Tagged with "LSU"
Vanderbilt CWS win caps great academic year for SEC
Category: NCAA
Tags: Sec BCS Alabama Arkansas Mississippi st. ole miss LSU auburn Vanderbilt South Carolina Kentucky Texas A&M
I know itís been a while, but often in the summer Iím too busy watching sports to blog much about them. College football is just the perfect sport for me to blog about since you have all your games finishing up on Saturday night, and (even with the national semifinal system) each game is much more important than an NFL game. Then, aside from the mostly irrelevant early-week games, there are a good few days at least to ponder the results and the upcoming week with no new results coming in.


Anyway, what Iíve mostly been doing lately in my spare time is watching the World Cup and the College World Series (Iím about to replace the latter with Wimbledon). Iíll probably have something to say about the World Cup when itís over, but for now I just want to sort of sum up the academic sports year, which ended with Vanderbilt winning its first ever national title in a menís sport, and (surprise surprise) talk about the SEC.


In some respects, you could consider the year a disappointment for the SEC. Obviously, the SECís streak of BCS titles came to an end at 7 after Auburnís loss to Florida St. in January. When Oregon won the menís outdoor track title a couple of weeks ago, it marked the fourth consecutive major menís sports title (Iíll just call them the four sports from now on) NOT won by the SEC. Had Virginia won the CWS, this would have matched the drought from January 2004 (LSUís first BCS title) to June 2005 (when Arkansas last won the national title in track).


On the other hand, going into the CWS final, the SEC had been reigning runners-up in all four of those sports (thatís not really ďreigningĒ, but you get the idea). In three of those four sports, the SEC had at least one additional team in the top four. Also, I mentioned the BCS title streak that came to an end, but itís still 8 years in a row that the SEC had a team play in the championship game. In baseball, itís now 7 years in a row than an SEC team has been in the championship series (4-3). The SEC only had two finalist in the seven prior seasons. Both lost.


This is actually kind of incredible, but this academic year, the SEC had 10 different programs finish in the top four of the major sports: Auburn football, Alabama football (Iíll explain), Kentucky basketball, Florida basketball, Florida track, Texas A&M track, LSU track, South Carolina track, Vanderbilt baseball, and Ole Miss baseball. I would be very surprised if any conference had ever done that before in those sports.


I know most have said good riddance to the BCS already, but there is an important thing to clarify in the way it worked. In short, the number 3 and 4 teams in the final BCS standings are the closest approximation to semifinalists. Iíll elaborate in the next paragraph, but feel free to skip it if you understand.


It did not narrow down the field to two teams after the bowl games. So in basketball, for instance, you got eliminated from title contention when games were played and you lost to the title team. But you got eliminated from BCS title contention after championship week and before the bowl games. If Florida and Wisconsin went and lost some kind of exhibition after the basketball season, that would not alter their status as basketball semifinalists. For BCS purposes, the bowl games were exhibitions for all the other teams. I know the AP title was theoretically still in play, but the BCS was the only championship system. You donít have to remind me USC won the AP trophy after the 2003 season, but in the bowl game they were playing a team (Michigan) which was not vying for any kind of championship, so thatís not really a system where you must beat other teams that are trying to be champions. A team like Alabama last year made a really good run at the title and understandably only one team separated them from a berth in the championship game when it came time to decide who was to play in that game.


So while the SEC ONLY had one national championship in the four sports this year, the first time it hasnít had multiple championships since 2007-08, having ten programs that high is an impressive feat, arguably even more impressive than 2011-12 when the SEC had 3 national titles, 3 runners-up and a seventh top-four team. As mentioned, three of the relevant programs were also runners-up this academic year.


Below is the chart of all these top fours beginning with the 2006-07 academic year, the beginning of the BCS-championship streak. 2005-06 was a good year for LSU (Final Four in basketball [won by Florida] and national runner-up in track), but I had to cut it off somewhere. If someone wants to compile results for other conferences, feel free. The only reason a fifth track team is included for this year is there was a tie in points for fourth, which obviously isnít really possible for the other sports. The BCS has too many decimal places to tie, and in basketball and baseball, youíre only going to get four semifinalists no matter what you do. From now on, I will use the same format for football and just consider the losing semifinalists as tied for third.


