Daily Archives: April 6, 2009

Scheduling and a modest, but sincere, postseason goal

Bruce Feldman posted his early list of this year’s top ten BCS title game contenders.  Nope, the Dawgs don’t grace it.  One big reason for that may be found in a recurring theme for many of the teams that do:

Florida: … UF’s non-conference slate is very manageable with the only top-50 caliber foe being FSU and that game is in Gainesville.

Texas: … The non-conference slate is cake.

Ole Miss: … They also have the luxury of playing the softest non-conference schedule in the country with two games against FCS teams, UAB and a Memphis team they beat every year. Better still, they get Alabama and LSU at home.

Boise State: … I think they have a legit shot to beat the Ducks again, especially since Oregon has to replace a lot of good players on D. After that, it’s all downhill to a perfect regular season, although going to Tulsa in mid-October won’t be so easy.

LSU: … Even though their out of conference schedule is pretty suspect, the Tigers’ SEC slate doesn’t fall too favorably: at Georgia; followed by a visit from Florida; later they have to go to Tuscaloosa and to Oxford.

And then there’s my favorite.  You guessed it:

Notre Dame: … they will be facing one of the softest schedules of any team in the country, especially one that doesn’t need to worry about surviving a conference title game at the end of it all. Yes, ND has to face USC, but it’s in South Bend. After that, a late visit to Stanford is probably the next toughest game. ND also plays the two teams that were the worst BCS conference programs last year, Washington and Washington State.

Em-frikkin’-barrassing.  Although not as embarrassing as what I expect to hear out of Weis’ mouth in response to the acclaim from the fan base and the media if the Irish go 10-2.  The attention over which BCS game they go to will be embarrassing, as well.  So will the inevitable blow out.

Speaking of which, if Florida’s coronation as a title game participant is an inescapable fact, please God, let Georgia play well enough to be the at-large team selected by the Sugar Bowl to face Notre Dame.  I can’t think of too many better ways to celebrate New Year’s than to watch another Clausen get smacked around by the Red and Black.  But then you guys know I’ve always been a sucker for tradition.

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Filed under Charlie Weis Is A Big Fat..., College Football, Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

Everybody talks about toughness, but it takes a Chizik to do something about it.

Look out, Tiger quarterbacks, it’s open season!

The Auburn coaches applied some extra pressure to their three quarterbacks, with a little help from the Tigers’ pass rushers. Kodi Burns, Neil Caudle and Barrett Trotter all saw action during the portion of Saturday’s 90-play scrimmage at Jordan-Hare Stadium when they were fair game for the defense and not protected from contact as usual…

Yeah, get after it.  Auburn ran the ball a lot and “got physical”.  Chizik tells us why that was necessary.

“There’s some means to the madness,” Chizik said. “We’ve got to get back to that physical mentality, and I think the kids responded.”

Why, it’s déjà vu all over again, I tells ya!  When’s the last time Auburn held a spring practice where the head man said nothing about trying to get his charges back to that “physical mentality”?

It sure as hell wasn’t last year.

The biggest difference, Tuberville said of Franklin, “is he’s going to set up the run by passing the ball. We’ve set up the pass by running the ball. I don’t doubt it’s going to work, but we’re still going to be a physical team. We’re going to run the ball more than we’re going to throw it.

Auburn will remain a physical offensive team.

“I’m a defensive coach and I know you have to be physical in practice to help your defense,” Tuberville said. “You can’t get better in games on defense. You have to practice hard and practice physical. We’ll have a lot of two-back in our offense next year.”

That worked out well, didn’t it?

Note to Gene:  concern about your guys being physical is great, but I think I’d worry about having the same batch of QBs back from last season that racked up the 106th best showing in passing efficiency more.

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Filed under Gene Chizik Is The Chiznit

Moving the goal posts

Here we go again – another article about how the postseason is structured to favor the power conferences over the little guy, how no school outside the power conferences has won the title game in years, how the money and the recruiting prowess of the big schools perpetuate the system, etc.

Except this one’s about men’s basketball.

… Despite late runs by mid-major schools like George Mason in 2006 and tiny Davidson last year, the fact is that, in the past 20 years, only one of every 8 teams have come from outside the power conferences like the SEC or Big East, and only UNLV has won the title, in 1990. This year, the top three seeds from all four regions made the Sweet 16 round last weekend.

Indeed, the growing prevalence of top-seeds and power conference powerhouses marching through March Madness reveals a college dynamic that runs directly counter to attempts by professional leagues in hockey and football to create parity. The idea, as in hockey, that the best team needs the worst team is less and less true in college ball.

That’s because revenue-sharing in college sports favors the winners.

Granted, talking about creating parity in college football and basketball is stupid.  The NFL, to take one example, is a unified business venture that directs how new talent is brought into the sport and negotiates its most important contracts as a single entity.  If the powers-that-be see parity as a goal worth obtaining, it’s relatively easy through revenue sharing and player drafts to encourage that.

College sports are different, very different, which the article notes.  There’s no draft, just programs duking it out over recruits.  There’s no regular season monolithic TV contract; every conference (or school, in Notre Dame’s case) is left to fend for itself.

And yet, there’s old March Madness, with its huge entry field, its “settle it on the court” aspect, its revenue distributed by the NCAA instead of by the conferences.  And it still doesn’t do the trick of leveling the playing field.

So what’s the relevance of this to college football, you may ask?  For most fans, it probably isn’t that relevant.  They just want to see a more inclusive postseason format that provides a means for clearly deserving teams to have a shot at a title game.  But there are others who favor a much broader restructuring, who think that the ec0nomics of the sport need realignment.

Realistically, that’s not going to happen with the regular season.  Georgia will always outdraw every school in the Mountain West by a wide margin.  What’s left to play with is D-1’s postseason.  That’s what the current dance with the MWC, the politicians and the programs currently getting most of the swag is all about.   And remember as you watch the process unfold over the next few years, wherever it winds up, that it was always more about the bucks than about “settling it on the field”.

… Just remember as the discussion heats up: No matter how many times you hear the words “national championship” spoken, this is not about who plays for No. 1.

This is, and always has been, about money.

The richest conferences don’t want to share their loot; the poorest ones are more desperate for it than ever. That means two agendas that cannot coexist as current economic trends go.

A showdown is coming, as I told you about this time last year. The only questions are how far both sides are willing to push and what they are willing to risk.

I believe it’s more and more likely that the BCS as we know it won’t exist by the time the next TV contracts are signed.  What it will be replaced with is harder to guess.  That college football’s non-power conferences won’t like the result isn’t.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs