How to make a 2014 preseason college football top 25

4. Ohio State.

One of college footballs grandest traditions: selecting Ohio State or Michigan and throwing them at random into the top six. For maximum pseudo-credibility, do not place them in the top three … and certainly not in the top slot, unless you want the undivided support of Ohio States online fanbase. (You dont. Some loves arent worth the trouble.)

5. UCLA.

Never hurts to put a Pac-12 team way up there, too. It helps to have some novelty here, since just three short years ago this team was losing 50-0 to USC. And you have them ranked above the perennial Pac-12 plug-ins Oregon and Stanford! Youre practically skydiving naked into this top 25, you madcap fire-eating daredevil, you.

6. Notre Dame.

You cant really touch the topic of Notre Dame without it going sideways immediately, since Notre Dame in any poll starts instantly overrated. Oh, but maybe theyre underrated, and youre simply allowing your fear of them disappointing you to overwhelm your critical instincts? They get Everett Golson back at QB, have a good back in Cam McDaniel, and once you take out an October trip to Tallahassee, have a pretty nice schedule and– and here you are, overthinking and forgetting the number one rule of all: overrated or not, people will click on anything with Notre Dame in it.

Notre Dame is clearly the imaginary sixth best team in the nation.

7. Auburn.

See everything under the Alabama entry, but change the method of delivery. Auburn fans opt for handwritten notes to your mailbox. No, you dont have your address posted on the Internet, but Auburn fans will find it. Every letter with blessed, and War Eagle, even the ones with scary pictures of you in your gym shorts taking out the garbage at night included.

8. Oregon.

Sounds decent enough, especially when you reply to any concerns about a decline under the Mark Helfrich administration with the words Marcus Mariota.

Also, most people have stopped reading the whole thing and are now scanning just to find their teams. Confess light felonies and misdemeanors here. I once peed in a car wash in Charlotte when I couldnt find a bathroom! I feel so much better about things having gotten that off my chest.

9. South Carolina.

Little known fact about the nine spot: it is the spot reserved for the conference the pollster has a painful and obvious bias towards. Sandwich a team with obvious flaws into the top ten. Apply your own biases accordingly, and Go Cocks.

10. Michigan State.

Without even looking, you just plug the other team in the Big Ten Championship Game here. Hey, Michigan State!

Connor Cook provides decent enough cover to obliterate pesky and reality-based questions like how about replacing some of that NFL-bound defensive talent before you hope too much?  If pressed further, simply say I believe Pat Narduzzi will have em ready to play. If it works for TV chatter, itll work for your totally fabricated top 25.

11. Baylor.

The 11 spot is reserved for the Team You Wish Could Win Everything But Cannot For Many Cosmological Reasons. That would be, for us, the fearless, points-binging Baylor Bears, who do actually return a good bit of talent and will undoubtedly score a zillion points this year and play without an ounce of caution and yet not make the impending College Football Playoff.

12.  Texas.

Have you mentioned a healing, down-on-its-luck giant of the industry yet? No, no you havent.

So put Texas here, since Floridas rehabilitation seems even less probable than the Longhorns. Your easy line of defense: It wont show early, but look for a change of culture in Austin to yield benefits down the road and later in the season.

Man, look how tough Charlie Strong looks. Texas is going places. Kevin Jairaj, USA Today

13. Stanford.

Another arbitrary but effective rule: if you list two Big 12 teams in a row, combo break for maximum effect with a Pac-12 team. Stanfords ridiculously consistent, but not quite explosive enough to include in the top 10, so invest wisely by placing them here.

Bonus: no one on the East Coast will be able to make an effective counterargument, since many have never watched Stanford outside of bowl season.

14. LSU.

The mid-teens are all about safe, non-embarrassing choices for predicted success, and despite the Mad Hatter cult and total indifference to modern offense, Les Miles has averaged 10 wins a year going into this 10th season as LSU head coach. More remarkably, hes done that playing personnel like Jordan Jefferson at quarterback.

You can really put LSU anywhere in the top 15 and simply cite the difficulty of schedule when pressed as to why you dont have them higher.

