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TQ: Should It Be Florida Or Notre Dame?
Posted Nov 27, 2012

The Tuesday Question: Who's more deserving, Florida or Notre Dame?

Tuesday Question: Who's more deserving, Notre Dame or Florida?

By Richard Cirminiello

The Irish.

The BCS is a survive-and-advance system, and no one in America has excelled at it better than Notre Dame in 2012. Week-in and week-out, it’s taken care of business against a schedule that many labeled the thorniest in the FBS when the season began. Don’t blame the Irish that Purdue, Michigan State, BYU and USC failed to meet their expectations. Oh, and how do those wins over Stanford and Oklahoma look now that both ND victims still have a shot at winning their respective conferences this week?

Those backing the Gators in this debate have two flimsy arguments: Tougher schedule and Notre Dame’s dearth of so-called style points. Does Florida own a greater number of marquee wins? Yup. Has it played as many bowl-eligible teams as the Irish? Nope. While the Gators have navigated a tougher overall slate this fall, the disparity in strength of schedule is not nearly as wide as many are making it out to be.

As far as ND’s close calls with the likes of the Boilermakers, Cougars and Pitt, Florida is the wrong team to be throwing rocks in this glass house. Wasn’t the nation bemoaning the overrated Gators just a few days ago for stringing together sloppy efforts against 5-7 Mizzou, the Sun Belt’s Louisiana-Lafayette and Jacksonville State of the FBS? Florida survived in all three instances, but justifiably lost plenty of supporters in the process.

Notre Dame and Florida are mirror images in many ways; tough, defensive-driven survivors that have consistently overcome the deficiencies of their offenses. The difference? The Irish are still perfect. The Gators are not. And that will always be checkmate when the programs in question are playing a grown-up schedule from start to finish.

By Matt Zemek
E-mail Matt Zemek

You've likely uttered this statement in a discussion about a sporting event, and if you haven't uttered it, you've almost certainly seen it or heard it from another fan in front of a television, a co-worker at the office, a sportswriter, or a broadcaster: "Player/Team X deserves to win."

We all know what this statement means. We want a player or team that has fought so hard and achieved so much to receive something good, to be rewarded for outstanding effort. We want that long-suffering individual athlete or that college football school with the best resume among all one-loss teams to claim a big prize. There's nothing wrong with this on an emotional level. It is good and healthy to want the best for all people, for all communities, for all members of the human family. Spiritually and psychologically, we should allow ourselves to say that, golly gee, that striver deserves to win.

From a cold and hard analytical standpoint, however, such spiritual wisdom can't be allowed to dominate.

Andy Murray didn't deserve to win his first major tennis championship before he claimed it. You deserve to win a match, a gameday competition, a championship, if you go out and do the job. The only exception to this principle of "deserving to win" emerges when a player or team is clearly shafted in a game. Oklahoma, for instance, DESERVED to beat Oregon in 2006 in Eugene. Missouri DESERVED to beat Colorado in 1990. Green Bay DESERVED to beat Seattle on Monday Night Football this year.

Other than those exceptions, however, the notion of "deserving to win" belongs to the teams or players who win the last point, get the last out, score the winning touchdown, and make the final goal-line stand.

Notre Dame didn't lose in 2012. Florida did. There is no debate. There is no discussion. There is no need to engage in extended discourse about the matter. You deserve it if you do it. Period.

Phil Harrison
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN

Notre Dame or Florida

This is an open and shut case. Notre Dame deserves to be in the BCS National Championship game more than Florida, hands down.

At what point does this over the top love for the SEC stop? Yes, the league has won six-straight national championships. Yes the SEC has several teams in the top ten, blah, blah, blah. We get it, we hear it, but trying to make a case for Florida over Notre Dame is taking the back-scratching way too far.

If this were a real case to go before a judge and jury, it would be thrown out of the courtroom rather than wasting taxpayer dollars. Just because the SEC is the most talented conference doesn’t trump the fact that the Irish are UNDEFEATED against a more than adequate schedule. They are the only undefeated and eligible team left standing.

Notre Dame has beaten ten teams that would be bowl-eligible if Miami didn’t tap out trying to play hide-and-seek from the NCAA. There’s a road win over Oklahoma who could end up being the Big Twelve Champion, a home victory over a Stanford team that might take the Pac-12 crown, as well as a tough win away from home against a curiously talented USC team. That’s not exactly fish food or anything close to the old Boise State argument of winning a pillow-fight to get a shot at the heavyweight crown.

