5 Thoughts - If you ever want a playoff ...

Posted Oct 9, 2006

... then you should root for Tommy Tuberville to get back in the national title mix. Why Pac 10 teams need to get to USC now, the silliness of style points, and the demise of Florida State in this week's five thoughts. Also check out the team pages for all the game recaps and thoughts on the weekend's games.

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Week Six Thoughts

Why Tommy Tuberville is your best friend.

By Pete Fiutak   
1. You want a college football playoff in some form, right? You’re a little worried that you’ll have an empty feeling at the end of the season when, say, Ohio State, USC, Louisville, and even Boise State, are all unbeaten. No, you don’t want a fluky tournament with 32 teams, but you wouldn’t mind seeing something happen on the field at the end of the year, and not in the heads of some coaches, writers or computers, to resolve the question of who’s really the best college football.

That’s why you love Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville.

Tuberville groused this last week that the SEC teams are, essentially, screwed since the conference is so tough that it’s almost impossible to get through unbeaten. Whether you believe that or not, if you want a playoff, you want the SEC coaches to believe it. You want all coaches to believe it. The squeaky wheels get the grease, and Tuberville, as a member of the American Football Coaches Association board of trustees, has a chance to get things done that others don’t. That new clock rule that you love so much was endorsed by this group, and it has the power to put the kibosh on it after the season if it wants to. It has the power to raise a big ruckus if it can get the rest of the coaches on board.

Many of the superstar head coaches with great programs really want a playoff. Getting into the top two requires as much luck as anything else, but getting into the top four or eight means you have a legitimate shot if you go unbeaten, or finish with one loss, in a big conference.  

So what do you need for this group to kickstart things and set the wheels in motion? Because Rich Rodriguez is on the Board of Trustees, you want West Virginia to finish 12-0 and get left out of the BCS title game, or you want Auburn to go unbeaten the rest of the way and get passed over for the national championship by an apparently average undefeated team. Ty Willingham, Jim Tressel, Mike Bellotti and Chuck Amato are among the high-profile head coaches on the board, so you want them to get agitated in some way.

This can happen. The coaches can call for an eight team playoff, and then compromise to a four team version. One extra game at the end of the year wouldn’t cause anyone to miss any class since it would happen in early January. It would make a boatload of money, and it would make everyone happy. Think about it; the Michigan-Ohio State winner, the West Virginia-Louisville winner, and then the two best one-loss teams would be in. You’d have the number five team screaming, but it wouldn’t be in the mix anyway under the current system or the old poll and bowl.

Everyone with me … War Eagle.

If you want to get to USC, do it now.

By Richard Cirminiello
2. If the last two weeks in the Pac-10 have taught us any lessons, it's that USC is very much a work-in-progress that's going to be vulnerable in all but the Stanford and Oregon State games this fall. That means this is the best season in years for someone like Cal, UCLA or Oregon to step up and dethrone the perennial conference champs. The sky isn't falling over Troy, but by the Trojans' lofty standards, this looks like a rebuilding year-in other words, they'll lose a regular season game.

For the first time since 2001, the Trojan offense has gone four straight games without producing 30 points, but it's the play of the defense in six-point wins over Washington State and Washington that's a bigger concern. The unit that's supposed to be the driver to a fifth-straight Pac-10 crown has been beaten for almost 800 yards and 45 first downs by offenses far less incendiary than the one from Berkeley that'll be visiting next month.

Style point this.

By Matthew Zemek
There's debatable analysis, and then there's flat-out bad analysis. I heard many very controversial and dubious points of analysis from various pundits and talking heads on Saturday--did the full moon the night before affect people's minds, or what?--but no one was more adversely affected than Tim Brando of CBS, who--like Auburn--might have had a tough time answering the bell for a Noon kickoff on Black Rock.

Brando--during various CBS updates throughout his seven-hour workday--constantly referred to the need for various teams to rack up "style points" in the attempt to gain the No. 2 ranking.

