Resounding CFP message sent as TCU pounds Ole Miss in Peach Bowl


If TCU was looking to send a message to the College Football Playoff committee, consider it delivered. And delivered in resounding fashion, at the expense of one of the best the SEC has to offer in 2014.

After jumping out to a 28-0 first-half lead, TCU kept its foot on Ole Miss’ throat the last two quarters and ran away with a 42-3 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl win.  It’s the largest postseason loss in Ole Miss history, surpassing the 35-3 beating at the hands of Michigan in the 1991 Gator Bowl.

Simply put, the Horned Frogs did everything right and the Rebels did absolutely, positively everything wrong.  The details were gruesome, so I’ll be brief before getting to what people really want to talk about coming out of this game.

The Rebels managed just 129 yards of total offense, with a mere nine of them coming on the ground.  For the game, Ole Miss averaged a microscopic .2 yards its 37 carries, and converted just 3-of-15 third downs.

The last game of Bo Wallace‘s career was one to forget, with the senior completing just under 50 percent of his passes for just over 100 yards and three interceptions.  Add in a fumble, and it was a four-turnover day that Wallace would like to shove down the toilet and flush.

His counterpart, meanwhile, got his 2015 Heisman campaign started a day early as his club also made its case for preseason No. 1.

Trevone Boykin, continuing a season-long trend of outstanding play, tossed three touchdown passes — and three picks, admittedly — and accounted for 253 yards of offense (188 passing, 65 rushing).  Wide receiver Josh Doctson caught two of those touchdown passes.

Now, with that out of the way…

TCU, its fans and some in the media felt the Fort Worth school was snubbed by the playoff committee, and it’s they and not Ohio State that should be preparing to face Alabama in the second national semifinal game in the Sugar Bowl New Year’s night.  Based on their demolition New Year’s Eve afternoon, the Horned Frogs gave the Buckeyes’ detractors some significant ammunition.

Simply for the sake of argument, Ole Miss beat Alabama 23-17 in Tuscaloosa in Week 6.  TCU just decimated the same team that beat the team that’s currently ranked No. 1 in the country on a neutral field and is in the playoffs while the Frogs are on the outside looking in.  And while TCU may have nearly lost a conference game to a really bad team, they didn’t actually suffer a non-conference loss to a really bad team like OSU did at home by double-digits.

Compare TCU’s lone loss to OSU’s: TCU 61-58 at 11-1 and fifth-ranked Baylor, OSU 35-21 in Columbus to 7-6 and decidedly-unranked Virginia Tech.  And then there’s this: TCU 30, Minnesota 7 in Fort Worth Week 2, OSU 31, Minnesota 24 in Minneapolis Week 12.

“Case closed!” TCU defenders scream, and they’re not necessarily wrong. “I don’t think I have to say anything,” head coach Gary Patterson said in the immediate aftermath when asked if it was a statement game.

In fact, they all may damn well be correct.

Then, though, there’s this argument: Ole Miss has been overrated all season long, with their rankings a direct result of the over-inflated opinions of the SEC that really came home to roost in 2014.  The Rebels lost three of the last four games it played in the regular season, with the only win coming against a Mississippi State team that many considered as overrated a their in-state counterparts.  One of the last three losses came at the hands of 7-6 Arkansas to the tune of 30-0, while another came against an LSU squad that limped home to an 8-5 mark. “So what if TCU demolished an overrated Ole Miss,” OSU defenders will say.

“Besides, TCU shouldn’t have lost to Baylor — which is ranked ahead of TCU anyway — and shouldn’t have allowed a really bad Kansas team to nearly pull off the upset in a four-point win in Week 12 if it wanted to guarantee it wouldn’t get politicked out of the playoffs,” the pro-Buckeye slant goes.  “And don’t even get me started on the lack of a conference championship game, which is the real ‘villain’ in this whole lingering debate.”

Whatever side of the Ohio State/TCU/Baylor argument you fall on, though, one thing is certain: what TCU did on the field Wednesday is easily the most impressive performance of the 2014-15 bowl season, and might be the most impressive performance of the entire season, period.  They showed that, regardless of which side of the aisle you sit, they were one of six teams that most certainly deserved one of the four current playoff spots.

Another certainty?  Fans of an expanded playoff sooner rather than later have another viable bullet to load into the chamber.

