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The following is my stab at the roundtable questions that Tide Druid posted earlier this week. It was a little tough to make it to this point without reading the responses of other Tide bloggers.
1) Will the new offense and Offensive Coordinator be a positive change for John Parker Wilson? If so, how much? If not, what concerns you? I really don’t see how it couldn’t be a positive for Ross’ brother (I am not referring to him by any other name until he earns it). He looked pretty bad at the end of the season last year with the first quarter of the bowl game as the exception. If McElwain’s history is any indication then there should be significant improvement in Ross’ Brother’s play this season. He had a relatively good sophomore campaign and I believe that his confidence was just shaken last season. Let’s face it, he is never going to make huge plays with his arm but he is capable of not getting the team in trouble and getting the ball to the playmakers. A good coordinator- and I believe that McElwain is- should be able to help him do that.
2) We’ve all felt the excitement of landing this studly freshmen class on signing day, but what expectations should we have once they all land in Tuscaloosa? Kareem Jackson had some “doh” moments last year and he would follow that up with a play that makes you think, “Wow!” That’s my expectation for the class and this season. They are going to look inept at times and then they are going to really impress. When the impressive plays outnumber the inexperienced mistakes the team will be getting somewhere.
3) What were your initial thoughts of the somewhat split job of Defensive Coordinator? Have they changed since then, or are they still the same? At the end of the day it’s all Saban’s defense, you can give the underlings whatever title they want. Steele could be referred to as a Sith Lord, it isn’t going to affect how the defense performs. I also try not to critique coaching decisions too much anyway.
4) In your eyes, who needs to step up the most in a position of depth concern? Young linebackers like Anders, Hester, and Higginbotham plus any able freshman. I would also like to see McCoy, Stover, Alexander and Hanks step up to take the expectation off the freshman as they get used to college level play.
5) We’ve all heard the talk of this possibly being Mal Moore’s last season as Athletic Director. What will his legacy be when it is all said and done? I have often said that Moore will be remembered as a great brick-and-mortar AD. As far as getting us into the 21st Century with our facilities, and not just football facilities, he has been a great AD. I believe that is the legacy he leaves.
6) Other than Georgia, what non-Alabama SEC team impresses you the most? (because everyone would normally answer UGA) I wouldn’t use the word impress here but I am going to be watching Houston Nutt’s Ole Miss Rebels very closely this year. Orgeron left some talent there and while I think his results would have been better had they given him another year, I am confident that Nutt will gat a lot out of them and they will beat someone (or two) who they are not supposed to. I really hope that it isn’t Alabama- this is the tenth anniversary of his magical season at Arkansas and that was under similar circumstances.
Number 9 – Alabama at Mississippi State – Nov. 14, 1998, Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, Mississippi
(editor’s note: this is the second installment of a series abou the worst Alabama games I have personally attended. You can see Part 1 here.)
This was my first trip to Starkville for a game and it is a trip that I hope to never make again. It was raining and pretty chilly, Alabama lost, and State has to the be the home of possibly the worst stadium in the conference.
As you might recall, in 1998 Alabama was in their second year with Mike Dubose at the helm and while there was some improvement over the dismal 1997 campaign, overall Alabama was still not a very good football team. The Tide was 6-3 going into this game with a blowout loss at Arkansas, a very close loss to Florida at home, and a pretty solid beating at the hands of Tennessee (who was on their way to a national championship). State had beaten Alabama two consecutive years and this trip to Starkville was to be the third. I’m sure that’s why the Bulldog fans seemed to be full of piss and vinegar as we passed through them on our way to the stadium after parking below the baseball field.
Now, I’ve know some fine folks that went to State, but in all honesty, Starkville is one of those places that you go to, not through. There just isn’t anything there and it seems to me that it would be an absolutely dismal place to go to college. Their stadium is a reflection of that. With the exception of Vanderbilt they are the only stadium in the conference who hasn’t constructed proper end-zone seating, giving their stadium the appearance of an overly large high school venue. There is very little aesthetic appeal to it (if college football was played in Russia, this it what I imagine all the stadiums would look like) and on this day in particular it was a dull-gray mammoth lurking into a dull-gray sky.
Alabama gave very little to cheer about that day. The running game never got un-tracked and it seemed that the defense was totally incapable of stopping State’s ground attack. As I recall, our fireplug of a fullback, Montoya Madden, was the only bright spot. While ten years have made the details sketchy, I distinctly remember that the weather was awful and the Alabama’s play was not much better.
