Monday, December 01, 2008

Vote for Utah (Seriously.)

Three weeks ago I outlined the steps necessary for total BCS chaos. Let’s quickly see how that worked out for us:

1). Alabama and Texas Tech need to lose once

2). Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, USC, and Penn St. need to win out

3). Utah, Boise State, and Ball St. need to finish undefeated.

If Florida, Oklahoma, USC and Ball St. win this week—all are double-digit favorites—then everything will have worked out perfectly. Regardless of what happens on Saturday, though, 2008 has already been the biggest BCS failure of all-time.

I’m going to assume that Florida and Oklahoma win on Saturday. Voters will then have to decide who they want to see in the BCS Championship game because their vote will decide it. With a win over Alabama, Florida would presumably vault to number one. Voters will then opt to choose between Oklahoma and Texas. That’s enough controversy as it is. Unfortunately, an equally deserving team in the same conference is erroneously being thrown out of the discussion. Texas Tech has every bit the claim on a spot in the BCS Championship game as Oklahoma and Texas. Most college football fans scoff at Texas Tech’s resume but they have nearly an identical resume to Texas. Texas Tech beat Texas. Texas beat Oklahoma. Oklahoma beat Texas Tech. That leaves us with the following Big XII style condundrum: Texas Tech>Texas>Oklahoma>TexasTech>Texas>Oklahoma and so on. The Red Raiders are well behind Texas and Oklahoma in public perception for two reasons: 1). Texas Tech was the most recent to lose bringing into play the flawed “losing late is worse than losing early” theory. The second, and most damaging in my opinion, is that voters, fans and analysts have already eliminated Texas Tech because of their own prejudices. Texas Tech is not a traditional power. In fact, they’ve never been in a position like this before. Most fans still think Texas Tech is a gimmick.

Since Texas Tech seems to be the odd team out for no good reason, I want to take a minute to explain why it makes little sense to attempt to differentiate between the three Big XII teams. First, all three teams play in the same division in the same conference and have the exact same record. All three are 1-1 against each other. Breaking things down beyond that point is a little ridiculous. Only an idiotic system like the BCS would even attempt to use human judgment to differentiate teams with identical resumes. It becomes a very dangerous slope when arguments start getting into “who beat who?” and “by how much?” What happens if Oklahoma loses to Missouri on Saturday? Texas Tech would kill Texas in a head-to-head comparison. The Red Raiders would have the head-to-head victory and more impressive wins over quality teams. Texas Tech beat Oklahoma State by 36. Texas beat Oklahoma State by 4. Texas Tech beat Kansas by 42 points. Texas beat Kansas by 28 points. Since Texas Tech beats Texas in a head-to-head comparison, Texas needs Oklahoma to beat Missouri on Saturday to keep the three-way tie intact because, without it, Texas has no chance. Or, at least it shouldn’t. So, how can Texas Tech beat Texas in a head-to-head comparison but have no chance when Oklahoma is added to the mix? That doesn’t make sense.

Secondly, people want to eliminate Texas Tech because it beat Texas at home. Didn’t Oklahoma beat Texas Tech at home? In fact, Oklahoma was the only one of the three that didn’t have to play on the road against the other two. The Sooners got Texas Tech at home and lost a neutral field game against Texas. If Texas Tech gets punished for beating Texas at home, then Oklahoma should get punished for not having to play a road game against the other two. I bet Texas Tech and Texas would’ve enjoyed that luxury.

All sorts of people are throwing out all sorts of rationalizations as to why one of the big three from the Big XII deserves it over the other two. None of them are compelling. The worst argument, by far, has been the “look test.” The “look test” has usurped “head-to-head” and “resume comparison” as the determining factor because it conveniently nudges Texas Tech out of the equation. Of course Oklahoma and Texas are going to beat Texas Tech in the “look test.” They’re loaded with four and five star talent. People expect teams with those players to be better. The “look test” simply reinforces prejudices. If the same situation occurred in the SEC and the three resumes involved were Florida, Alabama, and LSU, none of the three would be tossed aside like Texas Tech. I’m not suggesting that Texas Tech has a better resume than Texas and Oklahoma. These teams are inseparable. I’m just pointing out that the BCS has caused college football fans and analysts to invent differences. The idea that this sort of mess won’t be decided on the field in a playoff is maddening.

