Alabama is the new No. 1 in The Associated Press college football poll, moving past Southern California after its 41-14 victory over Michigan on Saturday. The Crimson Tide received 45 first-place votes, up 28 from last week.
USC received 11 first-place votes and No. 3 LSU received four. It’s the 47th time Alabama has been no. 1, the 16th under head coach Nick Saban. This is the 86th time in the 76-year history of the AP media poll that the top-ranked team won and dropped in the rankings. It’s happened at least once every year since 2007.
AP Top 10
1. Alabama (45)
2. USC (11)
3. LSU (4)
6. Florida State
9. South Carolina
9. West Virginia
ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit met with reporters on Friday ahead of Alabama vs. Michigan at Cowboy’s Stadium. Here’s some of what he had to say:
The matchup that will be under the spotlight for this week’s Alabama vs. Michigan game is Michigan’s explosive offense, led by dynamic QB Denard Robinson, going up against Nick Saban and Alabama’s vaunted defense.
So the question we’re posing today is simple: how many points will Michigan score?
For reference, here’s how many points Michigan scored in its 13 games last season:
Western Michigan: 34
Notre Dame: 35
Eastern Michigan: 31
San Diego State: 28
Michigan State*: 14
Ohio State: 40
Virginia Tech: 23
* – denotes a loss
The Honey Badger, indeed, does not care. About playing for LSU anymore.
LSU head coach Les Miles announced on Friday that cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, known for his playmaking abilities as a defender and punt returner, is no longer on the team due to a violation of team rules.
Speaking at a special press conference that LSU streamed on its website, Miles said the move is permanent and that he will not be back. Miles said he expects Mathieu to transfer to another school.
“This is a very difficult day for our team,” Miles said, according to LSUSports.net. “We lose a quality person, teammate and contributor to the program. However, with that being said, we have a standard that our players are held to and when that standard is not met, there are consequences.
“It’s hard because we all love Tyrann. We will do what we can as coaches, teammates, and friends to get him on a path where he can have success. We are going to miss him.”
Mathieu had been pegged by many publications as a pre-season All-American and a major candidate for the heisman trophy. His 11 fumbles forced rank first in LSU history and seventh in NCAA history. He also scored four touchdowns last year, two on punt returns and two on fumbles.
Miles did not give s specific reason for Mathieu’s dismissal or reveal what rule the cornerback broke.
This obviously has a huge effect on Alabama’s chances for a repeat national championship in 2012. Mathieu was an integral part of an LSU defense that was projected to be one of the best, if not the best in the country.
The first edition of the 2012 USA Today Coaches Poll was released today, and Alabama finds itself at No. 2 in the rankings to start the new year. A familiar foe for Alabama tops the rankings, as the LSU Tigers hold the No. 1 spot to start the year. USC comes in right behind the two SEC schools at No. 3 and Oklahoma sits at No. 4.
Alabama actually received more first-place votes (20) than LSU (18), but the total point calculation gives LSU the edge for the top spot – not that it matters much; the two teams will settle it on the field November 3 in Tiger Stadium. USC received 19 first-place votes, but still came in third.
The SEC placed seven schools in the pre-season Top 25. Georgia (6), South Carolina (9), Arkansas (10), Florida (23) and Auburn (25) also appear. Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Missouri and Tennessee all received votes as well.
Alabama’s first opponent of the season, Michigan, came in at No. 8. Other schools in the top 10 were Oregon (5) and Florida State (7).
The Coaches Poll is voted on by 59 BCS coaches and accounts for one third of the BCS rankings.
Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley got in and out at SEC Media Days, holding probably the shortest session of the week.
- Dooley says he’s felt better than he ever has about the Tennessee program.
- Dooley says, “You’re not going to have Tennessee to kick around anymore.” Will that come back to bite him next year?
- About his two talented receivers in Justin Hunter and Da’rick Rogers, Dooley says only one has made it through a full season, so they still have a lot to prove.
- Surprisingly, Dooley’s session ends a full thirteen minutes early. That was a really short session, and he didn’t get any questions about being on the hotseat.
