Playing Hurt Podcast: Who Should Replace Josh Pastner?

Josh PastnerJoin Cerrito Live and HardBashin producer CJ Hurt and Sports 56 producer and WUMR Sports  host Drew Barrett as they take you on a sports odyssey full of twists, turns, and a good time during  Playing Hurt Podcast.
MemphiSport Live

MSL’s Playing Hurt Podcast: SEC Bowl Pick’em Edition

SEC map

Join MSL and HardBashin producer CJ Hurt and Sports 56 producer and WUMR Sports Desk host Drew Barrett as they take you on a sports odyssey full of twists, turns, and a good time during MSL‘s Playing Hurt Podcast.

MemphiSport Live

The Absurdity of Preseason College Football Rankings

ap logoIt is an understatement to say that Americans love football, especially collegiate football.  As a society, we are infatuated by the sport, craving it morning, noon, and night year round.

To suggest that anything could possibly be wrong with the sport seems like the most severe form of blasphemy there is.  After all, most of us swear allegiance to a team (or in the case of some fans an entire conference) and will defend our program (again or conference) to the bitter end.

Yet, nothing is perfect. Not even in the realm of college football.

The fact that there are preseason rankings is one of the most bizarre aspects not just in college football, but in all of sports.

How do you rate teams that you have never seen play?

Sure you saw the team that was fielded last season and seasons before, but you have not seen this version of the team perform ever.  Things change, coaches leave, players matriculate, former five star high school recruits fail to develop, while former two star recruits blossom into fixtures in the lineup so how can anybody accurately rank the top 25 out of the 125 FBS schools?

It is less of an issue now that there is a selection committee, but still come on, why should fans even pay these rankings attention for the first four or five weeks of the year?

Voters are doing their best to judge these teams, but they have no relevant information to go on and it shows by season’s end.

About half of the time the pollsters just vote last year’s champion No. 1 to start the year.   In the 65 year history of the AP Poll the defending National Champion started the year off in the top spot  23 times to be exact.  Only three times did said National Champion end the year at No. 1 (USC in 2004 and Oklahoma in 1975 and 1956).

The only things voters can use to gauge how good these teams are at the start of the year are rough predictions about recruits and last season’s results, not actual football games played this particular year.

Seriously ask yourself why does matter if in week 2 of the season Wossamatta U, led by Rocket J. Squirrel and Bullwinkle Moose, beat the Mud City Manglers who just so happen to be the No. 16 team in the AP Poll (shout out to all you Rocky and Bullwinkle fans out there)?

It honestly should not matter until the regular season ends and we get to compare wins and losses.  If the Mud City Manglers go on to regroup and lose maybe one or two more games then that is a noteworthy win for Wossamatta U.  However, if Mud City implodes on itself the rest of the season then that win losses some luster, but we will not know the implications until the later in the season.

There are several real life examples of preseason top 25 teams winning games over top 25 opponents. Texas A&M, UGA, and LSU all won their week one games against preseason top 25 teams.

The Gamecocks hardly looked like a Top 25 team against the Aggies, let alone a team that should start the year off at No. 9 in the AP Poll.  Why were they even there, after all they lost Jadeveon Clowney, Connor Shaw, and a host of other key players?

South Carolina fell all the way to No. 21 after their opening night loss and if that does not show you how asinine preseason polls are nothing will.  It might seem harsh, but since the only game we have seen South Carolina play this year was that debacle then they should not be ranked.

On the other hand, Texas A&M came in ranked No. 21 in the preseason AP Poll and after crushing South Carolina jumped all the way to No. 9.  That is a 12 spot jump based off of one game against a team that appears to be severely overrated.

Nobody knows how good either team is yet, so pollsters should not waste time ranking them.

To truly see the damage preseason rankings cause take a look at the 2010 college football season.  A season that saw Ohio State start off at No. 2, Wisconsin start the year at No. 12, and Michigan State start the year off unranked.

The Spartans avoided playing the Buckeyes but beat Wisconsin that year.  All three teams finished the season with just one loss, tied for the Big Ten Championship, and ranked in the top 10 of the AP Poll.

