Monday, November 26, 2007

This Week in Piscine Marksmanship

Oh Peter, I have been ignoring you for too long.

Peter King's ability to remain internally logical = null set.

1. On Darren McFadden:

I think I don't care how good Darren McFadden looked last Friday, and if you saw how he steamrolled LSU in Baton Rouge, you know he looked like a future star in the NFL. Probably. I wouldn't use a high first-round pick on him. Of the top 50 running backs in the NFL entering this weekend (ranked by rushing yards), 30 were not first-round picks... More than any position in football, running back is the one you can find players from the most disparate sources.

2. On LaDanian Tomlinson (who was drafted 5th overall):

[I liked] LaDainian Tomlinson, who reached 10,000 rushing yards in six-plus years. He could have been yours, Atlanta.

The lesson: don't actually take running backs highly, just eventually regret not taking running backs highly.

Peter King's knowledge about college football = null set

1. On College Coach Contracts:

College contracts are such one-way streets, with the coach holding all the power. Why guarantee the coach that much money, when he can basically leave any time he wants to anyway?

Such is called "negotiation". Where college football programs are significant money-makers for institutions, and successful college football coaches are in limited supply, there is a "marketplace" for such coaches' skills. The guaranteeing of a contract is necessary because other institutions will do the same. Further, most colleges include something called a "buyout" clause in the contract, which says the coach can leave "anytime he wants to" but he (or the institution he leaves for) has to pay often a significant amount of money to do so. This is also "negotiation" and "market-based economics". And I'm not sure I need to explain this to you, but with everything else you've written, who knows? - a college coach's contract isn't "guaranteed" to the extent that if he leaves for a new job, his former institution continues to pay him. Were Bill Callahan to have been wildly successful at Nebraska and the Kansas City Chiefs offered him their job, Nebraska wouldn't continue to pay him under that contract.

2. On Bill Callahan:

On Oct. 23, Callahan said, "I have done an excellent job in every area." In the four Nebraska games since, this excellent coach oversaw a team that allowed an average of 50 points per game.

OH SNAP! You got him good! Wait, did you say October 23? You mean after the Texas A&M game that dropped them to 4-4 overall, and was their third straight loss? Mr. King, anyone with a passing knowledge of the sport didn't need the last 4 Nebraska games to realize that Callahan's statement is ridiculous. Most of us saw that a year or two ago. Also, what did you expect a guy to say in his own defense? "I have been a mediocre coach who has destroyed the tradition of winning at Nebraska." It's kind of dumb to use his own words against him. Now, had you used a defense by Tom Osborne, maybe this would make sense. Instead, it's just a gotcha statement with no meaning (except maybe to show that you haven't been paying attention).

3. On who should compete in the BCS National Championship Game:

The national championship game has to be the Missouri-Oklahoma winner against West Virginia.

Yes, it just has to be. Because a 2-loss Oklahoma team deserves to play for a title far more than a 1-loss Ohio State team or SIX other 2-loss teams that have played against tougher schedules than Oklahoma (USC, Arizona State, Georgia, LSU, BC, Virginia Tech). Actually, I'm a little surprised he didn't pimp Hawaii here. (If Missouri beats OU, fine. But Oklahoma's resume is not better than any of those other schools I listed above).

4. On playoffs, amateurism and time:

And no, there shouldn't be a playoff. Enough of this "amateur'' sport. I've railed against this before, but it's patently absurd that college students be asked to practice football for who-knows-how-long in the spring, return at the beginning of August and practice through the last game in January -- the same as an NFL team does -- without asking them to continue games into their second semesters.

I wonder if Peter King knows that there already is a playoff in place for every other division of college football, and they complete those games before the second semester begins in all of those divisions. He should know that, right? Didn't Colgate, his own daughter's college and the school he writes about all the time, participate in the 1-AA/FCS playoffs as recently as 2005 (and they were in the title game in 2003). If time considerations are of such concern, why are playoffs allowed at any level of play?

Not to get too nerdy here, but what does that second sentence mean? Is he saying that college football isn't amateur, so it shouldn't be treated as such? Is he saying that college football should be more amateur, so what's already the case in college football is too much? Is he saying simply that he's had enough of college football because of some other reason? Why is one of the nation's most widely read sports columnists so difficult to comprehend?

And further, ahem... not to get too nerdy here, but does that third sentence actually read how he intends? It's absurd to ask athletes to practice for as long as we already ask them to unless we can ask them to practice more? Is he arguing for more games? I figure he means "it's absurd that we ask this of them, let alone the even crazier idea of asking for more", but that's not what he wrote. And I think what he actually wrote is a decent argument FOR a playoff or some other system than the current one - these kids sacrifice so much already, it's only fair that they have a chance to settle titles on the field.

As for the amount of time college students are asked to practice, well... it'll take you just a second or two on the Googletubes to find out very clearly that the NCAA regulates and limits practice time. "Who knows how long in the spring"? I do, along with anyone who can use a search engine: 15 designated practice days, a maximum of 4 hours per day. Yes, college football teams return in August for camp and practice through the season. But the NCAA further limits that. There are different rules for particular times (preseason/during the season), so perhaps you should just go to this link and take a look for yourself. As for your description of college practices as "the same as an NFL team does," well, that's patently ludicrous. Every single NFL team had a training camp longer than the 29 practices allowed by the NCAA. Further, practices for NFL teams are (for each session) significantly longer and allow more contact than NCAA rules permit. College athletes aren't asked to do the same thing as professionals. Not even close.

And on the non-college football front, his paragraph on Alex Rodriguez truly shows how little he understands of negotiation. I would love to sell this guy a used car.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Outlook not so Rosy

A lot of Dawg fans are excited about the possibility of an Oklahoma win putting UGA into a Pasadena showdown with USC. LD and I don't think it's that simple or likely. I think that it's about a 95% chance Georgia goes to the Orange to face the winner of the VT/BC rematch.

If OU wins and Ohio State goes on to the NCG, look for Illinois to face the Pac 10 champ in the Rose. It's all but inevitable that current #15 Illinois will be at-large eligible. They only have to slide up one spot. 10 teams ahead of them still have a game to play, and at the very least, three of them will lose because they play another team ranked ahead of Illinois. As long at the Illini are in the top 14, the Rose will almost certainly take Zook's team to replace the New Orleans-bound Buckeyes.

I did a little digging into the history of the Rose Bowl, to see if they have ever gone outside of the traditional P10-B10 matchup. I only found two times since 1946, not counting years when the Rose hosted #1 and #2 in the NCG. Neither were by choice.

In 2002, the Rose lost Big 10 champion Ohio State to the NCG (Fiesta Bowl) against Miami. The rules then did not allow for the bowl that lost their tie-in champion to pick its replacement first. Instead, the rotating pick system that year allowed the Orange to pick in front of the Rose, taking #5 Iowa to face #4 USC in Miami in what was called "Rose Bowl East." No conference can have 3 teams in the BCS, so the Rose Bowl was forced to take Oklahoma to face Pac 10 champ Washington State. The Rose Bowl officials were none too happy about it, and they later lobbied successfully for the implementation of the pick-first-if-you-lose-your-champ rule.

In 2004, the Rose lost undefeated Pac 10 champion USC to the NCG (Orange Bowl) against undefeated Oklahoma. To replace them, the Rose took #4 Texas to face Big 10 champ Michigan, even though Cal was ranked #5 in the final BCS. They couldn't take Cal because back then there were only 2 at-large bids, and both were taken by automatic qualifiers. Urban Meyer's undefeated Utah squad got one of them by finishing #6, and Texas got the other by finishing #4 but not winning the Big XII.

Interestingly, Georgia was also locked out of the BCS in 2004 even though the Dawgs finished #7 in the final standings. Three lower ranked teams got in by winning their conference: (#8 VT, #13 Michigan, and #21 Pittsburgh). You may remember other major controversies that year because of 5 regular-season undefeated teams (hard to believe after this year). Auburn was kept out of the national title game (but won the Sugar over VT), and Boise State was kept out of the BCS altogether (but lost the Liberty to Louisville).

If I recall, it was the Rose Bowl's displeasure with not being able to take Cal that year that led to the 5th game (the separate NCG) being added. The spin was that it gave teams from non-BCS conferences a better chance to get in, but I think I remember reading somewhere that the Rose was pulling out if there wasn't a remedy that would minimize the chances that they would ever have to break tradition again. Looks like it will pay off for them this year, keeping the Dawgs out of the granddaddy of them all.


Gameday Recap

Week Thirteen
November 24, 2007
Kansas City, Missouri - Missouri vs. Kansas

Looking back over the season, I'm thinking this is probably the biggest game they attended all year. The 2 visits to Oregon might be close. Oh, and definitely that Williams-Amherst game is right up there. First really rough weather they've had all year too.

