Wednesday, November 30, 2005

why i hate the irish

Notre Dame is probably going to the Fiesta Bowl, and that’s not fair. Yes, Charlie Weis’ team was 9-2 and is ranked seventh in the country. They came within a yard of beating USC, produced a quarterback, Brady Quinn, who will probably finish no lower than fourth in the Heisman race, set school records for passing offense, and showed a lot of grit when games were on the line.

But the Irish schedule that was supposed to be one of the toughest in the country when the season began turned out to be as soft as a spring breeze. Pitt wasn’t even ordinary, Michigan State, which beat Notre Dame, couldn’t beat anyone else, Michigan, a pre-season Top 10 pick, lost four games, Tennessee, another alleged Top 10 team, didn’t even qualify for a bowl game, Syracuse would have had to play Buffalo 10 times to have a hope of winning five games, Stanford finished 5-6 — you get the idea; other than USC, the Irish didn’t play anyone who ended up being any good. Only three of Notre Dame’s victims are going to bowl games. Doesn't matter. Notre Dame is going to the Fiesta Bowl and, unless you’re Ohio State or maybe Penn State, you’re not.

Philip Marshall of makes a very good case for why his team, 9-2 Auburn, should get the Fiesta Bowl bid instead. And Pac-10 fans are saying that Oregon deserves the bid, seeing as how the Ducks are ranked ahead of Notre Dame in the BCS and have one fewer loss. Once again, it may not be fair, but fair has nothing to do with it.

The reality is that the BcS itself is not fair. If you’re going to accept that you can choose a champion by letting voters and computers pick the two best teams in the nation and let everyone else play for third place, you have to accept that Notre Dame is always going to get the best and richest game it qualifies for according to the unfair rules.

The rules say Notre Dame can go to the Fiesta Bowl and collect $14.5 million, so that’s what’s going to happen. It will happen because Notre Dame will bring bigger television ratings (which equal dollars), and fan interest, than just about any other team. Put the Irish in with Ohio State, another legendary program, or Penn State and the renascent Joe Paterno, and you have a game that will be outdrawn only by USC-Texas.

Until there’s a playoff, it’s always going to be this way. The BcS says Notre Dame can go to one of the big four bowls as long as it’s no lower than 12th in the BcS rankings. Notre Dame meets that criteria. Oregon and Auburn can scream all they want about the injustice, but they’d be better off screaming for a playoff system.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

southlake carroll qb is passing inspection

McElroy holds up under pressure of marquee position

By DAMON L. SAYLES / The Dallas Morning News - Thursday, November 24, 2005

SOUTHLAKE – Greg McElroy knew from his first snap as Southlake Carroll's quarterback that he would be praised heavily or scrutinized mercilessly depending on his play.

The spotlight he has been in might have shined brightest Nov. 12 in a Class 5A Division II Region I bi-district playoff at Texas Stadium. In his first postseason start, McElroy delivered an MVP-type performance.

"He didn't let the big stage intimidate him," Carroll coach Todd Dodge said of McElroy, who threw for 278 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for another score – all in the first half – to help beat Irving MacArthur, 48-21.

"Pressure is however you handle it, and with Greg and all our quarterbacks, you go into a big game with a gunslinger's mentality."

McElroy followed that performance with a 355-yard, three-touchdown show in a 45-15 win against Allen in last Saturday's area-round playoff. McElroy completed 25 of 34 passes and threw no interceptions and helped Carroll (12-0) win its 28th consecutive game and 59th in 60 games dating to 2002.

"There's pressure, absolutely. But playing for Southlake and the town, what it does is it fuels my fire," McElroy said. "I think pressure brings out the best in me. I love the big-time games."

McElroy said being a backup to Chase Daniel and Chase Wasson, two former 5A players of the year, had its good and bad moments.

"For anyone, it would be extremely difficult to wait, but you have to take into consideration the people I was behind," McElroy said. "They were both tremendous quarterbacks. You can't find any two better who have won more games.

"I had a chance to transfer, but I wanted to stay and be a Carroll Dragon. One year at Southlake is as good as three at another school."

Despite not starting a single game, McElroy has been on college scouts' radars since he was a sophomore. Recruiters scouted Daniel in spring football workouts but were pleasantly surprised when they saw the other Carroll quarterback showcase his accuracy and arm strength.

"Chase [Daniel] was our returning starter, but we held him out of a lot of drills. We knew what he could do," Dodge said. "Greg got a ton of reps that spring. They would come to see Chase, and they'd leave saying, 'Who's that kid?' "

Receiver McKay Jacobson, who has committed to BYU, has watched and helped McElroy develop into one of the state's top quarterbacks. McElroy has thrown for 3,394 yards and 44 touchdowns with only six interceptions in 328 attempts. Jacobson, McElroy's top target, has 73 catches for 1,230 yards and 14 scores.

