NCF Nation: Phil Knight
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J.McAndrew, San Jose, Calif., writes: From your perspective Mr. Miller, why would MacIntyre take the job at Colorado and not California. Or to put reversely, why would Cal AD Barbour hire Sonny Dykes and not MacIntyre. Cal was in better position to win immediatley and Colorado is going to be a major building job. Colorado must have had questions about loyalty after firing an Alum with only two seasons to work with. From my standpoint, of reading Jon Wilner and the SJ Mercury news, Cal had a major issue with academics which made SJSU's Coach more suitable for righting the ship. So what gives? Does it all fall back on Sandy Barbour or was there some other incentive/issue why the coaches went where they went?
Ted Miller: I think California athletic director Sandy Barbour had her choice between San Jose State's Mike MacIntyre and Louisiana Tech's Sonny Dykes, and she simply preferred Dykes.
You can review her comments here.
Then Colorado jumped in and grabbed MacIntyre, a guy who seems like a perfect fit in Boulder after rebuilding a woebegone Spartans program.
If things don't work out with Dykes at Cal, and MacIntyre leads a football renaissance at Colorado, well, that won't go over well with the Old Blues. Or the young ones. Some view Dykes as a risky hire, and you are not the first with a MacIntyre query.
From our present perspective, my ever optimistic self sees both as good hires, though neither is the sort of blockbuster announcement that causes new-found enthusiasm to immediately boil over, as, say, Ohio State inspired when it hired Urban Meyer. But neither program is Ohio State, either.
As for why Barbour preferred Dykes specifically over MacIntyre, you'd be hard-pressed to get a detailed answer from Barbour that digs at MacIntyre.
It could have been a connection of personalities. It certainly seems Dykes made a strong impression during a three-hour interview that separated himself from the five other candidates who sat down with Barbour.
It could have been a preference for an offensive-minded guy over a defensive-minded guy, as MacIntyre is. It could have been Dykes' Pac-12 knowledge, having served three years as the offensive coordinator at Arizona from 2007-09.
Maybe there's some minor, obscure and unreported red flag that gave Barbour pause of MacIntyre. Or just Barbour's own hunch/instincts on the decision.
If you've ever hired someone, you know that after reviewing a number of strong resumes and conducting interviews, your ultimate decision is often based on a personal quirk. For example, I would never hire someone who smacks when he eats. Drives me freaking crazy. It should be legal to punch someone who smacks when he eats ... anyone with me on that?
Or someone who eats steak well-done. I heard a guy the other day order a ribeye well-done and I wanted to cry.
As for Dykes and Barbour: What we can say for certain is there is now more pressure on Barbour for Dykes to be successful than there is on Dykes himself.
Chris from Penticton, B.C., writes: Mike Riley to Wisconsin? Say it ain't so, Mike!
Ted Miller: It ain't so.
Lou from Tempe, Ariz., writes: Ted, In response to your response post criticizing Mike Leach's effort this year - I agree with you that Leach should have done better with what he had, this seasons was dismal. However I find your comparison of him to Graham, Mora, and Rich-Rod to be way off-base. There are so many internal things that go on with each specific program that no fan, or the media are aware of. To say that Leach failed because new coaches in the conference did better than him is ridiculous. Each football team is dynamically different. With that said, I think your article blasting Leach may have come from personal disappointment due to your desire to see Leach's high-octane offense excel immediately, not that you really think he is that big of a failure.
Ted Miller: I don't agree. Comparing the conduct and results of Leach and the other three new coaches is certainly valid. It's not about asking why Leach didn't win nine games, as Jim Mora did, it's about asking why his team did worst than it should have while Mora, Todd Graham and Rich Rodriguez produced teams that overachieved in year one.
I think Mike Leach is a good football coach. I effused when he was hired. I've spent a lot of time over the past couple of months actually trying to talk some of my Coug fan friends back from the ledge of despair. I still think he's going to win in Pullman.
But I think he did a bad job this season. I'm certainly not alone in thinking that. And I think a lot of Washington State fans agree with me. In fact, that column was basically a condensed version of what I've heard -- over and over and over -- from Washington State fans this fall.
The most common observation: Leach's repeated and harsh calling out of his players achieved nothing positive. Nothing.
The obvious negative of colorfully ripping your players, of course, is that a game with no national interest, such as the 49-6 loss to Utah, suddenly becomes negative national news for your program and a multi-day story. Probably doesn't help recruiting, either.
Leach is going to be himself. He's not much for filtering his thoughts as they flow from his brain to his mouth.
Perhaps he should reconsider that, at least in some part. Perhaps his New Year's resolution should be that, going forward, when things go wrong with his football team, he will first blame the guy who makes $2.25 million a year for them not to go wrong before he lays into unpaid college students.
Craig from Seattle writes: This past season . . . which was the better division . . . . SEC West or Pac-12 North?
Ted Miller: SEC West.
The SEC West was a little bit better at the top (12-1 Alabama, 10-2 LSU and 10-2 Texas A&M vs. 11-1 Oregon, 11-2 Stanford and 9-3 Oregon State) and bottom (4-8 Arkansas and 3-9 Auburn vs. 3-9 California and 3-9 Washington State).
But it's closer than a lot of folks in the Southeast would admit.
Richard from Phoenix writes: [Picked from my chat]
Tim (ATL) Conventional wisdom is that Helfrich is the guy if CK leaves Oregon... how surprised would you be if someone else is hired? Obviously Christ Petersen always gets talked about, but do you think it is as open/shut helfrich's job as the rumors suggest?
Ted Miller (3:38 PM) If Phil Knight & Pat Kilkenny want Helfrich, then he'll be the guy... I think Petersen comes up a lot because it makes sense, and there's always been scuttlebutt that Petersen has long held Eugene in high esteem. I never think something like this is simply open and shut, but I do know that Helfrich has good backing and is highly thought of.
Ted-I don't know if you have been corrected yet, but Pat Kilkenny no longer is the AD at Oregon. It's Rob Mullens. Otherwise keep up the good work.
Ted Miller: I do know that, and Mullen is a very good athletic director, one who is going to consult the athletic department's two most influential boosters before he picks the next Oregon football coach (should he have to pick the next Oregon football coach).
You do know why they call the baseball field "PK Park," right?
I hear the second choice was "Pac-12 Blog Field."
