSU 11-2 1,452
4. USC 11-2 1,389
5. Boise State (1) 13-0 1,383
6. Louisville 12-1 1,338
7. Wisconsin 12-1 1,288
8. Michigan 11-2 1,145
9. Auburn 11-2 1,112
10. West Virginia 11-2 1,035
11. Oklahoma 11-3 933
12. Rutgers 11-2 884
13. Texas 10-3 772
14. California 10-3 697
15. Arkansas 10-4 677
16. Brigham Young 11-2 673
17. Notre Dame 10-3 553
18. Wake Forest 11-3 551
19. Virginia Tech 10-3 407
20. Boston College 10-3 353
21. Oregon State 10-4 291
22. TCU 11-2 279
23. Georgia 9-4 204
24. Penn State 9-4 183
25. Tennessee 9-4 181

OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES
Hawaii 110, Nebraska 58, Maryland 24, South Florida 17, Texas A&M 10, Georgia Tech 8, Kentucky 1, San Jose State 1.

DROPPED FROM RANKINGS
Texas A&M 21, Nebraska 22.
Complete Rankings

USA Today Final Rankings

1. Florida (63) 13-1 1,575
2. Ohio State 12-1 1,435
3. LSU 11-2 1,418
4. USC 11-2 1,345
5. Wisconsin 12-1 1,328
6. Boise State 13-0 1,275
7. Louisville 12-1 1,270
8. Auburn 11-2 1,119
9. Michigan 11-2 1,092
10. West Virginia 11-2 1,012
11. Oklahoma 11-3 849
12. Rutgers 11-2 841
13. Texas 10-3 791
14. California 10-3 716
15. Brigham Young 11-2 615
16. Arkansas 10-4 592
17. Wake Forest 11-3 535
18. Virginia Tech 10-3 494
19. Notre Dame 10-3 485
20. Boston College 10-3 388
21. TCU 11-2 339
22. Oregon State 10-4 206
23. Tennessee 9-4 202
24. Hawaii 11-3 152
25. Penn State 9-4 142

OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES
Georgia 133, Nebraska 43, Texas A&M 29, Georgia Tech 19, South Carolina 17, Houston 8, Maryland 7, Texas Tech 2, Kentucky 1.

DROPPED FROM RANKINGS
Texas A&M 21, Nebraska 22, Georgia Tech 25.

With the Southern Miss 28-7 win over Ohio and the Gator's win over the Buckeyes, it was a rough two days in Ohio, a State in which the fans, however, still have an incomparable champion in the Division III champion Mount Union team of Larry Kehres. We thus finished our college football playoff and bowl prognostications this year at 26-12 in picking winners and 19-15-1 against the spread (three of the games had no spread that we were able to find online).

Some additional comments on college football:

Let us say in closing out this season that we are not happy with the final rankings this year at all in NCAA Division I-A (the Football Bowl Subdivision) and that this year was really the year which showed what advantages playoffs would have.

Our beefs with the final rankings at AP and USA Today are:

1. It can not be that some teams have no shot at being national champions. Boise State finished the season undefeated. What more could they do? Could they defeat Florida now? Nobody knows and we never will know.

2. It can not be that an 11-2 team beats the Nr. 1 and Nr. 3 teams in the nation and can only be ranked 9th. The final rankings present the strange situation that Auburn, which beat Florida, ranked Number 1, AND LSU, ranked Number 3, is ranked 9th! Why this discrepancy?

3. if you have no playoffs, the ultimate ranking should be determined on the field and by actual season results, and not by just the opinion that some team is good: We have no doubt that LSU has a fine team, but LSU finished second in West Conference of the SEC, tied with Auburn, behind division champion Arkansas. Yet, LSU is ranked above the Razorbacks, who lost their last three games to Florida, LSU and Wisconsin, teams ranked 1st, 3rd and 5th or 1st, 3rd, and 7th nationally in the two polls. Since Arkansas is the division champion ahead of LSU, you can't rank them below LSU.

4. Success should not be penalized. The Big East Conference was the only NCAA Division I-A Conference to win all of its bowl games and yet conference champion, Louisville, previously ranked 5th and 6th in the rankings, after defeating Atlantic Coast Conference champion Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl 24-13, dropped to 6th and 7th in the rankings. Sagarin's Predictor, the most accurate judge of a team's performance against other teams, would rank Louisville 3rd! Really, how good is Louisville? We really don't know because of this year's - in part -very unsatisfactory bowl matchups. The polls definitely do not reflect what went on in all the bowl games.

Is it a wonder that Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino is heading for the NFL?

College Sports Report has a list of all the Division I-A coaching changes for the 2007 season.

Here are our predictions for the upcoming 2007 football season:

1. Danny Woodhead of Chadron State, the 2006 season's winner of the Harlon Hill Trophy, will break the all-time NCAA career rushing record somewhere around midseason 2007.

2. Hawaii Warrior quarterback Colt Brennan will probably repeat as the quarterback with the highest rating in Division IA football, unless some NFL team does take him high in the draft, which could happen.

3. John Bunting finished his last season as North Carolina head football coach as the Tar Heels cemented Duke's winless 0-12 season with a 45-44 victory. With Butch Davis taking over in 2007, the Tar Heels are sure to improve upon their 3-9 2006 season. Davis has coached or recruited 28 first round NFL draft choices. Duke head coach Ted Roof redshirted two-thirds of his freshman class so look for Duke to pick up a win in 2006.

