>Wednesday Lunch: Good vs. Evil: The 2011 BCS Championship Game

Posted: December 8, 2010 in college football, ncaafb
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By Dylan Davis

 

I’m biased. Before I begin with my analysis of this years match up, I want you to know that I’m not totally objective about this year’s game. Now, I can’t say that I’m a die-hard fan of either Auburn or Oregon, and in a vacuum I can’t say I would care either way who won, but that’s the thing about sports, it’s not played in a vacuum. I root for certain teams no matter what (Steelers, Kings, St. Louis Cardinals, West Virginia football) and want other teams (Yankees, Duke basketball, Ravens, Cowboys, Lakers) to get annihilated every time they take their respective field or court. I have lesser feelings about every other team and those are somewhat nebulous. When the Patriots were the plucky upstarts playing the mighty Rams (that looks slightly ridiculous now), I rooted for them to pull the upset and capture their first championship. However, as they kept winning and systematically destroyed the league on their way to four Super Bowl appearances and three titles in seven years, beating the Steelers twice in the AFC title game in that span, my feelings went from being happy for them to absolutely despising their boring efficiency and creative cinematography. Notre Dame has taken the exact opposite trajectory in terms of my sports hatred. I was born and raised to abjectly hate the Fighting Irish with their own network (NBC), smugness, and this guy. Throughout the course of my college football watching life the Irish have descended farther and farther into soul-crushing mediocrity and I’ve found it increasingly difficult to care about, much less hate, a school that goes 7-5 or 6-6 year after year while routinely losing to Navy and Rich Rodriguez-coached Michigan teams. Barely making the Sheraton Hawaii bowl is no way to keep my sports hatred focused on a specific team.

While performance on the field, or court, is one way to move in and out of my (and countless fans across the country’s) favor, personalities and off-field shenanigans also shape rooting interests. While games are won and lost with talent and cohesion on the field, fans pay almost as much attention to actions off it. As shown with Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods, and Ben Roethlisberger, getting frisky in the wrong way with ladies can land you in some major troubles away from the sport, while turning fans off from players and entire organizations. I think you can probably see where I’m headed with this in terms of the BCS title game. As I said, neither Auburn nor Oregon are on my list of “must hate”, nor are they teams that I have supported forever. While both teams are in BCS conferences with decent sized fan bases, neither are brand names with the same public image as USC, Ohio State, or Florida. This leads to a general apathy from non-partisan fans and no specific rooting interests. At this point, you have to turn to lesser variables.

 

Both the Ducks and the Tigers have suffered through fairly spotty histories with long stretches of mediocrity interspersed with brief visits to the top 25 polls. Both have resided in power conferences for a number of years, but conference championships and national prestige have usually been taken by their more well-known conference neighbors. Oregon (USC) and Auburn (Alabama and Florida) have struggled in the past to break free from those rivals, but this year they were finally able to take advantage of the Trojans, Tide, and Gators struggles to reach the promised land on their own. While both have had legitimate shots at the BCS title in years past, this is the first time for both they left no doubt that they belonged in Glendale. You may be asking yourself, why the hell am I still reading this nonsense? Then, if you’re still reading, you may be wondering why either of these teams should be hated at all. Let me break it down.

 

SEC Bias: Every year, there is a debate about which conference has the best collection of teams, and almost every year the SEC tops that list. It’s understandable considering the past three BCS title games have all been won by teams that play their games in the South Eastern Conference; however, when it comes down to the end of the year and there are multiple teams in the BCS hunt, the SEC almost always gets the benefit of the doubt. The pervasive thought is that the SEC is the toughest conference top-to-bottom; therefore, winning that conference automatically makes you the best team in the country. SEC teams routinely schedule cupcake non-conference opponents because they say that they already play too tough of a conference schedule. While teams like USC, Oregon, and Ohio State are challenging the cream of the crop early in the year to test their mettle, SEC powers Florida and Alabama are dominating Duke, Troy, and Georgia State. If a Pac 10 team were to play that schedule, they would have no chance at making a run for the title. The belief that the SEC is “tougher” than every other conference is untrue, but nearly impossible to completely disprove.

 

When LSU won a tight battle against a middle-of the-pack Ole Miss squad at home, the announcers used that as an example as to why the SEC is difficult. They, and multitudes of media members, spout that since that game was close that shows the SEC is a difficult conference because every team is competitive. Any reasonably competent, non-biased Joe Schmoe could probably tell you that the reason that game was close is because those teams are evenly matched. Maybe the conference isn’t so tough, but maybe it’s just really tightly bunched in terms of talent. If LSU and Ole Miss play a close game, it shows that those teams are equal in talent; it says nothing about how good either of those teams is. The fact that Ole Miss finished with a mediocre record only indicates that LSU may not have been a very good team. If Oregon barely beats Arizona or Cal, they are immediately picked apart for not blowing out their inferior opponent. The fact that the Pac 10 has an overall winning record versus the SEC in the past five years only makes this argument even more ridiculous.

 

The only way for people drinking the SEC KoolAid to realize that there are other quality teams is for the SEC to lose on the biggest stage. If Oregon can beat Auburn, especially if it’s by a convincing margin, the media may start to realize that there are other teams playing football outside of the south. Of course, one game could be considered a fluke, but it would be a start towards greater respect for the Pac 10 and all non-SEC conferences.

 

Off field: Before the season began, pre-season Heisman candidate Jeremiah Masoli was charged with theft and kicked off the Oregon football team. Masoli was the Ducks starting QB and one of the leaders of the team. Without the dynamic quarterback, Oregon wasn’t expected to do much in the Pac 10. Chip Kelly knew that, and that he would take heat if his team didn’t perform up to expectations, yet he still did the right thing by releasing Masoli. I’m not saying that Kelly is perfect, no college coach is, but in this instance he made the tough choice for the betterment of the programs future and overall appeal.

 

Auburn had a similar situation following the much-publicized Cam Newton drama. Auburn looked at their situation, they were in the national title hunt and almost guaranteed themselves a loss or two without Newton, and decided “Nope, we’re good playing a player who may have broken well-known collegiate bylaws. We just want to win.” From the moment they made that decision, the Auburn Tigers sided with everything that is wrong with college sports today. They went with winning and the possibility of lots of money over doing what is right for their team, what’s right for the sport, and what’s right for Cam Newton’s future and growth as a person.

 

While on the field both of these teams have exciting, fan-friendly offenses that have put up almost half-a-hundred per game and Heisman candidates leading the charge, it’s obvious that I’m choosing Oregon as the “right” choice. While I am from the west coast and right in the middle of Pac 10 country, my feelings towards this game are much more than that. With every passing year that an SEC school comes out on top, and every year another player with a tarnished reputation wins the ultimate prize, those two ways of thinking will become more firmly entrenched into the spirit of college football, which makes it worse for everyone. At the beginning of the season, it was great to see Cam Newton smiling after every big play, now it seems as if it’s turned into an impish grin that’s telling everyone “I did something bad and got away with it”. That’s terrible for sports and a step can be taken in the right direction with a Ducks victory on January 10th in Glendale.

 

That’s all the time for this week, but join me next week for predictions of every single bowl, along with my All-America team and a recap of the Heisman trophy acceptance speech by Cam Newton.

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Comments
  1. robbdavis says:

    >"They went with winning and the possibility of lots of money over doing what is right for their team, what’s right for the sport, and what’s right for Cam Newton’s future and growth as a person."Who says today's "young people" are amoral. Way to get all right/wrong with us Dylan. You must have really good parents!

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