Inside Marshall Sports

Ratings up for Detroit bowl

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Bowl murmurs: Worst-case scenario

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Word is coming out that there has been some horse-tradin’, and Marshall is going to the LITTLE CAESAR’S PIZZA BOWL. Yes, Detroit, on the 26th.

I’m about to slit my wrists.

Football, bowls, basketball

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Original headline, eh?

My contribution to the coaching picture is a quick profile on Butch Jones. Do NOT take it as an endorsement for the Marshall job on my part. I seriously doubt I’ll be handing one of those out. If you run into me on the street and ask me who I DON’T want, then you’d better brace for an essay answer.

Hamrick says about 70 have contacted him, one way or the other. I would have guessed higher. This is NOT a rebuilding job, friends.

Best accidental read of the day: A Louisville Courier-Journal column on the “destination” vs. “steppingstone” job. The only bad thing is he got to do it about the U of L job before I got to do my next Monday column … My thoughts in relation to the MU job are exactly the same, perhaps even stronger. I may still write on that, but I promise not to copy and paste.

A little breaking item on the bowl picture: I talked to the EagleBank Bowl’s exec director, and he is not certain if they can go straight from Army to C-USA, because of the Herd’s 6-6 record. I wondered that about a month ago, but was told by another EagleBank official otherwise. Maybe the NCAA should draw diagrams on this stuff.

I wouldn’t get too worked up about it, though. There are a maximum four 7-win teams (and that’s if Hawaii beats Wisconsin) to fill five vacancies, counting both at the EagleBank. C-USA will get its 6th bowl (7th, if Texas chokes) and Notre Dame will play somewhere if it wants to, unless something really, really goofy happens in the BCS lineup.

Frightening discovery about the Marshall-Salem International game: The 0-4 Tigers will be debuting a new coach, replacing Andy Sorine. And Rio Berkley, the Tigers’ only credible offensive threat, has missed the last two games, possibly by suspension.

This game should never have been scheduled, and I didn’t pussyfoot my game preview. You will know the Herd’s biggest routs at the Henderson Center, because I fully expect them to be topped.

Fun stuff tonight

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Da Boss, Mitch Vingle, throws some names out in the Marshall coaching search. Some you’ve seen, a few will raise your eyebrows (and a few have me going NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!).

With SMU and UCF getting bowl bids, I sort of reshuffled the bowl picture. Russ Anderson in the C-USA bunker in Irving, Texas, tells me there is still the possibility that somehow, Marshall can still avoid a late-December day in RFK Stadium and go to New Orleans. I’m not sure how, but I figure the first step would be Houston beating East Carolina. I do know some projections you can disregard: Southern Miss-Troy in the NO Bowl will not happen, and neither will Houston-Air Force in Fort Worth.

Finally… I talked to Darren Tillis, MU assistant, about the development of Hassan Whiteside and Nigel Spikes. And BTW, if you’re still waiting for the Herd to play basketball “like the old days,” you’re not a very good consumer. This team is a whole bunch of fun. … But if you come Thursday night, brace yourself for a human sacrifice. I’ve had the unfortunate experience of seeing Salem International, so I know what’s coming…

A word about bowl payouts

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While it would be nice for Marshall to play in a higher-tab bowl, don’t get too wrapped up in that. The dough goes to Conference USA, which puts all the payouts into a single pot and pays most expenses for every team. So really, MU probably gets about the same benefit from the NO Bowl, which pays out a fraction of the $1 million from the EagleBank Bowl.

It won’t happen, but I’d bloody rather go to New Orleans…

Bowl picture, I guess

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A whole bunch of potential 7-win teams went by the wayside, but one has popped up: Hawaii. The Warriors beat Navy to go to 6-6, and face Wisconsin next week … on the island … with CFO West officials… you never count this one out.