4. Stanford, building upon a strong freshman class from 2006, will win its first game in its new stadium (it lost all its home games in 2006) and will win more than 1 game in its first season under new head coach Jim Harbaugh, but when you look at the Cardinal schedule, it is hard to see where. In 2006 it looked as if the Cardinal would go winless, but they won a shocker against Washington 20-3, to go 1-11, mostly playing in games where they were nowhere near to competitive. According to Sagarin, Stanford had the toughest schedule in college football in 2006, and the 2007 schedule is not going to be easier, as the 2007 non-Pac 10 opponents San Jose State, TCU and Notre Dame were all bowl teams in 2006 with a combined won-loss record of 30-9.

5. Buffalo will win more than 2 games under now 2nd-year coach Turner Gill. In 2006 they beat Temple (1-11) in overtime 9-3 and upset 6-6 Kent State 41-14. For reasons previously stated at LawPundit, we expect Buffalo to develop into a football power under Gill's tutelage. One sign of things to come is a new series starting in 2007 with Baylor of the Big 12.

6. Temple will win more than 1 game under now 2nd-year coach Al Golden, the former defensive coordinator at Virginia, who bravely took over as head coach in 2006 and whose Owls then snapped a 20-game losing streak with a 28-14 win over Bowling Green in 2006.

7. Louisville under former Tulsa coach Steve Kragthorpe will have another banner year in 2007, even if stellar players Michael Bush and Brian Bohm foolishly decide to try to enter the NFL ranks, even though they could probably greatly increase their NFL market worth with stellar college seasons in 2007.

8. The Huskers of Nebraska might beat USC in 2007 and then again they might not. With Callahan as head coach, we even worry about the Ball State game, as the Cardinals lost to highly ranked Michigan only 34-26 in 2006, having an unconverted 4th and goal with less than 3 minutes to play as the sole difference in that game. In spite of a 5-7 record, Ball State lost to no one by more than 14 points in 2006 and with more solid playcalling in clutch game situations, could be a stronger team in 2007. Callahan continues to recruit a team full of strong junior college transfers but he also has to learn how to coach them to victory as well. That at the moment appears to be a stronger need than good recruiting. At USC, Carroll has an opposite problem. The coaching and recruiting are so good that not everyone can play on the first team, so how many stars are going to be happy playing second string for the Trojans when they might easily be playing first string elsewhere.

9. Appalachian State and Grand Valley State might repeat as Division I-AA and Division II national football champions for the third straight time but we think that Sioux Falls will have a hard time repeating as NAIA champion.

10. The Mount Union Purple Raiders might not win their 10th Division III national football championship in 2007, but don't bet on it, because the odds, their fabulous head football coach Larry Kehres, and an extremely strong returning veteran team would be against you.

11. There will be a surprise national football champion in the 2007/2008 season, but really, we do not know who it will be either, right now. Stay tuned.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Bob Knight Wins 880th to Become Winningest NCAA Division I-A Men's Basketball Coach

We have been so busy with football that we forgot to mention that to start out the New Year 2007, Texas Tech's legendary and sometimes controversial head basketball coach Bob Knight became the winningest NCAA Division I-A basketball coach ever, as written up by Jaime Aron, AP sports writer at
Yahoo! News, when his team of Red Raiders (11-4) beat New Mexico (11-4) by 70-68 to give Knight his 880th win, thus passing Dean Smith of North Carolina (see Yahoo Search for more).

Sunday, January 07, 2007

International Bowl 2007 : Cincinnati 27 Western Michigan 24

The inaugural International Bowl at Rogers Centre in Toronto proved to be a financial and athletic success as the Cincinnati Bearcats topped the Western Michigan Broncos 27-24.

Although the game early on looked like a Cincinnati blowout as the Bearcats built up a 24-0 lead in the first half, the Broncos scored 17 points in the last 10 minutes of the second quarter for a 24-17 Bearcat lead going into halftime. Both teams went scoreless in the 3rd quarter as Western Michigan tied the game 24-24 in the 4th quarter, only to have Cincinnati kick the deciding field goal with 6 minutes to play. The Broncos had a chance to tie with a bit more than minute remaining but Nate Meyer's 51-yard attempt was wide of the goal posts.

The stats for the game were pretty even in terms of first downs and total net yards gained.

In spite of the loss, the season has to be considered a win for Western Michigan, which lost 10 games in the 2004 season. Head coach Bill Cubit took over the program in 2005 and the Broncos 8-4 regular season in 2006 was a great turn-around.

Cincinnati had its first success in its first game under new head coach Bryan Kelly, who came from MAC champion Central Michigan to replace Mark Dantonio, hired by Michigan State.

We called this game 20-17 for Cincinnati which was favored by 8 at the time that we made our prediction.

Hence, we picked the winner and beat the spread. We are now 25-11 in picking winners and 18-14-1 against the spread (three of the games had no spread that we were able to find online).

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Simulated Virtual College Football Championship Playoffs 2006

Using the Bracketmaker at Bracketmaker.com we have created a Simulated College Football Championship 2006 as if the BCS had a playoff system.

Our intention in doing so is to show that such a playoff system is a viable alternative to the current BCS bowl system and that it is workable from a theoretical point of view. But is it desirable?

In our Simulated Virtual College Football Championship Playoffs 2006 the teams eligible for the 32-team playoffs are:

1) the 11 Division I-A Conference Champions
2) the top-ranked Division IA independent team
3) the 20 otherwise highest ranked BCS teams as Wildcard Teams.

