Five-Step Drop: May 10, 2010
1. Discussion of the Big 10 expanding to 12, 14 or 16 teams is persisting and even growing. The team that seems like the obvious and easiest choice, however, doesn't seem likely to join up with the soon-to-be mega-power league. Notre Dame is very likely to remain independent in football, but there are three schools that seem almost a sure bet to be part of the expansion: Nebraska, Missouri and Rutgers.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has an entire section dedicated to the question of whether Mizzou should go. It's close, but it seems like most of the fans and media think it would be a good move. A move would immediately create an in-conference rivalry with Illinois -- which lacks a true in-conference rival like the Indiana-Purdue or Ohio State-Michigan types.
Of course, the Big Ten doesn't want to stop at 14, according to multiple outlets. The two names continually being tossed around should the conference go to 16 are Connecticut and Syracuse, which would obviously beef up college hoops much more than the pigskin. But grabbing a big piece of the colossal New York market with those two teams and Rutgers would bode well for the overall success of the conference and its television network. Pittsburgh has also been mentioned, but it seems like a backup plan for the league should either UConn or Syracuse not want to make the jump.
The guess here is those are the five teams (Nebraska, Mizzou, Rutgers, UConn, 'Cuse) that end up joining the Big 16, with Pitt left out on the cold and Notre Dame still stubbornly clinging to its independence.
2. Will Alabama be more embarrassed than Georgia State when the defending national champs annihilate the fledgling program in late November? It's an interesting discussion, for sure. Let's say the Tide rolls for a 90-point victory (and if you don't think that's possible, realize that 'Bama's fifth-stringers could walk in and start for Georgia State). I can hear the cries from the masses now about the big bully beating up on the poor weakling. But it's more of a slap in the face if Nick Saban decides to start kneeling for the entire second half -- really the only way Crimson Tide will be able to stop scoring. Let's just try to keep in mind -- a little less than seven months from now -- that Georgia State didn't have to accept the game.
3. Hershel Walker is, um, not a fan of Lane Kiffin. It should be noted that Walker played for new Vols coach Derek Dooley's father back in the early '80s at Georgia -- so he has a fair amount of preconceived bias in the situation. And Walker let his feelings known on the former Tennessee-now-USC head coach, when he told the Knoxville News-Sentinel:
"He (Kiffin) is a guy you don't want to trust at all," Walker said. "I think it's sad when you trust your kids with someone like that and they leave."
It's a tough situation, though. Kiffin was only at UT for one season before being offered his dream job. There probably aren't many of us who would have turned that down. That being said, I wonder how many people other than USC fans don't hate Kiffin? He's done a lot more than simply accept his dream job and comes across as smug as anyone in the profession.
4. This year's Ndamukong Suh? Cameron Heyward of Ohio State wants to be more than that. The ridiculously strong and athletic defensive lineman told The Cleveland Plain Dealer: "I want to be the best. I want to be the most dominant who ever played." Quite lofty expectations, but Heyward (above, making a Rose Bowl sack) has the tools and supporting cast to do so. The Buckeyes defense looks like it can be the best in college football -- so why wouldn't its best player be considered as much a force as Suh was for Nebraska? Heyward had 10 tackles for loss and 6 1/2 sacks last season in playing what the team estimates about 60 percent of the snaps. This season, the Buckeyes are shooting for having him on the field close to 90 percent of the time. With natural development and more chances, he's bound to be one of the best defensive players in America. Just ask him.
5. Plenty of great things on the horizon for the summer when it comes to FanHouse's coverage of NCAA Football. We've already seen Clay Travis' extended look at possible 2010 versions of Mark Ingram in the SEC -- and, worry not fans of non-SEC teams, we've got one of those bad boys coming for each major conference and then one enveloping the best of the rest here in the upcoming weeks. Also, for some well-deserved love to non-BCS conferences -- John Walters takes a look at Boise State, TCU and a handful of other "small" guys who can make big things happen in 2010.