JoePa's Last Stand

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Is this Paterno's final season? How will the Big East expand? The editors debate.

Is this Paterno's final season? How will the Big East expand? The editors debate.

Athlon editors Steven Lassan, Mitch Light and Braden Gall debate five burning questions about Week 10 in college football:

Follow us on twitter: @AthlonBraden / @AthlonSteven / @AthlonMitch

1. If you were Big East commissioner, how would you expand?

Mitch: I like the idea of adding Villanova, if the school is willing to make the commitment to football. It’s obviously a great fit geographically. TCU is interesting. It’s a great program, but is it a good fit? The school will have access to an automatic bid in the BCS, but it won’t be the same as playing in the Big 12 or Pac-10. Will TCU be able to recruit the state of Texas any better playing teams like Syracuse, UConn and Rutgers? I’m not sure. Memphis would be a good fit, because it has a great basketball program and a football program with potential. Memphis football has a long way to go, but with the right commitment from the school and the right coach in place, it can be a solid program that can complete in the Big East. And I like the natural rivalries with Louisville and Cincy. UCF will always get mentioned, too, because of the size of the school and the Orlando market.

Braden: With the official announcement of expansion this week, there are a few conference commissioners out there who are weak in the knees (namely Craig Thompson and Britton Banowsky). Marshall, UCF, East Carolina, TCU, Houston, Temple and others have been tossed around. Taking money out of the equation (which we all know is actually all that matters), TCU and Houston would be my two picks. Dipping into Texas, both for players and TV ratings, cannot be topped. Villanova has stadium issues, so they might be out despite how logical the fit would be. What will happen? Temple and UCF are my best guesses.

Steven: The Big East is in an interesting position with expansion. Are the candidates added only going to be members for football or will they add to the 16 team basketball conference? I think Villanova is an easy target. The Wildcats are a successful FCS program and seem to be interested in making the jump, but will need to upgrade their stadium at some point. UCF is a strong option due to the large enrollment, potential television market and the Big East has to like the fact they can get into Florida more, which could help recruiting. TCU will get a lot of consideration, but if Houston isn’t invited, there would be no natural rival for the Horned Frogs, and adding a team from Texas is an odd fit for this conference. Memphis would be a fallback option, but the school needs to make a commitment to upgrading the stadium and the football program before they could have any success in the Big East.

2. Who will win the Big Ten championship?

Mitch: I think both Iowa and Wisconsin will end the season with one loss, and Wisconsin, with its win over Iowa, would win the tie-breaker. I think Michigan State will lose at Penn State, and Ohio State will lose at Iowa. Should be a great race.

Braden: It may all depend on the Ohio State-Iowa battle in Iowa City. Wisconsin and Michigan State, I believe, will lose another game along the way. So if Ohio State can take care of business in those pink locker rooms at Kinnick Stadium, the Buckeyes will have a chance at not only a Rose Bowl but maybe even a national title berth. I know it's boring, but there is a reason that OSU has won at least a share of five straight Big Ten titles.

Steven: I think Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin will all win out. With three teams tied atop the Big Ten, the tiebreaker would revert to the BCS standings, and I’m guessing Ohio State would be the highest ranked. If the Buckeyes beat Iowa, then that victory could be enough to propel them over Wisconsin in the BCS. Unless there is an unexpected loss or two along the way from the top four teams in this conference, the Big Ten appears likely to get two teams into BCS games.

3. What would shock you more, Syracuse winning the Big East or Baylor winning the Big 12 South? 

Mitch: Baylor winning the Big 12 South would be a much bigger shock. Syracuse has been awful in recent years, but it is far easier to climb up the food chain in the Big East than the Big 12 South. There are two superpowers (Texas and OU) and three other very solid programs (Texas Tech, A&M and Oklahoma State). Both teams have done a great job this season, but I’m more surprised that Baylor is contending this late in the season.

Braden: Syracuse has a much easier path to a conference title but Baylor has better players. Robert Griffin is the great equalizer and can single-handedly/footedly beat anyone. I think the Orange might be the biggest surprise of the season, but they actually have a chance to push for a Big East title. Baylor still has Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M left. Two out of three would be shocking to me.