However, because the Badgers and Buckeyes started off ranked in the preseason poll, they had a proverbial head start on the Spartans in the rankings.  Michigan State did not have enough to jump either school despite being No. 9 in the nation and beating Wisconsin.   Thus, Sparty missed out on a BCS game (they went on to get slaughtered by Alabama in the Capital One Bowl , but using Nick Saban logic the Spartans were just too disappointed to show up after being so close to the Rose Bowl).

There will always be teams that are overrated and others that are underrated, but pollsters should probably wait until actual games are played to start ranking them.

CJ Hurt covers college football for MemphiSport. Follow him  @Conradicalness for live tweets from games.

SEE ALSO:

Arkansas Tops First Ever TAMs Rankings

The Mid-South is full of fans with allegiances to different area college football programs. Which FBS program in the three states surrounding the Memphis area is the best? To help end some arguments and start others, MemphiSport is proud to debut the TAMs Rankings, a weekly poll ranking all the college football teams in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi (TAM).  This new rankings system also doubles as a tribute to the Bluff City’s ABA heritage.  Without further ado here are the rankings for week of October 5, 2011…

Rankings compiled by MemphiSport. Updated every Wednesday.

1.  Arkansas (3-1): Critics wondered how Arkansas would respond coming off of an embarrassing loss to Alabama and the Razorbacks responded emphatically with a thrilling come form behind win against Texas A&M.   These Razorbacks are just as potent offensively as last year’s squad ranking 7thin the nation in passing yards and averaging 39 points a game.  Arkansas cannot rest with the defending national champions SEC West foe No. 15 Auburn next up on the schedule.  This is a must win game if Arkansas is going to keep their hopes alive for an appearance in the SEC Championship game.  We look forward to the second half of the Razorbacks schedule as they will play four of the other members in the TAMs Rankings.
Best Win: 42-38 vs. Texas A&M @ Cowboy Stadium
Worst Loss: 
38-14 vs. Alabama @ Bryant-Denny Stadium
Wins Against TAMs Teams:
0
Losses Against TAMs Teams:
 
0



2.
  Tennessee (3-1): 
The Vols are off to fast start this season thanks to a prolific passing attack led by super sophomore Tyler Bray.  Tennessee has the 11thbest passing attack in the nation and is scoring 37.8 points a game.  However, the running game has not faired as well and Coach Dooley has to find some balance offensively if the Vols are going to get back to the SEC championship game.  We will find out what this Tennessee team is made of in the coming weeks as they have a tough four game stretch against Georgia, No. 1 LSU, No. 2 Alabama, and No. 18 South Carolina.  November is TAMs month for the Vols as three of their four opponents in the month are TAMs teams.  

Best Win: 45-23 vs. Cincinnati @ Neyland Stadium
Worst Loss: 
33-23 vs. Florida @ Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
Wins Against TAMs Teams:
0
Losses Against TAMs Teams:
0 

3.  Vanderbilt (3-1):Vandy is one of the most surprising stories of this young season so far.  Coach James Franklin has this Commodore team dominating opponents on the defensive side of the ball.  They rank 11th in the nation in total yards per game and are only giving up a staggering 15.8 points per game.  The Commodores are coming off a bye week and their last game was a disappointing 21-3 loss to South Carolina .  Vanderbilt hopes to right the ship and pull off a huge upset against No. 2 Alabama this week.  The Commodores man-handled TAMs team Ole Miss earlier this season  and they have two TAMs teams left this season (Arkansas and Tennessee ).

Best Win:  30-7 vs. Ole Miss @ Vanderbilt Stadium
Worst Loss:
21-3 vs. South Carolina @ Williams-Brice Stadium
Wins Against TAMs Teams:
1 (Ole Miss)
Losses Against TAMs Teams:
0

 

4.  Southern Mississippi (4-1):

Southern Miss is off to an impressive start to the 2011 season and their defense should be given most of the credit.  No team has scored more than 27 points against the Golden Eagles and they are only giving up 19.4 points a game.  They will be challenged in their next two games (Navy and SMU), but the schedule is favorable and Southern Miss has the opportunity to play for a C-USA championship.  The Golden Eagles only play one TAMs teams this year and that is Memphis in the “Black and Blue” game at the end of the season.

