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The BCS is an election, so why not campaign?

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The BCS is an election, so why not campaign?

Imagine having an election where candidates were criticized for campaigning.

Strange, right? Unless it's the Bowl Championship Series.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, who was an aspiring politician before settling into a very successful coaching career, is currently in the unenviable position of being the third-wheel in the race to the BCS title game.

Kansas State leads the BCS standings. Oregon is second. Notre Dame is third. If the Ducks and Wildcats win out, they will likely play for the BCS title on Jan. 7 in Miami, even if the Fighting Irish also finish unbeaten.

``Nobody is jumping anybody at this point, barring voter epiphany or election fraud,'' said Jerry Palm, who analyzes the BCS standings and basketball RPI for CBSSports.com and runs CollegeBCS.com.

You see, for all the talk about computer ratings, the BCS standings formula is really all about the polls. Two-thirds of a team's grade comes from two polls - the USA Today coaches' poll and the Harris poll. The voters in the Harris poll range from former players and college athletic administrators to current members of the media.

The system is set up for the polls to essentially set the national championship game and for the computers only to come into play when the polls are so close there is no clear consensus on Nos. 1 and 2.

The voters decide, but for some reason the candidates (i.e. coaches) who get dragged into this mess are looked down upon for publicly making a case for their teams.

Some coaches - such as Urban Meyer when he was at Florida and Mack Brown at Texas - have been more aggressive about advocating.

Others, such as Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, have been more subtle and tried to steer clear. Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy took that tack last year when his Cowboys were jockeying with Alabama for a spot in the title game.

Not until all the games had been played did Gundy make a strong pitch.

``I think that each coach has to make a decision based on what gives his team the best opportunity to play in the championship game,'' Gundy said Monday. ``I don't know that there's a perfect time.''

While the coach can only do so much, a school's sports information staff plays a big role.

Kenny Mossman, the former sports information director at Oklahoma now working as an associate athletic director for the school, has been part of a couple of close BCS races. In 2008, Oklahoma beat out Texas in a close vote that determined which team played for the Big 12 title, with a spot in the national championship game on the line.

``I always felt like we had a very fine line to walk there between overtly campaigning and providing the type of information that allowed us to be viewed fairly,'' he said.

Mossman and his staff would send email blasts to members of the college football media with stats and facts accentuating the strengths of Oklahoma's resume.

Most of the people on the receiving end of those emails didn't have a vote in either of the BCS polls, but they had platforms that could alter the public debate and maybe sway a voter or two.

``What you're trying to do is get to the influencers,'' Mossman said. ``Some may be voters and some may be not.''

Mossman said he would always consult with Stoops about the message.

``Ultimately, he's the face of the program and you don't want to make him feel uncomfortable,'' he said.

Kelly, after saying he would stay away from lobbying a week earlier, decided to tout the Irish on Sunday. And why not?

He pointed out the Irish have the No. 1 scoring defense in the country, and they are the only contender that hasn't played an FCS team.

``If you want style points, look at our defense, look at the schedule that we played: 10 FBS teams,'' Kelly said. ``We'll just keep working on one at a time and let other people figure out where that puts us.''

The odd thing about Notre Dame's BCS position is that it belies the perception among many college football fans that the Irish are media darlings and consistently overrated.

The Notre Dame brand isn't going to help the Fighting Irish in this race, and neither will the voters, no matter how much Kelly campaigns.

``Notre Dame is not going to jump (Oregon and Kansas State) without their help,'' Palm said. ``They're way too far behind in the polls. The voters are not on board with Notre Dame.''

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HEISMAN WATCH

Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting in 2004, the best result ever by a freshman.

Before that, Georgia's Herschel Walker had the best showing for a freshman in the Heisman voting, with a third-place finish in 1980.

Johnny Manziel isn't a true freshman like those two great running backs, he's a redshirt freshman. But his scintillating performance in Texas A&M's 29-24 upset of Alabama on Saturday has given him a legitimate chance to make Heisman history.