Knight, who called Paterno his hero, received the loudest ovations of the day as he criticized the school's board of trustees and other leaders. He painted Paterno as free of guilt in the entire Jerry Sandusky scandal.
"Whatever the details of the investigation, this much is clear to me: If there is a villain in this tragedy, it lies in that investigation, not in Joe Paterno's response," Knight said. He later earned roaring cheers by listing Paterno's accomplishments and then asking, "Who is the real trustee at Penn State University?"
I remember at the time feeling very uneasy about Knight's remarks. They certainly played well before a full house of Paterno supporters. But how could Knight possibly know what really went on at Penn State and what Paterno did or did not know and do about the Sandusky allegations?
Well, today, we learned a lot more about Paterno's role in the sordid affair. And Knight followed up his incendiary January remarks with this official statement:
"Other than my parents, my college coach, Bill Bowerman, was the biggest influence in my life. Bill Bowerman and Joe Paterno shared some great qualities. Throughout Joe Paterno’s career, he strived to put young athletes in a position to succeed and win in sport but most importantly in life. Joe influenced thousands of young men to become better leaders, fathers and husbands.
According to the investigation, it appears Joe made missteps that led to heartbreaking consequences. I missed that Joe missed it, and I am extremely saddened on this day. My love for Joe and his family remains."
Nike also announced that the child-care center at its corporate headquarters would no longer be named after Paterno. Nike president and CEO Mark Parker announced the move in another statement.
"I have been deeply saddened by the news coming out of this investigation at Penn State. It is a terrible tragedy that children were unprotected from such abhorrent crimes. With the findings released today, I have decided to change the name of our child care center at our World Headquarters. My thoughts are with the victims and the Penn State community."
Nike has a long relationship with Penn State and will continue to outfit its sports teams. It's understandable that Knight revered JoePa and wanted to honor his legend. But his remarks in January went too far, and now he has had to sheepishly retreat from them.
"The only decision I ever made was to not accept the job," Kelly said. "I never changed my mind. I never committed to the job and then flip-flopped."
You can listen to the full interview here.
First, response: Interesting, but it doesn't matter. He's still the Ducks' coach. End of story.
But as far as reading the entrails on this, there are four options you can choose from: 1) Kelly is telling the truth; 2) Kelly is lying; 3) Kelly is splitting hairs; 4) Kelly is shortly going to improve to 35-6 at Oregon and not 1-0 at Tampa Bay -- again, end of story.
Yes, no one can prove that Kelly didn't return to Oregon because the Pac-12 blog has very little interaction with the coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Just as no one can prove that Kelly said "yes" to Tampa before he said "no."
Why is it important whether Kelly flip-flopped or not? In either scenario, he turned down a hefty raise to remain at Oregon. So this flirtation wasn't about contract leverage, and it's reasonable to conclude that money isn't solely driving him. An interesting tidbit from the Eugene Register-Guard:
Kelly pointed out that his decision "obviously wasn't financial, because I turned it down and it was more than I got paid." The Register-Guard has reported that Kelly received a contract extension but that his deal with the Ducks wasn't otherwise dramatically overhauled.
Further, Kelly got to cite a heart-warming reason for returning: "... the relationships I have with the current coaches on our staff and the players was the underlying reason why I came back."
Oregon fans can look at this any way they like, but I'd rate it a win-win for Kelly and Oregon.
The football nation -- NFL and college -- got to see how highly Kelly is held in esteem. Multiple NFL pundits, including former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy, have said of late that Kelly would be a good NFL coach. Kelly's star, which is already high, just climbed a bit higher. That's good for him, of course, but it's also good for Oregon as long as Kelly is in Eugene.
Some have said Kelly's flirtation would hurt recruiting. They are not only wrong; the opposite is true.
Players respect superstar coaches. Recall that, in his heyday, Florida State's Bobby Bowden used to crush it the final week of recruiting with that last in-home visit. So did Pete Carroll. So does Nick Saban, etc. Oregon fans, not satisfied with winning three consecutive conference titles, want to move up the recruiting rankings. Lots of five-star guys -- in 2012-13 and beyond -- just learned a little bit more about Kelly.
The NFL banging on Kelly's door makes him more of a star, and that will play well in living rooms, much more so than the idea that Kelly might leave for an NFL job at some point.
Further, some have tried to diminish Kelly as a "system" coach. In recruiting, some coaches say that Oregon is a great program but it's not an NFL feeder with pro-style schemes. Well, now there's clear evidence the NFL thinks highly of Kelly and his systems.
The key thing on the Oregon end of things: It will be a huge mistake if the Ducks' top boosters -- Phil Knight, et al. -- want to get grumpy over this. Creating friction to make a point about loyalty or acting wounded will only hasten Kelly's exit. And hurt the program.
The most interesting aspect coming out of this was detailed in this column from George Schroeder: Oregon's potential succession plan would have made offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich the head coach.
Helfrich is highly respected, but I'd always thought he'd have to leave for another job -- and call his own plays -- to escape Kelly's considerable shadow and land a head-coaching gig. Schroeder's column shows that the same folks who quickly and accurately identified Kelly's rising star believe Helfrich is made of the same coaching stuff.
So just as Kelly's star rose this week, and Oregon fans got a huge relief after it stayed in the Eugene sky, so did Helfrich's. Know that more than a few ADs at some AQ schools added his name to their list of coaches to watch.
It was the summer of 2010, and there was a general feeling among the pooh-bahs of Oregon sports -- most notably Nike founder Phil Knight and millionaire former AD Pat Kilkenny -- that Kelly sticking around for the long term in Eugene was the best chance for the football program to experience long-term success, a condition that keeps a department with an $80 million budget afloat.
The endgame was a six-year deal worth $20.5 million. Kelly made $2.4 million last year. He's making $2.8 million this year and will make $3.5 million the next. In 2014 and 2015, he'll pocket $4 million, which is roughly what the nation's highest-paid coaches made this year.
"People can look at the numbers and say it's high, but it fits within the marketplace," Mullens said. "It fits with the results. We have the person we want at the helm of our football program."
No other team in the nation is riding a streak of three consecutive BCS bowl games. That's a big reason Oregon merchandising sales went up from $1.5 million in 2007 -- the year Kelly left New Hampshire to become the Ducks' offensive coordinator -- to $2.25 million in 2010.
