Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Flogged Irish

I meant to tick off a list of everything that was bugging me about the BCS - specifically the various reasons cited for Michigan not being in the championship game - just before Christmas, but 1) it got lost in the holiday crunch, 2) to pick it up now feels like sour grapes, and 3) after the Rose Bowl, really - what would be the point?

But I do want to pick up one of those points in light of Notre Dame getting their clovers smashed by LSU in the Sugar Bowl Wednesday night.

One of the more popular arguments for Michigan not being voted into the BCS title game was that the Wolverines didn't win their conference. And I was willing to accept that as a rationale, until you consider how easily it would've fallen apart had Florida lost in the SEC championship game to Arkansas. Then it would've exposed as an arbitrary reason.

So my question is this: If winning the conference is suddenly so important (and yes, of course it means something - I don't want to dismiss that), then why should the BCS accept any non-conference champions as at-large teams?

Is it to even out the number of teams at eight, so there can be four match-ups? Is it to allow for those teams that had impressive records in a given season, yet had the misfortune of playing in an extremely tough conference?

Or is it really just to keep the door open for Notre Dame when they have a worthy record (regardless of whether or not it's artificially inflated by a weak schedule)?

Even when the match-ups were announced, it was clear that the Fighting Irish didn't belong. A rule restricting conferences to only two participants kept the far more deserving Wisconsin and Auburn off the BCS carousel. And maybe a fair bit of politicking from Charlie Weis a few weeks beforehand.

But Notre Dame had the name. ("The university of football in America," as Tony Kornheiser often nauseatingly refers to Notre Dame on Pardon the Interruption.) A supposedly good record. The golden boy quarterback - destined for #1 NFL draft pick status - that surely would've won the Heisman Trophy if only he hadn't been completely exposed against the only good teams he faced. The supposedly genius coach that sends Brent Musberger TV announcers and analysts reaching for towels to wipe up all of their awe-stricken drool.

So how did that end up working out for the BCS? 41-14? That almost made Michigan's effort against USC look competitive.

Brady Quinn looked like a quarterback who needs absolutely everything to go right for him to succeed. While on the other side, JaMarcus Russell was that rare football player who could impose his will on the game with his variety of talents. NFL scouts and general manager had to be re-evaluating their draft boards, taking note of Russell's size, athleticism, and arm strength. You think that kid's skipping the NFL scouting combines? All he needs to do is pass out a tape of that 58-yard touchdown pass he launched on the run.

[Pardon me for the brief digression. I couldn't resist making a suggestion or two to the Detroit Lions, who inexplicably beat the Dallas Cowboys to lose the #1 overall draft pick. It's probably a moot point, since they'll likely never have a chance at drafting Russell now, regardless of whether or not they need him. C'mon - why the #@$% did they bother winning that game?!? Ahem.]

Boise State's thrilling victory over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl (a game I couldn't bring myself to watch because I was so disgusted with football after the Rose Bowl) has a lot of people touting the virtues of the BCS, but that just makes me wonder why conferences like the WAC and MAC aren't part of the sock-hop to begin with.

Yes, runners-up in the "big" college football powerhouses are likely better than the champions of such mid-major conferences. But can we really be sure about that these days? Boise State and Utah have made quite a case for the WAC in recent years. And really, could any of those schools from the lesser-known conferences really perform any worse than what we saw from Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl?

▪▪ Meanwhile, back in South Bend, Charlie Weis is having a grand ol' time taking shots at Nick Saban while denying he's a candidate for the New York Giants head coaching job that will surely be open after the Giants lose to the Eagles in their wild-card playoff game on Sunday.

Anyone want to be Weis somehow inexplicably scores a raise and extension out of this? After all, he's got himself a program to rebuild.

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1 Comments:

  • At January 05, 2007 4:24 PM, Blogger SkoneyHillProductions said…

    Ian,
    We need a playoff and we need one ASAP. It can't be an eight-team playoff, it needs to be n 16-team playoff (with two play-in games). Here are the reasons why:

    1. If it's only 8, then you're not including the smaller conferences like the WAC, Mtn. West, MAC, Conference USA, Sun Belt, etc. Are they all deserving to be in a playoff? Probably not, but if you're going to have one you can't cherry pick.

    2. The parameters are as follows:
    Return immediately to the 11-game regular season. Conference championship games count against those 11. If you want to have a conference championship game, then your teams will need to shave a regular-season game off somewhere. (If these games aren't money grabs Mr. Presidents, then prove it to us and eliminate them!) The regular-season begins Labor Day Weekend and ends the second weekend in November. The polls no longer matter. You want in the dance, you must win your conference (create a formula for Notre Dame, or just tell it and NBC to get screwed). Conference USA and MAC have one Play-in game, Mountain West and WAC have another. We'll figure out something to do with ND and the Sun Belt. The top two finishers in each of the BCS leagues qualify. The play-in games are the third weekend in November on campus; the 16-team playoff begins the weekend begins at conference champion sites Thanksgiving Weekend for maximum TV exposure (Ex: ACC #2 at Big East #1, Big East #2 at ACC #1, MAC/C-USA winner at Big Ten #1; Big Ten #2 at Big 12 #1; etc.)
    The next round will be at regionalized sites the second weekend in December. Semi-finals at existing Bowl Games the week after New Years, the championship the second Monday in January. All the other teams that don't qualify for the playoff are welcome to attend whatever bowl that would like to have them. Teams that win get increasinly largers pieces of the BCS pie.

    3. Since nothing but winning your conference matters anymore, we could actually have a lot of non-conference match-ups worth watching. Wouldn't it be cool to see a SEC-Big Ten Challenge or Michigan-Southern Cal in the Big House? Because a loss or two out of conference won't affect your title chances maybe we'll see some teams actually sacking up and playing on the road like OSU and Texas have done the past two years.

    I've prattled on long enough.

    It's broke, it needs fixin', and I believe you and I are the people to do it.

    Doug

     

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