CFB Playoff Rankings: The First Week

by Travis Normand

Yesterday, (28 Oct. 2014), the college football playoff committee released its first rankings for the 2014 season.  You can see the rankings in PDF format HERE, or on their website HERE.

In the past, during the BCS era, I would make weekly observations of the BCS poll as it was released.  I am going to try and do the same with the playoff poll.

Upon seeing the first playoff rankings, I was surprised to see Ole Miss (7-1) at number four.  I have no problem with Ole Miss in the number four slot, but I thought their loss at LSU this past Saturday night would have put them further down the list.  After all, LSU (7-2) comes in at 19 in this initial ranking.

If you are thinking that only the winner of the Ole Miss – Mississippi State game will get a playoff spot, think again!

Mississippi State (7-0) is ranked number one, and is scheduled to play Ole Miss on November 29.   If these two schools meet with only one loss between them and still ranked in the top four of the playoff rankings, it will be interesting to see what happens if Ole Miss defeats Mississippi State.  I mention this because if Ole Miss’ loss to LSU isn’t enough to knock them out of the top four, then logic would dictate that a Mississippi State loss to number four Ole Miss shouldn’t be enough to knock Mississippi State out of the top four either.  (In this scenario, it would be Mississippi State’s first loss on the season, and losing to number four Ole Miss would be a better loss than losing to LSU).

While this is the first ranking of the season (and first ranking ever), there is a lot that could happen between now and Nov. 29.  However, if this Mississippi scenario were to play out, it would be a good indicator for judging the playoff committee’s consistency in terms of ranking teams.

Understanding the CFB Playoff

by Travis Normand

A couple of weeks ago, select members of the media participated in a mock college football playoff selection meeting.  Andy Staples’ wrote about the event and how the selection process worked.  His article was fascinating and can be found at SI.com or at the following link:

Mock selection exercise raises issues actual playoff committee will face, by Andy Staples of SI.com, Friday, October 10, 2014.

I highly recommend his article to anyone who really wants to understand how the process of selecting playoff teams will work.

Other articles on how the CFB Playoff selection will work:

Texas A&M: Slow and unexciting start to home schedule (2014)

by Travis Normand

Texas A&M’s home schedule this season is horrible, and it is a shame that A&M had to play Arkansas in Arlington, Texas (as opposed to Kyle Field).  As it stands, A&M has six home games, only three of which are SEC opponents.

Further, alumni, students, and fans have had to wait until now (Oct. 11) to finally get a SEC opponent at home.  While this weekend’s game against Ole Miss should be a good one, there are only two more conference games (at home) before the season is over.

2014 Texas A&M Football Schedule

  • Thurs., Aug. 28 at *South Carolina
  • Sat., Sept. 6 vs. Lamar, Kyle Field
  • Sat., Sept. 13 vs. Rice, Kyle Field
  • Sat., Sept. 20 at SMU
  • Sat., Sept. 27 vs. *Arkansas (Arlington, TX)
  • Sat., Oct. 4 at *Miss. St.
  • Sat., Oct. 11 vs. *Ole Miss, Kyle Field
  • Sat., Oct. 18 at *Alabama
  • Sat., Nov. 1 vs. Louisiana-Monroe, Kyle Field
  • Sat., Nov. 8 at *Auburn
  • Sat., Nov. 15 vs. *Missouri, Kyle Field
  • Thurs., Nov. 27 vs. *LSU, Kyle Field

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Ex-UT cheerleader Harley Clark dies

by Travis Normand

The following article was posted at ESPN.com [emphasis added].  I found it interesting that Harley Clark got the idea for a hand signal from his rival school, Texas A&M.

Ex-UT cheerleader Harley Clark dies

Associated Press

Updated: October 9, 2014, 7:15 PM ET

AUSTIN, Texas — Harley Clark, the former Texas cheerleader credited with introducing the “Hook’em Horns” hand signal used by tens of thousands of Longhorns faithful over the past six decades, died Thursday at his farm outside of Austin, school officials said. He was 78.

The school didn’t release details or a cause of death for Clark, who watched his hand sign become one of the most recognizable and familiar signs of support in college athletics.

Clark introduced the hand sign — the index and pinky fingers extended and the two middle fingers tucked under the thumb — at a 1955 pep rally. It quickly caught on and became a universal symbol for the school and its athletic teams.

Clark later became a lawyer and was appointed a state district judge in 1977. He issued a landmark decision in 1987 that declared the state’s public school finance system unconstitutional because of disparities between wealthy and poor school districts, a ruling that was upheld by the Texas Supreme Court.

Clark “embodied the spirit of our beloved university,” said former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a former Texas cheerleader and current president of the Texas Exes alumni group. She called the hand sign a “symbol of Longhorn pride that is recognized and shared around the globe. His love and dedication to UT-Austin will never be forgotten.”

In a 2006 interview, Clark said he had wanted some kind of hand signal similar to that used by the Longhorns’ rivals at Texas A&M, where the “Gig `Em” sign dating to the 1930s is a closed fist with the thumb pointing straight up. Friend Henry Pitts showed him the Longhorn sign, which Pitts made up while shadow casting.

Clark shopped it around before a pep rally as Texas prepared to play TCU, and got mixed reactions. Undaunted, he was convinced it would catch on and it did.

“It’s perfect,” Clark said in 2006. “It just says Texas.”

It also got him in some trouble. The dean of student life lectured Clark that the signal was considered a vulgarity in Sicily and might be misinterpreted in Texas. But it was too late to stop it.

Texas fans show it during the signing of the “Eyes of Texas” before and after games, and there’s seldom a touchdown where a player doesn’t flash it for the cameras. Longhorns opponents liked to use it just as often, turning the signal upside down in a mocking gesture.

The sign even reached the White House. It caused a Scandinavian scandal in 2005 when President George W. Bush and his daughter Jenna, a Texas graduate, flashed the sign during Bush’s inauguration parade. A Norwegian newspaper interpreted it as a sign saluting Satan.

Clark is survived by his wife Patti, and four children. Funeral services were pending Thursday.

Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press

The 12th Man, Pre-1922 (Iowa)

by Travis Normand

While Texas A&M is known as the “Home of the 12th Man,” it appears as if the term “12th Man” (as a reference to a team’s fan base, student section, or alumni) has been used prior to the famous 1922 Dixie Classic.

In a 1912 issue of “The Iowa Alumnus,” E.A. McGowan (captain on the 1905 Iowa team), recalls the 1903 Iowa victory over Illinois.  You will notice that he gave credit to the “twelfth man on the team (the loyal spirited Iowa rooter)” for the victory.

The Iowa Alumnus
Volume X, November, 1912, Number 2
Page 30
THE TWELFTH PLAYER
By EA McGowan, Captain 1905

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