Bowl Playoffs 2013

The lesser bowls have come and gone, and with New Years upon us, it’s time to revisit our annual notional 16-team Bowl Playoff Championship for college football.  Although we will soon see a limited four-team playoff, this FCS-style tourney is still a decade or two away.  Check the bracket…

NCAA BPC 2013

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Here’s how it works:

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Illini Pigskin Preview

It’s not easy being an Illini football fan – at least over the last twenty or so years.  Not that they’ve been dismal during that time…  No, it’s the inconsistency.  Really good years where it looked like a corner being turned, followed by epic fails.  Last year was one of those fail years, and this year projects as even bleaker.  As the consummate Illini football blogger put it, this is the least anticipated opening weekend in decades.  No surprise, then, that for the first time since moving back to Central IL, we’ve not bought at least half-a-season ticket or planned to attend multiple games.  (To be fair, the kids are now doing their own sports on Saturdays, which was a major factor in that decision as well).

But we will still watch the team play on TV.  At least until it gets ugly.  And it will.  Witness the schedule:

date Opponent / Event Location Time / Result
08/31/13 vs. Southern Illinois TV MEMORIAL STADIUM 11:00 a.m. CT
09/07/13 vs. Cincinnati TV MEMORIAL STADIUM 11:00 a.m. CT
09/14/13 vs. Washington (Chicago Homecoming) TV Chicago (Soldier Field) 5:00 p.m. CT
09/28/13 vs. Miami (Ohio) (Dad’s Day) TV MEMORIAL STADIUM TBA
10/05/13 at Nebraska * TV Lincoln, Neb. 11:00 a.m. CT
10/19/13 vs. Wisconsin * TV MEMORIAL STADIUM 7:00 p.m. CT
10/26/13 vs. Michigan State (Homecoming) * TV MEMORIAL STADIUM 2:30 p.m. CT
11/02/13 at Penn State * TV University Park, Pa. TBA
11/09/13 at Indiana * TV Bloomington, Ind. TBA
11/16/13 vs. Ohio State * TV MEMORIAL STADIUM TBA
11/23/13 at Purdue * TV West Lafayette, Ind. TBA
11/30/13 vs. Northwestern * TV MEMORIAL STADIUM TBA

If you listen real closely, you can hear former AD Ron Guenther’s Dr. Evil laugh in the background…

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Bowl Playoffs 2012

It’s that bowling time of year, and so we dismiss the BCS National Championship in lieu of a superior 16 team playoff scenario that everyone would like to see, the Beemsville Bowl Playoff Championship (BPC; TM still pending).  It’s our third annual BPC, so check out the 2011 and 2010 versions for fun.  Here’s how it works…

  • Six automatic BCS conference qualifiers, The champions  from the six current BCS conferences:  SEC – Alabama, Pac 12 – Stanford, Big 10 – Wisconsin (groan), Big 12 – Kansas State, ACC – Florida State, and Big East (double groan) – Louisville.
  • Two at-large conference qualifiers, the champions of the next two highest rated conferences.  This year that’s the MAC – Northern Illinois(!), and the WAC -Utah State.  This changes every year.  Last year we had Conference USA and the Mountain West in here.
  • Eight at-large teams, selected from the remaining highest rated teams using the BCS formula.  No limits on the number of entries from a conference, and this year the SEC dominates with five.  At-large teams are: Notre Dame, Florida, Oregon, Georgia, LSU, Texas A&M, South Carolina, and Oklahoma.
  • Teams are seeded according to BCS formula. #1 to #16 based on relative ranking.  Higher seeds host the first round; highest surviving seeds then host the second round.  Bye week after the second round.
  • Semi-finals and the final rotate between the four BCS bowl sites. Jan. 1 is your semi-final date.  This year the Orange Bowl gets the championship on Jan. 12.

NCAA BPC 2012

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B1G… WTF?

Well, the Big 10 Conference (B1G for you noobs) has added Maryland and Rutgers.  Welcome, Turtles and New Jersey-ites…

 

Does anyone like this move?  Is anyone excited?  We can’t really find them.  Maryland fans don’t want to leave their regional ACC rivalries, but they understand why it’s a good move financially.  They’re broke after all and had to cut seven sports last year.  This is basically what ESPN talking head and Maryland alum Scott Van Pelt said on the radio:  “don’t like it; understand it.”  Are you looking forward to that sub-500 Illini-Turtles football clash?  I know I am (we might be able to actually, you know, beat them).

