Fourth and inches … (game week of Oct. 6, 2007)

By T Erickson  |   Thursday, October 04, 2007  |  Comments( 3 )

College Football
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Was it really upset weekend, or does South Florida really have a shot at the national championship game? Let's face it, there's greater parity in college football than ever before. Skills are being learned and talent is being developed at an earlier age across the U.S. than in the past. And there's only a total of 10,115 Division I-A scholarships available each year. That means there are some pretty good football players walking on and playing without scholarships around the country at the school of their choice, as well as others who opt to compete at the D-IAA level or below.

If you scan the NFL rosters, it's an eye-opener regarding how many pros come from outside the D-IA level. Take the Dallas Cowboys, for instance. They have 10 players from outside the D-IA ranks, including QB Tony Romo, who is a product of D-IAA Eastern Illinois.

Out of 32 NFL team rosters (including their injured reserve lists), there are 199 players who did not come from a Division I-A program. That's an average of 6.2 players per team. The Chiefs had the most with 12, and the Rams had the fewest with three.

Since the NFL rosters have an average of 10 to 11 percent of their players who didn't even play at the D-IA level of competition, you have to ask yourself if that is evidence of more parity at the highest level of college football. If there are that many good football players outside of D-IA ball, doesn't it stand to reason that there must be a pretty good base of talent spread throughout all 119 D-IA programs?

►Do you think the Big Ten and Pac-10 would like to call it a season right now? Their teams occupy four of the five top spots in the polls this week. I'm sure the Rose Bowl Game officials would be elated if they knew they could pit Cal against Ohio State or Wisconsin in the "Granddaddy" on Jan. 1.

►Heisman hopefuls ... Kentucky QB Andre Woodson maintains his number one spot and he could ice it away with three straight Heisman-caliber performances against South Carolina, LSU and Florida ... Darren McFadden remains steady but needs big-game attention to shine brighter ... Cal's DeSean Jackson moves up to a solid No. 3 with his great effort against Oregon last week. Rounding out my top five are Michigan's Mike Hart and BC's Matt Ryan.

►Worth reading ... If you're a college football junkie, then you've got to make Stewart Mandel's College Football Mailbag on SI.com a part of your regular weekly reading. He's got a keen football mind and is always interesting. This week, he comes up with three classifications for what would normally be termed "upsets:" Level 1--Stunners, Level 2--Surprises, and Level 3--Weird Ones. He also has a great idea for dealing with highly paid coaches who haven't delivered on their promises. I think I have a better idea than the Celebrity Crush, though ... see next point ...

►Introducing Miss RealFootball365 ... well, not yet, at least. But, whaddya say we find someone worthy to rep RF365? First of all, Miss RealFootball365 has to be a cheerleader. I mean, what else would those TV cameramen do if they had to focus their cameras on the players the entire game? Second, our crown princess of college football has to be nominated by a fan and voted on by fans. That means we need your cheerleader photos sent in. We've already have a Cheerleaders photo album on the college football front page. Let's add to it and take a vote. Then, we'll track down Miss RealFootball365 and surprise her with the news and all the great prizes she will win. Send your favorite cheerleader nomination photos to quicksnap@realfootball365.com.

QUICK HITS

►How many Colts does it take to toss nine interceptions in one day? The answer is two. Hawaii's Colt Brennan surrendered the ball five times to the Idaho Vandals last Saturday and Colt McCoy of Texas coughed up four picks to Kansas State later the same day.

►Top Graduation rates?... Is it any wonder the top graduation rates in Division I-A belong to Navy, Air Force, Northwestern, Duke, Stanford, and Notre Dame? All six programs were above 92 percent.

►Worst Graduation rates?... The two worst graduation rates belong to Arizona and Georgia (41%), closely followed by Texas (42%), Michigan State (43%) and Oklahoma (44%). Ouch.

►Fifteen teams still undefeated ... down from 23 last week ... The only undefeated teams going head-to-head this week are Ohio State and Purdue ...

►Is it really possible that either Oklahoma or Texas will be knocked out of the Big 12 title race by this Saturday? The loser will be two games back in the loss column with only six conference games remaining after this weekend.

►Florida leading Texas ... for most players arrested in a 12-month period. Gator safety Tony Joiner was arrested a couple nights ago and charged with a felony. Although it will most likely be reduced to a misdemeanor trespassing charge, Joiner is the eighth Florida player arrested in the past seven months, giving the Gators a two-arrest lead over the Texas Longhorns, who have achieved six arrests since June.

►Potential BCS Busters ... Hawaii lucked out with last week's upsets and moved up three slots in the AP poll to No. 16, despite playing WAC bottom feeder Idaho. Their star QB blew his slim chance at nabbing the Heisman Trophy when he threw five INTs against the Vandals. The Warriors cannot afford to lose one game this year with the Twinkie schedule they are playing.

►As if Irish fans needed to be reminded ... Notre Dame lost its seventh game in a row dating back to last season. The Irish are now 0-5 this year and still have UCLA, Boston College and USC coming up, beginning this weekend.

►Quick Snap ... presented by the 83rd East-West Shrine Game, Jan. 19, 2008 in Houston, on ESPN2:

What college football programs have received the NCAA's "death penalty" since 1965?

Be quick and be correct. Send your answer to quicksnap@realfootball365.com. The first email received with the correct answer wins you a limited edition two-card set of 2007 Rose Bowl Game trading cards. The winner will be announced in next week's Fourth and inches...

►Best Games of the Week ... Kentucky Wildcats at South Carolina Gamecocks ... Kansas Jayhawks at Kansas State Wildcats ... Wisconsin Badgers at Illinois Fighting Illini ... TCU Horned Frogs at Wyoming Cowboys ... Oklahoma Sooners versus Texas Longhorns ... Georgia Bulldogs at Tennessee Volunteers ... Virginia Tech Hokies at Clemson Tigers ... Ohio State Buckeyes at Purdue Boilermakers ... Florida Gators at LSU Tigers ... Cincinnati Bearcats at Rutgers Scarlet Knights ... Nebraska Cornhuskers at Missouri Tigers ...

►Upset Specials of the Week ... Last week (3-0, season 10-9) ... Illinois Fighting Illini over Wisconsin Badgers ... Purdue Boilermakers over Ohio State Buckeyes ... Wyoming Cowboys over TCU Horned Frogs ...

Todd Erickson is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the author of Road to the Rose Bowl (Silverback, 2005) the definitive book on the last 50 years of match-ups and tradition in the Rose Bowl Game.

Get more original college football insights at Realfootball365.com
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CommentsComments: 3  |  Sign Up  View all comments
No.1
Sooner Nation
02:39 PM
10/04/2007
Okie will punk the longjohns this weekend and order will be restored to the big 12. Like it or not,the sooners are back in...
No.2
jason
08:05 PM
10/04/2007
I agree there is a lot of talent in both division 1 and AA levels so yeah, we should expect more upsets or change in the balance...
No.3
Hank Pritchard
11:57 AM
10/05/2007
I hope your right about Woodson. It would be stupendous for the Kentucky program to have a Heisman winner. After last night's...
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