2. The grumbling about Kirk Ferentz at Iowa has quieted again, now that the Hawkeyes went 8-4 and finished tied for second in the Big Ten Legends. Ferentz’s teams are almost metronomic in the way they swing from mediocre to good and back again. That’s maddening to fans in this day and age. But Ferentz re-established Iowa as a program that plays sound, fundamental football. Ferentz and Bob Stoops of Oklahoma began the same season, 1999, at their current jobs and had the same kind of 15th season: overachieving, with big finishes.
3. The rise of USC redshirt sophomore tailback Javorious Allen is fascinating when juxtaposed against the injury struggles of his teammate, senior Silas Redd. Allen came on strong in the back half of the season and finished with 699 yards and the team MVP award. Redd left Penn State on the cusp of the 2012 season, in what appeared to be an escape from Penn State’s NCAA sanctions. In two seasons at USC, Redd rushed 248 times for 1,281 yards. As a sophomore at Penn State in 2011, Redd rushed 244 times for 1,241 yards.
Chris in Lake Stevens, Wash. writes: (Ka'Deem) Carey over (Bishop) Sankey? Are you an idiot or an Arizona grad? Sankey had more yards, more TDs and a better YPC. You've lost all credibility as far as I'm concerned.
Kevin Gemmell: Really? All credibility? Idiot? For picking a first-team All-American, a Doak Walker finalist, a guy who finished ahead of Sankey in the Heisman voting and the offensive player of the year as selected by the coaches?
Guess the coaches are idiots as well.
I’m happy to re-open the debate (and I will below). But your note smacks of uneducated fanaticism.
Chris L in Memphis writes: In making his case on East Coast bias, Ted wrote this: "Arizona RB Ka'Deem Carey is the nation's best running back." Please make the case as to how Carey is even the best back in his conference.
Kevin Gemmell: I’d be happy to, Chris. And thanks for your letter. I know this particular Chris to be an extremely educated Washington fan -- the kind that makes Washington fans look good.
First off, as I stated in last week’s mailbag, I thought Ted’s East Coast bias column was one of the strongest pieces I’ve ever read from him.
Obviously, the Sankey vs. Carey debate will rage for years. And it should. It’s fun to debate the merits, of which there are many, of two fantastic players. Washington fans will always back Sankey -- which is right. And Arizona fans will always back Carey -- which is also right. There's just a right way and a wrong way to do it (cough, cough, Chris in Lake Stevens). Because both are outstanding running backs with the physical build and skill sets to be successful running backs at the next level.
Sankey had more total yards and more touchdowns. Carey had more yards per game and 10 fewer zero or negative rushing plays (Sankey had 45, Carey 35). We won’t get into the debate of playing time because I know Sankey sat the second half of some games and Carey missed a game, etc. etc. Carey had more carries because his team didn’t have the passing attack that Washington did. The Huskies averaged 271.3 yards through the air per game with 24 touchdowns. Arizona had just 186.8 passing yards per game with 14 touchdowns. Washington leaned heavily on Sankey, but I think we can all agree that Arizona leaned more heavily on Carey.
The little separation that exists in my mind is because of Carey’s consistency. I broke this down in a column earlier this month and essentially Carey did his best work -- more than 20 yards above his average -- against the top competition.
Sankey and Carey had six games this year that involved common opponents: Oregon, ASU, California, Colorado, UCLA and Washington State. In those games Sankey averaged 144 yards with eight total touchdowns. Against the same competition, Carey rushed for 152.5 yards with 11 touchdowns.
Sankey was outstanding. But his overall season takes a hit from the ASU game (13 carries, 22 yards) and, yes, the fact that Carey’s team beat Oregon and he was a huge reason why has to weigh in.
Again, this is a Fujis vs. Honey Crisp discussion. But when you look at overall consistency -- essentially zero bad statistical games for Carey -- the fact that he did better against head-to-head competition and that he was at his best against tougher defenses, I think that justifies making a case for him as the best back in the league.
