Column: Don’t Mourn for Pitino

Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino was placed on unpaid leave on Wednesday (with the expectation that he will be fired once his contractually-required 10-day notice expires) after the Cardinals program was among several implicated by an FBI investigation into bribery and corruption in college basketball.

Pitino is a Hall of Fame coach with great on-court success at multiple stops throughout his career, but that has all come to a very blunt ending.

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Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino, who was placed on unpaid leave on Wednesday. (Bradjward/Flickr)

Yet there’s no need to mourn for the legacy Pitino has lost, as his impending termination is the end of a long, winding and, to be frank, disgraceful road that got him here.

Yes, Pitino is the only coach to lead two different schools to national championships, winning them in 1996 at Kentucky and 2013 at Louisville.

Yes, he has seven Final Four appearances, and is the only coach to take three schools to the Final Four, also doing so at Providence.

Yes, he has 12 conference tournament championships (one at Boston University, five at Kentucky, six at Louisville), and been to 21 NCAA Tournaments, including 19 of the last 21 years his team was eligible.

Yes, Pitino has 770 collegiate wins, and may have 900 if not for six seasons as an NBA coach with the New York Knicks, who he took to the playoffs twice, and the Boston Celtics.

But with the revelation of the scandal that has brought Pitino’s career to a crashing end, real questions exist about Pitino’s on-court accomplishments, as the legitimacy of his players, their amateur status and their reasons for coming to Louisville (or Kentucky, Providence or Boston University) is now under a black cloud of doubt.

The FBI alleges that the family of a highly-ranked recruit (the overwhelming consensus is that the player, unnamed in the FBI report, is Louisville commit Brian Bowen) agreed to be paid $100,000 by Adidas executives–who were working in conjunction with a Louisville assistant coach–for the recruit play at Louisville. As part of the agreement, the recruit would represent Adidas when he turned professional.

This scandal reaches far beyond Louisville, as 10 individuals, including four Division I assistant coaches, were arrested in the case on Tuesday. But it’s Pitino who has the highest profile of anyone implicated in this case, even as he was not directly named in the FBI report (though he reportedly was listed as “Coach 2”).

Pitino was already suspended for five games this coming season as the result of his program’s previous scandal, in which former assistant coach Andre McGee had paid for the services of prostitutes and strippers for players in the team dormitory.

The program self-imposed a postseason ban for the 2015-16 season, and Pitino was suspended by the NCAA for “lack of institutional control.”

Pitino has also admitted to an extramarital sexual encounter in 2003, in which he impregnated his mistress and paid for her abortion.

In each previous case, Pitino’s job has seemed bulletproof. He downplayed both his affair and the escorts scandal, and claimed ignorance regarding the escorts.

With Pitino’s habitual refusal to accept any responsibility, and the pattern of athletic director Tom Jurich–who was also fired–releasing a passive statement of support (which he’s also done in regards to the football program’s issues), I assumed we would see the same movie this week, and Pitino would be pacing the sidelines of the KFC Yum! Center this winter.

Yet this scandal, which figures to bring down more than just Pitino over the coming months, finally ousted a man who could have, and should have, been out of college basketball years ago.

From purely an on-the-court perspective, Rick Pitino can legitimately say he has had a good career.

But don’t shed a tear for Pitino’s career coming to an end the way it did.

He’s done plenty to deserve this.

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Tournament Tweeting: ACC Quarterfinals Recap and Semifinals Preview

Quarterfinals Recap

First, some general tweets about the tournament:

#1 North Carolina 78, #9 Miami 53

The Tar Heels used a dominant performance on both ends of the floor to comfortably beat Miami, never leading by less than 11 over the last 12:10 and pulling away for the 25-point win.  After a 7-0 Miami run to close the first half pulled the Hurricanes to a 34-29 deficit, the Tar Heels held a 44-24 advantage over the final 20 minutes.

North Carolina shot 53 percent from the field (28-53), 83 percent from the free throw line (15-18). The Tar Heels had more assists (21) than Miami field goals (19), holding Miami to just 36 percent from the floor (19-53) and 24 percent from three-point range (5-21), while forcing 15 Hurricanes turnovers that led to 21 Tar Heel points.

Four double-figure scorers paced the Tar Heels, with Isaiah Hicks leading the way with 19; ACC Player of the Year Justin Jackson scored 12, Joel Berry II netted 11 with five assists, and Kennedy Meeks added 10 with seven rebounds.  Theo Pinson scored nine, but led the Tar Heels with six assists.  Bruce Brown, with 21 points and seven rebounds, was the only Miami player to score more than seven, while the Hurricanes tallied just seven assists.  Brown was 9-13 for the floor; his teammates were a combined 10-40.

