>Wednesday Lunch: USC, Surprises/Letdowns, Playoffs?!?, Jerk Coaches

Posted: February 24, 2010 in ncaafb, playoffs
Tags: , , , , , , ,

>   Hi everyone, it’s Dylan again with your Wednesday college football lunch. Before we dive into today’s topics of issues with the BCS and college coaching, here are a few leftovers from last week’s lunch.

1.    Before this past season, USC had been the dominant team this decade in division 1A. Every year since 2002 they had won at least 10 games, finished in the top 10 of the final AP voting, won the Pac10 conference championship and were invited to play in a BCS bowl game. All of those years, except for one, they had won that bowl game and in 2003 and 2004, they had won at least a share of the National Championship. Everything changed this past year as they put four notches up on the wrong side of the record column and played in the Emerald Nuts Bowl in San Francisco. While this may be a dream destination for Washington State, USC clearly had higher aspirations and have to be disappointed with this year’s outcome.

2.    As with every college season, there were plenty of surprise teams this year, and not all of them good. Starting off with some of the disappointing teams: Ole Miss was a huge surprise the year before last and they came into this season as a possible national title contender with Heisman hopeful Jevan Snead behind center. They quickly faltered and fell completely out of the rankings for a few weeks in the middle of the season. They were able to rebound slightly by the end of the year, but ending up ranked 20th and having four loses is not what they envisioned when the year began. Oklahoma State also had aspirations of a championship and had multiple Heisman hopefuls in Dez Bryant, Zac Robinson and Kendall Hunter. Injuries and suspensions to key players left the Cowboys in a similar position as Ole Miss, four loses and a ranking much lower than they were anticipating at the beginning of the year. Not all was bad as some teams did much better than expected. Alabama was ranked fairly highly to start the year, but not many expected them to run the table, win the championship and have the Heisman trophy winner at the end of the year. Boise State and TCU also surprised many people by going undefeated throughout the entire regular season. Last, but not least, is Iowa. They were ranked 22nd to start off the year, but after barely winning there first game against a 1AA team, they dropped out of the polls completely. By seasons end they had climbed to seventh and had won the Orange Bowl against a favored Georgia Tech team.

   Now that we’ve finished going over the specifics of last years season, let us delve into some issues that have shaped college football over the past couple of years, the BCS and college coaching infidelity.
   Everyone who watches college football has an opinion on how the BCS should be. They say that there should be a playoff system. There should be a plus one. The system should be scrapped and we should go back to how it was. I would like to address that last point before I delve into what I think about all of this. Let’s take this past year for example. If the BCS had never come along, last years bowl pairings would have looked like this:

Rose Bowl: Oregon vs. Ohio State

Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Cincinnati

Cotton Bowl: Texas vs. Florida

Orange Bowl: Georgia Tech vs. Pittsburgh

These aren’t perfect and the matchups may be switched around a little, but you get the picture. In case you hadn’t noticed, there is not a TCU or Boise State to be seen in the major bowls and if all goes as planned here are the records of these teams at the end of the year. Alabama (14-0), Texas (14-0, this is assuming that Colt McCoy plays the whole game. For anyone watching the Texas-Alabama game before McCoy got hurt, you know that the Longhorns were dominating and had a very good chance to win that game. I think they beat Florida in a mini upset.), Ohio State (11-2), Oregon (10-3), Cincinnati (12-1), Florida (12-2), Georgia Tech (12-2), Pittsburgh (9-4), Boise State (14-0), and TCU (13-0, both of these last two teams probably would have destroyed any lower level teams they were matched up against in their crappy bowls.)
Let’s take a closer look at four of these records: Alabama, Texas and Boise State (14-0), and TCU (13-0). We know now that Alabama can beat a Colt McCoyless Texas team and Boise State can beat TCU straight up. But, in this alternate-no-BCS-universe, we have four undefeated teams at the end of the year that can honestly say they deserve to be the #1 team.
   Another way to look at this is if Florida beats down Texas in Tebows last game as they beat down Cincinnati. Now you’re looking at Alabama most likely taking the top prize and Boise and TCU complaining about no having a chance. Maybe this is the year that kick starts serious thought about having a plus one or outright playoff system, which brings me to my main point: although the BCS is flawed, so are every other system that people have thought of.
   Let’s start out with the playoff method. College basketball has the best (or second best depending on how you feel about the world cup being once every four years) tournament in the world. Hands down. No contest whatsoever. Many pundits have often wondered why college football does not use this same formula to enhance the excitement that college football brings. There are multiple flaws with this type of reasoning. First, you can play basketball once every two or three days for an entire month and not die like you probably would in football. Secondly, because of this, the excitement level couldn’t match the continuous buzz that the NCAA tournament does because there are constantly games going on. Not only that, but the same problems that people have with the BCS (namely that polls determine everything, and not enough teams have a shot) would crop up with a playoff system. How would the ninth team in an 8-team tournament feel? Kind of like how the third ranked team does now. Yes, the problem is lessened, but it’s still there. Also, you couldn’t realistically have more than eight teams make the field without the games dragging into February.
   Many people feel, as do I, that the plus-1 system would be the best way to crown a national champion. The way that this would work is to have two of the existing BCS bowls host the top 4 teams in a bracket style tournament (top seed plays lowest and middle two play each other) with the two winners playing a week later in the already thought of BCS national championship game. The system is already in place. There are the four normal BCS games and a separate national championship already, why not just tweak it a little. The problem that this creates would only happen in years like 2005 when USC and Texas were clearly the two best teams, as well as the only two undefeateds at the end of the year. A plus one would have been detrimental this season, as we already knew who should play in the final game.
   This just goes to show that no system is perfect and although the BCS does need to be changed, it is better than what we have and not nearly as poor as some people conceive it to be.

   Coaching changes happen all the time in the college ranks. Teams don’t perform up to standards so they fire the headman. This in turn leaves a void, so they either turn to someone already in the organization, or more likely, they hire a head coach looking for another opportunity from another school. This leaves that school with the need to hire a head coach so they also look elsewhere. Around and around it goes until everyone is settled in and the season progresses. As I showed above, some teams achieve below expectations and they will decide to go in a different direction with there coach. This will continue to go on as long as there is money to be made. The problem mostly lies when schools need to hire a new candidate and they turn to other schools for options. Some coaches like the situation they are in and wouldn’t leave for anything. Some coaches aren’t good enough to be asked. Some coaches are waiting for a better opportunity. Some colleges are targeting young assistants from other schools. This leaves just a few coaches. These are people like Nick Saban, Rich Rodriguez, Lane Kiffin and Bobby Petrino. All of these men have made pledges to young men that they will be with them through thick and thin. They have told countless parents that they will mold their children into adults that they can be proud of. They have told countless fan bases that they will lead them to the promised land of a national title and if they have to cut off there own limbs to do it, so be it. Then at the first hint of more money or a higher caliber team, they hastily jump ship and bring their pack of lies to a completely new band of followers and recruits. This type of behavior is despicable and is one of the things wrong with college football today. Although I love the game and am a little too obsessed with following every aspect of it, whenever coach’s news comes up, I just skip to the next article. I would advise you to do the same, don’t give these attention-seeking men what they so terribly want, and what they could not deserve less.

   That’s all the time we have for today’s lunch, but join me next week for the debuting of my own special column gimmick. It won’t disappoint.

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