  • Looks like a pretty decent sized crowd for such bad weather (though there are some empty parking lots behind the set).
  • I kind of like seeing the divided fanbase - really there are only 4 or so games each year that could look like this (Title games, Georgia/Florida, OU/Texas, Army/Navy).
Big N Rich
  • Corso says in bad weather, defense will be important and Kansas has the advantage there.
  • Herbstreit says the game should be a shootout despite the weather.
  • Fowler says the numbers are in line so the winner of the Missouri-Kansas game would be #1 in the BCS.
  • Slate: UConn-WVU, UT-UK, VT-UVA, Oregon-UCLA. Title-implicating games listed, and not just ESPN/ABC properties.
  • Fowler mentions the historical significance of Missouri-Kansas. Missouri fans cheer loudly when he mentions the burning of Lawrence.
  • Brief interviews with Kansas and Missouri players regarding the hatred of the rivalry.
  • Herbstreit says that for either team, the season is a failure if they lose this game no matter how good the season is - or at least that what he says the players and coaches think.
  • Corso: both teams need to protect their QBs to stay on track for the title because Oregon and others didn't do that.
First Commercial Break
  • BCS talk - Brad Edwards is on from the Bristol studios.
  • Edwards says WVU will stay ahead of OSU if they win out.
  • 2 Loss team in BCS NCG? Edwards says Georgia is probably best positioned, VT might have a chance, and LSU has a chance even still.
  • Desmond Howard joins the set.
  • Herbstreit says the 2 teams he wouldn't want to play are Georgia and USC.
  • Now Corso says Ohio State is the best all around team he's seen. That is at least the third different team he's said that about (and he'd seen OSU earlier in the year, before he said the same thing about Oregon and Oklahoma). Corso's opinions shift dramatically, and not because of changing conditions.
  • Desmond Howard likes Virginia Tech among 2 loss teams.
  • Fowler brings up "playing under pressure" and says that's what cost LSU.
  • Corso says LSU lost because of "lousy defense" and "hey, they scored 50 points on them!". Yes, Lee, Arkansas scored 50 points. 22 of which came during the overtime periods when they got the ball on the 25 yard line. Now, maybe 28 points isn't great to give up, and a D surely has a chance to stop the other team in OT. But it's crazy to suggest that giving up a lot of points in overtime with a really short field behind you is a massive indictment of the defense.
  • The rest of the set ribs Corso because his pick of a national title winner is wrong. I think just about everyone's wrong.
Second Commercial Break
  • Breaking News - Callahan fired at Nebraska.
  • Auburn-Alabama talk.
  • Clip of Nick Saban's presser with the 9/11 and Pearl Harbor comments. Not much follow up from the talking heads though.
  • Herbstreit carries some water for Saban, saying how difficult it is to step in to a program and turn it around.
  • Herbstreit likes Alabama because nobody is giving them a chance.
  • Corso also defends Saban, saying Saban was brought in to beat Tennessee and he did that.
  • Clemson-USC talk.
  • Herbstreit thinks USC has "urgency and redemption" on their side, but Clemson has more talent (WOW, actually focusing on tangibles!), but then he says Clemson wins because of emotional inspiration (didn't last long...).
  • Corso likes South Carolina because Spurrier called the team "stinky". When you read Corso's reasons for his picks, you really have to wonder why anyone watches this show at all. There is no tangible analysis, no picks based on things like talent or strategy.
Third Commercial Break
  • Highlights of Jeremy Maclin at Missouri. I think this guy deserved a little more hype than he's gotten so far.
  • Fowler introduces the piece on WVU by saying their offense burst on the scene in the Sugar Bowl where they "shredded" Georgia. (By 3 whole points, requiring a fake punt at the end to seal it, taking advantage of 3 inopportune UGA turnovers, outgaining a decent but not dominant Georgia offense by a massive margin of one yard). I know I'm howling at the moon on this, but that WVU-UGA Sugar Bowl simply wasn't the massive upset or dominating WVU performance that a lot of people seem to think it was.
  • Extended Piece on West Virginia's offense. Todd McShay reporting. Very useful and informative piece. Give Todd McShay a piece like this every single week. Seriously.
  • Fowler mentions how UConn has been outgained by every Big East opponent but Syracuse. Creeping stat-ism? Let's hope.
  • Corso then talks about the UConn offense optimistically, showing highlights of the Syracuse game. If there's a piece of objective evidence that says one thing, count on Corso to go the other way from it. (then he picks WVU because they have more to lose).
  • Herbstreit then spends some time breaking down the tangible parts of the improved WVU defense, but then picks WVU because Rodriguez's neck will be bulging and stuff. Does pick the margin correctly though
Fourth Commercial Break
  • Gillette Game Face: Shaved chest hair in the "MU" shape. Kind of, no, VERY gross.
  • Nebraska-Colorado highlights and numbers on how crappy Nebraska's season was.
  • Texas-Texas A&M highlights and some numbers on Dennis Franchione.
  • Pat Forde joins to discuss coaching changes.
  • Forde suggests Tuberville heading to A&M, maybe Chris Peterson or Mike Sherman.
  • Forde suggests Nebraska looking at Bo Pellini, Turner Gill, Jim Grobe, Paul Johnson.
  • Forde says Arkansas isn't going to move fast on Houston Nutt, but that he'll not resign - suggests that he wants them to fire him and pay the buyout.
  • Notre Dame-Stanford talk. Corso likes Notre Dame to pull the upset, and head into 2008 with momentum and big wins over top private academic institutions. Herbstreit also takes ND.
Fifth Commercial Break
  • Montage of Kansas highlights and former greats.
  • Famous Alums of Kansas - Don Johnson, Bob Dole, the Survivor winner. Missouri - Sam Walton, Sheryl Crow, Brad Pitt.
  • Virginia-Virginia Tech talk. Herbstreit picks UVA for reasonable reasons - tangible matchup and talent analysis. Corso responds with a NSFMF, but then also uses matchup rationales to pick VT.
  • Miami-BC - Corso thinks BC wins big. Herbstreit thinks Miami's recruiting will be great.
Sixth Commercial Break
  • Extended Piece on Oklahoma State's Martel Van Zant, who is deaf. Tom Rinaldi reporting. A little more than just a human interest story - interesting parts about the use of sign language.
  • OU-Okla. State talk. Both guys like OU big. Herbstreit gives a good tangible reason - Oklahoma State's lack of depth on D.
Seventh Commercial Break
  • Oregon-UCLA. Fowler gives the injury updates. Herbstreit picks against Oregon because he has no faith in Brady Leaf. Corso likes Oregon because the line would give Leaf just enough time.
  • Herbstreit hints that the only reason why USC will beat UCLA next week is "all you've gotta say is 'remember last year'."
  • Highlights of Hawaii-Boise State.
  • They take a closer look at Hawaii and whether they can get a BCS bid.
  • Corso says Hawaii deserves a BCS bid because Boise State was undefeated in the WAC last year and got one. Left unmentioned: Boise State played a significantly more difficult OOC schedule last year, and the natural logical fallacy that one year is different from another. Also, Corso says Hawaii's D looked great in holding a Boise State team that rakes up points against their horrendous conference opponents to 27. Also, Corso blames Hawaii's disrespect on the fact that "we never get to see them because they play way out off the mainland". I've seen Hawaii play 3 times on national TV on the family of networks that pays Lee Corso's salary. Shouldn't one of the top "analysts" who gets paid to be an expert on college football take the time to watch one of the teams that he talks about?
  • Herbstreit says that a full 50,000 seat stadium in Hawaii was a great sight. He also thinks Hawaii deserves a BCS bid because they handle their business against atrocious competition. Also says Hawaii's offense has been BCS quality all year (I'll insert the "against atrocious competition" for your benefit), but that the D finally stepped up (against the only team they've played all year in the top 90).
  • Fowler focuses on the facts alone - saying that Hawaii probably will get a bid because of teams losing ahead of them.
  • Fowler asks: if LSU wins the SEC, do you think they'd want to see Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl? (suggesting that they wouldn't). Herbstreit suggests that LSU wouldn't want to see Hawaii's receivers. Everyone laughs. Herbstreit says they'd be the best receivers they'd see all year. LET ME USE ALL CAPS: LSU WOULD LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE TO PLAY HAWAII AND THEIR SUPPOSEDLY GREAT RECEIVERS. LSU WOULD HAVE PLAYED SEVEN GAMES THIS YEAR AGAINST TEAMS RANKED AT THE TIME, SEVERAL OF WHOM WOULD HAVE VERY GOOD PASSING GAMES (Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee) AND STRONG RUSHING ATTACKS TO GO WITH THEM (WHICH HAWAII DOES NOT HAVE). THERE IS PROBABLY NOT A SINGLE PLAYER ON ANY OF THE DEFENSES ON THE TEAMS HAWAII HAS PLAYED ALL YEAR WHO WOULD MAKE LSU'S 2-DEEP. LSU WOULD PREFER TO PLAY HAWAII THAN ANY OTHER TEAM IN THE BCS. HAWAII'S ACCOMPLISHMENTS THIS YEAR CANNOT BE VIEWED OUTSIDE OF THE PRISM OF THEIR TERRIBLE SCHEDULE. But it's definitely worth a laugh. We'll keep tabs and see if any of these guys nut up and pick Hawaii against LSU (or Tennessee).
  • Desmond Howard is on the suddenly re-emerging fake field. Says some Florida fans want Tim Tebow playing basketball for the gators "or maybe these guys", pointing to the fans of Missouri and Kansas. I don't think I get it.
Eighth Commercial Break
  • Semi-extended piece on Chase Daniel and Todd Reesing. Interviews with each's teammates.
  • Corso would take Chase Daniel over Reesing because he saw Daniel in person (he hasn't seen Reesing). Corso has become Joe Morgan today.
  • Herbstreit would also take Daniel, but gives some tangible reasons for that.
  • Desmond Howard's Heisman interview series goes to Florida at interview Tim Tebow. I am not exactly surprised to find out that Tebow only wears cleats and crocs. Crocs.
  • Darren McFadden is on the phone and Fowler interviews him. It's a little hard to understand because McFadden talks 100 miles an hour.
  • Corso now says Colt Brennan should be considered for the Heisman because he holds a bunch of records (earned against terrible opposition).
  • Herbstreit agrees with Corso in that Brennan should make NYC because "he's been doing it all year". Was Brennan not injured for several games, allowing him to play minimal amounts and not bloat his numbers further (and note how that injury didn't affect Hawaii much, because they were playing atrocious opposition).
  • Herbstreit says Darren McFadden is the most outstanding player in the country, my have won the Heisman.
  • Fowler asks about Dennis Dixon, says that he hopes voters don't leave him out entirely.
  • Some brief talk about UF-FSU. Herbstreit says FSU shouldn't try to intimidate Tebow. Do not taunt Happy Fun Tebow.
  • Corso thinks FSU could outscore Florida because of better weapons on FSU's O. Also thinks FSU would blitz Florida like Georgia did.
  • Fowler chimes in with the trope about how "Tebow was very very hurt against Georgia". If he was that hurt, should he not have been playing?
  • Herbstreit: don't taunt Tebow. Because then he gets mad. And then he gets even.
Ninth Commercial Break
  • Energizer Spirit Meter says 99. They just make this up. Williams-Amherst, with a crowd 1/4th the size registered a 102.
  • Tennessee-Kentucky talk. Short interview clips with Fulmer and Ainge.
  • Corso likes Kentucky because Kentucky is at home.
  • Herbstreit likes Tennessee because everyone is picking against them. Seriously - for no other reason than this.
  • Georgia-Georgia Tech talk.
  • Corso thinks the line is messed up, but still picks Georgia.
  • Herbstreit: over the last few weeks, Mark Richt has done as good a job as anyone in America. Thinks Georgia wins, gets to a BCS game. (nobody corrects him to say that if Kentucky had beaten Tennessee, Georgia wouldn't be assured a BCS berth).
Tenth Commercial Break
  • Extended piece on Missouri's Aaron O'Neal. Steve Cyphers reporting.
  • Missouri-Kansas talk. Breakdowns of when each team has the ball. Desmond Howard on to talk about special teams (really, just the return game). Fowler actually covers the kicking game.
  • Herbstreit: the most explosive offense in the country is Missouri.
  • Howard picks Kansas, despite having just said a good deal about explosiveness of Maclin and Missouri.
Eleventh Commercial Break
  • Pontiac Game Changer: Corso - Andre Woodson. Herbstreit - Knowshon Moreno. Fowler - Vince Hall of VT. Maybe Fowler? Woodson had a decent game, but they didn't win. Moreno gave way to Thomas Brown.
  • Breaking News: Mississippi fires Orgeron.
  • Saturday Stupid Selections: Corso - South Carolina, Kentucky, Oregon. Herbstreit - Virginia, Alabama, (and he hinted that he'd pick Kansas).
This episode was one of Corso's worst of the year. Herbstreit was a little better than normal. I suppose you could probably tell, but I don't buy the hype for Hawaii - and they were significantly hyperbolic in praise for Hawaii. The McShay piece was great.

Next week, I'm guessing they'll go to the Oklahoma-Missouri game in San Antonio.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Where to?

So many different bowl possibilities for the Dawgs at this point. Lose to Georgia Tech on Saturday and we could be in the Nugget Bowl (again), the Outback, or possibly the Cotton, given so many terrible records in the SEC West. Take care of business on the Flats, and at worst, we’d go to Orlando or Dallas.

Don’t want to speak too soon about a BCS bid, but it seems like everyone else is, so why not. With some help from Kentucky, we’d be able to properly earn our spot, but most of the talk right now presumes an at-large invitation. A win over Tech, however, by no means guarantees a BCS slot. If, for example, Tennessee beats LSU in a close game, and LSU only falls to #3 or #4, the Bayou Bengals would still get an automatic BCS bid, and the Dawgs would be locked out by the limit of two teams per conference. Even if LSU falls to #5 or lower, they could still be selected above UGA, and we’d likely be headed to the Citrus.