The vast majority of college football fans want a playoff. An increasing lot of college football coaches want a playoff. The President of the United States wants a playoff. The only reason we don’t have a playoff is because the OICs (Officers in Charge) don’t know how to count. They foolishly believe that the BCS brings in more money than a playoff would. It’s time for fans and voters who are disenchanted with the current state of college football to start a revolution. Our sport has been grossly mistreated. On top of everything else we’re about to be handed the worst slate of bowl games on record. There’s a decent chance that we’ll get another split national champion. All the while, BCS officials are laughing at us. They’ve laughed at Obama’s plea for a playoff. They’ve laugh at our outrage. It’s time we laugh at them.

Three weeks ago when I outlined the best possible scenario for BCS chaos, 26 specific outcomes needed to occur. Even if each of the 26 events had a 95% probability, the odds of all 26 outcomes going our way were 26%. For most of the games, the odds were much worse than 95% including Oklahoma-Texas Tech, Oklahoma-Oklahoma St., Utah-BYU, and Ball St.-WMU. Obviously, we still have four games this weekend before we get to 26 out of 26. However, if those games go as expected, we’ll have witnessed something (26 for 26) that had no better than a 5% chance of happening. Fate has done its job to derail the BCS. Now, it’s time for us to do ours.

If you’re a voter in the Harris Poll or the USA Today Poll and you’re tired of the BCS, then vote Utah #1 in your final ballot. If you vote them #2, then it probably won’t be enough. Utah has strong enough computer numbers that it would likely finish among the top two in the final BCS Standings if voters put them #1. I realize that most people don’t think that Utah is good enough and I also realize that voting to send a message makes people uneasy. Just hear me out. Utah is an undefeated team in the top six of the BCS standings. It would be different if we were talking about Ball St. who is stuck in the teens. Utah is a legitimate team. They are ranked in the top five in all but one of the computers. Putting them into the National Championship game would not be a stretch or an injustice. In fact, I think it would be equally unjust for Utah to be left out of the National Championship game.

Also, no matter who you choose of the Big XII troika, there will be two deserving teams left out. Even if you don’t vote in Utah, you’re already contributing to a colossal injustice because all three Big XII teams deserve a chance to play for the National Championship. Theoretically, USC, Penn St., Alabama, and Boise State also deserve to play for the National Championship. Even if you don’t vote in Utah, seven teams are getting screwed. If you do vote in Utah, seven teams are still getting screwed. If you’re a playoff supporter, the best way for your voice to be heard is to vote for Utah. Nobody cares when Utah or Boise State gets screwed by the BCS. Everyone cares when Oklahoma or USC gets screwed. A vote for Utah would send the only undefeated team in the top six to the National Championship and it would be a major disaster for the future of the BCS. For the love of college football, if you want a playoff, please vote for Utah #1.


Anonymous said...

The funny thing is, Utah might actually be good enough to win the title game -- who knows? That's why you need a playoff -- to know for sure.

And I'm not sure why fans of USC, Texas Tech and Penn State aren't making a bigger deal of the situation (they haven't been loud enough in voicing their frustrations, or maybe I just haven't been listening). But if there's ever a good time for an angry mob mentality, I believe this is it! It might just achieve the critical mass needed for change to actually happen.

Oh and finally, I recall you pushing hard for Michigan to hire Paul Johnson once he left Navy. I was watching the Georgia-GT game the other night and at the end one of the commentators told the other (I'm paraphrasing) "Nobody but Paul Johnson could have thought that he'd make this big an impact in his very first season." It's official, Jake. You are nobody. :)

Jake said...

Believe it or not, that's an upgrade in status for me! =) I'm glad I wasn't the only one who enjoyed the Georgia-GT game. Tech put up 881 rushing yards against Miami and Georgia--two of the most athletic defenses in the country--over the last two weeks. That's more than some teams rushed for in 12 games! Crazy. Take care!

Allen said...

The first quarter of the Utah-Bama game sure was crazy. I hope they can come up with some kind of playoff sooner rather than later...


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