Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Day Late and A Dollar Short

Been crazy tired by the time I've gotten home the last few nights, so I haven't posted a lot of stuff I've wanted to. I've had some comments elsewhere, and a few things to get off my chest though, so here they are:

1. I thought I'd jinx myself if I mentioned it anytime before all their games were played, but I feel kind of prescient about this post. Check that date. Your ACC Champions.

2. As a more recent "I CALLED IT!", take a look at this post from before the Ohio State-Michigan game. If you read any of the Michigan blogs this week, I think you can see why I like the term shit cyclone.

3. And to reference some comments I've left elsewhere, I think the animus projected from Michigan blogs towards CBS and Gary Danielson is appropriate, but it doesn't go far enough. The problem is not merely that CBS offered Danielson a platform to spout ill-informed opinions with the purpose of convincing voters in polls to vote a certain way; the problem is that decisions that matter actually are influenced by such spouting and platforms. I've tried to tell Michigan dudes this week: the issue is not that Florida had more supporters in the media propping them up on Saturday, the issue is that supporters in the media matter at all. They shouldn't. And that's why the system stinks.

4. Notwithstanding items 1 and 2 above, I do, in fact, have no idea what I'm talking about 95% of the time. That's why a lot of the comments I leave turn out to be laughable. One that I'm particularly proud of is a comment I left at Heismanpundit last Friday night. The author wrote that it was embarassing about how the Governor of Louisiana was politicking for a Rose Bowl berth, and that people should just let the games play out. I added a flip comment, but then said that LSU was pretty much a lock for the Rose Bowl because, regardless of the outcome in the USC game, LSU would go to Pasadena. My thinking was that if USC made the Rose, the committee would choose LSU to play Michigan; if USC lost, there was no way that Michigan wouldn't make the BCSNCG. This is after I sort of predicted on this website the very occurrence of Michigan dropping without playing. By last Friday night I had convinced myself that even the foolish finger-in-the-wind imbeciles who we entrust with crowning our champions wouldn't go so far as to actually drop Michigan behind a team two places behind them while not playing. It just didn't seem like something that would happen without some egregious horse-trading. My mistake. Was it PT Barnum who said "nobody ever went hungry underestimating the American public"? I should've been wise to heed that. Not that I have any particular opinion either way (I've been steady all along that the scandal isn't the outcome, it's the system, regardless of the outcome). Besides all that, I find it a bit odd that I was the commenter encouraging jumping to conclusions, while HP was the one urging caution. See the next item for the counter.

5. When I was thinking about my Wake Forest post, I remembered a post Heismanpundit wrote a while back, like, the third week of the season. In fact, it was this post that kind of inspired my initial Wake Forest post. Basically, HP was doing a recap of the third weekend (in which he said some very very correct things, such as that OSU-Michigan would be epic and that folks shouldn't count out Oklahoma), and he listed a host of teams that he was already prepared to write off for the season:

After three weeks, it's pretty clear which teams are the dogs of the major conferences.

SEC: Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Kentucky and South Carolina. These teams are just garbage.

Big 12: Colorado, Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State and Texas A&M all look like they are in for long seasons.

ACC: Duke, NC State, North Carolina, Virginia and Wake Forest are all pretty much jokes.

Big East: Cincinnati, Syracuse, UConn and South Florida are the bad ones here.

Big Ten: Illinois, Indiana, Northwestern and Purdue should be easy wins for the rest of the conference.

Pac-10: Stanford, Washington, Arizona and Oregon State are junk.

I don't think it's too crazy to suggest that it might've been a little early to write off some of those teams. Arkansas was garbage in a way that made them a top 15 team. Wake is in a BCS bowl. Oregon State's the third best team in the Pac-10 and knocked off USC. South Florida is bowl bound and knocked off WVU. A&M ended up with a solid season. Cincinnati, Arizona, Purdue, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Kansas State all had decent, if not solid seasons and each either beat or put scares into pretty good teams. I said this in real time, pointing out Purdue, South Florida and Wake Forest in particular. Basically, I generally assume all teams are going to win the rest of their games (the Lebowski rankings basically use that formula), and that you can't completely write off a team in September. Teams should be given the benefit of the doubt. Stupidly, I went against that later.