North Carolina (27-6) advances to meet rival Duke in the semifinals, while the 25-point loss was the worst of the season for Miami (21-11), who awaits their NCAA Tournament selection.

Tweets from throughout the game:

#5 Duke 81, #4 Louisville 77

Playing a second straight day with little depth against a rested Louisville team was no problem for Duke, who came from behind late to beat Louisville in a top-15 matchup.

After Duke held a 39-37 halftime lead, Louisville used a 24-10 run over the first 6:53 of the second half to take a 61-49 lead.  From that point, Duke held a 32-16 edge over the last 13:07, with three Luke Kennard threes and another by Jayson Tatum keying Duke’s run.

Tatum, who was 9-15 from the field, led all scorers with 25 points, before fouling out in the final minute.  Kennard had 24 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season, while Grayson Allen scored 18, breaking out of his recent slump in the second half.  Tatum, Kennard and Allen combined for 41 of Duke’s 42 second half points.

Deng Adel led Louisville with 21 points, while Quentin Snider scored 15 with five assists.  First team All-ACC selection Donovan Mitchell was held to eight points, shooting 3-14 from the field.

With his 59th career ACC Tournament win, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski passed North Carolina’s Dean Smith for the most all-time, and his Blue Devils (25-8) will meet North Carolina in the semifinals.  Louisville (24-8) will play in the NCAA Tournament after falling to 0-2 all-time in ACC Tournament play.

Tweets from throughout the game:

#2 Florida State 74, #7 Virginia Tech 68

Florida State used a physical gameplan to overmatch an undersized Virginia Tech team in the second half and earn their first semifinal appearance since 2012.

The Seminoles outrebounded the Hokies 45-31, including 18-8 on the offensive glass, and outscored them in the paint 42-20.  The Seminoles used a 16-1 run to turn a 52-52 tie with 9:17 to play into a 68-53 lead with 4:01 left, then withstood a late 10-0 Virginia Tech run to advance.

Dwayne Bacon led the Seminoles with 17 points despite struggling from the floor (4-17), hitting nine of his 10 free throws.  Jonathan Isaac scored 11 with 12 rebounds and Terance Mann netted 11 with nine rebounds.  Xavier Rathan-Mayes had nine points with six assists.

Zach LeDay, who scored a tournament-high 31 points on Wednesday, had 22 points and nine rebounds , yet appeared oversized at times on the boards against bigger Florida State players.  Seth Allen had 17 points and five assists, while Justin Robinson scored 14 with six assists.

Florida State (24-7) will meet Notre Dame in Friday’s semifinals, while Virginia Tech (22-10) will begin preparations for their their first NCAA Tournament since 2007.

Tweets from throughout the game:

#3 Notre Dame 71, #6 Virginia 58

In a surprising role reversal, the Notre Dame defense held Virginia in check while the Irish offense was efficient against Virginia’s defense, resulting in a convincing, nearly wire-to-wire win for the Irish.

Notre Dame, who had never beaten Virginia since joining the ACC in 2013 (0-5) and has typically struggled against Tony Bennett’s packline defense, shot 52 percent from the field (24-46), with an identical 12-23 mark in each half, while holding the Cavaliers to 39 percent (22-57).  The Irish were more proficient in more activity at the free throw line (Notre Dame 18-25, Virginia 7-12).

First team All-ACC honoree Bonzie Colson led all players with 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Irish.  Matt Farrell scored 14, while V.J. Beachem and Steve Vasturia each netted 12, and Vasturia added five assists.  Devon Hall and Darius Thompson led Virginia with 12, with Hall adding nine rebounds, while Ty Jerome and Marial Shayok each scored 10 and Jerome dished out six assists.  Virginia team leader London Perrantes was held to three points, while Kyle Guy was held scoreless; the pair combined to go 1-17 from the floor.

Notre Dame (24-8) advances to challenge Florida State in the semifinals, while Virginia (22-10) will await their NCAA Tournament seeding.

Tweets from throughout the game:

Semifinals Preview

#1 North Carolina (27-6, 14-4) vs. #5 Duke (25-8, 11-7)
7:00 pm ET, ESPN/ACC Network
Stiles on Sports ACC Ranking:  North Carolina- 1st, Duke- 5th
AP Poll:  North Carolina- 6th, Duke- 14th
Regular Season:  Feb. 9 in Durham:  Duke 86, North Carolina 78;  Mar. 4 in Chapel Hill:  North Carolina 90, Duke 83

#2 Florida State (24-7, 12-6) vs. #3 Notre Dame (23-8, 12-6)
appr. 9:30 pm ET, ESPN/ACC Network
Stiles on Sports ACC Ranking:  Florida State- 3rd, Notre Dame- 6th
AP Poll:  Florida State- 16th, Notre Dame- 22nd
Regular Season:  Feb. 18 in Tallahassee:  Florida State 83, Notre Dame 80;  Feb. 11 in South Bend:  Notre Dame 84, Florida State 72