While it's difficult to quantify the entire picture financially, Mullens points out that the unprecedented success Kelly has produced over the past three years has more than paid for his big-dollar contract, mostly notably in exposure and increased donations. That revenue flow has been particularly important in a tough economy that has many athletic programs struggling, including many in the Pac-12.
Or at least it did. When the conference signed a $3 billion, 12-year TV contract with ESPN and Fox, athletic directors across the Pac-12 leaped into the air and clicked their heels. They also started to spend that money. Some on new coaches.
Sure, Kelly will make $3.5 million next year. But new UCLA coach Jim Mora, with no college coaching experience, will pocket $2.4 million. Washington State will pay Mike Leach $2.25 million.
In a lot of ways, Kelly's compensation pencils out pretty well for Oregon on the cash-for-accomplishment curve.
"It pays [for Oregon] because, one, he's a great coach," Mullens said. "Two, he's a perfect fit. That combination, you can never guarantee that. He has delivered the results."
In addition, Oregon is paying extra for stability. When the school committed to Kelly with SEC-like money, Kelly also committed to Oregon. His buyout dropped from $4 million last year to $3.75 million this year, but that number is almost prohibitive for even the richest athletic departments. In 2015-16, it will be $2 million, which is still pretty large by industry standards.
What does that buyout mean? Well, it means Kelly doesn't have wandering eyeballs. Further, it mutes all but the most uninformed rumor mills: Despite chatter to the contrary, Mullens said he has not been contacted this year by any college or NFL team that wanted to talk to Kelly about a job.
Further -- as Ken Goe of The Oregonian pointed out when there were rumors in December 2010 that Florida might come after Kelly after Urban Meyer resigned -- Kelly's contract has clauses that will make it a pain in the rear for a team to pursue him.
And a clause in the contract stipulates that Kelly must give Oregon 15 days' written notice before leaving, and further stipulates that he cannot leave during the regular season or before a postseason bowl game in which Oregon is a participant.
The sum total of all this suggests that Kelly wants to remain in Eugene, and Oregon wants him to stick around. There are no guarantees, of course, but the feeling at the administrative level -- and among key boosters -- is that Kelly is the right guy at the nexus of an athletic department that has ambitious, expansionist visions for itself.
No FBS athletic program thrives without football success, and Kelly's presence provides a sense of security for Oregon's cash cow. And as of today, it appears the marriage remains strong.
LOS ANGELES -- On Saturday morning in a hotel ballroom, Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema and Oregon coach Chip Kelly will stand together and pose for pictures with the Rose Bowl trophy. It's the kind of staged, sometimes forced, photo op that occurs before every big game.
Stare at this particular picture a bit longer, though. Appreciate the similar traits each man brought to this moment, even though they are in many ways unique. Try to imagine how they'll look in the same pose when they are older. Because this image is likely to be repeated in the future.
Here is Oregon making its second Rose Bowl appearance in three years, and here is Wisconsin back in Pasadena for the second consecutive season. Kelly and Bielema are quickly becoming the faces of the most tradition-laden bowl game, even if they are not exactly cut from a traditional cloth.
One (Kelly) played and coached for more than a decade at the relative outpost of New Hampshire before suddenly emerging as the titan of West Coast football. The other (Bielema) is thoroughly Midwestern -- born in Illinois, played linebacker at Iowa, defensive assistant for the Hawkeyes and Kansas State -- yet knows how to merge new-school fun with old-school, power football.
Kelly is hailed as a genius, the offensive innovator whose forward-thinking, high-speed spread attack plays perfectly to the video-game generation. Bielema's scheme is more brute than scoot but is almost equally as effective. Kelly's Ducks have averaged 43.1 points per game since he became head coach in 2009. In that same time frame, Bielema's Badgers have averaged 39.2.
"What Bret's done with that program, as a coach from the outside you really kind of admire it," Kelly said. "There's a consistency to it. He has a style of offense he plays and a style of defense he plays, and they stick to that. And they're really, really good at it."
Both coaches have achieved a lot at a young age. Kelly is 48, while Bielema turns 42 on Jan. 13.
"I think with his age being a little bit closer to ours, it makes him a lot easier to relate to," Wisconsin linebacker Kevin Claxton said of Bielema. "He knows what we're thinking and going through."
Both men can be described as players' coaches. Kelly handled the very difficult LeGarrette Blount punching controversy in his very first game as head coach with a solid measure of both discipline and compassion for his player. Bielema pumps up rap music at practice and gives his players the freedom to be themselves. Kelly's players buy into his cult of personality. Bielema is more like your favorite uncle.
"He's so outgoing," said quarterback Russell Wilson, whom Bielema recruited as a transfer from NC State over the summer. "He tried to get to know me quickly, like he was my best friend, to be honest with you. But at the same time, he makes you work. He wants to see the best out of you and all his players."
Both men are single in a profession in which being seen as a family man is a good career choice. Bielema is engaged and plans to wed next spring, while Kelly dislikes discussing his private life.
Kelly and Bielema are liked but probably not loved by all their peers. They'll ruffle feathers on occasion with the way their teams continue to pile on the points during blowouts. If you're an opposing team's fan, you'd probably describe them as arrogant. You'd also secretly wish they were your team's coach.
The only real knock on either is a perceived failure to win games. Which is mostly ludicrous, considering that Bielema is 60-18 in six seasons and Kelly is 33-6 in three years at their respective schools. One guy is going to win his first BCS game on Monday night, while the other will have to fight off the "can't win the big one" charge a little harder.
Neither is blessed with an abundance of in-state talent from which to build his program. But Kelly has Phil Knight, those wild uniforms and that offense to attract skill players from around the country. Bielema likes to say his program isn't sexy, but there is no greater destination for an offensive lineman or a running back who wants to earn national honors and go to the NFL. The success of Wilson at quarterback has signaled to other skill players that you can do more at Wisconsin than just grind it out.
Bielema and Kelly are arguably the most successful examples ever of the head-coach-in-waiting practice. That idea is falling out of vogue now, but every school would do it if the transition went as well as it looked in Madison and Eugene. Bielema inherited a Badgers team that won 10 games in Barry Alvarez's final year; Kelly took over after Mike Bellotti won 10 games his last season.
There are subtle differences between the two, of course. Kelly has a heavy hand in play calling on offense, while Bielema delegates more to his assistants (which has helped two coordinators land head-coaching jobs in the past two seasons).