This gives a playoff tournament of 32 teams.

Each game is to be played as a sponsored bowl with its own bowl name, etc.

Teams are to be seeded from 1 to 32 by their ranking in the BCS rankings.

Four brackets are to be used with the following matchups by ranking:

BRACKET ONE: 1-32, 16-17, 9-24, 8-25 (the winner of 1-32 plays the winner of 16-17, etc.)
BRACKET TWO: 4-29, 13-20, 12-21, 5-28
The winner of Bracket One (above) plays the Winner of Bracket Two (below it)
BRACKET THREE: 2-31, 15-18, 10-23, 7-26
BRACKET FOUR: 3-30, 14-19, 11-22, 6-27
The winner of Bracket Three (above) plays the Winner of Bracket Four (below it)

Conference champions who are not ranked in the top 32 teams by the BCS formula are to be seeded at the end of the ranked teams in the playoffs according to the ranking of their conference in Wolfe's conference rankings which for 2006 were as follows:

1 SEC
2 Big East
3 Pac 10
4 Big 10
5 ACC
6 Big 12
7 D-IA Indep.
8 Mtn West
9 CUSA
10 WAC
11 MAC
12 Sun Belt

Matchups are to be adjusted after the initial seedings to avoid undefeated teams being in the same bracket, if at all possible, which of course depends on the number of undefeated teams. This is the first adjustment.

The top two teams in each conference are not allowed to play in the same bracket or competing brackets (i.e. in Brackets 1 and 2 or Brackets 3 and 4) in order to avoid repeats of conference championship games prior to the national championship game.

Moreover, initial playoff games, if at all possible, are not permitted to match teams from the same conference.

Lastly, initial playoff games, if at all possible, are not permitted to match teams who already played each other in the regular season.

After initial seeding of all teams from 1 to 32 by their BCS ranking, or, if unranked, by their Wolfe conference rank - after the ranked teams,
1) the position of undefeated teams and the top two conference teams in the matchups
2) as also initial matches of teams from the same conference
3) as also initial matches of teams who already played each other in the regular season
MUST then be adjusted by exchanging matchup positions
with the seed directly below or above it,
or the next seed below or above that, etc.
until such a switch of teams in the brackets most easily fits the criteria of the conditions of bracketing previously outlined.

Here are the matchups
(and switches of matchups)
as required by the above criteria.

Bracket One
Ohio State (1) plays Troy (32).
Rutgers (16) plays Tennessee (17).
Auburn (9) plays Boston College (24).
Boise State (8) would ordinarily have to play UCLA (25) but the BCS rankings put undefeated Boise State in the same bracket as undefeated Ohio State. An exchange with Auburn (9) in the same bracket would not solve the problem. An exchange with the next-ranked team, Oklahoma (10), however, solves two problems at once. Boise State is then in the opposite brackets to Ohio State while at the same time the Big 12 Conference playoff teams, Oklahoma and Nebraska are not - again - matched in a playoff game immediately after that conference championship game. Accordingly, the positions of Boise State and Oklahoma are exchanged, with each taking over the seed position of the other team in its bracket. Since the difference between adjoining or nearly adjoining seeds is minimal, this is not seen as being unfair to any team.
Accordingly, Oklahoma (8) now plays UCLA (25) in Bracket ONE and Boise State (10) plays Nebraska (23) in Bracket THREE.

Bracket Two
LSU (4) would ordinarily have to play Georgia (29) but this is an impermissible match of two teams from the same conference in the initial playoff game. Accordingly, we have a switch to the positions LSU (5) and USC (4), so that USC (4) plays Georgia and LSU (5) plays Georgia Tech (28).
West Virginia (13) plays BYU (20).
Arkansas (12) plays Texas A&M (21).
USC (5) ordinarily would play Georgia Tech (28) but because of the above change, LSU (5) plays Georgia Tech (28).

Bracket Three
Florida (2) plays Central Michigan (31).
Virginia Tech (15) plays California (18).
Boise State (10) plays Nebraska (23).
Wisconsin (7) would ordinarily play Penn State (26) but since this matchup already occurred in the regular season, we have to do an exchange. Position 8 has already been switched (positions are not be switched more than once) so that seed position 6 is the best alternative. Louisville (now 7) thus plays Penn State (26) and Wisconsin (now 6) plays Georgia (27).

Bracket Four
Michigan (3) plays Houston (30).
Wake Forest (14) plays Texas (19).
Notre Dame (11) plays Oregon State (22).
Wisconsin (6) plays Georgia (27).

And at the end we have a true national champion together with exciting bowl games which lead up to the grand finale.

The only question is whether this alternative brings in as much money to university coffers as the current bowl game system - and that we simply do not know - although we think that money is the major argument to be raised against any change from the present bowl system.

Playoffs for Division IA football (the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision) can certainly be done as we show HERE in our "potato version", with best greetings to our friends in Idaho.

UPDATE January 6, 2007

We see that Josh Peter at Yahoo Sports has a superb quite detailed article which covers the major issues in the battle between BCS Bowls vs. Division I-A college football playoffs. Peter not only gives a short rundown of BCS controversies in past BCS years, but also throughly covers the money questions and, particularly, the politics and business behind the scenes.

Frankly, after reading that article and the arguments presented in it, we do not expect a playoff system for quite some time, simply because the present bowl system appears to be doing its money-making job.

