NCF Nation: BCS

Best coach of BCS era: Nick Saban

January, 13, 2014
There are coaches with more BCS appearances than Nick Saban. There are coaches with better BCS winning percentages than Nick Saban.

But there is nobody with more BCS national championships than Saban.

That is why he is the best coach in the BCS era.

[+] EnlargeNick Saban
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesNick Saban has re-established Alabama as a football dynasty.
Winning championships trumps any other BCS coaching statistic out there. None of this diminishes how many times Bob Stoops has taken Oklahoma to BCS games (nine, with a win over Saban in the Allstate Sugar Bowl two weeks ago). Or how impressive it is that Urban Meyer took three different programs to BCS games, going 4-1 with two national championships at Florida.

But Saban took two different schools to national championships, starting with LSU. He has four championships in all, having never lost a title game and has re-established Alabama as a football dynasty with three BCS championships over the past five years.

While there are probably folks in Baton Rouge and Miami still smirking over the way Saban left their programs, college football has been almost re-energized since Alabama re-emerged as a force, allowing fans outside Tuscaloosa and the SEC to pool their collective animosity together at both the program and the coach. Everybody loves a winner. But everybody also loves to root against a winner that wins too much, too.

Saban has not won many fans along the way to greatness for a host of well-documented reasons, but you do not have to like him to respect what he has accomplished. He is a coach who generally thrives when pressure is at its greatest. His ability to win at an iconic program with an iconic former coach speaks to that. His 4-0 mark in BCS national championship games speaks to that, most especially the 21-0 retribution victory over LSU in 2012. So does his 0-2 mark in BCS games when there are no championships on the line (losses to Utah and Oklahoma).

Those BCS victories have served Saban well for obvious reasons. But they have also had an impact on the entire college coaching fraternity. As Saban has continued to win, his contract has grown, ballooning to jaw-dropping values. When Saban was first hired at LSU in 1999, he received a five-year deal worth $6 million total.

Eight years later, Alabama hired him from the Miami Dolphins at an unprecedented $4 million per season. In the recently concluded 2013 season, seven more coaches joined him in the $4 million club. Of those seven, six have gone to BCS games and four have won the national championship. Only one coach among the seven -- Stoops -- won a national title before Saban did.

Next season, Saban is set to earn in the $7 million neighborhood, outdistancing himself from his coaching peers once again. With the BCS chapter now closed, Saban must get to work on making himself the best coach in the playoff era, too.

Honorable mention

Urban Meyer: Meyer has taken Utah, Florida and Ohio State to BCS games, going 4-1 in his five appearances with two national championships. His Utah team was the first BCS buster from outside the automatic qualifying conferences, taking down Pitt in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl.

Bob Stoops: Stoops has the most BCS appearances of any coach, with nine, though he is probably known most for failing to win on the big stage. His teams played for four national championships but won only one, in the 2001 Orange Bowl over Florida State. His overall BCS record is 4-5.

Title Game Live: In-game chat wrap

January, 7, 2014
The BCS went out with a bang. After one of the most dramatic fourth quarters in title-game history, Florida State beat Auburn 34-31 and ended the SEC's streak of seven straight national championships.

We were discussing it with you during all of the drama in yet another entertaining BCS game chat. Relive it all here, along with our postgame analysis and videos/pics from the field in Pasadena.

1. Tigers coach Gus Malzahn said Sunday that he expected a feeling-out period in the first quarter against Florida State, largely because of the 30-day layoff. Alabama scored touchdowns on its first two possessions a year ago, but those were the first first-quarter touchdowns in the BCS Championship Game in five years, since Beanie Wells of Ohio State broke for a 65-yard score against LSU.

2. Auburn has won with more than its share of improbabilities, but the fact that Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher replaced six assistant coaches after the 2012 season and the team improved is, to say the least, unusual. “A lot of those guys I’ve known in the past,” Fisher said. “There were a lot of guys who philosophically believe a lot of the same things I do. … We get along. There’s a bunch of guys there that truly like each other and hang out together and it’s been a tremendous group.”

3. Mama called and Al Golden didn’t answer. The Miami head coach released a statement Sunday that he will not be leaving for Penn State, his alma mater. To be fair, I don’t know if Penn State wanted to hire Golden or not. But it should be pointed out that after three seasons of living in the shadow of an NCAA investigation, Golden may be excused for not returning to the Nittany Lions and their NCAA problems.