For commentary throughout the ACC Tournament and most major sporting events, follow me on Twitter:  @cstiles24

For what it’s worth….
My ACC Tournament Record:  8-3

First Round
Record:  2-1
Second Round Record:  3-1
Quarterfinals Record:  3-1

Tournament Tweeting: ACC Second Round Recap and Quarterfinal Preview

Second Round Recap

First, some general tweets about the tournament:

 

#9 Miami 62, #8 Syracuse 57

A game that I predicted would be a low-scoring game got there eventually, but not before both teams scored early and often in the first half before slowing down.  In a true “tale of two halves,” it was the best of games early and the worst of games late.  Miami, who led 36-28 at halftime, shot 62 percent in the first half (13-21) and 30 percent in the second (9-30), while Syracuse shot 52 percent (11-21) and 35 percent (8-23), respectively.

Brooklyn native Kamari Murphy led Miami with a double-double, with 16 points and 10 rebounds.  Davon Reed scored 14, Ja’Quan Newton scored 11 with six assists, and D.J. Vasiljevic scored 13 off the bench.  Syracuse was led by Andrew White III with 22 points and Tyus Battle with 14, and while Tyler Lydon was held to five points, he had 12 rebounds.

Syracuse led just once in the second half, at 41-40 with 12:23 to play, but got as close as two in the final minute; John Gillon missed a potential game-tying three in the closing seconds.

Miami (21-10) advances to play top-seeded North Carolina on Thursday, while Syracuse (18-14) will now settle in for a stressful Selection Sunday, with many suggesting their resume may not make the NCAA Tournament cut.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, whose teams are 0-3 in the ACC Tournament since joining the league, made headlines after the game for comments (see below) that the ACC Tournament had no value in Greensboro (where it has been held 28 times and is set to return in 2020).

 

Tweets from throughout the game:

 

#5 Duke 79, #12 Clemson 72

Led by a trio of 20-point scorers, Duke slowly pulled away from Clemson in the second half before withstanding a late Clemson charge to hold on for the win.  Jayson Tatum, Frank Jackson, and Stiles on Sports ACC Player of the Year Luke Kennard each scored 20 points for the Blue Devils, with Tatum grabbing nine rebounds and dishing four assists.  Amile Jefferson added a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Grayson Allen, in 12 minutes, was held scoreless for the first time since 2015.

Jaron Blossomgame led Clemson with 19 points, adding eight rebounds, while Shelton Mitchell scored 17 and Marcquise Reed netted 13.  Sidy Djitte earned a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

A back-and-forth first half led to a 33-33 tie at halftime, before Duke slowly pulled away, leading 62-49 with 8:28 to go.  A 19-7 Clemson run pulled the Tigers to a 69-68 deficit at the 2:51 mark, but Clemson’s momentum sputtered down the stretch.  Late free throws by Tatum turned a 75-72 game with 0:36 left into the final 7-point margin.

The Blue Devils outshot the Tigers 49 percent (30-61) to 39 percent (22-56), although Clemson used free throw shooting (24-26, compared to Duke’s 14-18) to stay in the game.  Duke (24-8) advances to meet Louisville in a top-15 quarterfinal matchup, while Clemson (17-15) awaits, most likely, an NIT bid.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski improved to a near-unfathomable 58-22 in the ACC Tournament, tying North Carolina legend Dean Smith for the most wins in ACC Tournament history.

 

Tweets from throughout the game:

 

#7 Virginia Tech 99, #10 Wake Forest 90

The Hokies used a 62-point second half to come from behind and defeat Wake Forest in the second highest-scoring regulation game in ACC Tournament history.  Zach LeDay led the Hokies with 31 points and 15 rebounds, both the most by any player so far in the tournament.  Four additional Hokies scored in double figures–Seth Allen scored 18, Justin Bibbs scored 15, Ty Outlaw scored 14 and Ahmed Hill scored 13–while Justin Robinson dished out seven assists.

Wake Forest led 44-37 at halftime after the first half ended with reserve forward Greg McClinton hitting an 80-foot buzzer-beater when after the ball deflected into his arms on Virginia Tech’s last-second play; the shot was the first made three-pointer of the junior’s career.  From that point, however, the Hokies held a 62-44 advantage, shooting 62 percent in the second half (16-26) for the third highest-scoring half in a game in ACC Tournament history.

Bryant Crawford led the Demon Deacons with 21 points and fellow point guard Brandon Childress added 15, while John Collins (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Dinos Mitoglou (12 points, 13 rebounds) each earned double-doubles.  McClinton’s miraculous shot before the half marked his only points of the game in just two minutes of action.