"One of the things I made as a decision early on as a head coach, I wasn't going to be involved in play calling on offense or defense," Bielema said. "I just call the good plays. ... I let guys coordinate and run it, but I'll always have constant feedback on things I like, dislike, and the way I see things unfold during practice."
Bielema is as accessible as any coach at a major program. He's unafraid to open his doors to the media, like when he allowed ESPN to follow Wilson around for a special last summer. Kelly is a little more roped-off, particularly to local reporters. But when he talks, he often gives thought-provoking and colorful answers.
Kelly's reputation has taken a hit with the ongoing NCAA investigation involving recruiting service owner Willie Lyles. Bielema has steered clear of any NCAA issues thus far.
Kelly told reporters on Friday that Bielema couldn't be considered an "up-and-coming" star head coach, because six years is a long time to be in the same job these days. That's true. But these two seem like prime candidates to build a lasting legacy where they are. Bielema enjoys a close relationship with Alvarez, now the Wisconsin athletic director, and has shown no inclination toward leaving Madison. Kelly insisted on placing a $4 million buyout in his contract to ward off potential suitors.
So take a look at the trophy photo again. Or don't. You'll probably have a chance to see it staged again soon.
Which reminds me: Did I tell you about the time Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas caused a sonic boom at Autzen Stadium? He caught a kickoff against USC and -- just as he crossed the Trojans' 30-yard line -- BOOM! It shook the stadium as he strutted into the end zone. I thought we were under attack.
Or what about when the player known as the "Black Mamba" caught that screen pass against Nevada and the field caught on fire behind him as he jetted for a 69-yard TD? I wouldn't lie to you.
Or that time Thomas hypnotized Washington State safety Tyree Toomer at the end of a 45-yard screen pass for a TD? He said to Toomer, "Look right, look left, look right, look left!" As Thomas went left, went right, went left, went right.
"I guess I'm deadly on the field," said Thomas, the Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year, when asked for the significance of the nickname.
No doubt. While USC QB Matt Barkley is the conference's leading Heisman Trophy candidate heading into 2012, plenty of smart money next preseason will chase Thomas. Is there a more electric player in college football? No, because no other college football player can send bolts of electricity from his eyeballs.
OK. We made that one up. But Thomas' résumé of thrills, numbers and prone defenders lying in his wake is electrifying.
He was the Ducks' leading receiver with 42 catches for 571 yards and nine TDs. So 21.4 percent of his receptions ended up in TDs. USC receiver Robert Woods also is a spectacular player (see all of his All-American honors). But his 15 TDs on 111 receptions breaks down to a TD rate of just 13.5 percent.
But that's not all!
Thomas was the Ducks' third-leading rusher with 440 yards. He averaged 8.3 yards per carry and scored five TDs.
But that's not all!
Thomas also led the Pac-12 in kickoff returns with a 27.7 average, including two TDs. His 16 touchdowns not only set a school record for a freshman, no other freshman in the nation scored as many. He was Oregon's first true freshman to earn team MVP honors, too, which he shared with tight end David Paulson.
"The first thing that jumps out is his athletic ability -- how quickly he can do things," Ducks coach Chip Kelly said. "Not only is he fast, but his ability to change direction is incredible. It's how quick he gets out of cuts. There's a suddenness to him. I don't think people appreciate it until they really see him in person. Then they're like, 'Wow!'"
Thomas' elusiveness became legendary during his career at Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles, but his figurative shake-and-bake move on USC just before signing day also inspired a few "Wow" reactions. He grew up a USC fan and was a longtime commitment before switching to the Ducks the final week before signing day.
"It still doesn't make sense," USC coach Lane Kiffin said before the teams' met in Eugene on Nov. 19. "It was very strange."
Thomas has been consistent when explaining his change of heart, which has inspired more than a few unsubstantiated conspiracy theories. He liked USC until he fell in love with Oregon after a visit.
As for trading the Southern California sunshine for the tenacious winter drizzle of the Northwest, Thomas is unbowed.
"To me the weather, it doesn't really affect me," he said. "I adapted to it real fast. It doesn't bother me."
If junior running back LaMichael James departs for the NFL draft, as expected, Thomas should step into the role of primary playmaker for the Ducks, though James' backup, Kenjon Barner, is hardly chopped liver. Kelly, known for his offensive creativity, said Thomas will continue to play a hybrid role that allows him to challenge a defense from many spots on the field.
"That's the fun part for us," Kelly said. "How many ways can we get him into the right spots to exploit a matchup without him getting confused? He's done a great job of it so far, but we haven't put everything on his plate, either."
As in: What happens if Thomas touches the ball 200 times instead of 126? Zeus himself might come down from Mount Olympus and hang out with Phil Knight in his Autzen Stadium box to see such a thing.
Thomas seems pretty blasé about his budding stardom. Sure, he and Snoop keep in touch. Heisman talk? It will be great motivation next season. Does he have a favorite play from this season? Nope. Does he watch YouTube highlights of himself? Nope.
Those spectacular plays that sometimes inspire mythologizing are just what Thomas does.
"It's always been the way I was," he said. "Sometimes I don't even know where the moves come from. It's just playing the game of football and having fun."
Did you hear about the time a Pac-12 defensive coordinator spontaneously combusted while thinking about Thomas? Well, that's because it hasn't happened, silly.
Not yet, at least.
And if any of that were easy, wise folks would spend more time talking and writing about other things.
So we have Oregon. No college football program in the country has combined stunning successes and swirling controversies over the past two-plus seasons as much as Oregon has under coach Chip Kelly. Perhaps even more amazing than the frenetic tempo and creativity of the Ducks' offense is their ability to make news in positive and negative ways, yet remained focused.
Year 1 started with a humiliating loss at Boise State and a punch from then-Ducks RB LeGarrette Blount and ended with a Pac-10 championship and a Rose Bowl berth. Year 2 started with quarterback Jeremiah Masoli -- a Heisman Trophy candidate -- getting booted from the team and ended with another Pac-10 championship and a berth in the national title game.
Year 3? It's started with an NCAA inquiry into the recruitment of redshirt freshman running back Lache Seastrunk, who decided to transfer last weekend, and a $25,000 payment to his mentor, Willie Lyles, who is a recruiting scout and alleged "street agent."
