Thursday, January 05, 2006

General Football Thoughts: Afterglow Edition

Man what a game! And not just because it vaulted me to victory in my friendly bowl pool. Amazing plays by so many different players, barbarian hits, highs, lows, and a spectacular comeback for one side and long-awaited comeuppance for the other. Most of this post will be in response to LD's fine recap below, but because I had so much to say, it wouldn't fit in the comments. First some General comments on the bowl season.

The system's still broke. Sure, it was great for the BCS to have the ultimate matchup of probably the nation's best two teams in Texas v. USC. The only reason I say probably is that just as this game could have gone either way, so could have the other games that both UT and USC played against top-tier teams this year (i.e., tOSU and ND). Any of the other BCS games could have had opposite outcomes, as well. Thus, at the highest level of college football, there is little separation among the elite teams, and the "Any Given Saturday" cliche is actually a truism.

While last night pushed any playoff hopes even further over the horizon, the entire bowl season only further steeled my desire for an elimination tournament. Other than the NCG, just about every bowl was influenced by lack of motivation, usually on the part of the favorite, giving way to numerous upsets and blowouts of supposedly tough opponents. Do you think teams like Miami, Auburn, and (yes, sadly) Georgia might have been more prepared/focused/determined if they could win their way to the next round of a playoff? Maybe the best argument for a playoff is it would reduce the postseason opportunities for gatorade showers to a minimum. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Mack Brown got out of there without one. Maybe when it really counts, you don't need the infantile ice bath.

Now back to the Rose Bowl. Totally agree with LD that it was talent on talent. Extremely close and hardfought. Pick any of about a dozen close plays going the other way, and USC probably wins. But by the same token, if a few close plays go the other way in favor of Texas (i.e., fumbles), it might not have been so tight at the end.

No bitching allowed about the Young lateral for TD, although it was kind of weird for both of the Heisman #1 and #2 to make such a risky decision at the end of a run. I actually think the play should have stood even if it was reviewed. On the replay, when Vince's knee goes down, his hands are a blur, and since his skin is the same color as the ball, you can't tell if it had left his hands yet. At the very least it's disputable. I'm not saying it's fifty-fifty, but the standard is if there could be any dispute, the call on the field stands. Ergo, touchdown. Plus, as LD pointed out, it doesn't matter, because it still would have been first and goal from the 5. The Trojans never kept the Horns out of the endzone from a first and goal. Also, the rush to get the snap off may have caused the missed PAT, so USC probably came out on the better end of that deal. They led by one at several points of the game, and the missed UT FG later was probably a consequence of hurt confidence from the missed extra point.

The coaches didn't decide this one, though both had bonehead moments. It was idiotic of Brown to let the clock ice his own kicker. As soon as they got stopped on third down with 33 seconds and the clock running, it was clear that it would run out. And all the pundits say you can't argue with Carroll going for it on 4th and 2, but I will. I said it was foolish of him to go for it against ND, and I'll say it was foolish in the big one. Coach One-Pete gambled and won so many times during their streak, the percentages had to catch up to him. And as for the terrible timeout usage, 2 you can pin on Carroll, but one is on Leinart, when they burned one to save him from his second numbnuts delay penalty. Nevertheless, they probably would have only used one of the wasted timesout, and maybe not even that many. When Texas was on their final drive, USC had one TO at that point and they didn't call it, apparently hoping Texas would run out of time, instead of calling timeouts assuming Texas would score. I guess they could have used them in the 16 seconds they had after the final kickoff, but realistically they weren't going to run down the middle of the field at that point, maybe with Bush, but even if they did, it would maybe save them one play.

Totally agree that Leinart will suck in the pros. I said it before, he's the next Ryan Leaf. And in the postgame interview he actually said, "This was a great win for us" before catching himself to say, ", loss, I guess." Your canned cliches for postgame don't work when you lose, douchebag. He has Leaf's tragic flaw of good looks and adequate talent in a system that makes you look better than you are, engendering an unfounded conceit. He's been stroked so much in every aspect of his life that he doesn't know how to deal with things not going his way. He came off very whiny, saying "I thought we had the better team, and...we had the game won." Wrong on both counts. Those kind of thoughts are cancer in the NFL where last minute comebacks are commonplace. Plus, for the only time in his life, Leinart took an NFL-caliber hit last night, and he came up looking like Peter McNeely. As for his "better team" comment, USC may have more players with name recognition, but Texas certainly has the better ensemble cast, led by a star who turned in the most clutch performance in recent memory.

As for the winning quarterback's chances at the next level, VY is like a bigger, stronger Vick or a faster, shiftier Culpepper. His NFL impact will be nuclear compared to Leinart's.

As for ABC's coverage and Taylor's "Grape Ape Transfiguration" Costume, NSFMF. We won't have to suffer through it again for quite some time. Not sure about Fox's CFB coverage, as I had the Cotton Bowl on split-screen without audio. As long as they keep Terry Bradshaw away, it'll be an improvement over ABC. Couldn't take their analysis anymore. Best thing I did was flip over at halftime to UFC 52 to see Matt Hughes retain the Welterweight Belt by overcoming a vicious groin kick and escaping this outrageous hold to make a bloodspring out of Frank Trigg's eyesocket, then dropping into the naked rear to force the tapout, all in glorious hi-definition. Best Halftime Show Ever.

Finally, Vince was spectacular, but runner-up for Badass of the Night goes to Texas TE David Thomas. Dude's got magnet hands, and would step on his mother's face if it got his team an extra yard. Kudos to Mayhem in the AM for getting him on the air this morning so I could listen to his take on my ride in at 9:30 (yeah, I was a little late). That was 6:30am local time for Thomas. I'm sure he hadn't slept and you could just barely hear LC riding him reverse cowgirl in the background. Wish I could have been there to see those Horns light up the LaLa Land bars after the game, proving to the throngs in thongs that, indeed, everything is big in Texas.