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Ask CFN ... Football March Madness?
What if football was able to have a March Madness-style tournament? Will the Heisman race, led by Darren McFadden, have any sizzle? Which teams will have great records because of their schedule? Which are the ten must-see games of the year? These and much more in the return of Ask CFN.
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I have noticed during football season that
there’s only a small difference between the BCS computer rankings and
the voters whereas there seems to be a huge difference between the
basketball RPI and the voters. Why the difference? – Alex
A: The BCS voters actually create the BCS. The RPI is all about
schedules and the strength of every team compared to what they’ve
actually done on the field or on the court. The Coaches and Harris polls
currently makeup 2/3rds of the BCS, so obviously the BCS ranking is
going to reflect the pollsters. In a perfect world, there’s a better mix
of schedule-strength and voting, but that was changed up in college
football after USC, ranked No. 1 by the pollsters at the end of the 2003
regular season, was left out of the national championship.
I love March Madness, you love March Madness, everyone loves March
Madness. However, am I nuts, or do I still think, for all of college
football’s goofiness, that it figures out a national champion better?
After all, it seems like EVERYONE gets in the basketball tournament. Is
that really fair, if you really think about it? – BP
A: I don’t get it either. Talk show hosts and media types cry and whine
for months about the BCS system, yet no one seems to think boo about the
idea that a team can finish sixth in its conference and can still play
for the national championship. The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is a
wonderfully glorious gimmick. If the idea is to find out which college
basketball team is the best, then you forget the regular season, create
a big tournament with everyone in it, and play it off. College
football’s system still needs a ton of tweaking, but I’ve always argued
that it comes closer to crowning a true national champion than college
basketball does. You have to reward the regular season more than college
basketball currently does.
Everyone talks about a college football tournament, but what about
the basketball tournament … more teams, fewer teams, or does it have it
right? How should it be changed? – OF
A: It’ll never happen, but the hoops tournament needs to cut the number
of teams to 16. If it were up to me, there would be 12 automatic bids
for the regular season conference champions for the Atlantic 10, ACC,
Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Conference USA, MAC, Missouri Valley,
Mountain West, Pac 10, SEC, and WAC. If there’s a regular season tie, it
either gets broken by a conference tournament (which would otherwise
just be a nice exhibition), or be decided on by the tournament
committee. Then, the four at-large spots would go to other regular
season conference champions and would be determined by the committee.
That way, the regular season would actually matter, the little guy would
still get its shot, and you’d take the fluke factor out.
In my world, the automatic bids would go to: Xavier, North Carolina,
Kansas, Georgetown, Ohio State, Memphis, Toledo, Southern Illinois, BYU,
UCLA, Florida, and Nevada. The four at-large bids would go to (remember,
regular season conference champions only): Gonzaga, Butler, Virginia
Commonwealth and Winthrop.
Let’s say college football wanted to do a March Madness-style
tournament. What would be the best way to run it so it would have the
same feel as the hoops tournament, yet still get the right teams in
place? – KH
A: I’d use the same theory as my idea for the hoops tournament. I’d make
it an eight-team playoff with the six “BCS league” champions getting the
automatic bids, and then a committee would put in two champions from
other leagues. So for this year, my tournament would’ve had Wake Forest,
Oklahoma, Louisville, Ohio State, USC and Florida getting the automatic
bids. Boise State would’ve gotten one at-large spot, and then the debate
would begin. In reality, Notre Dame would’ve gotten the other spot, but
if I was the head of the committee, I’d have put in BYU. Would anyone
have any realistic beef with this? Don’t like it Michigan or LSU? Win
My friends and I were having a lunchtime
discussion and would be curious on your thoughts. What’s one college
on-field rule that would make the NFL better? How about NFL rule to
college? How about on-field rule for both that you’d change? – PS
college, I like the idea of having to tackle or touch someone down. I’ve
never liked how a college player is down just because he falls down. If
he slips, the defense has done nothing and gets the “tackle.”
A: Do the overtime rules count? The NFL is all about the passing game
and doing whatever it can to promote offense, so I’m stunned the league
requires a receiver to get two feet in bounds. It doesn’t make any
sense. If you catch the ball and touch the ground with your elbow, knee,
or ear, and then the rest of you goes out of bounds, you’re in, but if
you get one foot in, you’re not in. I’d also change the NFL’s instant
For both college and pro, I’d change the half-the-distance rule on
penalties. For example, if the offense is on the ten and the defense
gets flagged for holding, the ball goes to the five. I say it should go
to the one inch mark, or as far as the ball can go without being in.