3-point stance: Coach shopping in Texas

December, 17, 2013
1. If Texas wants a college coach who has won in the big time: Over the last five seasons, 12 men have taken teams to at least two BCS bowls. Nick Saban (1), Bob Stoops (2), Urban Meyer (3), Bret Bielema (4), Frank Beamer (5) and David Shaw (6) are unavailable/uninterested. Jim Tressel (7) is untouchable. Jimbo Fisher (8), Chip Kelly (9), Gary Patterson (10), the timing is wrong. That leaves Brian Kelly (11) and Dabo Swinney (12). Any takers?

2. The SuperBowlification of the College Football Playoff is here, now that the Metroplex and Tampa Bay, two non-BCS bowl sites, have secured two of the first three championship games. That’s not a bad thing. It stands to reason that the commissioners will take the championship game to domes in the snow belt, like Indianapolis or Detroit, to name two in the Big Ten footprint. It’s healthy for the game to move it around, and if it comes off looking like a mini-Super Bowl, so what?

3. In case you thought the end of Mack Brown’s coaching career at Texas is a sign of how much pressure is placed on the modern-day football coach: When Oklahoma hired Bud Wilkinson in 1947, his father told him, “No matter how successful he may be, every coach eventually reaches a point where a lot of people want somebody else.” It is a price that nearly every coach pays, and it can be a harsh one.

Controversy will not leave with BCS

December, 11, 2013

On paper, it looks as easy as 1, 2, 3 … 4.

Florida State. Auburn. Alabama. Michigan State.

Were the College Football Playoff selection committee actually deliberating this season, though, it's hard to imagine the top four teams would align as easily as they did in this year's final BCS standings. There was no drama, no controversy, no undefeated team locked out of the sport's biggest game. As Auburn wrapped up its SEC title and Florida State finished the season as the only undefeated team remaining in the BCS, college football had its answer for a national championship game before it was officially revealed.

Expect a little more debate next year.

The computers have their formulas. The 13 committee members have their opinions. With subjectivity added to the equation, trying to pinpoint the top four teams in the country would have added far more intrigue to this year's selection process. Fans stuck in the mindset of the current system -- one filled with objective weightings and data -- are going to be disappointed, because that's not the committee's approach. Whether or not Auburn is better than Alabama will come down to a vote. While the No. 1 team in the country might not have been a question this year, there are now three more spots to argue about.

It was only a week ago that nobody could agree on No. 2.

If you think Auburn's improbable run to the national title was more luck than it was leverage against lesser opponents -- a deflected Hail Mary pass to beat Georgia and a 109-yard field goal return to beat Alabama -- odds are at least one person on the committee might think so, too. Don't think a two-loss Stanford team has an argument over a one-loss Big Ten champ? Think again. Go ahead and throw Baylor and Ohio State into the mix, too.

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3-point stance: Penalty on Buckeyes

December, 10, 2013
1. I used to think that Miami had set the record for getting the least out of the most when the Hurricanes won 34 consecutive games in 2000-02 and won only one BCS title. But there’s a new candidate in our midst. Somehow, someway, Ohio State won 24 consecutive games without taking home a Big Ten championship, much less a crystal football. The NCAA penalties that suspended postseason play last season are to blame, of course. For anyone wondering if those penalties have any teeth, ask the Buckeyes.

2. Kliff Kingsbury did what? The first-year Texas Tech head coach, voting in the USA Today coaches’ poll, ranked Alabama No. 6. But Kingsbury’s only agenda appeared to be to honor conference champions. The five teams ahead of the Crimson Tide -- Florida State, Auburn, Baylor, Stanford, Michigan State -- raised trophies Saturday night. I don’t agree with it, but I get it.

3. Other curious votes: Two coaches ranked Michigan State No. 2 ahead of Auburn: West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen and, yes, the Spartans’ Mark Dantonio. … Stanford looked like the inkblot. Mike Leach of Washington State ranked the Cardinal No. 3, ahead of Alabama, while the Tide’s Nick Saban ranked the Pac-12 champ No. 9, behind four SEC teams. … Four coaches slipped their team in at No. 25 on their ballots: Dave Clawson of Bowling Green, Brian Kelly of Notre Dame, Jerry Kill of Minnesota and Bo Pelini of Nebraska.