Marc: Dooley’s session only lasted about 25 minutes, well short of the 40 minutes he’s afforded. He didn’t get a question about his job, which is probably a good thing for him. He tried to pitch his session around this being a possible breakout year for Tennessee, and it needs to be if he wants to get back up to the podium next year. Tennessee has the weapons on offense to hang with some of the top teams in the SEC, but it’ll be up to the defense to win those games.
Marq: Derek Dooley exudes confidence despite the struggles he’s had in Knoxville. He acknowledged that it has been a tough four years at Tennessee and put the rest of the SEC on notice saying, “you won’t have Tennessee to kick around anymore.” Dooley may have the hottest coaching seat in the country and if he doesn’t perform this season, he won’t be around for another SEC Media Days.
The always-entertaining Les Miles concluded the longest day in SEC Media Days history with a bang in typical Miles fashion:
- Miles opens his press conference talking about everything he did in the offseason, but now, he says, it’s football time.
- On his EA Sports commercial, Miles says they simplified the dialogue so he could recite the lines. He also says Mike The Tiger stole the show.
- Miles says the quarterback won’t run the ball as much as it has in the past in his offense, but will be a more traditional, passing attack.
- Miles gets a couple of questions about the national title game, and he says, “I’ve seen it a couple times. There weren’t that many plays for us on offense.”
- On Tyrann Mathieu’s recent twitter habits, Miles said, “No game is won on the twitter page. It’s a nice pastime, like media days.”
- A reporter asks Miles if teams will be able to handle playing 15 games in the new playoff format, and he says that more games are better for the fans and teams will get used to it.
- Miles says that in 2011, “we played everybody but the Green Bay Packers.”
- He’s getting a lot of questions about Zach Mettenberger, and after about the fourth or fifth one, he says, “it’s pretty much what I just said.”
Marc: It was pretty much status quo for Les Miles at SEC Media Days. But the status quo for Les Miles is entertaining, informing and funny, and he was all of that. He took the questions about the Alabama game in the national championship in stride and said all the right things about Mathieu. Miles won’t let the BCS title game performance get to his head and will have his team ready to go come September.
Marq: Les Miles was nearly 20 minutes late, but no one really seemed to care because the Mad Hatter was gold at the podium like he always is. The questions he was asked were more ridiculous than the responses he gave. He kept the entire room laughing and took a nice shot at a reporter for calling his defensive game plans bland. LSU will be in the national championship race as the long as Les is at the helm.
Gene Chizik addressed the media following lunch, dressed in a pin-stripe suit with a pocket square. Chizik brought some excitement back to the media sessions, following the less than stellar Joker Phillips.
- Chizik opens by thanking everyone for sending thoughts and prayers to the Auburn community following the shootings that left three dead.
- Kiehl Frazier and Clint Moseley will battle for the starting quarterback position in the fall.
- Chizik would not place a time-table on selecting a starting quarterback, but said he would like it done sooner than later.
- Chizik said this is the first time since he’s been at Auburn that the Tigers have had depth at multiple positions.
- Auburn has 16 returning starters, with five returning senior starters.
- The current Auburn senior class has averaged 10 wins a year, are undefeated in postseason play and have a national championship ring.
- Auburn hired a new offensive (Scot Loeffler) and defensive (Brian VanGorder) coordinator this offseason.
- Loeffler and VanGorder have both coached on the NFL level.
- Chizik said if a game is decided by seven points or less, he thinks Auburn is going to win.
- Chizik called Missouri coach Gary Pinkel one of the best coaches in the country.
- Chizik called Missouri and Texas A&M two “dang good” football teams.
- Chizik said geographical reasons are not a reason to move Auburn and Alabama to the SEC East.
- Chizik would have supported the new playoff system in 2004 when Auburn finished undefeated, but would have been opposed in 2010 when the Tigers won the national championship.
Marq: Chizik was his usually calm, collected self during his session. He brought some energy back into the room. Demeanor was very similar to 2010 when he was coming off the national championship. He didn’t get a lot of questions, but he knocked down the few he was answered. He opened by thanking everyone for showing support after the shooting and it seemed like it came straight from the heart.