At half-time I went to the concession stand in the upper deck to get a hot dog. I was about sixth in line for the half-time rush and remember the first customer ordering a hot dog only to be told they were out but more would be arriving shortly. About that time a man comes up the ramp with a tray of about thirty-five hot dogs. Of course they were all gone when I got there and I just kind of looked at the girl with disgusted silence when she told me they were out of hot dogs again.
After the game, as we made our way through the jubilant State fans who were knocking each other over to shake a cowbell in the face of any Alabama fan they could find, all I could think was that this was a fan base that was so unaccustomed to winning that they didn’t know how to handle it. We were treated quite rudely as we left and it was not a pretty site. Now I know that not every Alabama fan is the model of decorum after a victory, especially after the defeat of a hated rival, but actions of a lot of the State fans we encountered as we exited left enough of a bad taste that I decided then and there that I never want an opposing fan leaving our stadium, regardless of the team, to be treated the way we were treated that day.
One of my favorite parts of college football is the tailgating and fellowship that takes place before and after a game. Regardless of the outcome I am usually up for a beverage or two after the game but I have never wanted to be on my own couch, which was a scant ninety mile away, as I did that day, and so without bye or leave we left Starkville as quick as we could vowing never to return. And to this day we haven’t.
One final note; on the way out of town, off the side of the ramp onto the four-lane, there was a couple of State fans standing in the grassy area right of the shoulder, dropping their pants and mooning the Alabama fans as the started east. The whole scene was funny enough until a car about three or four ahead of us, pulls out of line and starts in their direction, sending the drenched mooners sprinting toward the fence. At least we had one thing to smile about that day.
Disclaimer: This post will mostly be about my trip to Las Vegas. It will end with a poem, but if you’re here for the poetry, you’ve got some scrolling to do.
I’m back at in the office this morning after a long weekend in Las Vegas. My wife and I flew out there to celebrate our tenth anniversary. I’m convinced that Vegas is an entirely different universe than most of us live in, especially in the South, but it can be a lot of fun if it is enjoyed correctly and in measured doses. In honor of occasional reader Clay Travis, I’m gonna break it down DDT style:
1. When we arrived at McCarran Airport on Thursday, I had arranged to have a stretch limo pick us up. I did this because I thought, that like me, my wife had never been in a limo. It was to be a surprise to her and when we saw the driver waiting for us at the bottom of the escalator leading to baggage claim, I said, “surprise”. Looking completely unsurprised my wife, who knew that I had gotten a shuttle for us and assumed that the driver was for it, says in reply, “you should have waited until I actually saw the limo to say ‘surprise'”. Then on the drive down the strip she informs me that she had been in a limo, for a friend’s birthday trip to a Birmingham restaurant, only six months ago.
2. Everything in Las Vegas is four times higher than here. That’s scientifically proven. The bad thing is that even though you realize this, within twenty-four hours of your arrival you have no problem with it and run through money like it were ranch-covered cheese-fries and you haven’t had a single carbohydrate in two weeks. To prove this point, by Friday evening we were using up minatures from the mini-bar (at $8 a pop) like they were cocktail nuts, when only the day before we had looked at them as if the use of one would break the kid’s college fund.
We had one meal less than $60 and that was two omelets and a glass of orange juice for $36. I expected to pay big money for the big evening meals but $70 for a light lunch, $7 for a beer, and $12 for a mixed drink is a little crazy. But sure as I am sitting here, you just forget about it once you’re there – that is until you get home and look through your receipts. Citibank sent me a thank you email this morning.
3. The food is amazing. I didn’t eat anything that wasn’t wonderful. Our two big evening meals were out of this world. The first night we ate at Aureole in Mandalay Bay. This is the place that you see on TV that has the four-story wine tower and they suspend girls with cables and harnesses to stock and retrieve the wine selections.
I love to eat but don’t consider myself a foodie and this place was on the border of being pretentious but once our waiter figured us out the service was incredible just like the food. I had Ahi tuna and veal shank with a great bottle of New Zealand Pinot Noir. Fabulous!.
The next night, which was our actual anniversary, we ate at Emeril’s Delmonico Steakhouse in the Venitian. I had been there before and this was just as good as I remembered it. Can you say 52oz bone-in rib eye? I don’t have enough command of the English language to express to you how good it was. And if the food was great the service was better. It was one of those meals that you can only afford to do once every year because of the price but it was totally worth it. My mouth is actually watering as I think about it.
