Photo by Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Who’s Going To Win? – Week 1 Picks

Picks in BOLD. Upsets in italics. Please note, upsets are based on betting lines at the time of writing this. They are not necessarily based on rankings.

Upset picks this week:
Colorado St over Colorado
LSU over Wisconsin
Troy over UAB
Utah St over Tennessee

#21 Texas A&M at #9 SOUTH CAROLINA
Boise St vs #18 OLE MISS
Tulane at TULSA
BYU at UConn
BOWLING GREEN at Western Kentucky
COLORADO ST vs Colorado
#1 FLORIDA ST vs Oklahoma St
West Virginia vs #2 ALABAMA
Louisiana Tech at #4 OKLAHOMA
#5 OHIO ST at Navy
Arkansas at #6 AUBURN
#7 UCLA at Virginia
#16 Clemson at #12 GEORGIA
#14 Wisconsin vs #13 LSU
Fresno St at #15 USC
Rice at #17 NOTRE DAME
Florida Atlantic at #22 NEBRASKA
#25 WASHINGTON at Hawaii
Penn St vs UCF
Appalachian St at MICHIGAN
Western Michigan at PURDUE
Georgia Southern at NC STATE
MARSHALL at Miami (OH)
Ohio at KENT ST
Idaho at FLORIDA
Southern Miss at MISSISSIPPI ST
North Texas at TEXAS
UTAH ST at Tennessee
From SDS Georgia Bulldogs Football (

Plan Accordingly: Best Games to Watch – Week 1

UPDATE: I made an error! Three-star and two-star lists have been updated below.

The weekly college football schedule can be daunting. You can try, but you can’t watch all of the games this weekend. Fear not. Here are the ones you need to watch. All times AZ.

5-Star Games (aka Games of the Week)

Boise St vs. No. 18 Ole Miss at Atlanta Thu, Aug 28 6:00 PM ESPN
No. 16 Clemson at No. 12 Georgia Sat, Aug 30 2:30 PM ESPN

4-Star Games

No. 21 Texas A&M at No. 9 South Carolina Thu, Aug 28 3:00 PM SECN
No. 14 Wisconsin vs. No. 13 LSU at Houston Sat, Aug 30 6:00 PM ESPN

3-Star Games

Penn State vs. UCF at Ireland Sat, Aug 30 5:30 AM ESPN2
Miami (FL) at Louisville Mon, Sep 1 5:00 PM ESPN

2-Star Games

Rutgers at Washington St Thu, Aug 28 7:00 PM FS1
Penn State vs. UCF at Ireland Sat, Aug 30 5:30 AM ESPN2
No. 5 Ohio St at Navy Sat, Aug 30 9:00 AM CBSSN
No. 1 Florida St vs. Oklahoma St at Arlington Sat, Aug 30 5:00 PM ABC
Utah St. at Tennessee Sun, Aug 31 4:00 PM SECN

1-Star Games

BYU at UConn Fri, Aug 29 4:00 PM ESPN
UTSA at Houston Fri, Aug 29 6:00 PM ESPNU
North Texas at Texas Sat, Aug 30 5:00 PM LHN

The Official Stephen Hogg Pre-Season Top 25

Pre-season rankings are the worst. I am completely against them. But here’s my pre-season top 25 anyway.

  1. Alabama
  2. Florida St
  3. Oregon
  4. Stanford
  5. South Carolina
  6. Ohio St
  7. Auburn
  8. LSU
  9. USC
  10. Michigan St
  11. Georgia
  12. Clemson
  13. Oklahoma
  14. UCLA
  15. Arizona St
  16. Texas A&M
  17. Oklahoma St
  18. Wisconsin
  19. Missouri
  20. Baylor
  21. Louisville
  22. Notre Dame
  23. Washington
  24. UCF
  25. Boise St

Six Division II teams have better players than 28% of the FBS

One of my favorite things about the NFL Draft is all of the guys from no-name, small-time schools that get drafted. In this year’s draft, 35 Division I FBS schools did not have a player drafted while 14 FCS (DI-AA) schools, six DII teams, and one CANADIAN (CIS) school had at least one player drafted.

