A Proposal for a 20-Team College Football Playoff

Some people like the current 4-team playoff. Others want to expand to 8 teams. But I have an idea for a 20-team playoff that will crown the undeniable champion of college football.

To start, we’re going to assign every FBS team to one of ten conferences, and then divide each of these conferences into two divisions. These will be based loosely on geography, but mostly on money. Most of these conferences will have a number as a part of their name, which must be at least plus-or-minus two from the number of teams in said conference.

Each season, every team will play 12 games. We want to make things fair for the richest teams, as traveling to away games will be much more expensive for them given their exquisite tastes, so we’ll let them play seven or eight of their games at home.

At the end of this 12 game season, we will create two playoff brackets. The first is the Consolation Bracket, which is comprised of the ten division winners from the small-money conferences. In the “Round of 10”, each team will match up against the other division winner from their conference. Now that the bracket has been whittled down to 5 teams, the Consolation playoffs are over. Congratulations to the five “Consolation Co-Champions”

The other bracket is made up of the ten division winners from the big-money conferences. The first round, we’ll call it “Championship Week”, matches up each of these ten division winners against the other division winner from their conference. The five winning teams from the “Championship Week” round move on to the “Sweet Six”.

The “Sweet Six” isn’t played on the field, however. This system is too progressive for that. Instead, we’re going to let the executives at ESPN pick four of these teams to advance to the “Semifinals”. Oh, and we forgot to mention, the reason this is called the “Sweet Six” is because Alabama is guaranteed automatic entry to this round to help round out the field. Also, if the folks at ESPN think that any of these six teams won’t bring in enough money, they can substitute in any other team they like.

Before we move on to the final rounds, we’ll take a few weeks off for the holidays and allow ESPN to schedule a bunch of exhibitions for any teams that won more games than they lost. Yay.

Now we enter the “Semifinal” round. And I’ll be honest, I’ve run out of ideas to make these playoffs even more awesome. So, the rest of the playoff will play out just like any other vanilla 4-team tournament. We want to settle this on the field, after all.

On being a true fan

As most of you are aware by now, I have not been happy with the direction of the UTSA football program recently. We are floundering, dead last in the nation in yards per play, 3rd quarter scoring, and a multitude of other statistics. We have been outscored 120 to 10 in our last three games, coming off of a bye week.

For some of you, this apparently looks like I (and the other fans who are equally or more critical) have suddenly turned on UTSA and hate the team we once loved. You’ve asked us to stay positive, or you’ve given up on us and told us to leave and not let the door hit us on the way out.

But I can tell you that I do not hate UTSA. In fact, I probably love the Roadrunners more than ever. But I’m worried about them.

You see, a lot of folks aren’t as passionate about UTSA as you and I. They just want to come out to the Alamodome six Saturdays a year and enjoy the show. But there has been very little to enjoy this year.

Attendance was at an all-time low two weekends ago, by a large margin. And that should worry you. You should not be happy about that.

You should not blame the fans who have decided they have better things to do than watch the worst offense in the country. Nor should you blame the fans that do show up week after week, but are actively voicing their displeasure about the direction of the program.

If you had a close friend heading down a dangerous path, would you be the person to stage an intervention and try to help them, or would you just sit back and hope that they somehow figure it out on their own?

A true fan is someone that loves the team enough to call them out when they are heading in the wrong direction. A true fan does not just sit idly by while the program self-destructs.

That’s what a true fan is to me.

How to watch Conference USA football in 2018

UPDATE (8/28): ESPN+ is now offering a 30-day free trial (normally 7-day), which means you can watch all 3 months of C-USA football (36 games) on ESPN+ for just $9.98 total. Visit https://plus.espn.com/ to sign up. Offer ends September 2.

 


Gone are the days of buffering videoboard feeds on CUSA.tv, or trying to figure out how to tune your TV to channel 37.4. Conference USA plans to air every single game this season on either traditional linear television or via streaming and social media. Welcome to the future.

Streaming Devices

First things first, you’re going to need a streaming device to watch the majority of C-USA football games in 2018.

The easiest and most versatile device would be a computer with an HDMI port. Whether you want to buy a high-end media center PC, or you have an old laptop laying around, you can stream just about anything on your big screen just by hooking up an HDMI cable.

If you want a dedicated streaming device, my suggestion would be the Google Chromecast, which can be had for $35. You simply pull up any stream on your phone, tablet or PC and cast the video straight to your TV. If you have a YouTube TV subscription and a Google Home, all you have to do is say “Play the UTSA game on living room TV” and let the technology do its magic.