15. USC.

Just another reflex you need to develop: if you have not mentioned USC by the time you hit No. 15, insert them immediately. Cite perennial bushels of talent and need to fulfill potential.

Remember to mention that Steve Sarkisian is coaching there now, something most people seriously wont recall until they see him on the sidelines and act too embarrassed to ask anyone how or when that happened. If that person asks about where Lane Kiffin went, break the Alabama news gently, or not at all. (Lanes resting on the farm right now.)

16. Wisconsin.

Now you can begin to really have fun in earnest, because no one — literally no one on the planet — can argue the qualitative preseason differences between teams in this range.

So put in Wisconsin, an amiable team capable of stealing a Week 1 game from LSU before moving on to their usual 10-2ish campaign through the Big Ten. Um, big grr heavypants man running games.

17. Georgia.

Crap, youve forgotten Georgia. Thats okay, theyre replacing a starting QB and switching defensive coordinators, but still get to play Florida as coached under Will Muschamp. So temper any criticisms of their low ranking with at least theyll win the Cocktail Party, and watch concerned Georgia fans nod along with you before silently mouthing Fire Bobo out of habit.

Look, Georgia fans! Herschel Walker and Evander Holyfield! Please share this story on Twitter. Scott Cunningham, Getty

18. Arizona State.

The rare instance where being totally random winds up being pretty accurate. ASU will be talented on offense, but likely replacing too much on defense (miss u, bloodthirsty Will Sutton) to be anywhere higher than this.

And yes: in a pinch, just pick the previous Pac-12 Championship Game loser at this spot. It never looks too wrong.

19. Nebraska.

Another preseason polling rule: Nebraska never looks wrong being ranked 19th. Look at it and youll see how right we are. Its also as low as you can rank a team without spotting them in the Boise State Tier of Teams What Try Hard In The Football Boondocks.

20. Kansas State.

Another surefire, cant-miss ranking thanks to Bill Snyder either a.) winning eight games with a converted defensive end running the single-wing, or b.) doing far better and making a major bowl with a roster full of JUCO transfers and random young men he pulled off a CFL development squad.

Bill Snyder is a pollsters best friend, somehow entering every year with low but manageable expectations thanks to coaching in Manhattan, Kansas.

21. Ole Miss.

You know Bo Wallaces name, and thats enough for the meaningless No. 21 spot. If pressed, just repeat these words: No one sees them coming, and thats their best advantage!

This could also possibly be Mississippi State in this spot, but do not ever, ever admit that to fans of either school on pain of lengthy diatribe.

22. Texas Tech.

Here is a GIF of Kliff Kingsbury.

Congratulations, now your top 25 is going to do well on Facebook, and no one remembers who you put at No. 22 anyway.

23. Boise State.

Contractually obligated to appear somewhere between No. 20 and No. 25 per the Boise State Tier of Teams What Try Hard In The Football Boondocks category definitions.

24. Oklahoma State.

They have a nasty schedule — FSU in Week 1! — but as we said, no ones reading, and Oklahoma State fans will probably be pretty happy if you say something like Gundys teams produce no matter what the schedule says.

See, youre giving hope, even way down here at the warm, undrinkable last sips of a meaningless preseason top 25. Wheres my damn Nobel, Obama?

[/sips Monster Energy Drink smugly]

Does College Name Prestige Matter for Actors?

Like college graduates in any career field, young performers coming out of college are looking for opportunities that will lead to employment. For actors, singers and dancers, that means theatrical representation, auditions and connections to casting directors. Most college training programs offer a variety of networking opportunities and showcases to help launch their graduates career.
But is it who you know or where youve been?

Students and families about to enter the college audition process would love to know if having a highly-recognized schools name on their resume will really make a difference.

So, I asked three show biz industry decision-makers to find out how important it is that young thespians attend a college with a prestigious name. You maybe be surprised by their answers.

Rachel Hoffman, Broadway casting director with Telsey + Company
Jamie Harris, Talent agent with Clear Talent Group, New York City
Annette Tanner, Director of the Broadway Dreams Foundation

How important is where a young performer received their training?

