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…


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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.


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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

Summer Illini Post

With oppressive heat comes the doldrums of the MLS season, with teams slogging through the humid air and attempting to stay playoff eligible.  Baseball is just not on the Beemsville menu, but the Illini are always on our minds.  After a crazy-active off-season in which the three major sports all replaced their head coaches, it’s mostly quiet on the orange & blue front.  But, hey, look!  A blue helmet!

Block I on Blue

Yes, Coach Beckman has been implementing his changes, including COMPETING! for everything and anything.  And, hey, if teams like Oregon and Boise State and Oklahoma State can have multiple uniform-helmet combos and score lots and lots of points, why not Illinois?

This design will look good with the orange or white shirts.  It’s pretty basic, pretty similar to the Bears helmet, and also signals a logo/branding shift Illini fans are just going to have to accept.  Athletic Director Mike Thomas has spoken about the importance of marketing/branding in college sports, how it builds familiarity, opens doors, sells shirts, etc.  And since the Chief was taken from us (and even before that as they moved away from that symbol), the Block I has pretty much become the symbol and logo.  Thomas has stated he wants to reinvigorate from a marketing/branding standpoint, so we should expect some kind of new variation on the Block I as an official logo.  How much can you really do with a Block I?  You don’t want it in italics.  You can’t add a bunch of bling.  They’re probably afraid to add any flourishes like feathers that might offend sensitivities of the anti-Illini crowd.  At least we’re pretty much the only ‘I’ team in orange and blue.

Football has been picking up steam in recruiting, no doubt about it.  Coach Beckman went out to COMPETE! and landed Bolingbrook Quarterback, Aaron Bailey, who will be great in the spread and is considered one of the nation’s top dual-threat QBs.  The Illini have also added a number of defensive lineman and defensive backs, some O-lineman, and running backs.  It’s a nice turn-around from the flailing about that marked then end of the Zook tenure, and people who know recruiting seem encouraged. Continue reading

Mixed Bag for Orange and Blue

New Year’s Eve obliged Illini Fans to ply their remote control skills, set up two TV feeds, or head to the sports bar.   With the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco and a basketball game at Purdue on concurrently, we chose the sports bar option.  The football team, looking energetic if not particularly skillful,  defeated UCLA  20-14.  As the same time, the basketball team started well before a horrible stretch of play saw them go down by nearly 30 to the Boilers, losing 75-60.

Some general reactions to the two games follow, but specifically we’d like to point to the lack of offensive bite and execution by both teams.  Football has had it’s problems all year and again struggled against a UCLA team that had given up 50 or more in previous games.  Coach Beckman will need to find some playmakers fast if he wants to compete against decent teams.  Weber’s crew continues to struggle on the hardwood, looking positively clueless and inept at times.  They seem determined to make up for not getting good shots by turning it over in bad spots.  We’ve harped on the ‘Motion’ offense repeatedly and will probably continue to do so until Coach implements some changes or is no longer here.  The bottom line is, you have to score to win.  And if you’re good on offense, people generally enjoy watching you play.  If the Illini are going to move themselves up in the hierarchy in both revenue sports, they need to improve their scoring. Continue reading

Bowl Playoffs 2011

The fail of college football having provided us with an intra-conference rematch for the so-called BCS National Championship, it’s time again to dust off the ol’ playoff scenario.  Yes, it’s the Beemsville Bowl Playoff Championship (BPC; TM pending).  Our playoff system is a 16 team affair, with the semi-final and final at neutral bowl sites.   Here’s the setup…

  • Six automatic conference qualifiers, your champions  from the six current BCS conferences.  That would be SEC – LSU, Pac 10 – Oregon, Big 10 – Wisconsin, Big 12 – Oklahoma State, ACC – Clemson, and Big East (cough, cough) – West Virginia.
  • Two at-large conference qualifiers, the champions of the next two highest rated conferences.  This year that’s the Mountain West – TCU, and Conference USA – Southern Miss.  Some years you might get a  WAC or MAC team 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.  This year your at-large teams are: Alabama, Stanford, Arkansas, Boise State, Kansas State, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Baylor.
  • 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 over Christmas.
  • Semi-finals and the final rotate between the four BCS bowl sites. Jan. 1 is your semi-final date.  This year the Sugar Bowl gets the championship on Jan. 10.

Have a look at this year’s match-ups (click on the image to view larger):

Some clear winners and losers here and a lot of interesting match-ups.  Think about the sponsorship money this might demand…  Would an equitable split of all that money acquired by the NCAA for this playoff help other schools with their non-revenue sports?  You bet…