Still, the Sugar seems most likely, and there’s even a possible outcome that could land Georgia in each of the other BCS bowls, including the National Championship Game:

1. Sugar Bowl

Front door:
Kentucky beats Tennessee
Georgia beats LSU to earn automatic bid to Sugar (unless…see scenario #5 below)

Back door:
Tennessee beats Kentucky.
Georgia beats Tech.
LSU beats both Arkansas and Tennessee.
With the first pick of the BCS draft in order to replace #1 LSU, the Sugar would almost certainly take the Dawgs because of SEC ties.

Prediction for UGA’s opponent in this scenario: Kansas. I know everybody says Hawai'i, but bear with me. In scenarios #2-#5 below, I outline possibilities, but here, I'll explain my overall prediction for how the BCS shakes out:
Rose - Ohio State v. Southern Cal
Sugar - Georgia v. Kansas
Fiesta - Oklahoma v. Boston College
Orange - Virginia Tech v. Arizona State
National Championship - LSU v. West Virginia

I'm not convinced that Hawai'i can get past either Boise or Washington, but even if they win out, they could still be left out. There's a pretty good chance that, even with inevitable losses by teams ahead of them, Hawai'i could stay right where they are now at #15. The rules say Hawai'i gets an automatic bid on their own if they finish in the top 12. I think that is out of reach. If they get some help from a team ranked behind them winning a BCS conference, they could be as low as #16 to get an automatic bid. Best hopes for that to happen are Virginia (currently #16), Tennessee (currently #18), and UConn (currently #20). My guess is those first 2 would probably jump over Hawai'i by winning their conference, negating the "top 16" clause. So the Warriors should be huge Connecticut fans this week against WVU. The ACC championship may help Hawai'i, even if Virginia isn't in it. Only the top 14 are eligible for at-large bids, if there are enough within that group to fill the balance of the 10 BCS slots. If Virginia Tech blows out Boston College (currently #14), BC would likely slip down, giving Hawai'i at least the #14 spot. If the automatic provisions don't work out for Hawai'i, and if BC wins the ACC or loses close, Hawai'i likely stays at #15, and they cannot be selected by a BCS bowl because the top 14 will be enough to fill the 10 slots.

I say Kansas beats Mizzou, but loses to Oklahoma in the Big XII title game, sending the Sooners to the Fiesta, but Kansas only drops to #4, so the Jayhawks are an automatic BCS qualifier, somewhere. LSU goes to the NCG to face WVU. Automatic tie-ins pit Ohio State against the Pac-10 champ, my guess being USC, who backdoors it into the Rose Bowl by beating Arizona State and benefiting from the Dennis Dixon injury causing Oregon to lose again. The ACC Champ, I'll say Virginia Tech, has to go to the Orange. Because the Sugar lost the #1 team, they pick next, taking Georgia. Then the predetermined yearly rotation of picks kicks in. Orange picks next. I think they take Arizona State, who finishes the season 10-2 with a solid win over rival Arizona. Next the Fiesta will have to choose between Kansas and BC, who remains at #14. All other top 14 teams (I'm guessing Mizzou, Texas, Florida, and Oregon) will be ineligible as two teams from their conference will already be in. Knowing that Kansas will have to be picked anyway so the Big XII will get their two-team BCS payout, the Fiesta picks BC, to avoid the rematch between Kansas and Oklahoma. That forces the Jayhawks into a January 1 showdown with the Dawgs in New Orleans.

Now back to other possible BCS scenarios for UGA...

2. Rose Bowl

Georgia beats Tech.
Tennessee beats both Kentucky and LSU, and LSU falls below #4.
Winner of Kansas/Missouri loses Big XII Championship.
WVU wins out to face Ohio State in the NCG.

In order to replace the Big Ten champion Buckeyes, the Rose would have the first pick among at-large teams and automatic qualifiers without a predetermined tie-in. They would like to pick another team from Ohio State's conference, but the next highest ranked team, Illinois (currently #17), would be ineligible if they stay that low since the cut-off for at-large teams is #14. The list of candidates for the Rose would look like this:
-UGA (2 losses but on a 6-game win streak with lots of national attention)
-LSU (2 losses, including their last game to a 3-loss team)
-A Big XII also-ran (the loser of Missouri/Kansas, the loser of the Big XII championship, and possibly a 10-2 Texas team who didn't win the South).
-Any number of also-rans in the Pac-10, but to pick one of them would create a rematch with whomever is the conference champion since they play a full round-robin season.
-An ACC or Big East also-ran.
-Possibly the winner of Hawaii/Boise State if they win again on December 1 (but maybe not; see #1 above)

If LSU is in the top 4, we're out (unless we rise to #3), so we might need LSU to lose to both Arkansas and Tennessee for this scenario to work. If LSU only loses the SECCG, and they fall to #5, Georgia and LSU’s respective pairs of losses and would look very similar, each losing to the Vols and a once-promising team with an eventual mediocre record. My guess is the Rose would take Georgia as the hotter team at the end. If Georgia finishes ahead of LSU and in the top 4, there would be no choice in the matter because Georgia would automatically qualify and LSU would be locked out.

If Texas wins out but misses the Big XII title game, they would have a resume similar to the Dawgs' in this scenario, but they've been going about it much more quietly. I think the play of Stafford and Moreno, along with the possibility of another Richt gimmick would give Georgia the nod. Plus, the polls already have Georgia much higher.

Prediction for UGA’s opponent in this scenario: Southern Cal, although it would be interesting if Arizona State is there to play the Dawgs, as this would set up a rematch in next September’s non-conference regular season matchup between the schools.

3. Orange Bowl

LSU loses to Arkansas but beats Tennessee.
WVU wins out.
Winner of Kansas/Missouri wins the Big XII to make it into the NCG against WVU.

Fiesta will likely take the loser of Kansas/Missouri or the loser of the Big XII championship game with their first pick to keep it in the B12 family.
The next pick goes to the Orange, whose list of choices would be similar to the list in scenario #2 above, with the exception of LSU, who would be staying close to home in the Sugar. Dawgs get to crank dat on South Beach.

Prediction for UGA’s opponent in this scenario:
Virginia Tech, in a rematch from last year’s bowl game.

4. Fiesta Bowl

LSU loses to Arkansas but beats Tennessee.
WVU wins out.
Winner of Kansas/Missouri wins the Big XII to make it into the NCG against WVU.

This is the same scenario as for #3 above, except this time the Fiesta decides to use their first pick, which they earned by losing the Big XII champ to the NCG, to go against its conference ties and takes Georgia over a Big XII also-ran with a recent loss.

Prediction for UGA’s opponent in this scenario: Missouri. This pick predicts the Tigers to lose to Kansas but still be available as an at-large team when the Fiesta makes their second pick. Could just as easily be Kansas, Texas or Oklahoma in that role. In this scenario, the Fiesta’s second pick would come after the Orange picks a team to face the ACC champ (probably the best-looking non-champion out of the Pac-10; my guess is ASU).

5. National Championship Game

USC and/or Arizona beats ASU.
Kentucky beats Tennessee.
Georgia beats Tech.
Winner of Kansas/Missouri loses Big XII Championship.
UConn and/or Pitt beats WVU.
Georgia beats LSU.

Add in some computer help in the form of wins by previous UGA opponents (namely, UF over FSU, South Carolina over Clemson, Okie State over Oklahoma, Vandy over WF, Ole Miss over Miss. State, Troy over MTSU), and the chances are that none of the current top six (except the idle Buckeyes) will stay ahead of Georgia. If UGA can win the SEC over the #1 team in the country, I can't imagine anyone presently behind us could jump the Dawgs.

Prediction for UGA’s opponent in this scenario:
Ohio State. This is the only possible matchup if enough of Georgia’s prayers are answered to get us to the big one. In a year of so many unlikely outcomes, this actually seems more feasible than I ever thought it could. Many of the games above are favored to go our way. The longest shot is for WVU to lose.

Obviously, these are just possibilities, and there could be other scenarios to put the Dawgs into each bowl. If there are flaws in my logic, please point them out in the comments. A lot of it is based on LD’s advice on rooting interests, so blame him if I’m wrong. I’m not holding my breath until January 7, but damn it’s fun to still be talking like this over Thanksgiving dinner.


Just in case you were wondering...

Ryan Hockensmith, Mixed Martial Arts writer for, has produced another Power 16 poll that is hilariously messed up.

  • Again he gives Kansas its lone #1 vote.
  • Now he moves Hawaii (after squeaking by weak Nevada) and Boise State up in the rankings. Now both are in his Top 8.

In comparison to the other voters in this poll, Hockensmith...

  • Ranks Hawaii 5 full slots higher than anyone else(and 3 don't even rank Hawaii).
  • Ranks Boise State 6 full slots higher than anyone else (and only 3 others DO rank Boise State).
  • Ranks Georgia 4 slots lower than anyone else.

It wouldn't surprise me if he ranked the winner of Hawaii-Boise State #1 if Kansas loses to Missouri. And it also wouldn't surprise me if he'd never heard of the term "strength of schedule".


Lebowski Standings v.2007.5

As always, these are objective rankings based solely on wins and losses, with strength of schedule and head-to-head competition the only tiebreakers. This list does not depict who is the "best" team, only which teams have done the "best" at winning every game on their schedule. Number in parentheses is strength of schedule according to Colley Ratings. Asterisk indicates a head to head win (where the winning team is placed ahead of the losing team, regardless of SOS). This list does not include the results of any games played this week.

1. Kansas 11-0 (114)
2. Hawaii 10-0 (128)
3. Ohio State 11-1 (63)
4. Louisiana State 10-1 (26)
5. Missouri 10-1 (69)
6. Boise State 10-1 (127)
7. Arizona State 9-1 (49)
8. West Virginia 9-1 (55)
9. Georgia 9-2 (21)
10. Boston College 9-2 (38)
11. Virginia Tech 9-2 (48)
12. Virginia 9-2 (60)
13. Oklahoma 9-2 (75)*
14. Texas 9-2 (72)
15. Connecticut 9-2 (79)
16. Oregon 8-2 (20)
17. Southern California 8-2 (68)
18. Brigham Young 8-2 (83)
19. Illinois 9-3 (45)
20. Wisconsin 9-3 (71)
21. Air Force 9-3 (94)
22. Florida 8-3 (2)
23. Cincinnati 8-3 (44)*
24. South Florida 8-3 (15)
25. Tennessee 8-3 (28)

Next Five: Clemson, Utah, Central Florida, Tulsa, Troy.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Gameday Recap

Week Twelve
November 17, 2007
Ann Arbor, Michigan - Ohio State vs. Michigan

Big 10 title on the line, but surely this can't be the hype machine it would've been had both OSU and UofM not lost last week? Please? At least there's a massive crowd on hand, unlike last weekend. I bet I won't be able to pick out the same person in the crowd twice, let alone 45 times.

  • Maybe I'll be able to spot those guys wearing pop-pom skirts and no shirts more than once.
  • Desmond Howard opens on the set, first time for a while. Balancing Herbstreit?
  • Desmond offers gifts to the crew - Bo Schembechler's posthumously published book.
  • Nice hat, Kirk. Signing up with Elliot Ness?
  • Corso tells us that it's gun season for deer, and if you need to do outdoor chores, do it during the Michigan-Ohio State game, because most hunters will be watching the game. Or something like that... it made little sense.
  • Second time ever that OSU and UofM both enter the game off a loss.
  • Fowler says maybe OSU can win and sit back and back into the BCS Title Game. Not sure whether this is narrative building or if it's a slight (why would OSU "back in"? - there are only so many teams with 1 loss - if the math favors OSU, then it favors OSU and they wouldn't "back in").
  • That's crazy how OSU has only played in 1 Rose Bowl since 1985.
  • Corso then says that OSU would have a good bid for the BCS title game if they win, and Herbstreit naturally agrees with the argument.
  • Then Herbstreit tells us how hard players in the Michigan-Ohio State game will be playing, and Howard agrees. Question - do they play harder than the DIII guys they bragged about last week?
First Commercial Break
  • Highlights from Hawaii-Nevada.
  • Highlights from Oregon-Arizona.
  • Fowler talks about how sad it is that Dixon got hurt, and how that may affect his Heisman status. Corso also says that Dixon was his Heisman pick and that Oregon will suffer greatly. Herbstreit also says Dixon was the Heisman frontrunner. Why not still vote for him?
  • They do the Saturday Slate after the first break this time (too much Ohio State-Michigan talk to fit it in?)
  • Interesting way they framed the Oklahoma-Texas Tech game - using the last time they played in Lubbock and bad officiating and how the respective coaches have responded to bad calls recently.
  • Corso thinks Texas Tech-OU might be a high scoring game (out on a limb there!), but also likes TTU's chances, but not enough to pick them.
  • Fowler points out that Texas Tech's passing game isn't that great against Oklahoma in recent years.
  • Internet poll says Kansas had the best chance of losing yesterday (won huge), Oklahoma had the worst chance of losing (lost).
Second Commercial Break
  • ACC talk. Fowler calls the ACC a microcosm of college football - inconsistency, messy.
  • BC-Clemson.
  • Radio clips on Clemson and their yo-yo tendency.
  • Herbstreit: "Clemson plays in the ACC, but their fans are from the SEC." Then he breaks down Clemson's defense. Then picks Clemson.
  • Corso likes Cullen Harper for All-ACC QB. Then he gets Clemson's ACC record wrong (says they're 5-1 and will be 6-1).
  • Fowler walks back the others on Clemson, saying not to underestimate Matt Ryan.
  • Miami-VT. Fowler says "you have to question Miami's heart."
  • Corso recommends Miami players go see the Wizard of Oz and find a heart.
  • Herbstreit says the fact that recruits are questioning the efforts of Miami players is a good thing for Miami and Shannon is on the right track because someone like Ray Lewis would also question the efforts of players. Newsflash, Kirk: those recruits might not go to Miami because of what they saw on the field. That's not exactly a good thing, or a reason to think Shannon is on the right path.
  • The entire set thinks the Miami-UVa result the previous week looks even worse because UVa doesn't blow anyone out.
Third Commercial Break
  • Energizer Spirit Meter - 109 dB. Last week's number was total BS.
  • Extended Piece on Mohawks. Greg Garber reporting. Lord, this is totally useless. For a while, I thought they'd given up on doing these BS pieces. Les Miles thinks mohawks are the result of not having enough money for a full haircut. Is it a surprise that USF is the site of the most mohawks, considering that Tampa is home to the most "clippers on the side, but leave it long on top and in the back" mullets than anywhere south of Ontario?
  • Fowler mentions how the Michigan fans cheered when Les Miles was on camera.
Fourth Commercial Break
  • Game Face: Guy dressed in X-Men Wolverine costume. Nice work.
  • Yale-Harvard talk.
  • Wired!!! with Yale's coach. That stray ear hair on the coach disturbs me.
  • Duke-Notre Dame talk. Fowler admits that it's the first matchup of 1-9 teams ever discussed on Gameday.
  • Fowler: "this Duke-ND game is fairly evenly matched".
  • Interviews with Duke players. Note to other terrible programs: if you want some publicity, no matter how bad you are, play Notre Dame (no matter how bad they are).
  • Show offensive stats of Duke and ND - good lord that's terrible.
  • Howard is back on the set.
  • Howard says it's comical that Weis isn't getting more scrutiny from the national media because the team isn't improving from week to week.
  • Corso (without irony!) says that (a) the national media IS getting on Weis, but (b) Weis deserves a free pass because he took ND to two [undeserved] BCS bowl berths. Apparently Corso isn't a part of the national media, and he's an idiot.
  • Herbstreit says Weis is getting a free pass from the national media, says that were Willingham or Davie 1-9, SportsCenter would devote full episodes to the crisis. Says Weis is getting a free pass because of Super Bowls and a supposedly great recruiting class, but thinks the heat should be hotter.
  • Fowler says lots of other coaches (Robinson at Syracuse, Orgeron, etc) are feeling heat, with better records than Weis and at smaller programs than ND.
Fifth Commercial Break
  • Highlights of Colerain-St. Xavier high school game in Southern Ohio
  • Cincinnati-WVU.
  • Semi-extended piece on Owen Schmitt. Nobody named as reporting. I thought they did a piece on this guy a year or two ago. This is new material, though.
  • Herbstreit ably points out the difficulty in defending WVU's various talented offensive players. Nails the pick too.
  • Corso likes Cincy because the spread seems low and WVU is ranked a lot higher.
Sixth Commercial Break
  • Big Ten segment - lists a lot of those odd Big Ten rivalry trophies.
  • Tom Rinaldi joins the set (where only Fowler remains) to talk about his extended piece on Indiana and Terry Hoeppner's legacy.
  • Rinaldi sets up the next segment, as everyone else has left the set to go inside the stadium
Seventh Commercial Break
  • Lots of commercials and longer breaks than usual, it seems.
  • Should I know who the preacher guy is who is hyping Michigan-Ohio State far far far more than the game deserved?
  • When they went inside the stadium at the season opener at VT, Fowler couldn't stop talking about how emotions were building. Now, he's already said twice how the "excitement is building".
  • Some talk about Lloyd Carr's legacy at Michigan.
  • Corso tells us that he thinks the OSU game would be Carr's last regular season game (apparently unaware of Brian Cook's story breaking), praises Carr's getting contract extensions for his assistants.
  • Herbstreit rambles about Carr reaching out to players on a personal level.
  • Desmond Howard is outside with a few other UofM former players, who say nothing.
Eighth Commercial Break
  • Shots of Sly Croom firing up the Miss State faithful, then clips of LSU destroying them.
  • Arkansas-Miss State talk. Interview with Croom.
  • Corso tells us that he relates a lot to Croom because, in case you didn't know, Corso used to be a coach and had limited success on the field, but supposedly had great relationships with players and staff.
  • Herbstreit also talks about character and backbone and perseverence, etc.
  • LSU-Ole Miss. Highlights of last year's game, where LSU struggled greatly. Fowler hints that Ole Miss might sneak up on LSU. Herbstreit thinks LSU will get the job done because they've seen other highly ranked teams lose. Corso, on the other hand, thinks LSU has been living on the edge and could struggle against a team that can throw the ball.
  • Corso also adds that he thinks Oklahoma is better than LSU. For those of you keeping score at home, this is a reversion to his original statement about Oklahoma, after a week or two of a flirtation with Oregon being the best team in the nation. Who knows what he'll say next week.
  • Tennessee-Vandy. Herbstreit thinks Tennessee doesn't lose focus.
  • Georgia-Kentucky. Fowler calls Georgia the best 2 loss team in the country. Herbstreit apologizes to Georgia fans (seriously) for "being the last to the party" and refers to the Tennessee loss as "spooking" him. Also says that if UGA plays LSU, UGA will win if they keep up the intensity or something.
  • Corso and Herbstreit both think Tennessee will have more trouble with Kentucky than Vandy.
Ninth Commercial Break
  • Shots of the Michigan band, Mike Hart getting taped. Seems like there are a lot of meaningless, contentless simple shots of pregame routines. They could spend a whole lot more time breaking down the actual game (or talk about a few other games).
  • Quick history of teams unranked in the preseason finishing high in polls as segue into Kansas talk.
  • Todd Reesing talk. Desmond Howard interviews him on his Hello Heisman segment. Useful stuff in here - mainly focusing on visibility of a shorter QB with a big O line.
  • Howard then muddies things a bit - compares Todd Reesing sending his own highlight tape to colleges to rappers sending demo tapes to record labels or something like that.
  • Fowler and graphics make some statements about Kansas - and how they haven't played anyone good.
  • Herbstreit says Kansas is good even though he knows they haven't played anyone good.
  • Corso is more certain - says Kansas doesn't deserve to be #2 because their schedule is so bad. Then he walks it back by saying Kansas could be OK if they end up beating Missouri and Oklahoma.
  • Fowler says that it's now starting to rain and cites Guns N Roses.
Tenth Commercial Break
  • Injury news on Mike Hart, sort of. They need to do more informative injury updates.
  • Extended previews on player matchups - QB vs. QB, etc. Not so much detailed information as "these are the guys whose names you'll hear later".
  • Corso talks about Michigan's need to throw the ball deep and well - because of how important it is to beat OSU. Corso also says that OSU isn't out of the National Title picture.
  • The key to the game according to Corso: "which coaching staff lets their players play". Instead of mocking such an empty cliche, Herbstreit says Corso is "exactly right".
  • Herbstreit says that Ohio State has relied on adding wrinkles, but then the highlights pretty much show good decisionmaking against Michigan's defense (picking out the right matchups, etc).
Eleventh Commercial Break
  • Lisa Salters provides some more injury updates - including news from the parents of Henne and Hart.
  • Pontiac Game Changer. Corso - Sam Bradford. Herbstreit - Pat White. Fowler - Juice Williams. Herbstreit wins.
  • Saturday Stupid Selections: Corso: Maryland, Clemson, Cincinnati, Oklahoma, Yale. Herbstreit: Clemson, Duke.
  • Herbstreit calls the Texas Tech upset, and got almost all the picks right.
  • Keep Corso away from the picks this week. He kept mentioning weird spreads as if that was an intelligent way to pick games.
Next week in Kansas City for Missouri-Kansas. Lots of great games next week, so let's hope for an information-driven show, rather than lots of extended pieces and meaningless segments.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thoughts on Georgia

1) Is it possible that Georgia could have both the Offensive and Defensive Freshmen of the Year in the SEC? Who's better than Knowshon Moreno and Rennie Curran at each respective slot?

2) I'm sure the SEC coach of the year will be Croom, but might the psychological work done by Richt this year be his best work? I'm not sure if any other coach in the league could've gotten this team to this record, especially after the UT game. This year was Richt's best head coaching season, and it so happens to be the year he handed off the playcalling duties full-time.

3) If UK beats UT, Georgia controls their destiny for the BCS. If UT beats UK, a Georgia win almost certainly clinches a BCS at-large slot (regardless of who wins the SEC). Not a bad consolation prize.

4) Alabama's loss to UL-M was a TERRIBLE result for Georgia. Schadenfreude aside, that loss will affect Georgia's computer rankings - and it makes the SEC look bad. In fact, Alabama owns the two worst OOC results in the SEC this year (all other SEC OOC losses were by underdog SEC teams to probably better opponents, except maybe UT-Cal). The Tide's losses to FSU and UL-M are inexcusable and makes the entire conference look bad. Nice work, $4 Million Man.

