1 USC is No. 1 in both polls and not in the national-title game?
Yeah, you could say this was the most mixed-up season in the six-year history of the bowl championship series. College football took a serious credibility hit in 2003 when the system designed to match the top two teams failed, creating split national titles for the first time since 1997.
The BCS standings, a ratings formula created in 1998, were supposed to prevent the possibility of split titles, but this season they only added to the mayhem.
USC, though No. 1 in both the writers' and coaches' polls, finished No. 3 in the complicated BCS formula. The Trojans staked a claim to the Associated Press trophy with a win over Michigan in the Rose Bowl while Louisiana State, by winning Sunday's Sugar Bowl, earned the coaches' trophy.
2 With a win over Bethel College on Nov. 8, St. John's (Minn.) Coach John Gagliardi earned his 409th career victory and passed former Grambling coach Eddie Robinson on the all-time win list. St. John's then capped a 14-0 season with a stunning 24-6 upset of Mount Union to win the Division III national title. The Johnnies' victory ended Mount Union's 55-game winning streak and earned the 77-year-old Gagliardi his fourth national title, but first since 1976.
3 Sylvester Croom made history when he was named football coach at Mississippi State. Croom became the first African American football coach in the Southeastern Conference's 71-year history and only the fifth minority coach among 117 major football schools.
Croom played football at Alabama but last year was passed over for the Crimson Tide job in favor of Mike Shula.
Floyd Keith, executive director of the Black Coaches Assn., praised Croom's hiring but said it was only a start. "This isn't a sprint," he said, "it's a marathon."
Shortly after Croom was hired, Damon Evans became the SEC's first African American athletic director when he was named to succeed Vince Dooley at Georgia.
4 On Sept. 18, San Jose State special teams player Neil Parry completed one of college football's most remarkable comebacks when he ran on the field with the punt-return team against Nevada. It was Parry's first game since a football injury suffered three years earlier forced the amputation of his right foot 10 inches below the knee.
Parry, fitted with a carbon-graphite prosthesis, underwent 25 operations in his effort to return. Sunday, in New Orleans, he was awarded the Courage Award by the Football Writers Assn. of America. Parry said he was inspired by the initials he scrawled on almost everything around him: NGU, which stands for Never Give Up.
Not So Frank
5 Quiz time: Frank Solich led Nebraska to a 58-19 record in six years. He was a two-time Big 12 coach of the year. His Cornhuskers won the Big 12 title in 1999 and, two years later, played in the BCS national-title game in the Rose Bowl. This season, Nebraska was 9-3 and coming off a win at Colorado when Athletic Director Steve Pederson:
A) Gave Solich a big raise and contract extension.
B) Fired Solich.