Virginia Tech’s win avenged an 89-84 Wake Forest win in Saturday’s regular season finale, and ended the Demon Deacons’ four-game winning streak.  The Hokies (22-9) advance to meet Florida State on Thursday, while Wake Forest (19-13) will learn their NCAA Tournament fate on Sunday–most projections have the Deacs in the field, although whether or not they will play in the “First Four” in Dayton or earn a bye to the Round of 64 is unclear.

 

Tweets from throughout the game:

 
#6 Virginia 75, #14 Pittsburgh 63

Virginia’s defense was solid, as usual, but the Cavaliers played just as solid of an offensive game in their second round win over Pittsburgh.  The Cavaliers shot 50 percent from three-point range (11-22) and 52 percent from the field in the second half (11-21), and were balanced offensively with four players earning three or more assists:  Ty Jerome with four and Devon Hall, Kyle Guy and London Perrantes with three each.

Guy led the Cavaliers with 20 points, with Perrantes adding 15 and Jerome scoring 11, while Isaiah Wilkins had eight points and eight rebounds.  Pittsburgh was led by Cameron Johnson with 20, while Jamel Artis and Michael Young ended their collegiate careers with 18 and 14, respectively.

Virginia led 34-23 at halftime, and after Pittsburgh closed to a 44-43 deficit with 13:08 left, the Cavaliers held a 24-11 edge over a methodical stretch of over 10 minutes to put the game away.  While Virginia played well offensively, they held Pittsburgh to 40 percent from the field (18-45) and 34 percent from three (10-29).  Virginia’s bench scored 23 points, while Pitt’s was held scoreless.

Virginia (22-9) advances to play Notre Dame in Thursday’s quarterfinals, while the loss ended the season for Pittsburgh (16-17).

 

 

Tweets from throughout the game:

 

 

Quarterfinals Preview

#1 North Carolina (26-6, 14-4) vs. #9 Miami (21-10, 10-8)
12:00 pm ET, ESPN/ACC Network
Stiles on Sports ACC Ranking:  North Carolina- 1st, Miami- 9th
AP Poll:  North Carolina- 6th, Miami- receiving votes
Regular Season:  January 28 at Miami:  Miami 77, North Carolina 62

 

#4 Louisville (24-7, 12-6) vs. #5 Duke (24-8, 11-7)
appr. 2:30 pm ET, ESPN/ACC Network
Stiles on Sports ACC Ranking:  Louisville- 2nd, Duke- 5th
AP Poll:  Louisville- 10th, Duke- 14th, Clemson- unranked
Regular Season:  Jan. 14 at Louisville:  Louisville 78, Duke 69

 

#2 Florida State (24-7, 12-6) vs. #7 Virginia Tech (22-9, 10-8)
7:00 pm ET, ESPN/ACC Network
Stiles on Sports ACC Ranking:  Florida State- 3rd, Virginia Tech- 7th
AP Poll:  Florida State- 16th, Virginia Tech- unranked
Regular Season:  Jan. 7 at Florida State:  Florida State 93, Virginia Tech 78

 

#3 Notre Dame (23-8, 12-6) vs. #6 Virginia (22-9, 11-7)
appr. 9:30 pm ET, ESPN/ACC Network
Stiles on Sports ACC Ranking:  Notre Dame- 6th, Virginia-4th
AP Poll:  Notre Dame- 22nd, Virginia- 21st
Regular Season:  Jan. 24 at Notre Dame:  Virginia 71, Notre Dame 54

 

For commentary throughout the ACC Tournament and most major sporting events, follow me on Twitter:  @cstiles24

 

For what it’s worth….

ACC Tournament Record:  5-2

First Round
Record:  2-1
Second Round Record:  3-1

Column: “WakeyLeaks” Is Disgusting–And Far From Over

Who knew Benedict Arnold was a Wake Forest broadcaster?

Wake Forest football fired radio analyst Tommy Elrod, a former player and assistant coach with the program, on Tuesday after an investigation found he had provided details of the team’s game planning to opposing teams, dating back to 2014.

A scandal that has already made Elrod’s name equivocal with Arnold and Judas Iscariot on the Winston-Salem campus has been nicknamed “WakeyLeaks,” and while it is more than baffling why Elrod undermined the Wake Forest program this severely, this situation is far from over.

A Mole’s Motivation

In the immediate aftermath, the biggest question is, simply, “Why?”

Elrod played quarterback for the Demon Deacons from 1993-97, and became a graduate assistant on coach Jim Grobe’s staff in 2003, working his way up the coaching ladder and becoming quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator.

