5 Thoughts, Week 11
Week 1 - Is TCU Deserving? |
Week 2 - The bad, bad ACC
Week 3 - Uhhh ... Texas & Florida? |
Week 4 - Ohio State's
- Week 5 - Boise State's
Poll Slide | Week 6 -
The Poll Problem
- Week 7 - The 2 Left
Standing? | Week 8 -
The Oregon Résumé
- Week 9 - What do you
want for a national title?
- Week 10 - Do you believe
1. The real impossible argument is trying to say something positive
about Justin Bieber.
It's mid-November and it's around the time when America's thoughts turn to Thanksgiving plans, the upcoming holidays, and the most joyful time of the year, the Me Wantee A College Football Playoff Whinefest.
To be extremely clear, I want a playoff. The CFN Proposal has changed a bit, now wanting an eight team playoff between the champions of the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Mountain West, Pac 10, and SEC, and one catch-all wild card for the top-ranked team not in those seven, and I really and truly believe that the system would enhance the college football season, not take away from it (while keeping the rest of the bowl system). But that's not going to happen, and neither will a playoff of any form, so with that in mind, I'm about to do the impossible. I'm going to help you embrace and enjoy the system that holds us all hostage.
Like it or not, the BCS usually gets it right. (Said through clenched teeth.)
There's one undeniable truth in this entire argument; everyone else has screwed up when it comes to playoffs. The biggest concern for college football fans is that someday we might all get a playoff, and it'll suck just like all the other ones do. Sports Illustrated put together a brilliant piece detailing the corruption and lies surrounding the college football BCS system, and then it all got destroyed in an attempt it to sell a ridiculous 16-team playoff idea that would've included the third best team in the SEC West, Troy, UCF, and Northern Illinois. You can still have a playoff AND make the regular season matter, but no one seems to get that.
The San Francisco Giants shouldn't have been able to watch the World Series, much less win it. After a long and hard 162 games, the team with the best record in the American League, the Tampa Bay Rays, should've played the team with the best record in the National League, the Philadelphia Phillies, for the World Series. Anything else takes away the integrity of the regular season.
The NFL lucked out last year and got New Orleans and Indianapolis, the two best teams in their respective conferences, but it should've been Tennessee vs. NY Giants in 2008 (not Pittsburgh vs. Arizona), New England vs. Dallas in 2007 (the New York Giants had NO business being in any playoff format), and it should've been San Diego vs. Chicago in 2006 (not Indianapolis over Chicago). Otherwise, why play the regular season?
It's a simple concept that demands to be repeated; if you can't win your own conference, you don't deserve a chance to win the championship of the entire league. College football, for the most part, eliminates that and it takes away the fluke factor. You can't finish sixth in your league, get hot for four games in March, and end up in the Final Four. Yes, winning the BCS Championship is the hardest title to win in all of sports mainly because there are no gimmicks and it takes a special, often flawless season to pull it off, and while other sports need all the playoff teams to keep the interest of fans, that's not necessary in college football.
Now, really, if Auburn plays Oregon for the national title, and if you don't live in Fort Worth or Boise, are you really that upset? Have you had any sort of real, honest beef with the national champions the BCS system has delivered?
2009 season – Alabama over Texas. No problems there. Sorry, Boise State.
2008 season – Florida over Oklahoma. Fine. That Gator team was an all-timer, even though USC fans wanted to take their cuts. No, Utah, you weren't better than Florida.
2007 season – LSU over Ohio State. Yeah, LSU lost two games, but the No. 3 team, Virginia Tech, lost in the Orange Bowl to Kansas.
2006 season – Florida over Ohio State. Michigan might have had a slight beef until USC applied an atomic wedgie in the Rose Bowl.
2005 season – Texas over USC. Of course.
2004 season – USC over Oklahoma. * or not, it happened. No, Auburn, you weren't better than that Trojan team.
2003 season – LSU over Oklahoma. There's an argument to be made about 2004, but USC was special. This is the one year that the thing didn't work, but in the end, there's no real complaining about LSU winning the title. The problem was that Oklahoma got to play for it all instead of USC.
