Are we getting close to the day when there are no independent teams in the FBS? I am pretty sure they have come close at the FCS level (I know there was at least one season where there was only one independent). I think with the way the College Football Playoff is structured, Navy was smart to join the American for next season (although it could create a scheduling nightmare, with the annual Army-Navy game AFTER the conference championship). BYU is basically looking for a new conference that doesn’t have the words Mountain or West in it. Army would probably be smart to look at Conference USA again or maybe even the MAC. The only team that really isn’t affected is Notre Dame and even they have semi-locked themselves in with the ACC with five games a season against teams from that conference. So at the very least, I think by the end of the decade, the Irish will stand alone as an independent. Prediction time.
- BYU Cougars (11-1 overall) – I am going out on a limb here saying BYU has the chance to be VERY good this season. Yes they lost Kyle Van Noy but the D looks like it could be even better. And Taysom Hill is an absolute beast at QB. Can throw the ball. Can run it even better. Bronco Mendenhall will have his best Cougs’ team ever in his coaching career. Problem is, is 11-1 enough to crack CFPMania? If not, they head to Miami Beach which might seem almost like a slap in the face.
- Navy Midshipmen (10-2 overall) – Speaking of best teams ever, Ken Niumatalolo will have his best Middies team ever as well. He also is slated to become the winningest coach in Navy history. Think about that. With all the history this program has, he will be the greatest of them all. Very impressive. What could be more impressive is Keenan Reynolds. Can he actually be more productive than last year? He’d have to find another team to score 7 rushing TDs against which might be tough (although I see VMI on the schedule so you never know).
- Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-3 overall) – The more important question here might be if the Irish, winning two less games but having a much tougher schedule, have enough to overtake BYU in the rankings and in the eyes of The Committee? Guaranteed only one independent team, at most, makes it into the extravaganza. And we all know how much the BCS had a hard-on for the Irish and I think The Committee may be no better (although I’m sure Tyrone Willingham won’t be allowed to get the above-stated hard-on). The two less wins will, for sure, keep the Irish lower in the rankings but it doesn’t matter if The Committee selects them over the Cougs.
- Army Black Knights (5-7 overall) – There are many experts who believe the Black Knights have enough to return to a bowl game in Jeff Monken’s first season at West Point. I don’t think they will quite get there. They will be much improved but with enough tough games on their schedule to trip them up along the way, it will all come down to the Army-Navy game at the end of the season and we all know how Army has played the Middies over the last, oh, dozen times.
Of course there is no conference championship because this isn’t a conference. Navy joins the American conference for 2015, where they will have a chance to play in the new American Conference championship game. As I said above, BYU and Army will probably look for new homes over the next few years. In my opinion, I see BYU going to the Big XII and Army heading for the MAC, leaving Notre Dame as the only independent for the near future.
The college football season is 5 days away!!! OK, the FBS season doesn’t start until the 28th but the first televised game is in five days. Well, for our neighbours to the south it is. For us up here, not exactly cut-and-dry. I am assuming, like last season, the earliest we will see a Bell or Rogers specialty pack schedule is about three days in advance. At the most. A lot of times it isn’t finalized until the night before. I checked this morning and there is still nothing up on the U.S. College Sports Package (I’m with Bell if you didn’t already know that). I will keep checking as this Saturday approaches.
As for TSN and their three new channels, the original thought was that the newbies would pack in a lot more live sports. Well, there may be a wrinkle in this as it seems like TSN may be going the Sportsnet route (kind of) by making the three new channels more like regional channels in nature. So TSN3 would service the west more, TSN4, central Canada, etc. If this happens, then they obviously don’t notice Sportsnet’s history of absolutely terrible programming decisions. The Rogers Cup is a fine example. At one point, all four regionals PLUS SN1 had the same damn tennis match on. Seriously? Are they fucking stupid there? Now, if all we got was our own region’s channel, then fine I totally understand. But other than the blacked out NHL games not in our area, we get all four regional Sportsnets and their full schedules. So hopefully TSN doesn’t go full-on regional with these three new channels or otherwise we will be no farther ahead when it comes to new programming and may actually end up losing out a bit.