4. The faux-hawk needs to stop. Right now. This has got to be the worst idea in men’s hair fashion. Ever. I believe that it is an annoucement to every one that sees you that a.) you are probably a total douchebag, b.) your desire to be cool is overiding your sense not to look like an idiot, and c.) you are a follower to the point that you would jump of a bridge if you perceived that “everybody else was”. This hairstyle actually makes “bama bangs” look somewhat acceptable. And it was everywhere in Vegas.
I have rule when it comes to clothes and hairstyles; if you are going to look at a picture of yourself sporting a style in two or more years and you’ll look foolish or say to yourself, “what was I thinking”, then just say no. Unless it is to specifically get a laugh.
Attention fauw-hawk wearers: Stop! Now!
It’s not in the least bit of a statement of self expression like a real mohawk is. It’s a cry of desperation that sounds something like, “I will do anything to make others think I fit in.”
5. Jet Lag sucks. It not just the jet lag and time difference, which is two hours, it’s also the lifestyle in Vegas. And the combination make it tough to rebound from and meld back into normal existence. I’ve had surgical procedures that were easier to recover form than a weekend in Vegas. We actually got back late Saturday night and I had yesterday to recover and I still don’t fell like myself today. We did blow it out on Friday night and drink quite a bit but still , in all seriousness, I drink more on any given football weekend. The thing is the environment there is just not conducive to sleep, at least restful sleep.
The latest we were up was 12:30, which isn’t late by any stretch, but that is 2:30 to our bodies. Then we slept – or tried to- until 8:30, but that is 10:30 here. My body is so programed to waking up at 5:30, even though I usually lay in bed until 6:00, but at any rate my brain didn’t get the vacation memo and had me up at 3:30 local time both mornings. Granted, it was still dark but my body was trying to tell me to get going from that point on. So, while I was in bed for five more hours it was hardly what you would call restful sleep.
That’s enough for this post. I’ll give you the rest of the trip points, including clubs, gambling, and hookers, later in the week.
Now, for the Haiku:
the children on Senior Trip
will soon have to learn
that come Fall they must be men
Mark Schlabach, who typically does a pretty good job of analysis for ESPN, has his preseason Top 25 up with post spring-practice revisions. The thing that I found interesting about his rankings is that, if he is right, Alabama will face five teams in the top fifteen this year. That’s right five, and to make matters worse, four of the five will be faced outside of the friendly confines of Bryant-Denny Stadium.
I am learning quickly that it is much easier to tear someone else’s picks up than it is to make your own – that is unless you excuse some of them with your own personal bias. I am also aware that Schlabach’s picks will differ from what ends up becoming the actual preseason polls, but there are a couple of interesting things about his look into the crystal ball that are decent debate topics.
Schlabach has Georgia at number two, right behind his new number one, Ohio State, and it’s hard to argue with that pick. Alabama plays them in Athens and as I’ve already stated, I just don’t see the young Tide winning that game.
He puts Clemson in the seventh position and I concur, in as much as I believe they will be a consensus top ten. No one doubts the Tiger’s talent level but the interesting thing will be how their inexperienced offensive line comes together. I believe Clemson gets the benefit of the doubt that they belong in the top ten until they prove otherwise. Alabama plays them in the Georgia Dome, in a game that will draw a lot of national attention. I still think Clemson pulls this out because our defense will be inexperienced in this game and the first game is a great time to throw a few wrinkles in.
The first surprise of Schlabach’s rankings is found with Auburn in the tenth position. Even a homer like me finds it easy to imagine that Little Brother is a top twenty-five team, but tenth? They have two brand new coordinators and I just don’t think a team gets that kind of benefit coming off a less than stellar season. With the imminent decline of LSU this year, there is little doubt that Auburn has a great chance to win the West and play for an SEC Championship, but they have to prove that first. All admitted partiality aside, Auburn’s personnel are going to have to prove they have adapted to the new systems and leaders before I would rank them number ten to start the year. Seventeen to twenty-two, no problem, but not number ten. Alabama gets a good opportunity to end the streak at six when the Plainsmen visit T-Town the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
LSU finds themselves at number twelve in Mark’s preseason rankings. With a new defensive coordinator and the loss of their only relatively experienced, but fairly capable quarterback, it’s hard to give them the nod at twelve. They are the defending national champion and do have some talent coming back so I suppose that’s a decent place to start them, but we’ll see how the year unfolds. I’ve got a feeling it will be the purple and gold clad fans that are bitching about their own coach, rather than Alabama’s, mid-way through the year this season. But once again, until they prove otherwise, they get approval at number twelve. Thinking about the game in Baton Rouge on the second Saturday in November gets me excited even now, months ahead of time.
