February 19, 2007

From the boards: It's a matter of class

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Signing Day is long gone and Spring Practice has yet to begin. However, thanks to Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and Colorado coach Dan Hawkins, the Rivals.com message boards had plenty of talking points this week.

Delany responded to a Chicago Sun-Times article which asserted the Big Ten should consider lowering its academic admission requirements to compete with the SEC. In his letter posted on the Big Ten Internet site, Delany refuted this while comparing the Big Ten and SEC head-to-head. He included performances in bowl games, national championships and Heisman Trophy winners. Recruiting rankings were also a topic.

Hawkins was surprised to find himself the subject of a widely circulated audio clip in which he emphatically responded to a parent's complaint regarding players' vacation time.

We'll highlight fans' discussion and debate regarding those topics along with a discussion on the top college stadiums in the week's From the Boards:

Big Ten vs. SEC
Delany's letter and comparison of his conference with the SEC certainly welcomed debate among fans on the same topic, but we'll save those comparisons for another day.

Several posters on multiple threads questioned why Delany would make these comments now and in this manner.

"What exactly was the point of this letter?" dmcrash18 posted on the Football Recruiting Board. "It seems to me he is politely taking a shot at the SEC's admission standards. If this was indeed his intentions, why all the on field comparisons? If he is trying to say the Big 10 doesn't recruit as well as the SEC because of academics then compare the two conferences' academics."

While some posters adamantly picked the SEC as the nation's top conference or defended the Big Ten, others felt Delany and others are overreacting in the SEC-Big Ten debate.

"I yet again ask why everyone continues to compare the two conferences," KevinFair1 wrote. "I firmly believe, using common sense, that you cannot compare conferences that only play 3-4 games against each other every year. Until there is a Big10/SEC challenge in football (like the Big10/ACC challenge in basketball) where every team plays, you cannot validly make this argument, ANY of you."

Wrote Augusta2003: "11 years ago Florida fans went through something very similar when they got thrashed against Nebraska. About as bad as this year's game [Florida's win over Ohio State in the national championship game]. That didn't make the Big 12 heads and shoulders above the SEC. The SEC is deeper right now, the Big 10 was better and deeper in the late 90's. Let's stop all this nonsense. Everything is cyclical."

Another issue addressed in this debate was where class size should fit in team recruiting rankings. The SEC placed seven teams in Rivals.com's team rankings, helped in part by larger signing classes.

SEC teams had an average of 26.5 signees compared to an average of 19.5 for the Big Ten. Iowa and Minnesota both led the Big Ten with 22 signees, which would have ranked second-to-last in the SEC.

"The issue I have with the rankings is that FAR too much emphasis is placed on class size," BukiRob posted. "The size of a class is meaningless data. How many of those kids will not qualify? Other programs can't even tender an official visit unless a kid is qualified."

Poster JU785575 disagreed: "Class size should be a factor. Look all over the Big 10 and SEC and you will see that depth is a huge factor. If the SEC schools choose to sign and place a kid then I see no issue with that. It is giving these kids another chance and there are no contracts forcing those players from coming back to that school. And some do end up at Big 10 schools."

On a separate thread, Rivals.com Editor Bobby Burton responded to the issue of where class size fits in Rivals' team rankings:

"Quantity or quality we try to account for both in our team rankings. Facts are, the more players you sign, the greater your margin for error can be. The fewer players you sign, the more you have to hit on nearly every one of them. Still, better players generally make better classes, so long as the total number of signees is somewhere in the 19-20+ range."

Go play intramurals, brother
Dan Hawkins received about as much publicity as a 2-10 coach can receive this week after his colorful comments to reporters were circulated on the Internet and television.

If you haven't heard Hawkins' diatribe yet, listen to it here.

Several posters supported Hawkins viewpoint and laughed along with the Colorado coach.

Docbradley: "I'd send my kid to play for him. It's a little over the top but I think the attitude conveyed in that parent's letter is exactly why they are as bad as they are right now. The guy can flat out coach."

BG Sooner: "Hawkins is exactly what Colorado needed. If you will be honest with yourself I bet we can all look back at our programs and find a time when you needed someone to call out all of the pretty boys. I know Bob Stoops and Co. did this when they took over at OU."