Manziel has been putting up Heisman-worthy numbers all season. He's second in the nation in total offense at 379 yards per game and has accounted for 33 touchdowns.

But he was less-than-spectacular in losses to Florida and LSU, A&M's two best opponents before Saturday.

Now that he has a big win on his resume, Manziel has a clear path to be a Heisman finalist and earn a trip to New York for the presentation in December.

Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein is still the Heisman front-runner, but Johnny Football is closing fast.

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QUICK HITS

- No. 1 Oregon could be starting its third-string free safety against No. 14 Stanford after Avery Patterson, who replaced John Boyett, went down with what looked like a serious knee injury on Saturday. The Ducks also played much of their game against Cal without their five best defensive lineman because of injuries.

- Now that the Big East has gained a path to automatic entry to the new postseason system, which goes into effect in 2014, the next task for the conference will be convincing BYU to join.

- The winner of the ACC Coastal Division could finish the regular season 6-6 overall.

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LAST WORD

``We talked very frankly about it. He told me he had not made a decision, if we go 6-6, despite what all the reports are. Either the sources are wrong or Dave wasn't being forthright with me, and I have no reason to think Dave's not being forthright with me. He's an honest man. He's always been honest with me. I've appreciated how he's handled everything about this.'' - Tennessee coach Derek Dooley saying Monday that his future with the Volunteers has not been determined by athletic director Dave Hart.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphdrussoap

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These hidden factors could make Brandon Scherff less interested in an extension with the Redskins

These hidden factors could make Brandon Scherff less interested in an extension with the Redskins

In Brandon Scherff, the Redskins have a 27-year-old guard who has delivered on his first-round status, a lineman who has become one of the best in the league at his position and should have many more years of production and defender-mauling left.

Therefore, it's in the Redskins' best interest to extend Scherff this offseason, and the veteran confirmed on Monday there have been talks about getting that done

But during a discussion on the Redskins Talk podcast, J.I. Halsell, a salary cap expert and former agent, laid out something that could force those negotiations to stall.

"There are some things you have to take into consideration because 2020 is the final year of the collective bargaining agreement, so there are some things you have to work around when structuring the deal," Halsell said.

Not only is that deadline approaching, but another one is, too. In 2021 and 2022, the NFL's TV deals with Monday Night Football, FOX, CBS and NBC expire as well.

So, there's a very real possibility the league's salary cap could look much, much different in a few seasons. And that, according to Halsell, may make Scherff much less willing to accept an extension now.

"If you're Brandon Scherff, in 2021, with a new collective bargaining agreement, the salary cap might be $250 million or something crazy like that, with all the new revenue coming into the league," he explained. "And so why would I take a deal today and preclude myself of taking advantage of a very lucrative and larger revenue pie?"

Essentially, it comes down to whether Scherff wants to take a present risk that could pay off down the line (kind of like how Kirk Cousins did a few years back with the Burgundy and Gold). He could probably lock something in over the next few months — Halsell's projection was an agreement for five years, including $45 million guaranteed and a $14.5 million average per year — or step away from talks now and try to cash in later.

Haslell told Redskins Talk he'd probably advise the lineman to take the second route.

"You would say, 'Look, you're a former first-round pick. You've made a decent amount of money in your career thus far,'" he said. "You have the financial wherewithal to not take the bird in hand today that may not be as lucrative as what is out there in 2021. So, bet on yourself and play out the last year of your rookie deal, force them to tag you in 2020 and then see what this new NFL salary cap world looks like in 2021."

Now, who knows truly how much these factors will play into Scherff's back-and-forth with the 'Skins. Nevertheless, you can see why the Pro Bowler's next contract may not be as much of a no-brainer as previously thought.

"If the kid is willing to bet on himself," Haslell said, "then it could be very lucrative on the back end."

