No Luck is bad luck


No Luck is bad luck

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Scott Reiss will be in New York for comprehensive coverage of the awarding of the Heisman Trophy. Follow all the news on SportsNet Central.This Heisman vote is a sham.And before you go accusing the Stanford guy of being a homer, let me state for the record: Robert Griffin III is a deserving Heisman candidate. Hes an electrifying player who has had an incredible season. But if RG3 wins, it will be for two reasons: one good, one ridiculous.The good is obvious: 4,000 passing yards, 36 touchdowns and just six interceptions. Nine more touchdowns rushing. The ridiculous (and the sham part): The Big 12 had no championship game.Stay with me here. If the Big 12 had a title game, as it did in previous years, Baylor -- which was in the South Division with Oklahoma State -- would not have played in that game. Which means the Bears would have finished their season a week ago. Like Stanford. Like Alabama. And Griffins performance against Texas -- though quite nice -- simply would have been considered a draw with Lucks four-TD effort against Notre Dame and Richardsons 200-plus yards against Auburn.
But because RG3 got to show off his stuff against a mediocre Texas team on Championship Saturday, he got the closing argument. Last change. Final at bat. Pick your metaphor. And again, his team was simply playing a regular-season game.There are two Heisman tracking polls which are considered to be most accurate in predicting the ultimate winner. Prior to Saturday, one had Richardson over Luck by a hair, with Griffin third; the other had Luck over Griffin and Richardson by more than a hair. Yet RG3 was able to completely turn the tide (no pun intended) on the national stage.This is the same phenomenon that occurred in 2009, when Stanford's Toby Gerhart lost out to Alabama's Mark Ingram. Alabama played on the final Saturday, Ingram went for 100-plus yards and three scores, and the tide turned (OK, this time I meant it). Gerhart, by the way, rushed for 200-plus and three scores the week before against Notre Dame. But how can voters be expected to think back that far?Gerharts numbers -- at the same position -- were superior to Ingrams in every way -- by a lot. And dont give me the but Ingram played in the SEC baloney. There were statistical algorithms which accounted for the tougher competition, and Toby still had superior numbers. The result? Ingram by 28 points, the closest vote in Heisman history. You dont think the recency effect (and the fact that Stanford didnt promote its guy at all -- but thats another gripe) might have accounted for that slimmest of margins? Without question it sunk Gerhart, and it might well sink his former teammate.The only silver lining here -- if youre a disgruntled Stanford fan who cringes at the thought of another Alabama running back beating out a Cardinal for the award -- is that this time around, the 'Bama guy is in the same boat. Wisconsin's Montee Ball went nuts in the Big Ten Championship game and surely convinced a bevvy of voters (and rightly so, I would add) that he is, in fact, the best running back in America. The numbers certainly support it (Ball 1,759 yards, 6.4 yardscarry, 32 rushing TDs Richardson 1,583-6.0-20 not even close!), and the recency effect clinches it.The difference between Ball and Griffin is simple: Montee was (unjustly) barely on the grid prior to Saturday; Griffin was already a legit contender. By the way, lest anyone dare try to use my logic against me and argue that, by way of the Ball-Richardson theory, Griffin is more deserving than Luck because his numbers are better, slow your roll (did I really just type that?). The better stats argument is fine for running backs. Quarterbacks need to be evaluated on a completely different level, as there are so many intangibles that come into play. Fortunately, I dont need to make the Luck intangibles argument. David Shaw did a fine job of that last week.So when the announcement is made in Manhattan this coming Saturday, let nothing surprise you. Luck could still win. Richardson could still win. Or Baylor might indeed have its first ever Heisman recipient. And if the latter happens, at least youll know why.

With Dykes out, ex-Cal OC returns to West Virginia


With Dykes out, ex-Cal OC returns to West Virginia

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Jake Spavital is returning to West Virginia as offensive coordinator.

Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen announced Spavital's hiring Saturday. He'll also coach the quarterbacks.

Spavital was interim coach at Cal after Sonny Dykes was fired last Sunday. Spavital had finished his first season as Cal's offensive coordinator. Under him, Davis Webb threw for 4,295 and 37 touchdowns.

Spavital was the quarterbacks coach in 2011 and 2012 under Holgorsen at West Virginia, where Geno Smith set numerous school records. Spavital spent three years after that at Texas A&M.

No. 21 Saint Mary's routed by undefeated Gonzaga


No. 21 Saint Mary's routed by undefeated Gonzaga


SPOKANE, Wash. -- Zach Collins said No. 5 Gonzaga wanted to make a statement against No. 21 Saint Mary's on Saturday night.

"There was a lot of hype going into this game," Collins said, after the Zags beat Saint Mary's 79-56.

"We were hoping to come in and make a statement to the rest of the conference and the rest of the country. We know how to win."

Nigel Williams-Goss scored 19 points and added six assists to help Gonzaga win its 17th game in a row, the longest streak in the nation.

"We are as good as we think we are," Williams-Goss said. "We are a group with a lot of confidence."

Jordan Mathews added 16 points, Johnathan Williams had 14 and Collins 10 for Gonzaga (17-0, 5-0 West Coast).

Jock Landale was held to 10 points and was in foul trouble much of the game for Saint Mary's (15-2, 5-1), which saw a nine-game winning streak broken. Calvin Hermanson led the Gaels with 12 points.

This game was seen as one of the major barriers remaining for the Zags as they seek to go undefeated through the regular season. The teams play again at Saint Mary's on Feb. 11.

Saint Mary's has never beaten an opponent ranked higher than No. 9.

Gonzaga shot 64.7 percent in the game, while holding Saint Mary's to just 39.7 percent. Gonzaga coach Mark Few was asked which achievement was greater.

"They are an excellent defensive team," Few said. "To shoot 65 percent is an amazing night against anybody."

Landale picked up his second foul with 14:22 left in the first and sat out the rest of the half. The Gaels' stayed close for a while, as Hermanson converted a four-point play to tie the score at 18-18.

Saint Mary's sank three straight baskets for a 27-23 lead.

But Mathews' 3-pointer ignited a 12-2 Gonzaga run that gave the Zags a 43-34 lead at halftime.

Landale scored three unanswered baskets early in the second as Saint Mary's cut Gonzaga's lead to 46-40.

Shortly after, Williams-Goss erupted for five quick baskets as Gonzaga took a 63-52 lead, and the Gaels went into a prolonged drought.

Consecutive baskets by Williams lifted Gonzaga to a 67-52 lead with 4:50 left. Saint Mary's made just one of 12 field goal attempts at one point.

"We didn't close the last 10 minutes well at all, and then we lost our composure" Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. "It should have been a good game but we didn't do our part to finish it."

Gonzaga is making a case to climb in the polls, while Saint Mary's is likely to drop as the game was not as close as anticipated.

Gonzaga sank 33 of 51 shots, while the Gaels made just 23 of 58. Saint Mary's made just 6 of 16 from 3-point range.

Saint Mary's: The Gaels relinquished first place in the West Coast Conference. Saint Mary's is second in the nation in scoring defense, allowing only 56.6 points per game. Landale was held well below his averages of 17.8 points and 9.7 rebounds per game.

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs took over first place in the West Coast Conference. Gonzaga came in averaging 86 points, with five players averaging in double figures.

Gonzaga is 170-13 in the McCarthey Athletic Center since it opened in 2004.

Saint Mary's hosts Pacific on Thursday.

Gonzaga plays at Santa Clara on Thursday.