Thursday, November 25, 2010

Understanding Ohio St President Gordon Gee

“If you think otherwise, then stop reading. You’re too naive to save.”

Can somebody please tell me how Dan Wetzel’s convoluted article about how Ohio State President Gordon Gee’s comments regarding Boise State and TCU not deserving to play for the National Championship ends?  I stopped reading right where he told me to stop, and not a moment too soon as his argument is about as confusing as he claims the BCS to be.

Not really, the man just assumes entirely too much.  Let’s forget about his assumption that he is right and if you disagree, well he just doesn’t want to hear from you, and look at what Mr. Gee said. 

Gordon Gee points out, from his experience having been a president at both a Big Ten and an SEC school, that those teams have to go through a gauntlet (slight exaggeration, but okay) and that every week they play very fine schools.  He further states his belief that if you don’t play a comparable schedule, then you don’t deserve a spot in the National Championship game.  He does make the very offensive mistake of calling Boise and TCU’s opponents Little Sisters of the Poor, which I just found out doesn’t even have a football team.

Dan Wetzel interprets this as: “Gee clearly has no idea what he is arguing about, or for, let alone how the BCS formula works, why it exists or how a playoff could actually operate.”  Bold stuff!  “Gee may think he’s arguing for the BCS, but he’s actually arguing against it.”  Really? Tell us more Captain Extrapolation!

See you can go from “I disagree” to “You’re stupid and you don’t know what you’re talking about,” but that’s a pretty shitty thing to do if you are over the age of 18.  Nowhere in Mr. Gee’s statements can we really gauge his grasp on the BCS or its formula. 

To me his statements are not much different than when Nick Saban said on National TV (minute 2:45 on) that, and I’m paraphrasing, it is not about the quality of team that Boise and TCU have, but consideration has to be given to the difficulty of what others have to go through to get to a 12-0 record.  Or as Dan Wetzel would put it: Nick Saban has no idea what he is arguing about, or for, let alone how the BCS formula works, why it exists or how a playoff could actually operate.

Wetzel actually gets to something that sort of resembles a point at around the 17th paragraph when he says that the reason Gee is actually arguing against the BCS is because the system would, and could be about to, let a 12-0 WAC (or MWC) team play for its National Championship game, which is exactly what Gee is against.  BUT THEN WHAT IS THE BCS OUTRAGE ALL ABOUT?!

If the BCS system is capable of allowing teams like Boise or TCU to play for the National Championship then it is not systematically excluding any team.  The system is designed to make it difficult for them to get there, but that is a fair compensation for playing weaker schedules.  Yay, I got to my point in the 9th paragraph!!!!  But I won’t ask you to stop reading, even if you disagree with me, because I got more to say.

The actual outrage should, of course, come from undefeated teams that are left out of the National Championship game.  This outrage, however, cannot come from any undefeated team.  Nick Saban is correct in saying that consideration should be given to teams whose path to 12-0 is inherently difficult (read: teams from AQ conferences and Notre Dame).  A playoff system is unfair in that it rewards teams for having weak schedules, not only by making it easier to go undefeated, but by keeping those players in better physical condition by the end of the season.  The only team that can be legitimately outraged is the 2004 Auburn Tigers.

Wetzel believes that money is the reason a playoff system hasn’t been implemented; he believes that wealthy bowl organizers want to continue to profit handsomely, even at the expense of the schools.  He’s right, but who is being naïve now?  Money just so happens to be the reason for EVERYTHING! 

Blaming something on the power brokers behind the scenes is just a very cheap way to gain support for your argument.  Hey, that Kanan guy is only writing this because he makes money if people click on ads on his blog!  Oh wait, so does Wetzel, only he makes more, so he’s the evil one!

Yes, bowl organizers are making a lot of money, and I will agree that requiring schools to purchase seats at face value is egregious, but the fact is that the bowl system has not always been the cash cow it now is.  Indeed College Football history is littered with failed bowls.  To think that a playoff system will be by its very nature a fair one where nobody profits more than anybody else, is, well, naïve.

College Football Predictions - Week 13

Pro Football Predictions - Week 12


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why a College Football Playoff is Unfair

Using a playoff system to crown the College Football National Championship would be just as unfair as critics of the current BCS system accuse it of being.  The cover story in last week's Sports Illustrated looked to expose the money trail leading to those so-called power brokers who are blocking the implementation of a playoff.  The article echoed the popular belief that the BCS system is unfair because it allows for the possibility of an undefeated team to be excluded from playing for the National Championship.  A proposed playoff system in which teams from all conferences, not just the major AQ ones, can compete for the National Championship rewards teams playing  the least challenging schedule at the expense of those facing a more competitive field.

Critics of the BCS, like the authors of the article, argue that the importance of regular season games in the current system should mean that every team's wins should be valued equally.  That means that in the scenario where Oregon, Auburn, Boise St., and TCU all go undefeated, not allowing all four teams to play for the National Championship is unfair.  Because football is a violent sport that takes a gruelling toll on the body of players, those that are given the most opportunities to rest and avoid contact will have an advantage over those who don't. 

During last week's game between Boise State and Idaho many of Boise's starters were no longer playing by the beginning of the 4th quarter, for a team like the Broncos this has been the rule not the exception.  Boise gains two very big, and very overlooked, advantages: they rest players and they provide valuable experience to back-up players.  Compare that to Auburn's situation: while the Tigers have the opportunity to rest players during a few non-conference games, they also play the bulk of their schedule against SEC opponents, widely accepted to be the toughest, most physical teams in College Football.  Is it fair that a fresh and rested, comparatively speaking, Boise State be given the opportunity to eliminate a bruised Auburn squad en route to the championship game?

