The Daily Chronicle from De Kalb, Illinois on January 3, 2004 · Page 9
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The Daily Chronicle from De Kalb, Illinois · Page 9

De Kalb, Illinois
Issue Date:
Saturday, January 3, 2004
Page 9
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Nothing mythical about Southern CaPs share of the national crown PASADENA, Cafif. There was nothing "mythical" about it Not after the way Southern California thumped Michigan in full view of 93,849 witnesses, most of whom walked away from the most majestic stage in college football Thursday evening with no doubts they had just seen the nation's best team. And anybody who still wants to defend the Bowl - Championship Series should remember this: The one person in the Rose Bowl who knew better than anyone how good USC really is, Wolverine coach Lloyd Carr, won't even be allowed to put the Trojans at No. 1 when he casts his final vote in the coaches' poll this season. That's because Carr and his fraternity brothers signed a contract with the BCS automatically giving the No. 1 slot in the ESPNUSA Today poll to the winner of Sunday's Sugar Bowl matchup between Oklahoma and LSU. The media members who vote in The Associated Press poll, on the other hand, are free tovote any way they want and Carr wished he could join them. "I think USC tis very deserving," he said after Michigan absorbed a 28-14 beating, its worst of the season. "You can make me an honorary member." It's too late for that, but Pete Carroll, Carr's Southern Cal counterpart, promised not to hold it against him. "Guys have to do what they think is right and 111 respect that," he said. Carroll wisely opted out of voting in the coaches' poll, but added that he wouldn't dissuade any of his brethren from casting a protest vote by sending their ballots in with Southern Cal on top. But his lobbying effort ended there, AP voters appear to agree on USC By Josh Dubow AP Football Writer Rest easy, USC. Your No. 1 ranking appears safe. The Trojans impressed The Associated Press pollsters so much with their dismantling . of Michigan in the Rose Bowl that some voters already have decided to drop LSU from the No. 1 spot even before the Tigers play in the Sugar Bowl. "I'm switching to USC, and I can't see a Sugar Bowl scenario that would change that," Ryan White of The Oregonian said Friday. "The Trojans have earned half the title, so they should get half the title." A survey of 18 of the 65 poll voters backed up what everyone believed after watching Southern California beat Michigan 28-14 on Thursday that USC is the top team in the nation. USC will be the national champion no matter what happens in the Bowl Championship Series title 'game between LSU and Oklahoma on Sunday night. At least two of the 21 voters who have LSU No. 1 are ready to switch to USC, and a third plans to split his vote. Others are open to changing. That would make USC's 21 first-place vote lead almost insurmountable because it's hard to figure that many voters would drop the Trojans after dominating the fourth-ranked team in the nation. "I'm not convinced that USC is a better team than the two teams in New Orleans, but the way the polls work I can't move USC off No. 1 after the game they played," said Herb Gould of The Chicago Sun-Times. Of the 10 USC voters surveyed, nine have committed to stick with the Trojans or are heavily leaning that way. One is open to a switch. Assuming nobody votes USC lower than second, at least 13 of the 42 voters siding with the Trojans would have to change their votes for USC to be shut out or the title picture. "It's very similar to "97 when the coaches took it upon themselves to make Nebraska No. 1," said Tony Bamhart of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who plans to move USC ahead of LSU. "I just think it's the right thing to do." The split between the Cornhuskers and Michigan in 1997 was the most recent shared title and was supposed to be the last. The BCS began Jim LlTKE AP Columnist and with good reason. The Trojans did all the convincing they needed to between the white lines. Michigan came into the game having won three of its last four games against Top 10 competition, but the way the Wolverines were manhandled by Southern Cal proved just how far they were stepping up in class. Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart threw for 327 yards and three touchdowns against a defense that was ranked sixth in the nation and had allowed just five TDs all season. USC sacked John Navarre nine times and that after he had been dumped just IS times all season. The sacks came from everywhere, but the pressure up front was constant. Small wonder the defensive line was nicknamed "Wild Bunch II" to commemorate a unit that led USC to a share of the national championship 25 years ago. Back then, the coaches' and writers' polls often disagreed on who was No. 1, which is why the title came to be called "mythical" in the first place. All of that was supposed to end with the BCS promise of matching No. 1 vs. No. 2. Despite topping both polls, the BCS computers nudged LSU into the Sugar Bowl ahead of Southern Cal based on the strength-of schedule component. Proving the old saw the next year with promises of pitting the top two teams in a bowl game. But when the computer rankings disagreed with the polls, the top team in the minds of the human voters was left out. Joe Biddle of The Tennessean, who voted LSU No. 1 in the last poll, said he would