Alabama’s final opponent in Schlabach’s top twenty-five is probably the most troubling to me, especially in light of some of the comments I got about my preseason picks; he has the Volunteers at number fifteen. That’s third in the SEC East but still giving them a lot more credit than slipping in to Atlanta as co-champion of the East last year merits. First of all they have a new offensive coordinator. The same arguments that I had for Auburn come into play here but what makes me skeptical of the Vols this season isn’t the new coordinator, it’s the old one. Jon Chavis is leading a defense that has been depleted by the graduation and early entry into the NFL. The vaunted Vol defense was ninth or worse in the conference in every major defensive category last season: tenth in scoring defense (27.3 pts/game), 11th in pass defense (238.6 yrds/game), 9th in rush defense (164.6 yrds/game), and 11th in total defense (403.3 yrds/game). The secondary and tackle positions are the only positions with relative depth and the author of their spring outlook speaks of the need for the offense to carry the load as the defense rebuilds. First of all that puts a lot of pressure on a relatively inexperienced quarterback (I’m sure the staff will work to diminish that) and there is also the adjustment to the new system, which is pretty different to the old one and second of all, it is certainly not the type of football that Tennessee fans have come to expect. If the wins don’t come quick to sate the hungry masses, things will get pretty dicey in Knoxville. Either way, when Alabama comes to call on the Third Fourth Saturday in October, there will be a lot on the line.
I can’t wait for football season.
Here is an example of a hard working, intelligent, Auburn alumnus. In this case it’s Leeds own Charles Barkley.
(HT: The Noodle)
You stay classy, Auburn.
Have a great weekend. Make sure you call or visit your mother on Sunday.
Posting will be a little light next week as I get ready for a timely vacation, but be looking for Monday, May 19th (or thereabouts) as I team up with the fine folks at Alabama Gameday and accept their invitation to introduce a new series for this site on theirs.
When asked by several friends about the upcoming season’s schedule and Alabama’s prospects following spring practices, I had basically the following predictions to make:
Clemson (at the Georgia Dome): I just don’t see Alabama winning this game. The Clemson offense will be stellar and I don’t think that Alabama’s defense will be in sync yet because there will be a few starters for this game that won’t be starters later in the year. The Tiger’s (first of the three Alabama plays) defense will be just good enough to keep Alabama from getting going in the early season test. I believe Alabama makes it close in the end but Clemson prevails by maintaining their early lead. (Alabama’s Record: 0-1)
Tulane: Alabama comes in hungry and motivated after the opening loss. This one may be close early but Tulane can’t hang, even with the less than stellar Alabama talent; The young guys get to see the field a lot in the second half in this Alabama victory. (Alabama’s Record: 1-1)
Western Kentucky: The youth movement continues as the freshman, red-shirt freshman, and sophmores play a lot in this blow-out Alabama victory. (Alabama’s Record: 2-1)
at Arkansas: While Bobby Petrino will build a good program at Arkansas – if he stays long enough to do that – this will be a rebuilding, or should I say building year, and the talent just isn’t there yet. This is a game Alabama’s young-but-improving defense will need. Alabama covers the spread. (Alabama’s Record: 3-1)
at Georgia: My gut tells me that this could be one of those magical, season defining games, for Alabama, but my brain tells me otherwise. The only reason Alabama took this game to overtime last year was mistakes by Georgia – mainly the tight ends inability to catch passes. I think Alabama keeps this game close, because they will certainly be prepared for it but Georgia is just too talented on both sides of the ball. This could be a magical year in Athens and Alabama can take pride, for now, in the fact that they will play a national championship contender close – I just can’t see them winning it. (Alabama’s Record: 3-2)
Kentucky: Alabama takes out their frustrations over the Georgia loss by taking a depleted Wildcat squad behind the woodshed. This is the game where after the road experiences and adversity of losing, you start to see the defense gain an identity and confidence. The offense may be a little slower to bounce back on this one. (Alabama’s Record: 4-2)
Ole Miss: After Alabama gets the off-weak to heal and rest Ole Miss comes in and shakes them back to reality. Houston Nutt has never been scared of Alabama and he will easily motivate a squad full of kids who have gone through great adveristy – not to mentioned lived with constant fear of having their limbs ripped from their bodies at any moment by The Orgeron – and played Alabama close enough to win every year. I see them jumping out to an early lead with outstanding defense and opportunistic offense (this is nothing new for Alabama vs. Ole Miss). How Alabama chooses to respond will define the rest of the season. Since I’m an unabashed Alabama homer, I believe that the whole team responds and the second half is all Alabama. The Tide wins a game that should be even closer than the last few contests between these schools but won’t be. And if they don’t, pack your bags for Shreveport and dig in for the “I told you so’s”from every corner of the football world. (Alabama’s Record: 5-2)
