By Matthew Postins
Eight different FCS teams upset FBS teams last week. Southeastern Louisiana was game for a half against TCU, but the Horned Frogs pulled away for their first win on Saturday.
I don’t think this is an aberration. Look at what is happening in college basketball. Butler, Virginia Commonwealth, George Mason and Wichita State have been to the Final Four in the past decade. The mid-majors have closed the gap due to the proliferation of summer leagues, traveling teams, specialized coaching and players choosing to devote themselves to being a master of one sport at an early age. Those forces have combined to create a larger of pool of top-end talent for college basketball – and they all can’t go to Duke and North Carolina. Those recruits that can’t find homes at big schools find homes at smaller schools, where they get playing time right away and the opportunity to develop their collegiate game faster. Get enough of them together – and you can because there is so much talent at the high school level now – and something like Butler happens.
The same thing has happened in football in the past decade. In Texas there are 7-on-7 passing leagues and the state tournament is a huge deal. Players like Johnny Manziel are getting training from quarterback gurus like George Whitfield before they even become starters. High school players are taking advantage of on-campus and off-campus college camps like never before. An off-campus Baylor camp, run by Art Briles and his staff, drew more than 100 East Texas football players in July. It all results in players getting better faster and being able to play in college sooner. That benefits the mid-major schools like Boise State when players like Kellen Moore fall through the cracks. They all can’t go to Alabama and Texas and these days many of them are good enough to play at those schools.
Look at last year’s darlings, Northern Illinois. Jordan Lynch might have had to wait until his senior year to get a chance to start at a big program. But at NIU he’s a second-year starter who has elevated the entire program. Thanks to his play last season and the Huskies’ Orange Bowl berth, NIU recruited five players from Florida in February’s class.
We’re not there yet, but we’re closing in. The National College Football Playoff is the next step. Four teams will get in starting next year and the computer goes out the window. Humans will now determine the playoff participants and persuasive arguments can now be made for programs like Boise State and Utah when they’re good enough to be contenders.
All of these factors are allowing non-BCS schools and even the top-tier FCS schools to compete with BCS-level opponents.
My prediction? In 10 years a school like a Boise State will play for a national championship. That’s where we’re headed.
Dez Bryant says Tony Romo has a “great shot” at being MVP this year. He didn’t specify MVP of what. You know, sometimes these guys make my job so easy it’s not worth cracking the joke.
Jay Ratliff is out for at least six weeks. Anthony Spencer is unlikely to play on Sunday. Ben Bass is out for the year after the Cowboys placed him on injured reserve on Saturday. The Dallas Cowboys traded Sean Lissemore to San Diego. A few years ago the Cowboys faced a decision – re-sign Chris Canty or let him go. They let him go. Canty has a Super Bowl ring and a significant role with the Baltimore Ravens after four successful seasons with the New York Giants. The Cowboys have a gaping hole in their defensive front four. I wonder how much they miss Canty now? I mean, he wasn’t a dominating player in Dallas. But he’d be real helpful right now. And he has experience in the 4-3. By the way, he was a free agent this past offseason.
Given how the offensive line has shaken out, I’m wondering why the Cowboys didn’t bring in Brian Waters sooner. I mean, the Cowboys freely admit the veteran guard has to get into shape before he can even play. How long will that take for a guard in his mid-30s who didn’t go through training camp? Another Jerry Jones personnel misadventure executed to perfection.
The NFL Players Association is partnering with Uber Technologies to allows NFL players to use smartphones to line up a safe driver if and when they’ve had too much to drink. The service will be available in 20 NFL cities and at the Pro Bowl, starting this month. Sure, I could make a joke here. But, in all seriousness, how did it take this long for the NFLPA, or for that matter the NFL, to put something like this together? I mean, it just sounds like one of those “It just makes too much sense” ideas that never gets done, right?
By the way, I’m taking the Cowboys to win Sunday night. I have no earthly idea why.
I’m not worried about the Texas Rangers just yet. Yes, they’ve lost series to Minnesota and Oakland. But they still have a cache of games to play against the Los Angeles Angels and the Houston Astros, including this weekend’s trip to Anaheim (the Rangers did lose Friday). But the REAL stretch is coming next week – three at home with resurgent Pittsburgh, three at home with Oakland and four on the road at Tampa Bay. Those 10 games, to me, will determine whether the Rangers win or lose the division.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Oakland’s last six series? Twins, Rangers, Angels, Twins, Angels and Mariners. The A’s definitely won the schedule battle down the stretch.
One last thing. Major college football season is underway. One of my side projects is College Football America, a publication that myself, Chuck Cox (who contributes here on The Front Row) and Kendall Webb (who will be helping us with some SEC football come September) have been working on all year. The College Football America 2013 Yearbook Encyclopedia is something that we believe is the first of its kind – a book that covers every single college football team in the US and Canada. That’s 919 teams, 919 schedules, 919 team capsules, and nearly 100 conference previews. It’s full color and it features dozens of photos, most of which we’ve taken ourselves. It’s a publication on a massive scale. Yes, it’s big – but if you have a Kindle, an iPad or even a laptop you don’t need to spend a lot to get a lot. It’s $5.99 at lulu.com. You can click here to purchase.