JH: I do look for what training an actor has. Im a big fan of college/conservatory programs. However, its not the deciding the factor in whether or not I represent someone.

RH: If a person is right for a role, I dont care where they got their training.

AT: I think its not necessarily where they got their training but who they trained with.

Does the name of the college really make much of a difference in terms of casting?

RH: In terms of who gets cast, I think the person that the creative team feels is best for the role/job is who gets cast. In terms of getting audition appointments, it can make a little more of a difference

AT: They already expect a person with a top school on their resume to be in the league.

Do those with no college degree have an equal shot at landing work?

JH: For dancers, yes. For actors, I think that gaining entrance to that audition room is more difficult without great training. Also, the majority of the top schools come to New York to showcase, so an actor who does well during showcase season definitely has a leg up in terms of having been introduced to casting.

RH: If theyre right for the role, then yes. But I think that having the years in college to really focus on your training is incredibly valuable. College shapes the kind of person/actor that one becomes.

AT: Someone with no college degree has an equal shot if they are a wow performer. Someone who is good but doesnt have the training may not have the audition skills to stand out.

If it came down to a prestigious name college grad and a grad from a lesser-known program, does that influence casting decisions, or who is brought in for a role?

RH: Maybe, in very specific situations. What matters more is if the person is/seems right for the role. If they went to a program Im aware of and whose graduates usually deliver in auditions, then that never hurts. But I ultimately need to find the best person for the role. No matter what school they did or didnt attend.

AT: I think it can, when casting folks are bringing people in front of a creative team however I think they always want to show the best possible person regardless of where they came from.

Can the program name influence agents in terms of who they interview/sign?

JH: The name alone does not. Of course, given the huge amount showcases, Im more likely to attend a showcase of a program that is well known, or a smaller school where Ive had good luck in the past. An actor is much more likely to have representation once he or she has gone through a four year program and the showcase process.

AT: I think agents are influenced by the pedigree of a college and attend the more known schools showcases. However, networking via an organization like Broadway Dreams provides that as well.

How many senior showcases do you actually attend each year?

JH: Hah! Thats the big question in my office. We tend to divide and conquer as there are simply too many to be seen by one agent. I would say that my office attends in the neighborhood of 20-30, probably more but it also depends on the workload of any given day. We have to pick and choose.

RH: Personally, I attend about 15. Telsey + Company makes an effort to attend every college showcase for which we receive an invitation. There are 20 staff members in the office. We make an effort to cover everything.

Harris provided one last valuable anecdote that while showcase season is hugely important; grads need to remember that its just a jumping off point for their career, not the defining moment. Laura Linney didnt get representation after her showcase, and I hear her career is going just fine!

In my college coaching business, I advise families early on to decide their must-haves, the things their student is going to insist on, when choosing a college. My goal is that students specific needs be met. This is far more important than the name of the school.

Harris sums it up this way;

Look for the program thats right for you, above all else. Its really about your training and preparation. Once you arrive on the professional scene, the cream tends to rise, regardless of what school you attended.

Preseason College Football Rankings 2014: Projecting Amway’s NCAA Poll

Gone are days in college football when deciphering the complex computer formulas used to determine the top teams was more difficult than most of the actual college classes across the country.

While the BCS is no longer, the coaches poll is here to stay with a couple of differences. For one, Amway has partnered with USA Today and the American Football Coaches Association. More importantly, the poll doesnt play a role in determining the participants in the College Football Playoff like it did during the BCS era.

That doesnt mean fans arent hungry for a little late-summer football (and debate) when the initial Amway poll is set to be released July 31.

With that in mind, here is a projection for what those rankings will look like. Remember, this is simply a prediction on what the poll will be rather than a personal Top 25 ranking.

25. Florida

Making Money Shouldn’t Be the Purpose of a College Education Money …

As a Princeton professor, I really ought to love college rankings. The most famous of them, by US News and World Report, currently places my employer first among national universities, nudging out Harvard and Yale. Forbes’s list of “America’s Top Colleges” has us at a respectable third. While Money’s brand-new “Best Colleges” ranking takes us down a notch to fourth, it still puts us ahead of the other Ivies. Go, Tigers!