2002 season – Ohio State over Miami. Obviously.
2001 season – Miami over Nebraska. The result turned out to be right, but Oregon should've been the one getting blown away by the Hurricanes.
2000 season – Oklahoma over Florida State. Again, the problem isn't with the national champion, it's with the opponent. Miami should've been playing the Sooners instead of the Seminoles.
1999 season – Florida State over Virginia Tech. No problem.
1998 season – Tennessee over Florida State. The Vols went unbeaten.
So in the 12 years of the cockamamie BCS, there has been only one national champion, 2003 LSU, that maybe, possibly, could've been reasonably debated. Everything other season crowned a national champion that earned its stripes by battling through the wars and getting through the nasty adversity that every college team has to face. Again, try doing that with any other sport.
There, Bill Hancock. You can make the check out to CASH.
2. Helllllooooo! Michigan State here, too!
Ohio State and Wisconsin are two of this year's reasons why college football really suffers from not having some semblance of a playoff.
One stinkin' loss, the Buckeyes to the Badgers and the Badgers to Michigan State, is the only thing separating these programs from being in the inner circle of national championship contenders. Too bad, too, because both have recovered swimmingly and would be real dangerous in a postseason tournament. Ohio State has rebounded from its loss in Madison by whipping Purdue, Minnesota, and Penn State by a combined score of 139-24. The offense has gotten a big year from RB Daniel Herron and the team leads the country in turnover margin, resulting in an average margin of victory of four touchdowns. Wisconsin has been every bit as good since its Oct. 2 slip-up in East Lansing, capping a five-game winning streak with an epic 83-20 rout of Indiana. Thanks to Montee Ball, James White, and one of the nation's best O-lines, the ground game hasn't missed feature back John Clay even a little.
The Big Ten is going to be the scene of the nation's best title chase over the next two weeks, with three one-loss teams battling for supremacy. Yet, whoever navigates its final two opponents and the tiebreaker system is unlikely to have a shot at playing for a national championship. Its sin? Imperfection. One misstep on the road against a quality conference rival essentially lowered the bar a rung and put a glass ceiling above the heads of the Buckeyes and the Badgers. And that's a fatal flaw in a system that shows no signs of changing in the immediate future.
3. 83 points are 83 points
Margin of victory has no bearing on the rankings or the national championship race. Yeah, right. And the folks in Tuscaloosa are hoping the whole Cam Newton situation winds up being a complete fabrication.
While not a factor in the computer models, margin of victory is alive and well in the two human polls, the most essential aspects of the BCS. Now, I don't mind that the final score of a game impacts the evaluation of a voter. It should. I mean, with all other things being equal, 37-7 is more impressive than 13-7, right? What I don't appreciate is the con, the suggestion that only the record of a team is considered and not the degree to which that program dominated in building that mark. Take the cold war being waged between TCU and Boise State, for instance.
A week ago, the Horned Frogs jumped the Broncos after laying waste to unbeaten Utah, 47-7, in Salt Lake City. Case closed on the non-AQ debate, right? Not even close. All of a sudden Boise State is gaining ground again in this rather ridiculous beauty pageant, even moving ahead in the AP poll, which is not a part of the BCS model. TCU's crime? Only handling San Diego State by five points on a weekend that the Broncos crushed Idaho by 38. Throw in an ugly Utah loss in South Bend, and all of a sudden there's a mini-exodus off the purple bandwagon. The entire process is a complete joke, namely because I fear that most voters blindly put the Aztecs in the same bucket as the Vandals. That's a problem.
Yeah, the Frogs would have helped their cause by preventing two touchdowns in the final seven minutes and winning 40-21. However, this is not your father's San Diego State. Second-year head coach Brady Hoke has done an excellent job on the Mesa, getting the team bowl eligible at 7-3 and losing three games at Mizzou, BYU, and TCU by only 11 points combined. Idaho, on the other hand, is a seventh place program in the nine-team WAC. What percentage of voters know the facts? I'll guess less than half.