Where will Year 3 end? Will this be the year that the Ducks do get distracted and upended by off-field issues?
"I think the media around here is the smartest people I've ever been around my entire life," Kelly said with what sources said may have been some sarcastic shadings.
"If they voted us No. 1 in the conference and No. 3 in the country, they must not think it is a distraction. So we shouldn't let it be a distraction, because I don't think anyone would vote us No. 3 in the country if you guys thought it was a distraction."
Zing! The capacious "Book of Quotable Chip" adds another entry.
Kelly then referred to one of his handful of mantras: "We have the same mentality all the time. We have a vision for what this football program is supposed to be about and we prepare against that vision. We compete against that vision every Saturday and that's how we measure ourselves. ... We are not concerned with any outside influences, whether it be praise or blame."
Kelly's ability to impose that philosophy -- all part of his "Win the day" credo -- has been remarkable, the fuel for the Ducks' rapid rise in the college football pecking order. When you talk to his players, they either parrot what he says verbatim or provide their own little twist.
Said redshirt junior running back LaMichael James: "I focus on my team and that's it. I don't really care what outsiders have to say."
Still, there's just a little bit of double-speak. Don't believe for a moment the Ducks are unaware of -- and not following -- both the intrigue (Lyles & the NCAA!) and hype (national title contender!) that surrounds them. Kelly claims he doesn't pay attention to what reporters write, but he is curiously apt to tweak them for their stories -- Hey, Chip! -- most notably when they are wrong.
And the players, though totally bought into the Temple of Chip, are the same way. They claim they never discuss the day's headlines. Balderdash.
"Everybody wants to say all this about Oregon," redshirt junior quarterback Darron Thomas said. "We don't like that. We've just been working hard, getting ready for the season, ready to shut everybody up, ready to come out and play ball and forget about all these other allegations that are eventually going to come out."
No one knows when things are "going to come out." The NCAA hasn't even gotten around to sending Oregon an official letter of inquiry, which would spell out how the organization plans to apply vague rules about the use of scouting services. Those who say they know the endgame are lying. Nonetheless, there's been lots of guessing that Oregon and Kelly are in big trouble, with a couple of columns suggesting Kelly will be fired.
"I hope whoever wrote that, and I didn't read it, isn't our athletic director or our president," Kelly said. "I'm very confident in everything that will happen."
It's sometimes hard to believe that Kelly has been a coach in FBS football for just four seasons. Recall that in 2006, he was the offensive coordinator at New Hampshire, a guy only a handful of offensive aficionados knew of. His two-plus years of leading Oregon have been more eventful than entire careers for many head coaches.
When asked if Kelly has shown any stress or strain during his tumultuous tenure, James almost seems amused. "He always seems the same to me," James said. "He maybe seems a little more relaxed."
James also called Kelly "a phenomenal coach." While Rich Brooks made Oregon respectable, and Mike Bellotti created a consistent winner, it's fair to say that Kelly's dynamic leadership has pushed the program to heights that no Ducks fans imagined it could reach, even mega-booster Phil Knight. And for that, James said, Kelly deserves predominant credit.
"Coach Kelly changed the whole identity of the program," said James, who redshirted in 2008, Bellotti's final season as head coach. "Everything is 100 percent different from when I was a true freshman."
What did Kelly change? "I literally mean every single thing," James said.
Of course, Brooks and Bellotti were able to avoid any major NCAA issues, too.
What's next for the Ducks? A win over LSU, a third consecutive conference title and another run at a national championship? NCAA sanctions?
Said Kelly, "I don't know what is going to happen next. No one knows what happens in the future."
One thing is likely: With Kelly and the Ducks, it at least figures to be interesting.
Suffice it to say, his expectations were exceeded.
"It sounded like the best atmospheres that I've experienced anywhere in the country," he said.
And Oregon is not an SEC school. Start with money. The Ducks spend $18.1 million on football, which ranks fifth in the Pac-10. The SEC averages $19.5. Auburn, the Ducks' foe in the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 10, spends $27.9 million on football.
And while Autzen Stadium is electric and loud, it still seats only 59,000. SEC venues average 76,000 fans and Auburn packs 87,000 into Jordan-Hare Stadium.
All that said, Oregon is SEC-ish.
Start with fan passion: Autzen is on a run of 74 consecutive sellouts, and it's the only Pac-10 stadium that EXCEEDED 100 percent capacity this season -- 110 percent, to be exact. And it is very, very loud. More than a few coaches, players and visiting media members have called it the loudest stadium in the nation.
"The atmosphere in Autzen is electric -- noisy and passionate," Mullens said. "And what impressed me the most was, no matter the score, fans stayed until the end of the game, even when the outcome was decided."
Mullens, of course, is biased and has a specific agenda as the administrator of Oregon sports. But he's right.
When the gates open to Oregon's students, the mad dash for prime seats is a little scary to watch. And even in games when the Ducks lead by 40 and the weather is a bit chilly, a majority of fans seemed content to stick around until the final bell instead of hitting the local watering holes for a warm toddy.
And Oregon fans have an, er, SEC-ish, "our-team-wrong-or-right zeal" to them. While the Pac-10 blog would never, ever -- ever! -- call one group of fans more obnoxious than another, there are some out there who might say something of that nature about Ducks fans, just as fans from other conferences often grumble about SEC fans.
Further, in more concrete measures, Oregon's football facilities match any program in the country. And they are getting better. Construction of a new, six-story operations building to headquarter the football program will begin this year. It will be entirely financed by billionaire booster Phil Knight, a well-known cobbler.
State-of-the-art facilities give a program a "wow" factor. While it's legitimate to fret over the "arms race" in college football -- athletic buildings before academic investment -- there's no question that Oregon's facilities look very SEC-ish compared to the rest of the Pac-10.
"It's extremely important to have the facility infrastructure to attract the talent," Mullens said. "It shows you are committed to the program. These facilities are attractive to young people but they also help people prepare to compete at the highest level."
Of course, Mullens, just like other Pac-12 athletic directors going forward, hopes that commissioner Larry Scott is going to produce a more lucrative TV deal this year, which will allow the conference to remain competitive with the SEC and Big Ten in terms of football revenue.
"These are the biggest differences: No. 1, the asset base is more significant in the SEC," he said. "One, because [the SEC has] one of the best TV deals in the nation, which provides huge revenue. They've got exceptional bowl agreements, which is another source of revenue. And, they have sold out football stadiums on an incredible scale."
