2011 College Football: Old Conference Rivals and Other Intriguing Matchups

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I’m a conference curmudgeon. From my point of view, college football at the FBS level is leaving tradition behind in the pursuit of money. Teams that were long-standing rivals over decades—even over a century in some cases—are separating. Why? So the conference they move to can have a new TV market, and so they can have a guaranteed cut of that increased revenue.

It seems that for many of these programs, the grass is always greener in the other conference (even when it’s not FieldTurf).

This weekend, I will select a list of games that present matchups between teams that once were conference rivals. What seems especially laughable to me is that these rivalries continue, but without the old and antiquated hassle of equal treatment. In almost every such matchup, it’s clear which team is part of the “Haves” and which is part of the “Have-Nots.”

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Barcelona vs. Real Madrid: Jose Mourinho’s Referee Talk Is Embarrassing

Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho‘s talk about the referee following his club’s exit of the Copa del Rey to rivals Barcelona in the quarterfinal on Wednesday was embarrassing and uncalled for.

Per the BBC:

In apparent criticism of the referee, Mourinho said: “I heard [some players] say it was impossible to win here.”

Real, who have won only one of the last 14 El Clasico encounters against Barca, dominated the first half but found themselves a goal down at the break—3-1 on aggregate—after Lionel Messi danced through their defence to find Pedro.

Madrid defender Alvaro Arbeloa did not think highly of the referee’s job during the second leg of the quarterfinal tie.“We were much better than Barcelona, we had a lot of opportunities but the referee lost it in the little details. We would have preferred it if the cards had been more evenly distributed.”

Mourinho should be embarrassed by his comments toward the performance of the referee. Instead of complaining, he should instead find a way of beating Barcelona, who have dominated Mourinho throughout his career—especially during his tenure at Madrid.

The Portuguese manager is arguably the most brilliant coach in world football, but his criticism of referees after nearly every major loss, especially to Barca, is laughable and makes himself and Los Blancos look terrible.

What Mourinho should do is admit his players are nowhere near capable of beating Barcelona on a consistent basis, and that it’s his fault for that because of his failed tactics and inability to bring in stronger defenders during transfer windows.

Barca centre-back Gerard Pique accurately stated after the second leg that Madrid also got some breaks from the referee, not just the Catalan club.

“The referee made mistakes in all senses, but he did the best he could. [Lassana] Diarra’s play [in which he hacked Lionel Messi down having already been booked] was a clear sending-off.”

Due to the intense nature of this rivalry, players on both sides are going to be physical and often cross the line with their tackles and antics.Madrid, in many matches against Barcelona during Mourinho’s tenure, could have had one and sometimes more players sent off for unneeded tackles. It’s not like Madrid has played clean matches versus their rivals and have wrongly been red-carded numerous times.

What Mourinho must do is figure out a way to beat Barcelona consistently or his stay in the Spanish capital will end sooner rather than later.

If the club wants to win La Liga, the league cup and the Champions League, they will likely have to go through Barcelona, which is an opponent they cannot beat at the moment.

Mourinho cannot focus on the referees, because the greatest hurdle he must climb at Madrid is beating Barcelona, and it’s a challenge he has mightily failed thus far.

Read more World Football news on BleacherReport.com

Michigan Football Recruiting: Ohio State Will Haunt Brady Hoke’s Big Ten Dreams

Brady Hoke must have nightmares about new Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer.

Honestly, he must be waking up in a cold sweat each and every night haunted by the fact that his biggest rival now possesses arguably one of the best college football coaches and recruiters in the nation.

It surely puts a damper on Michigan’s 11-2 season and Sugar Bowl win, doesn’t it?

Before the hiring, things were really looking good for Hoke and the Wolverines.

After the ineptitude that was the Rich Rodriguez of Michigan football, bringing in a “Michigan man” was like a breath of fresh air for the struggling program.

He was able to come in and almost seamlessly transition from Rodriguez’s offense to his own, while still effectively using standout quarterback Denard Robinson.

Most impressive, though, had to be the hire of former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, who took one of the worst defenses in the league and molded a sixth-ranked squad that only gave up 17.4 points a game.

That’s a far stretch from the defense that gave up 65 points to Illinois just a year before.

There’s no doubting that Hoke has built something good here in just one year, but one can’t help but feel the hiring of Meyer is going to be quite a damper on the growth of this program.

The Buckeyes were dead in the water after the Jim Tressel fiasco. Not only did they finish with a 6-7 record, going 3-5 in the Big Ten, but they lost their last four games, which included a bowl game loss to Florida and a loss to the Wolverines.

They were facing NCAA sanctions and a bowl ban, and Luke Fickell did not appear to be the guy for the job.

With Michigan State and Wisconsin losing key players to the NFL draft, it looked like Michigan was set up to have a nice run at the Big Ten, but that all came crashing down with the hiring of Meyer.

He’s got two national titles under his belt, a great coaching resume and instant credibility. Look no futher than this piece from Steve Hemmelgarn of the Parkersburg News and Sentinel, which states that Meyer already has the No. 3 recruiting class in the nation.

Meyer hasn’t even coached a down for the Buckeyes and he’s already got them back on track.

This spells trouble for Hoke and the Wolverines.

Without Meyer, there is a good chance that Hoke’s recruiting skills plus the name brand of Michigan football would be able to win over possible recruits deciding between the two Big Ten powers.

However, the edge now firmly has to go to Ohio State.

How many recruits is Hoke going to lose out to Meyer over time? How is that going to impact the product on the football field for both schools?

I have to imagine that’s a question that keeps Brady Hoke up all night.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers Finally Focus on Greg Schiano, Deal in Works?

Barring a last-minute Chip Kelly hit-and-run, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hope to introduce Greg Schiano from Rutgers as their new head coach as soon as today.

Reports emerged from virtually all sources, ESPN, the NFL Network, Tampa sports radio station WDAE 620, the Tampa Bay Times and the Tampa Tribune, that the Bucs are finalizing the deal with the man who resurrected the Scarlet Knights program.

Schiano had been rumored for the past few years as the eventual replacement for the late Joe Paterno at Penn State and might have ended up there had it not been for the scandals that led to the firing of the coaching icon.

Those who watch USF football have seen Schiano up close and personal. He’s a defensive guy and his Rutgers teams are known for their toughness and fundamentals.

What may have pushed Schiano into the eyes of the team owners—the Glazers—was the endorsement from New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who feels that Schiano will be a solid NFL coach.

Schiano proved once again that the ongoing Mike Sherman interviews were simply a smokescreen. The list of NFL assistants that had been interviewed only masked the apparent determination of the Glazers to go with a college coach.

Schiano has NFL experience. He was with the Chicago Bears for three years, 1996-1998, and eventually became their defensive backs coach. He was the defensive coordinator at the University of Miami and had nice success there, which led Rutgers to hire him.He took over a lousy Rutgers program and led it to national prominence and he garnered a lot of awards and recognition in the process.

He has produced a lot of current NFL players, including Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, who is an unrestricted free agent this year.

Would Ray Rice have in interest in reuniting with his old college coach?

Imagine that.

Read more NFL news on BleacherReport.com

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