Since my regular internet is out and I can't figure out another way to post it, here is the link to my blog where the chart I made is posted: http://theknightswhosay.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/vanderbilt-cws-win-caps-great-academic-year-for-sec/
2013 Final College Football Top 25
Category: NCAA
Tags: ALABAMA AUBURN CENTRAL FLORIDA COLLEGE FOOTBALL FLORIDA ST. LSU MICHIGAN ST. MISSOURI SEC SOUTH CAROLINA TEXAS A&M WASHINGTON

I just realized I'd forgotten to post this here.

2013 Final Top 25

rank / team / prior
1 Florida St. 2
2 Auburn 1
3 Mich. St. 4
4 Missouri 7
5 UCF 10
6 Stanford 3
7 S Carolina 11
8 Oklahoma 12
9 Ohio St. 5
10 Baylor 6
11 Alabama 8
12 Clemson 17
13 Oregon 16
14 Louisville 18
15 Arizona St. 9
16 UCLA 19
17 LSU 20
18 Okie St. 15
19 USC 25
20 N. Illinois 13
21 Fresno St. 14
22 TX A&M Ė
23 Notre Dame 24
24 Washington Ė
25 Duke 21

Out of rankings:†(22) Wisconsin, (23) Georgia

Many of you probably†know where to find†my other blogs†(such as more detailed rankings discussion)†by now, but if you need specific directions, let me know. † Everything is published there first.

Post-Championship & SEC Commentary
Category: NCAA
Tags: ALABAMA AUBURN CENTRAL FLORIDA COLLEGE FOOTBALL FLORIDA ST. LSU MICHIGAN ST. MISSOURI SEC SOUTH CAROLINA TEXAS A&M WASHINGTON

Some people might think Iím upset about the SECís dominance over the BCS title game coming to an end (as is the game itself of course), but Iím really not. Like I said initially, Iím glad itís not Saban or Meyer with another trophy.

I am indeed happy for Jimbo Fisher. He had his fingerprints on the development of a lot of quality programs, especially in the SEC, over the years. Even if Florida St. had lost, itís really a tribute to him that they were in the game in the first place. Even though the ACC wasnít great by any measure, itís remarkable to win 14 games and only really have two in doubt much into the second half.

Iím not really a huge Malzahn fan, but I have gained some respect for him as well. I initially thought he was just a silly high school coach whose goofy plays would be exposed, but Iíve learned that his ideas are rooted in the study of the gameís history. Iíve also learned that heís not just presenting the same plays over and over again. He finds new wrinkles and ways of running the offense that keeps defenses offguard. Whatever one has to say about the differences in competition, Auburn was the team that was luckier to be there, so I donít feel itís a huge injustice that they lost, although Iím not sure there has been a team in the title game that has faced that level of competion in the history of the BCS championship apart from that 2011 LSU team that also lost.

I donít think Florida St. would have made it through the 9 SEC teams Auburn faced without a loss, but I also donít necessarily think they would have lost more than once. Had the íNoles played in the SEC, they may well have ended up BCS champions anyway. I donít think thatís true of any of the other challengers the SEC has faced over the last few years.

Florida St.ís win should serve to remind some hardcore SEC fans that maybe one or two of those semifinal slots should go to non-SEC teams every year.

Iím in no way soft-pedaling the fact that this was a great year for the SEC though, and I donít just mean going 7-3 in bowl games (one of the three was with a backup quarterback).

I have South Carolina 7th partly because I consider the loss to Tennessee pretty bad, but whether itís top five or top seven, having three SEC teams in that group is about as good as you can hope for. I also have Alabama in the top 10, as do both polls. So thatís twice as many top 10 teams as the Big XII and four times as many as the other BCS conferences. I have Texas A&M a bit lower than the polls, but LSU and A&M are also consensus top 25 for a total of six. I also have the Pac-12 with six, but theyíre mostly toward the bottom, and there arenít teams like Vanderbilt (which is ranked in both major polls), Georgia, and Ole Miss with strong arguments in the Pac-12 either. If you look at the top 50 (or simply consider all those receiving votes in either major poll), the SEC has ten teams to the Pac-12ís seven.