Despite the immense talent inequalities found throughout College Football, it is reasonable to believe that the top 30 or so teams are capable of winning one game against a higher ranked opponent.  Given that parity it is unfair that teams can keep their players in peak physical condition throughout the season due to lack of competitiveness.

College Football Predictions - Week 12

Pro Football Predictions - Week 11


Friday, November 12, 2010

How the Heisman was Lost

Cam Newton will not be this season’s Heisman Trophy winner.  It may seem hard to believe given that he is widely considered to be the frontrunner for College Football’s most prestigious award.  Unfortunately for Newton, he must overcome two very difficult obstacles to win the Heisman: he must carry Auburn to an undefeated season, and more importantly, he must be acquitted in the court of public opinion of all wrongdoings during his recruitment from Junior College.
Despite being ranked in both pre-season polls (#22 AP, #23 Coaches) there is no denying that Auburn has been the surprise team of the season, few outside the plains thought they would rise to the verge of a National Championship bid.  There is also little doubt that Cam Newton is responsible for Auburn’s success this year, he means more to his team than any other one player means to his team, the very definition of Most Valuable Player. 
Newton is currently projected well ahead of Boise State’s Kellen Moore and Oregon’s LaMichael James, both of whom are merely considered to be the best players on otherwise still very good teams, in the Heisman race.  Moore, and James to a certain extent, have something Newton doesn’t, and that is victories over their best regular season opponents.  Even though Auburn boasts victories over very good Arkansas and South Carolina teams, their biggest game remains the season-ending Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa.  With today’s prisoner-of-the-moment sports media, it is almost impossible for a player to lose late in the season and still get the votes needed to win the Heisman.  It is not impossible for Auburn to go through the season undefeated, but their most difficult test looms, and off the field distractions will make Auburn’s remaining games significantly more difficult.
Undefeated or not, Newton’s biggest obstacle in the Heisman race will be the allegation that his father sought payment from Mississippi State to get him to commit to the Bulldogs.  Unfortunately the right of ‘Innocent Until Proven Guilty’ is not one that Cam Newton will benefit from, not just because of the recent Reggie Bush incident, but just as importantly because of his own actions.  Newton’s arrest and criminal charges for possession of a stolen laptop while at Florida hurt his personal character.  Allegations of academic cheating during his time as a Gator don’t help either.  Whether it is fair or not, Newton’s previous troubles will make Heisman voters, and the public at large, hesitant to believe Newton’s innocence in any wrongdoings. 
During the 11/11/10 episode of College Football Live on ESPN, the host mentioned that 80% of Heisman voters in the company still plan to vote for Newton.  John Tamanaha of NBC Sports argues that rumors should be left off the Heisman equation when considering Newton.  Both are very noble sentiments, and the right thing to say, however when it comes to player eligibility, a requirement to win the Heisman, allegations and rumors are extremely relevant and deserve consideration, especially when the NCAA and even the FBI have launched investigations.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the Heisman Trust refuses to accept votes for Newton to avoid a future Bush-like embarrassment.
It is a shame because in terms of on-field performance Cam Newton is the best Heisman candidate.  Kellen Moore will likely win the Heisman.  Moore’s Broncos are all but guaranteed another undefeated season, however TCU is next-in-line should Auburn or Oregon lose.  Boise State will likely not be invited to play for the National Championship and the sports media will give the Heisman to Moore as consolation.  In the case they do end up playing for the National Championship, the sports media will blitz them with awards, including a Heisman Trophy for Moore.  LaMichael James, for all his amazing talent, will continue to be perceived as a cog in the very powerful machine that is Oregon’s offense.  Fortunately for James nothing cures a Heisman snub like a National Championship.
College Football Predictions - Week 11
Pro Football Predictions - Week 10
NBA Predictions - Week 4 (Lines Not Available)
Boxing Prediction

Friday, November 5, 2010

How Strong is the SEC?

I don’t think Boise State deserves to play in the National Championship game, and frankly I’m not too comfortable with the idea of TCU doing so, though I prefer them over Boise.  This is the fight I’ve been preparing for since the pre-season rankings were released, and now consensus in the sports media (led by ESPN) is that a WAC or MWC schedule has nothing to do with whether a team deserves to play for the Championship.  Arguing that the quality of a College Football team is not dependent on the quality of it’s conference is not only wrong, but it also contradicts the idea that SEC teams merit special considerations because of their schedule.
For years now there seems to be only one thing that College Football analysts and commentators unanimously agree on: the Southeastern Conference is hands down the premier conference in College Football.  That belief went as far as to vault a 2-loss LSU team from #7 to #2 and into the BCS Title Game after winning the SEC Championship against an unranked Tennessee team.  As of right now there are three SEC teams in the Top 10, however the likelihood of an undefeated team coming out of the SEC is slim; only Auburn remains unbeaten with a trip to Alabama still on their schedule. 
If the SEC is indeed the best conference then it follows that a win versus an SEC opponent carries more significance than a win versus a WAC or MWC team. The idea of equality is nice, but not all wins are created equal, and that is what fuels rankings, both human and computer.  Yet the sports media insists on measuring teams based on the 'eyeball' test!  
I don’t believe the SEC is the best conference this season, my pick is the Pac-10, but it is a toss-up for second best conference between the Big Ten and SEC.  An SEC win should remain more valuable than than a WAC win.
Saying that a team like Boise State deserves to play for the National Championship regardless of their schedule, after years of insisting on the idea of the SEC’s superiority, makes about as much sense as “Keep Your Government Hands Off My Medicare!”
College Football Predictions – Week 10
Pro Football Predictions – Week 9
NBA Predictions – Week 3 (Lines Not Available)