at Tennessee: In this installment of the greatest contest in College Footballdom, the Volunteers will welcome the Crimson Tide into Knoxville with revenge on their minds and malice in their hearts. It won’t matter; the tide has turned (no pun intended) on this rivalry, and for all the talk about renewed offense and improvement, this is Phillip Fulmer’s last season as the head coach. I don’t know why I believe this – it could very well be my utter loathing of the University of Tennessee – but I think they are in for a tumultuos season. After losses to Florida, Georgia, and UCLA (yes- I said that) the Alabama loss will be the hammer blow to the wooden stake placed in the fat one’s doughnut glazed filled heart. Then again I could be blinded by hatred and have never picked UT (and never will). (Alabama’s Record: 6-2)
Arkansas State: Alabama guarantees at least a trip to Memphis and not a return to Shreveport in the lopsided win that sees the young guys -who will be noticeably improved by this point – play a lot and the streak of November defeats broken. (Alabama’s Record:7-2)
at LSU: I got an email from a friend last week in the minutes after Perrilloux’s dismissal was announced saying that Alabama might now have a chance to beat LSU this season. Saban’s return to Death Valley will be epic and so will the contest as these games always seem to be here lately. Like Georgia and Clemson though, this team is just too talented. Ross’ brother has been mauled in this game the last two seasons and this year will be no different. It will be close, as it usually is, but the LSU defense will again prove to be too much late in the game. (Alabama’s Record: 7-3)
Mississippi State: There will be more pressure on this game than necessary but by this point in the season, Alabama should be a vastly improved team. State, as usual, will not challenge offensively, especially to a defense that is starting to get a good feel of itself (don’t laugh). If the offense can manage not to shoot itself in the foot (and it should by this point) Alabama wins a game that it will be favored in only slightly because of recent past performance (in the series). (Alabama’s Record: 8-3)
Auburn: This game certainly is worthy of its own post but for now I’ll keep it simple. “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, we are free at last”. Alabama ends six years of frustration and wins this game coming into it as the favorite for the first time in six years. Alabama wins. Alabama wins. Alabama wins. There will be dancing in the streets and celebrating on the Quad until the wee hours. [editor’s note: the day I predict an Auburn victory is the day I burn everything I own related to Alabama football (which would be a considerable inferno) and quit following football. Call we what you want; irrational, delusional, whatever. I will never, ever, under any circumstances, pick Auburn.] (Alabama’s Record: 9-3)
I intended to go into more detail on this and I probably will closer to the season, but prior to kickoff, because I want to use this as a reference to look at each week as the season progress. So there it is, a little bit of rational thought and a little bit of standard home-cooking. It’s simply my opinion and though Buzz Bissinger may not care what it is, maybe you do. Please feel free to give me your forecasts in the comments.
Also if your interested, Will Heath has taken a look at the SEC West, sans Perrilloux and I think he has some good points.
It’s a good thing that the BSC commissioners decided against implementing a playoff system for college football. Yeah, I know you’re saying that I’m crazy and that I don’t know what I’m talking about; only everybody in the country wants this to happen and it would be really good for college football. It’s like that time when you said you really wanted your girlfriend to bring that other chick home. What could be better than a threesome? Then it goes down and there’s the awkward next day followed by the three strange weeks where your girl just didn’t seem interested and concludes in a drunken, tear soaked incident when she kicked you out because she decided that Missy just, “totally understands me in a deep and fulfilling way.” The point is that just because something seems like it would really be great the results can be much, much worse than what you had to begin with.
On the surface it does seem logical that a playoff would make the game better but let’s really look at that. It’s not as if college football needs the playoff to pick up followers. It is a reasonable assumption that the game is at the highest point that it has ever been. Season tickets and television contracts are not going un purchased or unfulfilled because there isn’t a playoff. What the reason to do it? To appease the fans and pundits or make it fair for the athletes? When has college presidents ever worried about that?