His tenure on the coaching staff included Wake Forest’s improbable run to the 2006 ACC championship, and Elrod was a key to the relative success of four-year starting quarterbacks Riley Skinner and Tanner Price.

When Grobe resigned after the 2013 season, Dave Clawson was hired as the new head coach, and did not retain Elrod.  Elrod’s situation was not unique, as Clawson brought most of his staff from Bowling Green with him to Wake Forest, and only retained two coaches from Grobe’s staff (and none tenured more than two years).

Elrod, however, remained involved in the program as a radio broadcaster, and continued to have access to the teams practices, film, and game plans.

Elrod, a 41-year old Wake Forest lifer, did not necessarily fit the profile of the typical double agent, but must have clearly had some strong motivation.  It is possible Elrod was disgruntled about not being retained on Clawson’s staff, even with such personnel moves being normal during a coaching transition.

However, the more likely motive for Elrod’s treachery is money, assuming the possibility exists that other football programs could buy the game plan information Elrod was leaking.

Many who know Elrod are stunned at the revelation of his disloyalty to Wake Forest.  In various forms of media, Elrod has been described over the last 24 hours as a family man, active in the Winston-Salem community including charity work.  Skinner told ESPN Elrod was a “stand-up character guy.”

How Much Harm Has Been Done?

As an admitted Wake Forest fan, I naturally find Elrod’s alleged actions as senseless and beyond disappointing.

But the frustration of the fan base does not even scratch the surface here, when you consider the hours and hours of hard work done by the coaching staff and especially the student-athletes in game preparation, only to be undermined and cheated out of a fair chance come gameday. Wide receiver Marshall Williams’ reaction on Twitter (below) is likely similar to that of many current and recent Wake Forest players.

(Warning: strong language)

And beyond any emotional hurt done by the sedition, consider how rough a game football is, and how much knowledge of a team’s game plan could literally cause harm.

For instance, quarterback John Wolford has been sacked 91 times over the last three years, including several instances when he was injured by a sack.  How many of Wolford’s injuries might have been caused because the opposing defense knew the play and went after the quarterback?  There’s no way to know an exact number, but this shows how wide the scope of this could potentially be.

The Fallout

That said, this case is not over.  For one thing, a lawsuit one way or the other between Elrod and the football program is very possible, and Elrod has already hired an attorney.

But beyond that, when an informant provides inside information, someone else is the receiver of such information, and that is where this could get messy.

Wake Forest football is the victim, as one of their own breached the trust he had been given by those within the program.  But the opponents who took the information are just as guilty as Elrod, especially if money changed hands.

Any possibility of a cash flow for exclusive intelligence, a possibility which certainly exists here, should be investigated by both the ACC and the NCAA.  Wake Forest acted quickly in firing Elrod; hopefully the ACC and/or NCAA will be as efficient in getting to the bottom of this controversy.  (The ACC released a statement late Wednesday promising “due diligence” to the case to “protect competitive integrity.”)

One opponent who is almost certainly involved in some way is Louisville.  The investigation into a potential data breach within the Wake Forest program began after documents were found at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium the day before the Demon Deacons’ game with Louisville that contained information on plays Wake Forest had not run before.

Louisville coach Bobby Petrino, who is no stranger to controversy, denied any knowledge of the situation at the time, and again on Wednesday, calling it simply a “Wake Forest issue.”  But with strong evidence that Elrod was working as an informant from the Wake Forest side, Petrino will have some questions to answer.

Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich said Wednesday that while Elrod did speak before the game to offensive coordinator Lonnie Galloway, who coached alongside Elrod at Wake Forest in 2011-12, Louisville used none of that information on their way to a 44-12 win.

In addition to Galloway, Elrod does have connections to other recent Wake Forest opponents.  Brian Knorr coached at Wake Forest alongside Elrod, then was Indiana defensive coordinator in 2015 when the teams met.  Ray McCartney, another former Wake Forest assistant and Elrod colleague, was the Army defensive line coach in 2014-15, and the Demon Deacons played the Black Knights in both seasons.

So there were easy opportunities for Elrod to contact opposing coaches at at least three schools that Wake Forest has played since 2014, and there could also be more less discernible connections that helped Elrod spread this information.

Likely the only person who knows every detail of Elrod’s subterfuge is Elrod himself, who has remained quiet thus far, erasing his presence on social media and not answering contact requests from the media.

In addition to being fired from his broadcasting position, Elrod is banned from all Wake Forest athletic events and facilities.  Elrod voluntarily resigned Monday from his position as director of business management for Verger Investment LLC, a firm created by Wake Forest to manage the university’s investments.

If all of the developments about Elrod are true, he has performed a disgraceful, repugnant, and subversive series of actions that have undermined the capability of the Wake Forest team to have adequate opportunity to compete fairly on the football field.