The ACC and Big XII only have 5 teams apiece in the top 40, although both polls had Texas Tech #30. Even if you count them, a larger percentage of SEC teams is still in the top 40 than Big XII teams. Also to look at the lower teams, this is how I rank SEC and Big XII teams that fell outside of the top 70:
83. Florida (SEC)
89. TCU (Big XII)
96. Arkansas (SEC)
101. West Virginia (Big XII)
102. Iowa St. (Big XII)
103. Kansas (Big XII)
104. Kentucky (SEC)

So of the group above, 40% of the Big XII is there but only 21.4% of the SEC. I think that makes a big difference on the schedule, especially since every Big XII team whoís not among those four faced them. South Carolina was the only team to play all three SEC teams on the list above, which is another reason I only have them 7th in the overall rankings.

Anyway, Iíll have more to say another time, but these were just my first thoughts upon the completion of bowl season.

LSU-Arkansas Rivalry-Week Series Ends
Category: NCAA
Tags: Arkansas Auburn NCAA Football Florida Kentucky Louisville LSU Mississippi St. Missouri Ole Miss Tennessee Texas A&M Tulane Vandy
LSU players with the Golden Boot, I believe after last year's game.

LSU players with the Golden Boot, I believe after last yearís game.

I updated the records in my†LSU/Arkansas†blog and added a brief game summary for the game yesterday (this was originally published†on 11/30).

I didnít realize it until after the game was played (although I knew changes were coming), but this was sort of a bittersweet ending for the LSU-Arkansas ďblack FridayĒ tradition. Granted, itís not much of a tradition as compared to Ohio St.-Michigan and so forth, but with LSU playing Arkansas at the end of the year (the day after Thanksgiving the vast majority of the time) the last 2/3 of my life is meaningful to me. I remember LSU playing Tulane annually, but I donít remember that game being one to get excited about. (I was a toddler the last time Tulane beat LSU and barely a teenager when the annual series was canceled.)

Of course, Iím glad LSU won this last game, but Iím also glad Arkansas represented themselves well. It wasnít good for my nerves, but it just wouldnít have felt proper for this to be an easy win. I mention in my blog how often in the last 13 years itís been a close game, so this was fitting. I wouldnít mind if Arkansas got a good team again, but sometimes there are too many good teams in the SEC, especially as long as LSU has to play Florida every year along with the SEC West slate. The Gators will be back too.

I also liked that LSU usually played Arkansas in Little Rock since the campus was less lively with it being Thanksgiving weekend. I imagine LSU people who traveled to the games liked them being closer as well. The late great George Carlin did a bit about football vocabulary versus baseball. Baseball is played at a park. Football is played on the gridiron in places like Soldier Field and War Memorial Stadium (which is what they call the one in Little Rock). I went to my first game at the L.A. Colliseum last year. There is just something special about stadiums like that. ďWarĒ, as I understand the locals call it, was built around 20 years later, but itís a similar type of severe concrete architecture. I think the Arkansas fans treated it as something special as well.

If I had my druthers, the last four SEC opponents would be Ole Miss (on or around Halloween), Alabama, Mississippi St., and Arkansas, but no such luck. Whether I like it or not (it has its good points, to be honest), Texas A&M and Missouri have joined the SEC, so now there is that to contend with. Before last year, when LSU played Texas A&M (back in the mid-1990s and before), it was in early September; but that doesnít work now, especially now that weíve often been playing one of the neutral-site kickoff games. (Next year, LSU will start the season against Wisconsin in Houston.)

I can understand it, and it will probably work out though. Weíve played Auburn (often in September, but Mississippi St. and the non-conference slate will bump them to the first week of October next season) and Florida (usually in the second week of October) early on in recent years, and we donít need another big game so early in the year. Also, Texas A&M lost their traditional Thanksgiving game with Texas, so they have to play somebody. Missouri should be a good game today; but itís not a bordering state, and there isnít a meaningful history between the two schools.