In fact, as with most of my colleagues, what was once mild amusement at this Game of Lists is fast turning into serious annoyance. Far too many Boards of Trustees fixate on their school’s rankings, and a college president whose school drops sharply in the US News list now has about as much job security as a Big Ten football coach after a third consecutive losing season. As a result, far too many schools design their policies explicitly with US News in mind. Among the most nefarious consequences has been the shift of precious financial aid dollars away from students with real financial need, toward affluent ones who can boost a school’s average SAT and “yield” (the percentage of admitted students who actually matriculate). Stephen Burd filed an excellent report on this trend last year in The Washington Monthly, but it is all too obvious to anyone who, like me, has teenage children at an affluent high school (I know several families with “one-percent” level annual incomes whose offspring receive substantial merit scholarships).

Is the problem simply the way the rankings are designed? If this were so, in one respect the Money list might offer a welcome corrective. Unlike US News, which gives the most weight to academic reputation and student retention rates, Money takes “affordability” as one of three equal factors, and within this category places significant emphasis on debt. Money will grade down colleges that offer merit scholarships to the affluent while skimping on aid to needy students, forcing them to take out higher loans.

One can only imagine the perverse effects, if the Money rankings ever acquire the cachet of US News’s.

Unfortunately, Money cancels out this move by using something called “outcomes” as another principal factor. It will be no surprise what a magazine called Money means by “outcomes.” Relying on data from a website called PayScale, it measures colleges against each other according to self-reported salaries, using a complex formula that makes allowances for different stages of careers, and for family background and test scores. It also takes area of study into account, comparing science and engineering graduates to each other, not to humanities majors. Thanks to the emphasis on “outcomes,” Money’s gold medal this year went not to one of the usual suspects, but to Babson College, which offers only one degree: a BS in business.

Given the increasingly vertiginous expense of a college education, families of course need to take financial prospects into account when deciding on a college. Despite continuing predictions that online courses will do to colleges what file sharing did to the music industry, employers still show little sign of favoring consumers of MOOCs over the recipients of traditional diplomas. But obviously there is a big difference between asking whether a college education will lead to a reasonable standard of living, and judging the quality of that education in large part by graduates salaries.

One can only imagine the perverse effects, if the Money rankings ever acquire the cachet of US News’s. “Congratulations on your grades in your Environmental Engineering courses,” I can hear a career counselor saying, conscious that her own job may depend on helping her school in the rankings. “And it’s commendable that you want to go work for Greenpeace. But maybe you should get to know the field a bit, first. Here’s an opening at a fracking company…”

Imagine a high school senior whose sole goal in life is to make as much money as possible. He gets admitted to both Princeton and Babson College. Where should he go?

Even by its own criteria, the Money rankings may not provide a very reliable guide for prospective college students. Imagine a high school senior whose sole goal in life is to make as much money as possible. He gets admitted to both Princeton and Babson College. Where should he go? Money would point him toward the magazine’s top-ranked school, Babson. An actual student in this position, however, would almost certainly choose Princeton, and for perfectly sound reasons. According to PayScale, Babson and Princeton graduates have comparable incomes (actually, I’m dubiousPayScale doesn’t track interest income, and experts have raised other questions about its figures). But Babson graduates, almost by definition, go into business careers, while a surprising number of Princeton graduates are not interested in high-paying business jobs. Even among economics majors, many Princetonians go on to positions in the public sector and NGO’s, to low-paying jobs with foundations and advocacy groups, and to academia. And while I don’t have the statistics to prove it, everything I know suggests that the Princeton graduates who do care principally about making money very often make very, very large amounts of money, and most likely out-earn the Babsonians by a significant margin.

This little exercise points to a limitation that the numerous critics of college rankings systems have pointed out again and again. Colleges are not monoliths that can be reliably judged by the sort of aggregate data the rankings systems employ. They have strengths and weaknesses, which make any given college the right choice for certain students, and the wrong one for others. Interested in neuroscience? My former employer, Johns Hopkins, offers a terrific undergraduate major. But if Dostoyevsky is your thing, you may want to look elsewhere, since Johns Hopkins has no Slavic Literature department, and sends its students to take courses in the subject eight miles down the road at Goucher College. Matters like these far outweigh the negligible statistical distinctions between a #12 and a #13 in the US News rankings. Given the huge variations within and between colleges, in everything from academic expertise to financial aid, living conditions, placement records and so forth, by far the best single college ranking system is one that cannot be found on any website. It is a knowledgeable college counselor, who helps students draw up tailored lists based on their own particular interests, tastes, and goals.

As Money’s entry into the fray demonstrates, college list-mania seems entirely impervious to such common-sense observations. Every year, thanks to ever-skyrocketing tuition costs and ever-sharpening competition for admission to elite colleges, anxiety levels among parents and students alike ratchet up a notch. Rankings systems play to these anxieties, and, in the end, do more harm than good. And, of course, they are self-fulfilling prophecies. Expect Babson College rise in future US News rankings, for no reason other than its success in the Money rankings, which will drive up applications and therefore increase Babson’s selectivity.

Even the Obama administration is planning to get into the rankings game. Eleven months ago, the president charged the Secretary of Education with developing a national college ratings system that would push colleges to “deliver better value for students and their families.” The system he described sounds dangerously close to Money’s, even if it will draw on more reliable data. It will put a significant emphasis on debt levels, but it will also include “how well … graduates do in the workforce,” in order to “help parents and students figure out how much value a college truly offers.” Barack Obama might do well to remember that by almost any quantifiable measure, his career as a community organizer would have detracted from the “value” of his own alma mater.

In the end, the people who can do the most to help parents and students do not work for the Department of Education or for publications like US News and Money. They are boards of trustees, and their public-sector equivalents, who need to stop appraising their own institutions according to how well they stack up in ranking systems that measure the value of a college education so imperfectly. They need to decide for themselves what this value consists of, and to hire administrators and faculties who can deliver it in the bestand most affordablemanner.

SC college notes, July 27

College of Charleston takes first step on path to university status

College of Charleston officials will continue the push to form a research university in the Lowcountry, despite a bill that failed in the waning days of the last legislative session.

The college#x2019;s Board of Trustees Wednesday approved changes to the school#x2019;s mission statement, a necessary first step on a new method of possibly achieving research university status without lawmakers#x2019; consent.

After a combative legislative session, which came to a close in June, college officials learned that the state#x2019;s Commission on Higher Education might have the authority to green-light the establishment of a University of Charleston without getting approval from the General Assembly.

Glenn McConnell, the school#x2019;s new president who attended his first board meeting Wednesday, said he is going to pursue approval to form a research university from both the commission and the General Assembly.

He told the board that some lawmakers have told him they will file another bill next year.

He plans to present the school#x2019;s revised mission statement, which now includes the words #x201C;research institution#x201D; instead of #x201C;comprehensive institution#x201D; to the commission at its Aug. 7 meeting, he said. But even if the commission approves the plan, he wants the new University of Charleston bill to get legislative approval. #x201C;It#x2019;s good insurance there will be no doubters,#x201D; McConnell said.

The (Charleston) Post and Courier

U.S. lawmakers worry about border security without extra funds

By Doina Chiacu and Richard Cowan

20 arrested in St. Pete synthetic drug bust

20 arrested in St. Pete synthetic drug bust

Police in St. Petersburg say theyve rounded up 20 people for buying and selling synthetic drugs.

Simmons College of Kentucky dedicates building

Dr. Kevin Cosby, president of Simmons College of Kentucky, celebrates the ribbon cutting for the Simmons Administration amp; Library at 1000 South Fourth Street on Tuesday, July 29, 2014.
(Photo:
By Michael McKay, The Courier-Journal
)

Unleash the boosters

I have taken this stand for 30 years in newspapers, on radio and on First Take. Ive often been called un-American for proposing an extremely American solution to the un-American injustice taking place before our wide eyes every college football Saturday. So go ahead, close your eyes and condemn me if you must.