“Let them decide the champion on the field.” I’m here to tell you that that statement is a fallacy. At least in as much as the champion is being decided on the field right now. If I’m not mistaken, didn’t LSU beat Ohio State on the field? Is there any doubt that the Bayou Bengals weren’t the national champion? I’d agree that USC probably would have given them a better game but there is no guarantee that USC would have won the game that it took to play them were there a playoff in place. The truth is, or at least a solid argument could be made that Georgia would have given them the stiffest competition but I am certain in my belief that because they didn’t win their conference, or even division, that they shouldn’t have the right to play for the national title. That’s deciding it on the field. What everybody forgets is that prior to the BCS Ohio State would have played USC in the Rose and LSU would have played Virginia Tech or West Virginia in the Sugar Bowl, not to mention Kansas in the Orange Bowl and we would still be arguing about who the champion was. The thing about the BCS is that, whether you agree with it or not, a champion is named. Just because a playoff exists doesn’t mean that you’ll agree with it, unless it is a comprehensive enough tournament (16 or more teams in my opinion).
You can also stop the comparisons to NCAA basketball or Championship Division (Division II) Football because they are no where near the same. There are twelve game (thirteen if you play in a conference championship) and that is a whole lot of games. The effects of adding two or more games in December on teams would be indescribable. Think of a major conference team that goes through the regular season undefeated- thereby virtually guaranteeing a shot at a title (I’ll discuss Auburn later)- and in their first round game against the lowest seed of the tournament their star, all-everything quarterback, tears his ACL How fair is a playoff to them? The fact that there are so many teams that play such a brutal regular season makes a comprehensive tournament so unwieldy that it isn’t worth doing. Even in this day of increased parity there is still a large enough gap between the haves and the have nots and a tournament would only highten that gap. I know the argument is made that anyone has the chance to win the NCAA Basketball tournament but why then has no one lower than a 6 seed (I think)ever done it? My point is that the five guys on a basketball court (and D-II) football are so much more evenly matched than a D-I football team that it isn’t even funny and even then the talent gap is mostly insurmountable. Most of the basketball teams are happy just to make the dance and they don’t entertain serious thoughts of winning it all (not realistically anyway). Well there already is a reward for a team that is good but isn’t good enough in college football, it’s called the bowls.
The big gripe every year about the BCS is that someone who deserved a chance got left out. A tournament does absolutely zero to fix that – zero. This year it was Georgia, or USC, or Kansas that felt they should have been in (enforced by witnessing what did happen in the bowls). Well if there are four teams in a playoff there will be weeping and knashing of teeth over who the got left out of the fourth spot. Same with the eighth and same with the sixteenth. There will always be someone who is upset about being left out.
I am certain the that the out-of-conference schedule will get weaker if a tournament, especially a “plus one” is installed. There will be little benefit to schedule anyone that could ruin your chances to make it unscathed to the tournament game, especially for the tougher conferences. We’ll call it the “Ohio State Factor”; just be from a major conference and win out – which is tougher in the SEC than say the Big Ten- and you’re going to get a chance to play for it. The upstart programs, like Boise State, Hawaii, TCU, and Fresno State are going to have a much tougher time finding teams to play them. If you were a coach and your fan base was crying out for a shot at the title, why would you risk that chance to play Boise State – that is fairly talented but can gamble and play as if there is nothing to lose? There is no way the reduced scheduling is good for the game.
Virtually every year you will have the champion of the SEC, Big 10, Big 12 in the game with USC (unless someone else challenges for Pac-10 supremacy), the ACC champion and the Big East champion clambering for the remaining spot. In that scenario, the Conference Championship Game Conferences are at a slight disadvantage, or really rather the Big 10 and Pac-10 champions have an advantage because neither has to face that quality competition in a late season game. It will serve to effectively shut out the independents from the mix (which is pretty much the way it is right now) and give advantage to schools that have good pre-season hype that are in weak conferences ( read: Ohio State, West Virginia, etc.) Don’t even get me started on what would happed if Notre Dame finishes with two losses.