This is a very legitimate point of view. College athletics are expensive and football revenue is a major source of income, a fact of which college presidents are quite aware - and they are the ones who make the decisions.

Hence, the main purpose of post-season games is not necessarily to determine which is the best team, but rather, to fill university athletic coffers.

Obviously, to fill those coffers, one also has to present football extravagances nationwide which are desirable to sponsors and fans. As long as the present bowl system is filling the stadiums and drawing sufficient sponsoring money, there is certainly
no compelling reason to change a system which is working well just because it may not always perfectly determine "a national champion".

Indeed, the constant controversy which the BCS engenders on the topic is probably good for fan football interest over the long haul.

But let no one say that a legitimate single elimination Division I-A football playoff system would be a difficult thing to implement. As we show in our simulated virtual college football championship playoffs for the 2006 / 2007 season, putting such a playoff system into practice would be doable, while at the same time maintaining "bowl atmosphere", conference fairness and big-time games at the end. It is just a question of money.

Sugar Bowl 2007 : LSU 41 Notre Dame 14

Although we predicted this win, the margin of the LSU victory over the Fighting Irish 41-14 in the Sugar Bowl was higher than expected and quite comparable to the Notre Dame losses to Ohio State and USC during the regular season. We did not think that the Tiger offense could put this many points on the board against what we knew to be a somewhat weaker Notre Dame defense that had given up 30 TDs this year as compared to LSU's 16 allowed TDs.

Notre Dame hung in the game well in the first half, trailing only 21-14 at halftime, a lead which LSU only obtained with 2 minutes left in the half. After the intermission, however, Notre Dame was unable to mount a single sustained drive while the LSU offense was marching to scores and piling up yardage, finishing the day with 577 total net yards as compared to 291 yards for the Fighting Irish.

By losing, Notre Dame also unfortunately set an NCAA Division I record for consecutive bowl game losses at nine. As written by AP national Writer Paul Newberry at Yahoo Sports:

"The school of Touchdown Jesus and Knute Rockne snapped a tie with South Carolina and West Virginia for most consecutive bowl losses in NCAA history."

Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn completed only 15 of 35 passes for 148 yards, 2 TDs and 2 interceptions, while LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell completed 21 of 34 passes for 332 yrds, 2 TDs and 1 interception. The real difference in the last analysis was the LSU defense and a strong Tiger running attack.

Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis is doing an excellent job as coach of the Irish, but he needs to shore up his defense if he wants his team to be a legitimate top 10 contender.

We picked the winner and beat the spread. We are now 24-11 in picking winners and 17-14-1 against the spread (three of the games had no spread that we were able to find online).

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The West Coast Offense at the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers under Husker Head Football Coach Callahan

How far behind the times is head coach Bill Callahan of the Nebraska Cornhuskers and his West Coast Offense? Let us tune in to Division III football and the blog, the D3 Football Daily Dose, where commenter Mainjack writes as follows about Mount Union's head coach Larry Kehres ("LK" in the posting quoted below), who has set unprecedented winning records in football coaching in Division III football:

"# mainjack Says:
The 19th of December, 2006 at 6:01 pm

I’ve been a bit surprised that no one has mentioned how LK has adapted his teams over the past 15 years to stay ahead of the curve. In the early 90’s when the west coast offense was first starting to creep into the language, LK embra[c]ed it, and blew people away with his 5 wideouts and wide open passing. Back in those days as soon as MUC got anywhere near mid-field, they were going for the bomb. As the 90’s came to a close, and defenses were figuring out the west coast schemes, LK went to a very good running back, a blocking fullback and a tight end. Chuck Moore and Dan Pugh helped remake the Mount union offense, and allowed the passing game to be as successful as it needed to be. Now you have Kmic absolutely carrying the load behind a massive offensive line, with deep threat possibility in Garcon, and two or three other receivers doing damage on short routes……when necessary.
Football is cyclical, but LK has always stayed one step ahead of where the game is going, which is why they have not had many down years (if you can call one loss a down year)."

By contrast, we have been complaining about Callahan's game management and playcalling under his West Coast Offense at Nebraska for some time now and see that others are now finally also referencing that same severe problem in using this outdated offense:

Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated writes:

"[I]t’s become painfully obvious ... that Callahan is one questionable game-manager -- and never was that more abundant than the final six minutes of Monday’s Cotton Bowl.

Upon recovering a fumble at the Auburn 42 down 17-14, the Huskers never even tried to get down the field for the go-ahead touchdown, opting for five straight running plays and eventually ending up with a 4th and 11 at the 30. Callahan went for it, Zac Taylor’s pass went incomplete. Game over."

Husker Mike's Blasphemy
calls Callahan's fake punt call against Auburn the worst call of the year.

Husker Mike
rounds up similar opinions about Callahan's coaching
including
Charles Goldberg in "Win and win ugly" at the Birmingham News quoting Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp about the Cotton Bowl victory:

""The guy is on a script for the first 15 plays...."
That's typical of the West Coast offense, Muschamp said.
"I told the kids going into the game that if we just get through these 12 to 15 plays, we'll be fine. He's going to show all of his motions, all of his shifts, and after that it's over. All these West Coast guys are programmed.""

We've been saying that all year.