There are a ton of other options out there, like the Roku or Amazon Fire TV Stick, which are great for people who prefer to have a physical remote control and a set of “channels” or “apps” to choose from, but not every streaming service works with every device, so do your research before locking yourself in to any one ecosystem.

Channels & services airing C-USA games

ESPN+

The first thing you’ll want to do to watch C-USA football is to get yourself an ESPN+ subscription. 36 games are scheduled for ESPN’s new standalone streaming service, which is available at the reasonable price of $4.99/mo or $49.99/yr (remember when CUSA.tv cost you twice that much for a fraction of the content?).

If you’re a fan of soccer or rugby, then you might as well save some money with an annual plan (trust me, you’ll use it), but if you’re in it just for the college football then you can get the whole season for $15-$20. They also offer a 7-day free trial if you’re a new subscriber.

Note that ESPN+ is NOT included with your cable/satellite subscription, and ESPN+ does NOT include other ESPN content (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, SEC Network, ESPN3, etc). It is a completely standalone subscription.

  • UTSA @ Southern Miss – Oct. 20
  • All UTSA home games except for Baylor – Sept. 22, 29, Oct. 13, Nov. 10, 24

ESPN3 (and ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, SECN)

The next service you’ll want access to is ESPN3 (again, it is NOT included with ESPN+), which is set to air at least 13 C-USA games this year. If you already have a cable/satellite subscription, then you can just log in to the ESPN app or the WatchESPN website with your credentials from your TV provider. You can also stream other ESPN network games on WatchESPN, or just watch them using your set-top box.

If you’ve already cut the cord, then you still have quite a few options to stream ESPN content. Subscription services including Sling, DirecTV Now, Youtube TV, Hulu, and PS Vue all include the traditional ESPN channels and give you access to WatchESPN.

Sling Orange would be your cheapest option at $25/mo, but all the other services at around $40/mo may cover enough additional networks to be worth the higher price. All of the above services offer free trials as well, which can be incredibly useful if you just want to stream one game and then cancel.

  • UTSA @ Rice – Oct. 6 (ESPN3)

beIN Sports

C-USA enters its third year with beIN Sports, which will broadcast 10 games this season. beIN is available through most cable/satellite providers, but you’ll probably have to pony up for the additional (and costly) sports package.

If you already have a $25/mo Sling Orange or Sling Blue subscription, you can add beIN through the “Sports” package or “Best of Spanish TV” package for an additional $5/mo. You can also get beIN included in a fuboTV subscription for $40-$45/mo, which will give you almost every sports-centric network, except for the ESPN family.

But your best bet is to sign up for either fubo Latino for $18/mo, or Sling Latino for $10/mo. Don’t worry, they both include both the Spanish and English versions of the channel. Or this could be another opportunity to sign up for a free trial for a weekend and then cancel.

  • UTSA @ UAB – Nov. 13

CBS Sports Network

Long-time C-USA partner CBS Sports Network is set to broadcast 10 games this year, including the conference championship. As with beIN, you can find CBSSN on most cable/satellite services, and you can also use your login to stream via their website if you’re away from home.

Streamers have a few options to get CBSSN, including YouTube TV ($40/mo), Hulu ($40/mo), fuboTV ($45/mo), PS Vue (“Core” package, $50/mo), and DirecTV Now (“Go Big” package, $65/mo). If you don’t already have one of these subscriptions, you’re going to want to just get a free trial for a single game, or try to find one with other channels you’d also want to watch for a month.

  • C-USA Championship Game – Dec. 1

Stadium

No matter what device you’re using, you should be able to watch C-USA’s 8-game slate on Stadium for free. You can watch locally over-the-air, through WatchStadium.com, on Twitch, Twitter, PlutoTV, fuboTV, and the Stadium app on a bunch of platforms. Just click here to see all your different options.

Note that you do NOT need to pay for Stadium’s premium subscription unless of course, you’re a fan of the Patriot League, West Coast Conference, or Mountain West. But C-USA is 100% free, baby!

  • No UTSA games

Facebook

If this all wasn’t confusing enough, C-USA will have 10 games aired exclusively on Facebook, thanks to both CBSSN and Stadium reaching deals to produce the games exclusively for the social media platform.

