Changes and rivalries add intrigue

BY foxsports • October 14, 2011

It's midseason and we've already had two coaches and a high-profile quarterback dismissed from their respective teams. The purity of college football never ceases to amaze us.

It's a wonderful life?

Every time the NCAA makes another decision on one of its investigations, another USC Trojan gets his wings. Auburn is the newest NCAA headline after it was cleared of any major NCAA violations stemming from a 13-month investigation into the recruitment of Cam Newton and potential impermissible benefits some former players allegedly received. The Tigers were determined to be clean as a whistle — as they should be — because the evidence was unsubstantiated.

So, to recap the latest developments — if former players appear on television and voluntarily admit they received impermissible benefits, those admissions are not viewed as meeting the burden of proof the NCAA requires. However, a several-minute phone call that an ex-felon says is proof a former USC coach knew about Reggie Bush's relationship with a wanna-be agent? That's ironclad evidence to the NCAA.

Enjoy the view from the clouds, USC.

Ohio State probably can't wait to have former head coach Jim Tressel's admission of lying to the NCAA ruled as "unsubstantiated." In fact, we're laying even odds that the Buckeyes get a slap on the wrist from Mark Emmert's crack team of infraction committee members and, in a stroke of good luck, snag a new coach with the irony-filled initials of UM by the end of the year. The only way it could get worse for Michigan fans, who wish ill-will on their rivals, is if the Buckeyes beat the Wolverines and make it eight straight wins.

Desert Storm

Arizona head coach Mike Stoops has been canned. The school decided to go in a new direction, which probably means it's getting tired of meltdowns on the sideline, vitriol aimed at officials and Holiday Bowl berths. Stoops' termination is the second casualty this season — New Mexico's Mike Locksley was the first — so the trilogy of terror mighty come into play here if bad luck indeed comes in threes. Either Memphis' Larry Porter or UAB's Neil Callaway looks like the perfect candidate to complete the tragic hat trick.

Sharpen your pitchforks

We can't wait to hear from the folks who claim "every game counts" this weekend. The first BCS poll comes out Sunday, which means it's time to roll out the excuses for why a team is ranked where it's ranked. Football fans should remember the following rules when trying to understand the BCS polls' logic: 1. A quality loss is worth more than any win; 2. A loss in overtime means you're undefeated in regulation; and 3. Boise State's games don't count. Carry on.

Is it time for hoops yet?

Penn State plays Purdue on Saturday. The Nittany Lions are averaging a little more than 18 points per game against BCS opponents while the Boilermakers are averaging 12.5 points against BCS opponents. We'd like to say this game will be a "defensive battle," but let's call it what it really is — a step up from watching paint dry. But in case you want a game with more action in the end zone, you can watch 40-point-favorite Wisconsin destroy Indiana in a Leaders division beatdown.

SEC SEC SEC

Alabama is favored by 27 points to beat the Rebels at Ole Miss. Anyone else confused by such a low spread when Vandy beat Ole Miss 30-7? Alabama can muster up only three more points than Vandy's score differential? Is this an indictment of Nick Saban's reputation for not being a meanie and running up the score? Or is it because, for the past three years, the Crimson Tide has averaged only 23 points per game against the Rebels? Four Ole Miss players were suspended for this game, but would it have made a difference? Answer: Only if they were each named Michael Oher.

Florida travels to Auburn on Saturday and hopes to end its two-game losing streak. No. 24 Auburn will be defending its ranking against the dull and listless Gators, while the Gators will be defending the SEC East's dull and listless performances this year. The way the East has been playing, it's almost as if nobody wants to play the West's champion in the SEC championship game. Come to think of it . . .

Beleaguered South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia has been dismissed from the team after Garcia failed to follow the guidelines set forth in his reinstatement. His father, Gary, told the New York Times that Garcia's grandfather passed away. “Then he got a phone call that Sunday and got benched,” Gary Garcia told the Times. “His friends came to his house and they decided to have a throwdown.” The elder Garcia said that his son failed an alcohol test. Garcia reportedly texted The Associated Press after his dismissal saying he was "shocked and completely flabbergasted to be honest." Apparently no one at South Carolina explained Steve Spurrier's six-times-and-you're-out policy to Stephen Garcia.

SOS?

Both Louisville and Cincinnati have yet to play a conference game after six weeks of football. If you're wondering why the Big East gets no respect, playing five football games with an 0-0 conference record is one reason. The Big East schools reportedly declining to increase member exit fees would be another. When you allegedly don't vote to make it difficult to leave your own conference, isn't that really like buying a can of bug spray to kill critters in your kitchen and then going to bed while leaving an open box of candy on the counter? TCU is the first school to join a BCS conference and then pay to leave a BCS conference after never having played in that BCS conference. Dissed by a Mountain West school?

Awesome.

The Shot heard round Texas . . .

Texas Tech and Texas A&M are in a battle over how the Aggies' team buses were vandalized last week.

Aggies AD Bill Byrne tweeted that some "excrement" and "spray-painted vulgarities" were found on the team's buses while at the Texas Tech game. Texas Tech issued a statement that, in part, said, "washable shoe polish was used on the windows of one of the buses" and excrement was not involved, but rather, "fish bait was dropped onto the floor of one of the buses." The statement ended with, "We are disturbed by the careless use of social media to share these inaccuracies."

Can someone hose down these two schools? And are we really quibbling over what disgusting piece of stench was left in a bus? The more important thing to remember here is that this week the Aggies host Baylor . . . you know, that same school that threatened to sue A&M if the Aggies left the Big 12 and then got punked by a Texas A&M alum. Luke Jalbert reportedly paid $2,750 for a billboard to go up in Waco (home of the Baylor Bears) that said, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's conference deal — God." Since Texas Tech has lobbed the first stinky shot at Texas A&M and A&M has fired a below-the-Bible-belt shot at Baylor, what sort of follow-up can we expect from the Baylor Bears? FOX Sports will broadcast the game at noon ET on FX with Gus Johnson and Charles Davis calling the game.

Rise and fire, baby.


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