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Seven reasons you need to root for the Blues in the Stanley Cup Final

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Seven reasons you need to root for the Blues in the Stanley Cup Final

The St. Louis Blues defeated the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night to advance to the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final. The champions of the Western Conference will take on the Boston Bruins, the champions of the Eastern Conference, having swept the Carolina Hurricanes in four games.

With the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins squaring off in a rematch of the 1970 Stanley Cup Final, we've dug up the seven reasons why Capitals fans, and -- well -- all NHL fans should be rooting for the Blues to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup.

1: The Blues are like the Capitals of the West

A lot of fans think that the San Jose Sharks hold that title, but the Blues present an even stronger case.

The Blues Stanley Cup drought is currently at 51 seasons. And although they made the Stanley Cup Final three consecutive seasons from 1968-1970, they have yet to win a game in the Stanley Cup Final.

That should sound familiar to Caps fans. Before they won it all in 2018, Washington's Cup drought was 42 years, and when they made the Cup Final in 1998 they were swept by the dominant Detroit Red Wings.

The similarities don't stop there. Each team has a Russian sniper, a crop of promising rookies on offense and defense, and acquired depth pieces in free agency to build a consistent contender.

In the Blues case before this season, they couldn't make it past the Conference Finals, similar to how the Caps couldn't make it out of the second round.

Call it coincidence or fate, but the Blues are looking eerily similar to the Caps that won the Stanley Cup last year.

2: No More Boston Championships

The New England Patriots just won the Super Bowl. The Red Sox just won another World Series. The city of Boston has celebrated six major professional championships since 2010 and 12 since 2000, with each parade more frustrating to watch than the last.

Does Boston really need another championship after a drought since February?

3: Brad Marchand is the worst

A lot of people will complain about Tom Wilson's play. But Brad Marchand is the king of the subtle and overtly dirty play, especially in the playoffs where the rules relax.

In last year's playoffs, Marchand was told by the league to stop licking players after he brushed his tongue across Leo Komarov's face.

This postseason, he's punched players in the back of the head after a play's been blown dead.

He also baited Justin Williams into penalty minutes when he high-sticked him across the face. No penalty was given to Marchand on the play.

Marchand's put up 18 points through three rounds in addition to his antics.

4: TJ Oshie's old stomping grounds

The Caps acquired Oshie from the Blues in 2015 in exchange for Troy Brouwer, Pheonix Copley and Washington's third-round pick in 2016, and he's now a mainstay in the Caps top six. 

Oshie played over 400 games for the Blues, recording over 300 points for the organization that drafted him. Not only did he put up stellar numbers, but he was an alternate captain for the Blues and was beloved by fans in the area.

Who better to root for than for Oshbabe's old team?

5: Vladimir Tarasenko is tearing it up

If you've got Alex Ovechkin's endorsement as a game-changer, that's a good place to start.

Ovechkin took note of Tarasenko's skill in a 2014 game the Blues played against the Rangers and told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch "He just make great jump in his career and he’s carrying the team right now.”

In these playoffs, the Russian sniper has eight goals and five assists, including points in every game of the Western Conference Finals against the San Jose Sharks.


6: Pam and Jim are facing off in an Office matchup

Actor John Krasinski, who played Jim Halpert in The Office,  is a Bruins fan. 

Jenna Fischer, who played Pam Beesly, Jim's love interest, is a Blues fan.

We have a house divided.

We tend to lean to Team Pam because if you take a closer look, Jim was a pretty awful colleague and despite his charm and boyish looks, he was kinda a bad person.

7: Washington helped St. Louis ascend the standings

On Jan. 2 the Blues were last in the league and posted a 15-18-4 record with 34 points.

But their fortunes started to turn on Jan. 3, when they faced the Caps at Enterprise Center in St. Louis. They beat the Caps 5-2, and turned their season around from that game going forward, including an 11 game winning streak.

So really, St. Louis has Washington to thank for transforming their season from one marred by losses to one where they made the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1970.

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