There’s not enough of a punishment for a defense to commit most
I know all the schedules have yet to come out, but what three
big-time teams are going to be like Wisconsin of last year and be
decent, but will have great records because of their schedule? – JB
A: 1) Rutgers. Can you say tailor-made national championship schedule?
Try this out: Buffalo, Navy, Norfolk State, Maryland, Cincinnati, at
Syracuse to start. South Florida, West Virginia and Pitt all have to
come to Piscataway, but there are three road games in the final four
playing at UConn (win) and at Army (big win) before the regular season
showdown at Louisville.
2) Wisconsin. Yes, again. The Badgers play a real non-conference game
against Washington State to open it up, but then things are relatively
easy until a road date at Penn State. They have to also go to Ohio
State, but they also get Michigan in Madison. If UW wins two of the
three big Big Ten games, 11-1 is likely again, 10-2 at worst.
3) Alabama. There are only four road games (Vanderbilt, Ole Miss,
Mississippi State and Auburn) along with a neutral site game against
Florida State in Jacksonville, while Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and
LSU all have to come to Tuscaloosa. Even with the tough home slate,
Saban’s boys should be 8-4.
Am I nuts, or is this going to be the worst Heisman race ever? I’m
sure it’ll be close, but Colt Brennan? Darren McFadden? Mike Hart?
Zzzzzzz. It’s not exactly Leinart, Bush and Young. – TD
A: It’s not going to have the epic names, that’s for sure, but it’s
going to be a wide-open race with plenty of room for debate and
discussion. You’re right, Brennan, McFadden and Hart are hardly
all-timers when it comes to the big names, but that could change over
the course of the year if all three do what they did last year. In the
end, this will be a more fun race than you might believe with John David
Booty, P.J. Hill, Brian Brohm, Colt McCoy, Ray Rice, Steve Slaton and
Pat White all to be in the hunt.
Brady Quinn or JaMarcus Russell? Which one would you take? – FA
A: How about neither? Here’s the problem; when you take a quarterback in
the first round, you’re married to him for at least three years. With
rare exceptions, rookie quarterbacks stink. For the longest time (and it
still might be true), Rick Mirer, statically, was the greatest rookie
quarterback ever. So the first year’s a wash, and then if he stinks in
year two, you’re still going to give him one more shot, and even then,
you’ve sunk two-plus years.
Quinn and Russell each appear to be fine, but neither is a rock-solid
lock to be special. If I’m the Raiders, Lions and Browns, I go for
Calvin Johnson, Joe Thomas, and/or Adrian Peterson, hit free agency for
a quarterback (even though it’s a bit too late) or try to trade for a
Matt Schaub or try to convince Jake Plummer that there’s no future in
this season would you say are the MUST WATCH games and why?
A: My top ten at the moment (and for the first time in what seems like
forever, there’s no Miami – Florida State) …
1. Florida at LSU, Oct. 6 – Probably a preview of the SEC championship,
and possibly the national championship.
2. Virginia Tech at LSU, Sept. 8 – The two defenses will likely finish
1-2, in come order.
3. USC at Nebraska, Sept. 15 – If Nebraska wants back into the big-time,
this is the game to do it.
4. Rutgers at Louisville, Nov. 29 – If Rutgers can beat West Virginia
and South Florida at home, it might be 11-0 going into this showdown.
5. Ohio State at Michigan, Nov. 17 – The luster is off after the way
these two played in their respective bowls, but it’s still Ohio State
6. USC at California, Nov. 10 – Cal is good enough to win the Pac 10
title. With a win over the Trojans, it would show it’s good enough to
possibly win the national title.
7. Texas vs. Oklahoma, Oct. 6 – As always, the Red River Rivalry is
going to be among the year’s biggest games.
8. Louisville at West Virginia, Nov. 8 – Certain to be another classic,
the winner might make a big statement in the national title race.
9. Wisconsin at Ohio State, Nov. 3 – If the Badgers can win in Penn
State, it’ll likely go into Columbus unbeaten for the matchup Big Ten
fans wish they could’ve seen last year.
10. TCU at Texas, Sept. 8 – Here’s the big shot for the little guy. If
TCU pulls this off, it’ll likely go unbeaten and have a claim it should
be in the national title mix.