Weston in Costa Mesa, Calif. writes: Hello Kevin, I was curious to know what your view is on the state of USC football going into the next few seasons. Where does the program go if Sark doesn’t work out and is he in the hot seat right away if he doesn’t deliver in the first year (by deliver I mean anything less than an 8 win season).ThanksWestonps. I’m a Stanford fan living in a USC ruled area and everybody is talking about this.
Kevin Gemmell: This is sort of a two-parter. The first part, the state of USC football over the next few seasons, is essentially asking what do I think Steve Sarkisian can do for the program. The second part is if he doesn’t succeed, how quick will he get the hook.
I can’t imagine that if he only wins seven games in his first year that Pat Haden would put him on the hot seat. Haden showed an amazing amount of patience with Lane Kiffin and gave him the opportunity to right the ship in 2013. When it was clear the ship wasn’t being righted, he made his move.
This was a high-profile hire for USC and for Haden. A lot of eyes will be on this decision for the next few years. And my best bet is that Haden is going to do everything possible to convince people he got his guy.
As for how they’ll do? Well, there are some really, really talented players on both sides of the ball. And it was pretty clear that the Trojans underachieved with Kiffin as their head coach because they clearly had the talent to rip off five in a row and beat the No. 4 team in the country in Stanford.
We’ve said this before USC is a brand. It is always going to attract high-profile recruits simply because it’s USC. You combine that with a bulldog of a recruiter in Sarkisian and you have to expect the Trojans will be just fine.
The question is what happens once he does get those elite athletes into the program. How does he develop the talent? How does he handle the X’s and O’s? He did an amazing job of bringing Washington back to respectability. But he never got them into the elite class. Perhaps with a few more years in Seattle he would have? We’ll never know. But that certainly plants a lingering question about what he can do at USC.
I think given the way the South sets up for the next few years, USC could certainly win it. Or ASU could repeat. Or UCLA could win its third division in four years. Or Arizona could make a run when their potential All-Universe scout team starts playing in games.
The South is so wide open right now that there really isn’t one clear-cut team that is a favorite. And I think USC has to be considered in that mix. The Trojans could win the South next year. Or they could finish fourth in the division.
I’m willing to give Sark and Haden the benefit of the doubt that they can get USC moving in the right direction. Sark might not be the biggest name nationally, but he has the pedigree that fits very well with the culture in Southern California.
Peter in Washington writes: Did you intentionally leave off the second common opponent between BYU and UW? Both teams played FCS Idaho State year as well as Boise State.
Kevin Gemmell: The simple answer would have been yes, it was intentional, because Idaho State is an FCS team and it wasn’t worth mentioning. But truth be told, I just missed it. So thanks for keeping me honest. And in the interest of getting all of the information out there, Washington beat Idaho State 56-0 on Sept. 21. BYU beat the Bengals 59-13 on Nov. 16.
Mike in Boston writes: I thought I'd give you a heads up that you came in fifth in the Cardboard's (an independently run Stanford fan community) "Predict the Score" game for predicting Stanford's game outcomes. We entered the predicted scores from your weekly post on Pac-12 games. Note, Miller sits all the way down at No. 15.
Kevin Gemmell: Awesome! Had no idea you guys were doing that. Since I finished 10 spots ahead of Ted, I think it’s fair that the next 10 rounds of non-alcoholic eggnog are on him.
Sun Devil Ric in San Diego writes: I thought I understood the politics of trophies and All-American teams, but I guess I'm still clueless. Why did ASJ win the Mackey award, but isn't named on a single All-American team yet?
Kevin Gemmell: You understand them? Really? Please share. Because I've been at this a long time and I still don't know.
Tight end was a deep position this year. And ASJ did get named third-team AA in the AP All-American team. Like every single postseason award, there is a level of subjectivity that is tough to comprehend because it's different for everyone. I wish I could climb into the minds of the voters and give you a clear-cut explanation for why things are the way they are when it comes to postseason awards. But I can't.
All I can say is I think the Mackey folks got it right.