Laux11: "He's got a point, they went 2-10 and need work. What are these parents thinking sending these letters? This isn't high school football."

Talkin' stadiums
The college football board started a discussion on college football stadiums, the best, the worst and the most underrated.

Here are some highlights from that discussion. Kentucky, you've got some fans out there.

Poster Bamabritton took the SEC stadiums over all others because of game-day atmosphere: "It doesn't matter; Alabama, Florida, LSU, Auburn, Georgia, and Tennessee are all better than most of the other 113 D-1 schools not mentioned above. Decision goes to: Alabama, thanks to fans' intensity and endless history, tradition, and pride."

RocketShark was a big fan of older stadiums: "What I like about places like the Big House, Coliseum, and ND is no upper decks overhanging the lower levels. Apparently, since those three stadiums were built in the 20s/30s, upper deck engineering wasn't practiced yet."

Smiles_id gives his vote to Boise State's Bronco Stadium: "Boise loves it, no one else does. It's loud, the fans come in blue & orange based on what seating section they have. BSU has lost there maybe twice in over ten years. Beautiful venue, the open end of the horseshoe opens to the Boise River and offers a breathtaking vista of the Boise Front mountains. In Fall the colors are brilliant. Big upgrade is starting to increase capacity and add luxury boxes."

Alacyclone picked Kentucky's Commonwealth Stadium as the most underrated: "The facilities and concessions are easy and convenient. The UK fans are top notch, and it is an enjoyable place to spend a CFB Saturday afternoon, and Lexington is a pleasant place to be on Saturday night for dinner. It seats 70,000 plus and is designed well. Last, but not least, listening to the fans sing and the band play 'My Old Kentucky Home' before a game is an incredible experience and one of my favorite pre-game traditions at a CFB game. I don't think that most folks outside of the SEC realize that Kentucky has such a fine facility and a fan base that supports them very well considering the lack of success historically."

Rivals.com writers also weighed in on some of their top picks.

Olin Buchanan, national college football writer:
"Favorite stadium: I had a great experience at Clemson's Memorial Stadium, which seemed smaller than it is because of the great atmosphere. Start with a cold one at the Esso Club and just walk across the street to the stadium. The fans are great, the girls are pretty and there is orange and tiger paws everywhere. Then, there's Howard's Rock and seeing the Tigers come down the hill is a fun feature for college football. I loved everything about it. Except trying to get out of the parking lot that's another story. Who else still has a traffic jam three hours after a game? OK, Auburn does, but not that many do. Great fans. Great atmosphere. I loved my experience there.

"Most underrated: Utah's Rice-Eccles Stadium is modern, clean and intimate (just please improve the interview area for the visiting team). The view from behind the press box looks down on Salt Lake City. The view in front is the Wasatch Mountains. It's a wonderful venue."

Steve Megargee, national college football writer:
"It was even more of a treasure before its recent expansion, but Notre Dame Stadium remains the cathedral of college football. I'd consider North Carolina's Kenan Stadium a bit of an undiscovered jewel for fans outside the Atlantic Coast Conference. Many fans in the Midwest and Pacific Coast might not know about it because North Carolina doesn't play on national TV very often, but the scenery and foliage around the stadium makes it a great place to visit."

Bobby Burton, Rivals.com editor:
"Favorite stadium: The old Notre Dame Stadium was by far my favorite. It used to have real character. But it's not the same since they increased capacity and made it into a megaplex. I'll say the "Tomato Bowl" in Jacksonville, Texas. It's an old Texas "stone and brick" high school stadium. Generations of small-town folks have enjoyed it."

"Most underrated: I really liked watching a game at Husky Stadium. You can see Lake Washington in the background and the air kind of whips in off of the Olympic Mountains. It's not very loud compared to the stadiums in the South or Midwest, but it's a great place to spend a fall Saturday."

David Fox, national college football writer:
"My pick goes to LSU's Tiger Stadium. Nothing beats a night game at Death Valley. The crowd was so loud, the press box seemed to be shaking. For an underrated pick, I second Alacyclone's post for Kentucky, but since he's already made the argument, I'll throw in Arkansas' Razorback Stadium after its 2001 expansion if only for the 30-by-107 foot video board in the end zone."


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