Friday, June 26, 2009

College Football Rule Changes and You: 2009 Edition

Last year we examined college football's very extensive list of rule changes. This year is less modest (the NCAA hasn't even published a document listing the rule changes, even though the new rulebook is out), but being the person I am I still find it all very interesting. So let's take a look at you need to know.

Again, page numbers reflect the PDF.
  • Rule 1-4-3-a (page 34) changes the rules regarding jersey colors, after last year's much publicized shenanigans with USC and UCLA. The rule regarding white jerseys remains the same (that is, if a team wants to wear white at home they must obtain approval from their opponents prior to the start of the season). However, now if both teams want to wear their colored jersies, they may do so if the teams agree before the game and the home team's conference certifies the jerseys are sufficiently contrasting. If the home team jersey rule is violated in any way, it is a 15-yard unsportsman-like after the kickoff. (Violations of the white jersey and other equipment rules is still a timeout.)
  • Rule 2-3-6 (page 48) codifies the concept of the "blocking zone", which is 5 yards on each side of the snapper and 3 yards in front and behind him.
  • Rule 2-24-1, which defined spearing, was eliminated. It is still against the rules to target an opponent with the crown of the helmet, of course.
  • Rule 2-33 (page 65) defines the "three-in-one principle" of penalty enforcement. It just goes into detail about from which spots a penalty is enforced relative to the "official spot". Basically, you probably already know this.
  • Rule 2-34 defines the "tackle box", which as you know is 5-yards to each side of the snapper and behind.
  • Rule 3-2-3 (page 70) clarifies that a period is not extended for penalties that result in a loss of down.
  • Rules 3-2-4 (page 71) and 3-3-5 (page 76) say that the play clock should be set to 40 seconds after injury timeouts for the defense.
  • Rule 9-1-2-q (page 122) adds grabbing the chinstrap as a facemask foul.
  • Rule 9-1-4 (page 123) added a provision that once a kicker carries the ball outside the tackle box that he loses his protection under running into/roughing the kicker rules.
  • Rule 9-6 (page 135) was added to clarify that conferences should review video of all flagrant violations that occur during a game, and gives them the power to levy penalties against players who may have committed flagrant fouls that did not get called. Rule 1-9-1 defines "a flagrant personal foul" as "a rule infraction so extreme or deliberate that is places an opponent in danger of a catastrophic injury."
So not much excitement this year, outside of the jersey color thing. Also worth noting is that this begins the NCAA's two-year cycle for rules, so rule changes will not be considered again until after the 2010 season.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Rating the 2009 Non-Conference Slate, Part 6: SEC