Ryan in New York writes: Kevin, Great work by you and your partner Miller on the ESPN.com AA team. I think the Pac was well represented, and that's testimony to you and Ted spreading the good word and fighting the good fight. Well done. Happy HolidaysRC
Kevin Gemmell: Back atcha Ryan. There will never be a perfect postseason list. And I would have liked to see Anthony Barr on our list also. But the fact that Barr appears on others, as does Trent Murphy, shows just how deep and talented the Pac-12 was this season.
Looking forward to another year of why UCLA is overrated mailbag drops from you. But for now, enjoy the bowl season and the holiday season.
That goes for the rest of you, too. (Yes, Chris in Lake Stevens, even you).
Running back: Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona
Offensive guard: David Yankey, Stanford
Wide receiver: Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
Defensive tackle: Will Sutton, Arizona State
Linebacker: Anthony Barr, UCLA
Safety: Deone Bucannon, Washington State
Running back: Bishop Sankey, Washington
Offensive guard: Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA
All-purpose: Ty Montgomery, Stanford
Linebacker: Trent Murphy, Stanford
Tight end: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
Defensive tackle: Leonard Williams, USC
Linebacker: Shayne Skov, Stanford
Cornerback: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon
“There’s practice and the set schedule of things we do in it every day, but if you have something to work on that isn’t in that schedule, you need to make the time and work on it,” Markowitz said. “Today, that’s what I was doing, and hopefully it helps the team out.”
“I’m trying not to let my emotions get involved in anything,” said Markowitz, who will be making the third start of his career, and the first of 2013. “Every game this season, I’ve prepared like I was a starter -- that’s what you do here. That showed, unfortunately, in the UCLA game when Marcus got hurt, and I stepped right in and fulfilled my role for the team. So, this is just another week for me. Maybe in a couple of months when I’m done with my USC experience I can look back and see how special of an experience this was, but right now we’re all just locked in.”
The Honolulu Punahou product has certainly made his mark for the Trojans, but his career has been anything but conventional.
Markowitz, whose grandfather, Larry, also played football for the Trojans, and whose father, Barry, played across town at UCLA, chose to walk on at USC in 2008 despite holding scholarship offers from the likes of Michigan State and Miami (Ohio). Quickly making a name for himself on the practice field, he was awarded a scholarship in 2010. Ultimately missing that season as well as the next with foot injuries, Markowitz came back to enjoy an extremely productive 2012 campaign, registering two starts and serving a crucial function as a more-than-reliable reserve.
Originally informed following last season that the Trojans no longer had room for him due primarily to an issue involving scholarship limitations stemming from NCAA sanctions, he was close to landing at the University of Hawaii in the offseason before, in a surprise turn of events, he was eventually cleared to rejoin the team at USC in July after gaining a sixth year of eligibility. And while he would no longer be on scholarship, for Markowitz, who had developed deep roots at the university, the simple fact that he was able to remain a Trojan was what counted most
“I love this place and I’ve definitely enjoyed being here,” said Markowitz, who took out a loan to help pay for his final semester of college. “Just being in Southern California, the weather, the culture, my grandparents live here, and I just wanted to finish here.”
Markowitz’s return also afforded him the opportunity to realize a dream of playing in front of family and friends in his home state when the Trojans took on the Rainbow Warriors in Honolulu in this year’s opener. A contest in which he filled in at right guard for a significant portion of the game, it stands out as one of the highlights of his time at USC.
“I got to play a lot in front of my home fans there,” said Markowitz, who also participated as a shot putter and discus thrower on the USC track and field program. “My parents were there, old neighbors, people that had really helped me out in high school, and that was really big for me. That was a special thing that I wanted to do, and part of coming back was playing in that game in Hawaii.”
And now Markowitz, who is hoping to get a shot at the NFL, is on the cusp of finishing his USC career off in fitting style when the Trojans take on the Bulldogs in less than a week. And while he’s determined to do everything he can leading up to the contest to ensure that he’s prepared, when it comes to the long-term, it’s safe to say that his legacy is already set in stone.
“I just want to be remembered as a guy who chased his dream,” Markowitz said. “I’ve had my few opportunities, and this is my last one. I want kids to know that if they want to chase their dream of walking on some place, then they should do that, because as long as you have the work ethic, and you surround yourself with people that believe in your dream, you can achieve whatever you want.”