As for Missouri, theyíre really out of place being forced into the same division with Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina in particular, so giving them and Arkansas a close geographic annual rival makes a good bit of sense. Arkansas isnít the most natural fit in the SEC West either. Their closest divisional opponent is Ole Miss, a six-hour drive away from the Arkansas campus. (Not that LSU is situated that much better in reference to other schools.) Also, interestingly enough,†Tom Dienhart, who wrote to argue for Arkansas to join the Big XII seven years ago (he wanted them to kick out Baylor), got one of the match-ups he wanted after all.

Sometimes when I talk about realignment, Iím an advocate for disturbing certain traditions; but I donít deny that it doesnít always feel right immediately afterward even if the changes eventually work and the new reality can become an improvement. I mentioned Auburn, for instance. They didnít have a rivalry with LSU to speak of before 1992 either, but itís been a fun series too, and it will continue as far as I can tell. (Although to be honest, they might make more sense in the East.)

Arkansas was sort of a replacement for Tulane (even though they overlapped a few years) anyway, and LSU wouldnít have been playing the Razorbacks every year if it werenít for the previous SEC expansion. It became a fun, back-and-forth, competitive series like many of the more long-term and consistent rivalries seem to be. Iíll miss that, along with the other quirks I mentioned.

Maybe something similar will develop from the Texas A&M series. The one this year was better as an LSU fan, but maybe there will be some more like last year to entertain the more neutral fans. I hope they make it at night after all the NFL games end. One thing I didnít like about the Arkansas series was when it was played at home for LSU, it was often one fewer night game. I also wasnít thrilled that this seasonís game against Texas A&M was during the day, not that I wasnít satisfied with how that one went.

Also, itís not like LSU will stop playing Arkansas. That game is set for November 15 next year, apparently in Fayetteville. It could still be an important part of the schedule for either team. Not really relevant to LSU, but I also thought it was interesting that the Hogs will play the Aggies in Jerry World in late September.

So I guess this will be the new Thanksgiving week alignment for the SEC teams; I hope it will stick:
LSU-Texas A&M (Thanksgiving Day)
Arkansas-Missouri
Mississippi St.-Ole Miss
Alabama-Auburn
Tennessee-Vanderbilt
Kentucky-Louisville*
Georgia-Georgia Tech*
Florida-Florida St.*
Clemson-South Carolina*
(* = non-conference game)

Many of you probably†know where to find†my other blogs†(such as more detailed rankings discussion)†by now, but if you need specific directions, let me know. † Everything is published there first.

All-Blogger Poll Week 13
Category: NCAA
Tags: ALABAMA ARIZONA ST. AUBURN BAYLOR CLEMSON COLLEGE FOOTBALL FLORIDA ST. LSU NOTRE DAME OHIO ST. OKLAHOMA ST. TEXAS A&M UCLA USC

All-Blogger Top 25

rank/team(first place votes)/total points[last week's rank]

1 Florida St. (3) 145 [ t1 ]
2 Alabama (1) 144 [ t1 ]
3 Ohio St. (2) 142 [ 3 ]
4 Auburn 127 [ 5 ]
5 Clemson 117 [ 7 ]
6 Missouri 115 [ 8 ]
7 Okie St. 113 [ 9 ]
8 Mich. St. 102 [ 10 ]
9 Stanford 86 [ 12 ]
10 S Carolina 83 [ 11 ]
11 Arizona St. 80 [ 20 ]
12 Wisconsin 77 [ 16 ]
13 Baylor 76 [ 4 ]
14 N. Illinois 75 [ 14 ]
15 Oregon 67 [ 6 ]
16 Fresno St. 66 [ 16 ]
17 LSU 64 [ 19 ]
18 UCF 55 [ 18 ]
19 Oklahoma 44 [ 21 ]
20 TX A&M 40 [ 13 ]
21 Louisville 34 [ 22 ]
22 USC 28 [ 23 ]
23 UCLA 27 [ 15 ]
24 Duke 22 [ 25 ]
25 Notre Dame 8 [ ]

Many of you probably†know where to find†my other blogs†(such as more detailed rankings discussion)†by now, but if you need specific directions, let me know. † Everything is published there first.

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