Of course those on the flip side of the argument will point to the fact that Florida is the only team to have beaten four teams in the top fifteen. Okay, but it’s also the only team of the two (Notre Dame and Florida) to have LOST A GAME. And in the model we are in, a loss is not a good thing when a team that has beaten very good competition hasn’t dropped a contest.

This is in fact, a no contest. End of story.

By Terry Johnson
Follow me @TPJCollFootball

Regardless of what metric is used, Notre Dame belongs in the national championship game over Florida.

Looking at each team's record, the Fighting Irish would certainly get the nod. After all, Notre Dame went undefeated, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat on several occasions. While the Gators won several huge games with big second halves, they couldn't find a way to win with the season on the line against Georgia.

Even though the Irish finished with an unblemished record, there are still some people who think that Florida should play for the title instead. They argue that the Gators played a tougher schedule than Notre Dame did, and that Brian Kelly's team could not withstand the rigors of an SEC schedule, where teams have to play against top-notch competition every week.

Unfortunately, this argument doesn't hold water. Sure, the BCS computers agree that Florida played a tougher schedule than Notre Dame, but the rankings fail to tell the entire story. The fact is that the Fighting Irish have beaten nine bowl eligible teams this season (ten if Pittsburgh beats South Florida this weekend). And as for having to show up and play against quality opponents week in and week out, Notre Dame's first eight wins came against bowl-eligible teams. That's hardly the creampuff schedule that critics have made it out to be.

To recap, Notre Dame deserves to play in the BCS title game over Florida because it finished with the better record against equal (if not better) competition.

By Bart Doan
Follow me @Bart_cfn
Let’s get one thing straight: no team in college football more deserves to be playing for a national title right now than Notre Dame. No amount of skewed statistics or talk of “resumes” changes the fact that a great many teams in 2012 have taken hits on the chin, and only one has left unscathed, bereft of free padding games against FCS programs or mid major bottom feeders at that.

Their schedule rank is third best among all top 10 teams in Sagarin’s rankings, though any talk of SOS ratings is a bit flawed because they’re in part, based on subjectivity related to preseason polls and the like. So the question becomes, if this is about Florida, are they more deserving than the SEC champ?

No sir, they are not. The “resume” argument, with Florida harboring a SOS rating in Sagarin’s poll at 13 is a just more subjective jargon. Any time SOS ratings are argued, the inevitably come back to preseason ranking, which again, is a subjective thing.

It also is a weak argument, seeing as “resume” was being overlooked ad nauseum last year as Oklahoma State had a better one than Alabama.

Georgia has beaten only two FBS programs with winning records, one being this Florida team. Head to head isn’t the be-all, end-all, but in a case where that team wins the division based on a head to head at a neutral site, it should mean something here.

Now, the idea that Georgia might have one more loss if it had Florida’s schedule could be true, but it’s conjecture. You could suggest I’d be wiping out my Christmas list and spending it all on drywall if the Kool-Aid Man bursted through my living room right now, but it’s hypothesis and we need to get away from that in college football.

In the case of Alabama, they actually harbor the worst computer average of all of the SEC teams in question. That’s surprising, because play in the typically more arduous SEC West and opened out of the gate with a risky neutral site game against Michigan.

Still though, even in their case, and even with the transitive property of losses (Texas A&M), if the Tide rise and win out, we need to be getting closer to a system that rewards actual conference champions rather than constantly expose ourselves to the mess of last season.

The real issue for Florida here is scheduling. Four of the bottom five teams in the BCS top 10 in terms of SOS rating are SEC teams. The one that’s not? Florida. Unbalanced scheduling is crippling the division format with so much conference-building going on.

Too many teams in one conference leaves us regionally instead of nationally, unable to fully know who’s better than who because there are just so many teams joining forces.

Much like the national narrative on college football, in the case of Florida in 2012, until the game finds a way to make scheduling more representative and balanced, we could be here every year as teams expand. That’s the real tragedy for the sport, if there is one this year, to come from this.

Really, in the case even of Kansas State...with a win being the winner of the highest rated conference in college could argue them before one or maybe even two other of these teams. But we’ll go ahead and save that for another column.