- Who voted Ka'Deem Carey No. 1 on his Heisman ballot?
- ASU making the most of its bowl practices.
- Former quarterback Zach Kline is headed to Oregon State.
- Athlon named Addison Gillam a first-team freshman All-American.
- Some more on Troy Hill's arrest.
- The Beavers are hoping to have Kevin Cummings back for the bowl game.
- David Shaw is flattered, but uninterested in leaving Stanford.
- Shaq Evans talks about the Senior Bowl and draft.
- USC picked up a DE commit.
- A former Utah running back had three touchdowns in his first NFL start.
- Washington lands a QB flip thanks to its new coach.
- A look back at WSU's 1988 bowl game.
- Athlon ranks the best Pac-12 games of the year.
The Class of 2013 is in the stretch run. With just 50 days until national signing day, there are plenty of developments and questions in the lead-up to Feb. 5. From top uncommitted players to class rankings predictions, this is everything you'll need to know.
Questions to ponder
50. Who is next at Texas, and when? The choice as new Longhorns coach will be key for future classes, but the timing of the hire is also important as there are quite a few commitments targeted by other teams that are now hanging by a thread with each passing day -- dead period or not.
49. Will Maryland close with a bang? This one is simple: keep No. 15 Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C./Friendship Collegiate Academy) and No. 26 Damian Prince (Forestville, Md./Bishop McNamara) home and it's a big bang.
We've all experienced at least one crazy, tempestuous relationship, right? It was toxic yet also sometimes thrilling beyond measure. The highs were extraordinary, and the lows miserable. There were raving arguments full of frenzied recriminations, but somehow you stayed together for a surprisingly long time. Alas, eventually, sanity prevailed and you went your separate ways.
On Jan. 6 at midnight, college football will break up with the BCS after a tumultuous 16 seasons. The sport will move on to a new relationship in 2014 with the four-team College Football Playoff. This one promises to be more stable and mature.
So as we move toward this inevitable split, how do we feel? We know this is for the best, but certainly there will be some bittersweetness to the parting.
The BCS, after all, stopped us from ending seasons the way we ended 1997, when twin unbeatens Michigan and Nebraska eyeballed each other from across the country because the old bowl system didn't allow them to settle things on the field. Simply, the BCS tried to find the best way to put the Nos. 1 and 2 teams together for a winner-take-all game, which, at the time of its creation, seemed like a great idea. While it was unquestionably an imperfect system, it gave us Texas' 41-38 win over USC in 2006, which might well be the greatest college football game ever played. It also gave us Ohio State's shocking double-overtime win over a seemingly invincible Miami squad in 2003, which has a spot on the same list.
Further, a number of Pac-12 players are on their way to consensus and unanimous All-American honors.
While we still await the AP, FWAA and the American Football Coaches Association teams, here's how things stand so far with 12 different Pac-12 players receiving note on at least one first team.
PAC-12 FIRST-TEAM ALL-AMERICANS
Offense: RB Ka'Deem Carey, Jr., Arizona, WR Brandin Cooks, Jr., Oregon State, OL David Yankey, Sr, Stanford
Defense: DT Leonard Williams, So., USC, LB Trent Murphy, Sr., Stanford, CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Jr., Oregon
Offense: Carey, Cooks, Yankey
Defense: Murphy, LB Anthony Barr, Sr., UCLA
The Sporting News
Offense: Cooks, Yankey
Defense: Barr, Murphy
Specialists: KR Ty Montgomery, Jr., Stanford
Offense: Carey, Cooks, Yankey, OL Hroniss Grasu, Jr., Oregon, All-purpose Myles Jack, Fr., UCLA
Defense: Barr, S Deone Bucannon, Sr., Washington State, S Ed Reynolds, Sr., Stanford
Offense: Carey, Cooks, Yankey
Defense: Barr, Murphy
A part of Talamaivao was sad because high school career had just come to an end Saturday night. Another part of Talamaivao was thrilled for close friend and possible college teammate Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), who will continue his journey to the state bowl game.
