In football, what is a slot back?

A slot back is basically a slot receiver who lines up in the backfield.

This page is pretty instructional.…

It says:
"The flanker can also become a slot receiver or slot back. If he’s positioned between the split end and a tackle, his name changes. The coach can take out a tight end, making a slot back the third receiver, attempting to create mismatches with the defense. But even in a standard set that includes a tight end, the receiver can line up between the split end and the tackle and be called a slot back. This gives him a few steps running start before the defender can smack him one."

Wikipedia says a slot back is:
"A receiver lining up in the offensive back field. Canadian and Arena football allow them to take a running start at the line. They are usually larger players as they need to make catches over the middle. In American football slot backs are typically used in flexbone or other triple option offenses while Canadian football uses them in almost all formations."…

2009 College Football Season: What are Toby Gerhart's chances of winning the Heisman Trophy this year?

I think he gets invited to NYC but doesn't win the trophy.  Objectively, I believe he was the most consistently dominating performer in college football this year thus deserves the award.   However, the Pac 10's TV deal limited his exposure and he lacked the pre and early season hype that gets voters to follow him closely all season long.   Voters also love Heismans from NC contenders which Stanford is not.

Where is the best place in San Francisco to watch college football?

If you're looking for a rowdy, collegial atmosphere, try the Bus Stop on Union Street. They have a dozen TV's on all walls of a large room, and on busy Saturdays each TV is often showing a different game. As a result, you get little pockets of fans arrayed around the room, cheering very loudly and at totally different times, depending on the game they're following. Get ready to face crowds.…

College and NCAA Football: Why did Pete Carroll leave USC?

I spent three years writing sports for USC's Daily Trojan. I was the section editor for the 2007 football season, covering all 13 football games, ending with the Rose Bowl victory over Illinois.

Pete Carroll left, primarily, because the NFL was always the final destination for him. Too many fans became enamored with the "Southern California cool" persona that became synonymous with Carroll, and forgot how often he entertained overtures from NFL teams. The Chargers, the Redskins, the Dolphins, etc.

Above all else, Carroll was as competitive of a human being as you'll find. The profile J.R. Moehringer wrote about Carroll for LA Magazine – by all accounts the best written representation of Carroll's day-to-day existence – highlights this competitive spirit above all else. Take this fact about Carroll, and put his first two NFL "failures" as a backdrop to it. No way he wasn't pining to go back and prove his doubters wrong.

And once it became evident to Carroll that USC was not the place where he would cement his reputation as one of the greatest coaches ever*, the NFL door appeared a bit more open than in years past. The Seahawks offered total football control (a point that killed previous negotiations with other teams), and it was a done deal.

*There wasn't a sentence Carroll uttered more often than "We want to do things better than they've ever been done before." When USC played Texas for the 2006 Rose Bowl and BCS National Championship, the "best ever" was arguably on the line, as no team had ever won three straight national championships. We all know how that ended (41-38 Texas), and thus, Carroll's quest was reset to "T-minus three years… at least." The years following saw a vastly improved Pac-10 conference make it increasingly difficult for USC to regain its dominant form. After a disappointing 9-4 season in 2009, Carroll might have experienced a reality check: Being the "best ever" might not happen at USC. At least not now.

Lastly, to be clear, USC was certainly in a mild decline when Carroll left, but the various USC-centric theories about why he left (pending NCAA sanctions, relationship with former AD Mike Garrett, shrinking talent pool, alleged affair with a student) are speculative at best. To this day, Carroll denies any wrongdoing on behalf of the coaching staff and university in relation to the Reggie Bush case. The only reason USC might have soured slightly for Carroll was simply the fact that other schools caught up. The Trojans were no longer college football's darlings. And the pull of coaching's greatest stage finally got the best of him.

What's the real story behind Urban Meyer's back and forth decisions this week?

It looks like Meyer's health problems may be more acute than previously acknowledged. The article below just broke on ESPN and sounds revealing:

Meyer rushed to hospital post-SEC finale
December 30, 2009, 4:10 PM ET

A 911 call made from Urban Meyer's home at about 4:30 a.m. ET on Dec. 6, after Florida lost in the SEC championship game, reveals that the Gators' coach was rushed to the hospital by ambulance after complaining of chest pains and a tingling sensation on his side.

The Dec. 6 call, obtained Wednesday by ESPN, contradicts earlier comments from Meyer and the university that the coach checked himself into a Gainesville hospital that morning for dehydration, only later to admit that he also had chest pains.

Meyer's wife, Shelley, who placed the 911 call, said her husband awoke briefly that morning and tried to get out of bed, but fell to the floor. On the call, Shelley Meyer said he was breathing and had a pulse but would not wake up. She said her husband had been taking the sleeping pill Ambien, which she said often puts him into a deep sleep.

On the call, Shelley Meyer also said her husband had never had a heart attack before but had complained of chest pains due to anxiety.

Urban Meyer announced last Saturday in Gainesville that he was stepping down as Florida's coach because of health concerns.