Actually, scripting is a feature of the West Coast Offense where the first 15 or so plays are pre-programmed and run no matter what happens in the game:

"A Walsh innovation in his "WCO" was scripting the first 15 offensive plays of the game. Scripting had several valuable assets. First, the offensive team knew that the first 15 plays would be run as scripted no matter what, allowing them to practice the plays to perfection, minimizing mistakes and penalties. Success of the offense could establish momentum and dictate the flow of the game. Scripting added an element of surprise, since a defense who had a 3rd and long could be caught off guard by a scripted play that had no relationship to the current situation.... It was Walsh's intention to gain an early lead by passing the ball, then run the ball on a tired defense late in the game, wearing them down further and running down the clock. " [emphasis added]

Well, that is exactly what Callahan has been doing to start the game - running scripted plays, in part successfully, in part the only thing that he has done successfully - and what he has been doing so unsuccessfully after that is trying to wear down the opposing defense, trying to hold possession and run down the clock - rather than trying to score. The result has been that opposing coaches can easily prepare for Callahan's game plan since he is running it by the book - with the result that the Huskers almost never score a point in the 3rd quarter because Callahan is running the ball and eating up the clock. Madness.

In fact, that is exactly how Callahan described his game plan for the Cotton Bowl after the loss in that game:

" ... I just felt coming out of the half that we owned the time of possession, we did really well in terms of controlling the clock--preventing negative plays, with the exception of the fake punt, which is my fault."

The actual result has been that Huskers invariably lose game leads and lose games because Callahan is following this stupid strategy. We have posted previously about the idea that trying to control the clock and the time of possession in college football is a football strategy which is long outdated. That is certainly not the type of football that fans in Huskerland want to watch.

Corn Nation headlines: "Bill Callahan Costs Us the Cotton Bowl".

Kevin Sherrington at the Dallas morning news Sports Day titles his article Callahan's miscues costly for Huskers, writing:

""... the Huskers aren't quite ready for prime time.
A botched fake punt in the second quarter. Questionable play-calling late.
An inability to finish.
Title contenders make those plays when it counts. Or they don't call them in the first place.
A fake punt from your own 29 in a tie game? On the first series of the second quarter?
And on top of that, a slow-developing, labor-intensive, ball-handling nightmare of a reverse?
"My fault," Bill Callahan said."

On that point, we definitely agree with Callahan. Of the five games lost this year, two were clearly lost on the basis of crass coaching mistakes, and the other three games may have been winnable, but not by Callahan. Of what use is good recruiting if you can't successfully manage an excellent team in games against top opposition and if your playcalling consists of blind robot adherence to a system now familiar to everyone - and thus less effective.

Nebraska starts out the 2007 season playing three teams that were very strong at the close of the 2006 season (Nevada (in Lincoln), Wake Forest (away game) and USC (in Lincoln)) and we can only wish Callahan luck in getting his team ready for those opponents. Frankly, very few analysts will expect the Huskers to beat USC under their exceptional coach Pete Carroll, but if they also lose the other two games, which is possible, it will be a rough season in Huskerland.

To finish, let us go back to where we started, to the blog D3 Football Daily Dose, where the discussion there is about some of the great coaches in Division III football and the question of whether these coaches could coach in Division I football. But of course they could, even though it is unlikely by experience that their winning percentages would be quite as high as in Division III. Take a look at this wonderful page at Haverford College about the difference between Division III and Division I colleges as far as sports are concerned.

Plus, we are looking right now at the biography of Jim Tressel, the head coach of the nationally Nr. 1 ranked Ohio State State Buckeyes, and see that Tressel is a 1975 graduate of Baldwin-Wallace, a college in fact in the same OAC Division III conference as the Mount Union College Purple Raiders of Larry Kehres. Enough said.

Social Graces & Manners in the USA

What is the state of American social graces and manners?

BACKGROUND

For background, see The American Upper Class, Etiquette Training, Put those Hands where I Can See Them, Please Pass the Manners, Character Education, Hope in a Rude World, Raising Well-Mannered Kids, Parents Kids & Character, and Was a Harvard President fired primarily for Bad Manners?

THE NEW JERSEY HIGH SCHOOL CONTROVERSY

Someone close to me was born in New Jersey so that I was quite interested in a controversy which recently erupted over some events which occurred in connection with the New Jersey state high school football championship game between Don Bosco and St. Peter's, which Don Bosco won this season 41-0 after having lost against the same team the previous year.

Mike Farrell of Rivals.com at Yahoo Sports who writes:

"The behavior of Don Bosco quarterback Matt Simms during and following his team's state championship win over St. Peter's has come under some scrutiny. Simms, who has been the target of much verbal abuse by the St. Peter's fans over the years, taunted the sidelines and the fans following his team's blowout win. Simms has the talent to be a very good college quarterback, but some question his maturity. "

Social Graces, Manners, Class and Maturity in the USA

We googled the above story, which led us to the Auburn Football Blog at the AOL Sports NCAA Fanhouse and a posting by Charles Rich titled Not Your Daddy's Simms, a posting which has numerous comments touching upon various class-related issues in American society, including manners and social graces.

In defense of Simms, several commentators to Rich's posting point out the social nature of the squabble between the two high schools and the prior events which precipitated Simms' actions. Other commentators give us some interesting social glimpses into issues of class structure in the USA at the high school level.

As an American living in Europe,
it would seem to us - as an educator - that there are several partial solutions to the problems at issue, which derive in part from American history and development as well as from a person's own particular background, education, family income and social training (i.e. such things as manners and social graces).