So here are the excess 7-win teams:
Middle Tennessee
Northern Illinois
Bowling Green

Here are the bowl openings:
Mobile
D.C. (ACC spot)
D.C. (Army spot, probably, then to C-USA)
Detroit (if Iowa/Penn State goes to BCS) or Texas (If Nebraska upsets Texas), but not both
Humanitarian (MWC spot)

That’s all, folks. So I guess we’re waiting on the Hawaii-Wisconsin game to see if the bowls get to arm wrestle for 6-6 Notre Dame. And then the Army-Navy game. And the appointment of an interim coach at Marshall.

Argh… BG is 7-win bowl eligible

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The Falcons got a turnover deep in their territory, and have scored to make it 38-24 with 1:27 left over Toledo.

They will be the second surplus 7-5+ team in the MAC, and they join Middle Tennessee State out of the Sun Belt. There appear to be four other possibilities:

Louisiana-Monroe (home Sat vs. Middle Tennessee)
Louisiana-Lafayette (home Sat vs. Troy)
Pac-10 — UCLA 6-5 (At USC, late Saturday); Arizona 6-4 (At Arizona State today, USC the next week), both must hit 7 wins to give that league one extra team… assuming only Oregon makes BCS.
Notre Dame (At Stanford, 8 p.m. Saturday)

The bowl openings, as it looks now
EagleBank (ACC spot) DEFINITE
EagleBank (Army spot) LIKELY, to C-USA (and one hopes, C-USA gets other spot early and some poor at-large team gets this one instead)
Mobile (ACC spot) DEFINITE
New Mexico (or other WAC Bowl) LOOKS LIKELY
Texas Bowl (Big 12 No. 8) THIS CAN HAPPEN, AND C-USA GETS A CRACK.

This will be updated with further developments.

Orlando reports on the bowl picture

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They’re breaking this puppy down HARD at the Sentinel.

One little correction here: If Notre Dame does not get a Gator Bowl bid (and it will have to beat Stanford to even get a sniff), it will NOT NOT NOT NOT get another Big East bowl. It is out of the Big East picture. I did call the Big East office to confirm that.

I also talked to Russ Anderson and he “understands” that C-USA will be given the ACC spot in the EagleBank Bowl to move things along, as Orlando reports. And C-USA, as a league, has a big interest in getting that done — its first bowls are Dec. 19 and 20, and really doesn’t want to have a spot hanging in the balance all the way to Dec. 12 (Army-Navy game).

I do, however, want to get that confirmed by Steve Beck, exec director of the EagleBank Bowl. I still wonder if those folks won’t make a play for 7-5 Notre Dame or the surplus seven-win team from the Pac-10, if there is one. (UCLA?)

If UCLA beats USC and Arizona beat Arizona State (and the Pac-10 does not get an extra BCS berth), then you have that extra team there. Stay tuned.

With all those possibilities, I still don’t see UCF going to Washington. I surely don’t see the Knights going to play a MAC team, and I don’t see them volunteering to take the “if” spot and wait for the Army-Navy game. I still consider that the worst possible position, one to be avoided, no matter how much of an underdog Army will be.

I can see East Carolina making a play for the EagleBank if the Pirates lose to Southern Miss. Shoot, I’m rooting for it. Let’s see … the 29th at RFK Stadium, or my birthday in New Orleans (18th, 2 days before the game)? Tough call!

Failing that, let’s also root for Toledo to upset Bowling Green … don’t need an MU-BG rematch…. ugh.

Some bowl notes

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I’ve been asked if Texas A&M has a chance at landing in the EagleBank Bowl … the answer is very likely not.

The Big 12 probably won’t even have a surplus of teams. If you’re looking at the standings, keep in mind that Kansas State is DEAD despite its 6-6 record. The Wildcats played two FCS teams, and are richly deserving of their fate.

So…. the Big 12 has eight teams eligible for eight bowls. That becomes nine only if Kansas beats Missouri… and if Oklahoma State is somehow tabbed for the Fiesta Bowl (and I have heard that speculation), the Big 12 suddenly needs a ninth team, or the Texas Bowl becomes an open spot.

Even if the Big 12 has nine teams for eight spots, the surplus team will be one of probably three 6-6 teams. Again, a 7-5 MAC team will have precedence, and we know there will be one MAC team swimming around, maybe two. Add Middle Tennessee and maybe one of the Louisiana schools.

