Daily Archives: January 11, 2007

“The beauty of March Madness”

Mark Bradley has a new angle as to why the BCS sucks: Urban Meyer is a hypocrite!

My head started spinning after I read this contradictory mess:

… And the trouble with the BCS is that it makes it tough on the outsiders. Boise State landed a berth in the Fiesta Bowl, yes, but that was only the slot created by the BCS as a sop to the smaller conferences, a slot made possible by the creation of the championship game itself. Boise State, lest we forget, was the only Division I-A school to finish undefeated. For this distinction it wound up No. 6 in the coaches’ poll, behind Southern Cal and LSU, each of which lost twice.

Do I think Boise State would have beaten USC or LSU in a playoff game? No, but I didn’t think Boise would beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta, either. (Neither did I think Florida would beat Ohio State.) The beauty of March Madness is that anything can happen. The failure of the BCS is that only a few things are allowed to happen. Two teams completed their regular seasons unbeaten, and only one was given the chance to play for the title. That’s just wrong.

Until there’s a playoff system, the wrongs will mount on annual basis, but I’m convinced there will never be a Division I-A playoff…

Bradley bitches that Boise State ended the season ranked lower than USC and LSU, both of which finished with more losses than did BSU. So what? Why couldn’t the exact same thing happen in an extended tournament? (In fact, it happens in the basketball tourney all the time.) I thought the issue addressed by the rankings is which team is better, and even Bradley admits that Boise State wouldn’t be likely to beat either USC or LSU in a playoff game.

Ultimately that doesn’t matter to him, because Bradley feels cheated out of possibilities. “Only a few things are allowed to happen.” Waaa!

What’s especially irritating to me about his reasoning is that he and much of the media are doing a lot more complaining about Boise being shut out of a NC game than the Bronco players and coaches are doing themselves. Implicit in the complaint is the attitude that winning the Fiesta Bowl isn’t satisfactory enough… that’s almost insulting, isn’t it?

I wonder what Bradley and others of his ilk would be saying right now about BSU if after winning the Fiesta Bowl, the Broncos got slammed in a following playoff game by… oh… 27 or more points. No doubt they’d feel a lot better about the outcome than the kids would.

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I thought these guys were character builders.

One of my favorite blogs, The Wizard of Odds, has a great post today listing his most classless acts from the 2006 football season. Vote on your favorite (or would that be least favorite?).

You know it’s an accurate list when this guy makes it:

Give it a look…

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Filed under College Football

A couple of final impressions from the BCS

There are two schools of thought on what lessons we can take from the BCS/bowl results.

You can argue that bowl game results are about nothing more than team matchups, and which school comes in with better preparation and motivation:

… Nor do I use the bowls as conference barometers. If we do, how can we place so much importance on Florida beating Ohio State while ignoring an unranked Penn State making Tennessee look ugly or Wisconsin having no problems with Arkansas?… If last night’s win is a fundamental statement by the SEC, what was it last year when the SEC champion fell behind 28-0 to a team from the Big East? I guess I just put a lot more value in matchups than geography.

The win much more than anything else just means that Florida was better and more prepared than Ohio State. It’s amusing that every SEC team on Florida’s schedule came closer to Florida than Ohio State did, but that doesn’t make the Buckeyes on par with Vanderbilt. Those extrapolating that Ohio State would be an 8-4 SEC team (and I’ve seen that very line) are reading way too much into a single game…

On the other hand, you can see the results as more – as an indication of the strengths and weaknesses of the conferences that are represented by the winning and losing schools:

… Despite all the claims by pro-Michigan sports pundits prior to the bowl games that the poll voters were being deceived and the SEC was overrated, it seems as if the opposite was true. They claimed the Big Ten was top heavy while the SEC was just a bunch of good but not great teams. In the end Big Ten seems to have been the overrated conference last year as the perceived strength of its top two teams proved to be false…

I’m not entirely unsympathetic to either point of view, although I lean more to the team matchup camp. Ohio State was so spectacularly unprepared on the defensive side of the ball to handle Florida’s scheme that you have to wonder what the Buckeye defensive coaches were doing for the past month and a half or so. How is that a reflection on the quality of the Big 10 or the SEC this past season? And does anyone really want to argue that the Fiesta Bowl means something about the relative strengths of the Big XII and the WAC?

On the other hand, don’t we have to consider that part of what goes into a team’s mental preparation and emotional state for a bowl game builds from what has happened to it during the regular season schedule? How much does the confidence that Florida displayed Monday night result from being tested with a very tough SEC slate? And what does Georgia’s (probably the fifth best team in the conference in ’06) win against Virginia Tech (according to the polls, the best team in its conference) say about how down the ACC was in 2006?

But on the other hand (I know, I know) the Fiesta Bowl is the game that fascinates me the most from this post season. You really can’t argue that BSU was tested during the regular season – the Broncos did destroy a then ranked Oregon State, but I can’t help but think that pretty much every team ranked in the top 10 would have gone through their slate of games undefeated – but, just like their game against Georgia in 2005, they drew up a game plan that they expected would minimize the talent differential and were confident that their desire would take them the rest of the way.

The important differences for BSU in those two games were that they were much more composed, which was clearly reflected in the turnover margin (-6 in Athens; +1 in the Fiesta) and the play of the opposing quarterbacks (which was big because BSU on defense loads up to stop the run). Did Oklahoma take them for granted more than did Georgia (even a little bit)? No doubt, but BSU hung in there against the Sooners when it looked like things were going south and deserved the win.

In the end, Boise State was the perfect storm of D-1 football this past season. Also, this blogger is right to suggest that the bloom is wearing off the Bob Stoops’ rose a little bit as a big game coach.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football

Agendas? We don’t need no stinkin’ agendas!

Yesterday’s New York Times article on Florida’s BCS title game win had a sidebar (click on “Looking Ahead to Next Season”) showing the Chablis-sippin’, Birkenstock-wearin’ (probably a beret, too, when you get down to it), lib’ral author’s idea of the preseason top 10 for 2007.

The merits of his list aside, here’s what caught my eye:

9. Boise State Some people complaining Boise doesn’t have a chance to win a national title need to vote it this high to give it a shot at winning a championship…

Oh, really.

Thanks for encapsulating the biggest flaw with the BCS – the preseason polls. It’s bad enough that you’ve got people casting supposedly informed votes on teams that haven’t even taken the field yet, but the idea that voters can be urged to pursue an agenda like this is troubling at best. If acted upon, it would be potentially scandalous.

And you playoff supporters need to understand that this problem doesn’t go away with a playoff, if you still use the polls as a component to determine seedings and eligibility. So keep that air of superiority out of this debate.

There shouldn’t be a human poll affecting college football until at least the fourth week of the season. Currently, the coaches’ poll comes out at the beginning of the season and the Harris Interactive poll comes out about a week before the end of September. Both are too early.

For an illustration of this, take a look at SI.com’s Coaches Top 25 tracking poll for the past season. The rankings don’t start becoming a meaningful reflection of where most teams would finish until the first or second week of October.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Media Punditry/Foibles