1-AP PULLS OUT OF BCS. Two major shakeups in the way the BCS determines their national champion. First, the big one...the AP pulling it’s poll from the formula. Citing they never approved their poll to be used in the formula...the AP is tired of both the controversy around the BCS rankings and the downplaying of their own National Champion. As you know, the AP crowned USC the 2003 champion despite the BCS crowning LSU champion. The AP Poll will be replaced by a new Harris Interactive Poll. Harris Interactive is a global market research company and their poll is made up of 114 participants of former players, coaches and media members. Included are guys like Terry Bradshaw, Boomer Esiason, Lou Holtz, Rocket Ishmael, Steve Largent, Don Maynard, Anthony Munoz and LeRoy Selmon.
2-CONFERENCES REALIGN. Last year, Miami and Virginia Tech joined the ACC and Connecticut joined the Big East. Outside of that...not much changed. Not this year. Boston College goes to the ACC. Cincinnati, Louisville and South Florida go to the Big East. Temple and Army become Independent. Marshall, Central Florida, UTEP, Rice, SMU and Tulsa go to Conference USA. Idaho, Utah State and New Mexico State go to the WAC. Florida International and Florida Atlantic go to the Sun Belt. Got it?? Not since the Independents jumping ship to join conferences in the early 1990s [Miami, Florida State, South Carolina, Syracuse, etc] has this much change occurred.
3-ESPN PULLS OUT OF THE COACHES POLL. Citing the way the coaches votes are hidden from the public...ESPN decided to get out of the polling biz. In the coaches poll, the votes are secretive and not made public...which makes them unaccountable for favoritism. I mean, why wouldn’t a Big XII school vote it’s members higher in the rankings since it may help bring in more BCS money to the conference and ultimately themselves?? Since there is checks and balances on that....ESPN didn’t want their name associated with it. Now it is the USA TODAY Poll and should survive just fine. But ESPN pulling out and ABC bailing on the BCS, there is some marketing problems with this poll. Really, on USA Today will be using this poll...as every other media outlet uses the AP poll. When ESPN joined the coaches poll...that poll became of more use because of ESPN 24-hour sports might to keep it in fans heads. Now, there is no one of TV to do so. While I suspect that Fox Sports [who takes over the BCS package soon] may attach it’s name to the poll...it still loses flavor.
4-SOUTHERN CAL GOES FOR "THREE-PETE". USC is the #1 team in the nation and is trying to become the first school to win 3 straight NCAA football titles. They also have the subplot of Matt Leinart trying to become only the second player to win two Heismans.
5-STEVE SPURRIER BACK IN THE SEC. What a storyline in the SEC!! Steve Spurrier goes to South Carolina...where he replaces Lou Holtz [who left the program amidst a little scandal]. He is in the same division as former employer Florida...who is breaking in new coach Urban Meyer. Tell me that November 12 game between Florida and South Carolina in Columbia won’t mean much.
6-TEXAS AT OHIO STATE. It is very rare to see a game like this early in the regular season. Schools just don’t set that up. But I like it! Sure, the loser of this game may have their national title hopes dashed by a loss to one of it’s contemporaries. However, it could be a study into the mind of the BCS. A loss in this game may be just as valuable as a win over New Mexico State. It will be intriguing to find out. Either way, I hope this does start a trend of non-rival non-conference battles that has made the basketball schedule such a delight. But if the loser of this game gets screwed down the road....this may just be a shooting star.
7-HURRICANE KATRINA. As I write this...who knows what isgoing to happen with LSU, Tulane, Southern Miss and the other smaller schools in the area. The other schools may return to relative normalcy soon...but Tulane has issues. Does the football team go on with the school closed? Technically, the student-athletes are ineligible. Does the team play an exclusive road schedule? And, really, all this is the least of their worries.
8-HEISMAN LEGEND. Like Jason White last year, Matt Leinart will be trying to repeat as Heisman Trophy winner. Only Archie Griffin has made that feat. But there are a ton of guys ready to knock him off that perch, including teammate Reggie Bush.
9-CHARLIE WEIS AT NOTRE DAME. They may not want to admit it...but Weis better pull this off. As the years move on....the Irish are becoming increasingly irrelevant. If Weis can get them back on track, then NDU can keep it’s status as "above the conference landscape". If they keep in this murk...they may beg the Big Ten for inclusion.
10-BCS BUSTERS. Really my favorite. What if Louisville goes undefeated? They’ll be in the BCS, but will they be in the Rose Bowl? What about Boise State and their new tough schedule? What about teams like Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, Tennessee, LSU, Miami or Virginia Tech who may have to play an extra championship game while USC, Ohio State and Michigan get to skip it?