January 17, 2011

Monday with Mike: Who won the postseason?

We're going to take one final look at the bowls this week, trying to add a little clarity to some of the comments that are bandied about by leagues claiming to "win" the postseason.

For instance, the Mountain West had the best conference winning percentage in the bowls, going 4-1 (.800 winning percentage). But was the Mountain West's performance really that impressive? You make the call.

Let's take a closer look, alphabetically by league.

ACC
Bowl record: 4-5
vs. Big Six teams: 3-3
The good: The ACC enjoyed wins over a Big East tri-champ (N.C. State over West Virginia) and the SEC runner-up (Florida State over South Carolina).
The not-so-impressive: North Carolina's win over Tennessee is a Big Six victory, yes, but it's also a victory over a team that finished less than .500 in the SEC and with a losing record overall. The other bowl win came against a non-Big Six team that finished with a losing record.
The bad: League champ Virginia Tech was trounced by Stanford, the Pac-10 runner-up. League teams also lost twice to non-Big Six squads, though one of those losses came to WAC co-champ Nevada. Clemson lost to USF, which finished below .500 in Big East play.

BIG EAST
Bowl record: 4-2
vs. Big Six teams: 3-2
The good: There were the three bowls wins over Big Six teams.
The not-so-impressive: Two of those three Big Six wins came over teams that finished under .500 overall. In addition, none of those three came against teams that finished above .500 in their league, and two came against teams that were under .500 in their league. The non-Big Six win came over a C-USA team that finished tied for second in its division and ended up with five losses.
The bad: Two of the three tri-champs lost in unimpressive fashion -- Connecticut by 28 to Big 12 champ Oklahoma and West Virginia by 16 to an N.C. State team that finished tied for second in its ACC division.

BIG TEN
Bowl record: 3-5
vs. Big Six teams: 3-4
The good: All three wins came over Big Six teams. Ohio State won a BCS game for the second season in a row. A depleted Iowa team upset Missouri, which tied for the Big 12 North title.
The not-so-impressive: Illinois beat a Big 12 team that finished .500 in the league.
The bad: While Ohio State won, the other league tri-champs lost -- Wisconsin to a non-Big Six league champ and Michigan State to a team that finished fourth in the SEC West. Northwestern fell to a team that finished below .500 in Big 12 play. Michigan and Penn State fell to teams that were .500 in the SEC.

BIG 12
Bowl record: 3-5
vs. Big Six teams: 3-5
The good: All three wins came over Big Six opponents. League champ Oklahoma won a BCS game.
The not-so-impressive: OU beat a Big East tri-champ that finished with five losses. The other two bowl wins came over teams that were under .500 in their leagues.
The bad: All three North Division teams lost. League runner-up Nebraska lost to a Pac-10 team that was .500 in the regular season. North Division co-champ Missouri lost to a Big Ten team that was .500 in league play. Baylor lost to a Big Ten team that was .500 in league play and a .500 team overall in the regular season.

CONFERENCE USA
Bowl record: 2-4
vs. Big Six teams: 1-2
The good: UCF beat an SEC team in the Liberty Bowl. Tulsa beat a 10-win WAC team on its home field.
The not-so-impressive: Georgia, UCF's victim, finished below .500 overall and also was under .500 in SEC play.
The bad: SMU lost -- at home -- to an Army team that came in with a .500 overall record. UTEP was hammered by a Mountain West team that came in with a .500 overall record. Southern Miss lost to a Big East team that came in with a .500 overall record and an under-.500 record in league play.

Television generation
Two of the three lowest-rated BCS games occurred this season. Here's a look at the five lowest-rated BCS games since the advent of the BCS in 1998. This is the first time that all the BCS bowls were on ESPN and not on network television. (Of note: The Jan. 1 Outback Bowl, matching Florida and Penn State in a 1 p.m. kickoff on ABC, had a bigger TV audience than this season's Fiesta and Orange bowls, both of which had 8:30 p.m. kickoffs on ESPN.)
BowlMatchupRating
2009 OrangeCincinnati vs. Virginia Tech5.4
2011 FiestaConnecticut vs. Oklahoma6.2
2011 OrangeStanford vs. Virginia Tech6.8
2010 OrangeGeorgia Tech vs. Iowa6.8
2008 SugarGeorgia vs. Hawaii7.0
INDEPENDENTS
Bowl record: 2-1
vs. Big Six teams: 1-0
The good: Notre Dame dominated Miami for the Big Six win. Army won on SMU's home field.
The not-so-impressive: Nothing.
The bad: Nothing.

MID-AMERICAN
Bowl record: 2-2
vs. Big Six teams: 0-0
The good: Nothing.
The not-so-impressive: One of the wins came against a Sun Belt team that finished below .500 overall.
The bad: Both losses came to Sun Belt schools, including one that came in .500 overall.