probably split his ballot in the final vote. "It's ludicrous to ask anybody to sit there and determine who's better, Southern Cal or whoever wins Sunday night's game," he said. While AP voters can pick any team as No. 1, the coaches have agreed to make the Sugar Bowl winner the top team in their poll. Many coaches disagree with ' the arrangement that will force 37 voters to drop the Trojans despite their bowl win. And one said Friday he might not do so if Oklahoma wins the Sugar Bowl. "Then you have to vote for USC," Michigan State coach John L. Smith said. "I don't know if they'll throw me in jail or not for doing that but that's what I have to do." Of 19 coaches surveyed by the AP last month, 16 want to consider a change to the system when they hold their annual meeting next week. "Absolutely. It's a no-vote," Wyoming coach Joe Glenn said. "What" are we doing here? It's a joke." But almost all the coaches have said they will abide by the agreement. "Every coach is going to do what he thinks is right," USC coach F'ete Carroll said. "Something is wrong with the system and they are going to fix the system, but I've never complained about it. I just think where we stand as a football team is pretty clear." Some poll voters hope a split title will help lead to a more conclusive way of determining a champion. I want to screw up the BCS," said Scott Wolf of the Daily News in Ios Angeles. "Hopefully this will force some change to the system. It exposed the shortcomings with a split championship. If LSU had been left out, I'd vote them No. 1." Others are sticking with USC for purer reasons. "I think they're the best team," said Jim Carty of The Ann Arbor News. I think they would beat the other two teams." 9 : r rwn Sports about garbage in, garbage out, the computers shoved USC aside only after the very last game of the season, when Boise State beat Hawaii 45-28. Receiver Mike Williams said USC's claim on the championship comes down to whether you put your faith in men or machines. "All I know is that we're the No. 1 team in the human poll and we won our bowl game, so we're the No. 1 team in the country," he said. That's all I need to know. The trophy says 'champions' on , it. BCS, Oklahoma, LSU, .whatever, that has nothing to do with us." But teammate Jason Leach said a share of the title was good enough. "The BCS can figure out whatever they've got to figure out," he said. "We won the game." Southern Cal can afford to be generous because complete as the Trojans seem, they're almost certain to be even better next season. Carroll got drummed out of the NFL twice for being too nice, but that same quality makes him one of the best recruiters on the college scene. And he's not afraid give those recruits a chance to show their stuff early. Fifteen of his starters are underclassmen, including Leinart, Williams, all three of his running backs and most of the defensive line. Few expected the dividends this fast, though, especially after USC started 2-5 in Carroll's first season. Since then, the Trojans have gone 26-4 and, dominated good teams while doing it, beating their last 16 opponents by an average of two touchdowns, the same margin they put between themselves and the Wolverines. "They're a great team and I'm not going to beat myself up over it," Michigan tackle Critics of the BCS point to this season's mess as more reason for overhauling the whole system. In November, members of the conferences left out of the lucrative bowls met with representatives of the six major conferences to discuss changes in the BCS format. They plan to meet again in February. The BCS contract expires after the 2006 bowls. "There is ample evidence that the system needs to be changed," said Tulane president Scott Cowen, leader of the anti-BCS faction. "Not just a tweak here or there but it needs a substantial overhaul." While Cowen's hopes for a 16-team playoff are off the table, there is some sentiment for incorporating the bowls into a smaller playoff system. "My slogan for years has been three more games, two more weeks," Gould said. "But I don't think they'll do it." Desolation By Jonathan Every Tuesday, January 6th - April 22nd the Daily Chronicle will print one chapter of the Breakfast Serial publication "Desolation Canyon." Tony Pape said. "We played the No. 1 team in the nation and got beat." The last "mythical" national championship was 1997, when Michigan beat Washington State in the Rose Bowl then got submarined when the coaches gave their share of the title to Nebraska as a going-away present to retiring coach Tom Osborne, Minutes after Nebraska beat Tennessee in the Orange Bowl, Husker quarterback Scott Frost grabbed a mike and lobbied the coaches from the podium on the field. "If your job depended on playing either Michigan or Nebraska," he said, "who would you rather play?" Change the names to Southern Cal and whichever team wins the Sugar Bowl, then put it to the coaches again. If they're telling the truth, how do you think most of them would answer? Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press, Write to him at Successful takes over From Chronicle Wires MT. PLEASANT, Mich. Brian Kelly, the highly successful coach of Grand Valley State University, will be Central Michigan University's new football coach it was announced by Chippewa athletics director Herb Deromedi. The 42-year-old Kelly was introduced as CMlTs 24th head at a Friday press conference at the Indoor Athletic Complex. "Brian is an experienced head coach and a proven winner, and we're excited that he accepted the opportunity to be our next football coach," said Deromedi. "He has demonstrated great leadership qualities and the ability to develop student-athletes to a high level of success. "He has the experience from being a head coach in terms of recruiting, working with a staff and making decisions on and off the field." Kelly has been the head coach at GVSU the past 13 seasons, leading the Lakers to NCAA Division II national championships in 2002 and 2003 after finishing second in 2001. His last three teams went 41-2 and featured a 32-game winning streak. "I'm excited about the opportunity of waking up a sleeping giant," said Kelly. "Central Michigan University has great tradition and facilities. I'm looking forward to the challenge of bringing CMU football back to its rightful place at the top of the MidAmerican Conference." CMU President Mike Rao endorsed the hiring of Kelly. "In our search, it was impor- This nationwide reading program brings good books to young people through the newspaper. Educators, if you would like to receive newspapers for your classroom, please contact Julyne Kenney at 756-4841, Ext. 203. DAILY CHRONICLE, Online at and, Saturday, January 3, 2004 B3 Huskies' Novak featured on today's Fox Sports Net 'Coaches Corner5 Prom Chronicle Wires t DeKALB -Attention, hardcore Northern Illinois University football fans. Seen enough football the last couple weeks? Overdosed on the endless succession of college bowl games on televi- JOE sion? Guess what? Then, do we have the ideal TV program for you and one that includes an interview segment with Huskie head coach Joe Novak. It's the "2004 College Championship Football Coaches Corner" on local cable television outlet Fox Sports Net Chicago (Ch. 50 locally) today at 2 p.m. (CST)rerun later at 8 p.m. (CST). The "Coaches Corner" show also appears nationally on Fox Sports Net. Hosted by Jim Brinson, the "Coaches Corner" show Grand Valley State boss Chippewa grid program "I, 'm looking forward to the challenge of bringing CMU football back to its rightful palce at the top of the MAC." Brian Kelly new Central Michigan cinu h tant for CMU to seek a head coach, rather than an assistant, with a record of success," Rao said. " I'm impressed with Brian Kelly's professionalism." The Lakers were 1 18-35-2 in Kelly's tenure for an impressive winning percentage of J67 third best among active Division II head coaches. He has never had a losing season as a head coach (his 1999 team went 5-5) and his GLIAC record was an incredible 103-22-2 for a winning percentage of .820. Kelly, GVSlfs head coach since 1991, led the Lakers to five Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles and six NCAA 'Division II playoff appearances. His team finished lower than third in the conference just once. During one eight-year span, his teams finished first three times, second four times and third once. Kelly was named the 2(X)2 American Football Coaches Association Division II "Coach of the Year." His team was 14-0 in that championship campaign while his 2003 team posted a 14-1 mark. The new Chippewa Canyon London y Ibi 1 - -v- discusses the 2003 season, the postseason bowl line-ups, and the Bowl Championship Series set-up. University of Colorado head coach Gary Barnett and University of Wisconsin Barry Alvarez are the featured guests. Novak, who was NOVAK interviewed for the "Coaches Corner" TV show by sportscaster Dave Kaplan of WGN-AM radio, appears at the end of the "Coaches Corner" program and talks about Northern Illlinois' 10-2 campaign and prospects for the 2004 season. The 58-year-old Huskie mentor was named the American Football Coaches Association Region 3 Coach of the Year last month and has led NIU to four consecutive winning seasons (6-5 in 2000 and 200 1, 8-4 in 2002, and 10-2 in 2003) mentor tutored two Harlon Hill finalists, an award given annually to the top player in Division II. Curt Anes won the award in 2002 and was second in 2001 while Jeff Fox was third in 1998. Both were quarterbacks. Kelly's players have earned 77 All-America awards with four of his players competing in the National Football League and three more in the Canadian Football League. The 2001 Inkers set 77 NCAA, GLIAC and school records, setting the all-time NCAA Division II record for scoring with 58.4 points per game. They also became the first toam in Division II in 53 years to average more than 600 yards per game on offense (600.8). GVSU . averaged 497.5 yards and 47.0 points per game in 2(X)2 while the 2003 team was more noted for its defense. It stopped North Dakota, 10-3, in the Division II championship game. A native of Chelsea, Mass., where he attended SL Johns IVep Schixil, Kelly was a four-year lelterwinner at Assumption (Mass.) College as a linebacker. After graduating from Assumption in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in political science, he served as a linebacker coach, defensive coordinator and softball coach from 19&3-86. Kelly joined the GVSU staff in 1987 as a grad assistant and defensive back coach. He became the defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator in 1989 and took over as head coach in 1991. His first team went 9-3 and made the NCAA playoffs. Brian and his wife, Paqui, have three children: sons Patrick and Kenzel, plus a daughter, Grace.' l A. A A A A A-A. A AAA. A A A A A-A.A A. A.-A Ai

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