But At Least They
Noticed the South Florida Win
new year, so welcome to my Third Annual Rant Against The AP Poll. The
college football world needs to get this into its head; the AP rankings
don't matter anymore, and the media has to quit quoting the poll like it
has any relevancy whatsoever.
Oh sure, it’s the one poll that spans the longest time and is the best
to look at for historical reference, but ever since the AP
powers-that-be decided to take their ball from the BCS equation and go
home, it has as much to do with the practical world of college football
as someone’s poll blog, CFN’s Top 119, or any other ranking exercise. If
you’re not in the BCS formula, you’re on the outside looking in, and
you're simply ranking teams for giggles.
Referring to the AP Poll is mainly a problem since it takes away from
the rankings that actually do matter. Did the coaches in the USA Today
Poll stay up past their bedtime to watch South Florida beat Auburn?
Apparently not. Did any coach actually watch the Hawaii defense against
Louisiana Tech. Of course not. Can they really compare the Texas A&M
defense to what South Carolina did? People, this is how your national
champion is being determined, and it’s being handled by voters who know
ten times less about what happened on Saturday than you do. I’m not
joking. If you’re a big enough fan to be reading this right now, you’re
far, far more qualified to vote in a national poll than all the
coaches who dealt with their game, handled the media after, went to work
on the post-game issues, went home, kissed the wife, and then went back
to work to do film work on next week's opponent. Lloyd Carr didn't go
back to his office to study the nuances of Arizona State's win over
But I digress.
Now, the people who run the AP Poll have gotten even sillier by allowing
FCS teams to be ranked, which is the equivalent of The Apprentice
trying to boost sagging ratings by adding celebrities. Yes, I dorked it
last week by saying something about Michigan being great and about to go
on a big run, starting with a win over Oregon, and while I may have been
wildly, freakishly wrong about that, I do guarantee that unless you’re
from Boone, North Carolina, you, if you had to bet the house, kids, and
your virtue, wouldn’t pick Appalachian State to beat Cincinnati (if you
had seen the Bearcats stomp Oregon State). You wouldn’t pick Appalachian
State to beat Florida State, Kansas, Boise State, or a slew of other
teams the Mountaineers were ranked ahead of. That ASU got 19 points in
the AP Poll makes the rankings pretentious and even less relevant. And
more than that, it makes the poll more wrong than ever before.
How many voters saw the Appalachian State win over Lenoir-Rhyne? Uh huh
... so those 19 votes came from voters who could actually compare and
contrast how good ASU is this week to, say, Georgia. Right.
Everyone, please. Focus more on the Coaches Poll. Focus more on all the
computer polls and how they tick. Focus on the upcoming Harris Poll.
Enjoy the AP Poll for pure folly, and then deal with the reality.
You Cinderella fans looking for this year’s
Boise State might have to resume your search again in 2008. This past
weekend was an absolutely dreadful one for those prominent mid-major
programs with realistic dreams of a BCS bowl game and a chance to carry
the torch the Broncos held in Arizona eight months ago. TCU ran out of
gas in Austin. Southern Miss was exposed in Knoxville. Boise State saw
its 15-game winning streak slip away in Seattle. And then there’s
Hawaii, winners of a game in Ruston, but likely losers in the
all-important court of public opinion. The Warriors labored to defeat
Louisiana Tech, one of the worst of the nation’s 120 teams, needing a
deflected two-point conversion in overtime to preserve a 45-44 win. The
fallout will be significant and unkind for a school that’s already
fighting an uphill battle in the area of strength of schedule. You mean,
the school that nearly dropped one to Louisiana Tech wants to play in an
eight-digit bowl game? Hawaii better hope Washington keeps pulling off
upsets leading up to their Dec. 1 showdown on Oahu. It’s going to be the
Warriors’ best opportunity to impress a dubious public that got
increasingly skeptical Saturday night.
Subtraction by Addition
3. No way was this supposed to happen. Not like this, anyway.
Four years ago when the ACC decided to expand, the prevailing thought on
Tobacco Road was that the SEC had some competition. Finally. A 12 team
super conference that included two Florida schools and, arguably, New
England’s top athletic program. The talent-rich, fertile Newport
Beach/Hampton recruiting areas were going to help the ACC yield top five
football programs like Pez dispensers spit out candy. Well, if
yesterday was any indication of how far the ACC has come, we won’t be
eating Elvis Pez any time soon. Losing to an underrated East Carolina
team is one thing (not to mention struggling with UAB, a program beaten
by Michigan State 55-12 the week prior), but getting run over,
completely throttled, by LSU and Oklahoma is quite another. The
aforementioned powers made quick and decisive work of Virginia Tech and
Miami (and that’s saying it nicely), respectively, the two programs that
had John Swofford and the ACC brass swooning four years ago. Television
may not do the discrepancy justice; just ask anyone in Tiger Stadium
last night – the ACC doesn’t belong on the same field with the top teams
in the nation. Sure, LSU is on a completely different level, but four
years ago, the ACC was supposed to be in that class. Unfortunately,
being on the elite class wait list doesn’t have the desired effect.
Believe the LSU Hype
Believe the Hype: Anybody who watched LSU dismantle Virginia
Tech Saturday night had to think that the publicity surrounding
the Tigers is justified. It was chic to dismiss LSU as something
of an overrated phenomenon, and many believed things would be a
little different for Les Miles now that he wasn’t playing with
house money – i.e. Nick Saban’s players. But the Tiger defense
is overwhelming, and it’s hard to believe anybody on the
schedule (including Florida) having enough to keep it
off-balance for 60 minutes. As for the questions about Matt
Flynn, those seem to be quieted as well. He’s not going to win
the Heisman, but he does enough to keep the LSU attack moving
forward. Virginia Tech has some serious problems, but not all of
them were self-inflicted Saturday night. LSU had a lot to do
with that and should make many other teams look bad throughout
the ’07 season.
A Bigger Flop Than Evan Almighty
When certain evils persist in the world, one has
to continue to bang the drum until important people take notice.
With that said, then, let's say a little more
about Hollywood punters seducing referees and conning the zebras...
not just into throwing flags, but into making roughing the kicker
interpretations instead of the more benign running-into-the-kicker
In the South Carolina-Georgia and Notre
Dame-Penn State games, Georgia's and Notre Dame's punters engaged in
shameful embellishment of non-hits that were supposedly delivered by
punt rushers. Both punters kept their kicking legs extended well
after booting the ball, and when the opposing players barely touched
them, they abruptly "fell" to the ground.
A roughing penalty should be obvious enough
that you don't have to wonder about the punter's acting skills.
Punters are vulnerable athletes, but it only makes it that much more
outrageous when a punter takes advantage of his physical frailty to
trick a referee into throwing a 15-yard flag. If referees wanted to
get serious on this issue, they would not only refrain from throwing
these flags against punt rushers, but they would throw 15-yard
unsportsmanlike conduct flags against punters who take dives and
embellish minimal to nonexistent contact. It's long past time to
crack down on this issue. Thankfully, Georgia and Notre Dame lost in
spite of the trickery that was (shamefully and successfully)
displayed by their respective punters.
Cosmic justice, once in a while, actually does