And finally, we wrap up our look at the college football's non-conference scheduling with the Southeastern Conference.
  1. Georgia (2.5 legit, 1 DI-AA): @Oklahoma State, Arizona State, Tennessee Tech, @Georgia Tech. It pains me once again to say something good about UGA, but they have recently started to make an effort to schedule some decent teams. Many SEC schools would be content to go with their OOC rival (see: Florida, Kentucky, usually USC) and call it a day, but UGA has not one but two legit OOC opponents outside of GT. Good for them. While it gets a little easier next year I'm surprised they allowed this year to happen at all.
  2. South Carolina (1.5, 1): @NC State, Florida Atlantic, The Citadel, Clemson. And it immediately starts to go downhill. While the SEC wasn't the lowest rated conference this year, UGA's score does have a strong effect on the average. At any rate, this follows the formulate for the SEC: rivalry game (if applicable), OOC game with school from neighboring or same state, and two patsies, one of which should be DI-AA.
  3. Alabama (1, 1): N-Virginia Tech, Florida International, North Texas, Tennessee-Chattanooga. I may write an article later on the return of the "kickoff classic" type of game that we all thought died 9-10 years ago, but for now suffice to say I like these types of games, even if this particular series does take place in Tech's backyard. Bama-VPI in particular is a huge deal for both teams. VPI can get on the map and start their darkhorse run for the title with a win, while Alabama can show they haven't lost a step since last year by starting with another whipping over an ACC team. The rest of the schedule, of course, sucks very thoroughly (I may also write an article on Bama paying San Jose State a million bucks to get shallacked next year, we'll see).
  4. Mississippi State (1, 1): Jacksonville State, Georgia Tech, Houston, @Middle Tennessee. Miss State makes the return trip to Atlanta, outside of that there's not much to get excited about here unless Houston is decent again.
  5. Vanderbilt (1, 1): Western Carolina, @Rice, @Army, Georgia Tech. This is the 5th-ranked schedule in the SEC, and there's only one legit team on here. It only gets a one (along with Miss State) because of our bias towards Tech, otherwise these would probably be ranked much lower. That said, they do get a trip to Rice's historic stadium, which has to be the most diproportionally sized stadium in the country. (The stadium seats 70,000 while the university has a total enrollment of 6,392 which also makes it (along with Vandy and Wake Forest) one of the smallest schools in DI-A, period.)
  6. Tennessee (0.75, 0): Western Kentucky, UCLA, Ohio, Memphis. Tennessee avoids a DI-AA team thanks to Western Kentucky's newfound status this year as a full DI-A member, and also gets a return trip from our favorite football trust busters. Outside of that, well, they play Memphis which I guess is sort of interesting.
  7. Auburn (0.75, 1): Louisiana Tech, West Virginia, Ball State, Furman. Well, good thing WVU is on this schedule. I think the main trend for both teams "What the hell is going on with our program" as I'm pretty sure there are segments of the Auburn fanbase that still think the Gene Chizik hire was some sort of practical joke.
  8. Florida (0.75, 1): Charleston Southern, Troy, Florida International, Florida State. Two Sun Belt teams, a DI-AA team and a mandatory rivalry game. Your defending national champions, folks! I wonder if in reference to the FIU game Florida people say, "Well, we played a team from Miami this year!"
  9. Arkansas (0.5, 1): Missouri State, N-Texas A&M, Eastern Michigan, Troy. Arkansas and TAMU are looking at making the their neutral-site get-together in the Cowboy's new intergalactic space palace (which I saw from the air a couple weekends ago, and I'd say it's a pretty accurate description) a regular thing, which I'm totally a fan of. The rest of this schedule, not so much.
  10. Kentucky (0.5, 1): N-Miami (OH), Louisville, UL-Monroe, Eastern Kentucky. Yes, that is an "N" next to the Miami game, as the game is being played in Cincinatti. My guess it was probably supposed to be the Redhawk's home game in the contract and it was moved there so they could get 50,000+ folks in blue and white there to watch the ceremonial beatdown.
  11. Louisiana State (0.25, 0): @Washington, UL-Lafayette, Tulane, Louisiana Tech. In fairness, LSU didn't know that Washington would be so terrible when this game was probably scheduled. That said, was UL-Monroe not available? Seriously, this schedule is patently ridiculous for a team with national title aspirations.
  12. Mississippi (0, 2): @Memphis, Southeast Louisiana, Alabama-Birmingham, Northern Arizona. This schedule is also patently ridiculous, mainly because it happens to have both SE Louisiani and NAU on it. Ole Miss was also supposed to play a home-and-home with GT starting next year, but backed out and replaced us with either UL-Lafayette or Jacksonville State. (GT replaced them with Kansas.) Just pathetic, but I imagine it will help accomplish Ole Miss's goal of getting some mentions this year (as the pre-season hype train seems to love them).
Well, that's a wrap! Well, not quite, as we've got a summary coming up pretty soon, so stay tuned!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Rating the 2009 Non-Conference Slate, Part 5: Pac-10