5) The officiating in the Georgia-Kentucky game was eleventy-brazillian times better than the officiating in the Georgia-Auburn game. Good thing the SEC sends the best team to do the JP Sports game, rather than the biggest game of the weekend. Ass faces.

6) Coutu's FG in the 4th quarter yesterday won't be as memorable as the Vandy kick, or any other which would be closer to time expiring. But don't let that fool you. It was a huge, clutch kick. 46 yards on a day when winds were fluky and swirly, into the open end of the stadium, to make the game 2 possessions (against a team that had been simply chewing up yards when in a no-huddle offense). Awesome kick.

7) Kelin Johnson's got himself a pretty nice highlight reel this year over the last couple of games, doesn't he?


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Gameday Recap

Week Eleven
November 10, 2007
Williamstown, Massachusetts - Amherst at Williams

Small school road trip. I've written my piece on it already. I like that they sometimes cover schools a little off the national radar, but I also wonder whether this was the right place to do it. I figure the fans of Mt. Union wonder that too.

  • For the first time this year, the opener isn't of screaming fans, but rather a bucolic, quiet campus.
  • Then the fans are shown. Smaller than any we've seen so far.
  • Before the opener, they've already shown the same two guys three times. Perhaps the size of the crowd is overstated by the camerawork?
Big N Rich
  • 4 times, same guy. Trucker hat, dead center.
  • They use google maps to show exactly where they are.
  • Bandmembers, this is the biggest thing to hit your campus in years. And you choose that to wear a hot dog hat?
  • Herbstreit tells us DIII is the root of college football and a good break from BCS madness or something. If this is better than all that madness, why don't they cover DIII all the time, with the occasional jaunt up to DI?
  • Corso tells us to go to the Clark Art Museum. Fowler and Herbstreit are amused by this.
  • Fowler says DIII is fun because we can relate to not being big, fast, strong, etc. I can't tell whether they're praising or insulting DIII athletes.
  • Fowler suggests that next week they'd be going to Ohio State-Michigan. Is that still operative after both teams' results?
  • Fowler says South Carolina needed a win to get bowl eligible. They had 6 wins. Yes, one was a 1-AA opponent, but 6 wins is all that's necessary as long as there's a conference tie-in. South Carolina is bowl eligible, but they don't necessarily have a bowl bid secured.
  • The Saturday Slate of big games does not list the only game between ranked opponents (UGA-Auburn). And if you think they were only listing games on the ESPN/ABC family...
  • They do discuss Mount Union vs. Marietta College. Marietta was 3-6 going into the game, which they lost 57-0. Fowler says that Mt. Union's defense is fiercer than Ohio State's. No. It isn't.
  • Apparently it was "Rivalry Saturday" in DIII.
  • Fowler admits a narrative: this Saturday was thought of as "set the table" for the following week, catch your breath. At the same time, he suggests that having said just that, there'll probably be upsets (like the results of two games that make their trip this weekend to Ann Arbor a bit lamer)
  • What could happen to shake things up? Corso says Kansas could get beat because Oklahoma State is a small underdog. Herbstreit says watch Texas and USC because of BCS at-large bids.
  • The same kid in the trucker hat has been shown like 8 times. There are not as many people there as the camera might suggest.
First Commercial Break
  • Florida-South Carolina talk. Clips of the last 2 games. Clip of Spurrier's press conference - which was hilarious. They should have a recurring segment on Spurrier's self-effacing quips and well timed jabs.
  • Corso is right in saying that Florida is good on offense because of Tebow and Harvin, but how hard was it to come up with that analysis?
  • Seventeen minutes in, Fowler mentions the only matchup of ranked opponents (Georgia-Auburn) for the first time. Total length of time discussed thus far: 3 seconds.
Second Commercial Break
  • Trucker hat kid has been on screen as much as Corso.
  • Fowler asks the crowd if they like BC. They don't respond.
  • VT-FSU talk. Corso likes FSU because they were underdogs by 6.5 points, just like in the BC game, and because the game is played in the afternoon. Awesome analysis. Herbstreit likes FSU because of "attitude."
  • BC-Maryland talk. Well, not really. Just some injury updates. Fowler mentions how one guy is "out with an ankle". A broken ankle? A twisted ankle? A tattooed ankle?
  • Clemson-Wake talk. Everyone likes Clemson, and only Fowler gives tangible reasons.
  • Back to BC-Maryland. Fowler says that highly ranked teams that have lost have tended to lose a second game as a letdown. Corso calls this "really voodoo stuff". Herbstreit likes BC because of "maturity", Corso expects BC to win big. Wrong.
  • Visit with Desmond Howard on the bus. He's not high on the ACC.
  • Howard provides some love notes from Williams people on the internet. Yes, tell yourselves it was a good decision to go there.
Third Commercial Break
  • Gillette GameFace: The Trucker Hat kid makes the camera, but they show members of the band.
  • Highlights of the 1997 Amherst-Williams game. My God that is a terrible play by Williams on that fake PAT. Aren't these kids supposed to be smart?
  • Trucker hat kid is on camera for the 45th time. I'm starting to think the crowd is primarily cardboard cutouts.
  • Rivalry notes on Amherst-Williams. They've played a long time.
  • Some memories of the Orange Bowl Stadium.
  • Extended piece of highlights. Steve Cyphers (who hasn't been around very much lately) reporting. Nice piece. Game-driven, rather than sappy and forced. Seems like the older the material in these extended pieces, the "realer" it is.
  • Lamar Thomas was interviewed for that piece. Didn't see any clips of the FIU-UM brawl though...
  • Herbstreit's memory of the Orange Bowl was a Super Bowl, but then the 2000 Miami game is his memory. Better than Flutie or the Nebraska 2 point conversion?
  • Corso's best memories of the Orange Bowl are (a) his own high school performance there, (b) his own college performance there, and (c) his own coaching performance there. Glad it's not all about Lee.
  • Fowler's memory was the Colorado-ND Orange Bowl with Rocket Ismail's return.
Fourth Commercial Break
  • They use the split screen shots of the crowd, and no shit, the trucker hat kid is on two of the cameras at the same time. Maybe there is more than one goofy looking long haired kid with a velour trucker hat.
  • Troubled teams: Nebraska, Notre Dame, Texas A&M. Clips of each coach's press conference. Charlie Weis' massive Super Bowl ring is tactfully placed.
  • Tom Luginbill comes on to reassure the viewers that just because ND sucks ass this year, their future is totally awesome. The degree at ND is so valuable, the great class coming in is spectacular, and ND is still ND, sayeth Luginbill the Aqueduct. He does say Nebraska is losing guys left and right.
  • Howard joins the set and is asked what it'd take to sign with a losing program. Howard lists platitudes and says some guys would want to be the guy who turns it around.
  • Corso tells us a story about when he was a coach (if you didn't know, he was a coach). Corso says most coaches should ignore the best players and get players that like you. Really.
  • Herbstreit continues Luginbill's work carrying water for ND, saying kids have a chance to play right away and that Weis will take the program to the next level.
  • Apparently Amherst was taking the field for warmups. I counted 18 players.
Fifth Commercial Break
  • List of famous Amherst and Williams alumni. They show a quote from George Steinbrenner that seems a little strange.
  • Texas-Texas Tech talk (say that 5 times fast). Herbstreit mentions how Texas is in line for a BCS at-large berth for a second time. Note that narrative building.
  • Kansas-Oklahoma State. Fowler says Kansas is getting some poll love but they need style points. Don't they need to play someone worth a lick more than "style points"? Clip of Mangino's press conference - and I'm surprised by this, but he actually looks pretty good, put together, compared to Weis' presser.
  • Herbstreit actually breaks down some plays in Kansas-Oklahoma State. Herbstreit says it's going to be Kansas' most difficult opponent to date. You mean more than Southeast Louisiana, Toledo or Florida International?
Sixth Commercial Break
  • Comparison of academics at Amherst and Williams.
  • Flashback to some of their past milestones on Gameday. They've shown most of these clips dozens of times. I'm so sick of that clip where Herbstreit throws the computer. I remember thinking on that show, and I continue to think, that computers provide so much better analysis than Herbstreit it's not even funny.
  • BCS Breakdown time.
  • Mark May and Andre Ware join them (for what reason, we're not told).
  • Fowler, to his credit, says he doesn't have the guts to rank Ohio State behind other teams, hinting that he thinks other teams are better, but other considerations come into play.
  • Andre Ware says LSU and Oregon might be better than Ohio State.
  • Corso whips out credentials, saying he's seen lots of teams live, says Oregon's the best team in the nation (a few weeks ago he said the same thing about Oklahoma). Also says that Oregon has the most significant win in college football this year - beating Michigan in Ann Arbor. This is f'ing ludicrous. Oregon's wins over Arizona State and USC were more significant than the win over Michigan. Oklahoma over Missouri? LSU over Virginia Tech? Corso is off his rocker.
  • Mark May says Ohio State's 4th.
  • Herbstreit defends Ohio State by saying we need to wait and see, but also that Ohio State's big wins over shitty teams means they deserve #1.
  • Herbstreit assumes OSU is winning out over and over again.
  • Corso a second time repeats the assertion that Oregon's win over Michigan is most significant, because Oregon beat them huge (a week after they lost to a 1-AA team) and Michigan had gone on to win 8 straight against mediocre competition. Expansive powers of logic exceed his capacity.
  • Fowler promises that they'll be heading to Ann Arbor. And then Michigan and Ohio State lose. I think this is kind of poetic. They looked ahead just as much as the teams did.
Seventh Commercial Break
  • There is no way on earth that that energizer sound meter is accurate. Says 102.
  • Auburn-Georgia talk. First extended discussion of the day's best game is 1 hour and 13 minutes into the show.
  • WIRED! with Mark Richt. More of a short interview than a Wired segment.
  • Corso likes Georgia's offensive balance. Herbstreit thinks defensive inspiration will be important. Maudlin adjectives are Herbstreit's friend.
  • Herbstreit also thinks last year's Georgia game, and the revenge issue will make the difference.
  • Corso thinks turnovers make a difference - and Georgia is good at that. Decent nugget.
  • Some highlights of Darren McFadden running all over South Carolina.
  • Desmond Howard interviews McFadden. Now his segment has a graphic intro at the beginning.
  • Herbstreit says the key to UT-Arkansas is making Arkansas throw the ball. Corso likes Tennessee because they beat Georgia big.
  • Fowler wisely says Mississippi State could surprise Alabama.
Eighth Commercial Break
  • Every time I see the Gillette commercial with Tiger, Federer and Thierry Henry I laugh when Henry says "I never phink about yethferday".
  • Now they're starting to show some wider camera angles and it looks like the crowd has filled in a little.
  • Corso likes Arizona State over UCLA because of coaching. Herbstreit calls UCLA one of the most disappointing teams in college football.
  • USC-Cal. Herbstreit says turnovers by Cal is the problem, repeats for a third time that USC is in line for a BCS at-large. He is shameless with his support of certain storylines.
  • Hawaii-Fresno State. Fowler and Corso say that Brennan breaks the all-time TD pass record early, but he did not. Fowler already starts saying that Hawaii is in line for the Sugar Bowl. More narrative building.
Ninth Commercial Break
  • Extended piece on Amherst-Williams playing football (they work hard too, they care, etc). Jeremy Schaap reports in a highly elitist piece. "They're student-athletes not athlete-students", "they play for the love of the game only", etc...
  • Now the discussion is on "the last game you ever played". Lots of cliches and repeated statements. They're saying the same thing over and over.
  • Corso tells us about playing in an all star game. All about Lee.
  • It is starting to look kind of dark there. Probably just the netting behind the set.
Tenth Commercial Break
  • Trucker hat kid is on the split screen for the 248th time and he loses his hat.
  • Ohio State-Illinois. Fowler tells us that this is the game before the real big game for the 50th time. Also says that Illinois won't be able to do anything against the OSU "rock hard" defense.
  • Corso thinks OSU-Illinois is a big game for teams like Oregon to scout Ohio State's D against the spread.
  • Herbstreit does say that the Buckeyes need to focus on Illinois not Michigan, but he assures us that Ohio State is doing just that (as always, Ohio State can do no wrong).
  • Michigan-Wisconsin. Fowler says the numbers look really bad for Wisconsin except for being unbeaten at home.
  • On-site scenes at Michigan-Wisconsin. Herbstreit praises Chad Henne. Corso tells us Lloyd Carr is a better person than coach and he's a great coach.
  • Corso calls it a trap game for Michigan because the last time they played in Wisconsin in Madison they were ranked 14th and lost. Analysis!
  • Herbstreit mocks Fowler for kind of thinking Wisconsin might not be a cakewalk for Michigan.
Eleventh Commercial Break
  • Trucker hat makes the center of the camera for one last time.
  • Now for the latest, we go right back to Madison, where we were right before the break to see Erin Andrews... but technical difficulties interrupt.
  • Pontiac Game Changer. Corso: Brandon James. Herbstreit: Brandon Cox. Fowler: Pat Lucey of Williams. Fowler takes it, I guess. It's hard to tell how that guy did, but he won.
  • Saturday Stupid Selections: Corso: Ohio State, Michigan (though he did hedge and say close) Herbstreit: UNC, Notre Dame, Arkansas, Auburn, Ohio State (very smarmily), Michigan.
  • Shot of Williams' coach's pregame speech.
I might be ornery, and it's late, but I didn't think this was all that great a show. Seems like the crew and hosts are running low on gas this late in the year. Very little analysis. They didn't cover some pretty important games at all (UConn-Cincy, for one). They seemed very repetitious when discussing some things, kind of punchy and defensive (especially Herbstreit) at other times.