Sad FBS Schools (No Players Drafted)

Air Force
Bowling Green
Central Michigan
East Carolina
Eastern Michigan
Miami (OH)
New Mexico
New Mexico State
North Texas
South Alabama
Texas State
Western Michigan

Non-FBS Schools w/ at Least One Player Drafted

Team Division
Coastal Carolina DI-AA (FCS)
Eastern Illinois DI-AA (FCS)
Furman DI-AA (FCS)
Illinois State (went 5-6 in 2013) DI-AA (FCS)
Liberty DI-AA (FCS)
Maine DI-AA (FCS)
Marist DI-AA (FCS)
Montana DI-AA (FCS)
Murray State (went 6-6) DI-AA (FCS)
North Dakota State DI-AA (FCS)
Portland State (went 6-6) DI-AA (FCS)
Princeton DI-AA (FCS)
South Dakota (went 4-8) DI-AA (FCS)
Tennessee State DI-AA (FCS)
Towson DI-AA (FCS)
Bloomsburg DII
Concordia-St. Paul (went 5-6) DII
Lindenwood (went 3-6) DII
Northwest Missouri State DII
Pittsburg State DII
Saginaw Valley State DII
McGill (went 3-5) CIS

Non-FBS Teams w/ Most Players Drafted

Team # of Players
Coastal Carolina 2
Tennessee State 2

Highest Picks from Non-FBS Schools

Team Pick Player
Eastern Illinois 62 Jimmy Garoppolo
North Dakota State 67 Billy Turner
Towson 94 Terrance West

FBS Teams w/ Fewer Players Drafted than Coastal Carolina and Tenn St

Arkansas State
Duke (played in the ACC Championship)
Georgia State
Iowa State
Kansas State
Kent State
Michigan State (won the Big Ten Championship AND the Rose Bowl)
Middle Tennessee
Mississippi State
NC State
Oklahoma State
Ole Miss
Southern Miss
Wake Forest
Washington State

How the College Football Playoff Selection Committee Ranking Process Works

The College Football Playoff selection committee has released the process it will use to rank the top 25 teams in college football. And I love it.

If you’ve ever tried to do a top-25 ranking, you know that it can be hard to do. You might know exactly who you think is #1, #2 or #3, but trying to decide who is going to be #15 or #16, and especially who is #24 and #25, is a difficult task.

The voting process that the committee will use lets the members vote on teams in chunks versus all 25 teams at once. It may seem tedious and overkill, but its checks and balances will give a good representation of the best teams in America.

Here’s how it will work:

Step 1: List who you think are the best 25 college football teams in America, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER.

If three or more members of the committee list the same school in their list of 25, that team will stay in consideration. This means that unless all 13 members select the same 25 schools, there will be a pool of more than 25 teams available for the remaining steps.

Step 2: Of the pool of selected teams from step 1, pick the best SIX, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER.

The six teams getting the most votes will make up the first seeding ballot. I couldn’t find any information about what will happen when two or more teams tie for the sixth most votes. My assumption is that they will rank the teams that tie and the higher ranked team will get on the ballot.

The first two parts of this allow for the members to recognize the best teams without having to rank them. This is a great plan. That will take away some of the “Team A beat Team B and Team C beat Team A, but Team B beat Team C” thought process that can sometimes be involved in ranking.

Step 3 (First Seeding Ballot): Rank the six teams selected from step 2.

Each team will receive one point for a first-place vote, two points for a second-place vote, etc. The three teams with the lowest point totals will be ranked #1, #2, and #3. The other three teams from the ballot will remain on the ballot for the next seeding ballot (step 5).

This is the first time in the process that actual rankings are involved.

Step 4: Of the pool of teams from step 1 (excluding those on the first seeding ballot from step 3), pick the best six, in no particular order.

The three teams with the most votes will be added to the remaining three teams from the first seeding ballot (step 3) to make up the second seeding ballot.

Step 5 (Second Seeding Ballot): Rank the six teams selected from step 4.

The three teams with the lowest point totals will be ranked #4, #5, and #6. The other three teams will remain on the ballot for the next seeding ballot.

Repeat steps 4 and 5 to complete the top-nine rankings.

Once they have selected the top nine teams, the members will select the best EIGHT teams (instead of six), rank those with the most votes, then take the top FOUR (instead of three) and add those teams to the rankings (#10-#13, then #14-#17, etc.)

Clear as mud? My next post will be a simulation of the process to see how it might play out.


Players are Employees? Ok, Put Them on a Contract.

Michael Bird at SB Nation recently published a blog describing the circumstances in which a college football players’ union would, in effect, end the NCAA’s transfer rule. The rule disallows players to compete after transferring for a period of one year. If the court determines that the players are employees, then non-compete clause laws in many states would make the NCAA’s rule illegal and they would have to be allowed to play immediately.

If college football players are employees, then California’s prohibition on non-compete restrictions likely applies. Oklahoma and Nebraska…also have prohibitions on non-compete provisions as unlawful restraints on trade. Louisiana requires that a non-compete restriction list specific parishes to be enforceable. Wisconsin and Arkansas will permit non-compete restrictions, but their law is generally hostile to the concept.

And that’s where the NCAA’s rules on transfers enter the picture. A typical employee non-compete restriction tells a sales representative that he can’t sell on behalf of a competing business within a certain territory for a year after leaving his current employer. The NCAA’s rules on transfers tell FBS football players that they cannot move to another FBS program and play for a year after the transfer. Do you see a difference?

