Chris Petersen decision has USC fans piling on Pat Haden

As Boise State coach goes to Washington, Trojans fan jeer Pat Haden in a week in which the No. 1 team (Florida State) might have claimed its biggest win off the field.

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Chris Petersen

Many USC fans and pundits were expecting former Boise State Coach Chris Petersen to be coaching the Trojans in 2014. Instead, Petersen filled Washington's coaching vacancy after Steve Sarkisian left for USC. (Lenny Ignelzi / Associated Press / November 23, 2013)

So much news broke this week it was easy to forget the reason we all get called together each fall: the games.

USC started it by calling a news conference to announce interim coach Ed Orgeron was out and Steve Sarkisian was in as head coach of the Trojans.

Haden called last weekend the most difficult days he'd experienced since he quarterbacked the Los Angeles Rams and "got booed a lot." The jeering now cascades in from the viral arenas of Twitter and Facebook.

When Haden emotionally said he hoped Orgeron would "make me look like an idiot," it took five seconds for someone to tweet "it's too late."

USC's move spun off two more moves, one involving archrival UCLA and the other the cabernet of Pac-12 programs: Washington.

Sarkisian's hire handed UCLA Coach Jim Mora, a Washington graduate who once said he'd crawl on his knees to become the school's football coach, the kind of leverage you rarely get in a lifetime. Mora was a legitimate threat to leave and used it to force notoriously spendthrift UCLA to get serious about paying assistant coaches and upgrading facilities.

USC's hire also strengthened Washington because it led to Chris Petersen finally leaving Boise State. Washington can actually claim a coaching improvement with Petersen, who went 92-12 in eight remarkable seasons at Boise State.

Many USC fans are outraged Haden didn't hire Petersen, but Petersen's personality is a much better fit for Seattle.

The timing was finally right for Petersen to leave Boise State, but not because he's coming off an 8-4 season in which he lost the division title to Utah State. Petersen is getting out because the Mountain West and four other sub-level conferences become even more devalued when the four-team playoff starts next year.

Petersen's hire gives the Pac-12 Conference the nation's strongest lineup of coaches. A few years ago, the Apple Cup featured a matchup of 0-11 vs. 1-11. Now it's Mike Leach vs. Chris Petersen. That's an upgrade along the lines of a transatlantic airplane trip in which you move to first class out of a middle seat.

The other hot headline was Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston not being charged in a sexual assault allegation. State Attorney Willie Meggs' decision not to pursue the case all but clinched the Heisman Trophy for Winston and a national title-game berth for Florida State.

So, on to the games (oh, yeah, those):

• Atlantic Coast title game at Charlotte, N.C., No. 1 Florida State (12-0) vs. No. 20 Duke (10-2): Florida State should easily advance to the Bowl Championship Series title game after this Duke disposal. Florida State is favored by four touchdowns, and the chances of an upset are more remote than Auburn beating Alabama on a 109-yard return of a missed 57-yard field goal.

Coach Jimbo Fisher is pretending to be concerned: "Whether you're No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, it has no bearing on what we have to do this week," he said.

The big Florida State statement of the week came Thursday after the state attorney was asked whether the Winston case was closed: "Yes it is," he said.

• Big Ten title game at Indianapolis, No. 2 Ohio State (24-0) vs. No. 9 Michigan State (11-1): That's not a typo on Ohio State's record — it is Urban Meyer's record as Buckeyes coach. Ohio State is No. 2 in the BCS standings and will probably stay there with a win over one of the few formidable teams the Buckeyes played this season.

Meyer has been smart in not talking about whether undefeated Ohio State should play for the title instead of a one-loss Southeastern Conference champion. In 2006, while coaching Florida, he argued that the one-loss SEC champion should absolutely get the BCS bid over the Big Ten. "I'll have a comment Sunday," Meyer said this week.

• Southeastern Conference title game at Atlanta, No. 5 Missouri (11-1) vs. No. 3 Auburn (11-1): It's Tigers vs. Tigers in the unlikeliest SEC title game ever imagined. The teams are divisional champions only a year after finishing a combined 2-14 in SEC play.

The winner will race out of the Georgia Dome to root for Michigan State to upset Ohio State. If that happens, it would probably put the SEC winner in the BCS title game. Last week, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive openly cheered in the press box for Michigan to upset Ohio State.

• Pac-12 title game at Tempe, Ariz., No.10 Stanford (10-2) vs. No. 13 Arizona State (10-2): Stanford has played the nation's fifth-toughest schedule, according to this week's Sagarin ratings; Arizona State's SOS is fourth. Florida State vs. Duke is 66 vs. 65.

Bottom line: So what? Next season, a two-loss champion probably won't even get the Pac-12 a place in the four-team national playoff.

• Big 12 Conference: The league does not have a title game, but it has two important regular-season finales. Oklahoma State wins the Big 12 if it beats Oklahoma. Texas wins if it beats Baylor and Oklahoma wins. Baylor wins if it beats Texas and Oklahoma State loses.

• American Athletic Conference: Again, no title game. Central Florida clinched the league's automatic BCS bid Thursday with Louisville's overtime win over Cincinnati.

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