Next week they're heading to Ann Arbor for the Big Ten Title Game.


Let's talk about Kansas

Over the last few weeks I've ranted and raved about various polling things. Yes, I complained about UConn and what I perceived as what should be subjective polling using the easy way out. UConn got whipped by Cincinnati last week. So now I have to find a new target. Let's talk about Kansas.

The Kansas Jayhawks are 10-0 and ranked third in the nation in the BCS, 4th in the AP Poll.

The primary strength of Kansas and reason for its lofty ranking is the zero in the loss column. I say this because it cannot be their accomplishments against quality opponents or in big games. It is merely the fact that they are unbeaten against one of the worst schedules of any team in a BCS conference:

Colley: 105th toughest schedule (only Texas Tech is worse among BCS conference teams)
GBE: 98th toughest schedule (only USC is worse among BCS conference teams)
Sagarin: 97th toughest schedule (worst among BCS conference teams)
Team Rankings: 117th toughest schedule (worst among BCS conference teams)
CBS Sports: 73rd toughest schedule (only ahead of USC, Texas Tech, and Miami (FL) among BCS conference teams)
NCAA (warning - PDF): 86th toughest schedule (only ahead of Texas Tech, Miami (FL), and USC among BCS conference teams)

Here's my question: What other teams are "undefeated" against the portion of their schedule as bad as Kansas' entire schedule?

We'll find out who Kansas' toughest opponent is so far, and then look at the schedules of other teams and see if anyone else remains unbeaten against opponents as bad as Kansas' toughest (or worse).

So who is Kansas' toughest opponent?

There are 25 teams ranked in the BCS standings. Kansas has played none of them.
There are 34 teams receiving votes in this week's AP poll. Kansas has played none of them.
There are 35 teams receiving votes in this week's USA Today Coaches' Poll. Kansas has played none of them.
There are 36 teams receiving votes in this week's Harris Poll. Kansas has played none of them.

Let's then look at the BCS sanctioned computer polls, as they rank all teams.

According to Sagarin's ELO-CHESS (the one used for the BCS), Kansas' toughest opponent is Oklahoma State, at #47.
According to Anderson & Hester, Kansas' toughest opponent is Oklahoma State, at #42.
According to Billingsley (which has serious flaws in my estimation), Kansas' toughest opponent is Texas A&M, at #37.
According to Colley, Kansas' toughest opponent is Texas A&M, at #48.
According to Massey, Kansas' toughest opponent is Oklahoma State, at #44.
According to Peter Wolfe, Kansas' toughest opponent is Texas A&M, at #40.

So, basically, Kansas hasn't played anyone better than around 40th in the nation so far. If you place any importance on their undefeated record, you are necessarily assuming that they would not lose to teams tougher than they have played already. That might be an assumption you would want to make (it's not nice to assume someone would lose). But here's the rub: if another team has lost to teams better than Kansas, it is a reasonable position to take to say that that team can be better than an unbeaten Kansas team. For example, LSU has lost one game, to a decent/good Kentucky team that, by every rating system available, is far superior to anyone on Kansas' schedule. To say Kansas deserves to be rated higher than LSU because they are unbeaten necessarily requires the assumption that Kansas would beat teams better than they have already played such as Kentucky).

Let's look and see who else hasn't lost to anyone as bad as or worse than Kansas' toughest...

1. Using Sagarin's ELO-CHESS, the following teams have also not lost to anyone worse than or equal to Kansas' best opponent, Oklahoma State (47):

LSU, Oregon, Ohio State, West Virginia, Florida, Arizona State, Missouri, Clemson, Georgia, Virginia Tech, South Florida, Kentucky, Connecticut, Tennessee, Penn State, Boston College, Auburn, Wisconsin, Alabama, Hawaii (though clearly the same test applies), South Carolina, Arkansas, Rutgers, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, and Troy.

That's 27 teams according to Sagarin's BCS list that haven't lost to anyone worse than the best team on Kansas' schedule. If you rate Kansas highly because they are undefeated, you should also see zeroes on those 27 teams' records.

2. Using Anderson & Hester, the following teams have also not lost to anyone worse than or equal to Kansas' best opponent, Oklahoma State (42):

LSU, Oregon, Arizona State, Missouri, Ohio State, Georgia, West Virginia, Florida, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Tennessee, Connecticut, Penn State, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Auburn, Hawaii, Alabama, Mississippi State, Purdue, Arkansas, and Vanderbilt.

That's 22 teams according to A&H that haven't lost to anyone worse than the best team on Kansas' schedule. If you rate Kansas highly because they are undefeated, you should also see zeroes on those 22 teams' records.

3. Using Billingsley, the following teams have also not lost to anyone worse than or equal to Kansas' best opponent, Texas A&M (37):

LSU, Ohio State, Oregon, West Virginia, Arizona State, Virginia Tech, Missouri, Wisconsin, Florida, Clemson, Penn State, Connecticut, Hawaii, South Florida and Troy

That's 15 teams according to Billingsley that haven't lost to anyone worse than the best team on Kansas' schedule. If you rate Kansas highly because they are undefeated, you should also see zeroes on those 15 teams' records.

4. Using Colley, the following teams have also not lost to anyone worse than or equal to Kansas' best opponent, Texas A&M (48):

LSU, Oregon, Arizona State, Ohio State, Missouri, West Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Boston College, Connecticut, South Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Penn State, Hawaii, Auburn, Alabama, Mississippi State, Rutgers, Troy, Georgia Tech, Arkansas and Vanderbilt

That's 26 teams according to Colley that haven't lost to anyone worse than the best team on Kansas' schedule. If you rate Kansas highly because they are undefeated, you should also see zeroes on those 26 teams' records.

5. Using Massey, the following teams have also not lost to anyone worse than or equal to Kansas' best opponent, Oklahoma State (44).

LSU, Oregon, Arizona State, Missouri, Ohio State, Georgia, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Florida, Clemson, Boston College, Tennessee, Kentucky, Connecticut, Wisconsin, South Florida, Penn State, Auburn, Mississippi State, Alabama, South Carolina, Hawaii, Georgia Tech, Rutgers, Vanderbilt, Arkansas and Troy

That's 27 teams according to Massey that haven't lost to anyone worse than the best team on Kansas' schedule. If you rate Kansas highly because they are undefeated, you should also see zeroes on those 27 teams' records.

6. Using Wolfe, the following teams have also not lost to anyone worse than or equal to Kansas' best opponent, Texas A&M (40):

LSU, Oregon, Missouri, Arizona State, Ohio State, West Virginia, Georgia, Virginia Tech, Hawaii, Florida, Clemson, Connecticut, Tennessee, Penn State, Auburn, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Alabama, Vanderbilt and Arkansas.

That's 21 teams according to Wolfe that haven't lost to anyone worse than the best team on Kansas' schedule. If you rate Kansas highly because they are undefeated, you should also see zeroes on those 21 teams' records.

In sum, if you are ranking Kansas highly, you must be placing a lot of emphasis on not losing, without regard to how bad or mediocre the opposition is. And if you are placing a lot of emphasis on not losing to bad or mediocre opposition, there are about two dozen other teams who also haven't lost to bad or mediocre opposition (but several of them have played and beaten good or great opposition).

Perhaps you really do think Kansas would beat significantly better opposition than they've faced so far. Perhaps the next couple of weeks will prove such.

But based on the knowledge we have right now of that team, there are reasonable arguments to place the Jayhawks in a poll in the high teens or worse. And if you use resume ranking, there aren't reasonable arguments to place the Jayhawks in the top 3.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Mocking a Meaningless List

That's like, 90% of what I do this time of year.

But here you have it.

ESPN's Power 16 Poll.

Ryan Hockensmith, Mixed Martial Arts beat writer for ESPN*, presents a laughably terrible poll.

Kansas, who hasn't beaten a top 40 team all year at #1.
No ACC team in the top 10, just one SEC team in the top 10.

Seriously. Hawaii at #8, and Boise State at #10.

  • Two teams from a conference that is, in the aggregate, 0-13 against BCS conference opponents.
  • Two teams from a conference that has all of ZERO nonconference win against 1-A/FBS teams with even a winning record. The entire conference's best win? Boise State over 5-5, 4th place in C-USA East Southern Miss.
  • Two teams from a conference that leads all conferences with 10 games against 1-AA/FCS opposition.
  • Two teams whose best win by either of them is against #58 (according to Colley Rankings) Fresno State - for comparison, Hockensmith's #12 team, Georgia, has played EIGHT teams ranked higher than anyone Hawaii or Boise State has played.
  • Two teams with strength of schedule rankings above 125 according to Colley Rankings (and yes, there are only 120 1-A/FBS teams).
  • If Colley ain't your thing? Fine... Two teams with strength of schedule rankings above 122 according to Sagarin (and Hawaii's is 157 - That's ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY SEVEN!!!)
  • Two teams whose best win by either of them is against #74 (according to Sagarin) Fresno State - again, under Sagarin's rankings Georgia has played 8 teams better than anyone either Hawaii or Boise State has played.
If this guy were in the Blogpoll, his ballot would probably be spiked. Isn't it nice that the Worldwide Leader In Sports trusts his opinion on the sport enough to give him some space? And another thing - this is a power poll, remember. This guy thinks Boise State and Hawaii would beat USC, Virginia Tech, Georgia, Texas, Florida, etc. on a neutral field.