Notre Dame’s situation does bear watching. If the Irish somehow beats Stanford, it goes to 7-5. I know, the Gator Bowl will still consider the Irish, but one hopes common sense will win out and the folks in Jacksonville will opt for a better game, period.

Other open bowls to watch for: The Pizza Bowl in Detroit probably opens up, as the Big Ten gets an extra BCS team. The Mountain West, as long as TCU moves to the BCS, won’t fill its fifth bowl (Boise?). It may make sense to bus the Irish to Detroit, but I figure the folks in Washington will make a heavy play for ND.

But if the Irish finish 6-6, all hands will be tied…

Bowl projections … I guess

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I’m about as down as anybody else, but I’ll still attempt the bowl projections. I’ll make a projection for Marshall beating SMU and losing at UTEP, the unlikely event that the Herd loses to SMU and wins UTEP, and the even more unlikely event that the Herd sweeps the two.

I will change one projection, and take Southern Miss to defeat Tulsa at Hattiesburg, despite the fact that G.J. Kinne could pass for 400 yards, if he stays upright. I will stay with ECU over Southern Miss in the finale, though the history dictates otherwise.

The big, big picture: The number of teams at .500 or better have risen to 75, but 13 sit at even .500. The ACC already cannot fill one bowl (GMAC) and I expect another to open (EagleBank). The MAC and Sun Belt will pollute the at-large pool — both already have an extra 7-win team, and may add another… keep an eye on 5-5 Bowling Green and the hyphenated Louisiana schools.

As as before, if the Herd loses out, I will no longer care.

The current CUSA standings:
East
East Carolina 5-1, 6-4
Southern Miss 4-2, 6-4
UCF 4-2, 6-4
UAB 4-2, 5-5
Marshall 3-3, 5-5
Memphis 1-5, 2-8

West
SMU 5-1, 6-4
Houston 4-2, 8-2
Tulsa 2-4, 4-6
UTEP 2-4, 3-7
Tulane 1-5, 3-7
Rice 1-5, 1-9

My projection, if Marshall beats SMU and loses at UTEP:
East
ECU 7-1, 8-4+
UCF 6-2, 8-4
Southern Miss 5-3, 7-5
Marshall 4-4, 6-6
UAB 4-4, 5-7
Memphis 1-7, 2-10

West
Houston 6-2, 10-2+
SMU 6-2, 7-5
UTEP 4-4, 5-7
Tulsa 3-5, 5-7
Tulane 1-7, 3-9
Rice 1-7, 1-11

As I’ve expected all along, five 7-win teams to fill the 5 contracted bowls, with Marshall the loose 6-6 team, hopefully to take Army’s spot in

Washington.

If Marshall beats only UTEP:
East
East
ECU 7-1, 8-4+
UCF 6-2, 8-4
Southern Miss 5-3, 7-5
Marshall 4-4, 6-6
UAB 4-4, 5-7
Memphis 1-7, 2-10

West
SMU 7-1, 8-4+
Houston 6-2, 10-2
Tulsa 3-5, 5-7
UTEP 3-5, 4-8
Tulane 1-7, 3-9
Rice 1-7, 1-11

Same as above, but SMU wouldn’t be heading to Hawaii if it wins the conference! As I understand things, Hawaii gets the No. 2 choice this year, and I

figure it would prefer Houston if it can’t get June Jones and SMU.

If Marshall somehow, some way wins the next two:
East
ECU 7-1, 8-4+
UCF 6-2, 8-4
Southern Miss 5-3, 7-5
Marshall 5-3, 7-5
UAB 4-4, 5-7
Memphis 1-7, 2-10

West
Houston 6-2, 10-2+
SMU 6-2, 7-5
UTEP 3-5, 4-8
Tulsa 3-5, 5-7
Tulane 1-7, 3-9
Rice 1-7, 1-11

That makes six 7-win teams, and we’re probably still looking at MU going to Washington. Now… if Tulsa beats Southern Miss, Marshall could end up as one of five 7-win teams, which would get the Herd out of Washington.