Sold out at 60,000 is great. But it doesn't compete -- financially -- with sold out at 90,000. Said Mullens, "It's tough when you're minus thirty or forty thousand seven times a year."
Where SEC schools benefit from extraordinary football revenue, Knight helps Oregon make up the difference. His fingerprints are all over the athletic program, and the donor base beyond Knight is strong, too. That's a major reason that coach Chip Kelly signed a contract that will average $3.4 million per season over the next six years.
Big money for a coach is very SEC-ish.
So, yes, Oregon fans wear fleece and might be a tad more liberal -- in more ways than one -- than their counterparts at Auburn and the SEC. But when it comes to the football program, Ducks and Tigers adherents might share more than you think.
Said Mullens, "I think they are very similar. I'm not sure there is much of a difference."
2. The trickle-down effect of the win-now mentality is evident at UCLA, where Rick Neuheisel is remaking his staff after a 4-8 season. Two assistants are gone, including defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough. At least Neuheisel wasted little time. As Michigan athletic director David Brandon considers -- and considers -- whether to retain Rich Rodriguez, the lack of a decision is eating away at Rodriguez and the program. Rodriguez shrugs it off. But he doesn’t know what Brandon is waiting for, either.
3. Like J.K. McKay returning to USC, Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson will reap a lot of benefits by bringing a Mallory back to Indiana. Bill Mallory remains the most successful head coach of the Hoosiers in the past four decades. His son Doug, a well-respected defensive assistant, returns to Bloomington as co-defensive coordinator for Wilson. It’s not much, but a program bereft of history can use all the legacy it can generate.
It was 1917.
From 1918 through 1988, however, Oregon would play in just five bowl games, winning one. Its first coach to win more than 33 games was Len Casanova, who went 82-73-8 from 1951-66. Oregon's next coach to post a winning record? Mike Bellotti.
Yet now they are two wins away from doing the former and three from accomplishing the latter, starting with a home date with No. 21 Arizona on Friday.
This is uncharted territory for Oregon, but it also feels as if the arrival isn't temporary. The momentum -- having the right coach, great facilities, passionate fan base, national recruiting, a sugar daddy billionaire booster -- suggests Oregon is starting construction on a mansion in the neighborhood with programs like Florida, Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas and USC.
A character in "The Sun Also Rises" was asked how he went bankrupt. “Two ways,” he replies. “Gradually and then suddenly.” That description is apt for the Ducks, only in the opposite direction. Oregon broke through in the 1990s under Rich Brooks. Bellotti won 116 games from 1995-2008 -- the most in program history by a wide margin -- and created a Pac-10 and national contender.
Second-year coach Chip Kelly? He's on the cusp of winning a second consecutive Pac-10 title and earning a second BCS bowl berth, only this time in the national championship game on Jan. 10 in Glendale, Ariz. That qualifies as a good start to a career as a head coach.
For an Oregon fan in his or her 50s or 60s, this is a fairly shocking development. You remember cold, rainy days with only a few thousand fans on hand to watch the Ducks lose. You remember going down to Washington 58-0 (1973). Or tying rival Oregon State 0-0 in the 1983 Civil War (two bad teams, pouring rain, eleven fumbles, five interceptions, and four missed field goals, the last Division I game to end in a scoreless tie).
If you are, say, a 19-year-old freshman at Oregon, you grew up with the Ducks as a Pac-10 contender and a team that regularly appeared in the national rankings. Your first memory might be of Kenny Wheaton returning an interception 97 yards for a touchdown to beat Washington in 1994, the celebrated linchpin play of the Ducks' first Rose Bowl season in 37 years. You see your team headed for its sixth season with 10 or more wins since 2000.
You read about the construction of a new, $41 million, six-story, 130,000 square foot operations building for the football program that will begin early next year, and you (maybe) think, "About time."
"There is a difference between the people who have seen this program for 40 years and the people that have seen us for four years," Kelly said. "They obviously see it through a different set of eyes. This program wasn't always one of the top programs in the country... I still talk to some of the people who can remember the days gone by, when having a winning season was a big deal and making it to a bowl game was a really big deal."
Kelly adds that he's only known the good days. He arrived in 2007 as offensive coordinator, and Oregon has won 39 games -- and counting -- since then and finished each season nationally ranked, the last two in the top 11. Contemplating the present versus the past with nostalgia for days gone by? As he will tell you -- over and over and over and over -- he's only about winning the day, which is today and nothing else. Still.
"That's hard for me to fathom, this team struggling just to be bowl eligible," he said. "That's not the Oregon I know."
There is some respectful jealousy among other Pac-10 coaches. Want to know why California coach Jeff Tedford gets perhaps more understanding from sportswriters than Bears fans? Compare and contrast Oregon's facilities and the Bears'. It's major league vs. single-A (though Cal is -- finally -- in the process of a major stadium project that should help that).
Mike Stoops has led Arizona out of the Pac-10 cellar, but his facilities don't compare with Oregon's either. He noted -- indirectly -- that the Big 12's nouveau riche power, Oklahoma State, became a contender shortly after its billionaire sugar daddy, T. Boone Pickens, started to churn hundreds of millions of dollars into the program.
"They are both great examples of investing in your program, investing in your players and bringing first-class facilities to your program, and putting a lot of value to that," Stoops said. "You can see what's happened with Oregon. They continually won seven, eight, nine [games]. Now, all of a sudden, the last few years, they are competing for championships and competing for the national championship... Certainly, we are trying to do the same thing here in rebuilding our facilities as well."
Asked about whether he felt the powers-that-be at Arizona understood the value of facility upgrades, Stoops replied, "I can't erase 125 years of not going to the Rose Bowl. As much pressure as I can put on myself, I can't take all that responsibility. It can't be just all bad playing and all coaching."
(We, obviously, could start to debate the ethics and institutional value of the arms race in big-time college football when there are budget shortfalls on the academic side of things, but that prickly topic is for another day.)
Oregon's ascension also is fortuitously timed alongside the fall of USC. While the Ducks have won three of four versus the Trojans, the departure of Pete Carroll and the arrival of NCAA sanctions figure to benefit the Ducks as they tighten their moorings among the national elite.