Best Win:  30-24 vs. Virginia @ Scott Stadium
Worst Loss:
  26-20 vs. Marshall @ Joan C. Edwards Stadium
Wins Against TAMs Teams:
0
Losses Against TAMs Teams:
0

 

5.  Mississippi State (2-3):

Hopes were high for the Bulldogs coming into this season after a stellar campaign in 2010.  However, Mississippi State is dead last in the conference and Coach Dan Mullin still has yet to beat an SEC West opponent not named Ole Miss.  If the Bulldogs simply beat the teams they are supposed to beat the rest of the season they can still go to decent bowl, but an SEC title is out of reach.  For what it is worth the Bulldogs did throttle TAMs team Memphis in the first game of the season and their last two games of the season are against fellow TAMs teams Arkansas and Ole Miss.

Best Win: 59-14 vs. Memphis @ Liberty Bowl
Worst Loss: 
21-10 vs. Georgia @ Sanford Stadium
Wins Against TAMs Teams:
1 ( Memphis )
Losses Against TAMs Teams: 0

 

6.  Arkansas State (3-2):

The Red Wolves have won three of their last four thanks in large part to the play of standout quarterback Ryan Aplin who is dominating opponents through the air.  Aplin has the team poised to make a run at their second Sun Belt Conference championship and a trip to the New Orleans Bowl.  Arkansas State absolutely dominated TAMs team Memphis early on in the season and they look forward to playing MTSU in their second to last contest of the year.

Best Win:  47-3 vs. Memphis @ ASU Stadium
Worst Loss: 
26-7 vs. Virginia Tech @ Lane Stadium
Wins Against TAMs Teams:
1 ( Memphis )
Losses Against TAMs Teams:
0

 

7.  Ole Miss (2-3):

To say the Rebels are struggling offensively this year would be an understatement.  Ole Miss is dead last in the SEC in scoring, averaging a measly 22.6 points per game.  The schedule does not get any easier for Coach Nutt and the Rebels as their next three opponents are all ranked in the top 15.  Ole Miss already has an embarrassing loss to TAMs team Vanderbilt on their resume, they will play Arkansas in two weeks, and they end the season with Mississippi State.

Best Win:  38-28 vs. Fresno State @ Bulldog Stadium
Worst Loss: 
14-13 vs. BYU @ Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
Wins Against TAMs Teams:
0
Losses Against TAMs Teams:
1 (Vanderbilt)

 

8.  MTSU (1-3):

MTSU has struggled all season due in large part to an inept defense which is giving up an unimpressive 36.3 points per game.  The Blue Raiders defense could not stop Memphis, who came into the game averaging 15 points per game, from putting up 31 points.  The lone bright spot to the season so far for MTSU is the play of quarterback Logan Kilgore who is 19th nationally in passing yards (second in the Sun Belt behind Corey Robinson of Troy State).  They are undefeated against TAMs poll members having already defeated Memphis and have Tennessee and Arkansas State on the schedule as well.

Best Win: 38-31 vs. Memphis @ Johnny Floyd Stadium
Worst Loss: 
49-21 vs. Georgia Tech @ Johnny Floyd Stadium
Wins Against TAMs Teams:
1 ( Memphis )
Losses Against TAMs Teams:
0

 

9.  Memphis (1-4):

The pollsters could not agree on much, but one thing we could all agree on is that Memphis is the worst of the TAMs teams.  The Tigers have yet to beat any FBS foe and rank in the bottom of every FBS football statistic.  They are only averaging 15 points per game while their defense is giving up 38 points to the opposition.  Memphis has already played three TAMs teams and lost every game, giving up an average of 48 points per game to TAMs teams.

Best Win: 27-6  vs. Austin Peay @ Liberty Bowl
Worst Loss: 
47-3 vs. Arkansas State @ ASU Stadium
Wins Against TAMs Teams:
0
Losses Against TAMs Teams:
3 (Miss St., Arkansas State, MTSU)

 

CJ Hurt covers college football for MemphiSport.  Follow him @churtj09 for live tweets during University of Memphis home games.