Wait Just A SECond

September 3, 2008

Before I write a post in which I rattle off all kinds of stats from the 44-10 stomping of UW that the Ducks issued last Saturday night (which I promise I will), I am going to add to the never-ending argument about college football conference strength.  I hit on this argument in a previous post, and given a recent blog posting by my main man Ted Miller, who writes the Pac-10 blog for ESPN’s website, I decided it was important to reiterate.  But don’t go thinking I just feed off of other people’s blogs for my own material (although I often reference Ted Miller), I was also inspired to write about this after watching UCLA knock of Tennessee in overtime Monday night.

 

Every season, we hear about how strong the SEC is and just how much in front of the other BCS conferences they are.  They have “incredible depth” and “extremely tough schedules” which allows the pundits to forgive multiple losses and let them play in major bowl games while teams from the other “weaker” conferences get left out.  Yes, the SEC has long been successful, and it has much to do with their geographic locale and the culture that exists there.

 

The Big 12 and the Big Ten have also been lauded throughout history as being football powerhouses, and it cannot be denied that in the past, they indeed have produced much success.  Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Penn State (among others), are all tremendous programs that have perennially been competitors.  Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Nebraska have been great in the past, although lately the latter two have been replaced in the marquee by Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Tech.  This speaks to the verifiable strength of the Big 12.  Now, while the Big 12 will make a lot of noise this year and should be rewarded for it, the Big Ten is more a less a joke.  Ohio State is going to get beat soundly by USC, Michigan is going to struggle again, and we all know what Oregon is going to do to Purdue.  I’ll give the Big Ten Penn State, they will probably have a solid year.

 

The beef that I have (again, reiterating) is with the SEC’s insistence that they are so much stronger than the Pac-10.  Since 1998, when the BCS era began, the Pac-10 is 10-6 vs. the SEC.  Ten wins, six losses.  Sure, its not total domination or anything, but it is a comfortable margin, and given the fact that the SEC seems to think they dominate other conferences, it’s an interesting contradiction.

 

A highlight in this argument as of late was Monday night’s shocker in Pasadena.  UCLA, a team picked by many to finish in the middle of the bottom half of the Pac-10, knocked off an 18th ranked Tennessee team that many pundits said was flying under the radar in the SEC and was poised to challenge for the conference title.  Sure, it wasn’t a blowout, and in the first half it was totally ugly.  But they bottom line is that UCLA gave Tennessee the ball FOUR TIMES in the first half on interceptions, and even with those turnovers the Vols were unable to get it done against a team they were supposed to easily dispose of.  That’s two years in a row that Tennessee has come out west and been beaten by a Pac-10 team at the beginning of the season (last year they were beaten by Cal at Memorial Stadium).

 

We’ll see what the Sun Devils can do when Georgia rolls into the desert in a few weeks.  Honestly I think that will bump the count to 10-7 overall, but it would really strengthen my argument if they pull the upset in Tempe.

 

And to reiterate yet again, USC is going to beat Ohio State, but that is hardly going out on a limb.

 

MOST LIKELY TO:

 

Win in Tempe – Georgia Bulldogs

Beat SEC opponents in major bowl games – Pac-10 teams

Still refer to the depth of the SEC even after Tenn and MSU got upset in Week 1 – sports writers from anywhere other than West Coast

Do hundreds and hundreds of pushups on Saturdays this season – me (Oregon points)

Suffer a letdown after a great victory in their opener – UCLA

Start reading this blog – millions of people

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BCS: Better Come up with Something

May 1, 2008

Better Come up with SomethingYesterday, the BCS committee, which I’m quite sure is made up of a bunch of old-school, money-having, stuck-in-their-ways, afraid-of-change old football guys, voted to reject a proposal for a playoff system.  When I first heard the news, I thought, “that sucks, we need a playoff system.”  Then I heard what the proposal was, and I agreed with the committee.

The proposal was for a system in which the top four rated teams in the BCS poll would play a three game playoff to decide the “undisputed” national championship.  This may seem like a step in the right direction, but it is too small of a tournament to really decide beyond a doubt which team is actually the best.  There would still be too many good teams left out of that picture.  Don’t get me wrong, one of the most exciting aspects of college football is that if you lose one game, your chances of winning the national title are almost certainly over.  This makes it so that every game is exceedingly important.  However, I feel like a tournament system like this would need to include at least eight teams to really be sure we know who is the best, and possibly even 16.  Sixteen is a large number, and it may take away from the luster of many of the other bowl games, which are a valuable tradition in college football and represent a lot of revenue.  Perhaps ten teams would be perfect.  The ten best teams playing a standard single elimination bracketed tournament with the top two seeds earning first round byes and the bottom four going through a play in round could work.  That way, even if we saw games like last season’s USC-Illinois Rose Bowl or Georgia’s shellacking of Hawai’i in the Sugar Bowl, they wouldn’t be the final games of the season.  We would still get to see how teams that blow out another BCS team in the first round fair against teams that had also made it that far.  It would seem like that would increase our certainty about the championship to the umpteenfold.

I believe there is a strong desire among college football fans to have a playoff system and alleviate the confusion.  But perhaps that isn’t the point.  Yesterday I was listening to ESPN radio on my local Los Angeles affiliate, and the on-air personalities were discussing this very issue.  Listeners were calling in, voicing their ideas for the perfect system, and finally one listener had something to say that I found to be highly enlightened, kind of funny, and exceedingly poignant.

“I think the system is perfect just as it is, because if we had a playoff system, we wouldn’t be talking about college football right now.  It’s April, and we are talking about college football.”

Well put.  Perhaps the best thing for all of us sports fans, bloggers, and radio hosts is for the BCS to have disputed national champions every season.

MOST LIKELY TO –

Remain unchanged for another generation – the BCS
Give themselves more money this year since they had to hear a proposal – The BCS Committee
Miss the BCS – Ohio State (only a slightly educated guess on my part)
Take home a BCS Title – The Pac-10 or SEC
Argue incessantly about this issue – anyone who truly calls themself a fan
Write a book of spectacular insights – the listener I quoted
Never know who is the best college football team – everyone