In other words, Benedict Arnold now has some company in the sports world.

 

Related:  Former Wake Forest Football Assistant Provided Game Plan Information to Opponents  (includes text of Wake Forest press release and statements from athletic director Ron Wellman and head football coach Dave Clawson)

College Football: Week Eight Power Rankings and Week Nine Twitter Picks

Power Rankings for Week Eight

Week eight saw top-ranked Alabama continue their domination over the SEC with a 33-14 win over #6 Texas A&M, the stunning upset of Penn State over Ohio State in a very happy Happy Valley, and many of the rest of the College Football Playoff contenders either having the weekend off or dominating a lesser team as expected.

After Penn State’s upset win, they enter these rankings for the first time since 2014.  LSU, Virginia Tech, and Colorado each re-enter the rankings this week after big conference wins, including LSU’s over Ole Miss and Virginia Tech’s over Miami.

As a result, the Rebels and Hurricanes have fallen from the rankings this week, along with Houston, after their upset loss at SMU, and Arkansas, after their 56-3 drubbing at the hands of Auburn.  Auburn is this week’s biggest mover, rising nine spots.

The next game for all nine remaining undefeated teams is on the road (although two of those are next week due to byes), with four of them facing ranked opponents.

1. Alabama (8-0, Last Week: 1st, AP Poll: 1st)
2. Clemson (7-0, 3rd, 3rd)
3. Michigan (7-0, 4th, 2nd)
4. Washington (7-0, 5th, 4th)
5. Louisville (6-1, 7th, 5th)

6. Ohio State (6-1, 2nd, 6th)
7. Baylor (6-0, 8th, 8th)
8. Nebraska (7-0, 9th, 7th)
9. Wisconsin (5-2, 10th, 11th)
10. Texas A&M (6-1, 6th, 9th)

11. Florida State (5-2, 11th, 12th)
12. Oklahoma (5-2, 12th, 16th)
13. Boise State (7-0, 13th, 13th)
14. Florida (5-1, 14th, 14th)
15. Auburn (5-2, 24th, 15th)

16. North Carolina (6-2, 15th, 21st)
17. West Virginia (6-0, 17th, 10th)
18. Tennessee (5-2, 18th, 18th)
19. Utah (6-1, 25th, 17th)
20. LSU (5-2, unranked, 19th)

21. Western Michigan (8-0, 21st, 20th)
22. Navy (5-1, 22nd, 22nd)
23. Penn State (5-2, unranked, 24th)
24. Virginia Tech (5-2, unranked, 25th)
25. Colorado (6-2, unranked, 23rd)

Fell from Rankings:  Houston (6-2, Last Week: 16th), Arkansas (5-3, 19th), Ole Miss (3-4, 20th), Miami (4-3, 23rd)

 

Twitter Picks for Week Nine

Game of the Week

#3 Clemson (7-0) at #12 Florida State (5-2)
Saturday, 8:00 pm ET, ABC
Favorite:  Clemson by 5
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Clemson- 2nd, Florida State- 11th

 

Big Game Guarantee

#4 Washington (7-0) at #17 Utah (6-1)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, FS1
Favorite:  Washington by 10
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Washington- 4th, Utah- 19th

 

Upset of the Week

#10 West Virginia (6-0) at Oklahoma State ()
Saturday, 12:00 pm ET, FOX
Favorite:  West Virginia by 4
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  West Virginia- 17th, Oklahoma State- unranked

 

Closer Than the Experts Think

#2 Michigan (7-0) at Michigan State ()
Saturday, 12:00 pm ET, ESPN
Favorite:  Michigan by 24
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Michigan- 3rd, Michigan State- unranked

 

Not Closer Than the Experts Think

#8 Baylor (6-0) at Texas (3-4)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, ESPN
Favorite:  Baylor by 4
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Baylor- 7th, Texas- unranked

 

Overhyped Game

Miami (4-3) at Notre Dame (2-5)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, NBC
Favorite:  Miami by 2
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked

 

Group of Five Game of the Week

#13 Boise State (7-0) at Wyoming (5-2)
Saturday, 7:00 pm ET, CBSSN
Favorite:  Boise State by 14
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Boise State- 13th, Wyoming- unranked

 

Is This Futbol?

#7 Nebraska (7-0) at #11 Wisconsin (5-2)
Saturday, 7:00 pm ET, ESPN
Favorite:  Wisconsin by 8
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Nebraska- 8th, Wisconsin- 9th

 

Is This Basketball?

Texas Tech (3-4) at TCU (4-3)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, ESPN2
Favorite:  TCU by 9
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked

 

Toilet Bowl

Stanford (4-3) at Arizona (2-5)
Saturday, 11:00 pm ET, FS1
Favorite:  Stanford by 6
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked

 

Miscellaneous:  The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party

#14 Florida (5-1) at Georgia (4-3)
at Jacksonville, Fla. (EverBank Field)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, CBS
Favorite:  Florida by 8
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Florida- 14th, Georgia- unranked

 

NFL Game of the Week

Philadelphia Eagles (4-2) at Dallas Cowboys (5-1)
Sunday, 8:30 pm ET, NBC
Favorite:  Cowboys by 4

 

 

For what it’s worth…

Overall Record:  52-42-1
Last Week:  7-4-1
College Overall Record: 50-38
NFL Game of the Week: 2-4-1

Game of the Week:  4-4
Big Game Guarantee:  3-5
Upset of the Week:  3-5
Closer Than the Experts Think:  3-5
Not Closer Than the Experts Think:  7-1
Overhyped/Bad Spread Game:  4-4
Group of Five Game of the Week:  6-2
Is This Futbol?:  6-2
Is This Basketball?:  7-1
Toilet Bowl:  4-4
Miscellaneous:  3-5

For an explanation of the categories for Twitter Picks, click here.

Twitter Picks for College Football Week Eight

Game of the Week

#6 Texas A&M (6-0) at #1 Alabama (7-0)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, CBS
Favorite:  Alabama by 18
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Texas A&M- 6th, Alabama- 1st

 

Big Game Guarantee

#23 Ole Miss (3-3) at #25 LSU (4-2)
Saturday, 9:00 pm ET, ESPN
Favorite:  LSU by 6
SOS Ranking:  Ole Miss- 20th, LSU- unranked

 

Upset of the Week

#19 Utah (5-1) at UCLA (3-4)
Saturday, 4:00 pm ET, FOX
Favorite:  UCLA by 7
SOS Ranking:  Utah- 25th, UCLA- unranked

 

Closer Than the Experts Think

NC State (4-2) at #7 Louisville (5-1)
Saturday, 12:00 pm ET, ABC
Favorite:  Louisville by 19
SOS Ranking:  NC State- unranked, Louisville- 7th

 

Not Closer Than the Experts Think

TCU (4-2) at #12 West Virginia (5-0)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, ABC/ESPN2
Favorite:  West Virginia by 6
SOS Ranking:  TCU- unranked, West Virginia- 17th

 

Bad Spread Game

#17 Arkansas (5-2) at #21 Auburn (4-2)
Saturday, 6:00 pm ET, ESPN
Favorite:  Auburn by 9.5
SOS Ranking: Arkansas- 19th, Auburn- 24th

 

Group of Five Game of the Week

Memphis (5-1) at #24 Navy (4-1)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, CBSSN
Favorite:  Memphis by 2
SOS Ranking:  Memphis- unranked, Navy- 24th

 

Is This Futbol?

#10 Wisconsin (4-2) at Iowa (5-2)
Saturday, 12:00 pm ET, ESPN
Favorite:  Wisconsin by 3
SOS Ranking:  Wisconsin- 10th, Iowa- unranked

 

Is This Basketball?

#16 Oklahoma (4-2) at Texas Tech (3-3)
Saturday, 8:00 pm ET, FOX
Favorite:  Oklahoma by 14
SOS Ranking:  Oklahoma- 12th, Texas Tech- unranked

 

Toilet Bowl

Syracuse (3-4) at Boston College (3-3)
Saturday, 12:30 pm ET, ACCN
Favorite:  Boston College by 5
SOS Ranking:  both teams are unranked

 

Miscellaneous:  The Former NFL Coaches Meet

Illinois (2-4) at #3 Michigan (6-0)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, BTN
Favorite:  Michigan by 36
SOS Ranking:  Illinois- unranked, Michigan- 4th

 

NFL Game of the Week

Seattle Seahawks (4-1) at Arizona Cardinals (3-3)
Sunday, 8:30 pm ET, NBC
Favorite:  Cardinals by 2

 

For what it’s worth…

Overall Record:  45-38
Last Week:  10-2
College Overall Record: 43-34
NFL Game of the Week: 2-4

Game of the Week:  3-4
Big Game Guarantee:  3-4
Upset of the Week:  2-5
Closer Than the Experts Think:  3-4
Not Closer Than the Experts Think:  6-1
Overhyped/Bad Spread Game:  4-3
Group of Five Game of the Week:  6-1
Is This Futbol?:  5-2
Is This Basketball?:  6-1
Toilet Bowl:  3-4
Miscellaneous:  2-5

For an explanation of the categories for Twitter Picks, click here.

College Football Power Rankings for Week Seven

1. Alabama (7-0, Last Week: 1st, AP Poll: 1st)
Last Week:  def. #9 Tennessee, 49-10
This Week:  Saturday vs. #6 Texas A&M
Alabama entered Saturday’s game facing their toughest test of the season, and all they did was give Tennessee their worst loss in the Tide-Volunteers series since 1906.  This team, and especially its defense, is clearly the best team in the country.

2. Ohio State (6-0, 4th, 2nd)
Last Week:  def. #8 Wisconsin, 30-23 (ot)
This Week:  Saturday at Penn State
The Buckeyes survived a trip to Camp Randall in Madison, coming from behind to beat Wisconsin in overtime for the big road win, and moving into second in these rankings.  Now the schedule lightens up a little, at least until the Buckeyes host Nebraska on November 5.

3. Clemson (7-0, 2nd, 4th)
Last Week:  def. NC State, 24-17 (ot)
This Week:  idle
Clemson should not have won their game against NC State, as the Wolfpack missed three field goals including a 33-yard would-be game-winner as time expired.  But the Tigers survived, and only fell a spot in these rankings as a result of Ohio State’s big win.  Clemson is off this weekend ahead of a trip to Tallahassee next week.

4. Michigan (6-0, 3rd, 3rd)
Last Week:  idle
This Week:  Saturday vs. Illinois
The Wolverines got to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show of college football this past weekend, as they had the weekend off.  Looking forward, games at Michigan State and Iowa look much easier now than they did in September, meaning that if the Wolverines play well they should enter “The Game” at Ohio State on November 26 at 11-0.

5. Washington (6-0, 5th, 5th)
Last Week:  idle
This Week:  Saturday vs. Oregon State
The Huskies also had an open weekend, and looking forward there’s good news and bad news for them.  The good news is that their schedule the rest of the way isn’t all that difficult, but the bad news is that, even with a perfect record, their best win so far is probably Stanford, leaving them as a team that could potentially go undefeated, but without a true quality win, even as the would-be champion of a Power Five league.

6. Texas A&M (6-0, 7th, 6th)
Last Week:  idle
This Week:  Saturday at #1 Alabama
The Aggies had the weekend off, giving them a well-deserved week off after beating Tennessee in double overtime, but also a much-needed week off ahead of this week’s showdown against Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

7. Louisville (5-1, 6th, 7th)
Last Week:  def. Duke, 24-14
This Week:  Saturday vs. NC State
The Cardinals weren’t very convincing in their Friday night win over Duke, but they did find a way to win, and in fact outgained the Blue Devils 469-239.  NC State, who nearly beat Clemson on the road, comes to Louisville this weekend.

8. Baylor (6-0, 11th, 9th)
Last Week:  def. Kansas, 49-7
This Week:  idle
Baylor did as expected and walloped Kansas, forcing five turnovers in the win.  Four of the Bears’ last six games are on the road, starting next weekend at Texas, and including late-season trips to Oklahoma and West Virginia.

9. Nebraska (6-0, 10th, 8th)
Last Week:  def. Indiana, 27-22
This Week:  Saturday vs. Purdue
The Cornhuskers survived a trip to Hoosier territory on Saturday, and have a game this week against Purdue, who just fired coach Darrell Hazel.  Nebraska’s best win is currently over Oregon, but starting next week they’ll have a chance to change that, with back-to-back trips to Ohio State and Wisconsin.

10. Wisconsin (4-2, 8th, 10th)
Last Week:   lost to #2 Ohio State, 30-23 (ot)
This Week:  Saturday at Iowa
The Badgers led by as many as 10, but allowed Ohio State to come from behind twice in the fourth quarter.  With two close losses to teams ranked second and third in the AP Poll the Badgers are the highest-ranked two-loss team, but it is hard to see them having a road to the College Football Playoff, leading to the country music fan in me tweeting this:

 

11. Florida State (5-2, 12th, 13th)
12. Oklahoma (4-2, 14th, 16th)
13. Boise State (6-0, 16th, 14th)
14. Florida (5-1, 19th, 15th)
15. North Carolina (5-2, 20th, 22nd)

16. Houston (6-1, 17th, 11th)
17. West Virginia (5-0, 21st, 12th)
18. Tennessee (5-2, 9th, 18th)
19. Arkansas (5-2, 24th, 17th)
20. Ole Miss (3-3, 13th, 23rd)

21. Western Michigan (7-0, 23rd, 20th)
22. Navy (4-1, 22nd, 24th)
23. Miami (5-2, 18th, unranked)
24. Auburn (4-2, 25th, 21st)
25. Utah (5-1, unranked, 19th)

Fell from Rankings:  Virginia Tech (4-2, Last Week: 15th)

Also ranked in AP Poll:  LSU (3-2, AP: 25th)