It should be easy enough to watch the Facebook games on your personal devices (PC, phone, or tablet) or to cast them to a Chromecast. Other devices can be a bit trickier, but you can find the Facebook Watch app on Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, XBOX One, and Nvidia Shield, along with Samsung and Sony smart TVs.

  • UTSA vs. Baylor – Sept. 8 (CBSSN on Facebook)
  • UTSA @ Marshall – Nov. 17 (Stadium on Facebook)

The Rest

There are four other C-USA games not on the networks mentioned above, all out-of-conference road games, including two for the Roadrunners.

UTSA’s season opener at Arizona State will air on FS1, which you can find on any cable/satellite package, or any of the streaming services mentioned above (Sling Blue, DirecTV Now, YouTube TV, Hulu Live, PS Vue, fuboTV).

Two weeks later, the Roadrunners face off against Kansas State on a FOX network to-be-determined. If it ends up on FS1 or FS2 (unlikely), then refer to the services above. More likely is that it will end up on Fox Sports Southwest (FSSW), which is available through all the services above, but in some cases requires a more expensive package.

FAU opens their season at Oklahoma on FOX. That’s big FOX, Homer Simpson FOX, the one you can get for free with an antenna. If you’ve made it this far, I have faith that you can figure out a way to watch this one.

WKU’s week 3 matchup at Louisville will be on the ACC Network’s regional affiliates, and I believe it will also be included on ESPN3. If not, you’ll have to check the ACC’s website to see which affiliates in your area will be showing it.

  • UTSA @ Arizona State – Sept. 1 (FS1)
  • UTSA @ Kansas State – Sept. 15 (Fox Sports network TBD)

The Bottom Line

If you’re a UTSA fan without any existing subscriptions, your best lineup would look like this:

  • ESPN+ for 1 month for Southern Miss, or 3 months to include home games ($5-15)
  • Sling Blue for 1 month for ASU & KSU ($25)
  • Free trial of any streaming service, or 1 month of Sling Orange, for Rice ($0-25)
  • Free trial of Sling or fuboTV, or pay for Sling Latino, for UAB ($0-10)
  • Baylor and Marshall free on Facebook ($0)
  • GRAND TOTAL: $30-75

That’s not too bad of a deal for all 12 UTSA games this year, and if you already have a cable/satellite service or any of the streaming services, then that price could come down below $20 pretty easily.

If you’re looking for the entire C-USA slate, then you’re probably going to want to piece together something like this:

  • ESPN+ for 3 months ($15)
  • Sling Latino for 3 months ($30)
  • YouTube TV for 3 months ($120)
  • GRAND TOTAL: $175

The YouTube TV piece is effectively replacing a traditional cable/satellite subscription for ESPN, CBSSN and FOX networks, so if you haven’t yet cut the cord or you have another existing streaming service then you could bring the total cost down to $45.

It sure is a complicated lineup for C-USA this year, but it’s great to have an array of options to access all of these networks and services so we aren’t all forced into a $100+ cable bill and debating whether or not it’s worth throwing $10 at CUSA.tv in the hopes that the game you want to watch will be halfway decent quality (spoiler alert: it won’t).

 

If you notice any mistakes in the above analysis or have any additional tips and tricks, please share them in the comments. Just try to refrain from posting links to any illegal streams or sites like /r/CFBStreams.

Roadrunners in the NFL: 2018 NFL Preseason Update & Schedule

UPDATE (8/7): The hits just keep on coming. Ashaad Mabry was released by the Panthers earlier today. The schedule has been updated accordingly.

The NFL’s preseason is officially underway after last Thursday’s Hall of Fame Game, and this year we will see a record seven former UTSA athletes taking the field.

UTSA’s longest-tenured NFL’er Teddy Williams was set to start the season with the New York Giants, but today asked for his release from the team for personal reasons, but still hopes to play at some point this season.

In another bit of bad news, we may not get to see first-rounder Marcus Davenport right away, as he has been sitting out of practice with an undisclosed injury since last Monday. We have to assume this isn’t too severe, since he hasn’t been placed on Injured Reserve, but the Saints haven’t given any timetable for his return as of yet.

