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Posts Tagged ‘Independents’

Notre Dame to Leave Big East, Join A.C.C.

Notre Dame will join the A.C.C. in all sports with the exception of football and hockey, the conference announced Wednesday. As first reported by Brett McMurphy of ESPN, the university’s arrangement with the A.C.C. differs from its previous affiliation with the Big East in one significant fashion: Notre Dame will play five non-conference games annually against A.C.C. competition. In a way, this slides the Irish into a role as the league’s 15th member – while certainly not a full-fledge football member, seeing that the program is not playing for any sort of conference hardware, Notre Dame’s relationship with the A.C.C. is far deeper, far more meaningful and far more significant than the university’s prior connection to the Big East.

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    No. 20: B.Y.U.

    The suspicion was there in October and November, but it didn’t become official until Riley Nelson duped Tulsa, Dan Marino-style, late in the fourth quarter of December’s Armed Forces Bowl. Then it was official: Nelson’s become a legend. Not quite a Ty Detmer-level legend, mind you; Detmer was legendary, and there’s a difference. Nelson’s a legend in the Merriam-Webster definition of the word, third from the top: “a popular myth of recent origin.” Popular? Nelson’s popularity is off the charts in Provo, thanks to the way he put B.Y.U. on his shoulders and carried it to a 10-win season despite a horribly disappointing start. Nelson wasn’t due to see the field at all, not with Jake Heaps back for a full season as the starter, but a funny thing happened on the road to the Heisman: Heaps struggled. Nelson’s ascension to the starting role, so vital last fall, now gives B.Y.U. a leader, an identity and a shot at making some national noise in its second go-round as an Independent.

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      No. 25: Notre Dame

      There’s past, there’s present and there’s future, and nowhere else do all three commingle more than at Notre Dame. Such is life in South Bend, where every nook and cranny – from Rockne to Leahy, Ara to Holtz – serves as a reminder, and an often painful one at that, of the program’s newfound place among college football’s perennial underachievers. If it’s not one thing it’s another; if it’s not penalties it’s turnovers, if not the defense it’s the quarterback. It’s getting tiresome, and for no group more so than the current Irish – those players who constitute this year’s team, who have battled against not only U.S.C., Michigan and Michigan State but also the annual perception that when push comes to shove, Notre Dame is not going to live up the hype. Well, you have two options when you get shoved against a wall: you can either run away and hide, with your tail between your legs, or you can push back.

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        No. 60: Navy

        Navy is a program that judges its success using three standards: Army, Air Force and bowl eligibility. The Midshipmen are relatively alone in this regard, as the vast majority of the F.B.S. uses more general and wide-ranging criteria – win eight games, for example, or finish above .500 in conference play or play in a January bowl, to name a few. This often plays in Navy’s favor, especially with an often stout schedule of B.C.S. conference opponents lowering the team’s overall won-loss record, but you can also see a drawback: when Navy falters in one or two of its three criteria for success, the year can quickly take a turn for the worse. Navy missed on two of its three guidelines last fall, losing by a single point against Air Force and missing out on the postseason thanks to five close-but-no-cigar defeats. This runs contrary to popular logic: Navy aims small, but when it misses, it misses big.

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          No. 88 : Army

          As an Independent, Army has the ability to dictate its own schedule. To a degree: Army still needs to play Navy in December; the Cadets still need to fit Air Force into the schedule around the Falcons’ Mountain West slate; and Army would do what it took to get Notre Dame on the schedule, because Notre Dame is, well, Notre Dame. And as an institution, Army has the financial security to play anyone, anytime, anywhere – the Cadets were doing so long before Fresno State coined the phrase. Think about these two facts, that Army can dictate its own schedule and can largely pick and choose its opponents, and then consider this: the Cadets’ 2012 schedule has them playing 11 games over 11 weeks. Army could have played a game on Sept. 1 and then taken a week off. Had at least two games between Temple on Nov. 17 and Navy on Dec. 8. Instead: 11 games, 11 weeks. This won’t be easy.

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            Aggies’ Future: Revenue Against Expenses

            In August of 2010, roughly two weeks before the start of the college football season, the faculty of New Mexico State University recommended to school president Barbara Couture that N.M.S.U. develop a five-year plan for turning the athletic department into a self-supporting branch of the university.

            In this case, the term “self-supporting” was used to describe an athletic department that, for the good of the university, would not accept any money from the two major N.M.S.U. funds: the Instructional and General Fund and the Facilities and Administrative Fund.

            In tendering the proposal, the faculty cited forthcoming budget cuts to the university from the New Mexico legislature; cuts already in place affecting library and faculty resources; and cuts to academic services used to support the university’s student-athletes without a corresponding drop in the support budgeted to the N.M.S.U. athletic department from the two funds listed above.

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              How the Conferences Rank, 1-12: Final

              The rankings are in the books, for better or worse, so all that’s left is to tally the numbers. What follows is the F.B.S. conference breakdown in terms of average final re-ranking; included in this list are our four Independents, even if that quartet, by design, holds no conference affiliation. The listings include the average ranking, highest team ranking and numbers of teams in the final top 25 in parentheses. The SEC again rules the roost — even if the conference finally lost a B.C.S. National Championship Game, in a way — but the league was challenged all year for the title of deepest conference, top to bottom. One conference in particular made a strong case for being the best in college football.

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                How the Conferences Rank, 1-12

                In lieu of the weekly B.C.S. and non-B.C.S. conference posts, here’s the entire F.B.S. conference breakdown in terms of average P.S.R. 1-120 ranking. It’s not entirely fair to include the Independents among the true conferences, seeing that there’s only four independent teams, but it does give a slight slice-of-life taste of where that quartet stands in the big picture. Again, the listings include the average ranking, highest team ranking and number of teams in the top 25 in parentheses. Without further ado:

                1. Big 12 (37.7, 6, 5)
                2. SEC (39.7, 1, 5)
                3. Big Ten (44.7, 8, 5)
                4. A.C.C. (48.3, 5, 2)
                5. Big East (51.0, 23, 1)
                6. Pac-12 (54.6, 3, 4)
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                  The Countdown

                  A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.