Playoffs sure to be a topic of discussion in three meetings later this month

Given I'll Have Another's looming run at history Saturday in the Belmont Stakes, it's appropriate college football's leaders appear to be in the home stretch of finalizing a FBS playoff format.

There is a BCS meeting Wednesday in Chicago, a NCAA Division I Conference Commissioners Association meeting June 19-20 in Chicago and a BCS Presidential Oversight Committee meeting June 26 in Washington.

It seems unlikely that anything concrete would be announced until after the Oversight Committee meeting late this month. When it was first announced in April that there was a push toward a four-team playoff, BCS executive director Bill Hancock said the hope was to have a plan in place by July 4.

Still, in a conference call with reporters Monday, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said discussions could continue next month. Frankly, no one should be bothered by that; isn't it better to take longer and iron out all the details rather than rush to judgment?

Delany and the Big Ten seemed to throw a wrench into the works when, during that Monday conference call, Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman said the league had three preferred options – and No. 1 was to keep the current BCS system. No. 2 was a plus-one game, and No. 3 was a four-team playoff.

That said, Perlman said the Big Ten presidents were ''realistic" about the future of a playoff, and Delany went as far as to say the Big Ten would want the best four teams to be picked for the playoff and that the league would prefer a selection committee to do the choosing. "Everybody recognizes the present poll system is not a good proxy," Delany said.

Delany and Perlman freely admitted that preserving the Rose Bowl was important to the conference, but Perlman also said, "We are trying to be open to conversations. We've tried not to put a stake in the ground: 'Over our dead bodies.' "

That obviously was a shot at Florida president Bernie Machen. Last week, Machen said the SEC wouldn't compromise in terms of having the four best teams make up the playoff field. In addition, he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the ''Big Ten has got to realize that the world is going in a different direction.''

While it's sort of humorous to see buttoned-down university presidents acting like petulant junior high kids, it's also plain to see that everyone is staking out territory that best serves them. Hey, that's the way of the world in college athletics: What's best for me?

Ultimately, though, this is all about negotiating. There will be give and take on both ''sides,'' if there really are sides. While all the negotiating may not be done by July 4, there will be a final decision made on a four-team playoff by the end of the summer.

Then, of course, we can start placing bets on when a four-team playoff will morph into an eight-team field.

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Trojans keep rolling along the recruiting trail

USC received a commitment Wednesday from safety Su'a Cravens of Murrieta (Calif.) Vista Murrieta; he is the Trojans' eighth commitment for the class of 2013 and the third who is a five-star prospect.

Who said USC's recruiting was going to be hurt by NCAA sanctions?

Actually, it is. Restrictions mean USC can't sign more than 15 recruits in this cycle. But while the quantity isn't going to be there, there again will be quality.

The same thing happened in the 2012 signing class; the Trojans signed 15 players, but there were three five-star signees and the average recruiting ranking of the 15 was 4.07 stars. It's just the fifth time in history (since 2002) that a team's recruits have averaged 4.0 stars. The others: 2007 USC (4.22 stars, 18 signees, six five-star players); 2010 USC (4.2 stars, 20 signees, five five-star guys); 2002 Florida State (4.09 stars, 23 signees, six five-star prospects); and 2004 USC (4.05 stars, 20 signees, eight five-star recruits).

The three five-star commitments for the 2013 class are among the top eight players in the nation, and while Cravens (the No. 8 player nationally) is from the Los Angeles area, the other two five-star guys aren't; defensive end Kenny Bigelow (No. 6) is from the Baltimore area and quarterback Max Browne (No. 5) is from the Seattle area.

That also is a carryover from the 2012 signing class; one of the five-star signees was from Los Angeles, while the others were from Tampa and Seattle.

Overall, half of the eight commitments for the 2013 class are from the L.A. area; one is from Baltimore, one is from Seattle, one is from the Chicago area and one is from the Dallas area.