Obviously, margin of victory still matters in a big way regardless of what anyone suggests. With that in mind, contending teams might as well keep the starters in longer and run up the score whenever possible. While most everyone will tell you how they deplore that kind of behavior, their voting habits say otherwise.
4. To be fair, though, most of its games are played on Versus
Here's what happened to the TCU Horned Frogs on the football field this past Saturday:
Their offensive line coach, Eddie Williamson, had a heart attack (on the sidelines!) in the first quarter. Maybe, just maybe, that's a hard thing for 19- and 20-year-old players to deal with. A man could have been on the brink of dying; as it is, Williamson's condition has stabilized, but who could have known as much in the middle of a game?
They fell behind 14-0 and faced a fourth-and-four in San Diego State territory which, if not converted, would have added to a rapidly mounting sense of panic that was obviously not helped by Williamson's cardiovascular troubles.
They got outscored 21-6 in the second half.
Their secondary played what was by far its worst game of the season.
Their quarterback, Andy Dalton, wobbled at times and reminded observers why this team has slipped on the banana peel in big games over the years.
Their defense surrendered 28 points on home turf, an unheard-of development for one of the best and most reliable offense-smothering forces in the United States.
Yet, through all of those dangers, snares and traps; despite the valiant effort of a San Diego State team that legitimately looks like the second-best club in the Mountain West Conference; and in the face of a brilliant performance by an opposing head coach (Brady Hoke) who is going to get a plum gig in a short amount of time, TCU won. It won the Mountain West title, which could have belonged to SDSU if the Aztecs had won this game and then gone on to beat Utah next week. Moreover, San Diego State has a very good chance to beat Utah, given the way the Aztecs and Utes have played over the past few weeks, so in retrospect, TCU prevailed in what was essentially the Mountain West championship game.
TCU preserved its unbeaten season with a close-shave, hang-on-at-the-end win that was very similar (not in terms of points scored, but in terms of the endgame situation) to Oregon's 15-13 win over Cal.
With only New Mexico remaining on the slate - and in two weeks, not one - a 12-0 record can pretty much be put in the bank. It's not unrealistic or foolishly premature to do so... not with New Mexico.
The Horned Frogs, on Saturday, fended off a bold challenge and withstood their own mistakes to dig out a hard-earned victory that sealed a championship in the final game at (the current incarnation of) Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth.
This should be a moment when TCU players, coaches and fans can celebrate their resilience, cherish the conference title they just defended, savor the improving health of Eddie Williamson, revel in their unbeaten season, and prize the fact that they've sidestepped every landmine on the path to regular-season perfection. If the regular season in college football really means something, TCU people of all shapes and sizes - all sharing the color purple - should be happy as all git-up this week.
Yet, that's not the reality; the dominant conversation surrounding this excellent football program has a darker and much different tone. Utah got killed, dammit. Boise State won big, dammit. We didn't rack up style points, dammit. The voters will dock us, dammit. We didn't win by enough points, dammit. Baylor lost to Texas A&M, dammit. Nevada and Fresno State played a good game and enhanced Boise's Western Athletic Conference, dammit. Oregon State lost, dammit, which means we lose ground to Auburn... dammit.
Read stories. Scour the internet. Talk to your friends and workplace colleagues. Gauge the buzz and the hot topics in the college football world right now. Be honest: Are you talking about how special this TCU program is, and how impressive it was that the Horned Frogs overcame so many hardships to win a game and a conference championship on Saturday, almost certainly nailing down a spotless 12-0 regular season for the second straight year in the process?
No, of course not. You're talking about how Boise State now enjoys leverage over and against the Horned Frogs, and will stay ahead of TCU if it thumps Fresno State and wins comfortably against Nevada in the coming weeks.