Of course, the deal is not yet done. Irritated Washington fans, who have seen their Northwest supremacy taken away, would quibble: "Hey, win a Rose Bowl in the facemask era, would 'ya!" The Ducks haven't done that since Huntington's heroics. Two games remain in the regular season, and then there's the matter of closing the deal in Glendale.
But it's hard not to feel that Oregon is on the cusp of arriving. Consider this: Even if the Ducks don't win the national title game, when you look at what they have coming back in 2011, they are a good bet to begin next fall as the preseason No. 1.
Understand: These are not predictions. They are extreme scenarios and pieces of fiction.
Up next: Oregon
"Nate Costa is our quarterback," Oregon coach Chip Kelly tells reporters on Aug. 23." "But Darron Thomas is going to play, too."
A reporter asks, "Are you concerned that..."
"No," says Kelly.
"I mean to say, might it become an issue that..."
"No," says Kelly.
Both Costa and Thomas play and play well in a 50-13 win over New Mexico. With LaMichael James on the sidelines serving a one-game suspension, Kenjon Barner rushes for 156 yards and two touchdowns.
"Truth is, when our offense is rolling like that, getting a break isn't such a bad thing," Costa says.
James returns to score two touchdowns and run for 133 yards in a 35-17 win at Tennessee.
"I know from my 'How to talk like an SEC coach' class that we're supposed to act like no body plays good football outside the SEC," new Volunteers coach Derek Dooley says. "But, man, that is a really fast team. They could play with anybody in our league."
Three men in seersucker suits and panama hats seemingly appear from nowhere behind Dooley. They grab him by the shoulder and whisper in his ear.
"Er, just kidding," Dooley says. "Just ignore the Pac-10's consistent success against the SEC. Nothing to see there."
The Ducks whip Portland State and survive a sloppy performance against a rugged Arizona State defense. Stanford's Andrew Luck throws three TD passes at Oregon, but Thomas leads a nifty 80-yard drive for the winning score late in the fourth. The Ducks, now ranked fourth, improve to 7-0 after easy wins over Washington State and UCLA. They average 485 yards on offense and surrender just 287 yards on defense. Combined, Costa and Thomas average 254 yards passing and 88 yards rushing per game and their twin efforts lead the conference in passing efficiency.
"This is almost like USC's bowl game," Kirk Herstreit says from the ESPN "College GameDay" set in front of the Coliseum. "If the Trojans win this game, they have a good chance to go undefeated. That means they could even end up ranked No. 1 in Lane Kiffin's first season."
A Matt Barkley TD pass to Ronald Johnson gives USC a 28-24 lead with two minutes left. Costa and company take over at the Ducks 20. James takes a first-down screen for 20 yards. A reverse to Barner moves the Ducks into USC territory. On third and 10, Costa finds Jeff Maehl for a first down at the Trojans 28. Under pressure, Costa scrambles for a first down at the 7-yard line with 40 seconds left. After an incomplete pass, James rushes for five. The Ducks use their final time out with 17 seconds left. Costa dumps a pass to Barner, but he's knocked out of bounds at the 1.
On fourth down, USC stops Costa on a spread-option play. The Coliseum releases its pent-up, NCAA-sanctions-induced frustration.
"I think Chip Kelly is challenging the spot," Brent Musburger says through the din.
Touchdown. Oregon wins 31-28.
"The Ducks look like the best -- the most complete -- team we've seen this season," Chris Fowler says.
Oregon returns home triumphant and avoids a let-down against Washington after intercepting Jake Locker twice. At California, things go splat. Perhaps it's back-to-back emotional victories followed by a road trip to Berkeley with a bye week ahead. Whatever the excuse, the Ducks turn in a lethargic performance and a late comeback attempt falls short in a 28-24 loss. Oregon drops from No. 2 to No. 6 in the rankings.
The Ducks trounce No. 17 Arizona 38-20, which sets up another Civil War for the Roses at No. 9 Oregon State.
With two minutes left, Oregon trails 27-23 and faces a fourth-and-3 from the Beavers' 33-yard line. Kelly has no choice but to go for it. Costa drops back and, under pressure, shovels the ball to James, who breaks to his right toward the sideline. One yard. Two yards. But at the marker Stephen Paea grabs James from behind. A battle of wills ensues. And the 180-pound James drags the 300-pound Paea, perhaps the strongest player in college football, forward for the first down.
And then he slips away and high steps into the endzone for the win. Later, most folks agree it was the moment that won James the Heisman Trophy.
The Ducks, one of four teams with only one loss, finish behind Alabama and Ohio State in the BCS standings even though they are ranked No. 2 in both the final human polls.
"Coach Kelly, have you noticed that the folks who do the computer polls all wear seersucker suits and panama hats?" a reporter asks.
"Yes," says Kelly.
The Ducks bludgeon Boise State 42-14 in the Rose Bowl and split the national title with Ohio State.
A week after winning the quarterback competition with Nate Costa, Darron Thomas posts an uneven performance in an easy win over New Mexico. The sophomore clearly has skills both as a runner and passer, but he fumbles once and frequently tries to force the ball through tight coverage, though only one pass ends up picked off.
Those issues are even more glaring at Tennessee, where a crowd of 105,000 seems to be distracting the young QB. The Ducks trail 10-7 at halftime, and coach Chip Kelly makes a switch, inserting the senior Costa.
Costa isn't spectacular, but he doesn't make mistakes and he leads two second-half scoring drives as the Ducks escape 21-17. The Ducks improve to 4-0 with wins over Portland State and Arizona State.
But the ninth-ranked Ducks yield three TD passes to Stanford's Andrew Luck in a 30-24 home loss. After needing overtime to slip improving Washington State, and a fourth-quarter comeback to survive a challenge from UCLA, USC pounds the Ducks 35-20, knocking them out of the national rankings.
Then hated rival Washington comes to town.
Locker, who ranks just ahead of Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers in most Heisman Trophy polls, is asked if he's aware of how Oregon fans constantly tweak him as all hype and no substance.
"No, I've never heard that," Locker replies. "I love Oregon fans. A lot of fans in the Pac-10 are obnoxious. But Oregon fans are gracious and mellow. Like Michigan fans."
Locker rushes for 205 yards and two TDs and passes for 310 yards and two scores as the Huskies roll over the Ducks 41-17, ending a six-game losing streak in the series.