ROADRUNNERS IN THE NFL

  • Marcus Davenport – DE – New Orleans Saints
  • Ashaad Mabry – DT – Carolina Panthers
  • Jordan Moore – S – Denver Broncos
  • David Morgan – TE – Minnesota Vikings
  • Brian Price – DT – Dallas Cowboys
  • Dalton Sturm – QB – Dallas Cowboys
  • Jarveon Williams – RB – Cincinnati Bengals

COMPLETE SCHEDULE (all times Eastern)

PRESEASON WEEK 1 (AUG. 9-13)
Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018
Bears at Bengals – 7:00pm
Panthers at Bills – 7:00pm
Saints at Jaguars – 7:00pm
Cowboys at 49ers – 10:00pm (NFL Network)

Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018
Vikings at Broncos – 9:05pm (NFL Network)


PRESEASON WEEK 2 (AUG. 16-20)
Friday, Aug. 17, 2018
Dolphins at Panthers – 7:30pm
Cardinals at Saints – 8:00pm

Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018
Jaguars at Vikings – 1:00pm (NFL Network)
Bengals at Cowboys – 7:00pm (NFL Network)
Bears at Broncos – 9:05pm


PRESEASON WEEK 3 (AUG. 23-26)
Friday, Aug. 24, 2018
Broncos at Redskins – 7:30pm
Patriots at Panthers – 7:30pm
Seahawks at Vikings – 8:00pm

Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018
Saints at Chargers – 8:00pm – (CBS)

Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018
Bengals at Bills – 4:00pm – (FOX)
Cardinals at Cowboys – 8:00pm – (NBC)


PRESEASON WEEK 4 (AUG. 30-31)
Thursday, Aug. 30
Colts at Bengals – 7:00pm
Panthers at Steelers – 7:30pm
Cowboys at Texans – 8:00pm
Rams at Saints – 8:00pm
Vikings at Titans – 8:00pm
Broncos at Cardinals – 10:00pm (NFL Network)

Where will UTSA bowl? – 2017 edition

UTSA is finally bowl eligible after a 9-7 win over Marshall on Saturday thanks to the leg of soon-to-be Freshman All-American kicker Jared Sackett.

With an unprecedented number of bowl eligible teams coming out of Conference USA this year (9 teams guaranteed, 10 if Louisiana Tech beats UTSA this weekend), it makes the bowl picture quite a bit murkier than in previous years.

Here are all the bowls that may end up taking C-USA teams this year, and what I believe UTSA’s chances are of ending up in any of them.

Conference USA Primary Tie-ins

R+L CARRIERS NEW ORLEANS BOWL

Saturday, December 16, 12:00 p.m.
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
C-USA vs. Sun Belt #1

The first FBS bowl game of the 2017 season takes place in New Orleans, and will likely take a C-USA West team. They could go with in-state Louisiana Tech (if they are eligible), or #TheReturn of UAB, or give Coach Wilson a chance to bring his Roadrunners to his hometown.

UTSA’s chances: 15%

GILDAN NEW MEXICO BOWL

Saturday, December 16, 3:30 p.m.
University Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico
C-USA vs. Mountain West #2-5

Although New Mexico will typically go to a C-USA West team, the conference will generally try to avoid back-to-back bowls for the same team, so I doubt we’ll be heading to Albuquerque for a second straight year.

UTSA’s chances: 5%

BOCA RATON BOWL

Tuesday, December 19, 6:00 p.m.
FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, Florida
C-USA vs. American

There’s been some debate around C-USA about whether FAU would want to play in their home stadium, or if the bowl would even want them, forgoing hotel revenue for some of their biggest sponsors in favor of ticket revenue from the home fans. Either way, it should be one of the C-USA East schools in Boca this year.

It will be interesting to see if the American gives up their spot for the Boca Raton Bowl, considering they have seven bowl tie-ins, with only six bowl-eligible teams (one of which will be heading to a New Years Six bowl). Boca provides the lowest payout of all their bowls, other than perhaps Frisco which is in its first year, so I could easily see them giving it up this year.

UTSA’s chances: 1%

BAD BOY MOWERS GASPARILLA BOWL

Thursday, December 21, 7:00 p.m.
Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
C-USA vs. American

Everything that was said about the Boca Raton Bowl above applies here as well. An in-state matchup between FAU and USF has been predicted by multiple outlets for this one. And again, I don’t see them sending a C-USA West team to a Florida bowl.

UTSA’s chances: 1%

BAHAMAS BOWL

Friday, December 22, 11:30 a.m.
Thomas Robinson Stadium, Nassau, Bahamas
C-USA vs. MAC

The only bowl played outside of the country, the Bahamas Bowl will typically pick up a team that isn’t a good fit geographically for any of the other available bowls.