In other words, it is illegal in many states to include a clause in an employment contract prohibiting the employee from working for a competitor for a set period of time after leaving a company. So, if the players are given employee status, the NCAA’s transfer rule may also become illegal in those same places. A player could potentially transfer to one of those states and play immediately based on those states’ laws.

Here are my thoughts.

If you want to compare being a college football player to working for Apple or Ford or Walmart, I see the connection. But, if you compare it to it’s most similar profession, playing in the NFL, things don’t work that way. An NFL player can’t just decide one day that he wants to leave the 49ers and go play for the Seahawks. Sure, he can ask his team to trade him and make a big fuss, but a player under contract doesn’t get to “transfer” teams just because he’s not playing enough or doesn’t like the coach all of a sudden.

If these guys want to be considered “professional” football players as employees of a university, let them sign four- or five-year contracts with financial penalties for not fulfilling their contracts. I think the transfer issue might take care of itself if it costs a kid $25,000 to get out of his contract with a school because he’s mad about playing time or the coach’s play-calling.

Alabama is Ruining College Football: How the Rich Get Richer and Poor Get Poorer

Disclaimer: I don’t have any hard evidence or data to support my final conclusion. I suggested this concept to Paul Dalen at Football Study Hall and he told me that it can’t be measured or supported with numbers because you can’t measure something that never happened. But here it is anyways.

Here’s my unprovable hypothesis: Alabama’s (among others’) recruiting practices are making the rich (e.g. Alabama) richer and the poor (not really “poor,” but upper-middle class, seven-to-nine-win teams that might be able to land a blue-chip recruit) poorer. The Alabama’s of the world are getting better and better by recruiting more elite recruits than they have use for which stacks their teams and leaves fewer blue-chip recruits to go around for the rest of America. UPDATE: Thus, in effect, they are making themselves better, while at the same time, making everybody else worse. (Except for the teams that can use the same recruiting practices.)

I’m going to look primarily at Alabama because they’re an easy example. This scenario is not limited just to Tuscaloosa. It is taking place at powerhouses elsewhere as well.

I looked at the 2011-2013 recruiting classes. These guys are the ones who should be playing the most this coming season. If they’re going to redshirt, most likely they’ve already done that by now and we should see them making an impact on the field in 2014.

I looked at the running back position mainly again because it was easy, but what I found is evident at other positions as well.

Over these three recruiting classes, according to ESPN, there were 86 blue-chip running backs (four- or five-star recruits). Of these 86 available, Alabama signed SIX of them. In addition, they signed two blue-chip “athletes” that converted to running back.

During this time frame, only two non-AQ conference teams signed a blue-chip running back [Boise State and Texas State (both in 2013)]. So let’s say that those remaining 84 players are available to the 66.3 AQ-conference teams plus Notre Dame [Utah was only in the Pac-12 for two of these three years and TCU (Big 12) and Temple (Big East) were only in an AQ conference for one year each]. Alabama represents just 1.5% of the AQ teams yet they signed almost five times their “share” of the blue-chip running backs.

My logic tells me that there’s no way that eight elite running backs can be major contributors for one team over the next two seasons (assuming these players redshirt their first year, the overlap for these classes is the 2014 and 2015 seasons). And since these players are supposed to be the best of the best, they should be major contributors by their second year at a school.

I understand completely that some of these players will transfer, quit, be dismissed, etc. and wind up at different schools, but here is what I have to believe. When a team like Alabama takes more recruits than they can use (i.e. hoarding), they obviously are making themselves better and creating great depth for their team. However, this also, I believe, functions as a defensive recruiting tactic. If they have more blue chips than they need, there are fewer to go around to the other teams. Yes, some of these players who leave their first school will end up helping another school, but it will only be for one or two years generally because of the NCAA’s transfer rules versus three to four years if they remain at one program.

Out of those eight players that Alabama signed over the last three classes, logic says only one of them will be the feature back over each of the next two seasons. Even if you factor in the possibility of the main back getting injured and replaced by the number two, that leaves at least four blue-chip players who are not the primary playmaker and who most likely would be the main running back at the vast majority of other schools. Those players in this example who are sixth, seventh, and eighth on the depth chart are making a minimal impact at Alabama. (This is the part that I can’t back up) but at place like Virginia Tech, Miami, Nebraska, Washington, etc. they would be big playmakers and the top running back.

Conclusion: Over-signing is great for the teams who can do it. However it’s detrimental to the game as a whole and specifically the teams who would directly benefit from having those unused/under-used blue-chip recruits available to them. Unused/under-used blue-chip athletes would be major/primary contributors at most other schools, but because of the practices of certain elite teams, we’ll never know of the impact those kids could have made by spending five years at a school where they actually fit and would be used.

Now you have another reason to hate ‘Bama. Roll Tide.