McElroy, in addition, has led Carroll to No. 1 rankings in both the National Prep Football Poll and the Student Sports Fab 50 national poll and a national No. 3 ranking in the USA Today Super 25.
[Click image for a larger version] BRAD LOPER / DMN
Greg McElroy and Southlake Carroll are riding a 28-game winning streak.

"Going in your senior year and your first year to start, it's tough for anyone," Jacobson said, "but he's done a great job behind a two-time 5A player of the year [Daniel] and another 5A player of the year [Wasson]. He's gotten better from learning from Chase Daniel and being behind him."

Linebacker Patrick Benoist, one of McElroy's closest friends since fifth grade, said McElroy has helped Carroll's defense improve. Benoist and the defense have had to make plays in practice or get embarrassed by the offense's potent attack.

"Greg's a great quarterback, and we get to play against a great corps of receivers every day," Benoist said. "Their offense is so efficient, and we learn a lot from them. It's good to get to see the best because it helps out for game time."

As the team faces unbeaten and state-ranked Abilene on Saturday, it will expect McElroy to continue making the plays necessary to reach the state championship game once again.

It's all about a little perseverance for Carroll, something McElroy has lived on.

"He's dedicated himself to being the best player he could possibly be," Dodge said. "You look at his work going all the way back to when he was a freshman. You look at his work in off-season and in the quarterback training programs. He's just gotten better and better."

Statistics for Southlake Carroll's last three quarterbacks during their senior seasons:
Name Year Stats Comment
Chase Wasson 2002 4,822 yards, 54 TDs Threw for 5A record 512
yards in state title game
Chase Daniel 2004 4,582 yards, 48 TDs Also ran for 1,400
yards and 21 touchdowns
Greg McElroy 2005 3,394 yards, 44 TDs Broke the team's
regular-season passing
TD record
Note: Wasson and Daniel both played in 16 games and won state championships during their senior seasons. McElroy has played in 12 games and is looking to win a state title.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

how bout them cowboys

some musings from MNF...

• Had Roy Williams not made the pick and the Cowboys not won, Bledsoe would not have been the reason for the loss. Both the offensive and defensive lines got their butts kicked all game long... with maybe the exception of the late TD drive.

• The Cowboys play calling looked very predictable. Run on first down - get stuffed. Pass on second and third down.

• Give Keyshawn the damn ball 8-10 times. He knows what to do with it, and I don't think anyone can question his ability to go over the middle and take a hit...a la Michael Irvin.

• Some props to John Madden for hearing "look for the shovel [pass]" from the Cowboys' linebacker prior to the Eagles running it and the Cowboys stuffing it.

• McNabb didn't look like he was hit that hard trying to make the tackle on Roy Williams, though his pride probably took a big hit. Yeah, I know he's got a sports hernia, but he took bigger hits while scrambling during the game.

• Despite the pick, McNabb is not the goat. He played well most of the game until getting hurt. His INT and Bledsoe's cancel each other out. If the Eagles' WRs don't drop eight balls, there may have been a different outcome and the Eagles may not have been needing to throw at that point.

• The Cowboys deserve to win a game like that after the Redskins and Seahawk debacles.

• Marion Barber getting the lion share of carries scares me. I’m perplexed as to why Julius didn't start or get more carries as he seemed not to be hampered by the ankle and Bill himself has pointed out, Jones is "a more elusive back" than is Barber. But most importantly, Jones doesn't put the ball on the ground. Barber fumbled twice that I saw along with bobbling an exchange from Bledsoe. Barber's fumble on the last drive when they were trying to run out the clock could have been huge in two ways. First, if the Eagles recover, they're already in FG range and most likely win. Second, Barber was on his was to a first down that would have basically ended the game until a weak arm tackle knocked the ball loose. That's something you can’t have on a team looking to advance into the playoffs.

Monday, November 14, 2005

of condoms and cows

Just scattershooting some here, but what would happen if Texas or USC loses one of their last two games? There would be a bunch of one-loss teams that would be trying to lay claim to that coveted BcS Rose Bowl spot.