"Wow," says Rece Davis back in the ESPN studios. "If Jake Locker isn't atop your Heisman Trophy contender list, I don't know what you're thinking. Who would have thought that Autzen Stadium would provide him such an accommodating stage to record a signature performance."
Oregon bounces back with a win at California and beats Arizona in overtime.
The Ducks find themselves in the unusual role of spoiler when they visit Oregon State for the annual Civil War. The Beavers must win in order to go to their first Rose Bowl since 1965.
Rodgers, who ranks just behind Locker in most Heisman Trophy polls, is asked if he's aware of how Oregon fans constantly tweak him and say he isn't as good as LaMichael James.
"No, I've never heard that," Rodgers replies. "I love Oregon fans. A lot of fans in the Pac-10 are obnoxious. But Oregon fans are gracious and mellow. Like Michigan fans."
Rodgers rushes for 225 yards and three touchdowns and catches 10 passes for 107 yards and a TD as the Beavers roll over the Ducks 44-14.
Wow," says Davis back in the ESPN studios. "Seems like Oregon is the team to play to make a Heisman Trophy statement."
Locker wins the Heisman. Rodgers finishes second and announces he's coming back for his senior season.
A 31-24 win over Texas in the Alamo Bowl earns Washington a 10-3 finish and a final No. 9 ranking. The Beavers beat Iowa 28-24 in the Rose Bowl and finish 11-2 and ranked fourth.
Oregon loses the Las Vegas Bowl to Utah and finishes 8-5.
Phil Knight converts to Buddhism, gives his fortune to the United Way and moves to Tibet. Chip Kelly goes with him.
Tyrone Willingham comes out of retirement to become the Ducks head coach.
Posted by ESPN.com’s Graham Watson
BOISE, Idaho -- The first thing new Oregon coach Chip Kelly did when walked out to the field at Bronco Stadium was take his pregame lap, touching each pylon along the way. That probably would have been more fun in Oregon’s weather instead of the 90-degree heat wave Boise is experiencing this week. As we kickoff, it's 92 degrees.
Kelly and Boise State coach Chris Petersen exchanged pleasantries in the middle of the field along with Nike founder Phil Knight. Petersen greeted several members of the Ducks staff; he was the wide receivers coach at Oregon from 1995 to 2000.
Oregon is wearing all-white uniforms down to its cleats. The uniforms have green feathers around the shoulder pads. Boise State has gone the camouflage route with the all-blue uniforms against the Broncos' infamous blue turf.
Both teams have had inspired, high-energy warm-ups. Both quarterbacks look sharp. I think everyone in the sold-out crowd -- and those watching in Boise State’s nearby Taco Bell Arena -- have a feeling this is going to be a good game.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
This will be four days of HoneyBaked ham and it still tastes really good.
- George Schroeder talks to Phil Knight and T. Boone Pickens about life as a billionaire booster. How special are Oregon safety Patrick Chung and offensive lineman Max Unger? 51 starts apiece special. Maybe the Holiday Bowl will be about defense.
- Oregon State's defense, ripped apart by Oregon in the season finale, will be the key against Pittsburgh. And, finally, some good news on the injury front.
- Here's the latest USC-UCLA tiff: Ken Norton lashing out at UCLA for, allegedly, using his potentially joining the Bruins staff as a recruiting lure.
- USC quarterback Mark Sanchez has been embraced by the Hispanic community of Los Angeles. A few years back, Joe Paterno took a shot at USC.
- It appears Washington State will beat out Washington, Oregon State and Boise State for the state's top recruit.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Sure, the Big 12 couldn't fill all of its bowl agreements. Fans in Houston and Shreveport will have to do without a Big 12 representative in their bowls this season.
But the conference appears to have been situated in some winnable games. Early odds have not been released, but it would be surprising if more than a couple of Big 12 teams were underdogs in their games.
With that being the case, the Big 12's national stature may be riding on a big bowl season. Because if teams from the conference collectively fail this season, it will be presumed as little more than a pass-heavy league where defense isn't played.
Here's my own unofficial listing of the attractivness of the conference's seven bowl games this year.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here's a look at my Big 12 power rankings, heading into the bowl games.
1. Oklahoma -- The most dominant offense in Big 12 history -- even if Bob Stoops kept his starters in too long to prove it against Missouri. The Sooners' defense is starting to grow some fangs, too. But they still have a lot of work before heading to huge BCS title game in reshaping their national image.
2. Texas -- Just missed playing in the BCS title game. Oh well, the airplane banners were fun the last few weeks or so. And it should give them a lot of inspiration heading into the Fiesta Bowl.
3. Texas Tech -- Their two best offensive weapons are banged up and their coach seems to be in limbo. Other than that, everything's coming up Cotton for the Red Raiders.
4. Oklahoma State -- Prepare for points and bucks. A lot of them on both sides. The Holiday Bowl not only will feature a battle between megabuck donors Phil Knight and T. Boone Pickens, but also should keep the scoreboard operators hopping in San Diego.
5. Missouri -- Tigers can still win 10 games this season. That was Chase Daniel's battle cry after the Oklahoma loss, but they need something to get back on track after their championship game blowout. Or else, it could be another bad trip to San Antonio.
6. Kansas -- The gritty Jayhawks shouldn't encounter many problems in the Insight Bowl against a Minnesota team that struggles running the ball collapsed with four straight losses down the stretch.
7. Nebraska -- Hey, I almost had a change of heart about the Cornhuskers. Bo Pelini's team can win me and even more converts by playing well on New Year's Day again. And it's even more promising for them considering they'll be facing a Clemson team whose defensive coordinator quit last week.
8. Colorado -- If any team could have used the extra bowl practice the next few weeks, it could have been the Buffaloes. But the time off will give them a chance to get healthy and ready for the spring.
9. Baylor -- It will be interesting this spring if Robert Griffin reconsiders his plans to run track in order to concentrate on football. Because he could turn into a monster if he dedicated himself simply to one sport -- or the other.
10. Kansas State -- Bill Snyder's staff is taking shape. Now the real work begins as he attempts to convince Josh Freeman to stay for one more year.
11. Texas A&M -- It will be a tough rebuilding job for Mike Sherman as the rest of the South Division might be competing at the highest level in history.
12. Iowa State -- Chizik's retooled staff will have much to work on over the winter. But the North Division should be competitive next season and experience should give them a chance.
TOP 25 SCOREBOARD
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