Marc: I don’t see Chizik all the time, but he seemed absolutely fired up at today’s media session. But he raised his voice to talk about Texas A&M and Missouri joining the SEC, and the potential scenarios in the new playoff format – hot topics, but nothing to get that riled up about. Still, Chizik was very well-spoken and confident in his Auburn team, which he says finally has some depth. Auburn will be tested early with Clemson in Atlanta and a trip to Starkville awaiting the Tigers in weeks one and two.
Joker Phillips finished up the morning session of SEC Media days, taking questions about his team’s upcoming season and, of course, basketball.
- Phillips starts off talking about his experienced staff and how excited he is (shocking, I know) to start the new season.
- Wisconsin is the program that Phillips says he can most model his own program after in terms of not getting the best recruiting classes, but still developing talent.
- On conference realignment, Phillips says, ” the best league just got better.”
- And Phillips gets his first basketball question: how does the championship help recruiting? He says it was “unbelievable advertising of our logo.”
- John Calipari called a recruit when Phillips had him on campus.
- Phillips on possibly being on the hot seat: “Well, I’m not sitting down right now. There’s nothing hot. I don’t have time to listen to that.”
Marc: There are entertaining coaches who coach bad teams (Houston Nutt) and boring coaches who coach good teams (Nick Saban). John L. Smith was the rare exciting-coach-who-coaches-a-good-team. Joker Phillips falls into the worst category: the boring coach who coaches a bad team. Phillips said all of the cliches – “we’re excited to get started,” “we’ve got some good guys coming in” – and got the predictable basketball questions, but it was tough to really feel any optimism coming out of his media day session. Kentucky will be a pretty bad team that will do well to win six games and get back to a bowl game.
Marq: Joker Phillips’ session in the main room was everything but exciting. Phillips handled himself well and answered every question, but media members were more focused on lunch than covering Kentucky football. Phillips has the toughest job in the SEC, even tougher than James Franklin has it at Vanderbilt. Phillips coaches at a basketball school and not a lot of football recruits are knocking down the Wildcats’ door. Hopefully, Phillips can lead the Cats to a bowl game after missing the postseason in 2011.
John L. Smith has the most interesting situation in all of college football. He signed a contract to be the head coach for the Razorbacks that doesn’t last a full year. The Hogs will be talented on offense and if Smith can keep the team focused, they have a serious shot at representing the SEC West in Atlanta and playing for a national championship in Miami.
- Smith was a little confused with the protocol of SEC Media Days. He tried to skip the question/answer session and introduce his players.
- Smith said the outside pressure doesn’t affect the team. “You have to be like a duck and let that water roll off your back.”
- Smith believes this team can compete for a chance to play in Miami despite its offseason distractions.
- A reporter asked Smith if he would like to be the coach at Arkansas for longer than a year and Smith responds, “Of course! Do I look stupid? Don’t answer that.”
- Smith credited his “nothing to lose” attitude to his grandfather’s journey to America. Smith said he views life as an adventure and doesn’t close any doors.
- Smith said the teams biggest recruiting goal is keeping the talented kids from Arkansas in state.
- Smith was surprised he got the job and shocked when he heard about the Bobby Petrino situation.
- Smith acknowledged that the Hogs have to be mentally tougher and believe they can beat Alabama and LSU.
- Smith took multiple jabs at the Arkansas media that he recognized, getting laughs from the reporters in the room.
- Smith came to the podium in style and left with a bang.
- After the spat with a reporter, Smith hugged the Memphis reporter he pretended to argue with.
Marq: John L. Smith is full of energy and should have been a comedian or some type of entertainer. He moves to the beat of his own drum and has a “nothing to lose” attitude. Smith’s personality fits his current situation perfectly. He takes it one day at a time and doesn’t let the outside pressure get to him. If that care free attitude can translate into victories, Smith could become the Hogs coach for the next few years.
Marc: John L. Smith is in a tough situation, having to replace Bobby Petrino on such short notice and operating in such an uncertain state. He seems to have taken a nothing-to-lose approach, and it’s easy to see why – because he really doesn’t have anything to lose. He probably won’t be back next year, but said very bluntly – “do I look stupid?” – that he would love to. The sky’s the limit for Arkansas, but the floor looks mighty deep, too.