Rutgers opinions are pretty similar.  They understand the financials and certainly understand the tenuous situation of the Big East.  On the other hand, they’re worried about winning games in football and basketball, and who can blame them.  Rutgers has been a lot better in football the last several years, but the Big East has also been substantially weakened.  It will be an uphill battle to bowl eligibility for them.  In basketball, well, good luck there. Continue reading

At least it’s Hoops Season

Fighting Illini fans have watched their football team implode, with the Orange and Blue in the midst of a long conference losing streak that’s not likely to end soon.  But across the street at the Assembly Hall, the basketball team looks intriguing.  The old Central Illinois saying once again rings true:  At least we have basketball…

The football team’s offense is just terrible.  Not much hope of scoring or moving the ball.  The venerable one checks in with his analysis here.  It ain’t pretty. At A Lion Eye, Robert breaks it down (again) with clear emphasis on recruiting misses and general unluckiness with offensive lineman.  This, right here, is the key.  Until we upgrade the line, it doesn’t matter what system you run, who calls the plays, etc.  No time to throw it and few holes for running backs.  And all you have to do to get better is win some recruiting battles for O-linemen in your home state.  If Beckman and company want to keep their jobs, they must address this trend first.  Until then, like many others, I just don’t have a lot of time and patience for this team.

On the other hand, John Groce has been building something.  In seven months on the job he’s already accomplished two things his predecessor either couldn’t or wouldn’t do.   1) Bring in a top recruiting class and win some recruiting battles.  2) Run a fast break and transition offense. Continue reading

Pentagram: Beckman Starts with a W

We always, ALWAYS, get excited and hyped up for college football and opening day for the Fighting Illini. Doesn’t matter where the team is projected to finish, what holes the roster has, how suspect they may have been the previous year…  This is part of what it means to be a fan.  You’re positive and optimistic at the onset, ready to support your team and hope for more wins, more progress, more glory.

For Illini football, this has been especially difficult the last two decades.  Wins have been in short supply, consistency – forget about it.  At least there’s been excitement with a couple of unexpectedly good seasons.  Robert sums it nicely over at A Lion Eye.  The Orange and Blue have been schizophrenic on the football field, and as a result we’ve watched the likes of Iowa, Michigan State, and Wisconsin pass our programs up.  Former AD Ron Guenther may have been good at balancing the books and upgrading facilities, but many of us are starting to understand just how lacking he was in vision and football team acumen.

As Robert says, Illini fans need to somehow forget the last 20 years and give the new guys a chance.  AD Mike Thomas has cleaned house, bringing in Tim Beckman, John Groce, and others.  There’s a new commitment to marketing the team and making the gameday experience an experience.  And as for Coach Beckman, we all know he want to COMPETE! at everything.  He’s also a man with a plan and a vision for how to build and manage a Big 10 football program.  He doesn’t appear to have the obvious holes in his portfolio that plague our last three head coaches.

And for a die-hard Illini fan like me – well I only need a glimmer of hope to get excited again.  Judging by attendance at Memorial Stadium on Saturday (I’ll estimate 30,000), more people are in wait-and-see mode.  You can’t blame them – especially with the dire and rainy forecast.

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On Penn State

The whole situation is grotesque.  The sports and moral conversations, the reaction in some quarters, the fines, the implications…

I debated those implications with friends and co-workers yesterday and today:  what this means for college sports, football, the Big 10, even my own Fighting Illini.  But I kept thinking about what this means to the whole institution of college sports.  Kept thinking about people at high levels in positions of trust, who didn’t have the fortitude to act on behalf of society’s most vulnerable.  Several commentators pointed to similar scandals faced by the Catholic Church – an apt and damning comparison.

Because football was like religion at State College, PA.  Joe Paterno was the Arch Bishop.  Paterno – the guy so many held up as an example of college athletics, done the right way, and it turns out he was no better than the rest.  Worse, maybe, because his hubris and vaunted position not only afforded him the leeway to do nothing, it also obliged others to cover up on his behalf. Continue reading