The following day in New Orleans, where the Gators are preparing to play Cincinnati in Saturday's Allstate Sugar Bowl, Meyer changed his mind, saying he was taking an indefinite leave of absence instead of resigning.

Despite his ongoing health concerns, the 45-year-old Meyer will coach in the Sugar Bowl and expects to be on the sideline leading the Gators when next season opens.

Meyer has refused to elaborate on his health problems, and declined to answer on Sunday when asked if doctors advised him to stop coaching.

Meyer led the Gators to BCS national championships in 2006 and 2008. He is 56-10 with Florida, including 32-8 in the SEC and a school-record 22-game winning streak that was snapped by Alabama's 32-13 victory in the conference title game Dec. 5.

Information from ESPN investigative reporter Paula Lavigne and The Associated Press was used in this report.

2009 College Football Season: What is the near-term outlook for University of Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez?

I think the outlook looks awfully good. I became a huge, huge Rich Rodriguez fan in 1998 when I watched him match up with his ideal QB (Shaun King) and put together one of the most unstoppable offenses I've ever seen in college football (averaged 300 yards passing AND 200 yards rushing per game). While Tommy Bowden got most of the credit for that magical season, close observers knew that Rodriguez deserved significant credit for the team's success.

As part of that 2 year magical run at Tulane (keep in mind what Tulane has done since), there was a growth process. Even though King was an NFL-caliber QB, it took him almost a year if not a full year to master that offense (Tulane went 17-4 over those 2 seasons, but started 3-3 and won 20 of the last 21 games). The difference between year 1 and year 2 was dramatic, and in that offense the QB is the trigger-man that makes the entire offense "go".

This is the first season at Michigan where RR will have a QB returning with a year of experience in his offense. Anyone overlooking the significance of that experience is making a big mistake. RichRod's track record at Tulane, Clemson and WVU is not a fluke or a mirage. The last 2 seasons at Michigan are a hiccup, nothing more. I wouldn't be surprised if Michigan were an offensive power in the Big 10 and national title contender this season.

How likely is it that a playoff system gets instituted in college football?

Although it is difficult to answer this question with any level of confidence, there is a sense that pro-playoff sentiment is currently rising.

Check out this excerpt from a recent op-ed by Michael Wilbon in the Washington Post:

There is reason to believe, though, that the tide has turned in college football. Ten years ago it seemed a majority of people who follow the sport — maybe as high as 75 percent — favored sticking with the traditional bowl system. Anecdotal evidence now suggests 75 percent of people who identify themselves as football fans now favor some kind of college football playoff.

And Wednesday a House subcommittee on commerce, trade and consumer protection passed a bill aimed at bringing down the BCS.

If the bill becomes law it would prevent the BCS from calling its game a "national championship game" unless it was the result of a playoff system.

Okay, you're asking what good that does?

Plenty. One, it's symbolic. It puts The Cartel on notice that somebody its size is watching. Two, it says people in general are fed up with the BCS's arrogance and sense of entitlement. No, the matching of TCU and Boise State was not part of The Cartel's plan. There was a draft order of the BCS bowls and the Fiesta made its selections.

The Fiesta, mind you, was the biggest rebel in modern college football history, having elbowed its way into a New Year's Day slot when the Rose, Sugar, Orange and Cotton didn't want any piece of the Fiesta. The Fiesta is the last entity to beat The Cartel at its own game, back in the late 1980s when it matched Penn State and Miami and was the first game to go prime time on a separate night from the others.

Still, if there's a presumption out there that the fix was in to keep TCU or Boise State away from Florida in the Sugar Bowl or away from Georgia Tech in the Orange it's merited because the BCS has done everything possible to actively and intentionally exclude the Mountain West and the WAC and MAC and others from the party.

If restraint of trade is involved — and there are those who make the case that it is, what with millions of dollars being paid out for reaching these games — then Congress ought to be involved. We're talking about American higher education here, or at least the front porch of those institutions.


Also worth reading is a recent piece in USA Today:

College football lacks a playoff for one reason: Creating one would threaten revenue streams that go to entrenched interests.

An eight-game playoff could undermine the advantage that six major conferences have in dominating television revenues and bowl game appearances. Teams like Boise State and Texas Christian University, overperforming outsiders from non-BCS conferences, would be greatly helped having a clear path to the top.

A playoff would almost certainly devalue the bowls that have sprouted up over the years. Even if the four major bowls — Rose, Fiesta, Sugar and Orange — were incorporated into a playoff, as many people say would be necessary to overcome opposition, the math works against their interests. An eight-team playoff would involve seven games. A four-team playoff would mean three games. Neither is ideal for maintaining the primacy of a four-member club.

Ultimately, the distorting role of bowls and the exclusivity of the major conferences violate the spirit of competition. It is impossible to find a champion when some worthy competitors — including three of this year's five undefeated teams — have no way of winning their way to a title game. It is also a problem when bowl organizations see college football's role as providing them a living.

The powers that be in college football will not cede their position without a fight. They will not yield to reason or public sentiment.

For these reasons, we'll take the meddling of Congress. It might not be ideal. But for sports fans, it's all we've got.