The No. 15 Houston Cougars showed the nation they are a legitimate contender to reach the college football playoffs after defeating No. 5 Oklahoma 33-23. After going 13-1 last season, which was capped off by a Peach Bowl win over No. 9 Florida State, it is increasingly evident that Houston is a prime candidate to join the Big 12.
On the surface, it looks like a perfect fit. Houston is in the southwest region of the country where a majority of the Big 12 members reside, the Cougars have shown the ability to play at a high level against the best competition in the country and the Big 12 is prime for expansion. It makes sense, right? Well, an underlying factor that could obstruct Houston’s bid to a Power 5 conference is the inner-conference lobbying that is bound to take place behind closed doors.
The state of Texas is one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the country, and the Houston metro area is a hotbed of football talent in the state. Big 12 schools like Texas, Oklahoma, TCU and Baylor, along with SEC member Texas A&M, rely heavily on recruiting Houston. If and when Houston is brought up in Big 12 expansion talks, you can be sure those schools will do everything they can to keep Houston in the American Conference so there isn’t another Power 5 team sitting on top of prime recruiting real estate.
If you’re skeptical about this theory, there is already historical precedent to prove my point. During the 1960s, Houston was one of the best teams in the country under Hall of Fame coach Bill Yeoman. The Cougars had one of the most prolific offenses in the nation under Yeoman and led the country in total offense from 1966-1968. They even scored 100 points in a game in a 100-6 thumping of Tulsa in 1968.
Despite all this, Houston remained an independent, and it took 15 years to gain membership in the old Southwest Conference before being granted entrance in 1975. Yeoman proceeded to lead Houston to a SWC championship in its first year in the conference, which would be one of three in the program’s first four years as a member. Then Houston was left out in the cold when the SWC folded in 1996 and was forced into a mediocre Conference USA.
This time around, Houston has an ally that it didn’t have in the day — the national media. Big 12 expansion is on the minds of every college football media outlet’s radar, and Houston is a focal point of the coverage.
You will hear arguments saying the Big 12 needs to tap new markets with its conference expansion, but the Big 12 can take Houston and then add either one of the unclaimed Florida schools like USF or UCF or tap into the Ohio market with the addition of Cincinnati.
When Texas Gov. Gregg Abbot says, “Big 12 expansion is a non-starter unless it includes the University of Houston,” it’s going to be extremely difficult to keep Houston out. If the Cougars are indeed left out, collusion is the reason why.
LSU lost a tough game to Wisconsin in week one of the season, and it couldn’t have been a more LSU-like loss. When Clemson loses a big game in stupid fashion, it’s called “pulling a Clemson”; well, I suggest when LSU drops the ball big time it should be called “LSUing” or how they “LSUed” it.
The defense showed how athletic and skilled it was; stud running back Leonard Fournette carried the ball 23 times and LSU’s passing game was almost nonexistent. Quarterback Brandon Harris threw two interceptions, including one with less than a minute left. The interception was then capped off by a late-hit penalty by LSU offensive linemen Josh Boutte. After all the preseason hype about how this was finally going to be the year LSU could knock off SEC juggernaut Alabama, the Tigers are already beginning to look like a disappointment.
There have even been cries from the media that Fournette — a presumed top-10 pick in next year’s NFL draft — just doesn’t play his junior season and not risk injury. Though highly unlikely, I wouldn’t blame him if he made that choice. Fournette is on face to average around 260 carries this season, and the way LSU’s offense looked he may get more.
It already feels like Les Miles’ hot seat was just doused with gasoline, and it isn’t surprising. No program does less with more than LSU, especially on offense. It is one of the more perplexing questions in sports as to why LSU can’t find a good quarterback but can be an NFL factory at every other position. It’ll be fun to either watch Miles right the ship, or watch it capsize and burst into flames simultaneously.
The Minnesota Vikings were desperate for a quarterback after Teddy Bridgewater went down with a gruesome knee injury during practice, and that desperation showed when the news hit that the Vikings traded for Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford for a 2017 first-round pick and a 2018 fourth-round pick.
I consider Bradford to be the Jeff Fisher of starting quarterbacks. He has been average for a good portion of his career (78 touchdowns, 52 interceptions and a 25-37-1 record as a starter) and has had a couple of seasons where there were flashes, but overall he is highly overrated. And just like Fisher, Bradford keeps getting jobs!
The Vikings felt that they were primed for a deep playoff run, and the pieces are there to do so. With future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson, receivers Stefon Diggs and Laquon Treadwell, pro bowl tight end Kyle Rudolph, and an elite defense, it’s easy to see why the Vikings are in “win now” mode. But in a capped sport like the NFL, it isn’t only having the best player; it’s having the best player at the best value, and Sam Bradford is not worthy of such a lofty price tag. Plus, I wanted to see Michael Vick have one last ride as a starter, and Minnesota would have been a fun team for him to play with.
Last offseason the Eagles traded for Bradford and the Rams’ 2015 fifth-round pick in exchange for quarterback Nick Foles, a second-round pick and fourth-round pick. What they got in return is a first-round pick and fourth-round pick. That’s textbook “buy low and sell high,” but don’t label the Eagles as sound businessmen. It was more luck than cunning that the Vikings were desperate buyers after their franchise quarterback went down.
The real winner of this trade? The Cleveland Browns. That’s right, the Browns are on the right side of a trade that they had no part of. How? Well, in the blockbuster trade that sent Cleveland’s No. 2 overall pick and a fourth-rounder in 2017 in last year’s draft to Philly, the Browns hauled in a treasure trove of draft picks. Besides last year’s No. 8 overall pick, a third, and fourth round pick, Cleveland also hauled in Philly’s first-rounder this year and second-rounder next year. Now the Eagles get to start the player they traded all those picks for in rookie quarterback Carson Wentz.
In case you’re wondering, very few rookie QBs lead their teams to the playoffs, so the Eagles’ record is most likely going to result in a top-10 pick for Cleveland. Going along with the three trades the Browns have made the last couple of weeks, Cleveland is sitting pretty. Cleveland’s best chances of winning championships are being terrible, having lots of draft picks and hoping something out of its control benefits them (like LeBron James deciding to leave Miami, or LeBron being born in your city and having an emotional connection to Cleveland in the first place).
If I had to write the headline for this story, it would read “Vikings desperate, Eagles lucky and Browns win by doing nothing.”
The funniest story of the weekend was when Kansas’ football team won its first game in 665 days (that’s a real stat) and the Kansas students proceeded to storm the field. That alone is hilarious, but wait, there’s more! The team Kansas beat was an FCS team that went 1-10 last season. You’d think it doesn’t get any funnier than that, but you would be wrong. When the students rushed the field, the PA told the students to go back to the stands “for the respect of this program.”
The combination of Kansas being that bad for almost a two-year stretch, the first win coming against a dreadful FCS team and the students storming the field in a sheer stroke of perfect trolling to offend the PA guy reminds me that the universe still has a sense of humor.