Very interesting Q&A in Stewart Mandel’s Mailbag ($$) today.
All the talking heads are knocking Oklahoma because of their (lack of) defense. Why does the committee feel it’s their job to judge teams based on HOW they win? Alabama and LSU teams of yesteryear were never criticized for their lack of offense. Why does it matter how the Sooners win, as long as they win?
Have you heard the phrase “defense wins championships?” The committee is a big believer in it. Just look at the Sooners’ polar opposite, Mississippi State. This is a team that not only is 6-4 but also has not scored more than seven points in any of those losses. But the Bulldogs rank sixth in the country in total defense and thus remain safely in the rankings at No. 21, ahead of a 9-1 Utah State team that averages 51.3 points per game — more than even Oklahoma.
It’s not surprising given the composition of the committee, which includes old coaches like Frank Beamer, Jeff Bower and Bobby Johnson, Hall of Fame defensive back Ronnie Lott and a former Notre Dame defensive end, Ohio State AD Gene Smith. I’m guessing none of those guys are big believers in the merits of winning games 48-47. (Beamer, it should be noted, is recused from discussing Oklahoma because his son Shane is an assistant coach there.) They really ought to try balancing it out next year with some offensive guys. How about Hal Mumme?
Okay, so the end’s a little tongue and cheek. Still, he raises a good point: why does Oklahoma get dinged, subjectively speaking, for being unbalanced offensively, while the LSUs of the world, just as unbalanced, don’t seem to?
Mumme isn’t the guy I would suggest for fixing what ails the committee. After all, we named a poll in his honor for making one of the most questionable votes in the history of the Coaches’ Poll. What would be useful for bringing a more balanced analysis to the selection committee, would be to add some advanced stat folks. (Not that it’ll ever happen, but still.)