Thus, it's obvious that the USC brand still has national cachet, which has to worry every other coach in the Pac-12. It's also obvious that coach Lane Kiffin and his staff, which includes defensive line coach/recruiting wiz Ed Orgeron, aren't going to allow USC's talent level to fall off (depth, though, is going to take a hit, just from sheer lack of bodies). And if USC lives up to what are going to massive preseason expectations, all the better for the Trojans' recruiting efforts in the 2014 and '15 classes.

USC has recruited at a high level for a long time. Since began ranking players in the 2002 signing class, USC has signed the most five-star recruits (38). Only four other schools have signed as many as 20 (Florida with 29, Florida State with 24 and LSU and Texas with 20 each). And over the past five signing classes, USC, Alabama and Florida are tied with 14 five-star recruits.

What's rather unbelievable is that despite limited overall scholarship numbers, USC is going to remain among the leaders for five-star signees.

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Will Oklahoma's passing attack be OK?

Oklahoma's pass offense generally has been seen as a huge positive for this fall, but that might not be the case.

Sooners coach Bob Stoops announced this week that suspended wide receivers Trey Franks and Jaz Reynolds had been stripped of their scholarships and that the Sooners aren't counting on them this fall.

Reynolds was OU's No. 2 returning receiver (41 catches for 715 yards and five TDs), while Franks was third among returning wide receivers (22 receptions for 196 yards).

Quarterback Landry Jones sputtered down the stretch last season after Ryan Broyles was injured, throwing one TD pass and six interceptions in the final four games. Now that Broyles has moved on to the NFL, Jones and the Sooners need junior Kenny Stills to become a consistent go-to receiver – he couldn't handle that role late last season – and for true freshman Trey Metoyer to immediately become a solid complementary guy.

Metoyer is a five-star recruit from the class of 2011 who didn't qualify academically to play last season. He got his academics in order and enrolled in January; he had a strong spring, and now that must carry over to the fall.

The Sooners do have some time to work things out early in the season; they open at UTEP, then play host to FCS member Florida A&M before the "real" season begins. If Jones and the receivers struggle in the first two games, that obviously bodes ill for the season.

Grid bits

• Michigan coach Brady Hoke is a funny guy – but the Big East better hope he isn't a psychic. Speaking in his hometown of Kettering, Ohio, at a banquet recently, Hoke said he didn't have many ambitions when he enrolled at Ball State in 1977. "I had two goals at Ball State," the Dayton Daily News reported Hoke as saying. "One was to play football – and the other was to drink every beer in Muncie, Ind." Later, Hoke said he had majored in criminal justice at Ball State. "A lot of people think that background in criminal justice is helping us today," the Daily News reported him saying, referencing some player arrests at Michigan. When the joke didn't get the expected response, Hoke said, "This might be one of the slowest crowds I've ever been around." He also touched on conference realignment: "I think, really, in about three years, you'll see four super conferences, and I think the Big East will go away and maybe the ACC. But, look, I'm just a coach. I don't know all of it."

• Ole Miss' three-man battle at quarterback has become a two-man contest. Senior Zach Stoudt has had to give up football because of a back injury. That leaves sophomore Barry Brunetti and junior college transfer Bo Wallace to vie for the job; it likely would've been those two battling, anyway, but this removes any doubt. Brunetti began last season as the starter but was benched in the opener and finished the season with just 35 pass attempts. Wallace signed with Arkansas State out of high school and redshirted as a true freshman in 2010, when new Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze was Arkansas State's offensive coordinator. Wallace played last season at East Mississippi CC, enrolled at Ole Miss in January and had a relatively good spring for the Rebels. He is a big guy (6 feet 5/210 pounds) with a strong arm, and he led his high school team (Giles County) to a state title in Tennessee as a senior.

• There has been a Mike Garrett sighting. Garrett, 68, a former USC running back who won the Heisman in 1965 and eventually became the school's athletic director, has been hired as the AD at Langston (Okla.) University, an NAIA school. Garrett was fired by USC in July 2010 after 17 years as AD.

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