One of the big arguments about a tournament is that it would diminish the “every game is important” mentality. I absolutely agree with that. It is one of the huge things that make the regular season in college football so spectacular; every game has immense importance. LSU put a damper on that argument this past season by getting to the championship game after two losses, but the losses were to quality competition and in overtime. Had they lost to a vastly inferior opponent or by a large margin then they would not have had a shot. Georgia’s blow-out lost to Tennessee (coupled with their failure to win their division) kept them out of the title game, West Virginia’s renowned late season collapse against Pitt killed their hopes, and USC’s loss to Stanford effectively ended their chances. Kansas perhaps had a good argument to be included but only their Orange Bowl victory over Virgina Tech gave them any real street cred with them being Kansas and their out-of-conference schedule being so weak. Now I realize that with a four-team or “plus one” type system the effect of “every game counts” won’t be diminished as much as a larger format tournament but if any type of tournament get implemented then it will only be a matter of time before the hand wringing starts and a more inclusive format is mandated.
In the current system you are rewarded for scheduling, and beating, quality competition. I would hate to see that go away – and it will most certainly if we get a tournament.
If we want the current system to work better – and who doesn’t- there needs to be a few more ground rules set in place. First, if you don’t win the conference championship then you should not even be considered. That would have taken the arguement completely away from Georgia this year and would have made the Oklahoma and Nebrasks travesties form years back not possible. That is certainly winning it on the field.
Second, there should be no polls, or polls from the people that matter, until October. Too many teams get passes because pundits think they are going to be godo pre-season and won’t back off their votes even when performance doesn’t match the hype.
Although it would never happen I would like to see the flexibility to be there in case there was the “Auburn Scenario”. If there are three unbeaten- deserving-teams at the end of the year, let them play one more game. You need the possibility without the certainty because had Virgina Tech beaten Auburn there would have been no need for USC to play again; Virginia Tech didn’t deserve the chance.
In conclusion, a tournament isn’t going to happen anytime soon. The increased parity we are seeing might change the need for that but like the Big Ten, I’m alright with that, but for different reasons. The Big Ten might change their mind if they get shut out of the fun for a few years – the rise of Illinois, purported rise of Wisconsin, and Rich Rodriquez in Ann Arbor might make that happen sooner than later- and then have their precious Rose Bowl match up toyed with and then we’ll see what they say. This isn’t pro football, or division II, or even inter murals. It certainly isn’t basketball. It’s college football and it is the greatest event on the planet. A playoff isn’t going to change that one way or the other. I think it’s time that a lot of us came to grips with that.
After being blamed for the dearth of NFL talent at the Capstone and the assertions by Buzz Bissinger and Bob Costas that have hit the blogosphere ad nauseum I can no longer continue to operate this blog in good conscience. Therefore, I will no longer be blogging.
Just kidding! This is just starting to get fun.
There has been a lot said about the blogger bashing on Costas Now and Best Damn Sports Show Period by many that are smarter and better writers than me but there are a couple of things I’ll add:
Printed media was once a very hard thing to access and even harder to publish. With the outlets being so few, I believe that it was important to establish credibility and integrity when your voice was heard. Training- whether an apprenticeship, college degree, or combination of both – became important not only as a means to maintain credibility, but also as a means to make yourself standout in a competitive job market. As the outlets became more numerous, some integrity was lost for the sake of competition – the rise of sensationalism is how I like to refer to it. With the advent of blogs, literally anyone’s voice may be heard. Competition and subsequently sensationalism has risen to an all time high (and will only increase). It is ultimately up to the consumer to decide where he (she) gets his (her) information. That will be the ultimate test for any media outlet; print, television, blogs, etc. I still read the paper on occasion but only because a.) it’s kind of comfortable to do so, like a well worn shirt and b.) I don’t have wifi and therefore can’t get my laptop to the john, where my serious reading takes place.
To discredit a voice as not worthy of being heard, simply because it is heard in what is considered by some as an unorthodox medium is simply wrong . To act sanctimonious about bloggers because you have a degree in journalism or are considered a writer is not only elitist it is also ignorant. I believe that it is fear (coupled with the aforementioned ignorance) that they are becoming irrelevant (and they are) is what is driving people like Bissinger, Costas, Stephen A. Smith, et al to act the way that they are.
I, for one, do not claim to be professional about this. I do try to be honest and I do try to have some integrity with this. I try to legitimize my post by linking to “credible” media sources and I believe am in the process of establishing credibility. Even though this blog is done anonymously I do try to write as if my identity will become known. I am proud of my name and don’t want to soil it. That and that alone is the reason I try not to say anything here that I would not say in person.