Steven: Considering the Big East was believed to be a wide open race in the preseason, Syracuse winning the conference title wouldn’t shock me. The Orange were picked seventh in our preseason picks, but I think a lot of people believed this program could pull off an upset or two along the way and push for a better finish. I thought Baylor would be an improved team this year, just by getting Robert Griffin back under center. However, I am shocked at how much this team has improved this year and to be atop the Big 12 South standings after nine weeks.

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Taxonomy upgrade extras: 
The Week 10 edition of NCAA 5 Burning Questions tackles Big East expansion, Joe Paterno, the Greg Childs' injury and much more.

4. Will Joe Paterno be back to coach Penn State for a 46th season in 2011?

Mitch: My guess is no. We obviously won’t know until after the season, but I just have a feeling this is going to be it for Paterno.

Braden: Replacing all the talent on defense was an issue. Having an 18-year-old freshman playing quarterback hurt. The Big Ten is stacked with veteran teams this fall. All have contributed to PSU's struggles this season, but the game has passed JoePa by. Just look at the recruiting trail. The Lions have a total of four commitments with one ranking four stars or higher. He is. Penn State. But it might be time to move on.

Steven: After the rough offseason Paterno endured, I think the clock is certainly winding down on his tenure in Happy Valley. How much longer? I’m not sure. There’s a good chance he returns next year, but I’d be surprised if he’s still coaching Penn State in 2012 or 2013. The Nittany Lions have some youth in spots, but I think the talent on this team has slipped. With the expanded Big Ten next year, Paterno may want one shot at winning the conference championship game before retiring, but it will be interesting to see if they go with a head coach-in-waiting formula or hire someone from outside of the program.

5. Why was Greg Childs on the field for Arkansas in the fourth quarter of a blowout?

Mitch: Only Bobby Petrino and/or receivers coach Kris Cinkovich know the answer to that question. Very puzzling that such a good player who had been bothered with injuries was on the field in a blowout.

Braden: I think it is very clear that Bobby-P has always cared about one person only — himself. Petrino, at one point, had signed 20 years worth of contracts in about an 18-month period of time for a combined $63.85 million with three organizations. Injuries happen, but this one reminds of the Tyrone Prothro incident, and he ended up as a bank teller (no offense to bank tellers out there but it's not the NFL). There is no good reason the staff can give me as to why Childs was on the field, and now, he can't play in a huge game against South Carolina.

Steven: This is certainly one of the most puzzling decisions made by Bobby Petrino at Arkansas and a huge mistake. Arkansas was up 35-14 going into the fourth, and Vanderbilt was struggling to generate any offense since the first quarter. I understand wanting to get the offense some work going into a key game against South Carolina, but Childs was already injured from the previous week, and wouldn’t you want one of your key playmakers healthy for the next matchup? The Razorbacks are deep at receiver, but leaving Childs in the game in the fourth quarter really made no sense.


Campus Challenge

Year Three of the Campus Challenge returns as Mitch returns to defend his championship. The rules: Each person picks a quarterback, running back and wide receiver to make up his "team" for the week in an effort to amass as many passing yards, rushing yards, receiving yards and total touchdowns as possible. Whoever has the best stats as the end of the year wins. All players selected must be from a BCS conference team playing an FBS opponent, and each editor can only use a player once during the season.

Players who have been selected by all three editors: Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon and Kendall Hunter, Northwestern's Dan Persa, Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor.



Week 10 Selections
StevenMitchBraden
QuarterbackRyan Mallett, Ark.Denard Robinson, Mich.Brandon Weeden, OSU
Running backJacquizz Rodgers, OSULaMichael James, Ore.John Clay, Wisc.
ReceiverT.J. Moe, Mizz.Jeff Maehl, Ore.Juron Criner, Ariz.

 

Week 9 ResultsStevenMitchBraden
Passing Yards453222223
Rushing Yards147159138
Receiving Yards989078
Touchdowns669

 

Cumulative ResultsStevenMitchBraden
Passing Yards2,704 (1)2,048 (3)2,107 (2)
Rushing Yards1,473 (2)1,472 (3)1,569 (1)
Receiving Yards1,210 (1)875 (3)1,107 (2)
Touchdowns53 (1t)36 (3)53 (1t)