Environmental Influences Form Our Behavior
but Can Be Changed by Education and Personal Relationships


Whether we like it or not, each of us is a product of our environment, and we are
- for better or worse - formed by that environment.

Education and our personal relationships are the main means by which we can improve upon that forming environment - or, in some cases, make it worse, if our education and/or personal relationships are bad.

Educational Systems are Inadequate in Teaching Young People Essential Skills

One problem with elementary, junior high and high school education in America, however, is that there are generally few courses taught on subjects which we find to be important to young people when they get out in "the real world".

Knowing how to behave in certain social situations certainly tops our list, and behavior by players and spectators at football games (or in the period prior to them and after them) certainly falls into that category. When are people taught how to behave in such social situations and who does the teaching? What are the rules of behavior and how are people to learn about those rules? What role do schools play, if any, in transmitting these rules to their young people?

Specific Skills Not Adequately Taught by Our Educational Systems

Other important areas often not covered adequately in early education (so our opinion) are:

1) personal time and money management and financial savvy
2) personal and family health and wellness management
3) successful parenting
4) rights and obligations of citizens generally
5) personal relations between spouses and partners, and
6) essential matters of conflict resolution, i.e. how does one deal in a mature and successful manner with disputes, differences of opinion, etc.

Parents are Assumed to Teach Such Specific Skills but Often Do Not

These are FUNDAMENTAL skills of great importance required for living in any human community and yet these are often precisely the skills which young people are not taught or are inadequately taught in our modern educational systems, systems which presume that the parents can and will provide this training to young people, which is often simply not the case.

Better Education Also Means Teaching Courses More Relevant to Real Life

Those who clamor for more or better education usually do so in the sense of the needs of the educational establishment rather than the needs of the students: bigger schools, more money, more teachers, more supplies and equipment, etc.

But better education also has greatly to do with the issue of WHAT is taught in those schools, by whatever means are presently available. In our view, not nearly enough attention is paid in schools to actually PREPARING young people (pupils, students) for their life in the real world. In fact, do most schools even have a clear idea of WHAT they are preparing their customers for?

When I taught law at the University of Trier here in Germany, I was absolutely flabbergasted at the then unexpectedly limited knowledge among the student body about computers and the internet. I had presumed they had learned that all in high school or at home, which turned out not to be true. Somewhere along the line, the entire establishment of the family and the schools had been asleep to the realities of the world. In my view, that should be changed. What we are teaching our young people in our schools must be updated to keep pace with the development of knowledge and state of the art learning.

More Questions for Modern Education

Here are some other important questions concerning modern education:

Are young people being prepared to be employers, entrepreneurs, inventors or employees, and is there an awareness of this on both sides of the teaching and learning equation?

Example: In their courses, are young people reading biographies of entrepreneurs, leaders and inventors, or are they predominantly reading books about the problems of the working classes or the complaints and views of minorities or similar materials.

At the least, there should be a balance in the materials being used, so that all levels of society, low AND high, including failures AND successes, and problems AND solutions are included.

You are what you eat.
You become what you read. Learning materials are mentors in media form, whether as books, websites, videos, or whatever. Every exposure of the brain to certain kinds of materials is a programming of that brain in a given direction. Each stage of education is PREPARATION and the selection of teaching materials determines what exactly is being prepared for. Workers reading about workers will remain workers. People enamored of their plight will remain in their plight. People who read about success will tend themselves to reach for success.

Are young people being prepared for college or some other kind of institution?
and if so, are they learning the skills they need for success in that endeavor?

Example: Some years ago, we taught legal writing at the law school level and discovered that numerous students had substantial deficits in writing - an ESSENTIAL skill far more important for future success than formal grades in selected courses.

What is taught in school about what employers expect from employees?

Most people will work for others during their life, or perhaps be the ones to employ them, yet little is apparently taught about the many and varied important details of this often life-long relationship. The employer-employee relationship should be a required course of study.

What is taught about the responsibilities that attach to independent professions and activities and are these responsibilities known and understood?

Those who enter independent and self-employed professions have different responsibilities than persons who become employees. More should be done in schools to encourage entrepreneurship and to support the needs of people in the professions.

What is taught about the nature of and responsibilities that attach to the benefits of any and all human relationships - especially the most important such relationships - spouses, parents, children, relatives, friends, and professional, business and job associates?

Various courses in human relationships should be required in our schools, in which we would include:

1) Human Relationships: Benefits and Responsibilities
2) Spouses: Life in an Alliance
3) Successful Parenting and Childraising : Problems and Solutions

Are young people taught to design a successful life in early school years ?

Everything in life is planned in one way or another by the powers that be, and yet, we do not require courses in Life Design for our own lives, which generally would profit the most from sensible planning. A course in Life Design should be required.

Are young people made familiar both with their IQ and EQ and the useful applications of each?

We know someone who was told by chance at the end of their college career at one of the largest universities in the United States that they had obtained the highest score on the social skills aptitude part of the entrance examination that had ever been obtained. The key phrase is "at the end of their college career". No one gave that person this information for their career planning at the time that it should have been communicated, which was at the start of their college career.

All young people should be made aware of their individual intellectual and social skills and talents as early as possible so that they are guided in the right direction of life design rather than floating about in the ocean of chance and serendipity opportunity.

Are young people given mentors and are they taught why mentors and mentoring are important?