I'm certain this guy isn't indicative of the whimsical, ill-informed poll-creating abilities of most writers and voters who determine champions. 100% positive. Nope. Everyone is sharp as nails.

* Yes, I know he has written on college football before. If I remember correctly, he wrote a bunch of stories related to the Ohio State scandals from a few years ago. But look again at his archive on No football stories in 3 seasons. His last story on college football was about Alex Smith and Urban Meyer at Utah. Why is he included in their poll?


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Reason # 43235236 Why I Love My Wife

While watching the Champions' League Highlight show, she said of Tommy Smyth, "Oh wow. He's just magically delicious, isn't he?"


Follow Up on the Penalty Question

Yesterday afternoon's atrociously officiated game (more on that in a second) raised the question on the offsetting penalties question in the previous post.

With a little more than 6 minutes to go in the third quarter, Auburn up 20-17. Georgia returns the ball to the 32. Knowshon Moreno ran left into the line and lost three yards. Second and 13 from the 29. On a busted play, Stafford rolled right, scrambled for a while, then heaved the ball forward while stepping out of bounds on the Auburn sideline. Because of the scrambling, one of the linemen had gotten downfield, eliciting an ineligible man downfield penalty. This is a 5 yard penalty (if accepted). On the same play, Stafford was tackled out of bounds, drawing a personal foul penalty on Auburn. This is a 15 yard, automatic first down penalty.

By rule, the 5 yard penalty and the 15 yard/automatic first down penalties offset.

My questions:

1) Why do penalties for inequal infractions offset ever? By football's own rules, the personal foul penalty is a significantly more serious infraction - the punishment is far more severe. One penalty serves the purpose of punishing for a slight competitive advantage. The other serves the purpose of protecting players from injury. Why would two penalties that by no means are equal "cancel each other out"? Should not they mark off 5 yards one way, then 15 the other?

2) Does not the fact that these sort of penalties currently do "cancel each other out" give an unreasonable incentive to perform illegal actions? Say a defensive team sees a flag in an area where a penalty on the offense would be thrown (and that's not too hard to tell - holding penalties are in the backfield, illegal motion are from the side judge, and even on a scramble like in the play described above, the area where the penalty was thrown usually meant a penalty for holding, block in the back, clipping, or illegal man downfield (all against the offense). When a defender sees that flag fly, is it beyond the realm of possibility for the following thought process to start:

a) See flag, know that offense is likely moving back 5-10 yards and the result of the play is nullified.

b) If a particular player is particularly hard to defend or is running all over the place, might it not be of a greater advantage to forget about the 5-10 yards (and a repeat of the down - a mitigation of the penalty to the offense), and instead tackle/spear/trip/lunge at after the play that one player who is causing the defense so much trouble?

If the result of such illegal activity is simply that the 5-10 yards the offense would move back is no longer there, might the chance that the difficult-to-defend player could be taken out be worth it?

I'm not saying the Auburn hit on Stafford in the above-described play was intentional. I have no idea of knowing if that were the case, and I don't believe it was intentional. But hypothetically, a team very well could coach the players into going more aggressively after a foul on the offense has been thrown. Sort of the reverse of the offense getting a "free play" and going deep when they see a flag that looks like offsides on the defense. If the defense goes more aggressive and doesn't get called for anything, they haven't lost anything. If the defense goes more aggressive and does get called for a roughing or personal foul or something like that, they're in the exact same spot they were before the play started, except they have a chance at causing an injury to a particularly strong opponent.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Question on Penalties

Why don't referees enforce offsetting penalties at separate times?

Two guys scuffle. Two flags thrown. Offsetting 15 yard personal foul penalties called. Because they offset, neither team suffers.

In basketball, two guys scuffle. Both guys would be assessed technical fouls. Both teams suffer.

In hockey, two guys scuffle. Both guys would be sent to the penalty box. Both teams suffer.

In baseball, two guys scuffle. Rare, but both would probably be ejected. Both teams suffer.

In soccer, two guys scuffle. Both given yellow cards at a minimum, probably red cards and ejected. Both teams suffer.

So in football, why not assess a 15 yard penalty on the team with possession of the ball immediately, and assess a 15 yard penalty on the defending team immediately upon that team obtaining possession? If that defending team were to get the ball on a turnover that's returned for a touchdown, assess it on the kickoff or continue delaying the penalty until that team begins their next typical drive. If the game ends before that team can get their penalty, I suppose that's the one downside (Team X on offense is down by 4 with a minute to go - their penalty assessed crushes them)

What do you think?


Monday, November 05, 2007

Gameday Location

Read today that Gameday is going to be not at Ohio State-Illinois or Georgia-Auburn (the only matchup of ranked opponents) or even one of the ABC prime time sites (College Park, MD and Stillwater, OK). Instead, they're going to bucolic Williamstown, Massachusetts for the Amherst-Williams game.

Amherst-Williams is always a big rivalry. If you've never heard of the schools, it's probably because they're both very small liberal-arts colleges in northwestern Massachusetts. And I know this when I was 17 and stupid, I really wanted to go to Williams. Both are excellent academic institutions and both have historically good athletic teams, leading to a pretty good rivalry.

But let's not kid ourselves. This isn't the year they should be going to this game. Neither the Ephs nor the Lord Jeffs (I'll let you try to figure out which is Amherst and which is Williams) are really in a position to win the conference. The conference (NESCAC) doesn't allow its football teams to compete in the Division III playoffs, and this year neither Amherst nor Williams would be considered a team that could compete against those schools in DIII that do play in the playoffs - in the past Williams and Amherst have been ranked, but not this year.

Both Williams and Amherst have student bodies right at or below 2,000 students. The small size of the student body and the academic rigor at each school means that the talent on the field is, for the most part, not as big, strong or fast as most large high schools in Texas, California, Florida, Georgia or probably a few other states.

The kids who play there surely play their hearts out. And a rivalry like this is always great fun for the students and alumni. It'll be a nice setting (if cold, probably) for the show. But it's not going to be anything like the last few weeks (Eugene and Lexington's huge crowds especially).

I like when Gameday shines a spotlight on smaller schools normally. I've written before how I think they should do a short piece on a smaller school every week (like the Linfield story last week or the Chadron State kid a couple of months ago). And in most years, Amherst-Williams would be a great matchup (nearly every year a conference title is on the line and in many years one or both of the teams enter unbeaten) for them to see. Unfortunately, these aren't the best teams in their series. And there are some pretty important matchups elsewhere in college football. Corso kept talking last week about how important November games are in the big conferences. Now the show is choosing not to attend one of them.


Quick Conference Thoughts

1) The next time you hear Sparky the Sportscaster talk trash about the Big XII North as not being competitive with the South, mention this: so far this year the record between the two divisions is a level 8-8, with Kansas-Oklahoma State and Missouri-A&M remaining (and both North teams should be favored). The North isn't bad. It's more that the teams most preseason prognosticators chose to win the division (Nebraska, mainly) aren't the good teams (Missouri, Kansas), and the teams that were bad or mediocre the last few years (Colorado, Kansas State) are capable of beating a lot of South teams.

2) Currently there are 49 teams bowl eligible (6 wins). Right now the University of Georgia has 1 out-of-conference win against a bowl eligible team (Troy). Florida, Alabama, Arkansas and LSU all also have an out-of-conference win against a bowl eligible team. 5 Pac-10 teams (Cal, Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA, Washington) have an OOC win against a bowl eligible team. 5 ACC teams (FSU, NC State, Miami, UVA, VT) also have an OOC win against a bowl eligible team. 5 Big XII teams (Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, A&M) also have an OOC win against a bowl eligible team. 3 of the 8 Big East teams (Cincy, USF, WVU) have an OOC win against a bowl eligible team. That's 23 teams in BCS conferences (out of 54 total, 43%). In non BCS conferences, C-USA has two teams (Tulsa, UTEP) with OOC wins against bowl eligible teams. Navy has a win against a bowl eligible team. In the MWC, Wyoming has a win against a bowl eligible team. What's the big deal about that?

Each of those 27 teams, individually, has more wins over bowl eligible nonconference opponents, than the ENTIRE Big Ten put together. And I'm not talking just nonconference opponents in BCS conferences. Any conference. The Big Ten, as of right now, does not have a single win in a nonconference game against a team currently bowl eligible. The best nonconference wins for the entire conference right now?

Michigan State over 5-4 Bowling Green
Northwestern over 5-4 Nevada
Purdue over 5-4 Central Michigan

That's it. No wins over any BCS conference teams above .500. No wins against the 42 teams outside the Big Ten that are currently bowl eligible.

But fear not, Big Ten fans. Tomorrow night Central Michigan can get eligible with a win over Western Michigan.

For the rest of you, when looking at the Big Ten, think of a walled community. Maybe everyone inside the community is very strong and very smart because of the great talent of the others within the community. Maybe everyone inside the community is incredibly weak because of the lack of talent of the others within the community. Either way, if you are relying on intra-conference games to boost Big Ten teams in your rankings, you may be using flawed reasoning and incomplete data.

3) And speaking of the Central Michigan Chippewas, a win tomorrow night over Western Michigan not only gets them bowl eligible, but it also clinches a return trip to the MAC Championship game. CMU would get to 5-0 in conference with 2 to play and a head-to-head tiebreaker on the only team that could also get to 5-2 (Ball State).

4) Let's do another quick rundown of who is in control of their own destiny again...

ACC Atlantic - Boston College and Clemson.
ACC Coastal - UVA and Virginia Tech.

Last Saturday, Bobby Bowden did a huge favor for his son by beating the Eagles.

Big XII North - Missouri and Kansas.
Big XII South - Oklahoma (though Oklahoma State could control their destiny, depending on a tiebreaker I'm too lazy to research).

OSU needs to win out and win a tiebreaker in a 3-way with Texas and Oklahoma.

Big East - UConn and West Virginia

Big Ten - Ohio State and Michigan

C-USA East - East Carolina
C-USA West - Houston and Tulsa

The west is basically decided this Saturday (though technically Rice is still alive with a Tulsa win).

MAC East - Miami (OH)
MAC West - Central Michigan

Both teams clinch with their next win.


Pac-10 - Oregon and UCLA.

Yes, the UCLA team that has lost to 2 of the worst 4 teams in the conference and gave Notre Dame their only win of the season can make the Rose bowl by winning out against the three best teams in the conference.

Sun Belt - Troy and Florida Atlantic

SEC East - Tennessee
SEC West - LSU

WAC - Hawaii and Boise State

5) Now let's look at what teams are eliminated from the conference titles:

ACC Atlantic - Maryland, FSU, NC State
ACC Coastal - Duke, Georgia Tech, UNC

Miami is eliminated with a VT win this weekend. The loser of Wake/Clemson is eliminated this weekend.

Big XII North - Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa State
Big XII South - Baylor

Kansas State is all but eliminated. Baylor needs to upset Oklahoma for Texas Tech and A&M to have any real chance.

Big East - I don't think anyone is technically eliminated yet.

A win by UConn this weekend eliminates Syracuse, former #2 USF and Rutgers.

Big Ten - Illinois, Penn State, Purdue, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Northwestern, Minnesota, Iowa.

The nation's most boring conference title chase! Either Michigan or Ohio State will have 7 conference wins, so everyone else is eliminated.