A 70-49 victory by St. John Bosco at Cerritos College left Talamaivao emotional, despite the U.S. Army All-American Bowl next month and a bright future at USC.
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- Arizona WR Austin Hill, who missed the season with a knee injury, is about "75 or 80 percent."
- Arizona State RB Marion Grice is hoping to come back from injury in the Holiday Bowl.
- California gets another commitment from a juco defensive tackle.
- Colorado is building some recruiting momentum with three commitments.
- Oregon's offensive tackle Tyler Johnstone has a weight problem -- he can't keep it on.
- Oregon State LB D.J. Alexander has neck surgery and will miss the bowl game.
- Whether it's the NFL or Texas, folks think highly of Stanford coach David Shaw.
- UCLA hands out its team awards.
- USC WR Marqise Lee said he'll announce his NFL plans after the bowl game.
- This former Utah QB had a good weekend. See, Utes, all you need is another one of him and all will be well!
- Washington interim coach Marques Tuiasosopo is focused on the present, not where he'll coach next year.
- The New Mexico Bowl is about fun and business for Washington State.
By now, most college football fans are familiar with the abrupt firing of former USC head coach Lane Kiffin, the unexpected resignation by first interim head coach Ed Orgeron, the naming of offensive coordinator Clay Helton as the Trojans second interim coach for the bowl game, and the announcement of former Washington Huskies head coach Steve Sarkisian as the new Trojans football coach for 2014.
Whew! Somebody call Dr. Phil and let the team therapy begin.
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Kiffin is a guest of Alabama coach Nick Saban, the source said, and will be in Tuscaloosa "to share ideas and exchange ideas and [for] professional development," the source said.
Kiffin was fired by USC athletic director Pat Haden on Sept. 29 at the team's private airport terminal in Los Angeles after returning from a 62-41 loss to Arizona State. His overall record in four years with the Trojans was 28-15.
He went 7-6 in one season at Tennessee before leaving the SEC school for USC.
Who will be the Florida State quarterback’s chief competition in 2014 as Winston tries to join Archie Griffin as the only two-time winner of the award? And could a third consecutive freshman quarterback claim it?
Here are the top 10 favorites to win the Heisman in '14.
1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State Seminoles2013 stats: 237-of-349 (68 percent), 3,820 yards, 38 touchdowns, 10 interceptions; 193 rushing yards, 4 rushing TDs
Remember when it was a rarity for a Heisman winner to return? Then Tim Tebow won as a sophomore, and underclassmen claiming the trophy became a relative norm. Johnny Manziel set the bar by being invited back to NYC for the award show. Does Winston have what it takes to go one step further and win it for a second time?
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2:00 PM ET Washington State Colorado State 3:30 PM ET 20 Fresno State 25 USC 5:30 PM ET Buffalo San Diego State 9:00 PM ET Tulane Louisiana-Lafayette
6:00 PM ET Pittsburgh Bowling Green 9:30 PM ET Utah State 23 Northern Illinois
2:30 PM ET Marshall Maryland 6:00 PM ET Syracuse Minnesota 9:30 PM ET Brigham Young Washington
12:00 PM ET Rutgers Notre Dame 3:20 PM ET Cincinnati North Carolina 6:45 PM ET Miami (FL) 18 Louisville 10:15 PM ET Michigan Kansas State
11:45 AM ET Middle Tennessee Navy 3:15 PM ET Ole Miss Georgia Tech 6:45 PM ET 10 Oregon Texas 10:15 PM ET 14 Arizona State Texas Tech
12:30 PM ET Arizona Boston College 2:00 PM ET Virginia Tech 17 UCLA 4:00 PM ET Rice Mississippi State 8:00 PM ET 24 Duke 21 Texas A&M
12:00 PM ET Nebraska 22 Georgia 12:00 PM ET UNLV North Texas 1:00 PM ET Iowa 16 LSU 1:00 PM ET 19 Wisconsin 9 South Carolina 5:00 PM ET 5 Stanford 4 Michigan State 8:30 PM ET 15 UCF 6 Baylor
7:30 PM ET 13 Oklahoma State 8 Missouri 8:30 PM ET 12 Clemson 7 Ohio State