Here I go again: College football should make cheating legal. If the NFL can keep getting away with forcing players to wait three years out of high school before theyre drafted — three! — the NCAA should be made to do away with its rules against paying players beyond room, board and tuition. Im not talking about some token, $2,000-a-year spending money stipend for every player. I mean: If university boosters want to bid for the nations best players, let them!

After all, this country was built on a good ol free-market economy. Supply and demand. And are the best 18-year-old football players ever in demand. Thats why TV networks pay billions — around $16 billion total — to televise college football. ESPN is paying about $470 million annually for the next 12 years — about $5.64 billion total — just to broadcast the new four-team playoff.

Yet the stars of the show are forced to risk their pro futures for three unpaid years playing a violent, high-stakes game before packed stadiums seating upward of 100,000 and TV audiences of millions? Thats the biggest crime in sports.

Earlier this week, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby suggested many of college footballs recruiting crimes are going unpunished, calling it an understatement to say cheating pays. My initial reaction: Good, maybe some of these kids are getting a little of what they deserve.

Bowlsbys point is that the NCAAs enforcement division is broken — in large part because it doesnt have governmental subpoena power to force under-oath testimony from those not directly involved with schools (obviously boosters and agents). Its easier than ever, Bowlsby is saying, to get away with paying players.

What Bowlsby didnt say is that there are more rich boosters than ever who would gladly pay players to win bragging rights for them on autumn Saturdays.

So why not let them?

Even the power schools still cry poor, claiming that, despite the TV windfalls, they still dont have enough money to fund all their nonrevenue sports, mens and womens. So if enough of the top recruits ever unite and sue the NCAA, surely a judge (even on appeal) would rule the NCAA cannot restrict these players from making all they can on the open market.

Im not talking about letting the NCAA control the process by setting salary limits. This is about whatever the market will bear. If schools cant or wont pay but boosters will, problem solved. Obviously, college stars deserve substantial compensation, right?

This is where I lose many people, who sputter something like, It just … just wouldnt be college football if we knew the players were getting paid.

Thats exactly what the NCAA has been selling — and hiding behind — for years. The Amateur Ideal … every alums fantasy that every one of those fine young men down on that field chose to play for Dear Old U because they wanted to sit in the same classrooms and attend the same frat parties that generations of students have, then spill their blood to kick Rival States tail.

Thats a bunch of ivy-covered bunk, and you know it.

Though I graduated from Vanderbilt, I was born into a family of crazed University ofOklahomafootball fans and became one. But not once did I ever believe any of the many high school stars fromTexaschose to attend college in Norman for any reason other than football (and, over the years, maybe a Trans Am or a few under-the-table bucks). I accepted my Sooners were little more than Oklahoma Citys pro football team.

Now, please face this reality: Boosters should be allowed to entice recruits with whatever they want to offer — cars, signing bonuses, annual salaries, annuities. Im not talking about the Northwestern players attempt to unionize college football and protect every players rights and secure standard pay. Im talking strictly supply and demand.

Of course, the first fear would be that billionaire boosters such as Phil Knight at the University ofOregonor T. Boone Pickens atOklahoma Statewould buy superteams. Highly doubtful.

No. 1, these men have learned that projecting high school football stars is far riskier than high school basketball stars. You see far more swings and misses on cant-miss football recruits than basketball blue chips. These billionaires didnt get rich by gambling foolishly. There would be a limit to the money they offered — and many marginal recruits would wind up being offered no more than a scholarship.

Police offer 10 safety tips for buying and selling on Craigslist

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama– Two teens who were attempting to sell an items on Craigslist Monday night became robbery victims.

So that you wont find yourself in the same situation, the Huntsville Police Department offered these 10 tips for Craigslist shopping.

  1. Trust your instincts.
  2. Dont go alone.
  3. Insist to meet at a public place such as a police precinct.
  4. Do not meet in a secluded area.
  5. Do not invite strangers into your home, and do not go to theirs.
  6. Be cautious when buying/selling high value items.
  7. Perform the transaction during daylight hours.
  8. If it sounds too good to be true, it normally is.
  9. Tell a friend or family member about your intentions.
  10. Take your cell phone with you.

In the comment section below, tell us other safety precautions you use when buying or selling items on Craigslist, or other online outlets.