C-USA East - UAB and Marshall.
C-USA West - SMU, Tulane, UTEP.

Two weeks ago, when I did the first set of destiny controllers, UAB was one of them. In two weeks they went from controlling their own destiny to eliminated. UTEP is technically ahead of Rice in the standings, but Rice could still be in a tiebreaker, while UTEP cannot win one.

MAC East - Kent is definitely eliminated. I don't know about anyone else - see below.
MAC West - NIU.

This conference is confusing as hell. In the East Miami only plays 7 conference games, but everyone else plays 8? How will that work? In the West, it's all moot tomorrow night with a CMU win.

MWC - TCU, Wyoming, UNLV and Colorado State

Air Force has eliminated all of them, and they aren't even in the driver's seat.

Pac-10 - Stanford, Washington, Washington State

Lots of tiebreaker possibilities.

Sun Belt - Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana-Lafayette, Arkansas State, North Texas, Florida International.

Big Ten south, because it's nearly all over.

SEC East - Nobody is eliminated (though Vandy and USC aren't in good shape in tiebreakers).
SEC West - Ole Miss.

It'll take a miracle for some of those teams to win a tiebreaker (Miss State, Vandy), but technically they haven't been completely eliminated.

WAC - Louisiana Tech, San Jose State, New Mexico State, Utah State, Idaho.

Nevada is a ridiculous stretch and Fresno State needs to beat Hawaii to have a chance.

6) Some bloggers agreed before the season not to get involved in "the conference wars". I think that "SEC rulz, Big Ten sux" is stupid, but I also don't think any writer should censor him or herself from writing analysis that happens to point out that one conference has less to show for than another. Since conference schedules comprise the vast majority of most teams' seasons, the comparative strengths of conferences is directly related to the comparative strengths of individual teams. If someone thinks Michigan is great because of their wins against Big Ten opponents, it's completely relevant to question whether they deserve a lot of credit for any of those wins. If someone thinks LSU is great because of a perceived impossible SEC slate, it's completely relevant to question whether the SEC is all that great. And further, it's perfectly acceptable to respond to individuals who say, even crudely, that a particular conference "sucks" by responding with pointed analysis, and a preseason commitment not to engage in "conference wars" shouldn't be a suicide pact with someone else willing to degrade your teams. Which is to say that more will be forthcoming.


On Polling

So I just posted this week's Lebowski Ratings. In case you've never seen them before, the reason why I started them was to create a list based on purely objective rationales that are simple and easily understood for all programs prior to beginning the season and which attempts to eliminate from the equation factors outside of the control of teams. The goal was to combat what I viewed as the flaws in the current system of opinion-based polling: that the pollsters do not have enough information or receive biased information; polling inertia; overreliance on ill-formed preseason predictions; etc. The result is a system where if you win, you move up; if you lose, you move down. If there is a tie, the tie goes to strength of schedule - the one aspect outside the control of players.

So that's what's good (in my view) about those Lebowski Ratings - minimal subjectivity, teams know the rules going in of what they have to do. But I'd be a fool not to admit that there aren't flaws. First among those flaws is that there's no subjectivity, and therefore the result is only what the data provide - it doesn't tell us who is good, or even who is better, only whose results have been the best. Adding subjectivity would allow us to answer those questions.

Traditional opinion polls, like the AP, the Coaches' Poll or even the BlogPoll do use subjectivity. They're opinion polls, so in a way, they're all subjective. Naturally, in any of those polls, a ballot that has no connection to the on-field results would be mocked and possibly spiked, removed from the aggregate poll. That's a good thing. But for the most point, as long as there's some logic behind an opinion, a voter can have whatever opinion he thinks. Team X loses on the field to Team Y, but many voters still think X is better, and it's reasonable to rank X higher. Team H has no losses playing a joke of a schedule - pollsters can vote Team L ahead of them because even though they have a loss, their difficult schedule makes them a better team. Subjectivity can produce better results than simply looking at the numbers - context can be very important.

Here's where I take issue: too many pollsters aren't using enough subjectivity, aren't putting enough things in proper context.

Subjective opinion is a tremendous power, and in many instances, it goes underused, or perhaps used only situationally. Here are a few situations and I'll develop my ideas a bit more.

Situation I - Strength of Schedule vs. Won/Loss Record

This is a common situation, most often seen early in the year. A team starts off winning a series of games against weak opponents. Other teams play significantly tougher opponents, but end up losing one or two. A pollster could be on solid ground by keeping the team that has lost a game or two against difficult opponents to the exclusion of the team that hasn't lost but hasn't played anyone good either. Now, using that logical position is fine, but it carries with it some pitfalls.

A. Teams with built-in support in polls receive the benefit of the doubt when playing weak opponents and winning. It's one thing if Ohio State opens the season by playing Youngstown State and Akron and winning both. It's another entirely if Kansas opens with Central Michigan and Southeastern Louisiana and wins both. The opening two weeks of the season for both teams were virtually identical (one 1-AA/FCS opponent, one MAC opponent). But Ohio State has played in several BCS games this decade and has won national titles. Kansas is a traditional doormat. Pollsters are far more likely to continue to rank highly a team like Ohio State, despite the lack of quality opponents, than they would be to rank highly a team like Kansas, who would be viewed with a "let's wait and see how they fare when they actually play someone" approach. That's a fundamental flaw. If you view one team as unproven until they face a strong opponent, voters should view all teams that way, regardless of how many championship banners are flying. It's possible that the team without the historic pedigree can continue winning, while the historically great team could end up falling apart. The point is that if "playing top competition" is a prerequisite a voter has for any team, that voter should apply such rule to all teams.

B. The flip side: later on in the year, if playing a strong schedule is enough to boost some teams, it should boost all teams similarly situated, and if playing a weak schedule is enough to mark down some teams, it should be enough to mark down all teams similarly situated. Over the last few weeks some online writers have focused on Hawaii's terrible schedule as a reason why voters should not rank the Warriors highly solely on the basis of their null set in the loss column. This makes great sense. However, Hawaii is not the only team ranked highly in many polls that has a schedule leaving much to be desired. If the Warriors are to be discredited for their weak schedule, so should Kansas, Boise State, Missouri, Cincinati, Southern California, and a few others, all of whom have played schedules ranked in the bottom third of the country. If a team like LSU is getting credit for playing a tremendously difficult schedule, then teams down the list should also get credit - like Florida, South Florida, Alabama, Florida State, Oregon, etc. And in some instances that is the case (such as Florida with 3 losses ahead in this week's polls of several teams with fewer losses) - but we should also be careful that all teams who play weak or strong schedules are treated with the same skepticism/praise.

The point is that if strength of schedule matters at all, it should matter to all. It should not simply be a prop one relies on when it suits already existing opinions.

Situation II - Wins and Losses in Proper Context

The greatest advantage human opinion polls have over computer polls or an objective listing like the Lebowski Rankings is the ability to take numbers and put them in proper context.

When Virginia ekes by its 5th opponent by 2 points or less, a computer or an objective ratings system merely adds another number to the wins column. The margin of the win, and whether any luck or externalities played a role in the result do not matter. Well, they can matter to human voters - but, and here's where I go against most of what I write, they don't matter enough.

If we're going to have subjective voting, go full out with it and don't be afraid of the objective getting in the way. Use context.

For example, let's look at two teams and how they've been presented this year. Lousiville and Connecticut. Louisville is considered one of the great disappointments of the season, currently 5-4. UConn is considered one of the great stories of the season, currently 8-1.

But let's look at the context. Louisville's strength of schedule is significantly more difficult than UConn, primarily because of two difficult OOC opponents (Utah and Kentucky), while UConn only has played one difficult OOC opponent (Virginia). Both teams played a 1-AA/FBS opponent, but UConn's remaining OOC is among the weakest in the nation (Duke, Akron, Temple), while Louisville played NC State and Middle Tennessee in addition to Utah and Kentucky. Louisville's third toughest OOC opponent just beat UConn's toughest opponent. Next let's look at exactly how these teams won/lost. In each of Louisville's losses, the end result has been in question late in the game. Against Kentucky, Louisville lost on a TD with 28 seconds to go. Against Syracuse, an onside kick recovered by Syracuse in the last minute secured the game (though, yes, it shouldn't have been that close). Against Utah, a FG with a minute to go put the game away, but that FG was the result of a Ute recovery on an onside kick. As for the UConn loss, I'll mention that in a second. The point is that Louisville has been able to compete relatively closely in each of their games, and if a single bounce on an onside kick or an incomplete pass had gone their way, it's possible a different result could've come out.

Then there's Connecticut. They lost to Virginia on a chip shot field goal with three minutes to go. But in two of their wins, the proper result was probably not achieved. In the Temple game, the Owls scored a TD to take the lead with 40 seconds to go, but the officiating crew incorrectly ruled the player out of bounds, which was inexplicably upheld on replay review. An error by the officials gifted UConn a win over Temple. The Louisville game was equally egregious. Seven points were incorrectly awarded to UConn after Larry Taylor illegally signalled for a fair catch on a punt and then proceeded to carry the ball 72 yards for a touchdown. What should have been a five yard delay of game penalty became 7 illegally obtained points. When the clock ran out, the scoreboard showed UConn ahead by 4 points.

The point is that Louisville is 3 bounces and a terrible official's call away from being undefeated. UConn is two atrocious officiating mistakes (both on their home field) away from being 6-3. In fact, if you just corrected the egregious officiating errors in UConn's record, both of these teams should be 6-3, with Louisville winning the head-to-head game.

And that's where I see the flaw: since poll voters can use their faculties to provide context to wins and losses, they should do it. Last year, when Oregon and Pac-10 officials stole a win against Oklahoma, I thought immediately of one thing: It's a great thing that we have subjective voting in college football because now the voters can correct the mistakes of the officials. A call gets blown and it costs a team a win - the voters don't have to accept the result on the field. They can say, with flawless logic, that Oregon did not beat Oklahoma by their own efforts, and therefore the voter doesn't have to accept the additional loss for the Sooners and the additional win by the Ducks. Alas, the next day the voters didn't do that. Instead the AP voters moved Oregon ahead of Oklahoma.

Similarly, voters can use their subjectivity to view UConn's ill-gotten wins in proper context - as in, not as wins at all. Is UConn deserving of a current #16 ranking? Maybe. But if they had a 6-3 record instead of 8-1 would they be ranked that high? Voters don't have to accept that 8-1. They can correct in their ballots the errors on the field. Use the power of that subjectivity (and of course, use it fairly and equally).

I've been writing for 3 years about how subjectivity in college football is a serious problem, mainly focusing on incomplete or unfair media coverage and inadequacies of the polling system. I still believe that a purely objective system of determining champions in college football should be the goal (though one I readily admit is nowhere near us). But I recognize that there are certainly some benefits of having subjectivity in college football - it allows us to provide context to wins and losses. The problem is that voters aren't using that subjectivity well enough - because they don't have adequate information in a broad and national sport where detailed coverage remains regional; because they still rely on quick persuals of scoreboards and glimpses of highlights instead of reading detailed recaps or watching complete games; because particular rules of construction when filling out ballots don't always apply to all teams equally (like how some teams require a higher standard of competition to be beaten than others before getting ranked).

Subjectivity can be incredibly useful in answering the question of who is the best. But it needs to be used properly, fairly, and with all its force. I don't think voters today are doing a good enough job of that.