Georgia extends contract for AD Josh Brooks, plans two new football practice fields

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ATHENS, Ga. – On the heels of a second straight national football championship, Georgia has rewarded athletic director Josh Brooks a contract extension that ties him to the Bulldogs through at least 2029.

The athletic association board, wrapping up its annual spring meeting Friday at a resort on Lake Oconee, also announced plans for a new track and field facility that will free up space for two more football practice fields.

Brooks’ new contract will increase his salary to $1.025 million a year, with annual raises of $100,000.

The 42-year-old Brooks, who took over the athletic department in 2021 after Greg McGarity retired, called the Georgia job “a dream for me” and said he hopes to spend the rest of his career in Athens.

“I am extremely grateful,” Brooks said. “I got into this business 20-plus years ago as a student equipment manager. My first job at Louisiana-Monroe was making $20,000 a year in football operations.”

The Georgia board approved a fiscal 2024 budget of $175.2 million, a nearly 8% increase from the most recent budget of $162.2 million and the sign of a prosperous program that is flush with money after its success on the gridiron.

The school received approval to move forward with its preliminary plans for a new track and field facility, which will be built across the street from the complex hosting the soccer and and softball teams.

The current track stadium is located adjacent to the Butts-Mehre athletic facility, which hosts the practice fields and training facilities for the football program.

Georgia lost a chunk of its outdoor fields when it built a new indoor practice facility. After the new track and field stadium is completed, the current space will be converted to two full-length, grass football practice fields at the request of coach Kirby Smart.

“He wants to find efficient ways to practice, and there is a lot of truth to the issues we’ve had with our current practice fields,” Brooks said. “There is a lot of strain on our turf facilities staff to keep that field in great shape when half the day it is getting shade, so that has been a challenge as well. For our football program, it is better to practice on grass fields than (artificial) turf, so to be able to have two side-by-side grass fields is huge. It makes for a much more efficient practice.”

The new track and field complex, which will continue to be named Spec Towns Track, will also include an indoor facility, the first of its kind in the state of Georgia.

Iowa AD Gary Barta announces retirement after 17 years at Big Ten school

Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa athletic director Gary Barta will retire on August 1 after 17 years at the university, the school announced Friday.

Barta, 59, is one of the longest-tenured athletic directors in a Power Five conference. He was hired by Iowa in 2006 after being the AD at Wyoming.

An interim director will be announced next week, Iowa said.

In September, Iowa hired former Ball State athletic director Beth Goetz to be deputy director of athletics and chief operating officer, putting her in position to possibly succeed Barta.

“It has been an absolute privilege and honor to serve in this role the past 17 years,” Barta said in a statement. “This decision didn’t come suddenly, nor did it come without significant thought, discussion, and prayer.”

“That said, I’m confident this is the right time for me and for my family.”

Iowa won four NCAA national team titles and 27 Big Ten team titles during Barta’s tenure. The women’s basketball team is coming off an appearance in the national championship game and the wrestling team is coming off a second-place finish at the NCAA championships.

Barta served as the chairman of the College Football Playoff committee in 2020 and 2021.

He faced heavy criticism over more than $11 million in settlements for lawsuits in recent years alleging racial and sexual discrimination within the athletic department.

Lawsuits filed by former field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum and associate athletics director Jane Meyer led to a $6.5 million payout.

Iowa had to pay $400,000 as part of a Title IX lawsuit brought by athletes after it cut four sports in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the agreement, Iowa reinstated the women’s swimming and diving program and add another women’s sport.

Iowa added women’s wrestling, the first among Power Five schools to compete this year.

A lawsuit brought by former football players alleging racial discrimination within the program was settled for $4.2 million last March, which prompted state auditor Rob Sand to call for Barta’s ouster.

“Gary Barta’s departure is a long time coming given the four different lawsuits for discrimination that cost Iowa more than $11 million,” Sand posted on Twitter.

The university did not allow taxpayer money to be used for the settlement with the former players.

Barta led Iowa through $380 million of facility upgrades, including renovation of Kinnick Stadium, the construction of a new football facility, a basketball practice facility and a training center for the wrestling teams.

Under Barta, Iowa has had just one head football coach (Kirk Ferentz), women’s basketball coach (Lisa Bluder) and wrestling coach (Tom Brands). All were in place when he arrived.

Barta has also come under scrutiny for allowing Ferentz to employee his son, Brian Ferentz, as offensive coordinator. To comply with the university’s nepotism policy, Brian Ferentz reports to Barta.