3-point stance: Blame it on geography

December, 9, 2013
1. Oregon finished 10th in the final BCS standings, the fifth consecutive year in which the Ducks finished the regular season in the top 10. But Oregon’s streak of BCS bowl invitations stopped at four. The reason? Bad geographical luck. This year, the Tostitos Fiesta had the last pick among the BCS bowls. The Discover Orange took No. 12 Clemson from the ACC, the Orange’s host conference. The Allstate Sugar took No. 11 Oklahoma, a lot closer to New Orleans than Eugene is. If the Fiesta had an earlier pick, No. 15 UCF would be playing closer to home instead of Arizona.

2. College football is played by young men who are faster and bigger than any who have come before them. It is coached by men who have more information at their fingertips than has ever been available. And yet, if nothing else, the 2013 season proved that college football has never been more unpredictable. Auburn, Missouri and Duke were all picked to finished fifth or lower in their divisions. Baylor was picked to finish fifth in the Big 12. I can’t explain it, but I thought it was worth pointing out.

3. My three favorite bowls other than the BCS Championship Game: a) the Rose Bowl -- No. 4 Michigan State and No. 5 Stanford play similar throwback styles. Fedoras welcome; b) the AT&T Cotton -- No. 8 Missouri (highest-ranked non-BCS bowl team) and No. 13 Oklahoma State features two explosive offenses and two physical defenses; c) AdvoCare V100 Bowl -- the tailbacks at Arizona and Boston College, Ka’Deem Carey and Andre Williams, respectively, combined to rush for 3,818 yards and 34 touchdowns.

2013 was an exercise in patience

December, 8, 2013

Red Smith, the poet laureate of sweat, once wrote that 90 feet between bases is the nearest to perfection that man has yet achieved. The basepath has nothing on the length of college football's regular season, which, with the patience of a kindergarten teacher and the tenacity of Scotland Yard, identified Florida State and Auburn as the two best teams to play for the BCS National Championship.

Tenacity is the lifeblood of a sport that demands physical and mental exertion for 60 minutes. Patience, not so much. Patience in college football is attributed to tailbacks who wait for a hole to appear. But in a sport in which a quarterback may have three seconds to complete a pass without getting his slobber knocked, patience often goes untapped.

Yet patience has never been more important than it has been in 2013, and not just because it was nearly midnight on the final Saturday of the regular season before Michigan State proved that Ohio State didn't have the credentials to play for the crystal football. In a season made predictable only by its unpredictability, patience became the coin of the realm.

Patience rewarded no fans more than at Auburn. It didn't take any patience to appreciate the rapid rise of the Tigers from 3-9 in 2012 to 12-1 this year. But the way that the Tigers waited until the very end to upend Georgia on a Hail Mary tipped pass and defeat archrival No. 1 Alabama on a 109-yard field goal return for a touchdown, focused upon the power of faith no matter what reality promised.

Patience proved critical at Florida State, not because head coach Jimbo Fisher decided to start a redshirt freshman at quarterback. Jameis Winston played with poise and the acumen of an upperclassman as the Seminoles cruised to a 13-0 record (12 wins by at least 27 points). But Florida State fans had to hold their collective garnet-and-gold breath for several weeks before local authorities decided not to charge Winston in a sexual assault case.

Patience paid off at Missouri, which had endured a 5-7, injury-filled debut in the SEC in 2012. Coach Gary Pinkel revamped his training and practice methods, and took advantage of the depth that resulted from playing so many players in 2012. The Tigers won the SEC East and finished 11-2 this season.

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Video: Meyer: BCS Flawed System

November, 19, 2013

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer says the BCS is a flawed system. Danny Kanell and Paul Finebaum weigh in.

BCS: Noles close gap on Alabama

November, 17, 2013

Off the field, it was a dizzying week of distractions for No. 2 Florida State, with quarterback Jameis Winston's potential role in an alleged sexual assault the topic of numerous news stories. On the field, however, Florida State’s claims to a berth in the BCS Championship Game only got stronger.

The Seminoles routed Syracuse 59-3, their second straight win over a conference foe by that identical score. No team in the country has been so emphatically dominant on both sides of the ball (at least 59 points scored and no more than three allowed) in consecutive games since 1988, according to ESPN Stats & Info. The Seminoles rank in the top eight nationally in total offense, total defense, scoring offense and scoring defense, and FSU has an average margin of victory in its 10 games of 42 points. Each win has been by at least two touchdowns.