MOUNTAIN WEST
Bowl record: 4-1
vs. Big Six teams: 2-0
The good: TCU won a BCS game, beating Big Ten tri-champ Wisconsin. Air Force beat a Big Six opponent.
The not-so-impressive: Air Force's victim was a .500 team in the ACC that finished under .500 overall. BYU beat a C-USA team that finished under .500 in league play and overall. San Diego State's win came on its home field. Utah lost to a WAC school, albeit the best program in the WAC (and a program moving to the Mountain West).
The bad: Nothing.

PAC-10
Bowl record: 2-2
vs. Big Six teams: 2-2
The good: Stanford, which finished second in the league, crushed the ACC champ in a BCS game. Washington, which was .500 in the regular season, beat the Big 12 runner-up. Each of the four Pac-10 bowl teams played an opponent with at least 10 wins.
The not-so-impressive: League champ Oregon fell in the national title game.
The bad: Nothing.

SEC
Bowl record: 5-5
vs. Big Six teams: 5-4.
The good: Auburn won the national title, the fifth in a row for the SEC. League teams were 3-1 against the Big Ten. Alabama, which finished fourth in the SEC West, crushed a Big Ten tri-champ. LSU, which tied for second in the West, beat a Big 12 South tri-champ.
The not-so-impressive: One of the Big Ten wins came over a team that was under .500 in league play, and another came over a team that was .500 in Big Ten action.
The bad: Georgia lost to a Conference USA team. The SEC was 0-2 against the ACC, including a setback to a team that was .500 in league play. The SEC East went 1-4 in the postseason.

SUN BELT
Bowl record: 2-1
vs. Big Six teams: 0-0.
The good: Both wins came against MAC schools, lending credence to Sun Belt supporters who say their league is as good as -- if not better -- than the MAC.
The not-so-impressive: The wins were by the Sun Belt co-champs against MAC teams that finished second in their divisions.
The bad: Nothing.

WESTERN ATHLETIC
Bowl record: 2-2 vs. Big Six schools: 1-0
The good: Nevada's victory came over an ACC school. And Boise State beat a Mountain West school that won 10 games and is headed for the Pac-10.
The not-so-impressive: Nevada's win came over an ACC team that was .500 in league play.
The bad: The losses came to schools from C-USA and the MAC -- and one of the losses was by Hawaii on its home field. (Still, the C-USA team and the MAC team each won at least 10 games.)


Grid bits
So, Connecticut loses Randy Edsall to Maryland and replaces him with Paul Pasqualoni? Yawn. Wasn't Pasqualoni the guy in charge at Syracuse when the Orange started their descent into irrelevance? And now another Big East school hires him as coach? Why do we think if Jim Calhoun and/or Geno Auriemma left their jobs, UConn wouldn't hire a retread?

If there were any doubt about a culture shift in college football, consider Texas' new coordinators. The Longhorns hired Boise State's Bryan Harsin as offensive coordinator and Mississippi State's Manny Diaz as defensive coordinator. Thirteen months ago, Diaz was at Middle Tennessee. Harsin is the second Boise coordinator to be hired away by a power school in the past year; the Broncos lost defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox to Tennessee last season -- and Wilcox reportedly interviewed for the Texas DC job before deciding to stay in Knoxville.

New Stanford coach David Shaw might be feeling a bit lonely these days. Former coach Jim Harbaugh left for the NFL's San Francisco 49ers and took defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, offensive line coach Tim Drevno and tight ends coach Greg Roman with him. Roman, who also had the "associate head coach" title with the Cardinal, is the guy given much of the credit for Stanford's high-powered offense.

The new defensive coordinator at Kent State is Jon Heacock. Kent State's new coach is Darrell Hazell, who had been wide receivers coach at Ohio State. The Buckeyes' defensive coordinator is Jim Heacock, Jon's older brother. Jon replaced Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel as coach at FCS member Youngstown State when Tressel left for Ohio State after the 2000 season. Jon Heacock sat out this past season after being fired at Youngstown State following the 2009 season.

Maybe Michigan A.D. David Brandon still thinks he's working for some pizza company. How else to explain his comments to The Associated Press last week? "All that glitters is not gold when it comes to some coaches," Brandon said. "A two- or three-hour meeting with a coach uncovers much more than you could learn scanning the Internet or sifting through statistics. Sometimes the hype or the PR doesn't match the real person." Brandon used to be CEO at Domino's Pizza, and taking shots at your competitors is accepted in that field. But Brandon just looks like a spurned 13-year-old with those comments. Harbaugh chose the NFL over Michigan and Les Miles evidently liked LSU more than Michigan. Brandon needs to keep his mouth shut and deal with it. Here's a tip for Brandon: Talk about the coach you hired rather than the coaches you didn't.

Staying on Michigan, LSU chancellor Mike Martin evidently couldn't resist stooping to Brandon's level. Brandon maintains that Hoke was the only man offered the Michigan job. Martin to a Louisiana reporter: "Well, if Hoke was his first choice, [Brandon] could've signed him up prior to ever talking to Les or Harbaugh, don't you think?"

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.



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