The contenders are:
• Miami (8-1): The Hurricanes have won eight in a row since an opening-night loss to Florida State (10-7) on Sept. 5, a game in which they were the better team but managed to lose. After their beat down of Virginia Tech on Nov. 5, it's hard to see anybody playing better.
• LSU (8-1): If not for one regrettable 4th quarter against Tennessee, the Tigers would be 9-0 and right in the middle of a big BcS argument.
• Penn State (9-1): Joe Paterno and the Nittany Lions are one play away (a last-second touchdown pass by Michigan) from also being undefeated. Could you see the BcS formula leaving an undefeated Joe Pa out of the Rose Bowl?
• Virginia Tech (8-1): Despite getting thrashed by Miami, this team can beat anybody on a given day. Alabama (9-1), Oregon (9-1), UCLA (9-1), West Virginia (8-1) and a one-loss Texas/USC could all make arguments, but not as compelling as the other four.
Clip and save this. If USC or Texas loses in the next three weeks, it just might come in handy.

So projecting the bowls as things stand now…
• Rose Bowl (BcS Championship), Jan. 4: With Alabama suffering its first loss, the BcS championship game looks like an undisputed No. 1 USC (10-0) vs. No. 2 Texas (10-0). The Trojans do not have a gimme in No. 16 Fresno State (8-1) on Saturday while Texas gets the week off before hosting Texas A&M on Nov. 25. If either stumbles, surging Miami (8-1) is there to step into the BcS championship game.
Projected game: No. 1 USC vs. No. 2 Texas Two words - Go Trojans!
• Orange Bowl, Jan. 3: Miami (8-1), which is No. 3 in today's BcS standings, looks pretty untouchable right now with regular-season games remaining against Georgia Tech and Virginia. If the Hurricanes win out and beat Florida State in the ACC championship game, they likely would host the Big Ten champion in the Orange. That will be Penn State (9-1) if the Nittany Lions can win at Michigan State (5-5) on Saturday.
Projected game: Miami vs. Penn State
• Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 2: The Fiesta still likes Notre Dame (7-2) if the Irish can win their final two games, against Syracuse and Stanford. If Alabama (9-1) beats Auburn on Saturday but does not reach the SEC championship game, the Fiesta could lean heavily toward a Notre Dame-Alabama matchup. If Alabama stumbles on Saturday, don't be surprised if Ohio State (8-2) gets in the mix if the Buckeyes beat Michigan.
Projected game: Notre Dame vs. Alabama
• Sugar Bowl, Jan. 2: LSU (8-1) looks like the team to beat in the SEC right now. Wins over Ole Miss and Arkansas would put the Tigers into the SEC championship game, probably against Georgia. The winner of that game will go to the Sugar to host the Big East champion, probably West Virginia (8-1).
Projected game: LSU vs. West Virginia

Saturday, November 12, 2005

#1 Carroll blows away MacArthur

By TIM MacMAHON / The Dallas Morning News, November 13, 2005

IRVING – Playoff performances don't get much more dominant than Southlake Carroll's against Irving MacArthur. Or so the rest of the teams in Class 5A Division II hope. Defending state and national champion Carroll cruised to a 48-21 victory over Irving MacArthur in a Region I bi-district game that was the nightcap of Saturday's Texas Stadium tripleheader.
High Schools

Imagine how bad it would have been if Carroll's starting quarterback played in the second half. Greg McElroy did plenty of damage before halftime, passing for 278 yards and four touchdowns and rushing for another score. "Let's bottle this up and pour it out every week," Carroll coach Todd Dodge said. Carroll (11-0), the No. 1 team in the nation, has eliminated MacArthur (9-2) in the first round three of the last four seasons. Carroll has recorded the three highest-scoring games against MacArthur during fourth-year coach David Beaty's tenure.

Carroll, which has won 58 of 59 games since its promotion to 5A, advances to play Allen in the area round at noon Saturday at Texas Stadium. Here's how lopsided this game was: Carroll had almost as many points (41) as MacArthur did yards (43) at halftime.

MacArthur, No. 7 in SportsDay's 5A area rankings, didn't pick up a first down until a Carroll offsides penalty with two minutes remaining in the half. MacArthur was scoreless at the half despite linebacker Justin Gent's interception return to the Carroll 7-yard line. That interception might have been McElroy's only mistake. He completed 20 of 24 passes. He had a 1-yard rushing touchdown to cap an 11-play, 80-yard drive on the opening possession.

Carroll's second and third possessions ended with touchdown catches by McKay Jacobson, who had nine catches for 181 yards in the half. Corbin Smiter also had two first-half touchdown catches. Tre' Newton, who gained 90 yards on 15 carries, finished the first-half scoring with a 1-yard touchdown run. Backup Riley Dodge added a 14-yard touchdown pass to James Allen in the third quarter.

MacArthur made the score a bit more respectable because of Ron Brooks' big-play trifecta in the second half. Brooks threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Smith, caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Matt Percle and scored on a 76-yard touchdown run.
McKay Jacobson pulls away from a MacArthur defender