Oh yeah, I was doing this schedule preview thing. Let's get this over with, starting with the Pacific 10, land of the 10-team round-robin schedule.
  1. Southern California (2 legit, 0 DI-AA): San Jose State, @Ohio State, @Notre Dame. This schedule doesn't pull any punches, with two major road trips to the Midwest. USC-OSU will be essential to each team's fate, with the loser probably lacking a good enough conference slate behind them to prop them up later in the year. (It would also serve USC well to stop getting upset in-conference, but that's outside the scope of this article.)
  2. Oregon (2, 0): @Boise State, Purdue, Utah. Oregon ventures onto the blue turf in a crucial early matchup for both. (In fact, it's one of the earliest games of the season, and frankly probably more appealing than the other big first Thursday matchup, South Carolina-NC State.) Oregon's scheduling march doesn't end there, with games against Purdue and Utah. These three matchups, combined, almost rivaled USC-OSU, but I still had to give the nod to USC. Maybe I've just been watching too much ESPN. (Oh snap!)
  3. Washington (2, 0): Louisiana State, Idaho, @Notre Dame. LSU-UDub would ordinarily be an interesting intersectional matchup, but let's face it, Washington could well go 0-3 against this slate if they play like they did last year. (As Dr. Saturday pointed out, Washington had one of the toughest schedules in the country last year, mainly because they could not play themselves.) This is also the 2nd of 4 Pac-10 matchups with Notre Dame.
  4. Stanford (1.75, 0): @Wake Forest, San Jose State, Notre Dame. The Caltrain series returns this year, but will the Gridiron Gauruntee? Not that it seemed to help, based on their attendance numbers.
  5. California-Los Angeles (1.5, 0): San Diego State, @Tennessee, Kansas State. UCLA's probably in for a bit of culture shock when they head to Knoxville, but their attempt to end the monopoly on LA Football isn't really bolstered by a home slate of inept SD State and K-State.
  6. Washginton State (1, 0): Hawaii, Southern Methodist, N-Notre Dame. It's Washington State! It's Notre Dame! It's in.... San Antonio? Apparently this is just the first in a series of Notre Dame's take on a barnstorming tour, with upcoming games in the Meadowlands and Dublin, apparently. Anyway, as for Wazzou, well, unlike their cross-state partners in crime, it's possible for them to go somewhere other than up, since they had a win and all.
  7. California (1, 1): Maryland, Eastern Washington, @Minnesota. This schedule is good in name only. I'm having a hard time getting excited about UMD and UMN, but at least they're trying!
  8. Arizona State (1, 1): Idaho State, Louisiana-Monroe, @Georgia. Arizona makes the return trip to Athens, which in UGA's conference would probably give them a high ranking schedule. Not so in the Pac-10! That said, in a perfect world this would be a pretty weak schedule, with Arizona's other slots being taken up by a Sun Belt team and Idaho State (because apparently just regular Idaho wasn't bad enough). Anyway, the drop-off after this is really noticable.
  9. Oregon State (0.75, 1): Portland State, @Nevada-Las Vegas, Cincinnati. Outside of the random roadtrip to Vegas, not much here. Well, at least Cincy is better than Iowa. Which leads us to...
  10. Arizona (0.25, 1): Central Michigan, Northern Arizona, @Iowa. Probably not as bad as last year's debacle, but still, this schedule is weak by any standard, and especially so in the Pac-10.
Well, that concludes everyone's favorite major conference west of the Rockies. Next, we wrap up with the SEC and perhaps a conclusion article. ETA: Sometime before the beginning of the season. Until then!

Monday, June 01, 2009

A Travesty in the Making?

I know the All-Star voting is mostly a popularity contest, but this is ridiculous:
McCann, who has made the All-Star game in his first three seasons, is fourth among catchers with 416,149 votes. He trails the Cardinals’ Yadier Molina (629,007), the Brewers’ Jason Kendall (471,557) and the Astros’ Ivan Rodriguez (423,369).
The one knock right now against McCann may be that he doesn't qualify due to time on the DL with eye issues, but nonetheless among catchers with at least 100 ABs he blows away the rest of the league in averages and is tied for 4th in home runs. I've copied some statistics below:

Y. Molina154 .286 .353 742
J. Kendall 140 .207 .299 563
I. Rodriguez 144 .264 .305 750
B. McCann 107 .318 .422 936

Kendall is pretty much washed up, so his presence on the list is a complete mystery. At any rate, with statistics like that McCann should make the team as a reserve. Baseball people seem to realize that McCann is probably the best catcher in the National League, even if the fans don't.