In other words, for all the criticism of Florida State’s mediocre schedule, its performances have been nothing short of spectacular. Accordingly, FSU added two more first-place votes in the USA Today Coaches Poll and moved into a tie with Alabama atop the computer averages. Overall, Florida State closed the gap on No. 1 Alabama to a mere .0253 points.

While the Seminoles solidified their position near the top of the BCS standings, Duke crept into the bottom of the Coaches Poll with a win over Miami that has the Blue Devils poised to earn a berth in the ACC title game if they win out. Duke is now ranked for the first time since 1994, but it wasn't enough to crack the top 25 in the BCS standings. In reality, Duke would likely need a win over Florida State in the ACC championship game to have any shot at a BCS bowl, but the Blue Devils have already pulled off their share of surprises this season.

The ACC’s best shot at a second BCS bid comes from No. 7 Clemson, which continues to chug along without a hint of national spotlight. The air came out of the Tigers’ balloon with a midseason loss to FSU, but Clemson is 3-0 since that game (and 9-1 on the season), including last week’s 55-31 win over Georgia Tech. South Carolina looms in the regular-season finale, and a win at home against their in-state rivals would likely punch a ticket to a BCS game for the Tigers.

Metrics can help the CFP committee

November, 13, 2013

The 13-member College Football Playoff selection committee met in Washington, D.C., this week, and it was announced that it will reveal four interim rankings before the inaugural selection weekend in 2014.

Of course, a little light bulb immediately fizzled to life -- bizzz-fizzzz! -- over the heads of many in the ESPN offices in lovely Bristol, Conn. Interim rankings? Why wait until 2014? Let's do it now. As in right now.

That's what everyone wants, right? The playoff to start this year, not next. Or so you think.

The committee will be made up of 13 human beings, ready-made with their own ideas about evaluating and ranking college football teams. Many of them will be old-school, laboriously reviewing hours of game tape and giving teams their fearsome "sight test." Some will embrace the sabermetric revolution that has unceremoniously stomped on cherished sporting ideas such as clutch play, momentum and locker room chemistry.

For our purposes, the 2013 College Football Playoff Selection Committee will be made up of the guys who made A's in calculus in 10th grade and then moved on to the Jacobian conjecture: ESPN Stats & Information geniuses.

Those folks have devised an all-encompassing metric -- Championship Drive Ratings -- that measures the résumés of college football teams, putting a heavy emphasis on strength of schedule, as the CFP committee is expected to do. It measures how difficult it is for an average FBS team to achieve the team in question's results.

So, the season ends today, and based on Championship Drive Ratings -- drumroll, please -- the four-team playoff would go: 1. Alabama; 2. Stanford; 3. Florida State; 4. Ohio State.

That's right, unbeaten Baylor, you are eclipsed by Stanford, which lost to now-4-5 Utah on Oct. 12.

Got a feeling ESPN's Stats & Info's Q-rating just dropped precipitously in Waco.

The good news, of course, is the season doesn't end today.

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Video: Drive to the national championship

November, 8, 2013

With the BCS standings already shaken up from Thursday night, Todd McShay looks at Saturday's marquee matchup between LSU and Alabama.


20 years later, a November to remember

November, 1, 2013
BowdenAP Photo/Doug MillsIt wasn't without controversy, but the 1993 season ended with Bobby Bowden and Florida State winning the national championship.

Twenty years ago, we had one of the wildest months in college football history. Over the span of four weeks, seven top-10 teams lost, including the No. 1 team twice. Florida State entered the month as No. 1, fell out of that spot and still ended the month atop the polls.

By the end of November, three teams would finish the regular season unbeaten (Nebraska, West Virginia and Auburn), but only two were eligible to play for the national title, and only one would wind up playing for it. The debate simmered for years.

Notre Dame fans were upset that Florida State was playing for the national title with one loss, since that one loss came against the Fighting Irish. West Virginia fans were also upset that FSU was playing for the national title with one loss, with the Mountaineers finishing the season undefeated.

[+] EnlargeTom Osborne
Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty ImagesTom Osborne was denied his first national title when the Cornhuskers lost to the Seminoles in the Orange Bowl.
In addition, WVU argued that it should be included in the national title game since it had a higher ranking in the coaches poll (No. 2) than Nebraska (No. 3). In the AP poll, Nebraska finished the regular season No. 2 and WVU No. 3. Meanwhile, Auburn fans claimed the Tigers were actually the best team in college football, finishing the season 11-0 and with a win over the eventual SEC champion Florida Gators. The Tigers, however, were on NCAA probation and ineligible for postseason play.