Bill Hancock and all other BCS apologists raise so many patently false arguments about how the BCS promotes the "sanctity of the regular season," the number-one phrase used by playoff opponents to justify keeping the current system in place without appreciable reforms. Well, just as Texas's head-to-head win over Oklahoma in 2008 didn't honor the sanctity of the regular season, and just as Miami's 2000 win over Florida State didn't honor the sanctity of the regular season, and just as Nebraska's lack of a DIVISION championship didn't honor the sanctity of the 2001 regular season (among many other examples), the TCU Horned Frogs are being forced to think that their soon-to-be 12-0 regular season doesn't mean anything. The Frogs are being forced to think that by beating San Diego State in a championship football game, they didn't measure up and didn't do their jobs... why? Because the style points weren't in evidence, because the margin of victory wasn't large enough.
What, pray tell, is forcing TCU to think this way? The BCS system.
What is making TCU look down on something that should be held up as an example of athletic excellence? The BCS system.
What is making TCU sad when it should be so glad? The BCS system, which takes the fun and joy out of significant accomplishments if they're not accompanied by appropriate rewards or, if not rewards, opportunities to win those rewards on the field, in competition at the Rose Bowl or in the BCS National Championship Game. Hancock and the rest of the BCS cabal spout phony baloney about how teams can be happy when they post perfect regular seasons, even if said perfect seasons aren't accompanied by big-ticket bowl bids.
Yeah, some system. Some sanctity. Some reward for a year of elevated quality between the painted white lines.
Sanctity of the regular season? If this is holy, I want to be the devil's servant forever. To hell with the BCS, and to hell with anyone who continues to defend it for even one second more. Making TCU football players feel like failures is exactly what is so horribly wrong, un-American, and unsporting about the single worst creation in the history of American sports.
5. Yes, the MAC is worth defending
The BCS's injustices and outrages are magnified by the fact that when teams aren't competing for BCS bowl bids in the FBS, they can in fact enjoy their accomplishments.
Northern Illinois is feeling so rightfully happy after gaining complete control of the MAC West Division following its win over Toledo earlier in the week. NIU coach Jerry Kill, hospitalized earlier this season, has his kids playing lights-out ball for him, and that team was HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY when it rocked the Rockets on home turf in DeKalb.
Tulsa - the same team that choked against East Carolina in the 2008 C-USA Championship Game and then failed to mentally recover from close losses in 2009 to Boise State (lost by only seven, you know) and Houston - has suddenly vaulted into a tie for the C-USA West Division title, and will win the division if it can win out while SMU loses at East Carolina on Nov. 26. Tulsa is a happy team after winning at Houston on Saturday to transform its season, which received a crucial kick-start in the win at Notre Dame. Tulsa's not playing for BCS prizes, and that's why the Golden Hurricane can actually, you know, ENJOY what they're doing in Conference USA.
Florida International is 4-5 overall, but the Golden Panthers, in the Sun Belt for only six seasons (including this one) and in the FBS for only seven, are now two wins away from winning the conference championship following their stunning and eye-opening 52-35 throttling of two-time defending champion Troy on Saturday... in Troy, Alabama. Coach Mario Cristobal is authoring a remarkable Field of Dreams narrative in which FIU has come from nowhere to skyrocket to the top of the Sun Belt. The Golden Panthers are floating on cloud nine, with BCS cares far removed from their worldview.
If you're in the BCS chase, 12-0 seasons are forced to be seen as failures if you don't win emphatically enough. That's sick, disgusting and wrong, an offense to every good and decent human ideal.
If you're not in the BCS rat race, a 4-5 season can be cherished. A division title in the MAC or Conference USA can be appreciated as the special accomplishment it is. THIS is where the sanctity of the regular season matters... in the leagues and lands where the BCS calculus doesn't begin to enter into the equation.
Take that, Roy Kramer. Take that, Bill Hancock. Take that, conference commissioners and all other college football power brokers who preside over this corrupt, money-grubbing good-ole-boy racket. Pardon me while Dan Wetzel and Austin Murphy celebrate the accomplishments of Northern Illinois, Tulsa and Florida International.