Nothing has changed as regards mentoring in thousands of years. You best "learn the ropes" from someone who "knows the ropes". 50% of all Nobel Prize winners were somehow affiliated with previous Nobel Prize Winners. Everyone needs a mentor or coach. Indeed, those who can afford one, such as world champions in various sports, have a mentor or coach FULL TIME. Even if someone is the best in the world at what they do, they still need coaching and mentoring. Imagine how great the need is if you are not the best in the world at what you do.

Don't Blame the Young People - Blame the Educational Establishment

In any case, whenever we read about controversies such as above at the high school level, we regard them to be indicative of failings of the educational establishments to do their job properly - in the above case - at both schools.

Orange Bowl 2007 : Louisville 24 Wake Forest 13

Orange Bowl 2007 Louisville 24 Wake Forest 13

Wake Forest put on a good show, finishing off their best season ever at 11-3, leading 13-10 in the 4th quarter before falling 24-13 to Louisville, in a game in which the Demon Deacons gave up a lot of yards to the Cardinals, but again held their opponents to a low score, not having given up more than 27 points this year to anyone.

Louisville can definitely claim to have a right to be ranked higher in the national rankings, as the Big East Conference is 4-0 in bowl games this year with one game (Cincinnati vs. Western Michigan) still to come. The Big East is thus the only undefeated NCAA Division I Conference in the bowl games this season and will probably remain undefeated, as Cincinnati is heavily favored to beat their MAC opponents.

We picked the winner and beat the spread. We are now 23-11 in picking winners and 16-14-1 against the spread (three of the games had no spread that we were able to find online).

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

More New Year's Day 2007 Bowl Game Prognostication Results

Outback Bowl : Penn State 20 Tennessee 10

Penn State defeated Tennessee 20-10 as the Nittany Lions and Volunteers played a pretty even game which was decided in the 4th quarter by an 88-yard fumble recovery return by the Nittany Lions' Tony Davis.

We did not pick the winner but beat the spread. We are now 19-10 in picking winners and 13-12-1 against the spread (three of the games had no spread that we were able to find online).

Capital One Bowl : Wisconsin 17 Arkansas 14

Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt continued his game of musical chairs at the quarterback position and the Razorbacks lost their third game in a row, as we predicted they would, 17-14 to the Wisconsin Badgers, whose total offense output was nearly half that of Arkansas. But to win, you have to have a winning quarterback. As written by AP sports writer Noah Trister at Yahoo Sports:

"The Razorbacks stuck with their plan to start Casey Dick at quarterback and bring in freshman Mitch Mustain for the third series. That was Mustain's only appearance of the first half, although he returned for a bit in the second.

Dick went 9-of-21 for 98 yards with an interception. Mustain was 5-of-10 for 41 yards with an interception."

We picked the winner and beat the spread. We are now 20-10 in picking winners and 14-12-1 against the spread (three of the games had no spread that we were able to find online).

Toyota Gator Bowl : West Virginia 38 Georgia Tech 35


This was a strange high-scoring game won by the West Virginia Mountaineers won 38-35 over Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. And yet, after West Virginia scored three quick touchdowns early in the 3rd quarter, and with 6 minutes still left on the 3rd quarter clock, no team scored again in the game as the Mountaineers reverted to a time-consuming running game and Georgia Tech was plagued by an interception and a missed field goal. Georgie Tech put up more yards total offense (493) than the Mountaineers (444), which was a surprise to this observer.

We picked the winner but did not beat the spread. We are now 21-10 in picking winners and 14-13-1 against the spread (three of the games had no spread that we were able to find online).

Rose Bowl : USC 32 Michigan 18

Except for the third quarter, this game was a standoff. After a 3-3 tie at halftime, the defense was the difference as Michigan surrendered an interception and a fumble to USC in the third quarter, which not only stopped the Michigan offense, but helped USC put 16 unanswered points on the scoreboard, and that was the ball game.

Neither team could move the ball on the ground and the game was decided in the air, where the Michigan defense has weaknesses, as already shown in their 32-28 Alamo Bowl loss to Nebraska last year, so that the Trojans put up 100 yards more total offense than the Wolverines.


The Michigan secondary was unable to cover Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith, who between them caught 18 passes for over 300 yards. You would think that Lloyd Carr and his staff would have watched this year's USC-Nebraska game films for clues about how not to play against the Trojans, as Callahan played a similarly ineffective defense against USC. As UCLA showed, there is only one way to play USC defensively and that is to put permanent pressure on the quarterback. However, USC QB Booty had too much time to throw and was sacked only twice, whereas Michigan QB Henne was sacked six times.

We did not picked the winner and did not beat the spread. We are now 21-11 in picking winners and 14-14-1 against the spread (three of the games had no spread that we were able to find online).

Fiesta Bowl : Boise State 43 Oklahoma 42 (OT = in Overtime)

The real NCAA Coach of the Year in our opinion is clear, regardless of how the honors may have been bestowed by others. We vote for Boise State head football coach
Chris Petersen, whose 13-0 start is rivalled in NCAA football only by that of Larry Coker. Petersen took over head coaching duties from Dan Hawkins at the start of 2006, who went to Colorado to put up a 2-10 record this season.

We can not say that we were overjoyed to see Big 12 Champion Oklahoma lose 43-42 in overtime against Boise State, but we did predict that it would happen. The Broncos exploited the defensive weaknesses of the Sooners to forge a 28-10 lead in the 3rd quarter and then to come from behind not only to tie the game at 35-35 in regulation on a 50-yard pass play with only 18 seconds left on the 4th quarter game clock, but also to win the game in overtime on a courageous "chess player's" strategic two-point conversion.

Modern football is not won any more by coaches who play simplistic checkerboard strategies but rather those who have the minds of good chess players
.

As it should, the Boise State win again puts the BCS bowl system of determining a national champion without real playoffs into question. Boise State finishes undefeated - and - if Florida were to beat Ohio State, would be the only undefeated team in NCAA Division I football. Even if Ohio State wins that game and remains undefeated as well, this year's national championship will always have a question mark on it.

We picked the winner and beat the spread. We are now 22-11 in picking winners and 15-14-1 against the spread (three of the games had no spread that we were able to find online).

Monday, January 01, 2007

Outback Bowl 2007 : Penn State 20 Tennessee 10

Penn State defeated Tennessee 20-10 as the Nittany Lions and Volunteers played a pretty even game which was decided in the 4th quarter by an 86-yard fumble recovery return by the Nittany Lions' Tony Davis.

We did not pick the winner but beat the spread. We are now 19-10 in picking winners and 13-12-1 against the spread (three of the games had no spread that we were able to find online).

Cotton Bowl 2007 : Auburn 17 Nebraska 14 : Callahan's Milk Toast Offense Fails Again

Cotton Bowl 2007 : Auburn 17 Nebraska 14

Nebraska had more first downs, more yards rushing, more yards passing, and - again - still lost. They were coached into oblivion.

In a pattern which has become a trademark of the Callahan-led Huskers, an early lead was given up in the course of the football game by poor playcalling, which led to avoidable scores by the opponent.

As AP sports writer Stephen Hawkins writes at Yahoo Sports:

"The Cornhuskers (9-5) opened with a dominating drive, but couldn't do much else right in their first January game in five years....

After the opening TD, Taylor's next pass was thrown behind Terrence Nunn. It bounced into the air and was intercepted by Karibi Dede, who rambled 52 yards to the 9. From there, Stewart caught a pass out of the backfield and scored untouched.

Then on fourth-and-1 from their own 29, the Cornhuskers tried a fake punt. They instead fumbled on an attempted reverse and lost 15 yards."

Auburn turned that totally unnecessary "bush league" fake punt playcall on 4th and 1 from their own 29 - in the first quarter! - a risk which at that early stage of the game and from such a precarious position should never have been taken, into a touchdown and led 14-7, even though the Tigers had a mere 30 yards rushing and passing on the board.

This game was a gift to Auburn by the hapless NU coaching staff.

Also the unnecessarily dangerous and intercepted short pass call on 3rd and 3 into the flank
1st-10, NEB38 4:49 M. Lucky rushed up the middle for 3 yard gain
2nd-7, NEB41 4:19 M. Lucky rushed to the left for 10 yard gain
1st-10, AUB49 3:44 Z. Taylor passed to D. Todd to the right for 4 yard gain
2nd-6, AUB45 3:04 M. Lucky rushed to the right for 3 yard gain
3rd-3, AUB42 2:34 K. Dede intercepted Z. Taylor for 52 yards
was a stupid call, on a pass going to Terence Nunn which - again - helped cost NU the game, as on numerous previous occasions where Callahan decided to call plays going to Nunn in important game situations. The Callahan coaching staff simply does not learn from their previous errors.

For the umpteenth time this season, Nebraska did not score in the 3rd quarter, and to make matters worse, did not score in the 4th quarter, playing the kind of timid football that the Auburn defense relishes and that has become a Callahan trademark for second half NU play. In spite of being behind and needing TO WIN, NU ran the ball 65 times (averaging 2.5 yards per carry) and passed only 25 times (averaging 5.2 yards per pass play), reverting to the fearful offense used by Callahan in losing to USC early in the season. This is coaching at its worst. In addition, we fail to understand what advantage the Callahan Milk Toast Offense has over Nebraska's old option offense when it is proving to be primarily a less-effective running tool.
Why was NU running when it should have been throwing??

Whatever adjustments could have been made in the NU offense after the first half by the coaching staff to score points against Auburn remained on the eternal drawing board in the locker room at half time. Really, we doubt sincerely that Nebraska makes any real adjustments at all at half time. How else is one to explain a nearly steady parade of zeroes in the third quarters of their games this season, regardless of their opponent?

What appears to us to be the case is that Callahan must have a pre-game plan for the game which is adhered to regardless of what is going on in the field. His famed Milk Toast Offense is then used - not to score - but to control the ball and the clock, to move the ball to within the opponent's 30 to 40-yard line, and then, because the coaching staff has not been smart enough to get a field goal kicker who can kick beyond 40-yards, to resort to their favorite "offensive" tactic, which is to punt the ball from scoring territory (30 to 40-yrd line of the opponent) into the coffin corner and try to stymie the other team behind its own 10-yard line, a tactic which has brought the Huskers nothing this season, as their own team is unable to exploit offensively whatever supposed advantage might be gained from this foolish, antiquated football strategy.

Coaching? Nah. That's not coaching. That is coaching incompetence.

As a Husker alumnus, one could ask, are we fans of Callahan? You bet - NOT. We would be much happier to see him coaching some opposing team.

We did not pick the winner and the spread was tied by the win. We are now 19-9 in picking winners and 12-12-1 against the spread (three of the games had no spread that we were able to find online).

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