As we begin another month of potential unbeaten controversy in college football, here's a look at 20 things to remember from November 1993.

1. Florida State was the No. 1 team in the AP poll every week of the season prior to November. Entering the month, the Seminoles were 8-0 and had outscored their opponents by a combined total of 350-38.

2. Three of the teams that garnered a lot of attention in November were still not even ranked in the top 5 by the beginning of the month. Nebraska (8-0) was No. 6, Auburn (8-0) was No. 8 and West Virginia (7-0) was No. 11.

3. Ohio State also entered November 8-0, its best start since 1979. Two decades later, the Buckeyes enter November again undefeated.

4. The Miami-WVU game on Nov. 20, 1993, drew a crowd of 70,222 at Mountaineer Field (now called Milan Puskar Stadium). It’s still the largest home crowd in the history of the stadium, which opened in 1980. Capacity for that stadium at that time was 63,000, meaning it was 7,000 over capacity for that game.

5. Notre Dame was ranked No. 7 in the preseason AP poll, the lowest preseason rank for the Irish since 1988, when they were ranked 13th and went on to win the national title.

6. No. 1 Florida State was a 6 1/2-point favorite for its Nov. 13 matchup at No. 2 Notre Dame on Nov. 13, 1993.

7. ESPN's College GameDay staged its first live remote show at the FSU-ND showdown in South Bend.

8. The “Game of the Century” matchup with Florida State was the ninth 1 versus 2 game in Notre Dame history, and the second for FSU. Overall, it was the 14th regular-season 1 versus 2 matchup in AP poll history.

9. The Irish beat the favored Seminoles 31-24 to improve to 10-0, the third time in the previous six seasons the Fighting Irish started a season 10-0 or better (1988, 1989).

10. In a wild month, the following Saturday (Nov. 20) was easily the biggest day. Consider what occurred:
  • No. 1 Notre Dame was upset at home by No. 17 Boston College, 41-39, on a last-second 41-yard field goal by David Gordon.
  • No. 9 West Virginia upset No. 4 Miami, 17-14, keeping WVU's undefeated season alive.
  • No. 5 Ohio State suffered its first loss of the season at the hands of its rival, Michigan, losing 28-0.
  • No. 6 Auburn won the Iron Bowl, beating No. 11 Alabama 22-14 and completing a perfect regular season.

11. That Boston College could come in and beat a No. 1 Notre Dame team was surprising enough -- especially considering the Irish had won that matchup by 47 the year before. But it was more of a shocker when you consider the Eagles started the 1993 season 0-2, including a loss at Northwestern, a team that finished just 2-9.

12. A lot was made about how West Virginia did not deserve to play for the national championship over Florida State or Nebraska, because the Mountaineers played a weaker schedule. Mountaineer fans did not want to hear it, but the numbers appear to back up that argument. FSU’s opponents finished 81-61 (.570), Nebraska’s 59-54-1 (.522) and WVU’s 59-64-2 (.480).

13. West Virginia's argument about deserving a shot at the national championship was always the following: WVU beat the team (Boston College, in the regular-season finale) that beat the team (Notre Dame) that beat the team (Florida State).

14. To understand how wacky the month of November was, look at how the AP poll played out since the middle of October:
  • Oct. 18 poll: FSU received all 62 first-place votes
  • Oct. 25: FSU received all 62 first-place votes
  • Nov. 1: FSU received all 62 first-place votes
  • Nov. 8: FSU received all 62 first-place votes
  • Nov. 15: Notre Dame received all 62 first-place votes
  • Nov. 22: Five different teams received at least one first-place vote
  • Nov. 29: Three different teams received at least one first-place vote
  • Dec. 6: Five different teams received at least one first-place vote.
[+] EnlargeChampion
Cal Sport Media/AP ImagesNotre Dame fans are probably still upset about being kept out of the 1993 national championship game despite having beaten FSU.
15. Prior to the Bowl Championship Series, college football's championship game matchups were determined by an organization called the Bowl Coalition. It was made up of five conferences: Big East, ACC, SEC, Big 8 and Southwest -- and Notre Dame. The group had six bowl tie-ins: Orange, Fiesta, Cotton, Sugar, Gator and John Hancock (now Sun Bowl). But it did not include the Pac-10 and Big Ten, because those teams had the tie-in to the Rose Bowl. After the wackiness of November, the top five heading the bowls was:

