The Thundering Word: C-USA Tiebreaker Gets Change for 2014


HUNTINGTON – Sorting through the ol’ Herd football notebook …

The grousing from Herd Nation about the Conference USA football championship game tiebreaker continued long after Marshall had moved on to get its 2013 Military Bowl victory.

As everyone this side of the Big Sandy and Ohio rivers recalls, East Division champion Marshall and West titlist Rice had matching 7-1 league records and hadn’t met during the 2013 season. So, the host site for the C-USA title game went to a third-level tiebreaker.

Through much confusion, the fact that Marshall was getting votes (and points) in the coaches’ poll didn’t matter because the Herd wasn’t in the top 25. Rice had the better average ranking (47.33 to 58.16) in the six computers used by the Bowl Championship.

All in all, it was a very confusing situation.

Well …

The BCS is history, and at its June meeting, C-USA university presidents gave the OK to a tweaked tiebreaker formula for the football championship site selection. It’s similar to what another Group of Five conference – the Mountain West – will utilize for the same purposes:

1. Highest regular-season winning percentage based on overall C-USA play.

2. If tied, head-to-head between tied teams.

3. If still tied, the most recent College Football Playoff Selection Committee poll will be used if one team or both teams are ranked.

4. If still tied, highest average computer ranking (computed after eliminating the highest and lowest rankings; then averaging the four remaining rankings).

Those six computer rankings are the same ones the former BCS utilized – Sagarin, Massey, Billingsley, Colley, Wolfe and Anderson/Hester.

Point No. 3 could be crucial if Marshall plays up to preseason expectations, because the Herd could find itself in those CFP top 25 polls that make their debut Oct. 28 for the first of seven weeks.

# # #

As NFL training camps begin this week, the 32 team rosters include 10 Marshall football alumni. AFC teams have an 8-2 advantage in Herd talent, with two players apiece with Buffalo, Baltimore and Indianapolis.

The list of 10 does not include former offensive tackle Garrett Scott, selected in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft by Seattle, but sidelined after a pre-minicamp physical detected a rare heart irregularity that Scott and the Seahawks hope will change. Scott was officially waived, but remains on the non-football injured reserve list.

The New Orleans Saints are training in the Mountain State for the first time, as the first NFL team to train in West Virginia since Pittsburgh did a two-year stay at West Liberty College in 1962 and ’63. The Saints are at shiny new digs at the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs – but have no Herd products on the roster at the famed resort owned and operated by another Herd alum, Jim Justice.

The two NFC players with Herd history are defensive end Vinny Curry, in his third season with Philadelphia, and safety C.J. Spillman, a six-year veteran with the San Francisco 49ers.

In the AFC, Gator Hoskins, an undrafted free agent rookie, is on the Miami roster. Wide receiver Aaron Dobson begins his second season with the New England Patriots.

The AFC rosters with two Herd alumni are the Bills, with tight end Lee Smith (fourth season) and center Doug Legursky (sixth); the Ravens, with safety Omar Brown (third) and linebacker Albert McClellan (fourth), and the Colts, with eight-year running back Ahmad Bradshaw and third-year linebacker Mario Harvey.

Only four of those 10 – Bradshaw, Smith, Curry and Dobson – were drafted. The other six made it into the league (and stuck) as free agents.

# # #

It’s baaaack …

A good deal of bantering went back-and-forth when defensive tackle James Rouse returned to the field last year after nearly two years on the sidelines after back and Achilles injuries and subsequent surgery.

See, before he was injured in a Week 3 loss at Ohio in the 2011 season, Rouse, then a defensive end, wore jersey No. 92.

That’s also the number worn by Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick when he played linebacker and defensive end for the Herd in the late ‘70s. Rouse said he was switching to No. 11 to “change my luck.”

Hamrick and some media members jousted good-naturedly about Rouse wanting to rid himself of a bad luck number, but those scribes and the AD will be glad to know No. 92 will be back for the 2014 season.

It now belongs to Rouse’s backup, Miami (Fla.) transfer Ricardo Williams, who was impressive in spring practice.

Williams wore No. 97 while he sat out last season but practiced as a transfer, and had that same number during spring drills. He’s getting No. 92 out of mothballs when August camp begins … which should keep the AD happy.

# # #

After the announcement of the Herd men’s basketball schedule Tuesday, you may want to mark the first Saturday of December on your calendars.

If Coach Doc Holliday’s football team can land the aforementioned host role for the C-USA Championship Game for the first time, it will be played Dec. 6, likely at noon or 1 p.m.

Meanwhile, the men’s hoops schedule has a Henderson Center visit from Penn State scheduled that day – which means early evening or 7 p.m., especially if MU is in the football game, no matter the site.

It could be a huge sports day in the Herd’s hometown.

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