With a handful of Texas bowl games that will likely be looking for at-large teams (see next section below), I don’t see UTSA ending up in the Bahamas Bowl.

UTSA’s chances: 3%

LOCKHEED MARTIN ARMED FORCES BOWL

Saturday, December 23, 2:30 p.m.
Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas
C-USA vs. Army

Army is the only team in the nation that has already locked up their bowl game, heading to the Armed Forces Bowl against a C-USA foe.

North Texas has already played Army three times in the past two seasons, including last year’s Heart of Dallas Bowl, so yet another rematch seems unlikely. UTSA would then be the next logical choice, as the only other Texas team available.

UTSA’s chances: 50%

 

Potential At-Large Games

AUTONATION CURE BOWL

Saturday, December 16, 1:30 p.m.
Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida
American vs. Sun Belt #4

With the American short on bowl eligible teams, some outlets have them giving up their spot in the Cure Bowl, which could potentially be picked up by a C-USA team.

However, based on recent payout data, there are two or three bowls that I would think the American would give up before the Cure Bowl. Even if we do end up seeing a C-USA team there, it will likely be from the East.

UTSA’s chances: <1%

FRISCO BOWL

Wednesday, December 20, 7:00 p.m.
Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas
American vs. At-large

The inaugural Frisco Bowl wasn’t able to secure a conference tie-in opposite the American, so it will go to an at-large (likely G5) team. Add to that the fact that the American may give up their spot, and we could see two at-large teams here.

It will be slim pickings for the Frisco Bowl, and UTSA would have to be near the top of the list if the Roadrunners haven’t already been selected by another bowl.

UTSA’s chances: 15%

BIRMINGHAM BOWL

Saturday, December 23, 11:00 a.m.
Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama
SEC #9 vs. American

With potentially three teams playing in New Years Six bowls, the SEC will be a few teams short this year, and the Birmingham Bowl is second on the chopping block (behind the Independence Bowl).

The Birmingham Bowl may try to snag one of the extra Pac-12 teams, or they may want the feel-good story of the hometown UAB Blazers. I don’t see them going with any other C-USA teams here, but if UAB gets selected elsewhere then they may not have another choice.

UTSA’s chances: <1%

ZAXBY’S HEART OF DALLAS BOWL

Tuesday, December 26, 12:30 p.m.
Cotton Bowl Stadium, Dallas, Texas
Big Ten vs. Big 12 #7

Conference USA gave the Heart of Dallas Bowl to the Big Ten in exchange for the Armed Forces Bowl this year (you think ESPN wants any P5 v G5 matchups?), but it’s shaping up that neither the Big Ten nor Big 12 will be able to provide teams for this game, so C-USA will likely end up here anyway.

North Texas seems like the obvious choice here, being the local team and C-USA West winner, but if there’s a better matchup elsewhere (the Independence Bowl, perhaps), then we could see them going with UTSA.

UTSA’s chances: 5%

QUICK LANE BOWL

Tuesday, December 26, 4:15 p.m.
Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
Big Ten vs. ACC #9

Another game that likely won’t be filled by either of its Power Five conferences, the Quick Lane Bowl should grab one of the extra MAC teams, and may go with a Marshall or Western Kentucky if they’re available, but probably not a C-USA West team.

UTSA’s chances: <1%

WALK-ON’S INDEPENDENCE BOWL

Wednesday, December 27, 12:30 p.m.
Independence Stadium, Shreveport, Louisiana
ACC #8 vs. SEC #10

Conference USA has a secondary agreement with the Independence Bowl, which is nearly guaranteed to be needed to replace the SEC, and perhaps the ACC as well.

The Independence Bowl would likely go with Louisiana Tech if they are available, or North Texas if the Mean Green like the matchup better than any of C-USA’s primary bowls. Southern Miss and UAB could also be in the conversation, so I doubt UTSA gets the invite to Shreveport.

UTSA’s chances: 3%

 

UTSA’s potential bowl game chances

50% – Armed Forces Bowl
15% – New Orleans Bowl
15% – Frisco Bowl
5% – New Mexico Bowl
5% – Heart of Dallas Bowl
3% – Bahamas Bowl
3% – Independence Bowl
1% – Boca Raton Bowl
1% – Gasparilla Bowl
<1% – Cure Bowl
<1% – Birmingham Bowl
<1% – Quick Lane Bowl
<1% – not invited to a bowl

 

*Don’t forget to pre-order your bowl tickets now to show these bowls how well we will travel and help our chances of getting selected.