1. Florida State
2. Nebraska
3. West Virginia
4. Auburn
5. Notre Dame

16. West Virginia was actually invited to play No. 7 Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl, but instead decided to play in the more lucrative Sugar Bowl against No. 8 Florida. The Sugar Bowl was worth approximately $1.1 million more than the Cotton, which elected to invite Notre Dame instead (which beat the Aggies 24-21). The move obviously backfired on the Mountaineers, as they were soundly beaten by the Gators in the Sugar Bowl, 41-7.

17. After losing to Miami on missed field goals in the final seconds in 1991 and 1992, Florida State recruited the top high school kicking prospect, Scott Bentley. Bentley struggled early in his FSU career (seven missed extra-point attempts in the first five games), but eventually was a difference-maker in the Seminoles' run to the national title, kicking the game-winning field goal in a 18-16 Orange Bowl victory against No. 2 Nebraska and giving Bobby Bowden his first national title (and denying Tom Osborne his).

18. Florida State became the first preseason AP No. 1 team to go on to win the national title since Oklahoma in 1985.

19. Auburn's win streak, which began in 1993 as the lone unbeaten, would eventually reach 20 straight before a tie against Georgia on the next-to-last game of the 1994 season. The Tigers lost the following game to Alabama in the Iron Bowl.

20. The matchup that many Mountaineers fans wanted (WVU versus Nebraska) eventually took place … in 1994. The Cornhuskers slammed the Mountaineers in the 1994 Kickoff Classic in the Meadowlands, 31-0.

Does the eye test deceive us?

October, 30, 2013

Jimbo Fisher hates the computers.

The Florida State coach doesn't claim to have much understanding of the formulas the BCS computers use, but he knows enough not to trust them. They're faceless, emotionless automatons programmed to chew up data and spit out rankings without much logic mixed into the recipe along the way.

Football, he believes, requires instincts and passion and perspective.

Sure, Fisher backtracked a tad when the first BCS standings of 2013 had his team at No. 2, but that was short-lived. Florida State dipped to third this week, and Fisher was back on the human-voter bandwagon.

"You have to come back to the eye test," Fisher said. "People are so important in this poll. People watch teams."

Fisher has watched his BCS competition, and the eye test tells him Florida State is not No. 1 -- at least not yet. He has a vote in the USA Today coaches' poll, and while he declined to reveal the entirety of his ballot, he strongly hinted that Alabama owned the top spot.

The Crimson Tide, Fisher said, pass the eye test.

"Alabama's playing great defense, they've got playmakers that can run the football, they're very physical," Fisher said.

He's right on all counts, but Fisher's take on Alabama -- his eye test -- is as much about the perception of the program as it is about the reality of how the Tide have played this season.

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3-point stance: UCLA's growing pains

October, 29, 2013
1. UCLA started eight true freshmen against Oregon, including three on the offensive line, and played 18 overall against the Ducks. If you are looking for a reason that Oregon scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, it might be physical (how long can 19-year-olds play guys two or three years older?) and it might be mental (close game, big stakes, who’s been there before?). Either way, the Bruins will get a dividend on this investment in, oh, 2015.

2. If you congratulate No. 3 Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher for voting his conscience on his USA Today ballot -- he sounded as if he voted Alabama No. 1 -- and if you applaud him for sitting his starters in the second half against North Carolina State after leading 42-0 at halftime, you may as well congratulate him for getting his team on the field for the opening kickoff. That’s how a coach should act. As the saying goes, Fisher is acting as if he has been there before. Which he has, as an assistant under Nick Saban.

3. Kentucky is 1-6, 0-4 in the SEC, and Wildcats first-year head coach Mark Stoops is trying to remain patient. Only the 48-7 loss to No. 1 Alabama could be considered a blowout. “I think we all see us resembling a good football team from time to time,” Stoops said at his press conference Monday, “but that’s not going to cut it and win you a lot of games in the SEC. You’ve got to be good top to bottom, and you’ve got to be good in critical situations, and most importantly when you’re under pressure situations, our habits, bad habits, come right to the surface.”