What is Brando talking about? He's a big boy who has covered the sport for a long, long time. He should know better than to talk about style points on an early-October Saturday when three--count 'em, THREE!--highly-ranked unbeatens got knocked off: Auburn, Georgia and Oregon.

With West Virginia and Louisville having to play each other; Michigan and Ohio State having to play each other; Florida having to survive some toughies; and USC having to survive a daunting November gauntlet (in addition to upcoming action), it's a better than even-money shot that if you win out--style points be damned!--you'll be in Glendale on January 8.

It is about everything BUT the style points, Mr. Brando, and in a season where few teams figured to survive without at least one blemish, you should have known that going in. On a day when the ranks of unbeatens got whittled down to six--thereby guaranteeing that only four teams (other than Boise

State) have a shot at being undefeated by season's end--it is beyond debate that style points mean nothing in the national title chase.

Winning games is the name of the game. Just ask the 2000 Oklahoma Sooners, the 2002 Ohio State Buckeyes, the 2003 LSU Tigers, and the 2004 USC Trojans how much style points mattered, anyway.

Good by Florida State, and thanks.

By John Harris
4. This summer down in Jacksonville, Florida State LB Buster Davis waxed poetic about the “factorization of Florida State football”.  He used an algebraic equation “y=mx+b” to describe said factorization.  His point was that when you put good players into the formula, the results were staggering.  Suffice it to say, Buster forgot that the m in the formula represents the slope of a line and that it can vary from positive to negative.  During the 1990s, for the Seminoles, that slope was always positive.  But, Thursday night, that slope may have turned negative for good.  Since 2001, the Noles have been a shell of their 1990s dynastic form, but it’s clear that it just ain’t what it used to be.  The slope has gone negative and it’s hard to believe that it can get back positive any time soon. 

I saw the Noles in person a number of times during those dynasty years and remember vividly the arrogant swagger that intimidated everyone on the field.  In 1996, I saw one vs. two in Tallahassee and saw a Steve Spurrier team actually intimidated by the Noles.  They’d do that walk before the pre-game from mid-field to their locker room and if you were an opposing fan/player, it was scary.  Then, Chief dropped the spear and the Noles were ready to kick your you know what.  Opposing offensive linemen had nightmares of Reinard Wilson and Peter Boulware.  Oh gosh, Peter Warrick?  Forget it.  Even a 28 year old QB like Chris Weinke shook opponents’ confidence.

But, it’s gone.  Sure, you MUST give credit to the NC State coaching staff and players for the way they played, but the ‘old’ Florida State won those type games.  They didn’t let a second time starting QB score 24 points on them.  They didn’t allow a back to run up their backside.  It just didn’t happen.  They never let the slope ever turn negative.  Those days are over and when they’re coming back is anyone’s guess.

The big moment.

By Pete Fiutak   
. I’m an unabashed Michigan fan. I’m just as big an Ohio State supporter. Go West Virginia, and the Louisville pom-poms are out. The USC march is currently playing in my head cross-fading with the Notre Dame fight song. Actually, I’m a neutral college football observer who deals with all 119 teams, but nothing gets me revved up more than the big game and the big sports moment, and nothing does both better than college football.

Nothing against the other teams on the respective schedules, but I want an unbeaten Michigan play an unbeaten Ohio State at the end of the Big Ten regular season. West Virginia and Louisville can lose all they want at the end of November, but I want to see these two play in a clash of titans on November 2nd. I want Notre Dame to roll before facing an unbeaten USC with everything on the line on November 25th. On a lower level, I’d like to see an unbeaten Missouri team face Oklahoma in a few weeks. Give me the excitement of an 11-0 Boise State going to Reno to play a Nevada team good enough to pull off the upset. Of course, Arkansas over Auburn-like upsets along the way create new big games, but after a lousy first half of the season when it comes to supposed epic matchups, I’m ready for things to get really, really interesting over the next few weeks.