6. And to wrap up my comments at HP... I need to give him a little more credit about one thing. For some reason, HP had an axe to grind about LSU over the last few weeks. Michael at Braves & Birds pointed it out, and I responded to a few of HP's posts on LSU too. One of the things that I didn't like was HP's assertion that LSU was a team that "can lose to almost any team". I didn't think that had any merit, since LSU was 14-0 against unranked teams under Les Miles (and 7-4 against ranked opponents). Both of LSU's losses this year came on the road against teams favored over the Tigers. Basically, I saw no empirical evidence that LSU was a team that would lose to anyone. HP cited the Ole Miss game which went to OT. I can see that a bit, but I viewed that game as a look-ahead game (definitely a slight as to coaching), and LSU did win the game, even though they were pushed to the limit. Anyway, I compared LSU's resume to another team that had already lost to a (then) unranked team and had only won three other games against unranked opponents by a TD or less. Smarmily, I suggested that HP wouldn't write that kind of thing about USC. Turns out, I'm wrong. HP had been picking against USC in his weekly picks pretty frequently, actually. He picked UCLA to beat them too. Had I been paying more attention, I would've seen that HP actually was writing those things (correctly) about USC. So, I apologize.

And just to wrap up everything I have to say about the dude, I think his All American team was pretty good. And I'm not one who really cares about the Heisman Trophy, but if you do, I don't know why you wouldn't read him.

7. It's a pretty futile exercise reviewing football predictions. Everyone's going to be right about some things, and wrong about others. Of course, in a way, I see that as evidence supporting my Grand Unification Theory: nobody knows nuthin', so we shouldn't listen to anyone. And that's why I don't like the way college football crowns its champion - the system relies on fools.

8. I thought about going through Stewart Mandel's post bowl announcement column line by line, well, because I haven't called him bad names for a long time and I kind of missed it. Lucklily, CFR pointed out the one line that made me shake my head hardest.

Mandel: Of course, the SEC's reputation as the best conference this season is yet another one of those pesky assumptions. Fortunately, we now have the perfect litmus test -- the national championship game.

CFR: [T]he BCS Championship Game is not a litmus test for the SEC superiority argument. One game is never any kind of measurement for the merits of an entire conference. That's been our problem for years in college football in that we only have a handful of games to evaluate the merits between each conference.

This is such an obvious thing, that I find it odd that people who get paid to write and offer opinions don't seem to understand it. One game between two teams says nothing about the respective strengths and weaknesses of the other 21 teams in the Big 10 and SEC. Florida and Ohio State could play 100 times, with one team winning all 100, and it still wouldn't say anything about how good the rest of their respective conferences are. All that game tells us is what it tells us about how well those teams played during that game. I personally think the results of a game do matter enough to tell the respective strengths of the teams, or at least that the results sort of bind us into a certain rule regarding relative strengths (such as, I for one don't think Cal can be considered a better team than Tennessee since they have the same record and Tennessee whooped them). So if Florida beats OSU, I do think that'll mean that Florida is better than Ohio State, and vice versa. But it doesn't say anything as to the relative merits of LSU against Michigan, Georgia against Penn State, Northwestern against Vanderbilt, etc.

9. 32 Bowls. 64 teams in bowls. More than half the 1-A teams are playing in bowls. My position is that bowls are too cheap to put on. I don't mind the number of bowls (what do I care? if I don't want to watch, I don't have to). I do think that it's kind of an unfair system. And I'll have a post up in a couple of days on what I'd do with the bowls. One word: meritocracy.

10. Here's a question for the hardcore football fans: Is hiring the right head coach even if that means waiting for the end of the NFL season and signing a lackluster recruiting class this year worth it? Should Alabama risk a terrible class (following up scholarship restrictions in recent years) for the sake of getting the right guy in, especially when that new coach might need to rely on the talent drawn in this "lost" class? Consider - the coach hired this year will be given a few years to "get his players" and get the system in place. But programs expect success by year 4. Shula was given just 4 years. Disregarding scholarship limitations from probation, Shula still only had 3 recruiting classes to get his players into the program. The "senior leadership" that should've been the backbone of his team this year wasn't even his group of recruits. Look at it another way: say you were an NFL assistant coach and approached for a pretty good job, but you can't take the job until your team is out of the NFL playoffs in mid-January. By then, you won't be able to make much of an impact on a recruiting class. You're already behind the 8 ball. Then, a couple of years later, when the boosters and athletic administrators have lost their patience, the most experienced, developed players will be the ones out of that lost class. Is that a risk the program or the coach would even want to take? Can we quantify the benefits of hiring a coach earlier in the offseason? How much of a value would you place on it.

And that's enough thinking. Gameday Recap when I get to it. Lebowski's probably tomorrow.