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No. 1 USC has no game scheduled for the second weekend of the season. The Trojans practiced for a month, played at Virginia and won 52-7. Exhausted by the effort, the team gets a week off to rest before its Sept. 13 showdown against Ohio State.No, it doesn't make sense. In fact, excluding the teams that played on Labor Day or that play on Thurs., Sept. 11, only two other teams are idle this weekend: Boise State and Louisiana-Lafayette.
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Steve Sarkisian and USC look forward to their off week.
Big East associate commissioner Nick Carparelli explained the ins and outs of doling out off weeks and being fair when scheduling the conference's eight teams.1. It's such a puzzle. We feel it behooves us to put certain games on certain nights [to maximize exposure]. (In 2006, Carparelli predicted correctly and scheduled West Virginia at Louisville and Louisville at Rutgers on consecutive Thursday nights. He closed the season out with Rutgers at West Virginia on championship Saturday night, a game that the Mountaineers won in triple overtime. Ratings rocketed for all three games.) 2. Every school is responsible for their own nonconference schedule. In an ideal world, since we have five nonconference games, the schools will schedule them in the first five or six weeks. That leaves us a blank slate to concoct a balanced, fair, competitive schedule. 3. Pittsburgh plays Notre Dame on Nov. 1 (so much for early-season nonconference games). In an eight-team league, I'm forced to give someone else a bye then (that would be Rutgers). 4. We avoid three straight road games. If we have to do it, we include a bye. Pittsburgh plays at Syracuse (Sept. 27), at Cincinnati (Oct. 2) and at Navy (Oct. 18). Part of the problem with them [Pitt] is that this is the year they [nonconference] scheduled three home games in the first four weeks and two road games late in the season. They handcuffed us. 5. We avoid one school having a "short week" playing an opponent that has a full week or more. (Pitt and USF both have five days to prepare for their game on Thurs., Oct. 2, as do USF and Cincinnati for their game on Thurs., Oct. 30). 6. If you shortchange a school (a team without an off week playing a team that had an off week), you try to limit it once in a season. West Virginia is at Pitt on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Pitt plays at UConn on championship Saturday (Dec. 6). UConn doesn't play on Thanksgiving weekend. We felt better because Pitt is getting an extra day to prepare. We couldn't avoid it.
The NCAA Football Rules Committee has been trying for three years to shorten the elapsed time of a game without taking too many plays out of the game. It's a delicate balance, especially when the obvious answer -- fewer commercials -- is a nonstarter. The conferences want the money that the networks can pay because of those commercials.
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Bronco Mendenhall is prepared to adjust to the rules changes.
"The difference now is that we are in control of how fast we want to go and how many plays you can run," Sarkisian said. "We ran 78 plays on Saturday, but if we played slower, [we] probably could have only run 68 plays."Not every coach feels that way. But this time around, instead of complaining about the changes, coaches sound as if they are resigned to them. "I think the difference is that we as head coaches have very little impact on the rules," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "The rule is going to change and our role is to adjust." Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz sounded as if he just wants the rules committee to stick with the same rules two years in a row. "I hope we can settle into what it is we want to do," Ferentz said. "I thought the game was pretty good 10 years ago."
Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your questions and comments to Ivan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. I'm a bowl guy, not a playoff guy, but here's what I don't like about polls: USC overtakes Georgia in the AP and USA Today votes Tuesday. At first glance, that makes sense. The Trojans beat Virginia 52-7, while the Bulldogs beat FCS Georgia Southern 45-21. But first glance is all some voters make. Georgia led its game 38-0 when coach Mark Richt pulled his starters. That's the result that counts.
2. The Sept. 1 issue of Forbes featured Alabama's Nick Saban on the cover as the most powerful coach in sports. Forbes found out how powerful Saban is, to the tune of printing an additional 107,500 copies. The clamor for the issue is unprecedented in the 91-year history of the magazine. Maybe that's why Crimson Tide tailback Glen Coffee is on the cover of Sports Illustrated, the team's second SI cover in Saban's 8-6 career in Tuscaloosa.
3. If I'm an NFL personnel guy looking for a quarterback, Saturday confirmed my worst fears. This senior class has few prospects under center. Cullen Harper of Clemson and Hunter Cantwell of Louisville laid eggs. So did Sean Glennon of Virginia Tech. Chase Daniel of Missouri is still 6 feet tall. Pat White of West Virginia still weighs 192 pounds. Juniors who can throw -- Matt Stafford of Georgia, for instance -- have a real opportunity.
Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano produced the sizzle, thanks to a 9-0 start in 2006. He has led the Scarlet Knights out of what had been a spectacularly unsuccessful existence.
Beano Cook joins Ivan in the ESPNU College Football Podcast to talk about the bad losses and good wins from the past weekend, young coaches to watch this season and more. Listen
Watching head coach Frank Beamer's Virginia Tech team lose on a blocked punt is like watching someone nail a fallaway jumper over Michael Jordan at the buzzer, or seeing someone out-touch Michael Phelps at the wall. It is simply not supposed to happen to Beamer's Hokies, the first word in special-teams play for more than a decade.But it did. East Carolina's T.J. Lee raced in untouched, blocked a punt and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown with 1:52 to play to give the Pirates a 27-22 victory over the No. 15 Hokies. According to Virginia Tech sports information, a Beamer-coached team has had a blocked kick figure in a loss only once in his 22 seasons before Saturday. And even that one deserves an asterisk. In 1997, Miami (Ohio) blocked two kicks, returning one for a touchdown, and scored another touchdown on a fake punt to beat No. 14 Virginia Tech 24-17. But both touchdowns came in the first half, and the Hokies still led at halftime 17-14. Miami won the game in the second half without any late-game heroics by the special teams.
Coaches are creatures of routine, and it's understandable why Tulane head coach Bob Toledo sounded at a loss when he described the hardships that his Green Wave have faced this week in preparing to play at Alabama. The team bivouacked in Birmingham when Hurricane Gustav threatened New Orleans.But reading Toledo's description of how much Tulane can't do while working out at Samford and living in a Birmingham hotel made it clear that Toledo wasn't with the Green Wave three years ago, when Katrina chased the team out of New Orleans. If he had been around for the devastation and rootlessness that Tulane dealt with for the entire season, Toledo would think of this week as a vacation.
Excuse my amazement, but as someone who remembers when the schools now in the Big 12 lived and died on the triple option, get a load of these stats:Four Big 12 quarterbacks threw for at least 325 yards in Week 1. Six of them are ranked 26th or higher in passing efficiency. Meanwhile, the leading rusher in the conference, Missouri sophomore Derrick Washington, gained all of 130 yards Saturday night. We all recognized the talent that the Big 12 has at QB this season. But to see those numbers makes you stop and realize how football has changed on the I-35 corridor. Now, if only someone other than Oklahoma could play defense. Until that day comes, look for scoreboards to burn out, and, rules changes be damned, games to go on forever. Texas Tech's 49-24 defeat of Eastern Washington lasted 3:40.